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Get the most from your kitchen or bathroom

Tips from a professional designer for planning your remodeling project

Posted: March 20, 2009 8:56 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Over the course of my design career, I have seen many varieties of remodel and new construction projects. However, one thing has remained constant throughout them all - they are resource intensive endeavors.

To complete your project with few, if any regrets, you need to invest both your valuable money and your time.

Here are a few tips on how to maximize your return on your investment.

n Put your goals and objectives for the project in writing. This will benefit both you and any allied build/design professionals you may choose to work with.

Goals may be large or small, such as adding space, replacing tired finishes or appliances and/or improving the space for resale.

n Set a palatable budget and try to stick to it. You know what your financial resources are and you know what you are comfortable spending, hence that is your budget number. However, keep in mind a general rule of thumb - try not to spend more than 15 percent of the market value of your home on a kitchen project.

n Take your time when you are planning out a kitchen or bath remodel and try to have all your materials selected before the first hammer swings. If you are planning on gutting the entire space then I typically recommend clients spend up to 12 months planning/designing the kitchen. This minimizes decision making under duress, which rarely provides optimal results.

n Differentiate your needs from your wants. Do you need a warming drawer or would you simply like to have one?

n Do consider resale but, my rule of thumb is if you plan on staying in your house for five years or more, design and build for you and not some prospective buyer.

n Keep things congruous. Expensive granite countertops typically should not be combined with inexpensive pressboard stock cabinets. Another thing to consider is if the materials on your wish list match your family's lifestyle and your willingness to clean and maintain them.

n Kick the tires. There are many "live appliance showrooms" where you can actually turn on the burners of the cook top and bake a batch of cookies in the oven. You can bring your own bell pepper and sauté it or the distributor will provide you with food stuffs to actually cook. Contact the manufacturer to find out where the closest live showroom is to you or consult with a professional kitchen & bath designer.

n Avoid the temptation of buying materials/appliances well in advance of installation just because they are a "good deal."

n Get real - don't believe those home remodel reality TV shows. Well designed kitchens and baths can not be remodeled in a weekend, especially by a novice. Hiring architects, contractors and/or designers can save you time, money and for some homeowners, their marriage.

n Assume nothing. To minimize the opportunity for misunderstandings, get everything in writing whether it is from your appliance retailer or your building/design professional.

n Consider your projects' impact on the environment. Based on my experience, there is a general misconception about the cost of environmentally friendly building materials and design practices.

n Don't throw away your serviceable cabinets, plumbing fixtures, etc. If you don't need extra storage capacity in your garage/basement, then consider donating your old serviceable kitchen cabinets to a local charity.

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