For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It holds the pulse of your family, and rightly so requires a smooth rhythm. You don't just need to love how it looks, but how it functions...now and for possible future buyers. So how can you get the best kitchen for your money?
Hire an experienced designer.
Professional kitchen planners know: how to maximize storage, smart substitutions for high-end materials, and the best local contractors for the job. They can save you time and money by heading off potential problems at the pass.
Get a feel for your current kitchen. What do you like about it and what do you want to change? Pay close attention to the location of windows, doors, heating, plumbing lines, and electrical outlets. Some of these factors you can change, but since these are the more hard-to-move features of your kitchen, it's going to come at a cost.
Map out high traffic zones.
Most kitchens have the "kitchen triangle" - the three-sided connection between the stove, sink and refrigerator. However in today's family kitchens, the kitchen is more than just a place to cook and eat. One triangle isn't enough. There are other traffic patterns like toaster to coffeemaker to computer desk, or homework station to fridge to back door. Know which zones ("triangles") you have and which ones you need/want. Then try to keep them from overlapping.
Remember form follows function.
Think about how and where you use kitchen items. Locate dishware and flatware near the dishwasher to ease the process of loading. If you want to cook and eat on kitchen islands, plan enough space so the cooktop is safely separated from the dining area. Make the refrigerator accessible to both passersby and people working in cooking and cleanup areas. Plan landing space. Allow 15 inches of countertop on each side of a cooktop and refrigerator. Have room to move. Paths throughout a kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Paths within a cook zone should be 42 inches wide for a one-cook kitchen and 48 inches wide for a two-cook configuration. And stay clear of corners. Plan space for all doors, even those on cabinets. Make sure they won't bang into each other if open at the same time and keep appliances away from corners.
Rearrange your current kitchen before breaking out the sledgehammer.
Ask yourself this key question: How do you use your kitchen now? Try rearranging it to be more efficient. Empty drawers and cabinets. Decide what you need and whether it could be better suited in a different spot. Store items near where they are used. Basically, get more organized. Then step back and decide whether you really need to remodel or if a simple coat of paint will do the trick. If anything else, you'll have a clearer picture of how you really use your kitchen, which will help save time and money on the redesign.
If you want to learn more on how not to get burned on your kitchen remodel, including what to look for when hiring a contractor, check out these tips.