We Created the Guidelines for our Project – Now What?

Hey guys, welcome back to My Kitchen Sucks – this is the place where you can follow me as I work through my very own home kitchen renovation project.  We’ve spent the previous four episodes working really hard to define our project.  We’ve set goals and established priorities.  And, we’ve even developed a spending range.  These have become the guidelines – the rules that we need to adhere to as we begin design.  Without a clear, simple set of rules, projects are harder to design. Plus, they have a tendency to go off track, cost more, and take longer to complete.

Some Tips to Stay on Track During the Design Process

Now, as we start the design process, I want to present some tips that will help us move forward and set the foundation for good design. I’ve met with some kitchen design experts, who have seen it all and worked with thousands of clients.  Fortunately, they were kind enough to share their thoughts on how to keep your kitchen project on track.

Tip No. 01 – Keep it Simple!

This one is easy to understand, but often hard for us to execute.  Design problems require designed solutions.  Some can be more complex than others.  So, complexity becomes relative to your individual project. The more complexity that we add to projects, the more that can go wrong, add costs, and extend schedules.  That doesn’t mean you can’t add custom details and personal touches – just be strategic with them and compartmentalize them, so they can be easily removed from the project if need be. According to Rick Gedney of Kitchens by Gedney in Madison CT, there are three things, big picture things to keep in mind. 

3 Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Keep the space simple– If the design allows, keep existing walls and appliance locations. However, transforming a space by removing walls and opening up views is probably the most dramatic kitchen change you can make. But, do this logically and with purpose to meet your project design goals. Also, keep in mind that “lumber yard components” like beams, studs and such are relatively less expensive than cabinetry, appliances, tile and counters. That carrying beam that allows the space to open up probably costs as much as a dishwasher, but takes the room design to another level.
  2. Keep the cabinets simple – Use standard heights and widths, and reduce corners.  For example, keep your maximum height cabinets to no more that 8 ft. tall.  Otherwise, you’re getting into more complex territory. Yes, kitchen cabinets are more customizable these days, but by designing within some standards, we make things simpler.
  3. Keep materials simple – We are constantly inundated with new finishes and material products. Rick suggests that you choose your finish materials wisely.  Be careful of trendy or new unproven products and appliances.  Do your research.  Make sure that countertop material that you really love will also perform the way that you want it to.
Rick Gedney goes on to explain: “All projects have some level of complexity, no doubt. But, we tend to over complicate things without knowing that we are doing so.”  Make sure you start design with the basics in mind – storage for pots, pans and glasses.  Then, you can focus on some of the more personal details. Use your gut and trust your design professional.  If it feels like something is overly complicated, than it most likely is. 

Tip No. 02 – Stay Flexible!

A common sticking point for many homeowners is falling in love with that dream inspiration image. They start design with a “I Need to Have That” attitude.  Nicky Narducci of  Tile America in West Hartford, CT, recommends that her clients start a project with an open mind.  Design professionals have the ability to help you achieve the sought after look, but with more available and often less costly alternatives.  So, let your design team help by keeping an open mind and letting them present awesome alternative choices. Oftentimes, the designs become better because they are actually a representation of YOU and not an image of someone else’s dream.  Nicky has guided many people to make better choices for their particular circumstances, while still achieving the look that they love.

Tip No. 03 – Let the Professionals Do Their Job

Good design professionals are on your side.  They want to help you achieve your dreams.  They are also your trusted guides on this journey and come with years of experience.  So, when they talk and present ideas, it’s a good idea to listen.  I’ve personally seen too many jobs become derailed by homeowners unwilling to trust their professionals.  If you make a good hiring decision with your design team, then you should be able to hand over some of the control and let them do their jobs.  Your happiness is usually their number one priority.

Keep an Eye Open for My Next Episode

Okay, that’s enough for now.  I’m really excited about our next episode.  I’m going to show you the design concepts for our kitchen and explain how the design addresses our project goals.  For many of us, making mistakes on the design is our biggest fear. This upcoming episode will help to alleviate some of the concerns that you might have and arm you with more confidence.