Plan kitchen remodel houselogic kitchen remodeling tips
Top contractors and designers share their tips on getting these kitchen looks in your next remodel
Interior Designers Share Kitchen Remodel Tips

Interior Designers Share Kitchen Remodel Tips Interior Designers Share Kitchen Remodel Tips

“The first step in remodeling is to know what is important to you when cooking. Are high-end appliances a requirement? Do you prefer gas or electric? Do you cook lots of curries or other items that use strong spices and want a hood for ventilation? Would you like your knives to be on your left or right while you cook? Do you bake a lot and need to keep that equipment close to the oven?” – Sara Chiarilli, owner of Artful Conceptions, an interior design firm in Tampa, FL

“There is NOTHING wrong with a white refrigerator!” urges interior designer Leanne Ford. “The iPhone actually made solid and colored appliances acceptable again. In my opinion, white is timeless in any and all forms.” There you have it, straight from the mouth of a pro: Keep your white refrigerator.

What do you think of these kitchen remodel tips? Do you have any of your own to share? Tell us in the comments below.

“Using contrasting colors on walls, counters and floors helps with depth perception and provides a clear line of sight when navigating throughout the kitchen, especially in working areas.” – Wanda E. Gozdz, B.S., A.S., founder of Golden Age Living, LLC in Hutchinson Island, FL

Want to get lost in a 1940s daydream? Let interior designer Connie Vernich tell you about the kitchen that’s inspired her from day one. “When I first became a designer 20 years ago, I was sent to a home to renovate a living room. The home was an old carriage house, and I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the kitchen was. I asked the homeowner when the kitchen was last renovated, and she told me 1940!”

“A natural stone countertop is something we fight for all the time!” Jesse says. “Materials that patina over time, adding depth and beauty as they age, versus [materials] that don’t, are always the way to go.” Often, people worry about choosing stone that will show wear, but Jesse insists it’s that timeworn patina that makes those choices the most beautiful down the road. “The day-to-day scratches, light stains and imperfections become a patina to the stone,” she explains. Ahem, we meet again, Marble.

Choosing contrasting colors—or at least tones, if you’re not into the monochromatic look—will help you add a huge amount of visual interest to the kitchen. When you’re putting together the color palette, go with either one neutral shade and one bold color or choose a warm and cool shade. Additionally, focus either on the contrast on a single item, such as an island, or allow an element to continue throughout the entire space.

If you’re debating whether you need to go ahead with a full remodel or if you can get away with a quick update, ask yourself this question: Am I concerned with function or aesthetics?

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When function is the issue, a kitchen remodel is usually in the cards. However, if it’s just the look that needs a refresher, you can probably get away with swapping out a few design elements with trendier picks. As usual, look for things like accessories, textiles and wall art to revamp your style. These items will have a huge visual impact at a relatively low price point.

With that in mind, we decided to take this topic to the experts. We asked interior designers to share their favorite kitchen remodel tips. Read on to see their no-holds-barred answers. With any luck, their experiences can help you redo your kitchen with ease.

Is the dreamy white marble that’s taken over the design world here to stay? Interior designer Brooke Wagner thinks so. “A trend that I believe will always remain timeless is using natural stone — especially white marble. It’s just so classic,” she says. “You’ll always see me going for a honed or antiqued finish; they’re my fave! Oftentimes we do stain-grade or paint-grade gray cabinetry to complement an otherwise white kitchen.”

Interior Designers Share Their Favorite Tips For A Successful Kitchen Remodel

1. Are you licensed and insured?Contact your state’s consumer affairs department or local government to check if the contractor you’re considering is properly licensed—and if there have been any recent complaints about his or her work, says Fanuka. Ask for a copy of the certificate of insurance, which should list you as “additionally insured,” in case the policy expires in the midst of the renovation.

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Choose contrasting colors for a huge punch of visual interest. Image: Smith & Smith Kitchens

Kitchens can be the most expensive and complicated room to renovate in your home—an average project costs upward of $20,000 and takes around eight weeks to complete—so treat your search for the right contractor like a job interview. We asked Stephen Fanuka, host of Million Dollar Contractor on the DIY Network and HGTV, to share the top seven questions you should ask before you decide who will be in charge.

Jette Creative’s principal designer Jesse DeSanti says covering the hood in your kitchen is an absolute must. “Hood styles change so much and don’t often match the style of the home,” she explains. “By covering the hood, you’re able to create the style you want that best fits the house and overall palette. You’re able to direct the design versus picking something off the shelf that may or may not conflict with the time, look and feel.”

 Before starting the renovation, make sure you have a solid plan in place to ensure that your new kitchen will meet your needs. As you cook, walk yourself through your routine while asking questions like the ones Sara offered above.

Make note of any favorite details or annoyances that you have about your current space and include any necessary changes into your design plan.

Interior designer Jenn Feldman says the smartest choice in a kitchen remodel is a simple, clean backsplash tile. Instead of going trendy with your backsplash, let your cabinets steal the show. “Even though cabinetry and custom millwork are one of the largest investments in a kitchen renovation project, paint upgrades don’t have to be. Think about going bold with an accent color on kitchen cabinetry. It’s a fresh, contemporary and youthful spin on modern kitchen design that gives so much personality to the space, especially when it can be seen through other openings and rooms within the house,” she says. “No one ever complains that their kitchen tile is too white and clean! But chances are if your design taste changes down the road, in time it will be much easier to upgrade your kitchen with a paint refresh on the cabinetry than it would be to replace the tile.”

5. Do you have any shopping discounts?Most contractors and interior designers get 10 percent trade discounts on appliances. “Good contractors will offer you this discount as a courtesy,” says Fanuka. If you do buy your own kitchen devices, see if the contractor will pick them up and deliver them curbside at no extra fee.

White cabinets: tried and true and here to stay, according to interior designer Wendy Blackband of Blackband Design. “Simple white cabinetry is classic and timeless. White kitchen cabinetry is suitable for every style of design; it has stood the test of time because it’s clean and fresh!” she says.

Use remodeling tips from interior designers to transform your kitchen. Image: Pickell Architecture

It’s not hard to see why undertaking a kitchen remodel is one of the most discussed topics in interior design. These projects—while worth it in the end—can get to be a little costly and time-consuming. It goes without saying that, if you’re going to do it, you want to do it the right way.

Home improvement show fans can attest to the fact that TV magic makes it seem like changing you kitchen layout is a breeze. In reality, that’s definitely not the case. Out of dozens of submissions for this article, this was the most frequently mentioned tip. Obviously, your budget will dictate how creative you can get with the layout, but if you’re trying to save, do not underestimate this cost. Make sure you meet with multiple designers and get quotes so that you can go into your remodel with a realistic idea of the final cost.

“Take the backsplash tile to the ceiling, especially when they are only 8 feet. This is common in a lot of older homes. Taking the tile up creates visual height and an especially polished look because you don’t have a break where tile meets drywall (particularly around a window). It’s a great look for minimal cost compared to the whole project.” – Brad Little, of Case Design/Remodeling in Charlotte, NC

4. What’s your input on the kitchen design?Ask your contractor for his opinion and “stay away from the ones who say nothing and are in a rush to leave,” says Fanuka. Typically, your contractor and interior designer will take shopping trips to look at slabs of stone, appliances, lights, and fixtures—request that you come along.

Fresh accessories can give the room a totally different look. Image: MGM Builders

“Keep the appliances and plumbing where they are. A good rule of thumb is to add $5,000 each time you move a section of plumbing or any appliances. If my clients are on a tight budget, I tell them to work with the current layout whenever they can.” – Justin M. Riordan, LEED AP, the founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, which has multiple locations in California and Washington

Window treatments can be pricey, so it’s wise to choose an option that will last. Interior designer Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs weighs in on the decision with her go-to choice. “One of the simplest and oldest types of window treatment is the Roman shade. They come in many styles, but the most timeless are the classic/relaxed Roman and the flat Roman, which folds completely flat on itself. The use of these shades is a great way to add timeless appeal to any kitchen. You can keep it simple with a beautiful solid linen, or add a pop of color by doing a bold color or interesting pattern. The simpler the style, the more longevity your Roman shade will have, as patterns tend to trend out over time.”

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6. How often will we meet to check in on the renovation?“The more you stop by your home, the better,” says Fanuka. “If the contractor sees you around often, he or she will likely stay on the job versus bouncing back and forth between projects.” At a minimum, plan to visit once a week.

“The best way to stay timeless is designing for the house and respecting the style it already provides,” says designer Jesse DeSanti of Jette Creative. For example, a midcentury modern home would benefit from a kitchen remodel featuring clean lines and warm wood tones, while a Spanish-style home would benefit from a kitchen remodel featuring historically Spanish materials, like the encaustic tile used in this home. Mix in other elements to make the space your own — just don’t lose sight of its origins.

Pay close attention to how you use the space without making changes. Image: R.P. Morrison Builders, Inc.

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Keep these tips in mind when you tackle your remodel. Image: Keith Wing Custom Builders

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Leanne is also a proponent of farm sinks, but not because they’re trendy. “[They] have been around long before the days of Pinterest and will be around long after,” she says. Timeless and trendy makes for a winning combination in our book.

“I will never forget the beautiful white cabinets, the marble countertops stained with age yet still beautiful and fitting, and the black-and-white marble floor chipped in places but so perfect in its state. From that time on, when someone wants a timeless kitchen, I immediately revert to that kitchen,” she says. “We have so many great products today that are better able to handle the stains and chips, and it’s easy to get the look without the maintenance issues they used to have. I think sometimes as designers, we tend to want to add the latest trends and have the showiest kitchen, but there is something so lovely and comfortable about a simple, functional design that can withstand the test of time.”

“Sometimes it’s not about doing a total remodel. I updated my own kitchen last year by simply swapping out bar stools and pendant lights, and replacing a cabinet with open shelving. I was inspired by the BoHo trend, so I gave my contemporary kitchen some organic touches that make it feel warmer and more alive.” – Natasha Jansz, founder of Natasha Jansz Design in Los Angeles, CA

If you’re a type-A perfectionist and brushed off the earlier advice to select a countertop that will patina, you’re not alone in your search for durability. Interior designer Marie Flanigan explains her reasoning: “I generally look to hardware and lighting for an exciting dose of drama that can be easily switched out over the years and select hard finishes that I feel confident will stand the test of time. Resilient work surfaces that boast beauty and brawn, like sturdy granites and quartzites in soft, soothing colorways, ensure your kitchen is equipped to handle anything you throw at it (literally) while looking fabulous doing it!”

3. Who are the subcontractors you’ll be working with?Get a list of everyone who will be involved in your kitchen renovation, such as the carpenters, cabinet installers, painters, and flooring technicians. Like your contractor, all of them should be covered under worker’s compensation laws and disability insurance.

Let your backsplash make a statement. Image: Evelyn Eshun Interior Design

Whenever possible, leave the existing layout. Images: Alinda Morris Interior Design LLC

“Shaker-style cabinets are an excellent choice for updating a kitchen or bathroom,” says interior designer Becki Owens. “The clean, simplistic lines of this style of cabinetry not only stand the test of time but give your home a fresh, more modern look when paired with a simple backsplash or a mitered-edge counter. I like to pair Shaker-style cabinetry with white subway tile and natural wood in either open shelving or styled accents on the counters. This combo is always a win.”

The second unspoken bonus for this tip? A dramatic backsplash will draw the eye with ease and make an excellent focal point. Consider this one if you’re searing for a way to truly make a dramatic impact.

2. Can you draw up a detailed proposal and an American Institute of Architects contract?First comes first: Make sure you have a dated blueprint of your desired kitchen design, drawn up by an architect, to bring along to preliminary meetings. Then, “get everything in writing,” says Fanuka. That includes an itemized list of labor and materials, with prices, from carpentry to electrical work; who is responsible for obtaining permits and scheduling inspections; what the penalty will be if the job is not completed on time; and agreements to put change orders (proposals for extras later on) in writing and to withhold 10 percent of the contract price until any final corrections take place.

If you thought concrete was an industrial trend soon to be on its way out, think again. Leanne says concrete — on the counters, walls, backsplash and floors — is here to stay. Warm it up with earthy tones or natural wood to achieve balance and harmony.

Selecting a color palette can be one of the toughest parts of a kitchen redesign. Interior designer Katelyn Rountree of TerraCotta Design Build suggests a neutral color scheme. The palette’s versatility makes it a safe choice for almost any home. In this kitchen, gray and white work with warm wood accents to strike balance, creating a timeless design that transcends the boundaries of style. “It would not feel out of place in a 1920s bungalow or a modern home,” Katelyn says.

“One selection that will never go out of style is the pot rack,” says interior designer Amy Zolin. In this kitchen, the custom-designed rack boasts a polished nickel patina that will age to look like it was an original part of the home. The takeaway? Choose a finish that blends seamlessly with the rest of your kitchen, considering your home’s style and architecture.

In this kitchen, Jesse blended the stainless steel hood with the rest of the midcentury modern space using a painted wood cover that matches the walls. “[The kitchen is] simple, elegant and modern, and we didn’t want the hood to take away from that,” she says.

7. What’s the best way for us to communicate?Find out if your contractor prefers email or phone conversations, if there is project manager or office assistant who you’ll also be in touch with, and how your contractor will be documenting your discussions.

Every design aficionado knows the value of a well-done kitchen. The only issue is that it’s often challenging to pull off this project the right way. In an effort to give you all the tools you need to create the kitchen of your dreams, we asked interior designers to share their best kitchen remodel tips. Keep this post close at hand. Whether you’re starting tomorrow or won’t be ready for a couple years, you’ll want the benefit of their experience.

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