Of all the remodeling projects you can do to your house, the kitchen is easily the most difficult and expensive. This is the most complex area of the home and requires training, expertise, and creativity. Unfortunately, this scares off a great many people who would rather not do the kitchen than risk a serious mistake. Others, unaware of the complexity (hasn’t every one of us lived around kitchens our whole life?), rush headlong into the project only to find themselves in trouble, or more commonly, wishing they had done it differently after it’s all done.
The solution to both these dilemmas lies in the development of an adequate plan. When you have a medical problem, the doctor follows specific procedures. The first is to make a thorough investigation. The results derived from the investigation will, hopefully, lead to an accurate diagnosis. Only then can a proper prescription be given to affect a cure. This medical analogy is a good one to use.
Except, this time you have a sick kitchen instead of a person; but, the process is essentially the same. Where most people, and even some designers, make a big mistake is assuming they can plainly see what must be done and rush into prescribing the solution. The secret to avoiding all these problems is clear. Make a well thought out plan. This will have an additional important function; you’ll sleep better at night knowing that all the bases have been covered. Here are the steps that will insure your success:
Step 1 – Define the existing situation. What do you like about what you have now? Even the worst kitchens have some redeeming characteristics. Maybe it’s just the placement of an appliance, but make note of all the elements that you like. This will help you retain the better features. What do you hate? Most people don’t have great difficulty with this, but it’s necessary to define it as close as possible. Get all these items on paper; the good and the bad. When you’ve completed this list, prioritize it. This helps to focus the mind on what’s really important. It’s meaningful at this point to separate the real problems from those that are merely symptoms. You may have inadequate storage space and think this is the problem. In reality, this may only be a symptom when the real problem is poor organization of the space. Don’t misunderstand. Symptoms are important, but only as they help us to uncover the real problems.
STEP 2 – Where would you like to be? Here comes the fun part – fantasizing about all the things that might be done. It’s important at this point not to be too restrictive with your dreams. Work at defining the ideal kitchen for you and don’t get hung up on the apparent limitations; there’s plenty of time for that. Most people have a tendency to make initial judgments way too fast and end up ruling out some really great possibilities in the process. Don’t fall into that trap. At this stage, let your mind wander and explore your every whim.
STEP 3 – Define the inherent limitations. If the kitchen needs to be larger, is there sufficient expansion potential? Are there structural supports which must be given consideration? And, of course, there is always the budget. This always places some limitation on what can be accomplished.
STEP 4 – Investigate the possibilities. OK, so there are limitations, maybe even serious ones. But, there are possibilities, as well. For instance, suppose you have a small kitchen which can’t be easily expanded. That’s a limitation, but there are still good solutions available. For instance, you would make every inch count. All the storage must be used to it’s fullest. Even unusual tricks, such a recessing the refrigerator into the wall so it doesn’t stick into the room as far, or reducing the cabinet depth to provide more elbow room, would be given consideration. The important point here is to realize that there are always more possibilities than you might at first expect. In short, there is hope.
STEP 5 – Define the goal. Here’s where all the thought you’ve put into the previous steps begins to pay big dividends. Because there has been adequate preparation, defining the goal becomes a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Actually, there are two puzzles. The one most people think about has to do with functionality; layout, traffic flow, etc. But, there is also the esthetic aspect; color scheme, textures, and all the other elements that bring the space together visually. It’s initially helpful to work at these separately, but of course, they eventually must be integrated to perform as a whole. Then you have something that will serve you well now and for years to come.