Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

How to Remodel a Kitchen in 10 Steps

By: Danny Lipford

Remodeling a kitchen may seem like an overwhelming task, but if you break it down into these 10 steps, the process will go a lot smoother:

  1. Inspiration: Find design and style inspiration in books, magazines, and other homes.
  2. Budget: Decide how much you can spend, develop a budget, and stick to it.
  3. Design: Work with a kitchen designer to develop a layout and plan for your kitchen.
  4. Contractor: Find and hire a reputable contractor to perform the kitchen renovation.
  5. Cabinets: Decide on the style and finish of your cabinets. If your budget is tight, consider refinishing your existing cabinets.
  6. Countertops: Decide on the material and color for your countertops. Granite, solid surface, and plastic laminate are popular choices.
  7. Flooring: Choose the type and finish of flooring for your kitchen. Popular flooring for kitchens includes tile and wood.
  8. Appliances: Select a refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and stove for your kitchen. Popular finishes include stainless steel and painted.
  9. Faucet and Sink: Decide on the faucet and sink for your kitchen. Popular finishes for faucets include chrome and brushed nickel. Stainless steel or porcelain enamel are often used for sinks.
  10. Lighting: Incorporate several different types of lighting into your kitchen, including recessed, pendant, and under cabinet mounted task lights.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re going to show you ten easy steps to a successful kitchen remodel. We’ll talk about details you’ll need to sweat and what to have fun with, plus we’ll plug you into some great tips from pros and worthwhile advice from homeowners who have been through the renovation mill. Hey stick around we’ve got a great show for you.

Well you may have heard me say this before: kitchen renovations are still one of the most popular home improvement projects out there these days and there’s a lot of reasons for it.

One it really has become the center of family life so money spent in this area is really appreciated. Now speaking of appreciation it also will increase the value of your home, make it a lot easier to sell if you ever decide to put your house on the market.

Now what we’ll look at this week is how to do it the right way and this is a pretty good example of that. This is a kitchen that’s owned by Joe and Carol Dupree and they just completed an extensive renovation just a couple of weeks ago.

Now the ten steps for a successful kitchen renovation starts with planning, finding that inspiration and establishing a budget. Carol told us that she got her inspiration from a variety of different sources.

Carol Dupree: I looked in a lot of magazines and went to some parade of homes and looked at some friends houses.

Danny Lipford: Carol’s kitchen renovation took several months to complete, she’s very happy with the results but she told us there were times when she felt that she was under an awful lot of pressure, because of the importance of some of the choices she was making.

Carol Dupree: Some of these are major decisions because the granite is here to stay. I’m not changing the granite; I’m not changing the cabinets. Paint color over time I might change it, and actually the lighting was a big decision.

Danny Lipford: After the fact, it’s obvious that Carol made the right decisions but what about right when you’re in the middle of a major kitchen renovation like Anne Heggeman is. Now she’s waited a long time to do this project so she’s developed a pretty philosophical attitude about it.

Anne Heggeman: I had to wait for the moment and I think when I saw something, I’m not a visionary, but I found a picture, so when I found the picture that made, that made me make up my mind.

I wanted to do the picture, kitchen according to picture. Just relax about everything they do, if you’ve made all your decisions do not set a date for completion. I have no date for completion, when it’s done it will be done and I’ll be happy.

Danny Lipford: Now if you want to be that content while your in the middle of a kitchen project you’ll probably want to think very hard about the budget before you get started.

Now begin with just how much you can actually afford to spend on the project. Now you don’t have to spend all that money but it gives you a ceiling to work under, no pun intended.

Now you also don’t want to spend more than you can get back if you sell your home so you need to look carefully at all of the sales prices of similar homes in your area. The number you arrive at will be a mark you want to stay slightly below because budget overruns happen on even the best planned projects.

Once you’ve decided on exactly what you want to accomplish with your kitchen renovation it’s time to move to step three, and that’s finding the right designer to put it all out on paper and provide the set of drawings you’ll need to go to step four which finding, hiring and managing the contractor that’s going to put it all together.

Augusta Tapia: It’s really important that you start from the ground up with a remodel or a new kitchen design that every aspect of the design is approached in a methodical way that there’s a process that you go to.

It makes a kitchen evolve, so we try to lead the homeowner in a way that we get their input, their design ideas, we select their appliances, we have them choose finishes and door styles, things that they know are appealing to them.

Before we ever put the computer process in motion, so that way they are very clear on they’re happy with the direction you’re moving in even though it’s an evolution of the design process.

Danny Lipford: Good communication with the designer is almost as important as the quality of their technical skills and the same is true for the person who carries out the design.

A good remodeling contractor should be licensed to work in your area, have good referrals and a history of doing good quality work, but you also want to know how well they communicate with their customers.

The main thing is to choose a contractor you feel comfortable with, one that you can really communicate with throughout the process. You know it’s not a magical process, almost any home improvement projects will have a few snags here and there so you want a contractor that can work together with you on solving these little problems.

You know the details are so important when you’re putting together a kitchen renovation like this and the hardware can really make a difference. Now Joe has a solution to a very common cabinet hardware problem.

Joe Truini: You might not guess it by looking at me, but I actually spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen. I like cooking for the same reasons that I like home remodeling, it allows me to build something from scratch.

But what’s frustrating is when I need to find some cooking equipment and I can’t because it’s buried inside a cabinet. Now, particularly it is true of thin, wide items such as cooking sheets and cutting boards. So I came up with this idea that I thought might work, it’s a couple of towel racks that I mounted to the backside of the door.

The brackets are screwed in place and then the bar is cut to length. Now there’s two things you have to remember when you mount the brackets, first that you inset it enough that it clears the face frame when you close the door, also it comes with pretty long screws so you need shorter screws so you don’t poke through.

And at the bottom, to prevent the pans from sliding all the way through, I attached a simple wooden cleat. There’s one solid piece of wood here, that’s about ¾ by one inch, and on top of that I screw a piece of plywood that’s about two and a half inches wide.

Now when I drop in the cookie sheets or the cutting boards, the racks will hold them up right and the cleat will prevent them from falling through. Now you can easily find them without having to dig through a whole pile of pots.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at the 10 steps you need to follow for a successful kitchen renovation. Now we’ve already looked at the inspiration of remodeling you kitchen, the budget, layout and design and finding the right contractor to put it all together.

Now a very important step is deciding on cabinets. Now you may want to refinish the cabinets or you may want to replace the cabinets entirely, that’ll depend a lot on the design.

Now in this kitchen, which is Anne Heggeman’s kitchen that we spoke with earlier in the show, in order to get the perfect look of the kitchen that she wanted she had to replace all the cabinets.

But the purchase and installation of cabinets represents the bulk of most kitchen renovation budgets. So if yours is a little tight look long and hard at the possibility of refinishing, repainting or maybe refacing your existing cabinets.

That and maybe the addition of a few new doors can make an enormous improvement without clobbering your wallet.

Many times when the cabinets are changing but the footprint isn’t, the old cabinets can be removed while leaving the drywall in place. Now that’s how it worked for Carol Dupree because she was happy with the basic layout of her kitchen but she wanted to update the look of it.

So other than the removal of one overhead cabinet and the addition of a few recessed lights, the footprint of her kitchen basically remained unchanged with just a few drywall patches here and there.

Now Mrs. Heggeman’s kitchen on the other hand was taken all the way back to the bare studs. Because even though no walls were being moved, the major appliances were being shifted around so much that the plumbing and electrical lines all had to be rerouted.

What are you doing with all of the countertops?

Anne Heggeman: We’re going to use marble.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Anne Heggeman: For the countertops, use some slate for the ceramic tile.

Danny Lipford: As Anne mentioned she’s chosen natural stone for her countertops and that’s a great choice, but natural stone is fairly brittle so you need to make sure that all the cabinets, once they’re in place, nice and level, and all the areas especially corners like this are nice and flat because any little point that’s just a little high can create a crack in a natural stone countertop.

Now, one thing the fabricators like to do before they prepare anything for the job site is to come out and create a little template so that when they’re working on the countertops everything will be perfect when they bring out those big heavy slabs.

Now when you’re ready to get out there and look at all the world of countertops you better plan on spending a lot of time.

The look of natural stone is so popular these days that’s it’s been mimicked in dozens of ways by tons of different materials. Some like the quartz-based surfaces are man made mixtures of natural materials while others like the solid surface products are completely synthetic.

And each of these surfaces has a few unique advantages of its own but all of these materials are fairly close to natural granite in terms of cost. But here again if the budget is tight there are options that come fairly close.

Plastic laminate tops are now being made with alternating surface textures so that

they look more like real stone than ever before at a much lower price tag. Now on to step seven, flooring.

Carol Dupree: So this is the tile that I had put in about eight years ago and with upgrading I decided I was going to keep the tile.

Danny Lipford: Unlike that kitchen this one is getting a brand new floor. And the homeowners decided to go with a very common choice, ceramic tile. And with ceramic tile you can run it in a straight line, always looks good or if you want to add just a little bit of interest it can be turned on a 45.

But get ready to pay a little bit more if you decide to go that route because you’re going to be using more materials and the installer is going to charge you a little extra for all the additional cutting that is necessary for that.

But you know one of the most common emails and questions that I get is can I use hardwood floor in my kitchen. Well I have it in my kitchen and it works pretty nice because it flows pretty well into some adjacent rooms, kind of ties everything together.

But you do have to be careful for any potential leaks with dishwashers or under your sink or icemakers and make sure that no water gets to it. Also what I’ve found is that it helps to put a little throw rug in the high traffic areas like in front of the sink or some of the more common walkways.

Another alternative to get that look of wood but not put wood down is the laminate flooring which is something that you’re seeing a lot. Very do it yourself friendly but make sure that it’s warranted for a high moisture use like bathrooms and kitchens.

Now we’ll continue our ten steps for a successful kitchen remodeling right after our Best New Product, which features a product that might be perfect for your kitchen.

Jodi Marks: Just look at all of these plumbing tools out on the market today to help you with your plumbing projects, and chances are when you’re doing your plumbing projects you’ve had to come and pick up say three, four or maybe even five of these tools to get your project done.

Until now, check this out. RIDGID has got an all-in-one tool that’s gonna be perfect for helping you with your faucet and your sink installation. You know if you’re installing a new faucet and you’ve got to get up underneath that countertop, it’s a really tight area in there to reach up in there.

Well this tool is perfect because of it’s long design, it’s going to be able to get up in that tight space and loosen those nuts that are holding your faucet in place. It also helps you loosen the supply lines.

You know, the shut-off valve sometimes can get very corroded and it’s very hard to turn, well this tool will help you turn it as well. And if you’re installing say a sink, it holds the strainer basket in place so you can turn that locknut and get a nice tight fit.

So, whether you’re a professional plumber, or a weekend warrior, this tool is going to help you with virtually all of your plumbing projects.

Danny Lipford: We’re working our way down the ten steps for a successful kitchen renovation. Now on the eighth step in our ten steps is one that a lot of people have a little trouble with choosing the right appliance.

Because there’s so much out here to choose from and it’s really the ultimate fusion of style and function because if you don’t like the way it looks you’re not going to be very happy. If it doesn’t do the job that you want it to do you’re not going to be happy either.

So it’s time for a little self-evaluation, how do you really use your kitchen? Do you entertain a lot? Do you cook a lot? Do you maybe use this more than you use this? All those things have to be considered well in advance when you’re choosing an appliance, especially when you’re working under a budget.

Rob and Tina Hinckle are a young couple who went through just that process as they prepared for the transformation of their old kitchen into a new more functional one. And they discovered that each had slightly different agendas in terms of appliances.

Tina Hinckle: The appliances were definitely a top priority for us and the functionality of the kitchen and Rob is definitely the one that cooks the most and he had a good say in what we were you know going to get.

But the one thing that I’ve loved the most is the icemaker. That was one of my little perks that we had to get in there.

Danny Lipford: We’re closing in on the final steps for a successful kitchen renovation. Step number nine, choosing the right plumbing fixture. And that will usually start with a selection of the right kitchen sink for your kitchen.

Now when you’re choosing a sink you also need to choose your faucet at the same time because it will determine a lot to do with the style of the sink that you pick out. And you may choose one that’s made of granite, one that’s cast iron, or a lot of people still love the old-fashioned stainless steel sink.

But now days you can get it with a mirrored finish, brush finish or satin bowl with mirrored finish so all those decisions have to be made. But another reason to select the faucet at the same time is that some faucets require only one hole, others three holes. And others require three holes plus an extra one for the sprayer.

Now you could also use some of the extra holes you have in a sink to install say an instant hot water dispenser or a filtered water dispenser or even one of the soap dispenser that a lot of people find very convenient.

So you’ll see a lot of things to select at the home center when you’re looking for the right plumbing fixture so plan on spending some time on that as well. Now step number ten is choosing the right light fixture.

A kitchen is a room full of tasks like chopping up the salads, rolling out the dough so it only makes sense to provide adequate lighting for all of these tasks. Now task lighting can be achieved in a number of different ways.

One is to install a low profile fluorescent under the wall mounted cabinets to provide a nice glow of light right on the counters where you may be doing some of these tasks. Another way is to strategically place recess lights so that the cone of light will illuminate right where you want that light.

Another one that’s a very popular way of adding a nice decorative touch to your kitchen is by using pendant lights. Now this is a light fixture that hangs from the ceiling on a small down rod and these can be positioned anywhere you want, very popular way of kind of lighting up an island cabinet.

But you know people also want nice even lighting in their kitchen and a lot of homeowners choose to go with a fluorescent light mounted right in the middle of the kitchen.

Now these look a lot better than the fluorescents of years ago because the covers over these fixtures completely block out being able to see the fluorescent tubes themselves because that can kind of have an institutional or kind of a cheap look to it.

But the best type of lighting in a kitchen is one that is very versatile, that will allow you to turn on all those lights when you need that intensity or to be able to kind of fine tune the lights a little bit, maybe tone them down, say you’re having a party because we all know everybody ends up in the kitchen during a party.

A lot of people are committed to thinking green but I think the man who really put it on the map was Dr. Seuss. I mean, who hasn’t heard of green eggs and ham? Even Sam I am became a green convert.

Well, I’d like to take it to the next level. Here’s a simple way to make your coffee green, stop using stir sticks. I know it sounds kind of petty but would you believe that Americans throw away 138 billion coffee stirrers every year? But the solution isn’t having to drink your coffee black.

If you use cream and sugar, put it in the cup first, then pour the coffee in and that should be enough to mix it all together. But if you absolutely have to stir, here’s a little trick. Take a piece of pasta and stir your java with that. Afterwards, you can eat the stick or add it to your compost pile. Then, you can drink your coffee on a plane, on a train, on a boat, with a goat.

Well, Mrs. Heggeman’s kitchen is almost complete, just a few paint touch ups here and there and all of the installation of the ceramic tiles she selected for the backsplash. Boy this looks great with the color she’s painting the walls, the countertop, the floor, boy it’s really coming together and that’s what happens when you have a well defined plan for your kitchen renovation.

That’s not to say a few surprises won’t come up every now and then because when you’re tearing into a wall or digging into something that someone else built well you may find a few things. But with a well laid out plan it will minimize those surprises that can kind of hinder a job.

So that’s very important to remember our 10 steps to a successful kitchen renovation. Find some inspiration for your project, develop a budget that meets your needs without over investing in the house, be sure that the new layout is functional and fits your style of cooking, find a contractor you can communicate with and one that can get the job done.

Now whether you refurbish or replace you cabinets be aware that they will set the tone for your new kitchen, choose a countertop that fits your lifestyle. There are great options for any budget.

Flooring in the kitchen should look good, feel good, and last. Select appliances according to your family’s cooking style not just their looks. Pick a quality sink and faucet these two components can take a lot of abuse. Don’t over look the need for good lighting or the fact that it can be very attractive.

There you have it, our ten steps for a successful kitchen renovation. Now of course it’s a little more work renovating a kitchen than just filling out a list and you better be patient if you’re renovating the kitchen in the house that you live in, but once it’s all done its quite a payoff.

Hey I hope we’ve been able to give you some information that you can use on your next kitchen renovation. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you soon.

Next week on Today’s Homeowner we’re renovating the bath, big, small, and in between. We’re looking at bathroom projects of all sizes and shapes with budgets from modest to over the top.

If you’d like to purchase a DVD copy of this week’s show visit our website at dannylipford.com or call us at 1-251-478-3345.



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