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How to Start Your Kitchen Remodel

Woman Wishing She Could Remodel A New Kitchen

You’ve always wanted a kitchen remodel, and now you’ve decided it’s finally time to upgrade, now what? Not knowing where to start, many homeowners begin the process by looking at kitchen appliances. Others collect inspiring kitchen photos on Pinterest. Some homeowners decide they need more room, while others simply want to upgrade the dated look of their current kitchen. Homeowners may find themselves in this exploration stage for a year or longer before they even start interviewing kitchen designers or contractors for a kitchen remodel.

Once you’ve pondered long enough and you’re ready to green light a kitchen remodeling project, then what? Here are nine steps to get you started.

We at American Cabinet and Flooring have been serving the Denver area since 1999, offering the best kitchen and bath experience around. No matter where you are in your remodel thought process, we’re here to help. We offer free design and estimates, our own in-house production facility, a huge selection of cabinets in any style you want, high quality flooring options, and virtually every high-quality countertop material on the market. (Granite, natural stone, quartz, quartzite, marble, recycled glass, porcelain, laminate, solid surface, and everything in between.)

Get in touch, tell us a bit about your project, and let’s get you in the kitchen you’ve always wanted.


Family making lunch at a granite kitchen counter

Dream Big: What You Need vs. What You Want

This step is all about figuring out how you use your kitchen and finding the layout and features that fit your household’s lifestyle. Get ideas from Pinterest,  Houzz kitchen guides, magazine, TV shows, or from your friends and colleagues.

Think about your priorities and ask yourself some questions. How many people will be cooking and gathering here? How do you use your kitchen now, and how do you want to use it? Do you need more space or just better use of the space you have? What appliances need to be incorporated? What kind of countertops do you want? What are your storage needs?

Now is not the time to worry about your budget, this step is all about getting ideas, seeing what kinds of things are available, and really thinking about what you want your kitchen to become.

Start saving photos of kitchens with features that suit your style and taking notes on things you want to make sure to include in your kitchen. Your collection of notes and photos can be organized and beautiful, like a scrapbook, or it might just be a folder full of random images that piqued your interest.


Plan & Brainstorm

Once you’re ready to green-light that kitchen project and take the plunge the next step is to formulate scope of work and your preliminary budget. As eager as you are to get started, don’t begin tearing things apart and listing your old appliances for sale until you have a detailed plan for your kitchen remodel.

Are you just doing a cosmetic refresh, or are you going to completely gut your existing kitchen? Knowing the extent of your remodel gives you the opportunity to manage your vision and your budget, and it allows you to determine whether you can tackle the project on your own, or if you need to consult with a professional.

Both your scope and budget may change as you plan, but this will help you in the design process and allow you to reconcile what you want and what you can afford. As a homeowner, you’re not expected to walk into these types of projects knowing what everything should cost. Remember, this is an educational process. Look for what you like and look a pricing from a few different places to get a good ball park estimate.

Start with your ‘must haves’ and put down option you want along with rough estimates and pricing. Then add on the things you want but don’t ‘need’. Then you can start scaling back on things of looking at ways to cut costs if this puts you over budget.


Research The Professionals You Need

Unless you’re building your own kitchen cabinets and doing your own electrical and plumbing, you’re going to work with a professional at some point. Some homeowners start a kitchen remodel by hiring an architect or interior designer. Some go with a kitchen designer. Still, others might work on their own with a builder or contractor. Pros are available to help you with everything from contracts and permits to space planning, budgets, choosing finishes and fixtures, shopping, ordering products and managing your project from start to finish.

The Houzz Pro Directory in one place where you can find a list of design, remodeling and service professionals. You can search by your ZIP code and the category of professionals you seek.

If you are on the front range in Colorado and countertops, cabinets, or flooring is part of your project, we’d be happy to help! Contact us and we’ll have a designer reach out to you ASAP to discuss your project, come get some ideas in our Denver showroom.


Kitchen Remodel Schematic Design

This phase includes sketches, space planning, preliminary floor plans and elevations showing the layout and cabinet sizes. It’s a good idea to focus on layout and space planning before you get into the final look of the kitchen.

You will want a plan to figure out what materials will go where, how many square feet you will need, and ultimately how much this will cost. You can use these drawings to help get more accurate estimates form contractors as well as estimates on some of your choices for kitchen finishes and fixtures.


Choose Fixtures and Finishes

Now is the time to pull out those idea books and get that perfect look. You’ve found your kitchen style, whether it’s modern, classic, traditional, cottage, or a personal style in-between. You probably know if you want a white kitchen, a natural wood kitchen or a splash of some color. Now it’s time to put all the pieces together to make ‘your’ kitchen.

Now you need to make your final selection of finishes and fixtures. This may include:

  • Cabinetry (Construction type, storage upgrades, door style, finish, and color.)
  • Countertop Material (Granite, quartz, quartzite, natural stone, marble, porcelain, recycled glass, laminate, solid surface, etc.)
  • Kitchen Sinks and Faucets
  • Flooring
  • Light Fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Backsplashes

Finish Construction Documents and Submit For Permits

This is the stage where you finalize your design and prepare final floor plans, elevations, details and, if applicable, mechanical and electrical drawings, lighting switch plans, and exterior elevations. It’s important to have finishes and fixtures selected at this time since this is what will be considered in the final pricing from the contractor.

You’ll submit drawings for permits. You’ll need an architect, designer, or licensed contractor signed up to finalize the paperwork and pick up your permits. Be aware of lead times, supply chain issues and labor shortages can cause delays in a project getting completed.


Get Contractor Estimates

If you don’t already have a licensed contractor on your project, your next step is to find one to carry it through. A good rule of thumb is to get at least three contractor estimates. This is where you go through your designs with the contractors to get proper estimates for the job and find out if there are areas where you need to adjust for your budget.


Prepare For Demo

Construction is likely to start four to eight weeks from when you submitted for permits. The time leading up to that is when you plan on cleaning out the cabinets, putting what you don’t need in storage and — if you’re living in the house during construction — setting up a temporary kitchen.

You may be moving out of your house temporarily, but most homeowners still live in the house through construction. Preparation and organization can save your sanity.

Discuss the logistics ahead of time with your contractor. Will you meet once a week for updates? Will you have to be out of the house for certain tasks like demo or flooring? What about debris removal and dust? Are there any family allergy issues? What is a typical workday for the crew? Getting all this on the table beforehand can set expectations and make for a smoother ride.


Go Through The Punch List: Is It The Way You Want It

Once construction is over — well, almost over — there’s typically a list of items that are missing, wrong, or still need to be completed. This punch list, as it is called, could include small things like a missing light switch plate, a caulk line that shrank and pulled away from the wall or paint touch-ups. Sometimes it can be bigger things, such as a faulty range hood, or a big scratch in the newly refinished floor.

Sometimes the homeowner does the punch list. It can be as informal as an emailed list of items that need to be fixed or finished, while some contractors have very specific paperwork.

Now is the time to be picky; if something is not right, get it fixed now, so you don’t harbor resentment over a missed detail in the kitchen of your dreams for years to come.

The contractor may have to make multiple visits back to the house to finish these items. Prepare yourself for more than one visit and you’ll be fine.

Once that’s all finished up, put everything back in your kitchen, and enjoy your new, perfect space!

Find some kitchen ideas and inspiration from some of the brands we carry: