Recently I went through a kitchen remodel at home, and the experience was eye-opening, to say the least. As with all changes, it was difficult to deal with at times yet exciting to see the transformation.
My existing kitchen was tight and inefficient (hence the desire to remodel). It lacked countertop space, the refrigerator was in the middle of the room, and the finishes were just dated. My wife and I had this idea to remove a wall and open the space as well as bring our home into the 21st Century with an open floor plan. We hunkered down and developed a plan to make our kitchen desires come true.
Our first need was to hire a contractor, or we thought. We called a few teams, had them walk through our house with us, and requested quotes. We were super excited to believe we were making progress. A week or two later the bids were coming back, and they were all over the place. The fee range was from $30,000 to well over $75,000 for our kitchen! We could not fathom why there was such a discrepancy in their bids. The only thing we could think of was the contractors were not understanding the scope.
With that, I developed a set of drawings (plans and elevations) to make sure the second round of contractors were all bidding on the same information. That ended up being very beneficial as the next set of bids came in within a twenty percent (20%) fee range.
Upon selecting our contractor, we picked out our cabinetry, countertops, and determined our start date. It was exciting!
December 18, finally arrived and there was electricity in the air that morning. The contractor arrived and final talks about the game plan were expressed and demolition commenced. It was weird, but I was sad to see them start removing all the appliances and dismantling the cabinetry. I just recall thinking, I can’t wait to get home and see the progress one day brings.
When I returned that evening, the cabinetry, appliances, and drop ceiling were out. The kitchen already seemed so much larger. They poked a hole in the ceiling at the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and, thankfully, it was not a bearing wall and could easily be removed.
After the initial excitement, the renovations turned into daily stress. I will say, I have never missed a kitchen sink so badly before in my life. Once you do the dishes in a bathtub for a month, a kitchen sink is amazing.
In addition to missing a kitchen sink, each day you are out of a functioning kitchen the headache builds just a little. Some of the days it seems that nothing is happening, and you just want to see progress. All of the behind the scene work such as rough plumbing and electrical just don’t give the work justice and I would just panic.
About three weeks in they came to measure for the countertops and I just didn’t see it. Stressing and hoping the kitchen would come together was getting to me. But three days later when they installed the cabinetry and the countertops you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Wow, it starts to make a difference.
Our renovation ended up taking about six weeks. Some of that was due to some coordination issues, appliance deliveries, and just because. But, since we have our kitchen back, it is all a distant memory.
I love our new kitchen! The finish upgrades, additional storage space, and openness give it a better feel than the previous layout. A welcome renovation of our home.
To close out, I will state some advice I learned from this experience. A renovation doesn’t have to take twice as long and cost twice as much. Ours was on budget (including our contingencies) and delivered a little behind only because of a damaged dishwasher. I will say, plan, plan, and plan. Once I developed our design and presented it to the contractor, it made the process a bit smoother. We were able to discuss contingencies for unknowns that the plans brought into question and a strategy in the event worst-case scenarios occurred. Be patient and remember to breathe.
Lyle Ganz is an Associate with SR/A Interior Design. He has been practicing architectural interior design in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area since late 2000. He currently is furthering his studies at the University of Maryland University College.