Should I knock down walls or move appliances? This month we answer questions from a homeowner who has an upcoming kitchen renovation and is worried about doing things right the first time. 

I’m looking to remodel our kitchen after many years. I’m quite handy, but budget conscious. What should I consider that I might overlook? First we always consider the experience that you want to have in a particular room, in this case your kitchen. Then identify what you can and cannot do immediately, and what kind of workarounds you’ll need for the time being. As for being budget conscious, our best advice is to break your work into phases and consider economies of scale. If you can’t afford to do it all at once, it’s much better to do each piece right and take longer than cut corners.

Pro Tip: Don’t take on plumbing or electrical work yourself. It’s worth paying a licensed professional if for nothing else than to put the liability on their insurance instead of yours. 

What are the largest expenses in a kitchen remodel typically? Structural changes and replacing cabinets are typically the largest expense in a kitchen remodel. If you can avoid moving where the water runs, where the electrical is, and repaint or reface cabinets, you can significantly reduce your expenses. 

Pro Tip: Cabinets often approach 50% of the cost of an entire kitchen remodel.

What are your tips for appliance locations? Bearing in mind that moving plumbing or electrical can greatly increase your costs, we consider the “triangle” formed by your sink, cooktop, and refrigerator and work to keep these three highly utilized areas in a reasonable proximity to each other. This makes the experience of using the kitchen much more pleasant for the inhabitants. Nobody wants to have to walk the entire length of the kitchen and back every time they need something.

Pro Tip: Consider the right- or left-handedness of the occupants. Items such as utensils or plates should be stored conveniently to the side most used by the member of the household who uses and stores them.

If I decide to open walls, is there a way to get more countertop space?  Moving things off the counter and into drawers or cabinets is a good way to reclaim countertop space. There is almost always significantly more storage than counter space in most kitchens. Think about how much space you could earn back by replacing a countertop microwave with a drawer microwave or an over-the-range model.

Pro Tip: If you have a gas range make sure the over-the-range microwave model is vented and not a recirculating model.

Are over-the-range or drawer microwaves more expensive? Both options are typically more expensive than a countertop model, so if you want a more budget friendly option to increase countertop space consider a rolling cart. Serving many of the same functions as a kitchen island, a cart can be where you need it when you need it and moved out of the way when you’re done.  

Pro Tip: We love butcher block topped carts and often use those that come with an integrated waste bin. 

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This feature appears in the March 2023 issue of Haymarket-Gainesville Lifestyle Magazine. You can pick up copies of it at these locations.


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