It was the utensil drawer that did it. Or more specifically, the fact said drawer came off in my hand after an over zealous tug one bleary morning. Looking around our kitchen revealed many unpleasant realities: cupboards literally falling apart, stained arborite countertops, a rusted range hood… It was high time for a renovation, but I soon discovered delving into the world of kitchen design isn’t all Pinterest boards and Crate and Barrel excursions. Here’s a look at what you need to know before you get cooking with your plans.

Alright, First Things First!

Every (good) expert out there will ask you to start thinking about how you’d ideally use your kitchen. Do you entertain frequently? Will there be primarily one cook? How you’re going to use the space will dictate the design of your kitchen. “You want to put in only what’s going to suit your home and contribute to the flow,” advises kitchen designer Kyla Wood.

Then comes the fun part – shopping to get a feel for style options. In Calgary, Legacy Kitchens, Trail Appliances and Robinson Lighting are good places to start. And don’t be scared off by the price. The purpose of this exercise is simply to figure out your likes and dislikes.

Next, decide what’s most important to you, and set an appropriate budget to keep yourself contained. Costs such as hardware can creep up, yet there are ways to get that Restoration Hardware look without the price.

Take advantage of big box stores that offer design services for free. “It’s best to book an in-store appointment and come in knowing where your plumbing, windows and support beams are, in addition to wall and cabinets measurements. Stores can then run off numbers and give you a quote,” advises Wood.

Before engaging with a contractor or designer, seek referrals and references to ensure their work fits your vision. During your meeting, get an understanding of what’s being provided, their rate and the timeframe for completion of each stage. “People usually have a vague idea on timing, but don’t realize the specifics,” warns interior designer Brooklyn Berry. And be sure to bring up what frustrates you about your current situation. Their job is to offer solutions that alleviate hassles.

Avoiding Avocado Appliances

Certain trends, like gold fixtures look quite swish, but homeowners need to consider if they’re able to afford keeping trends current. Ideally you’d swap out the latest fashion within five to eight years.

If you’re having a hard time deciding between a passing fad and a trend, it’s best to rely on a professional opinion. A good interior designer or decorator should figure out who you are, how you live and be able to decipher what’s best for you. “I design for the client not for trends, but if they’re trendy and into that, I’ll do it,” says Christina Aldana, interior decorator at Aldana Designs Inc.

Saving Money in the Long Run

While many folks fancy themselves as DIYers, there’s a big difference between a change of footprint and a lipstick job. To gauge whether you’re biting off more than you can chew, Aldana recommends paying a consultation fee. “Show a contractor your plan, get their ideas and see if they have any concerns. If you’re still convinced you can do it yourself, go for it,” she says.

Some contractors allow you to assist with demolition, cabinet assembly or removing the floor, thus trimming labour costs. And you can always put off purchasing appliances to a later date, so long as you ensure the new, larger models will fit into your current space.

Another wallet-friendly option is to take advantage of e-design services, such as those offered by Aldana Designs Inc. and BrooklynBerryDesigns.com. Simply submit your question and receive a custom solution within days.

While it all may sound a bit daunting, getting it right (the first time) is worth it, according to Kimerie Janzen, sales manager at Baywest Homes. “The kitchen is where people gather. It’s the heart of the home and you want that space to be inviting to cook and laugh together.”

7 Home Kitchen Trends Not to Miss

  1. Pot drawers are de rigueur for storing anything heavy, from dishes to mixers.
  2. White is still right. New colours are launched every year, but white always sells. It’s clean, simple, and can be traditional or modern depending on cabinet door styles.
  3. Islands pop with personality if they look like furniture. Try staining the base a different colour, adding casters to the base or turning a vintage dresser into one.
  4. The flat slab lacquered look can be yours, so long as there’s no detail on cabinet doors and they’re painted high gloss.
  5. Subway tiles are still on point, but with a twist. Change the layout from stacked to herringbone or offset. Consider charcoal grey grouting for added drama.
  6. Panels in front of dishwasher and fridge give that clean, continuous look to a kitchen.
  7. Microwave drawers set below countertop height (often into islands) are accessible for children and not at sight line.

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