Important Questions to Ask Before Renovating Your Kitchen


Renovating your kitchen is a chance to create a beautiful, functional new space that will truly act as the heart of your home. You can probably envision it now: family gathered around the kitchen, your teenagers cranking out homework at the island, your first time hosting Thanksgiving because you finally have the space. It’s an exciting project… but it’s also a huge undertaking – financially, logistically, and emotionally. There’s a lot to think about when preparing for a home renovation, especially a full kitchen remodel. As a starting point, ask yourself these key questions to help set the stage for your renovation:

What’s your budget?
If you’ve never embarked on a renovation before, you might be initially surprised at the cost of a full kitchen remodel. It’s not an inexpensive endeavor! From cabinets and countertops to flooring, tile, plumbing, lighting, and appliances, there are a lot materials and trades that come together in one place. Before you begin the process, set a general range that you would be comfortable spending. As you dig into the design phase, you’ll get a sense for what falls within that range and what’s out of reach, helping to narrow in on your scope. Your budget will influence a bunch of decisions along the way, from the locations of walls and windows to the cabinets, appliances, finishes, and fixtures you select. Not sure where to even start? Your contractor should be able to give you a ballpark number for a standard remodel based on the basics of your project, and you can scale your budget up or down from there.

Do you plan to stay or sell?
Whether you plan to love it or list it, a kitchen remodel is one of the best investments you can make in your home. According to data shared in Remodeling Magazine’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, the average kitchen remodel in the U.S. recouped more than 50% of costs at resale. That said, your renovation approach will likely differ depending on if you plan to stay in your home long-term or sell it shortly after the remodel. If this is your forever home – or you intend to stay at least for the next several years – then your decisions can be driven more by your own personal preferences. You might splurge on that six-burner range you love, or get more creative with the backsplash tile for a statement look. On the flip side, if you’re renovating in hopes of increasing your home value for an upcoming sale, you’ll likely take a different approach – one that’s driven by the current market and decidedly more budget-conscious. Remodeling for resale should focus on functional updates with wide appeal, and skip the costly customizations.

How do you use your kitchen?
Take a moment to think about the time you spend in your kitchen. And as a follow-up, how would you want to use your kitchen in an ideal world? Do you prepare elaborate family dinners each night? Or are you an aficionado of one-pot meals, in and out as quickly as possible? If you had a nice big island, would you gather around it with friends over cocktails and games? Or would it become a homework station for the kiddos? We’d bet that your kitchen serves many functions, and you’ll want a space that can meet all of those needs. Everything from the cabinet layout to the countertop material should be driven by how you’ll actually use the space. If your little ones love making Play-Doh cupcakes at the island, you’ll likely forgo delicate marble countertops. And if you’re a master pastry chef, you’ll want storage space to accommodate all those extra baking tools. Observing your day-to-day use of the space can help pinpoint what you’ll need, as well as what’s currently lacking.

What are your priorities?
Most of us would love a magazine-worthy kitchen with all the bells and whistles. Marble slab backsplash! Custom cabinetry! Double oven! Who wouldn’t go all out if they could? But unless your budget is endless (ahem, see above), you’ll likely have to make some concessions during your kitchen redesign. As with any renovation, having both a deal breaker and nice-to-have list will help you prioritize when you run into those difficult decisions. Soft-close cabinets and an island with storage might be absolute must-haves, while you may be able to let go of that statement range hood if push comes to shove. In the end, you’ll probably be happiest if you prioritize function over finishes – a pretty kitchen that doesn’t work with your lifestyle is a recipe for regret.

What’s your design style?
For a full kitchen remodel, you’ll likely be working closely with an interior designer to determine the look and feel of the space, as well as the most practical layout to meet your needs. That said, it’s a great idea to put some thought into your ideal design style before kicking things off. If you’re a visual person, you might pull together a Pinterest board of your favorite kitchens, or you can even jot down a few words that you hope will describe your new space (like cozy, timeless, and simple). Having a design vision isn’t a total necessity – that’s why you hire the experts! – but if you do have a specific style in mind it can be helpful to define that early in the process. Just as important is knowing what you don’t like, too!

Do you have a kitchen remodel contractor you trust?
We’ll end on this note for emphasis: it is so important to find a reliable, licensed contractor for your remodel. Kitchens are one of the most expensive rooms to renovate in your home, so it’s crucial that you partner with a team you can trust. Referrals are a great way to find a designer or contractor, but you can also get a sense for their track record through online reviews or requesting references. Ask questions about timelines, materials, experience, and expertise. A solid contractor will welcome your questions and be communicative, prompt, and transparent.