In my lifetime, I have cooked in countless kitchens—both my own and others’—and through it all, I kept a running inventory of design features I liked and didn’t like. So, when we moved into this house in 2016, I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted. I had do to a bit of tweaking to deal with our space and budget, but overall the kitchen you see now is the kitchen I saw in my head the first time we looked at the house.
Over the past year, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about various choices I made from people wanting to know if they should make them in their own kitchens. Not being able to see the kitchens or know how the questioners use their kitchens, the only thing I can really do is say why I chose something and if we’re happy with it.
Here are my answers to the features I get asked about most often.
If yesterday’s post about kitchen renovations left you
feeling like you’ll be stuck with the same dysfunctional kitchen forever and
ever and ever, amen…today’s post is for you.
The truth is, you don’t have to knock down walls and buy new
cabinets to make your kitchen more functional. You might need to do that to
make it prettier, but pretty is a nice secondary. The most important thing
about a kitchen is that it works. And almost any kitchen can be made to work
better. Not necessarily well…but better.
That’s a lesson I’ve learned in every home I’ve lived in as
an adult, none of which has boasted anything close to a dream kitchen from the
start. This Hawthorne House Renovation is the first time a real, genuine
kitchen renovation has been in the cards for me, so for 20 years before that,
my cooking, hosting, large-crowd loving self had to figure out how to make the
best of what had been handed to me. And what had been handed was never good.
Are you thinking about a kitchen renovation? Do you have visions of subway tile and quartz countertops dancing in your head? Or are you still steeling your nerves at the thought of kitchen upgrades before you try to sell your house? Before you start calling contractors, stop, make yourself some coffee, and ask yourself the following questions.
(Really. Make some coffee. This is going to take a while. I’ve written book chapters shorter than this blog post.)
Okay. Ready? Here we go.
1.) How long will I be in this house?
Why? Because how you answer this question helps you determine three things: Your budget. Your style choices. The quality of materials used.
If you’re only looking at staying in your house for a few more months or few more years, your kitchen renovation is really about re-sale. Which means you can keep your budget small, limiting it to essential visual upgrades. It also means you can paint your cabinets that trendy dark blue or choose that floor tile that’s all over Pinterest; you won’t be around in five years, when all those choices look oh so 2019. They’ll look good now, which is all that matters. You also don’t have to invest in furniture-grade cabinetry…or even mid-grade cabinetry; if doors are falling off their hinges in 10 years and laminate finishes are peeling off, you’re not the one who will have to deal with it.
If, however, you plan to be in your house for another decade (or two or three), you have a vested interest in a renovation that lasts (because, trust me, you don’t want to do this again for a long, long time). You also have a vested interest in a renovation that doesn’t look dated five years down the line (unless, of course, you can afford to shell out big bucks every time backsplash trends change). The longer you’re going to be in your house, the more important it is to invest in quality materials that last and classic design choices that work with the rest of your house. If you can’t afford to do that now (or if a house full of destructive littles makes you leery of having nice things), it’s better to either live with what you have until you can afford it/the time is right OR make a few cheap upgrades now and save the major work for later.