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Kitchen renovations can be an exciting way to spice up an older home. Think new countertops, up-to-date appliances, and a better-functioning layout. The possibilities are endless, though you’ll want to consider a few things before getting started.

Here are our top 10 things to think about when planning kitchen renovations.

1) Know Your Budget

Before you begin kitchen renovations, decide how much you want to spend. Make your design decisions based on that budget. If you start the project without a firm idea of what you want to spend, costs can quickly get out of control. Leave a little room for unexpected things, or things you want to add as the project gets underway.

2) What Style Do You Want?

Do you want a modern kitchen or a more traditional look? Some homeowners think if they have a Colonial house, they need a Colonial-style kitchen. Don’t be afraid to break out of that box. Matching the period and style of a home is a great option, but if you really want to try something different, go for it.

3) Layout, Layout, Layout

The layout of your kitchen is one of its most important aspects, helping make it as functional as it is an inviting room. Get professional design help to avoid the pitfalls of a bad layout. Think about the placement of each item in your kitchen and how it affects the flow of traffic through the workspace. Then have a trusted friend or family member look at your plans to get another viewpoint.

4) Design For the Future

As you’re designing, don’t just imagine yourself in the space next month or next year, but consider how your needs will change over time. Will you be having kids? Will older children be moving out? Are your in-laws planning to move in? Do you plan to sell in the near term? These are the kinds of questions to ask yourself to get the most from your kitchen over the long term.

5) Should You Move Walls?

Opening and removing walls can bring dramatic change by expanding the space, changing the flow, and giving the kitchen an open feel. But doing so will come at a cost. If you are on a tight budget, structural changes and relocating pipes and ductwork can add significantly to the cost of your project. It may well be worth it but if your funds are more limited, keeping walls intact is a good way to save.

6) Gas or Electric?

Now is the time to consider switching cooking fuel types. A popular choice is duel fuel—having a gas range and an electric oven. A gas cook top can give you better heat control and faster heating. It also can work better with pans that are not perfectly flat on the bottom. An example of this is a Wok. Ovens are a little different. Electric ovens can get hotter than gas and therefore have self-cleaning features that gas ovens don’t have. Gas ovens can also be harder to control the heat in. Some people think baking bread is better in a gas oven because there’s more moisture produced during the combustion of the gas and that’s good for the bread.

7) Cabinet Changes

Once you’ve decided on a style and layout, it’s time to choose a cabinet supplier. You’ll want to go to the showroom to see samples first-hand, and choose the line of cabinets you want. The price ranges are mostly due to quality of materials and construction methods. Higher quality materials are solid plywood boxes with wood doors and frames. Even the drawer slides and hinges on the higher quality cabinets will make a big difference down the road. Lower quality materials will save a few bucks, but won’t last as long or be as trouble-free. Remember too, the installation cost of the cheap stuff will be the same from your builder as the quality stuff, so your savings will not be as significant as the hassles you could experience down the road. You can also go with a fully customized cabinet line, which can be the ultimate in quality and design if you have the budget and the added time it will take to produce the cabinets.

8) Choosing Countertops

Pick the best material your budget will allow. A durable material like granite will last and keep its beauty for years. A lower-end material could become worn much sooner. Know the properties of different stone, like marble, for example. It is a softer stone, and can stain or scratch more easily than harder stones. Corian or other solid surface materials can get interesting looks not found in natural stone. Other popular options include soapstone, which needs to be oiled, concrete which can be made to create some very unusual looks, or Formica if budget is your main priority.

9) Windows to the World

During kitchen renovations, consider adding or enlarging windows or skylights. Natural light can make a world of difference in a kitchen, not to mention provide you with a view outside. You might have to sacrifice some cabinet space, but it could be worth it. Keep in mind that the exterior finish of your home can dramatically change the cost of adding windows. A new stone opening is much more expensive to create than one that is framed in wood with wood or vinyl siding. If your exterior is stucco, the finish and color-matching may be issues. When adding skylights, the age of the existing roof is important. With an older roof, you may need to re-roof parts of your home to add the skylights.

10) Lighting Design

Don’t just throw in some high hats and task lights and be done. Lights can be an afterthought for some, but good lighting design can have a dramatic effect on a kitchen. All workspaces should be well lit, but you’ll also want to think about accent lights inside cabinets, wall washes to highlight artwork, or even color-changing LED lights to ramp up the fun factor.

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