Top 7 Things to Know Before Starting Your Kitchen Renovation


So many clients of our clients are absolutely stunned at the difference a new kitchen makes in their lives. Simple tasks, like preparing lunches and baking, are suddenly more joyful in a fresh, beautiful, and functional space. The kitchen becomes a gathering place for the family in a whole new way. I even have clients who say they are eating healthier, simply because they want to spend more time in their new space. (It’s hard to put a price on joy and peace of mind!)

The process of renovating your kitchen, however, is less simple. 

Logistically, a kitchen is the most complex room in a house. It requires electrical, plumbing, gas (if desired), ventilation, along with fixed elements like cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Oh, and did I mention those elements all have to work together? It’s not nearly as simple as furnishing a bedroom.

Because of this complexity, the best way to create a kitchen that transforms your life in meaningful ways, both large and small, is by having a smart plan. 

To help you, let’s talk about the 5 big things you should consider before your kitchen renovation ever gets underway… 

1. Set the Function & Scope of Your Kitchen Renovation

A great kitchen design considers the personal requirements of you and your family. That’s why it is so important to take the time to carefully think about your needs and wishes. Imagine your ideal daily routine. Think about what needs to be stored in the space. Ask yourself how many people will be using the space at once and where you would like to eat your meals.

The ideation phase is where an experienced design professional can help you right from the start. We know which question to ask to help you make smart decisions about the design and scope of your kitchen renovation…

  • Understanding your needs & wishes
  • Helping you weigh the pros and cons of different renovation options
  • Looking at your existing space for new layouts with enhanced functionality
  • Discussing all the innovative design options available to you, everything from appliances to storage solutions to fixtures

Together, we will ensure that you consider all aspects of your kitchen renovation (even the ones you didn’t know you needed to consider) before you get started. This helps pave the way to your dream kitchen AND saves you time and money down the road. 


Innovative features like this over-the-sink serving station always surprise our clients! The options are truly endless. Photo Credit: The Galley

2. Uncover & Refine Your Design Style

I am often asked if it’s okay to design a modern kitchen in an older, more traditional home. The answer is ABSOLUTELY! There are ways to coordinate the design of a modern kitchen with elements that feel more traditional, such as apron sinks, light fixtures, backsplash tile and softer items, such as fabric and wallpaper. 

In my opinion, getting creative and personal is the best part of designing a room that’s highly functional but also makes you smile every time you walk in. 

If you work with us, we’ll spend some time together exploring your design sensibilities. You can certainly get started on your own by browsing sites like Pinterest or your favourite design magazines for inspiration. Save what you love, and we can review them together.

Bonus Tip: You will need to have your design plan fully conceptualized (which materials, how much of them, in what finish, what kinds of features, etc.) before getting quotes from contractors. This ensures that you get an accurate quote from the beginning and that you are designing a space that will look cohesive, not pieced together haphazardly as you go.


Photo Credit: Whitehall sink by Kohler

3.  Prepare Yourself for the Investment

If you haven’t renovated a kitchen in a while, the investment can be somewhat surprising. However, it’s not without reason. In addition to all of those important features I mentioned earlier (electrical, plumbing, appliances, etc.), kitchens really are the HUB of most homes — they need to withstand the rigours of everyday use!

I wish I could give you a general idea of the cost of a kitchen renovation, but it varies drastically. Factors that have the greatest impact on your overall investment include updates like changing your floor plan, removing walls, and opting for high-end appliances or custom cabinetry. 

I know it seems counterintuitive, but smart renovation budgeting is one of the #1 reason to hire a professional. 

Based on your desired lifestyle, we can help you decide which improvements are worth your investment and which aren’t. For example, you may be under the impression that your original flooring needs to be replaced. This could be true, or there could be another solution that would let you keep the floor and save that money for something else you really want. See what I mean?

Instead of taking the risk, let us put our decades of experience and guidebook of creative solutions to use for you. (For more ways that interior designers help you save on your renovation, read here.)

As far as budgeting for professionals goes, you can expect to allocate about 25-30% of your overall to a designer/contractor team who will handle the entire kitchen renovation for you, from design to construction to final installation. The peace of mind, time and money saved will be well worth it.


Our clients love their new waterfall countertop, bar-style seating, and a help-yourself wine fridge set well out of the chef’s way. From the Art Lover’s Infill.

4. Vet & Recruit Your Renovation Team

Most homeowners are surprised to learn that renovating a kitchen can be a 4-6+ month process. If you consider all those moving parts and the hundreds of important decisions along the way, it makes sense. What I haven’t mentioned yet is the number of people involved… 

  • Interior designer (for floor plans, material selections, flow, etc.)
  • Contractor (for the physical construction)
  • Multiple suppliers (for providing the materials and furnishings)
  • Trades (for the plumbing, painting, electrical, etc.).

If you have never managed a kitchen renovation before, let me tell you that it is a full-time job. Seriously. It is my full-time job, and it requires a high level of detail, documentation, communication between multiple parties, and project management. Yes, it is possible to manage a renovation yourself, but it is not easy. And when issues arise, as they always do, it is difficult to handle them quickly and effectively without experience.

This is why I highly recommend hiring a team — whether that is us or not! To make sure you are recruiting the right people, be sure to check references. I suggest asking, “Did they meet their timeline and investment quotes?” Also, be sure to reach out early. Due to the level of involvement required, these professionals’ calendars fill up fast. 


A creatively shaped island was the perfect solution for this couple who loves to entertain. It offers bar-style seating, storage, and plenty of countertop space for meal prep or serving hors d’oeuvres.

5. Consider the Wisest Timing for Your Kitchen Renovation

It is important to consider the timing of your renovation, since you will be without a functioning kitchen for those 4-6 months. Are there any events coming up when you may need to host people? Is it the middle of winter and you can’t BBQ outside? Take the added stress away by planning the timing of your renovation around these types of activities. 

Again, be sure to reach out to professionals well in advance. For example, if you know that your kitchen renovation will take 6 months to complete, 3-4 months to design and plan, and you want it ready for the December holidays, you would need your project to begin in March or April. I would start reaching out to professionals in January and February — yes, a whole year in advance!  


6. Create Your Temporary Kitchen Before Construction Starts

Once you do have your renovation in their books, it’s important to set up a temporary kitchen BEFORE you start the demo. Can you imagine trying to locate pots and pans in the middle of a construction site? Or in a slew of similar-looking boxes with “kitchen” written on the side? Me neither. 

As you pack up your kitchen, take out the items you will need to be able to cook and prepare meals. Set up a temporary kitchen with your microwave, dust off the BBQ, move your refrigerator to the garage, and ask your contractor for a temporary sink if possible. 

Bonus Tip: Empty your junk drawer into a small box that is easily accessible. You will need all of those random things more often than you think!


7. Have a Strategy for Endurance

This last suggestion has less to do with the renovation itself and more to do with how most people feel while it’s underway. I can tell you from decades of experience… a renovation is a marathon, not a sprint. In the beginning, homeowners are always filled with excitement. You’re looking over the design plans, imagining your future kitchen, and you couldn’t be more thrilled to get started.

But then, somewhere around the second month of living with loud, messy construction going on in your home and having a temporary kitchen for meals, that excitement turns into exhaustion. I have yet to meet a client who doesn’t get tired and impatient at some point during the construction phase. It’s a normal part of the process, and as you saw in the beginning, the improvement in your overall quality of life is well worth the temporary inconvenience. So what can you do?

I suggest putting a strategy in place for managing your own emotional endurance. Some ideas could include: 

  • Having pictures of your future kitchen design or moodboard front and center in your temporary kitchen to remind you where this journey is headed
  • Enjoying local restaurants as much as possible
  • Eating meals (in the summer months) in the outdoors, with friends and family

With realistic expectations and a good plan, your kitchen renovation will be the smashing success you hope it can be — and you’ll have years and years to enjoy it!

Ready to start your kitchen renovation? We would love to help. Book a Discovery Call with me here and let’s see if we’re right for you.


Maker Spotlight: Meet Michele Lafreniere

Every month, I feature a maker from Vancouver Island or nearby who is bringing beauty, creativity, and craftsmanship to our homes and community. 

One of the things I love to do at the end of a renovation is help homeowners style their new space. Having some beautiful new tableware is the perfect addition to a new kitchen! Enter, Michele Lafreniere from Buttata ceramics…


Michele’s 20 years of experience working with ceramics has resulted in one-of-a-kind, hand-thrown and glazed pieces. She crafts dinner plates, mugs, bowls, vases, planters, and more. I love handmade items like these, where you visually see and feel the craftsmanship of each piece. This artisanal touch is what makes a home feel unique, collected, and personal.

You can find Michele and her available pieces online at Buttata.

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