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By ALICE LESCH KELLY
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve made dinners at home instead of eating out. We’ve entertained our kids, and ourselves, with elaborate cooking projects. And we’ve baked bread because—well, why not?
Getting creative in the kitchen has been a great outlet and escape while stuck at home. But all the hours there may have also opened your eyes to something that was easier to ignore before the pandemic: That your kitchen really could use a makeover.
“We’ve been sitting inside staring at our walls for too long,” says Meredith M. Rodday, owner of Meredith Rodday Design in the Metrowest area. “When you spend that much time in your own home you’re bound to see things you don’t like.”
The thought of taking on a kitchen update project may feel overwhelming, but in reality it’s easier—and more fun—than you might think. Get cooking on your upgrade with these four steps.
Step 1: Do some dreaming
The first step in designing a new kitchen is to think about what you like in terms of appliances, cabinets, countertops, lighting, flooring, and layout.
“Instagram, Houzz, and Pinterest are great places to source ideas and inspiration images,” says Emily Condon, owner of Emily Condon Design in Boston. “And I still love reading architectural and design magazines for inspiration images, too.” To see appliances and kitchen schematics in person, check out local retailers who often have on-site kitchen showrooms.
“The more pre-planning you do, the better the project will go once it starts,” says William Farnsworth, president of Custom Contracting, Inc. in Arlington, Mass.
As you do your dreaming, look at your current kitchen and think about what you want to change. Would you like more refrigeration or freezer space? More cooktop surfaces? Different baking options? Do you need more storage places? More counter space? Does your current layout suit your family’s cooking, eating, and socializing habits, or is it out of touch with your 2020 reality?
If you’re unsure what style you want your kitchen to be overall, take this quiz.
Step 2: Try focusing on one thing
If visualizing an entire new kitchen feels overwhelming, consider starting with a single important component. For example, “if you love to cook and appliances are the most important thing for you, start there,” Condon says.
Look at the kitchens you’re drawn to in photos, and notice the types of appliances they contain. Do you like refrigerators that blend in with cabinetry or stand out as a statement? Do you prefer ranges with a sleek, industrial style or a bright, colorful look? Do ultramodern appliances appeal to you, or do classic styles suit you best?
You can even start with just one appliance that you have fallen in love with—KitchenAid’s passion red range, for example, or their smart oven, which can be turned on with a mobile app or voice control. Go ahead and make that appliance the center of your update, and design the rest of your kitchen around it.
“I always start by asking people how they use their kitchen and how they cook,” Rodday says. If you bake like crazy, for example, you might want multiple ovens; if you have a house full of kids, you may like having an undercounter fridge that you can fill with grab-and-go drinks and snacks. And of course, if you’re cooking so many meals you feel like you’re running a restaurant, you may want to lean into that feeling and choose a commercial-style six-burner range.
Step 3: Consider working with a designer
An interior designer can guide you through the process of imaging your new kitchen, choosing various components and thinking about floorplans, materials, and budgets. “A designer can also create drawings and a scope of work for the project to present to contractors for bidding purposes,” Condon says.
To find a designer, ask friends and neighbors for referrals and look at photos of designers’ work on their websites or social media. “A designer’s portfolio represents their eye and what they’re drawn to,” Rodday says. “You can see if their style is a good fit with your style.”
Once you feel that a designer’s aesthetic dovetails with yours, schedule an interview. “Reaching out directly and talking on the phone or meeting in person is very important to see if personalities align,” Condon says.
Step 4: Choose a contractor
Larger kitchen updates require a contractor who will help you turn your kitchen dreams into reality. “Finding the right contractor definitely requires doing homework,” Condon says. As with designers, start your research by asking friends for referrals, looking at online portfolios, reading reviews, and talking with previous clients. If you’re purchasing appliances from a local retailer, they likely also have reliable contractors to recommend.
Farnsworth recommends meeting with several contractors to discuss your project before hiring one. A good contractor works with you to create a design, choose various components, and set a budget.
Don’t wait too long to consult with a contractor, Farnsworth says, because he or she can help you reality-check your dreams along the way. “I have met with many people over the last 30 years that have Cadillac tastes and a Chevy budget,” he says. “There’s no sense in designing something that you can’t afford to build.”
Once you sign on with a contractor, you’ll need about two to four months to plan your kitchen project and choose appliances, cabinetry, and other components, according to Farnsworth. That may sound like a long time when you’re excited about doing your update, but it’s worth the wait when you consider how many years of joy your new home-chef’s paradise will provide.
Use the map below to find a local KitchenAid appliance dealer in your area.
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