Kitchen Remodel Checklist + Free Budget Planner

Post Summary: This is a step-by-step guide to planning a kitchen remodel. Including a kitchen remodel checklist, planning tips, and more.

kitchen remodel checklist

We’re kicking off the cottage kitchen renovation today, and I have mixed feelings. Im excited, and I’m also a little stressed. Mostly because a kitchen renovation is not an easy project, and it can be expensive.

While our goal is to do this project on a smaller, tighter budget. The kitchen remodel checklist remains the same. Which is what I’m going to be sharing today. I’ve been asked this many times by readers, and friends who are planning to remodel their kitchens. “Where do I start?”, “how can I stay on budget”, but mostly it’s “I feel overwhelmed” which is the main reason many kitchen remodels never begin in the first place.

So, anyone who’s about to embark on a kitchen remodel your most likely feeling the same way I am. Which is where a meticulously curated checklist can act as a compass to navigate through the tough parts and ask all the right questions before you start the kitchen remodel.

Here’s the exact comprehensive kitchen remodel checklist I use every single time, to ensure a smooth and successful remodeling journey.

The Ulitmate Kitchen Remodel Checklist

Let’s dive right in because I sat down recently and wrote out all the questions I would normally ask myself and my husband, before starting a project like this. I also took the liberty of creating a printable kitchen remodel checklist which I’ll link next.

Initial Planning and Budgeting

What is My Budget?

The first thing you need to do is to define a clear budget that is realistic for your goals, design, and lifestyle. Which is something we see regularly in the design world, where clients want this insanely expensive material but don’t want to increase their budget. But that is something we’ll chat more about next.

Second, you should always include a contingency for unforeseen expenses. God knows there will be extra expenses, which can range from things like plumbing issues to design layout problems (hopefully none of those will happen to you). But it’s a good idea to plan for roughly 10 to 20 percent of your total budget as a contingency.

What is My End Goal?

I always like to figure out why we want to renovate or remodel in the first place. Is it because we want a kitchen that fits better with our family and lifestyle? increasing property value? or accommodating a growing family?

These are all questions that you need to figure out and use as your north star. For example, if you’re looking at increasing property value in an older home, you probably want to avoid spending a huge chunk of your budget on top-of-the-line appliances or countertops. Quartz or even laminate countertops would be a good option for those looking to sell.

Do I Plan to Stay in This Home Long-Term?

Again, this will help decide if the remodel is worth the investment based on your long-term plans. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly update that will hold you over? how about painting your kitchen cabinets instead?

How Much Time Can I Allocate?

We like to do most of the work ourselves, for a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy doing these projects myself, and it does save us in labor costs which I can allocate to other areas of the design. However, you’ll need to consider your availability to oversee the remodel and whether you’ll need to take time off work. Or make sure you calculate in hiring a Project Manager or Contractor to oversee the project.

kitchen remodel checklist

Define Your Vision

This is the fun part. I always start with figuring out exactly what my dream kitchen would look like. I do this by searching Pinterest and creating a board that will serve as my virtual mood board for the project. I’ll even highlight specific materials, colors, and layouts. I like using Pinterest because I can easily share that board with our designers, contractors, and family members.

While planning the colors and materials is fun, you also need to consider your needs and the functionality of the kitchen. Do you spend a lot of time cooking or baking? is your kitchen the hub of your home? if so you’ll need to accommodate extra seating.

A great tip is to keep track of how you use your kitchen over the next few days. Do you eat breakfast at the counters? are you in need of more countertop space? more storage? is it an awkward layout? or is there simply not enough space? Write those all down and keep them at the back of your mind throughout this process.

Set a Realistic Budget

As I said, determining a realistic budget can be hard for some people. You’ll need to include labor, materials, appliances, and a contingency for any unexpected costs.

The best advice I have is to keep a budget tracker and aim for a detailed and all-inclusive budget to avoid unforeseen expenses. While it can be a pain to track the expenses, it’s important to do it as you go. That way you’re not left with a surprise bill at the end of the remodel.

Prioritize Your Needs

Finally, you’ll want to identify the essential features and areas you want to focus on, such as cabinets, countertops, and appliances. These will be your non-negotiables.

For us, which I’ll share more about below, my countertops, farmhouse sink, and appliances are my non-negotiables.

Design and Layout

Decide the Layout

Do you entertain a lot? need space for preparing food? Opt for a layout that suits your space and lifestyle, such as L-shaped, U-shaped, or galley kitchens.

Consider the kitchen work triangle, which is a design rule that says your stove, sink, and refrigerator should be placed in a loose triangle for optimal functionality. The idea is to have enough space between the three main working areas, which is roughly 13-26 feet.

As a general rule of thumb, there shouldn’t be cupboards, chairs, or obstacles between the three points.

Choose a Design Theme

Choose a cohesive style and color scheme, that will blend with the rest of your home. Think about the architecture and age of your home, layout, lighting, and appliances. Those will serve as your starting point. From there add your personal style and taste to your kitchen design.

Plan Storage Solutions

Another fun part that I enjoy exploring. There are various storage options for kitchens like pull-out shelves, drawers, and pantry organizers that can help maximize space in your remodel. I included pull-out garbage in our kitchen design because the garbage can is a real design struggle for me lately. I’d love to conceal the garbage under the countertops. Another design issue I faced which I want to talk about more in the future is the corner cupboard. It’s deep and things always get lost, which is why I planned on incorporating a lazy Susan of sorts. Thinking ahead not only for the next year but also for the next five, ten, or more years will also help with the design.

Selection of Materials and Appliances

Choose Durable Flooring

My best tip is to consider durable and easy-to-clean flooring materials like tile, hardwood, or luxury vinyl flooring. I know laminate is also an option, but keep the aesthetics in mind as well.

We decided to go with luxury vinyl flooring from Fusion Flooring and haven’t looked back! So far I have nothing but good things to say about our floors because they are easy to clean, durable, and stylish.

Select Quality Cabinets

If at all possible, opt for sturdy and stylish cabinets that provide ample storage and complement the overall design.

However, if new cabinets are out of your budget like us. Then you have a few other options like:

  • Hiring a company to reface the cabinet fronts
  • Paint (using my easy-to-follow method HERE)
  • Replace cabinet doors
  • Install moulding
  • Add toe kicks
  • Replace uppers or get rid of them for open shelving (which is our plan)
  • Add glass inserts to your cabinet doors

Pick the Right Countertops

As I said, new countertops are a non-negotiable for me. But it is important to explore different materials like granite, quartz, or laminate, weighing the pros and cons to find the perfect match for your needs.

Invest in Efficient Appliances

Appliances are important and choosing energy-efficient appliances with suitable sizes and features, while making sure they suit your design style can be tedious. But worth it, because you’ll be using those appliances every single day.

Hiring Professionals

Research Contractors

Let’s chat about hiring professionals. I know this is another topic we should chat more im depth about. However, it’s important to gather three or more quotes and check references to make sure you will be working with a reputable contractor.

Who Are the Reputable Contractors in My Area?

We’ve all heard horror stories of people losing money because they chose the wrong contractor. So this is a step you don’t want to take lightly because the truth is a contractor can easily make or break your kitchen dreams.

Make sure you research and choose contractors with positive reviews and credible portfolios.

What Questions Should I Ask Potential Contractors?

Also, prepare a list of questions about costs, timelines, and references to ask during interviews.

Hire a Kitchen Designer (if needed)

Do I Need a Designer or Architect?

Decide if professional design services are necessary based on the scale and complexity of the remodel.

I always recommend consulting a professional designer, because they can help optimize the space, finalize the design, and choose the right materials. If hiring a kitchen designer is outside of your budget, you can also do an affordable 30 – 60-minute consultation using a service like The Expert. Which gives you access to all the top designers like Amber Lewis and Light and Dwell.

Legal and Administrative Requirements

What Permits Will I Need?

Find out about the required permits and ensure they are obtained before work commences.

This is something I suggest planning far in advance because it can take time. For us permits took anywhere from 30 to 60 days. But check local building codes and make sure you obtain the required permits and legal compliances.

Review Contracts Carefully

It’s simple I know but read the contractual agreements meticulously and clarify any ambiguities before signing anything. Also, make sure you get written contracts, and receipts from contractors or anyone else you hire.

Is my Contractor Licensed?

Confirm that the contractor has the necessary qualifications and insurance to avoid liability issues.

Construction and Installation

Schedule a Timeline

While timelines for renovations and remodels as you know are never what they say. I mean it can happen but it’s rare. So work with your contractor to establish a realistic timeline, and consider any potential delays.

Create a plan for addressing unexpected issues promptly and efficiently.

Prepare for Disruption

While our last major renovation happened last year, we ended up moving to the cabin for the summer, until the project was complete. But in most cases, you’ll still be able to live at home. You’ll just have to set up a temporary kitchen space and make arrangements to cope with the inconvenience during the remodeling process.

Supervise the Work:

Don’t skip this step! I always pop in and regularly monitor the progress and quality of work, that way I am able to address any concerns promptly. Which will save you MONEY!

Also, determine how you’ll stay updated on the project’s progress and monitor expenses against the budget.

Final Touches

Install Backsplash and Lighting

While you have all your materials picked out already with the planning process. You should be able to choose a backsplash that complements your countertops and cabinets and plan efficient lighting to illuminate all areas of the kitchen.

Decorate and Personalize

My favorite is adding in your personal touch with new or thrifted decor, artwork, and accessories that reflect your taste and personality.

Organize and Clean

Once the remodel is complete, I start by cleaning the kitchen thoroughly and organizing your utensils, cookware, and food items efficiently. This is where all your hard work has come together and you’re almost finished with the kitchen remodel!

Inspection and Evaluation

Conduct a Final Walkthrough

Review every detail with your contractor to ensure all tasks are completed to your standard.

Address Any Issues

If you spot any defects or unfinished tasks, have them corrected before making the final payment.

Enjoy Your New Kitchen

This is the end of the kitchen remodel checklist! With careful planning and execution, you should now have a kitchen that is both beautiful and functional, ready for you to enjoy for many years to come.

I hope this kitchen remodel checklist gave you a piece of mind, and structure to approach your next project. It’s also important to note that each kitchen is unique, and modifications might be required based on individual needs and circumstances.

The best advice I have is to keep an open line of communication with your contractor and designer, be proactive in decision-making, and maintain a flexible attitude to adapt to unforeseen challenges.

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