When you’re in
quarantine, there’s plenty of time to find fault with an outdated kitchen, and imagine how you’d improve it when you get a chance. Toronto designer Olivia Botrie of Dart Studio has advice on the steps you can take now that will help bring your dream kitchen closer to reality. Here’s some good news: Olivia says it’s important to take a breather from planning and re-visit it in a few weeks to see if you still love the design — we call that perfect timing. Let’s dive in!
Make A Wishlist
“The first step when planning your kitchen renovation is collecting ideas. Hello Pinterest! Make boards that get you inspired and energized about your kitchen. Ask yourself, ‘What do I love about my current space? What is not working?’
When we first meet with a client, we spend a lot of time talking about their preferences, needs and how their family uses the space. To one homeowner, a bar sink is essential while others may consider it a frill. Make a list of your top priorities for the space.”
Things to consider:
What’s not working about my current kitchen?
Draw up a realistic budget, and allot for 10% overage.
kitchens have I seen that inspire me? Write down three adjectives that describe how you want your space to feel.
“The first (and most nerve wracking for many) step in this phase is to measure. We recommend following an online measuring guides like
this option or Smartdraw.
Start with the perimeter of the room, and include doors and windows, making sure you measure the height from the windows (standard counter height is 36”, so a window needs to be higher than that for a counter in front of the window).
Get out your graph paper to give sketching a try! SketchUp is a great option — it’s pretty intuitive and easy to figure out.
Consider moving doors and/or windows to create a better layout. We try to bank all the full-height pieces (broom closet, pantry, wall oven, fridge) together, in order to eliminate some of the upper cabinets on the other walls. This makes the space feel more open and airy while still allowing for plenty of storage space.”
Things to consider:
How many people use this space? Do you cook as a family or does one person do most of the cooking and others hang out in the space while the cook is at work? Do kids serve themselves breakfast?
Is this an entertaining space? Do guests congregate here?
Do you want seating in the kitchen and if so do you require a spot for a quick breakfast or a table for eight?
“A key layout choice is the work triangle, which is the location of the sink, stove and fridge. The distance between these elements as well as the configuration determine how efficient your kitchen will be.
There are five fundamental layouts for each kitchen, we suggest you explore each of them (keeping in mind some won’t work at all).”
Basic kitchen layouts :
Galley: a narrow space with two opposite walls of cabinets
Horseshoe: three walls of cabinets and appliances
Kitchen island: a combo of any of the first three options above with an island in the middle
Peninsula: an island that’s connected on one side to another row of cabinetry and appliances
“Now that you’ve decided on a layout, revisit your pins and figure out what will work best with your layout. The number one priority is layout and function — aesthetics can always be adjusted to work with the layout.
Let’s go back to the Pinterest board! Perhaps you pinned images with a tile floor, but your kitchen includes an island. You might want to consider continuing the flooring from another room, which works better with an island layout as it avoids having long transitions from one floor to another.
Maybe you pinned a lot of islands with different finishes from the cabinets but you’ve decided on a peninsula island. Mixing finishes on the upper and lower cabinets would create the same feel but work within your peninsula layout. Figure out the feeling and style you want and decide how that can translate to your selected layout.
There is such a thing as too many ideas. Select your top three pins, do they create a cohesive feeling? Mixing styles is generally best left to the experts.”
Things to consider:
How does the style of the kitchen relate to the rest of your house?
What are your long-term plans for the home? Is the rest of your house finished in a way that you like?
Revisit your three adjectives and see if you’re still on track.
“Be realistic about your time and skills. Unless you’re a contractor or have a close relative who is, you won’t save on labor. A good contractor’s depth of knowledge can’t be replicated by watching Youtube videos or DIY blogs — save that for other rooms. You can buy expensive things, but if they’re not installed correctly, they can look terrible and function poorly.”
“Maybe you love the look of marble, but you have young kids or a not-so-tidy partner. Think about the look of marble but with a more durable material. Porcelain tiles a great example, with many choices that are stylish and will last.
Cabinetry is another big x-factor for the look and
budget of your kitchen. Hire a kitchen designer or use Ikea kitchen planner to get that expert guidance. When trying to decide on custom versus pre-made cabinetry, ask yourself, ‘Do my measurements work with standard pre-made cabinets or does it compromise the function of my layout?'”
Things to consider
What is the star of this kitchen? Do you have a focal wall in the range hood, or is it a standout custom island?
What is your splurge and where is your save?
“Task spaces like counters need to be
well lit, so consider LED under-cabinet lighting as well as a strategically placed fixture right above your sink.
Decorative lighting can add personality to your kitchen. Try pendants over an island or a peninsula and don’t rule out semi-flush mounts instead of pot lights. They add character and warmth that pot lights lack and work well in a classic English kitchen or contemporary spaces.”
“Appliances come in a huge range of price points. We recommend going to a showroom and looking at options to determine which features are the most important to you.
Stainless steel is a classic finish, but there are beautifully designed options that can add to the overall look of the space (hello matte white and brass appliances!).”
Putting It All Together
“Now that you have a layout and finishes selected, it’s time to get quotes and accurate pricing to execute your plan. Are there any hidden costs such as shipping or currency exchanges? Break down pricing for each item to make sure it falls within your total budget.
Have a contractor walk through your space, show them your sketch-up plan and the materials you’ve picked. Before you pull the trigger on any decision, make sure everything goes together to create a cohesive space that fits within your budget.”
Things to consider:
Revisit your budget. Is there more room to spend or cuts to be made (it’s usually the latter)?
Get input from the professionals. Ask the plumber if there’s another location for the sink that would cost less money.
Sit with it. It’s a good idea to take a breather from planning and re-visit it in a few weeks to make sure you still love your new design. If you need professional help, Dart Studio offers