There could be a number of reasons why you might be considering remodeling your kitchen. Maybe you're a new home owner looking to get started on the "fixer-upper" house you just bought. Maybe you've been in the same house for twenty years and are simply looking to add a little variety and spice to your current dwelling. Whatever the reason, you probably don't want to blow your life savings making sure your cabinets match your stove. Luckily, it is possible to get the look and feel you want without breaking the bank. Proper research, innovative design techniques and, most importantly, simple do-it-yourself projects can help turn your kitchen area from dishware disaster into flat-wear fabulous.
In order to rediscover your kitchen's inherent style and beauty and stay within your budget, it is important to start with a cost effective, proven remodeling plan. Do your research -what types of remodeling plans can you find online or in specialty magazines? How much work will you do yourself? How much will you hire a contractor to work on? Are you hiring a designer? A finishing carpenter? A plumber? Electrician? Getting involved in a remodeling project without answers to these and similar questions can leave you frustrated and up to your eyeballs in unexpected side projects and expenses.
One of the best (and most fun) ways to cut remodeling costs is to choose a few smaller projects that you feel comfortable handling yourself. Cabinets, lighting fixtures and accessories are fairly simple, fun projects that don't require a background in carpentry or construction. Do you really need to buy brand new cabinets? Perhaps all your current cabinets need is a good sanding and refinishing. Painting or staining freshly sanded cabinets can take years off their look, especially if you add new handles or other accessories. If your cabinets are too old or too damaged to be salvaged, look for replacement cabinets that will fit with your planned design scheme. New cabinets do not have to be a large expense. Look for wholesalers that can get you the latest cabinet styles at a lower cost or join a manufacturer buying group like Direct Buy to get direct access to products at the manufacturer's price.
Another do-it-yourself, money saving project is painting. Before you pick a color scheme, consider how your kitchen relates to the rest of your home. Does the paint need to match what's on your living room walls, or would it look better as a stark contrast? Would the kitchen look and feel better with warm, cozy reds and yellows or cool, sophisticated blues? Do you need to paint the whole kitchen or simply add a few fresh accents here and there? A few coats of a new color can dramatically change the newly remodeled kitchen area, and being creative with color combinations is an easy way to personalize your project. But be careful -like any aspect of your remodeling project, a hastily made decision can come around to bite you once the project is finished.
Lighting installation should be saved for qualified professionals, but that doesn't mean you can't design your lighting scheme yourself. Choose a lighting design that will match your kitchen's layout and color scheme. Under-cabinet fluorescents and rope lights can add a romantic, ambient glow, but they might not offer enough light if you've chosen a dark blue, black or green color scheme. On the other hand, powerful overhead or spotlights might be overkill if you've chosen bright yellows or whites. Creating your own lighting scheme and buying your lighting fixtures and lamps directly from a local lighting wholesaler can save you money on a designer as well as make you feel even that much more involved in your remodeling process.
Of course, you probably won't be able to handle every part of the remodeling process yourself. A good contractor can help you decide which parts of your kitchen should definitely be repaired or replaced and which can be simply touched up. Get bids from a number of contractors, remembering that while price is an important factor it shouldn't be the only thing you consider. Make sure your contractor has a current license, proof of insurance, verifiable references and a list of suppliers. You should also pick someone that you feel comfortable working with. You'll be spending a good deal of time with this person; choosing someone you don't get along with will make your entire remodeling process a miserable one.
Remodeling your kitchen is a big endeavor. It can be frustrating and expensive, and the end product might not be what you had imagined in the beginning of the process. However, with just a little planning, patience and do-it-yourself know-how, it can be an exciting and cost-effective adventure.
~ Ben Anton, 2008
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