The Complete Kitchen Design and Remodeling Guide

Dreaming about a kitchen remodel? Use this step-by-step guide on kitchen design. We'll show you where to find affordable materials and stay under budget.

kitchen remodeling ideas

Think it might be fun to tackle a kitchen remodel? Well, you are in the right place!

We love to help homeowners navigate the difficult process of remodeling their kitchen.

Don’t worry, it won’t be that difficult if you follow our tips. In fact, it might be easier than you ever imagined.

Table of Contents:

kitchen remodeling guide

Step 1: Collect Design Inspiration

Congrats on taking the first step in designing your dream kitchen!

Are you ready to get inspired? Want to find ideas that will transform your kitchen from bland to beautiful? I’ll show you how!

This is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen design process because it is so much fun to collect ideas and get excited about what your kitchen could look like.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get stuck in the idea collecting phase. So to help you avoid this fate, I’m going to walk you through the process of gathering ideas with a purpose.

Your dream kitchen will need to be designed down to the very last detail, but in the beginning we’ll start collecting big ideas. For instance, you’ll need cabinet colors, cabinet door styles, cabinet hardware ideas, countertop materials, flooring samples, backsplash designs and much more.

Here’s what you need to start looking for:

If this sound overwhelming, don’t worry. Just have fun with it right now.

Later in this guide we’re going to walk through the process of creating the perfect material combinations. But right now, you just want to collect ideas that you love - whether you think they’re in your budget or not.

Kitchen Layouts & Floor Plans

Measure Your Kitchen and Appliances

We started out this process by gathering inspiration for your dream kitchen. Now we need to find out what we’ll be working with going forward.

Having accurate measurements of your kitchen layout will be important whether you plan to design and build your kitchen yourself or eventually hire a designer or contractor.

With an accurate floor plan you can estimate your cabinet costs, decide whether you’ll need to hire an electrician or plumber to move utilities or if you have enough space for your dream appliances.

Before we start taking measurements you should take photos of your kitchen from multiple angles. Be sure to take photos of unique obstructions like radiators, vents, columns, windows and doorways.

Popular Kitchen Layouts

There are 5 primary kitchen layouts that you need to be aware of. However, these are just common examples so your kitchen might be a hybrid of two of these.

Watch the video below and see if you can identify your kitchen layout. Also take a look at the other layouts and see if you can change your kitchen configuration by adding a doorway, removing a wall or building an island.

These kitchen layouts are extremely important to understand before we start discussing the kitchen work triangle. Once you are comfortable with common kitchen designs, the work triangle will be a breeze.

Kitchen Work Triangle

The kitchen work triangle is the foundation of all kitchen design. Now that I’ve mentioned it a dozen times you might be curious to find out what it is and how it works.

Before we jump into the work triangle, I should point out that many people love to claim that the “kitchen work triangle is dead.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. While some designers have taken a more contemporary approach to kitchen design, using multiple work triangles in large kitchens, the principles are still true to this day.

If you decide to venture away from the work triangle layout, I want to warn you that you might be making a big mistake. Even if a design looks great on paper, it may not work out in the end once it’s built. Trust me, I’ve seen hundreds of beautiful homes on paper but plenty of design disasters after they’re built.

Create Your Own Kitchen Floor Plans

The Kitchen Design Mistake That Could Cost You $1500

More Kitchen Design Tips

Now that we’ve covered kitchen layouts and the kitchen work triangle you might be eager to start designing your dream layout. Now before you start laying out your plans and getting ready to tear down walls there are a few more design guidelines you need to be aware of.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association has over 40 design guidelines for kitchen design, but the planning tips below are the most important ones you need to keep in mind. Follow these tips and you will be sure to avoid any major planning disasters.

Perfect Materials and Timeless Colors

As an author and internationally recognized designer, I’ve been on a mission to crush design complexity. I want to make it so simple for you to design your dream kitchen, that at the end you can take what you learned and help others, too.

That doesn’t mean you’ll have to start working as a kitchen designer – far from it – after all we are doing this for fun. But, I do want you to walk away with design confidence that you can conquer other rooms in your home using the same tools and principles.

The first HUGE obstacle that appears in every kitchen remodel is selecting the perfect materials. How do you pick the right colors? What materials offer the best value? How do you get your kitchen to look like your favorites on Pinterest without spending a fortune?

All About Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets are the most expensive item in a kitchen remodel and are the focal point in most kitchen designs. Not only do they need to look great, but they need to be functional as well. Your cabinetry should give you plenty of work space and storage.

Looking for a great deal on cabinets? Where should you start shopping? Well, there are a number of places to find cabinets in your local area. Some of the most common places to find cabinets include home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s or individual cabinet dealers.

Cabinet design and selection will affect many parts of the kitchen design process. Items to keep in mind include countertop heights, countertop edge returns and appliance layouts. Making changes to your cabinets after they are ordered can create many costly problems.

As I’ve mentioned before, a study by Consumer Reports found that the average kitchen design mistake costs over $1,500. These mistakes are caused by making changes after work has already started!

Cabinet Brands:

Painting Cabinets:

Budgets and Schedules

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, getting facts about how much it’s REALLY going to cost can be difficult. Sure, many home improvement magazines release their studies on average kitchen renovation costs each year.

But, in the fine print they always explain that the true cost will depend on where you live, the quality of materials you use and how much DIY work you’re willing to do.

Not much help if you need a REAL cost estimate.

One of these studies recently found that a minor kitchen remodel costs $18,000, on average. Having numbers like these can be helpful when deciding if a kitchen remodel is within your price range.

Now where do you go from here?

Hiring Contractors

With completed plans and specifications in hand, it’s time to start shopping for contractors. If you’ve done any research into remodeling up to this point you might be eager to get a dozen bids, but that would be a mistake.

Yes, getting multiple bids will help you choose the highest qualified contractor and get a better idea of what your project will cost. However, getting more than three bids at one time can lead to serious problems. In this section I’ll explain why and what to do instead.

I’ll also tell you how most contractors use do their bid estimating and how to avoid getting a surprise bill at the end of your project.

Plus, I’ll cover the three main types of bids: Lump-Sum, T&M, and GMP. Afterwards you’ll be able to decide which type of contract is right for your situation and budget range.

We’ll also cover schedules and common construction timelines to help keep your project on time.