3 Ways to Keep Your Focus When Planning a Kitchen Remodel

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Kitchen remodels can be difficult. I know because I am currently in the process of remodeling my kitchen with my husband. That is why over the next few months I'll be sharing updates about our project on the Interior Collective to help walk you through the process.

This project has been a long time in coming; we moved into our house last year with a 2-week-old, and the place didn't even have a stove (that's right; we made due with a toaster oven and a hot plate for nearly a year).

The old kitchen had bright yellow cabinets, floor-to-ceiling sheets of plastic tile, and approximately two square feet of countertop. Within two months of moving in we had detailed kitchen plans drawn up, and were ready to start working. But if you've ever been through a big remodel, you know how easy it can be to get off track. In our case, a bunch of weather-related delays gave us lots of time to second-guess our choices.

Here are three tips I've discovered that helped me regain my focus when it came to design decisions:

1. Remember What Matters To You

Taj Mahal Kitchen
Tile Kitchen
Image: Paul Barbera

When you're browsing the internet for inspiration, it's really easy to get distracted by all the beautiful kitchens out there. The problem is that while those kitchens might work for other people, they might not necessarily work for you.

In our case, when the time came to make final design decisions, I found myself in a strange conundrum. My clear pre-project vision had gotten blurred by the long delay; I had just enough time to start questioning everything: I went back and forth on cabinet colors; the tile I loved was suddenly not so right; I began wondering if I really wanted a farmhouse sink;, and I stayed up at night worrying over fixture finishes. Clearly, I was over-thinking it.

After a few days of reeling, my very rational husband and I sat down to talk. We realized this didn't need to be the Taj Mahal of kitchens; it just needed to be ours.

Every kitchen has a personality all its own, and that's why we love them. For me, it's the warm aromas and the busy mess. It's the place every family member (and guest) inevitably gathers (cozy living room be damned). It's where my four-year-old helps bake banana bread, and where my infant bangs on pots and pans. It's where I lumber around the room hindered by children wrapped around my legs.

Cozy Kitchen
Simple Kitchen
Image: BHG

The talk with my husband was just what I needed. It reminded me I knew what I wanted: a kitchen that was light and warm; one that embraced gathering, and allowed me to comfortably move with children attached to my limbs.

2. Get Inspired Online

These days, every product under the sun is available to purchase and preview online, and that's great! It lets you explore a huge range of options from the comfort of your living room couch. I'm a big fan of Houzz, Pinterest, and home design blogs.

But you can also get inspiration in other places online. Retailers' web sites (like Anthropologie, West Elm, Kohler, and others) often include lots of great imagery that can get your creative juices flowing.

I use a Pinterest board to keep my ideas organized. You can share a board with another person (in my case, with my husband), so you can both add to it. Another option is to use a Google Drive document or spreadsheet; they're share-able and accessible from anywhere – even your phone! – so you can jot down ideas while you're on the go.

Alicia's Kitchen Pinterest Board
Pinterest Kitchen
Image: Pinterest

3. See Things In Person

The online design world is awesome, but let me tell you: a good showroom can be like your very own Judge Judy. Seeing things in person sharpens your decision-making, and also reduces some of the anxiety that comes from having too many options.

Caesarstone Showroom, Melbourne
Caesarstone Showroom
Image: Caesarstone

When we were trying to decide on countertop colors, I was in love with Caesarstone's huge library of color options. We planned on using something light - white or grey - and were amazed by the number of options these seemingly simple color choices presented. Unfortunately, just seeing them online isn't enough. We found a Caesarstone showroom nearby, and within minutes of arriving we were able to narrow our choices down, and for one simple reason: We could see the countertops in real life! The showroom had lots of realistic kitchen displays that gave us a sense of how our future countertops would look, feel, and function. We left the showroom with four samples, several photos, and a huge sense of accomplishment. Can you hear my sigh of relief through the keyboard?

Seeing your surfaces in person has numerous benefits. The tiny nuances of each color are hard to pick out in brochure and sample-size form. For example, the Blizzard color I loved in the brochure really has tiny little flecks in it. They're beautiful, and will work perfectly in a kitchen more modern and minimalist than ours, but it's not my final choice.

Our favorite "whites" ended up being "Misty Carrera" and "London Grey". Both have a marble-like feel, but with different organic patterns that reveal themselves when the product is installed on a larger scale. We're still in the process of deciding whether we're going to stick with one color for all of the surfaces, or go with a contrasting color like "Raven" or "Piatra Grey" on our kitchen island.

But, the fact that we've narrowed it down to two favorites and two more possible accents is a crucial step in our process. I can barely believe, after all those months of waiting, and all those sleepless nights, that we're finally getting this close to having our kitchen complete. It's going to be beautiful, and I can already smell the banana bread baking.

What are some tips you have for getting started on your kitchen remodel? Tell us below!

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