Overhauling your kitchen can be a big, expensive step, so make sure you get what you want -- and need -- the first time out.
- Design with function in mind -- You have a functional style, and your kitchen should reflect that. If the kids spend time at the kitchen counter doing their homework, give them enough space to spread out. If you grill but don't bake, you don't need a range with a proofing drawer. If you cook for a crowd, a French-door refrigerator may be a good investment because it'll have more room to stow large items than a side-by-side model. An wine cabinet looks great until you realize that the space could have been better invested in a recycling center instead. Recognize what suits your family and functional style before you pull out your checkbook -- or the sledgehammer. Consider these useful features:
- under cabinet task lighting
- rotating or pull out storage
- Energy Star compliant (energy saving) appliances
- a built-in recycling setup
- dual oven range (no more having to split the temperature difference between two recipes)
- environmentally friendly materials like bamboo and stone
- Get an expert opinion -- Hiring a contractor can be a big help when you're planning a kitchen update. Adding an electrical outlet to your island or putting pocket doors in the entry may seem simple and straightforward until you start finding expensive surprises in your walls.
- Go bold in moderation -- If you love bright yellow, the kitchen's a cheerful place for it, but not in a refrigerator finish. Stick to neutrals for large items that'll be around for a while. When that big banana of an appliance finally becomes an eyesore, it'll cost a lot more to replace than a pair of yellow café curtains and a few area rugs.
- Consider the future -- As much as we love the idea of high-end appliances with all the bells and whistles, spending a fortune on kitchen gear may backfire. If you don't plan on staying at the same address for a decade or more, a potential owner may be turned off by your lavish choices.
While you're designing your dream kitchen, take a moment to ponder the value of low maintenance, too. That marble or granite countertop may be gorgeous, but having to worry every time someone puts a soda bottle on it could end up being more of a hassle than you bargained for. One great thing about a dream kitchen -- before it becomes a real kitchen -- is that you don't actually have to clean and maintain it. If you dreamed yourself a maid, pull out all the stops. If you're doing the cleanup work yourself, look for beauty and low-maintenance in your materials and equipment. That way your dream kitchen is much more likely to become a happy reality.
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