7 Must-Ask Questions When Planning a New Kitchen
Some remodeling questions are obvious, but some don’t even come up until a project is already underway. Here are a few to consider so that you’re not caught off guard.
1. Are There Any Regulations Involved?
Depending on your location and the conditions of your project, there may or may not be rules in place by your local building code that must be followed. It just depends on the situation. Regardless, it’s up to you and your contractor to be educated about any applicable rules and regulations and make decisions accordingly. For instance, it’s not uncommon for building codes to direct the type of hood fan used in order to guarantee adequate ventilation. It’s especially important to know about rules and regulations like these during a big renovation project or new construction, since they are more likely to trigger surprise inspections. Violations found during a surprise inspection can be a big hassle.
2. How Should Cabinets and Drawers Open?
While swapping out knobs and handles on existing cabinetry is a simple way to breathe new life into a kitchen, choosing hardware for brand new cabinets actually requires a lot of planning to get right. The hard part? You want drawer fronts and cabinet doors to look consistent and stylish, but the cabinets themselves serve different roles and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Therefore, you may find one handle that works well on your full-size cabinet doors, but it doesn’t work for all the different size variations throughout the kitchen. That means you have to find one or two others that coordinate stylistically with the first handle.
Once you decide on hardware, the next question is where on the cabinet to install it so that you optimize visual consistency. Or you can avoid this issue altogether by choosing touch-latch cabinets that are knob-free.
3. What’s the Best Countertop Profile for My Kitchen?
A countertop profile basically means the shape of the countertop’s edge. It may seem like a tiny detail that doesn’t matter much, but choosing the right countertop profile actually affects the look and function of your counters a great deal — as well as the overall feel of your kitchen.
One popular choice for kitchens with a contemporary style is an “eased edge” profile due to its simple, modern design. It basically features a sharp, rectangular edge with somewhat softened corners. For traditional kitchens, more ornate countertop profiles work best since they better communicate warmth and character.
The “bullnose” or demi-bullnose style, which consists of a half-circle or quarter-circle edge, is one of the most popular choices because it doesn’t appear as “sharp” as other options, and also seems like the safer choice for any potential accident scenarios.
Just keep in mind that rounded edges may not be the best pick for laminate countertops. The curves tend to look unnatural, which is a dead giveaway that the material is fake. The best way to mimic the look of true stone with laminate is to choose a basic rectangular profile in a dark color so that the edges and seams are subtle and natural looking.
4. What Finish Should I Choose for Fixtures?
There is more to choosing the materials and finish for kitchen fixtures than watching trends and picking a lovely color scheme. There are practical considerations to think about as well — things like brushed finishes being better at hiding water spotting and fingerprints than polished ones.
Generally, gold-tone finishes give a warmer and more impressive effect, while silver-tone finishes bring more sparkle, but are better at blending into the color palette. Choosing finishes can get more complicated as you attempt to incorporate more metal elements into the design, like whether to mix brushed brass with stainless steel for a gentle contrast.
If you pinpoint a fixture style you like, be sure to research the pros and cons as there are quite a few details to consider. Also, for the sake of continuity, try to find appliances from the same manufacturer — especially if they’re placed close together. Different product lines can have slightly different finishes, which may not seem like a big deal at first, but over time the differences can become glaringly obvious.
5. How Should My Sink Be Mounted?
Whether you go with a drop-in or undermount model sink is a decision that influences more than just the appearance of the sink itself. That’s why it is a decision that should be made early on in your project.
For example, the type of sink you want will have a direct impact on what counter materials you have to choose from. While undermount sinks allow for a neater edge and easier clean-up (crumbs can be brushed right into the sink without the hindrance of a raised lip), they are not always an option with laminate countertops since the counter cutout would expose an unfinished edge.
6. What is the Best Finish for My Countertop?
In addition to picking your flooring, backsplash and countertop materials, you also have to choose the finish of those materials. For instance, stone materials like quartz and granite can be polished, which gives a shiny, reflective look; or honed, which is more soft and natural looking.
A honed finish has the ability to hide scratches and imperfections that would be glaringly obvious with a polished finish. But if not well-sealed, they are more prone to staining. Each option has pros and cons, so it’s important to take your time to figure out which choice is best for your situation.
When going over stone samples, be certain to ask what finishes they come in and look at each one individually since the finish can dramatically change the appearance. Sealant can also change the appearance of stone (it usually darkens the color) so ask to see a sealed sample if possible.
7. What Material Should I Choose for Toe Kicks?
A toe kick is that little bit of space between the floor and base cabinets. You may think that it has to be the same material as your cabinets, but that’s not necessarily true. For instance, what if your cabinets are multi-colored? Or what if they’re white and you want to avoid the toe kick looking dirty all the time?
Similarly, if your kitchen island is a different material than your cabinetry, its toe kick can be different than the primary cabinets. Or you could use a third material altogether and have it to tie all your cabinets together. Stainless steel is a great toe kick choice for a kitchen with stainless handles or appliances, tying all of those elements together.