An updated kitchen is usually high on the homeowner list of priorities. Remodeling, however, is a huge undertaking; it requires a hard look at the kitchen you have and a realistic list of priorities for the kitchen you want. A residential architect will evaluate trends and provide you with options; you can help him or her by having answers for these three important renovation questions.

How will your kitchen be used?

This question is more important than your budget. The architect needs to understand your vision for your new kitchen to create a plan that works for your budget. Though space configurations and kitchen elevations require a designer’s creative thinking, the biggest expenses in a kitchen remodel are cabinets and appliances, which come in many price ranges.

Modern kitchens are often about presentation and comfort and tend to be the hub of a home, but if you don’t entertain much and only require space for cooking; a strictly functional kitchen might be your priority. Alternatively, if your dream kitchen is filled with guests while you cook or if your kids will pop in to do schoolwork, you will need lots of seating areas along with work surfaces. Some design options in that regard include space for a table, a morning room, a breakfast nook, or an island with stools.

How will your kitchen relate to the rest of your house?

Many people ask architects for an open floor plan. To their understanding, that means lots of space for unrelated activities and no walls or dividers. As such, the kitchen, dining room, family room, and living room would be one big space. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Instead, many architects will create a kitchen space that flows into the family room or living room with long sight lines. For example, the kitchen might be separated from the family room with an island and stools facing the gathering spaces. Bulkheads, columns, and knee walls can identify the dining area or living room. Each space is open, distinct, and inviting, but not cavernous or cold; they maintain their own identities.

What appliances will you buy and what kind of storage do you need?

A large portion of your budget will go to appliances and cabinetry. Before your architect makes any cabinet and storage elevations, he or she will need to have a list of appliances you are buying. What is the height and width of your refrigerator? Do you want a wall oven or a slide in? Before cabinet design starts, you must decide on many details, such as the number of sinks you want, whether you want to cook at an island, or if you want a single dishwasher or multiple washing drawers.

A kitchen remodel is a complicated project. To find the most successful solution within your budget, you and your architect need to work as a team.

About the author: Elena Marcheso-Moreno writes about architecture and design from McLean, Virginia.

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