How to Design a Successful Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation is one of the most common home remodeling projects. It can add significant value to your property.

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Remodeling is a project that most homeowners would rather leave to the professionals. DIY tasks should be limited, especially when working with plumbing and electrical. A professional can foresee issues and work around them, saving you time and money.

The layout of the kitchen is one of the biggest decisions homeowners face when remodeling. It determines how you’ll use the space and what features are best for it—from a bar with seating to create zones in an L-shaped layout to floor-to-ceiling storage to maximize vertical space in a P-shaped design.

Once you know what changes are non-negotiable for your big picture plan and which ones can be scaled down later, it’s time to roughly design the ideal space. It will likely not look exactly like your finished kitchen, but it can give your contractor an idea of what you’re looking for and help guide the project as it goes along.

A full renovation completely overhauls the space, bidding adieu to outdated fixtures and finishes and ushering in a new era of design and functionality. It’s a more involved process that can require the services of a licensed general contractor.

Be sure to check the rules and regulations of your condo/co-op or HOA before making any structural changes, as some may not be permitted. It’s also a good idea to set up a temporary kitchen in your dining room or basement with a microwave, toaster and small fridge so you can keep cooking even as the renovation takes place.


The kitchen is the heart of the home and is one of the most common areas where homeowners choose to remodel. The right materials, layout and lighting will make a huge impact on the style of the space as well as its functionality.

A good kitchen has both ambient lighting (that reflects off of the ceiling and other surfaces) and task lighting that shines directly on work zones like countertops and islands. Ambient light is often provided by recessed lights and ceiling fixtures, such as chandeliers over an island or table. Decorative pendants and sconces can also add task lighting over sinks and other areas.

Accent lighting highlights a specific feature of your kitchen, such as a cool tile backsplash or an antique cabinet. Backlights can also be added to under-cabinet spaces to help you see the contents of your drawers and cabinets.

Kitchen renovations aren’t cheap but they are a great investment in your home. They can add value at the time of resale, and they’ll pay for themselves if you choose high-quality materials that are durable and low-maintenance.


Achieve a sleek, built-in look by matching your appliances with cabinetry. You can achieve this by choosing panel-ready appliances, which feature a custom cover that conceals the appliance’s controls for a streamlined appearance. This is available on refrigerators, dishwashers and ranges, among other appliances. Panel-ready appliances are more expensive than free-standing options, but they offer a cleaner look and are easier to repair and replace.

Consider upgrading your light fixtures to elevate the aesthetic of your kitchen. Brighter lights make the room more functional and showcase the beauty of new countertops and cabinets. Bulb color also matters, as soft white bulbs add a warm tone while daylight bulbs add a cool hue to the space.

While it’s not necessary to move your sink or stove, you can install a window shade or bamboo blind to add warmth and texture to the room. Other affordable decor items can help improve the kitchen’s look, like an eye-catching pendant light to replace a dated glass-globe fixture or a rug made from durable carpet squares to protect hardwood floors from spills and heavy foot traffic. Finally, installing a garbage disposal and electric food waste recycler can make dealing with your kitchen scraps simple and odor-free.


Once you’ve settled on a layout and lighting, the next major decision is the cabinetry. There are many variables to consider here, including the size of your space, scope of your remodel and the finish level. If you’re going to stick with a similar look throughout, choose a stain or paint color that compliments your countertops and flooring. However, if you’re looking to create more of a dramatic contrast, think about choosing a unique countertop material like quartz or marble to offset wood cabinets.

While it may be tempting to match your cabinets, countertops and flooring, you should also keep in mind your lifestyle. Lighter flooring colors hide dirt and dust more easily than darker options, which can be beneficial for homes with children or pets.

Typically, picking out the countertops first is a good idea because it allows you to explore more design options than just matching cabinets and flooring. Go to your local tile shop and view samples under different lights, as well as during daytime hours. It’s important to see how the colors and patterns of the tile work in the natural lighting at the time you plan to use them. This will help you avoid any surprises when the installation begins.


Countertops may be built-in to kitchen cabinets or installed freestanding on islands, dining areas and bars. They often include an integrated or applied backsplash (UK: upstand) to prevent spills and objects from falling behind the cabinets. They can be made of a wide variety of materials.

A popular choice is natural stone such as marble, granite or soapstone. These stones are durable but require regular resealing to prevent staining and cracking. Another option is engineered quartz, which offers a wide array of colors and patterns to match any aesthetic. Engineered quartz is also easy to clean and resists mold, mildew and bacteria.

Wood counters add warmth and a natural feel to the kitchen, but they can scratch and dent easily and require regular oiling to maintain their appearance. For those who want the look of wood without the maintenance, consider faux-wood laminate countertops. These are a less expensive alternative to natural wood with a surface that looks like real wood, but is more durable and easier to clean. Another affordable countertop option is travertine, a naturally occurring limestone material with a unique texture and coloring that can elevate the look of any kitchen. Alternatives to travertine are recycled glass or concrete counters that feature embedded glass shards in a wide range of colors from crisp neutrals to colorful confetti.


Your kitchen’s flooring is one of the most important design choices you can make. It has the power to set a mood, elevate a room’s aesthetic, and function as a focal point in an open-floor plan. It’s also a durable surface that needs to be comfortable enough to stand on for long periods of time, and it must complement the cabinetry and countertops to create a cohesive aesthetic.

Hardwood floors are a classic choice for kitchens, but you can go beyond traditional planks by opting for hardwood with a chevron pattern or herringbone layout. Laminate wood flooring is another option that looks like hardwood and comes in a variety of finishes and wood species. Its layered construction offers durability, making it resistant to stains and scratches.

For those who want a modern take on traditional tile, consider opting for concrete. This versatile flooring material can produce a speckled visual with a combination of marble chips and cement, or it can work as a smooth, glossy finish. It’s highly durable and easy to clean, but it can be cold on the feet, so you might want to pair it with underfloor heating.


Whether you want to go bold or neutral with your cabinet finishes, they are one of the most visible features in your kitchen. Choose a durable finish that will stand up to frequent use and cleaning.

Backsplashes are another large surface area that can add visual interest with color and texture. Consider a porcelain or ceramic tile with a glossy surface that resists stains and requires little maintenance. Avoid dark, heavily textured materials that can be difficult to clean.

Paint is a relatively inexpensive way to refresh the look of your kitchen. However, be sure to test your choice on your walls before committing to a full coat. Also, remember that semigloss paint handles moisture and messes exceptionally well, making it an ideal choice for the kitchen.

Lastly, don’t forget about the finishing touches like hardware, lighting fixtures and bar stools. These small details will help to tie the overall look together. Consider brushed nickel, chrome or oil-rubbed bronze for consistent finishes that will complement your countertop and cabinetry.