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How to Remodel a Kitchen – The Ultimate Preparation Guide

September 28, 2020 8 min read

How to Remodel a Kitchen – The Ultimate Preparation Guide


A kitchen remodel is a huge undertaking, but one that yields some excellent benefits. And yet, for many of us, the idea of undergoing a complete renovation is utterly daunting. There’s the measuring, the budgeting and the choosing of finishes, all of which can be complicated and stressful. But when you choose the right remodeling partners and options, this project isn’t as hard as you might imagine. Before you get started, reference our kitchen remodel preparation guide so you stay on track (and stay sane) while you drastically improve your home and your quality of life.


The kitchen refresh is one of the most popular home upgrades, and it’s not hard to see why. First and foremost, there’s the quality of life factor. Having a brand-new kitchen can mean an all-around better, more enjoyable life for you and your family, especially if you love to cook and entertain. After all, the kitchen is the heartbeat and the hub of the household, and it sure makes a difference when you love to spend time there. From quality kitchen cabinets to new appliances, enhancements in the kitchen can make your life a lot easier.

Insight: Why renovate the kitchen? Forty-six percent of consumers say they renovated their kitchen to enhance functionality and livability. Two more common reasons to renovate include upgrading worn-out finishes and customizing the space to reflect personal tastes.

And then, of course, there’s the value component. Indeed, making any sort of home upgrades should be considered an investment, since it will help add to the market and appraisal value of your home. According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, the most appealing project to potential homebuyers is a complete kitchen renovation. It’s also ranked by the NAR as the project most likely to add resale value to a home. So a kitchen remodel isn’t just for your own enjoyment, it’s also for the future value of your home.

Remodeling inside of kitchen


Although the actual kitchen remodel can take several weeks or even months to complete, for homeowners and designers, the real time is in the preparation. Before ground is broken, you have to spend some time determining what you want and how you can make that happen. Here’s a rough guide of the tasks you’ll need to accomplish before you start work or hire a contractor.

1. Set a Budget

We know, we know. Budget-planning is the least fun part of any project, but it needs to be the first thing you do before you so much as pull up the Pinterest or Houzz app and start choosing a scheme. The fact is that kitchens vary widely in price, from a few thousand dollars for minor upgrades to upwards of $75,000 for a high-end renovation. It generally costs between $100 to $250 per square foot to remodel a kitchen. 

Though costs will differ depending on where you live, it’s a good rule of thumb to allot about 30 percent of your budget to cabinetry (including hardware), 20 percent to labor, 13 percent to flooring, 12 percent to countertops and backsplash, 10 percent to appliances, 5 percent to lighting, 5 percent to painting and drywall and 5 percent to electric and plumbing. However, these aren’t hard-and-fast numbers, and you can certainly adjust them according to what’s most important to you.

Considering different funding options is another important budget-related thing you should do before beginning. If you prefer not to pay cash, you may consider options such as a home renovation loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a mortgage refinance with a cash out. If you live in a historic district or an area in need of revitalization, you may also be eligible for certain grants or public funding. Be sure to explore all your options before spending any cash!

man using tape measure for measuring granite countertops

2. Measure, Render and Mock Up

Budget and size are the main limitations you’ll have when redesigning a kitchen, so it’s best to get them out of the way upfront so you’re not forced to readjust after selecting finishes that may not fit within those parameters. You need to spend a solid couple of hours measuring (and re-measuring) every nook and cranny of the space. 

Here are some tips for measuring:

  • Measure from floor to ceiling in inches and note it as the ceiling height.
  • Measure the full length of the walls in inches. 
  • Next, measure and record the dimensions of islands, windows, doorways and appliances that will be in the room.
  • Now, measure and record all open wall space between door trim, window trim and corners.
  • In an empty room, measure to where appliances and plumbing connect to the utility in the wall or floor.

Tip: Always start a renovation project with cabinetry (more on that in the next step). Usually, your cabinet supplier will provide you with a digital rendering of the current and desired floor plan based on your measurements, which will be helpful when sizing out floors, appliances and more. Plus, many — including Wholesale Cabinet Supply — will gladly provide a free kitchen design to help you visualize some options.

Consider Your Cabinet Options

3. Consider Your Cabinet Options

As we’ve already discussed, your cabinets are without a doubt the biggest consideration when designing a brand-new kitchen. Not only are they the most expensive item, but they’re also the item that determines your new kitchen layout and general theme. There are three main choices you’ll have when selecting kitchen cabinets.

  • Quickest and Cheapest: Stock — Stock generally refers to cabinets which are premade in a factory. These are the most inexpensive option out of the three, but you generally won’t get any customization options. Stock would include most of the ultra-popular ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets, which come shipped to you in pieces which you can put together and install yourself to save some money. They also ship quickly and come in lots of stylish options to suit virtually all kitchen remodel visions.
  • A Good Middle Ground: Semi-Custom — Semi-custom cabinets come in both assembled and ready-to-assemble options. They’re either mass-built or they are built to order to a set of standards, but they allow varying levels of customization in finishes, sizes (think changes in depth), features and door styles. They’re less costly than fully custom cabinetry and still typically ship relatively quickly — usually within four to five weeks — but will cost a bit more than stock cabinetry. Contrary to popular belief, you can get stock and semi-custom cabinets made in America with high-quality, full-wood constructions. At Wholesale Cabinet Supply, ours are made with an all-plywood construction and come standard with soft-close glides and hinges.
  • Most Expensive: Custom — Generally made by a carpenter or furniture maker, custom cabinets are designed on-site or nearby. They are always custom-made for your space, so you can select every aspect yourself, from the wood used to the finish and hinge style. This is the most expensive and time-consuming cabinet option, but it may be necessary for complicated spaces. The price of custom cabinets hovers around $500 to $1,200 per linear foot, whereas the best-quality stock cabinets start around just $114 per linear foot.

        4. Browse Floors and Countertops

        Now that you’ve got a mockup of your cabinets and a good idea of layout, you can start thinking about floors and countertops. Just like with cabinets, these finishes come in a range of prices and styles that can help you achieve the look you’re after while staying within budget. Start by getting inspiration via your favorite design magazines, apps and websites. A general aesthetic idea will go a long way when considering which finishes to choose. 

        • Floors — When it comes to floors, options range from affordable, DIY-friendly laminate vinyl planks to fine-quality exotic hardwoods. Of course, nothing lasts as long as hardwood, but wood doesn’t always fit every design scheme or aesthetic. Hardwood is also more challenging to install, so labor costs tend to be higher than vinyl, laminate or tile.
        • Countertops— It’s the same idea here: Natural materials (granite, marble, quartzite, travertine, etc.) will generally be more expensive than man made or composite materials (laminate, concrete, quartz, etc.), but that’s not always because natural ones last longer. In fact, marble is notoriously porous and prone to staining. With that said, you simply cannot rival the beauty of a natural slab of stone.

        Driftwood Cabinets

        5. Explore Appliances and Lighting

        Next up: appliances! This is one of the budget components that tends to fluctuate greatly from one remodel to the next, since not everyone needs all-new appliances. With that said, it’s important to choose your appliances before you begin to ensure that they will fit properly within your floor plan and budget. If you’re doing the work yourself and not going through a contractor, you’ll also need to think about timing your appliance delivery and installation around the installation of the flooring and any new electric or plumbing components. 

        When you demolish your old kitchen, you’ll probably be getting rid of some lighting along with it. Lights can drastically affect the functionality and aesthetic of your kitchen, so don’t skimp on this facet. Take the time to consider upgrading from old energy-hogging fixtures to more efficient LEDs or smart lights. You may also want to think about integrating under-cabinet lighting or recessed lighting for a more streamlined look. Decorative island lights or chandeliers go a long way, too! 

        6. Get Quotes and Secure Permits

        Now that you have a general idea of the work that needs to be done and which types of finishes you want, it’s time to start getting quotes on labor. Even if you’re going with the simplest RTA cabinets and DIY flooring and plan to pay your way with elbow grease, you’ll likely need professional help with some aspect of your project, such as demolition, electricity, plumbing or engineering. Shop around and get two or three quotes on each job.

        This is also the point where you’ll want to contact your city about building permits. You may need a kitchen remodel permit if you plan to change or add walls, ventilation, plumbing or electricity. Depending on the laws where you live, you may also need a permit for remodels that cost above a certain amount of money, regardless of the work being done. Your best bet in this scenario is simply to call your municipality’s building and housing department.

        Be realistic about timing!

        7. Set a General Timeline

        If you’re hiring a contractor to handle all the work, they will usually take care of timing and coordination for you. However, if you’re doing a DIY job or a mix of professional and DIY, you will need to think about a timeline. Remember, your cabinets, floors, appliances, lights and backsplash need to be ordered, and that all takes time. What’s more, these things should be installed in a sensible order (e.g., flooring may need to be installed before cabinets, but countertops should always be installed after).  

        Tip: Be realistic about timing! Every big remodel comes with setbacks, so you always want to build in a little extra cushion. While you can work with your contractor on timing and it’s necessary to have your job complete within a reasonable timeframe, it’s important not to rush a big remodel.

        8. Mentally Prepare

        Last but not least, get ready mentally. If you’re living in the house while the renovation is underway, you’ll need to prepare for your life to be flipped upside-down for a little while. Invest in a toaster oven or a camp stove because you’re going to need a makeshift kitchen in the living room or dining room! If you work from home or rely on cooking, it may be a good idea to consider a short-term rental during this time. And most importantly, keep reminding yourself that the process will move quickly and it will besoworth it in the end!

        We're here to help


        Your cabinet supplier will be a huge part of your kitchen remodel. They’re the ones who provide you with initial mockups and who help determine the entire layout of the kitchen. Choosing the right one is crucial to a smooth, budget-friendly and enjoyable remodel experience. At Wholesale Cabinet Supply, we’re happy to be the first step in renovation for our clients and we will do our very best to help you achieve the kitchen of your dreams!

        Get a Free Kitchen Design!

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