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Kitchen Renovation: How to Get Started & Speed up the Process

So what’s the most frequently asked question our designers get asked when customers first visit our showrooms? “How do I get started?” The second most frequently asked question? “How can we speed up the process?”

Here are some tips to help you accomplish both!

This first suggestion may seem painfully obvious, but you’d be surprised: have some idea of what you want your kitchen to look like. (I told you it would seem obvious!). Look through magazines and tear out pictures of spaces you love.

In the old days we’d suggest you make an idea notebook, but now we have Houzz and Pinterest. You can create an account, start collecting and “pinning” ideas, and show them to your designer on your tablet or even your phone. And a few photos of your existing space can’t hurt either. This way we can better envision not only the old kitchen, but what your dream kitchen should look like. And when you’re looking over your idea boards, you should start to notice a trend in terms of color and design – the things that seem to pull at your heartstrings again and again.

That’s your gut telling you what color palette and design features you’ll be able to live with over the long term. Don’t be swayed by all the options you’ll see online. Stick with your first impulse – it won’t steer you wrong.

The next thing we need to get the ball rolling is the measurements of your kitchen. If you’re already working with an architect, bring in their blueprints. If you’re not sure how to measure, call or stop by one of our showrooms. We have a pamphlet that we can give or email to you that will walk you through the process. Of course, if you ultimately decide to retain Bilotta for your renovation, your designer will come to take their own measurements to ensure accuracy of your order. But in the meantime, the better your measurements are, the closer our estimate will be to your final price.

Many customers want to rush to pick out their countertops and hardware. After all, that’s the fun stuff, right? But in actuality those are some of the last items we choose. What can hold up a project more than anything else is failure to finalize appliances. Believe it or not, the appliances drive the design. What items do you want to include – what are your “must haves”? (Perhaps a warming drawer, or a wine cooler, or an all in one range vs. cooktop with double ovens?). Their sizes are the starting points of the layout, and everything else gets filled in around them. And not just major appliances. We also want to know if your wish list includes countertop gadgets like that Vitamix, a juicer, or espresso machine. This way we can plan storage of related food and utensil items at the “point of use” to maximize efficiency. Just so you know, we won’t place a cabinet order without exact appliance model numbers. Not all 30” double ovens or 36” refrigerators are the same in terms of cutouts, clearances, and panel sizes! And if your wish list is so huge that it’s the spatial equivalent of trying to fit 10lbs of sugar into a 5lb bag, we’ll let you know and help you narrow down your selections.

Next up: don’t underestimate the importance of building permits. Many a project has come to a screeching halt because the proper permits haven’t been secured. Your kitchen designer does not apply for permits, and even some contractors leave it to the homeowner to acquire permits. So be sure to have a conversation early on with your contractor or architect about whether or not permits will be required and who will be responsible for filing the application.

If you live in NYC, you’ve got more than just municipal permits to worry about. Most buildings have very specific rules about what kind of renovations can occur, at what time of day, and even during what times of the year. So, make sure you know what your building’s rules are before you start planning your kitchen re-do!

Are you assuming you’ll pare down your kitchen paraphernalia when you pack up your possessions just prior to the start of demolition? You may want to re-think that. One of the things your designer will do when they come to measure is open your cabinets and take stock of all the items you need to store. Imagine how much more efficient your space can be if we don’t have to find room for something you haven’t used in 20 years!

And now it’s time for talk about coordination. And I’m not talking about coordinating colors and finishes. Here I’m referring to making introductions between all the members of your team: kitchen designer, interior designer, contractor and architect, whoever is going to be the working on your project. The sooner all parties communicate and sort out who’s going to be responsible for what, the smoother and quicker your project will go. And once you’ve decided exactly who all those team members are, it’s now time to turn over the reins and trust their professionalism. After all, you handpicked this lineup of players because you believed they understood your vision and could execute it with precision. While you certainly want to be fully engaged in all the creative and esthetic decisions, avoid the temptation to micromanage the technical details that are better left to the pros you hired.

So relax and enjoy the process – it’s supposed to be fun!

This post was written by senior designer, Paulette Gambacorta. Paulette has been designing kitchens with Bilotta for over 22 years.

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