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Kitchen Remodel 101: How to Find Your Kitchen Style

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, you have a lot of decisions ahead. Everyone who is design-conscious suffers from a bit of “design schizophrenia” so it is almost inevitable that you will be drawn to more than one style of kitchen. Here’s how to find inspiration, get organized and start making some choices.

gray and white kitchen
Photo credit: Studio Dearborn

Keep a Kitchen File

Pinterest, Houzz, or the old-fashioned file folder — whatever works for you!  Tear out every kitchen you see that strikes a chord with you, even if you’re not sure why (more on this later.)  The more photos you save, the more data points you will have to help determine your true style.  If you like a certain design aspect keeps NOTES so you can watch for trends across your selections.

Keep a List

Before you begin the renovation, keep a list handy in the kitchen to jot down notes on how you use your own kitchen, and what could be improved upon.  Are you lacking in the utensil storage department? Would you really use a mixer shelf?  Extra recycling space?  Write it down!

Hire a Kitchen Professional – Early

A kitchen remodel deserves a kitchen-centric approach, so why wait to bring in the kitchen designer? On more than 80% of my projects, we have to tweak the architect’s plans to get the kitchen right.  Begin interviewing kitchen designers as soon as you’ve hired an architect, if not before!

Keep Organized

Go back through the images you have saved and organize them by a thread.  Liked the refrigerator? Love that countertop?  Great storage ideas?  Make as many folders as you need to keep your images organized.  If you eventually hire a designer, these files will give them a running start at understanding your style.

Keep It Real

Now’s the time to start editing.  As you go back through the images ask yourself “Do I still love this?” or “why did I even save this?”  If you can’t remember, then toss it!  Next, you need to ask “Is it really me?”  and the kicker, “will it work with my lifestyle?”  If you own several Golden Retrievers, then glossy ebony floors are NOT for you, unless you are ok with following the dogs around all day with a vacuum!  For those great ideas that may work “someday” or for that dream second home, start another file and tuck them away.  This will help keep you focused on THIS project without giving up on those hopes and dreams!

Keep it in context

The context of your home, that is!  Your new kitchen size, layout, and style should fit and flow with your existing home.  Does your home really need a huge addition, or would a “micro-addition” and a fresh layout do the trick?  Remember, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t “push the envelope” and put a contemporary kitchen in a 1920s Tudor, but be mindful of relating to the rest of the house.  For instance, crafting contemporary cabinetry from Rift Sawn Oak can tie a modern kitchen back to its Tudor roots.

Keep Focused

During a kitchen remodel or renovation, you are facing hundreds of choices on layout, style, organization, millwork, and finishes.  Now you need to return to those favorite kitchen photos to answer specific questions — “Do I really like beaded inset cabinetry?”  “Will having the sink on the island work for me?”  “Do I want a range hood that is wood or metal?”  Focus on one issue at a time, such as hood design.  You will probably spot details in your favorite photos that you hadn’t noticed before.  Your designer can also help by sharing images and folders of their own — you are probably not their first client with this same design dilemma during a kitchen remodel!

Keep Your Kitchen Choices Simple

You may have spent months searching for the coolest pendants over the island and researching unique tiles for the backsplash.  Now comes the moment of truth and you discover…they don’t work together. Don’t try to force too many “wow factors” into one kitchen.  If you fall in love with blingy vintage pendants for the island, then consider keeping the backsplash neutral, in a “supporting” role.  Pick the element you can’t live without, and save the rest for the “Vacation home” file!

Keep Moving!

If you are anything like me, then inertia is your worst design enemy.  Set yourself goals for making decisions and stick to them (“I will pick my new refrigerator by Friday!”)  This also sets an example for the other professionals you will be working with — the GC, architect, etc. to do the same.