I’ve had the privilege of helping many of our clients buy and sell homes here in Charlotte, and the kitchen seems to be an area of focus. “The kitchen is the heart of the home” as they say, and while personal preferences can vary widely, the underlying motivations for these preferences are timeless: people want a place in their house that’s welcoming and functional, a place where family and friends can congregate and enjoy food, drink, and each other’s company.
This year, we decided to undergo a kitchen renovation ourselves. Demolition began in late April, and by mid-June we were able to move back into a fully functioning kitchen. Here are a few lessons we learned along the way:
- Project Management = People Management. All the planning in the world isn’t going to get things done if you don’t have the right people in place to do the work. We had an amazing team working on this project every step of the way, from having a qualified interior designer help with creating the vision, to having experienced contractors weigh-in on what they’ve seen work on other jobs. Skilled professionals make all the difference. All of our contractors were either word-of-mouth referrals from trusted sources, or people we’d worked with on projects for other clients. I felt very grateful to be in a line of work where I had such a deep network of good people to call on for help.
- Allow time for contingencies. I can’t help but chuckle as I look at our original projected timeline: three weeks! Delays happen, and for a project like this with so many different moving parts, delays can quickly turn into more delays if you don’t have a buffer in place. For example, our sink had a scratch in it and needed to be returned. When the sink installation got delayed, we had to push back the drywall, the counters, and so on. One thing can quickly lead to another but try not to get impatient. It’s better to take the time and do it right.
- Make a budget, then add 10%. We built a spreadsheet for this, and when I look back on our budget to actual no individual item jumps out as being way overbudget. But the little things came up here and there, and in aggregate it took about 10% more than what we originally budgeted to get everything done.
- Drawers. I cannot say enough about the benefits of having drawers in our kitchen! They’re everywhere now: the pantry, the cabinets, even beneath the built-ins we installed around our kitchen table. They add so much functional storage without taking away from the space in the room. Items that before would have tumbled back into Narnia behind the box of Boil-In-A-Bag rice can now be easily retrieved by pulling the drawer out. It’s also helping our kiddos become more independent as we’ve placed some (not all) of their snacks on drawers at heights that they can access.
We’re so happy with the results. Our family is spending much more time in the kitchen, it feels like we have more space, and so far we’re keeping things clean, organized and (mostly) clutter free which is having a positive impact on all of our moods. As Gretchen Rubin wrote, “When I clean up that mess, I’m always surprised by the disproportionate energy and cheer I gain, plus I’m able to find my keys.”