Kitchen Remodels: Keep the Right Approach


If only kitchen renovations were as easy as they look on TV. A cute designer and contractor show up and bandy about some ideas with the homeowner and within the thirty minute segment, some walls come down, some tile goes up, and for surprisingly little cost, a newly renovated kitchen is revealed… complete with cupcakes. If you’ve ever been through a renovation, you know that isn’t how it works. There are hundreds of decisions to be made and it’s not as easy as it looks! Here are three rules to help keep the process from making you crazy.

Communication is Key

The key to a happy renovation is a good design, a trustworthy contractor and ample communication throughout the process. Be honest with your designer about how your family uses the kitchen, your wants, your needs and your budget. A good designer will know how to allocate your money wisely and where to save and where to splurge. Likewise, your contractor and designer should be honest with you about the process, the timeline and the cost. They also have an obligation to be clear about what they will be doing and when. It’s a lot easier to work with someone who says, “I’ll be here at 8 on Tuesday,” rather than the nebulous, “We’ll be back to fix it.” If you have concerns during any part of the process, speak up. It’s always better to ask now then wonder later why the tile was put in the wrong direction!

Have a Great Plan and Stick to It

My parents recently renovated their kitchen in order to sell their home and I wasn’t able to visit them to help because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They knew I was slammed with work so they said they would let the contractor guide them. They were pretty surprised that their contractor didn’t offer more design help, things were pieced together “on the fly”, and the finished result didn’t come out as they had imagined. But contractors aren’t designers and designers aren’t contractors. Your designer should create a cohesive plan, but when walls are being moved and plumbing is being relocated, that’s a contractor’s bailiwick. You may even need a structural engineer and an architect. Once you have the plan for the contractor to implement, stick to it! A client contacted me the night before the painter was coming and said frantically, “I think we should do the island black. My friend is telling me I’m going to get tired of the color on the island.” I knew that her love for the turquoise was not a passing thing, so I convinced her to stick with the original plan. As
soon as she saw it painted, she thanked me for not letting her change it. If you have worked out a great plan with your designer and your contractor, stick to it and stop looking at Pinterest!

Expect Surprises

The most surprising thing in a renovation is when there are no surprises. Usually there are a few bumps in the road: tile shows up in the wrong color, plumbing parts get delayed, the electrician might have a family emergency. Life happens and the more people and parts involved in a renovation, the more things can go amiss. In a project on which I was consulting, the contractor had pulled up kitchen tile only to find another layer of tile underneath that he hadn’t expected or budgeted. In another kitchen renovation, the clients changed the refrigerator model at the last minute and found out too late that it no longer fit within the cabinets! Surprises will come up but with good planning and an experienced team, any problem can be handled!

Good planning and strong communication are vital to the success of almost any project, especially when it is a home renovation. You want a designer who will formulate a cohesive plan based on your input and guide you through the process and a contractor who will execute that plan and keep you updated on the progress and timeline. Finally, once you have your plan, stick to it. No matter how many bumps come along the road, there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel and you are going to love your new kitchen.

Brie Hays is a certified Interior Designer and True Color Expert. She is available for design work and paint consultations through Harlow Hays Design Co. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram for decorating tips, or check out