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How to Prepare and Plan for a Major Kitchen Renovation


Inside: Preparing for a kitchen renovation by creating a must-have list and consulting a kitchen designer to come up with the best layout options

*This post is sponsored by Home Hardware. We are thrilled to have them as our kitchen renovation partner throughout this whole project! 

Falling down cabinets, squeaky drawers, a less than stellar layout – our small kitchen has been in need of a renovation since the day we moved in almost eight years ago. But kitchen renovations are not for the faint of heart. They require planning and prep work and, most of all, vision. 

So we committed to simply updating and improving the kitchen for the first seven years until we had a very clear vision of what we needed and wanted our kitchen to be. It started with increasing storage by building our rolling kitchen pantry. Then we painted the cabinets and updated the backsplash with a peel and stick subway tile. 

The updates worked for a while, but the time has come to prepare and plan for a major kitchen renovation! 

We haven’t even swung a hammer yet, but we’ve already done quite a bit of work ahead of the renovation itself. This post will outline all those prep steps.

Assess the kitchen space

The first thing we did was assess all the space we had to work with. We renovated the basement last year and moved my office down there. That meant the dining room was now in my old office and the old dining room was fair game for integration into the kitchen. 

This is a huge win for us because it means we’ll be increasing the size of the new kitchen by about 30%.  Bringing the two rooms together involves knocking out a non-load bearing wall, but beyond that it shouldn’t be too much in the way of structural or demolition. 

What’s not working in the kitchen?

Then we got real about what’s working and what’s not. With this falling down kitchen, our list of ‘not working’ was much longer than the list of ‘working’.

  • Cabinet shelves aren’t adjustable
  • Not enough drawer space and current drawers fall off the tracks ALL THE TIME
  • Garbage and recycling has no good home
  • Stove is currently against a wall (I’m not even sure that’s allowed anymore!)
  • There’s no pantry space (except for the makeshift one we built)
  • The faucet doesn’t pull out and it’s hard to rinse dishes and fill pots
  • The current cabinet hardware is ornate and attracts dust and I hate it
  • The corner cabinets (both upper and lower) are blind and a total waste of space
  • The lighting isn’t great for zones

I’m sure there’s more, but those are the main gripes we have with the current kitchen.

Create a list of ‘must haves’

Based on the list of things we dislike about the current kitchen, we came up with a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ for the new space.

Our must haves are:

  • Functional cabinets with adjustable shelves
  • More drawer space (especially for Tupperware and pots and pans!)
  • A great pantry
  • A more functional faucet and double sink
  • Better lighting
  • A clean and simple solution for garbage and recycling bins

Our nice to haves are: 

  • A second prep surface – either a built-in island or a custom mobile island that we can use for baking, meal prep (or crafting and rainy day activities in a pinch!)
  • Under cabinet lighting 
  • Some glass display shelves for my pretty baking bowls
  • A spot for a little coffee and tea bar (because if I’m going to bake cookies all the time, Mamma needs her coffee and tea!)

Making a renovation plan

Once we had a rough idea of the space we could work with and the updates we wanted to make, we went into our local Home Hardware, Payzant’s Home Hardware Building Centre, and met with one of their Home Installs kitchen designers. Tammy was amazing to work with! She took our rough drawings (and somehow made sense of them!) and then walked us around the showroom explaining the differences in finishes, cabinet styles, counters and more.

To create the plan, we provided our designer with:

  • All possible measurements (walls, ceiling height, windows, doors, appliances etc.)
  • The positioning of the plumbing
  • The positioning of the electrical

From there, Tammy drafted a few layout options for us to consider and envision. One piece of advice I have is to not rush this process. I’m an eager beaver and want nothing more than to get out the sledgehammer and do demolition, but the planning and layout is SO important. 

Tammy was able to come up with options for our kitchen that we hadn’t considered – like putting the pantry beside the fridge and adding an entire 5-foot span of new counter space beside our stairs.

We are also working on creating a custom mobile island using stock cabinets from the same collection we’ll be using on the walls. I can’t wait to see what we come up with! I like the idea of having a moveable piece that we can shift and adjust as we need. The space is still going to be small, so having lots of flexibility will be great. 

Next Steps

When we were in the showroom, we were able to pick out a gorgeous double sink and faucet! (I can’t tell you how pumped I am!) And we also decided to go with a high end laminate counter. 

But the next decisions will start to be about style and finishes. We’ll have to decide on cabinet fronts and colour, countertop style and colour and also backsplash options! 

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