7 tips for designing your own kitchen or bath

Fancy yourself an amateur design guru? Planning to scheme the whole kit and caboodle for an upcoming kitchen or bath renovation?

Here are 7 useful DIY design tips to prevent your makeover from making the next episode of “Home Renovation Disasters”!

Invest in design software

Face it, a professional designer has way more experience than you do envisioning what a room will really look like based on any particular combination of design elements and upgrades.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to level the playing field with modern 3-dimensional planning solutions. Not only will high-tech software help you determine whether your flooring selection matches the proposed countertop, but being able to see the spatial relationships within the confines of your limited square footage will also help save you from overcrowding the room and limiting functionality.

You can find plenty of options in Consolidated Plumbing’s Kitchen Design Software Buying Guide.

Focus on who & what

Before you start worrying about which faucet, sink or oven you’d like to install, take the time to really flesh out a realistic understanding of who uses the space and what they do there.

Designing a kitchen or bath that matches the true personality of your home’s residents is far more important than developing an aesthetic worthy of Better Homes & Gardens.

Function first, form second. Always.

Pro Tip: There are actually proven standard layout templates (complete with measurements) employed by architects and planners. Research best practices when it comes to your kitchen triangle, tub/bath/toilet placement, etc., and stick to the “rules.”

Start with one luxury splurge

If you’re on a limited budget, don’t try to go with “mediocre” everything. Instead, choose that one glamourous luxury upgrade that will rock your world and then work the rest of your budget in from there.

After all, a kitchen or bath makeover is meant to change your life—so make sure at least one element of your new room will knock your socks off.

Cut costs by repurposing

It’s easy to get in over your head budget-wise when mapping out your ideal kitchen or bathroom. Instead of throwing your dreams into the garbage can when costs exceed what you can realistically afford, go back and reevaluate which elements of your current kitchen or bath can be salvaged.

In particular, the cost of cabinet replacement is extraordinary. By opting for new cabinet hardware and refinishing you’ll have more available funds for upgrading important features such as faucets and appliances.

Flooring and countertop improvements are two more costly alterations that can be avoided by working what you’ve already got into the new design.

Don’t go overboard

Sometimes the number of goodies you can go with is limited more by space and less by budget. Always bear in mind that a room packed to the gills with luxuries may not be very luxurious at all.

Hire the best

While we’d all like to stick to our budget and score a great deal, “you get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to general contractors.

Do your due diligence when collecting bids by focusing less on the price and more on references. Never hire a tradesman or GC based on their overall reputation alone—always ask to see one of their most recent projects. Ideally you’d like to visit one finished renovation and another one that is currently in progress. You can learn a lot about “how” a particular tradesman works by watching them on the job.

Pro Tip: Often the best contractors won’t be available right away. It’s usually worth the wait to postpone your renovation until your team of choice is free.

Keep your crew happy

While it’s not your responsibility to provide a full-course meal, you’d be surprised how much morale and attitude will shift on your work site with hot coffee in the morning and cold refreshments in the afternoon.

It’s a small investment to get the most out of your team!

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