Kitchen Renovation - It's A Numbers Game

By Susan.D. Ferrell


First Installment – Measurements


Are you thinking about renovating your kitchen but don't know where to start? Don't worry; most homeowners have been in your shoes. In fact, on average, it takes a homeowner seven years to go from thinking about renovating the kitchen to starting the project.


Renovating any room in your home can be a daunting undertaking but especially the kitchen. It's the heart of a busy home. It's where your family gathers for meals and where you help your kids with their homework. Depending on the project's scope, renovating the kitchen will disrupt your daily life for weeks, if not months.


One of the first things I learned about kitchen design is that it's a numbers game. A custom-designed kitchen has the same restrictions as a Ready to Assemble (RTA) kitchen; usable space. Unless you plan on starting over from scratch, you have limited floor space. On average, a kitchen is ten feet wide by ten feet long. Those dimensions decrease with every door, window, and floor vent that can't be worked into the design or relocated.

The same restriction applies to how many cabinets will fit into the space. Unless you are hiring a carpenter to build cabinets, they come in standard sizes.

Standard Base Cabinet - 9 inches to 36 inches wide (increase by 3 inch increments)

- 35 1/2 inches tall

- 24 inches in depth

Standard Wall Cabinet - 9 inches to 36 inches wide (increase by 3 inch increments)

- 30, 36 and 42 inches tall

- 12 inches in depth

Of course, specialty cabinets such as; pantries, corner cabinets, and over the fridge/range cabinets vary in size. As I said, it's a numbers game. Are you overwhelmed yet? Try not to worry. I'm here to help. Check out the following suggestion that might get you through the initial planning stage of your project.

First Step:

Take a good look at your present kitchen. With pen and paper in hand, start a pros and cons list. List everything you like about the kitchen and can't imagine living without it. Then write a wish list of everything you would like to change. Take pictures of the kitchen, especially anything that might interfere with the new design, like boxed-in piping.


Second Step:

Measure your kitchen (width x length x height) and draw a quick sketch of it. Make sure you mark where the doors, windows, and floor vents are. If you can't relocate the sink and appliances, make sure you show where they are too. The drawing doesn't have to be pretty or precise. If you hire a professional (which I recommend) to install the new kitchen, they will take accurate measurements before your design appointment. The drawing is a tool to help keep your thoughts straight when you are talking to a professional about the renovation.


Third Step:

I suggest starting a Project Book. I know it's a bit old school, but they are fun to make. You will need a three-ringed binder, lined paper, a pencil case, page dividers, or tabs. I divide my project books into two sections. The first section is where you will keep track of materials, appointments, invoices, and expenditures. I suggest adding the floor plan you drew and the pros and cons list to this section.

The second section is where all the fun is. Think of it as scrapbooking. I suggest browsing through decorating magazines for inspiration. If you see a kitchen you like, specific cabinet features, countertops, etc., cut them out and paste them into the book. Your local home improvement retailer should have brochures and samples of paint colours, laminate countertops, and flooring. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes they charge for flooring samples. Don't' forget to stop by the hardware, appliance, lighting, and flooring departments. They may not have samples or brochures, but this is where the camera on your phone will come in handy again. Print the pictures and add them to the book. I also suggest adding a pencil case. It's the perfect spot for receipts. A Project Book is a great way to keep you organized and your renovation on track.


Now, I'm not going to lie to you. Renovating your kitchen will be a stressful undertaking. But being prepared and organized from the start will make for an easier journey. Join me for the next installment of Kitchen Renovation: It's A Numbers Game, where we will talk about the budget.


Susan D. Ferrell is a kitchen designer and Home Improvement sales specialist. She obtained a Kitchen Design Certificate through the Home Depot Training Facility in Brantford, Ontario, and has fifteen years of experience assisting customers with their renovation and interior decorating projects. Susan specializes in designing, colour coordination, and visual merchandising.

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