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What to consider when planning your kitchen or bathroom project

Upgrading your kitchen or bathroom is an exciting step in creating your dream home. Whether you’re looking to improve your storage solutions, reconfigure the room so that you can maximise space, or give your dated kitchen or bathroom a much needed makeover, a renovation can really transform your lifestyle.

To ensure you make the right choices, and achieve the kitchen or bathroom of your dreams, you need to put time aside for planning and decision making. This is where a good designer can really help, as they know what works best for different sizes and layouts, the best products and solutions to suit your lifestyle, and can guide you through each step of the process - to take the stress away from you.

To help you get started, our designer at North East Interiors, Lee Douglas, has shared his insights and expertise based on commonly asked questions during a renovation project...

1. Where do I start in setting a budget?

“One of our most frequently asked questions is how much a new kitchen or bathroom costs, which is like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’. To set a reasonable budget, you should consider:

  • The size of your room

  • How you want to use this room, and what you want to get from it

  • The level of specification you’d like to go for

  • And if you want supply only or installation included.

“These factors all have a massive impact on the costs of a kitchen or bathroom, and the more information you can supply the designer, the more accurate an answer you’ll get.

“When setting your budget, always bear in mind that you will ultimately get what you pay for. Typically, the more you invest, the longer your kitchen or bathroom should last, so if you are planning on staying in your current house for years to come, then you will get the benefit of that investment. At the end of the day, you’re future proofing yourself and your home, so if you buy cheap then you will have to replace more often.

“At North East Interiors, we always say to start the process with everything that you would ideally like in your kitchen or bathroom - that way you know what your perfect room would cost. An itemised quote can then really help manage your budget, as you can see exactly where your money would be going and identify lower priority items that you could remove to bring the total cost down. Hot water boiling taps are a good example - everyone wants one, but when they see the cost, they may decide they’d prefer to spend this money on higher quality doors, or a better oven.”

2. Should I opt for an open-plan kitchen?

“Another question we often get asked is ‘Can we go open-plan in our kitchen?’, which really depends on the construction of your home. Some walls may be load bearing and therefore can’t be removed, no matter how much you would like to open up the space.

“Separate dining rooms are often overlooked and underused spaces, so removing a wall between the kitchen and dining room can make a lot of sense and really help to connect the two spaces. Taking down stud walls - which are simply timber frames covered in plasterboard - or moving doors is a relatively inexpensive way of improving the flow through your house and creating a sense of space.

“Although open-plan designs are popular - and can be excellent in some spaces - there can be such a thing as being too open-plan! Noises and smells can travel from the kitchen throughout the whole space, and it means you have a larger area to heat, so consider what you’re trying to achieve with an open plan space and if it will actually benefit your lifestyle.”

3. Is Pinterest a good source of inspiration for a new kitchen or bathroom?

“Looking online for inspiration is a great place to start, as this can help you narrow down what sort of styles or features you would like in your kitchen or bathroom, which can certainly be fed into the design process. However, too many images or ideas can sometimes hinder the design process, especially if you end up with conflicting styles or colour schemes, so don’t get too carried away!

“Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, but branching out to tools such as Instagram and Houzz to widen your search even further will help you narrow down what you really want. When clients come to us with mood boards and pictures of the look and feel they would love to create in their kitchen or bathroom, it gives us a fantastic insight into their styles and desires, which is a great starting point for a project.

“I would recommend gathering your inspiration with an open mind, and be really specific on what you love most about the images you choose as your inspiration - are there any common themes or features that you love, or is it the colour palette that draws your attention? This really helps to narrow down what you want, and it may be possible to take certain elements and incorporate them into a design that would be perfect for your space. Be aware that designs you come across can often be bespoke, these can take months and months to design, install and construct - although this type of work is available it comes at a very expensive price.”

4. What are the current trends for kitchens and bathrooms?

“There are always new trends emerging when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms, but at the moment, black detailing is very on trend - such as handles, taps, and frames, as well as new finishes like copper and gold for a luxurious look.

“Grey is very popular at the moment too, because it’s a very versatile colour and allows other shades to be added and updated easily as your style evolves over the years. In a kitchen, for example, you could update your accessories, splashback or paint schemes while keeping the units grey. But we’re also seeing stronger colours coming back into fashion, and more wood elements for a richer colour palette.

“But be mindful that trends can often change, and something that’s incredibly popular now may fall out of fashion in a few years. This is why I always encourage my clients to choose something that they genuinely love, that complements their lifestyle - not just because it’s fashionable at that moment in time.”

5. How can I narrow down which features I really want?

“It’s very easy to be seduced by the latest gadget or an all singing and all dancing appliance with 10 new features, but if you are never going to use those features, then it could be a waste of money. Buy the model that suits your requirements or will make your life easier. Below are some of the best features to look for, that are proving popular amongst our customers:

  • A frost-free freezer can be real benefit if you use your freezer a lot but hate defrosting

  • A slide and hide oven door makes putting food in and out much safer, which is ideal for a busy family home

  • An induction hob offers good heat control and the flat glass top makes for easier cleaning

  • If you have an open-plan kitchen, look for a quiet dishwasher with lower decibels

  • If you use your microwave a lot, make sure it has decent power and is positioned for easy access

  • If you’re looking for something that will be easy to clean, then stay away from shaker style doors for the kitchen, and tiles and design elements that are too fussy for the bathroom

  • If your bathroom doesn’t benefit from a lot of natural light, opt for an LED mirror to illuminate the space a bit more or add underlighting to any cabinets or even the bath panel

  • For a busy family bathroom, make sure you’re maximising on storage space with drawers and units

“If you and your partner are having trouble agreeing on what you like, start the process with what you don’t like and work from the other direction. Where preference cannot help cut your options down, use logic - if the room is naturally dark, stay clear of dark or heavily patterned finishes, if you only use 2 settings on your dishwasher, you probably don’t need a new one with 20 settings!”

6. Should I decide on my appliances and features before the design process?

“Having a good idea of which appliances you would like is a great starting place for a kitchen design, as these are key elements that your finished kitchen has to work around. Certain appliances have to go in certain places, so they often dictate the overall layout. For instance, American fridge/freezers are oversized with odd dimensions, whereas switching to an integrated fridge/freezer could give you a cleaner look and a more straightforward layout.

“In terms of the bathroom, the key feature in question is usually whether or not to have a bath, particularly for people looking to eventually sell their property. However, you don’t need to have a bath to sell a house - the ratio of showers that we install compared to baths proves that in general, most people would rather a better daily showering experience than the occasional option of having a bath. If this is a deal breaker for your prospective buyer, then it’s relatively inexpensive to swap out a walk-in shower for a bath, as the tiling, wallboards and plumbing are already in place.”

7. What is the average timeline of a kitchen or bathroom remodel?

“Kitchens have the longest lead time from sale to installation at between 10-12 weeks, whereas a bathroom could take around 4-6 weeks, with international suppliers taking slightly longer. “However, it’s hard to say as these timescales have been hugely impacted by the supply chain issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, which is something to be mindful of when planning. Both have had a serious knock on effect on how long it takes to deliver items, as well as their cost - something a couple of years ago that could have arrived in 4 weeks might now take 6.”

8. What should I consider before a kitchen or bathroom design consultation?

“Although our design consultations are a great starting point, it’s actually far more effective if you come prepared with a few key considerations. Start to look at your existing kitchen or bathroom and see which elements work for you, which don’t and make a list of any improvements that you would like to see. Think more about the practicality of how the space works than the aesthetics at this stage. For example, if you feel you need more room, how might you achieve that? Could a wall be moved, knocked down or is there another room that could be converted? This is where a good designer can really help work out what your possibilities are.

“Don’t just think about your immediate requirements either - a quality kitchen or bathroom will last decades if looked after, so think ahead to what you might need in the future. If you have a growing family, then you might need to swap out your bath for a walk-in shower as the kids get older. If you yourself are getting older and have concerns about mobility, then your storage options could be lower down, with more drawers or pull-outs to make access as safe and easy as possible.

“Another tip is to separate your list of features into wants (hot water tap, solid quartz worktops, etc) and needs (oven, hob, fridge, etc). In an ideal world, you will be able to get everything you want and need at the budget you have but in reality, compromises often have to be made and knowing your priorities makes these decisions easier.

“It is important to manage your expectations when considering a new bathroom or kitchen. If you have a tiny bathroom but would like a freestanding bath, separate shower and plenty of storage, unfortunately there is no miracle that can make that happen! Trying to fit too many things into a space can actually mean you don’t get the best experience out of any of them.

“Likewise, if you have a small budget then be realistic about what you can afford and use that budget where it can do the most for you. For example, a better oven or hob in a kitchen rather than a fancy tap, as you will be using these appliances everyday. In many cases, a simpler alternative will perform the same function and can always be upgraded later down the line.”

9. How can I prepare for the installation of my new kitchen or bathroom?

“Always remember that it will take longer than you think to empty the room - especially a kitchen - so start early and use the opportunity to clear out the items you haven’t used in years. When emptying cupboards and cabinets, keep in mind where you are likely going to be storing them in the new space and group similar items together to make filling the new space easier.

“I would also say to be prepared for the disruption. Whilst we always endeavour to minimise this, there will be dust and noise created, with water and electricity provision interrupted during this stage, so make sure you have a plan for this. It can be wise to find alternative accommodation for anyone who is sensitive or high risk, or for any pets, as multiple tradesmen coming in and out can add stress.

“If you are looking to keep any items such as units, appliances or a bath, for example, then let the installation team know before they start so they can remove with caution and set aside carefully. Many of our customers have managed to sell their old kitchen (and sometimes their bathroom) on sites such as Gumtree, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, which can be a great way to make some money from something that would otherwise be thrown away - plus it’s better for the environment to reuse and recycle!

“Finally, it would do no harm to make sure there is tea and coffee (or perhaps even some biscuits) for the tradesmen - a happy and hydrated tradesman is a productive tradesman!”

For more information and to get started with your renovation project, visit our Bridge of Don showroom or book an appointment below…


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