My Best Kitchen Remodel Advice and Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting any Kitchen Renovation

MY KITCHEN IS FINISHED!!! It's beautiful! I love it! It's everything I wanted! It's like living in a dream. I moved back in to my kitchen at the beginning of October. And still, multiple times a day, I find myself sitting in there thinking, "This is MY kitchen."

You have all been so crazy wonderful and encouraging through the entire process and I am soooooo excited to share it all with you! And hopefully answer as many questions as possible at the same time!

First - I have to give a shout-out to Northstar Builders. I had some issues with the first project manager helping me with the kitchen remodel project, but the incredibly talented Matt from Northstar Builders swooped in and created a kitchen that was even better than I could have imagined!!

This post is ridiculously long. Here's a road map for you in case you want to jump directly to a specific section:

Before/After Photos

My Personal Design (Appliance/Lighting/Flooring/Etc) Choices

My Top Kitchen Remodel Advice

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Kitchen Remodel



I honestly can't even believe this is the same kitchen. And actually, my kids keep saying things like, "Remember in our old house..." And I say, "You mean THIS ONE?!" because it just feels like a different house!

So...yeah... we had a random window INSIDE OUR HOUSE that went from our kitchen to our family room. That's probably the only part of the "old house" that my kids will miss. They liked to play "drive through" with food they made out of paper. 

Removing that weird "almost wall" in the middle of the room almost DOUBLED the amount of light in the room!! Also...yes... our floors were two difference colors before the remodel. (I lived with a lot of WEIRD stuff in my house while saving for this remodel. 🤣)

You may not know...but I used to live in South Korea. We bought this house while still living across the world. THIS VIEW is the reason we chose this house. (And neighborhood and schools and all that "normal" stuff.) There was already so much space in my kitchen. Believe me -- I KNOW how blessed I am to have found this house. I was grateful every day for the space and the options that I had with this kitchen. Yes... it sometimes felt like the kitchen version of a wood paneled, yellow station wagon car from the early 1980's. But it was MY wood paneled station wagon kitchen. And now it's the kitchen version of a symphony played by angels that are also passing out chocolate bars and pogo sticks.


I'm going to try to answer and link to as many choices as you've asked about. Let me know if there is something you are interested in that I missed!

Counter top - Black Pearl Granite from Arizona Tile. If you don't know - I didn't - When you get a counter top, you go to a slab warehouse where they have  literally tons of stone slabs all stacked up like books in a library. You find your favorite one, and they won't sell it to you. You have to find a fabricator (someone that cuts and installs the stone) to buy it for you.

We worked with Sandia Designs locally and they were AMAZING. My island is HUGE. They were able to help me find an unusually long slab of granite and then expertly cut it with virtually no waste so my island is only one piece of stone AND they also some how managed to cut it in a way that we were able to get the remaining counter top pieces out of it as well.

Oh! And we decided to go with a quarter-round edging. It's also sometimes called a pencil round edge. Basically... it's squarish, but just a little curved on the top edge. The radius of the curve is about the width of a pencil. It still looks square from a distance, but feels safer for my very active children and is actually quite comfortable to lean against.

Back Splash - 3 X 6 inch white beveled subway tile - I'm SOOOOO glad I chose beveled tiles! It reflects all my new light in the most gorgeous way! It almost looks jeweled!

Cabinet profile - I describe my style as "slightly decorative." I like shaker doors...but want it just a little more fancy. This is the profile that Todd from Artisan Woodworks helped up come up with.
Cabinet hardware - Euro Bar cabinet pulls, 7.4 inch vertically on cabinet doors, and 5.4 inch horizontally on drawers.

Double Oven - Thermador 30" Double Oven Masterpiece - full honesty here -- I've baked in A LOT of different ovens. Some were great, some were awful, and in the end I realized that I can make pretty much any oven work. I also use my oven for much more than just cookies. So I went into my appliance quest with a few things I wanted in an oven-
1. I wanted TWO of them.
2. I wanted to have the option to bake convection.
3. I wanted an attached thermometer.
4. I wanted a digital temperature control.
5. I wanted it to have a light. That works.

This oven has all that...and A TON more. It's almost overwhelming with all it's options...which is fantastic and exciting! It's suuuuuper easy to use. And the oven timer can do hours, minutes, and/or seconds! I REALLY like it. I haven't used it enough to know if it's my best oven ever...but it's definitely headed that direction.

Fridge - Thermador 24" Column Refrigerator - This particular appliance is what led me in the Thermador direction to begin with. I LIKE FOOD. I like to have enough food on hand for all six people in my family...for more than one day at a time. And I wanted a really clean front face.
Freezer - Thermador 18" Column Freezer
Gas Cooktop - Thermador Masterpiece Cooktop
Range Hood - Z Line KF1 36"
Dishwasher - Thermador Sapphire Series - I have been using the dishwasher that time forgot. It was built like a tank and ran like a tank. We assumed it would live forever. And then it basically crumbled to pieces when we took it out at the beginning of the remodel. 🤣🤣🤣 So it was REALLY fun to look at new dishwasher models! THREE DRAWERS?! It's like I'm living in the future!
Microwave - Bosch 800 Series Drawer Microwave - A drawer microwave isn't for everyone. I REALLY didn't want one on the counter or over the cook a drawer was really our only option. After owning it for a few months... I don't love that you have to push a button to open the door. I weirdly prefer doing that myself. But I love everything else about it! I was worried about younger nieces/nephews playing with it...but since you can't open it without pressing the right button, it's not even remotely interesting to them.

Faucet - Delta Trinsic Touch Faucet in Arctic Stainless - YOU GUYS. When my hands are a flour covered mess -- I just touch it with my forearm to turn it on and off!!!!! I could not recommend this more. It also has a really cool temperature feature. You can see the blue light near the base of this faucet. That shows the water temperature. It goes from blue to purple to pink to red. It's SOOOO helpful for my kids! They don't touch any water in the pink-red range.

Sink - Presidential Jackson 18 gauge stainless steel, 30" wide - This sink can hold almost 3 dishwasher loads of dishes before it starts to look like it's overflowing. I like that. 😂😂 With such a very open kitchen, it's nice to be able to hide a few dishes.

Sink kit - Elkay Sinkmate - This is SO cool!! It comes with a magnetic strip that sticks to the outside of your sink (on the under side between the sink and your cabinet) and magnetic accessories so you can use the side of your sink to keep things organized!

Lighting - I had the electricians put in about one million lights. I totally recommend it. 🤣🤣

I actually have eleven recessed (can) lights in my kitchen with daylight LED bulbs. (Daylight bulbs show truer colors for mixing icing!) I got ridiculously involved in the placement of them because I wanted to make sure there would be no shadows EVER AGAIN in my kitchen. I do not regret my choices.

I chose not to have pendant lights of any kind...because they would just get in my way. And shadows. They are great for soft evening light, but we all know that if I'm in my kitchen at night -- I'm working and need real light.

I chose a linear chandelier (Ribera 40" from the Possini Euro Design Collection) for over the table. I love that it spreads the light out across the length of the table as well as the width. Also it's a little weird. And I like that too. This light almost didn't happen. I tried to purchase it early in the summer and it was out of stock everywhere...or so it seemed. I posted about it on Instagram and you guys TOTALLY came through for me and helped me source it! THANK YOU!!! It's absolutely a perfect fit for my kitchen!

In some of the pictures, you can see the new chandelier over my entryway...and that's the Canarm Orb Chandelier for those who asked. I put it together myself.

Paint - Benjamin Moore Storm - It's a beautiful medium gray with cool undertones. I love the way it makes the kitchen feel bigger. And it compliments the pearly accents in the counter top perfectly.

Flooring - Bona Stain - The guys from High Country Hardwoods were AMAZING!! I narrowed down my floor color to choices to a couple of different stains. They showed them to me on a bare sanded floor (3 " red oak) and let me custom mix my floor stain. I think they were a little surprised when I was so specific on the custom ratios...but they very graciously went along with my choices. And I am IN LOVE!!!  I used 3 parts Jacobean to 2 parts Graphite.

I always knew I wanted a dark floor. Because -- I LIKE IT. A lot of people warned me against it. The biggest thing I heard was - dark floors show dirt more. The truth is -- all floors show dirt. I've had light floors and I've had dark floors and they all show dirt and crumbs and wear about the same.

Weird Giant Couch: Klaussner Killian Sectional with Ottoman. I impulse bought it at Costco. Out of desperation in the middle of the remodel. Who knew a couch could fit in a MINIVAN?! It turned out to be exactly EVERYTHING we ever wanted in a couch! The combination of a lounge on one end and a storage ottoman that spans the entire length of the couch -- it's basically a giant slumber party waiting to happen!

Bar Stools and Table Chairs: Ingolf chairs and stools from IKEA!

Weird things I did because I'm a baker:

* The Aime drawer -  I had the cabinet guy make me a HUGE pull-out drawer next to where I keep my mixer. Now I can keep 5 gallon (food safe!) containers of flour, sugar, and...well...rice - right in the center of my kitchen! No more dragging them across the room every single time I make something!

* Touch Faucet - as I mentioned above, this was a MUST for me! You turn the faucet on by touching any part of the spout or handle. So when your hands are covered in flour or chicken can touch the faucet with your forearm to turn it on and off without getting ANY OF THE MESS on the faucet! (An added, unforeseen youngest can't reach all the way back to the faucet handle anyway, but she CAN reach the top of the the touch feature means she can get her own drink of water and wash her own breakfast bowl! YEAY!)

* Trash under prep area - This one is actually kind of a given for MOST people who actually use a kitchen. By putting the trash in a pull-out drawer under the prep area, I'm able to easily slide things off the counter into the trash as necessary. Or, you know, use my actual hands to pick things up and toss them as well.

* Baking Sheet Drawer -- Do you see that drawer under the double oven? It's for BAKING SHEETS!! It can fit two stacks of baking sheets side-by-side.

* Outlet in pantry and oversize shelves for dehydrator - My dehydrator now lives in my pantry! It has it's own special shelf and outlet. Well..truthfully... it has to share with my popcorn machine. But hopefully they learn to get along. I love having my dehydrator super accessible...but not out in the open!


There is sooooo much to know and do and think about with any remodel. And a kitchen is no exception. I'm definitely not an expert...but here's my pushy unsolicited advice anyway!

** Spend time thinking about your kitchen. What works NOW? What doesn't? Someone along the way told me - make sure you create a kitchen for the person you ARE, not the person you want to be. Do you use every dish in the house to make dinner? GET A BIG SINK to hide all the dishes. Never bake ever? You probably don't really need that really cool looking double oven. Try to answer all of the questions at the bottom of this post before starting a remodel project. Knowing what you want before you start will save you time/money/emotional health. It will also help prevent the seemingly inevitable "changing your mind mid-stream" issues.

** Create a collection of ideas. When you decide on something -- WRITE IT DOWN or ADD IT TO A VIRTUAL IDEABOOK SOMEWHERE. Because you WILL forget what you spent days deciding. I used the website houzz to browse pictures and sort them into categories to help me see what I love and what I hate. For example -- THIS is my general kitchen ideabook. But I also had separate books for faucets and the island ...etc.

** Drawers. Put drawers everywhere. They are just like shelves, but you can pull them out and see everything that is in them.

** Be present during the entire project and don't be afraid to speak your mind and ask questions. Check in often. It takes a long time to remodel a kitchen, so it can be tempting to go on autopilot and hope for the best. But the people working on your house can't see inside your brain. If something seems off, it's better to get it sorted immediately. EVEN if it means they have to undo something. Yes, your craftsman or project manager might be bugged. But they don't have to live in your house when it's all over.

** Add more lights and more outlets than you think you will need.

** BUDGET: On average, a kitchen remodel costs around $150 per square foot of kitchen. So roughly - $15,00 - $45,000 plus the costs of any new appliances. It obviously goes up or down depending on how in depth the remodel is.

 If you are willing to do a little digging and a little research - you can often save yourself A LOT of money on appliances and fixtures and other bits and pieces of your remodel. For example, our dishwasher had a dent on the back side. THE BACK SIDE of a dishwasher... I'll never see that. I'm actually a really frugal person and linking to the full price items I chose is kind of giving me a complex. 🤣🤣 We saved for almost seven years for our kitchen remodel. And that gave us a lot of time to be SURE of what we wanted, and to look for seasonal deals on specific items.

Remember - just like with custom cookies -- quality WORK comes at a quality PRICE. It can be a bit of sticker shock to find out the price of the different craftsman working on your kitchen. If you're considering a remodel in the future, it can be helpful to find out average prices before you start your project.



- What do you currently hate about your kitchen layout?
- What do you LOVE about it?
- Do you want an island? Do you have SPACE for an island?
- Do you want a pantry? Do you have SPACE for a pantry?
- What pipes/appliances can be moved?


- Do you want a range (oven and cook top combination) or an oven(s) and separate cook top?
- Do you have a gas or electric oven?
- Do you want a gas or electric cook top?
- Do you want a single over or a double oven?
- What oven do you want?
- How many burners do you want on your cook top?
- What cook top do you want?
- Do you want a range hood that vents out or re-circulates air?
- How wide does your range hood need to be?
- Do you want a metal range hood or a built-in custom range hood?
- Where do you want your microwave? (Over the range, on the counter, in a cubby, drawer microwave, etc)
- How big of a microwave do you want?
- Do you want a convection or traditional microwave?
- What microwave do you want?
- Do you want a panel ready dishwasher (looks like cabinetry) or a standard front dishwasher (looks like a dishwasher)?
- Do you have specific dish washing needs?
- What dishwasher do you want?
- What material do you want your refrigerator/freezer to be made from? (Stainless steel, painted metal, etc.)
- Do you have a standard front refrigerator or panel ready refrigerator?
- Do you want the refrigerator and freezer to stand side-by-side or have one on top and the other on the bottom?
- Do you want an ice and/or water dispenser?
- Do you want an ice maker?
- Do you want a digital front panel?
- How wide is the refrigerator space?
- Do you want your smaller appliances to sit on your counter or in an appliance garage?


- Which side of the sink do you want the dishwasher on?
- Is the garbage close to the sink?
- Do you want one sink or two?
- How do you want your sink mounted? (Drop-in, undermount, apron front, etc)
- What material do you want your sink to be made of? (stainless steel, ceramic, etc)
- Do you want a faucet with two water handles (hot/cold) or a single handle?
- Do you want an attached or detached spray nozzle?
- Will you have a disposal?
- Do you want a disposal switch or air button?


- What kind of lighting do you want? (recessed, chandeliers, pendants, etc.) I found THIS ARTICLE helpful.
- What are the exact fixtures you want? (Browse Pinterest until you fall in love with some chandelier/pendants!!)
- What color of light do you want? (soft white, daylight, etc.) I found THIS ARTICLE helpful.
- Where do you want the individual lights?
- Do you want under-counter lighting?
- Do you need task lighting for specific areas? (over the sink, appliance cabinet, etc.)
- How many light switches do you want?
- Where do you want the light switches?
- Do you want all the lights on the same switch?
- Do you want a dimmer switch?
- How many outlets do you want in your kitchen?
- Do you want a charging drawer?
- Do you want electrical outlets in your backsplash or under the cabinets?
- Do you have any special appliances that will need their own outlets?


- What kind of material do you want for your counter tops? (granite, quartz, marble, butcher block etc.) I found THIS ARTICLE, THIS ARTICLE and THIS ARTICLE helpful.
- Do you want a 4" counter top edge below your back splash?
- What color counter top do you want? (Dark colors have less chance of staining if your food coloring goes rogue. 🤣🤣)
- Do you want your counter top to have a pattern?
- What kind of edge do you want? I found THIS ARTICLE and THIS ARTICLE helpful.


- Do you have any unique cabinet needs/wants? (charging drawer, standing mixer pull up shelf, spice cabinet,e tc)
- What color do you want your cabinets? (Ideally, get a paint swatch!)
- What style of cabinets do you want? (shaker, slab, panel, etc.) Browse THIS WEB PAGE to find something you love!
- Specifically, what kind of profile do you want? (recessed panel, raised panel, etc.)
- What kind of overlay do you want? (Full, partial, or inset) I found THIS ARTICLE helpful.
- Do you want any display cabinets with glass fronts?
- What style of hardware do you want? (knobs, pulls, bars, etc.)


- What will you use your island for? (prep, cooking, washing, serving, decorating) I found THIS ARTICLE helpful when planning my island.
- How long do you want it? (Keep in mind, the average length of a granite slab is 114 inches.)
- How wide do you want it? (Keep in mind, the average width of a granite slab is 64 inches wide.)
- Do you want an overhang for bar stools?
- How much of an overhang do you want? I found THIS ARTICLE helpful.
- If your overhang is greater than 12", what kind of support do you want?
- Will you have cabinets under the overhang?
- Will your cabinet hardware choice interfere with legs/feet under the overhang?
- Where will the electrical outlets be?


- Are you removing any walls?
- Are you adding and full or half walls?
- Do you want a backsplash?
- What style/color backsplash do you want?
- What color paint do you want on the walls?
- What paint finish do you want? (The higher the sheen, the more durable it is.)


- What type of flooring do you want? (tile, composite, hard wood, etc)
- What color of flooring do you want?


- Do you want a built-in pantry?
- Do you have space for a built-in pantry?
- Do you want a broom closet?


How long did it take?

It took almost 4 months to the day.

Did you use a designer? 

I spent a lot of time imagining my kitchen, so I had a pretty good idea what changes I wanted. I visited the kitchen department at Home Depot a few years ago and got some great advice from a design expert there. I highly recommend starting there -- it's a free consult and they will give you a lot to think about!

I also talked to the contractors that we hired to renovate our kitchen and they were extremely helpful in smoothing out my plan.

If you are making structural changes - you'll need to talk to an architect. If you are making surface changes, an interior designer can help you. Many architects and interior designers will also be able to refer you to companies who can do the remodel for you if you are planning on having someone else do the work.

Look on the website houzz to find recommended designers and architects in your area!


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