Kitchen remodeling – much like all remodeling – is about compromise. It’s always the case that we want more than we can afford. But it’s particularly so with kitchen remodeling. We’ve all seen so many luxury kitchens that it’s hard to stay focused on what’s important. In the shelter magazines, even second homes of folks who don’t cook are filled with appliances and finishes on which most of us shouldn’t really spend our scarce capital. Ultimately, the $5,000 we spend on a professional range isn’t available for our retirement fund, our kid’s education, or a family vacation.
Often my clients approach me with specific proposed solutions. One of the aspects of human thinking is that we often proceed directly to “solving” problems without fully defining the problem or our objectives. And so, clients, too often start the process saying they want to replace their kitchen or create an island or … some other specific action. But I often find that the solution a client has in their head at the beginning of the process won’t achieve many of their objectives or dreams. They can spent $50,000 on a kitchen remodel but don’t really enjoy their homes any more afterward than when they started.
In one case, my client said they wanted to gut their kitchen and replace everything. But after discussing their lifestyle and her frustrations, I proposed a completely different solution. We left the kitchen almost untouched except for changing a few finishes. Instead we removed a wall separating the kitchen with the family room, improved the access to the outdoors, and built a patio. For about the same money my client was thinking about spending on her kitchen, she and her family achieved a completely new lifestyle. And the frustration that my client felt while in the kitchen (and that she thought would be solved with new cabinets and appliances) went away completely since she no longer felt trapped in the kitchen while family life went on outside her view.
I also know, from experience, that no one or two or three solutions works for the majority of my clients. Because each family has their own lifestyle and their own frustrations and dreams, the solution for each is unique.
I use 2 questionnaires when I work with clients on kitchen remodeling. The first is the more important one. It helps me think through overall concepts. It’s a way to help diagnose what’s really wrong. As in the example, above, I know that sometimes we focus on little things – like sticking or dingy cabinets — when the problem is really bigger, for example, that you feel disconnected from your family or garden. The most important planning activity is an accurate diagnosis of what’s needed – then it becomes much easier to compromise because we know what’s critical and what we can give up.
The second questionnaire is a detailed questionnaire about appliances and finishes and the like. It’s just a convenient way for me to keep track of preferences. I don’t usually even look at this questionnaire until I’ve come up with solutions that achieve the big lifestyle objectives. I’ve found that we can often compromise on the details if we can achieve the big picture.
Click the link below to download one or both questionnaires. They can help you sort through your real frustrations and desires without getting side-tracked by less important factors. That’s the first necessary step is planning a remodel that will change your lifestyle for the better.
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