Confronting a Major Renovation

Seattle interior design and remodeling - facing your kitchen and bath remodel

You have just visited a friends home for dinner in Ballard that you haven't seen for sometime and they were anxious to show you their new kitchen remodel or maybe a master bath. You get home look around at your dated kitchen after seeing such marvels as a recycle station, pull out pantries, an integral refrigerator or a speed oven in and think, it's time for a new kitchen. Or maybe you envied their rain shower and separate soaking tub. But where do you start.

There are a number of things to consider before trudging off to your local kitchen/bath design center or Seattle kitchen remodeling showroom:

  1. Timing

  2. Budget

  3. Style

  4. Logistics

  5. Expectations

  6. Where to Start

  7. Contractor Selection

As has been said, timing is everything. When would you like to start the project recognizing that a complete kitchen or bath remodel from design to completed project will be a 5-6 month process on average. When would you like to start? Do you want your house torn up over the holidays? Are there other considerations in your life such as health issues, maybe a surgery, extended stay of guests or maybe that long vacation you have been wanting.

You need to set budget for your project(s) and one with some latitude and wiggle room (meaning, you may decide to splurge and you want to make sure that you don’t have to feel guilty about it afterward.). Do not be led astray by that $10,000 kitchen that your favorite HGTV renovation show stars just claimed to have done. They rarely use quality materials and get manufacturers close outs only available to mega-hit series programming. Reality TV… It's TV, not reality.


Depending upon the extent of the remodel (does it involve new plumbing, electrical, drywall flooring etc) most quality kitchens including appliances in the Seattle metropolitan area will start at about $40,000 and up if installed by a professional . A master bath typically $35,000 and up.

Also while you should always ask around with your friends about who has done a recent remodel, keep in mind that many people don’t like to talk about how much money they spend. My rule of thumb here is that in most instances people are afraid or embarrassed when talking about money because they always want to appear to be extremely savvy so take the figure with a grain of salt.

In any project one of two things usually happens (but sometimes both), there is an unforeseen surprise or you make changes or upgrades. (1)  No one could see that dry rot in the wall, bad wiring or other random expense. (2) You decide to add under cabinet lighting or a freestanding tub or other elegant touches or fantastic gadgets. These decisions will impact your budget so allow for an additional contingency of 5 -10% over what you’ve previously considered.

What is your style and I don't mean that you are a smooth talker or flashy dresser. Do you like clean simple modern lines or are you more traditional. What is the age and style of your home? A mid century modern house lends itself to flat panel cabinets and simple lines while a 1920’s craftsman bungalow begs for shaker or a modified raise panel with handmade looking tile. Look around your home, unless you are planning to redesign the entire interior keep your project style compatible with what you have.

Logistics are important. Will you be living in the home during the remodel? Are you prepared to live with a certain amount of sheetrock dust that in spite of the contractor's best efforts seems to get into everything? Can you live eating out of a microwave and using a bath sink in which to do dishes? Do you have children. How will you feed/bathe them? How many bathrooms do you have? Major remodels impose a level of inconvenience so it is best to plan ahead. If you need to rent a temporary living space it is best to plan and to budget in order to avoid stress and turmoil during what should otherwise be an exciting time.

We all set expectations, just make them reasonable. If your budget is modest don’t expect a kitchen or bath that can make the cover of LUXE. In the present environment the construction industry is over booked so do not expect general contractors to line up at your door to bid your project as most are booked 4 , 6 or 10 months out. Many will not take the time to prepare a proposal or will charge you for doing so.

Where to start is with an architect or designer or a design & build firm like Urbanata. They can save you a lot of false starts, wasted time and eliminate frustration. We can show you many key material elements for your kitchen or bath under one roof and provide full service interior design and building and installation services. Life can get busy enough, give yourself a break.

In selecting a contractor reputation is key. Can and will they provide you with references. Do they have a portfolio of some of their recent work. How long have they been contracting.  How far out is their schedule. Ask friends who have completed a project if they can recommend their contractor. All clients get restless and tired of any remodel project so ask how the project was in the end. Were they happy with the results?

These are some basic tips on what to consider or what to expect when deciding upon a major remodeling project. It can be a lot of fun with good forward planning.

By: Steve Hunter


Photo: 3-gorgeous-open-modern-kitchen by James Joel used by creative commons license