Draughtsman pencil and ruler

The saying goes that you can manage your own kitchen renovation without even picking up a hammer. Just do a little due diligence and hire a set of quality tradies and you can happily kick the middle-man to the curb and save yourself a bundle of dough.

Or so the theory goes.

Behind the curtain lurks a major pitfall with the Do-It-Yourself model that is often overlooked by homeowners. It’s true that your carpenters, tilers, floor layers, and other subs are perfectly capable of producing professional grade work which is sure to wow your friends and family upon inspection of your new kitchen... but there is something very important that they can’t do for you.

Are you sure you’re happy with this design?“

This is a question that a tradesman will never ask a homeowner. They get paid not to question the design motives of the owner, but reproduce an exact replica of what’s drawn out in the plans. They may not point out your counter tops are abnormally high or the location of your sink will force you to walk twice the distance when it comes time to prepare a meal. And they won’t suggest that you reconsider a trendy fad that is totally impractical or reduces your resale value.

Your average tradie isn’t a professional kitchen designer, and guess what, neither are you. (unless you are of course, in which case, apologies, and you can skip the rest of this post!)

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be involved in the design process, you should, but those who go it alone without the guidance of a professional are bound to suffer a major gaffe or two. Think about it, practice makes perfect, and so it goes to reason that someone who has designed dozens of kitchens or wardrobes is going to be privy to some “insider” knowledge and experience that the average Do-It-Yourself project simply won’t have.

Look for the forest and the trees!

Forgetting about the big picture is a common mistake.

With so many funky ideas and innovative new materials out there, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of choices and forget that the end product needs to match up with your goals and lifestyle and not simply rock a kick-ass design. Remember, while beautifying your home is part of the allure of a kitchen remodel, the real idea here is to focus as much on function as on form.

If you’ve got kids then you’re going to want to shy away from materials such as soapstone that looks stunning, but is difficult to care for. Similarly, your cabinetry and appliances need to be more hardy than pretty so they stay looking good after years of wear and tear.

Think about how your new kitchen can improve your day to day living instead of simply piecing together really cool ideas you’ve found in design magazines. Save that for your next haircut.

Your kitchen is all about you, today and tomorrow.

A brilliant remodel design is more than just a sum of all its parts. Factors such as how often you cook, what you cook, where you generally eat your meals, and how many cooks need to use the kitchen at once can drastically affect the overall layout.

No two cooks are exactly the same, and so the trick here is to design a kitchen that suits the homeowner’s precise needs, while taking care to not over-customise at the same time. An over-customised kitchen may not work for you in 5 or 10 years and can lead to difficulties in selling your home, especially if some of your ideas are way off base!

Listen first, then make a decision.

Ultimately your design team works for you and should build the kitchen that you want. Beware of any designer who tells you that you absolutely cannot do what you ask, or say that they prefer and “highly recommend” a different design. It is the job of the designer to make suggestions based on the needs that the homeowner has laid out for them and to provide information with regards to the potential consequences of specific design aspects.

Whether you take all of their recommendations is ultimately up to you. That said, you’ve gotta keep in mind that this is what these guys do for a living, and if you’ve done your due diligence in picking a design team, they’re probably pretty good at it.

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