For a homeowner, a kitchen renovation isn't just about adding value to the property or making your home look nicer for visitors. It's also a chance to design a space that can truly become the heart of your home, where you and your loved ones can work, eat, and live alongside each other. Unless you happen to be an interior designer, though, this can seem a little overwhelming--so what's the best place to start?
Begin by thinking about how you use your kitchen already
Many people start by trying to imagine their "dream kitchen", but this is a good way to end up with a space better suited to a life you'd like to lead rather than the life you actually have. Spend a couple of weeks observing the ways you use your existing kitchen, perhaps taking notes as you go along. Do you find it easier to eat breakfast at the counter in the morning than to sit down at the table? Maybe you'd enjoy the addition of a breakfast bar. Which appliances do you want accessible every day, and which would be okay stored away and only taken out when you need them? Perhaps you're hoping to cook more after renovations are finished; what is it that makes you unenthusiastic about cooking in there now, and what would solve that problem?
Consider what makes your household different from others
All families are different, but fitted kitchens are initially designed to work for a mythical norm that will be okay for the largest number of people. Your kitchen renovation is your chance to tweak that to fit your own circumstances, so sit down and have a think about the ways you and your family differ from this average. Perhaps someone who lives with you is unusually tall, and would benefit from higher counters to save their back--or quite short, and would love it if none of the cupboards were too high up. Some of you might be left-handed, and would therefore prefer a sink with the draining board on the other side to usual. You could pick appliances that will be usable by people with a particular physical disability, or lay out your drawers and shelves in a manner that works well with the way you think.
Don't be afraid to get an expert opinion to help you figure it all out
Once you've developed a solid notion of what it is that you want, it's time to call in the professionals. It can be tempting to try to save money by designing and installing your kitchen yourself, but it's usually a false economy; kitchens are expensive, complex setups that can be actively dangerous if done wrong. So take all your thoughts, notes and plans and put them in front of someone with the right skills and experience to make them happen--you'll thank yourself for it in the long run.