Getting Prepped: Designing and Planning Your New Kitchen

By Andrea Julian, AAA Countertops – March 23, 2020

Getting Prepped: Designing and Planning Your New Kitchen

Any project begins with planning and a kitchen remodel is no different. As with any project, the more time you spend planning and ironing out the details, the better chance your project has of success. During the planning stage, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. We’ll address each of these in detail below.

  • Your budget
  • Your goals for the project
  • Labor considerations

Step One: Create Your Ideal Budget

Now, a lot of people will say right away that they don’t know what their budget is because they don’t know what a kitchen remodel costs. I have worked with clients for years and have heard this repeatedly, but I promise you, you do have a budget.

Your budget needs to line up with these two key points –

  1. Affordability: How much money to you have available (or are willing to spend) on the project
  2. Projected Costs: How much the project will cost


Everyone has a limit as to how much they can afford to spend on a project. Take some time to run your numbers. How much do you have in savings? Is the project worth putting on a credit card? Can you qualify for a low interest or deferred home financing option?

Also consider the value of your home. Look at what other homes in your area have been selling for. Homes that have upgraded kitchens typically fetch a higher selling price than those without.  Do the math and see how your project costs line up. If you are looking for the highest ROI, you’ll want to spend the minimum necessary to get you kitchen market ready.

Project Costs

There is a ton of free design software that can help you get a handle on costs. For example, we offer a free countertop design software on our website to allow you to get estimates on countertops just by putting in your measurements. You can find similar design tools on cabinet, flooring, and window company websites. Spend some time playing around with the software to get an idea of how much the various elements are going to cost.

To get you started, here are a few numbers that may help (these are approximations and will vary based on several factors including your material choices):

  • Demo:  Depending on scope starts around $10 sq. foot on average
  • Flooring: Depending on material choice, $3-$18 per sq. foot, installed
  • Cabinets: $20-$200 per linear ft for stock cabinets
  • Countertops: Start at $40 sq. foot, installed (granite) $50 sq. foot, installed (quartz)
  • Windows: $450-$600 per window on average, installed
  • Doors: Approximately $500 on average, installed
  • Backsplash (tile): Starts around $25 square foot, installed

Please keep in mind these are very general costs and include labor. If you plan on doing the work yourself, you will be able to save on labor costs. However, make sure you fully understand the scope of work that needs to be done and are honest with yourself about your skillset. If you attempt to do it yourself and fail, you’ll end up having to pay a contractor more to fix your mistakes.

Step Two: Define Your Project Goals

Your budget will depend on the scope of your project. Are you just replacing countertops and cabinets? Or will you include floors? What about backsplash? Do you want to change the layout of the kitchen, take down walls or move plumbing?

Look at your budget and figure out if it aligns with your project goals. If you just want to get your house ready to put on the market, you’ll want to create the maximum impact for the least amount of money.  If your project goals are to create your dream kitchen in your forever home, then the sky’s the limit!

There are several project worksheets that can help you define your project goals if you’re having trouble getting started. We love this one and this one by Spending time carefully considering your goals and organizing your ideas will help you make the best decisions for your project. If you plan on working with a designer, these worksheets will be valuable in conveying your visions to them. Which leads us to step 3.

Step Three: Who’s Going to do the Work?

This biggest, and perhaps most stressful part of a remodel project, is figuring out how the work will be executed. We will go into more detail about working with contractors and designers in the next article.  For now, just know there are several routes you can go in terms of labor:

  1. Do it yourself. If you are a tradesman and are used to taking on DIY construction projects, you might choose to do the entire project yourself.
  2. Hire a designer. Working with a designer will help you to map out the project. You might still do the labor yourself, but you get a blue print to work from.  Many designers can also work as project managers, hiring and overseeing the work of contractors and vendors.
  3. Hire contractors yourself. You can act as project manager of your project by hiring the various tradesmen yourself. As a project manager, you’ll oversee timelines, and you’ll have to understand the order of construction projects, i.e., knowing who needs to come in at which point in the process. 
  4. Hire a general contractor. A general contractor will manage all aspects of your project and can often help you with general design layout. If you don’t have the time, or the skill to execute the project yourself, a general contractor is a wise investment.

In the next article, we’ll go into detail about hiring contractors and designers. We’ll give you tips on choosing who to work for and what you can expect in terms of cost and scope of work.