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The Grand Remodel: The Design Phase

Wow! So we’ve got this complex project. How do we start designing it? What has been helping a lot is having a designer who offers sensible (and interesting!) options, as well as explaining jargon along the way.


The first and most tricky step is the overall layout of the kitchen, living-dining room and new bathroom, and how they would fit within the overall flow of the house.

The second step involves placement of big ticket items (after labor): kitchen cabinets (both upper and lower), and the major appliances (fridge, cooktop, oven, dishwasher, etc.). The floor plan and cabinet layout would depend on placement of these big gadgets (plus the sinks). This is where you must see-guestimate how much you want to adhere to or stray from the conventional work triangle. That concept is a good start, but depending on your own habits, it’s certainly no crime to vary it to suit your household!

Thirdly, countertops: what material, how thick, finished in what style? Fourthly, floor surfaces, and finally (fifthly) wall style. For cabinetry and countertops, seriously figure out how much storage and work surface area you really need, keeping in mind that interior framing (in general) costs less than cabinetry. For example, we are opting for a closet as our pantry, since a built-in tall cabinet would be much more expensive.

A bit more trickiness

Design Difficulty #1: Trying to project where furniture would go, such as bookshelves, tables, sofas, and even chairs. Interior design for me is hard. Thankfully, my sweetie excels at this. 🙂

Design Difficulty #2: The electrical plan, where outlets, ceiling fixtures and lighting should be placed. Bad experiences in physics classes aside, I’m also somewhat sensitized by previous episodes I’ve had with our initial house rewiring and the bathroom remodel. Simply said, those experiences were cruddy; horrible planning, horrible communication, and even more horrible quality — because this time ’round we’re gonna hafta replace several things they messed up. Yay.

Fortunately, DD #2 does seem to contain sensible solutions for our house’s overall electrical plan, thanks to our designer.


As of this writing, we are waiting on structural engineering feedback, and are poring over a draft of a contract and work order. At the same time, we are researching material costs (e.g., appliances, fixtures, surfaces, cabinetry, etc.) to refine our budget. But we have a good overall plan in terms of floor layout and the electrical. We hope to settle the fiddly details in the not too distant future.

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