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HOW TO DESIGN THE PERFECT KITCHEN - Planning before you Plunge takes your results to the next level

How many of you have ever built a house or renovated a room where there were no mistakes and everything went perfectly? Often the highest hurdle in Interior design kitchen remodeling is dispelling assumptions that cost you money and disappointment at the reveal. Kitchen remodeling can render all sorts of 'unhappy' surprises but it doesn't have to if you plan ahead and try to anticipate problems. Most of the complaints I hear are from really smart people who didn't consider the six conditions below before they started their project. It's pretty unsettling to realize once you've started that that you've got a problem that you should have thought out ahead of time.

Because doing a little planning before you plunge takes your interior design renovation and furnishings project to the next level and ensures you'll love for years to come.

That's why I wrote this post - to address preconceived notions that interior design is as easy as watching HGTV and shopping for pretty. And give you six steps you can take yourself to empower and prepare you to champion your project well and avoid typical DIY Interior Design mistakes.

The kitchen is not only the heart of every home but the destination of every celebration and everyone's favorite gathering spot. Therefore, style and functionality are of equal importance and go hand in hand while designing your successful kitchen. Functionality is a simple linear process when you have the answers to the right questions, but style and authenticity is where the real magic happens and is key to designing and planning a space you'll love your entire lifetime.

Kitchen Remodel and Interior Design Planning
Plan before you Plunge How to Design the Perfect Kitchen

Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Kitchen - Before you begin any remodeling project it's important to evaluate your current space and determine what's wrong & how the future remodeled room will improve it. Because a successful interior design plan starts with spatial problem solving and if you can't define a problem, you can't solve it. One of big reasons you could be stuck in a 'getting going gap' is because you're guessing or wasting your time using the wrong framework. As a professionally trained interior designer I think and analyze spatial problems according to my client's lifestyle needs and personal aesthetic requirements before recommending solutions - NOT by pushing expensive one-size fits all, trendy cookie cutter solutions.

In addition, now is the time to take 'before' photos and pin them to their own folder to quickly reference with those who will help you. Don't worry about what it looks like now - I can see past it....I mean, I saw past these before rooms without judging the business owner - but, just in case, you might want to cover your eyes first.

ugly room

Step 2: Collect & Consider to Determine your Foundational Priorities & Create a Visual Guide - Before you buy or sign a contract with 'you'll figure it out as you go" as your design strategy, determine your foundational priorities like an interior designer by creating a mood board, vision board or visual guide of priority colors, beautiful rooms and inspirational photos that define and drive all design decisions. If you have time and enjoy this work, this can be a fun and effective way to make sure your new kitchen is uniquely you. It also helps to narrow the limitless options of a design project so that you know which design decisions are better than others. So, consider Pinterest your new best friend or the public library is also a great resource. Begin a photo collection or pinterest board of 20 to 40 images that can be drawn from to reflect your unique lifestyle and passions or ask me to send you a link to my "Interior Design Inspiration Look Book" that I use with my clients. This "Look Book" is a visual guide and magical tool that narrows down the thousands of colors, styles & design elements available and organizes them into helpful categories and is laid out as a short cut in color theory, color psychology & paint selections by undertone, so that we can quickly narrow down your favorite color & style mix so that you experience some freedom and clarity around knowing which colors will work and have a short list of usable whites or neutral colors and know which ones are right for your room. If you're old school, hands on and have the time, begin a physical vibe tray or folder full of magazine clippings, finish & paint samples, and inspirational items that are meaningful & beautiful to you so that you can hone & translate them into specific colors and key design elements that will drive your design decisions. Most people are a combination of styles and inspiration and when they can't figure it out - they stay stuck or settle for what's put in front of them under pressure and then the project suffers. But don't panic if you are unsure about your design style and foundational scheme, one of my specialties is helping others hone and interpret their own unique authenticity & brand of beauty so they can create a home where everyone feels calm, comfortable, connected and cared for.

Because this step can be time consuming & frustrating when not done properly, it is often ignored or skipped and when it is, the project suffers, ends up looking cookie cutter or feeling like something is off. This is because everyone interprets words & ideas differently. So to avoid miscommunication & assumptions with others who will help you implement your best design idea, you must clearly communicate your vision for your kitchen using specific vocabulary that describes your foundational design priorities.

black and white kitchen finishes Concept Design
Kitchen Finishes for black and white kitchen plan before you plunge

Step 3: Create A Budget - Determining how much to invest in your new kitchen is an important decision you will make early in the process. It's important that you determine a realistic beginning budget for your remodeling project and be prepared to openly discuss your budget with me and your contractor who will work hard to meet your needs and expectations. Consider it a working document up until the final contract is signed by using an Excel spreadsheet so you can easily tweak numbers to see how small changes in design details (flooring, tile, etc) affect the bottom line. Depending on the specification, real marble over ceramic and engineered stone might be easily worth it. Not sure how much you should invest in your new kitchen? Don't worry, I have an excel spreadsheet to help you quickly and easily begin a realistic investment figure or beginning budget for your new kitchen and keep your project's expenses under control.

Interior Design kitchen renovation planning
Traditional with a Twist Black and white Kitchen Design Concept

Step 4: Get Organized & Focused - Undertaking a design job, whether its remodeling an existing space, expanding to incorporate more room, or starting from the ground up can feel overwhelming and can hold us back. You want your new space to function well for your needs, accommodate your lifestyle aims, and reflect your unique authenticity but there are so many options and opinions available today. So how do you make the beautiful space you've been dreaming of become a reality? The creative process can be chaotic without the framework of an experienced interior design professional. As your interior designer, I'm your partner in this process and will help you establish clear boundaries to lay a firm foundation using a proven framework to get you organized and ready to roll. During our zoom design conversations, I will show you in real time what your ideas look like. This quickly helps you narrow things down and gain clarity on your thread of continuity.

Kitchen planning, floorplan and layout
Before and After Kitchen Floor plan and layout

Step 5: Work with a qualified Interior Designer to plan your kitchen & develop your best idea - When a design feels great - people love being there and happy people help others! So designing your new kitchen will take careful thought, planning and attention to detail. It is so much more than choosing a builder basic kitchen layout and selecting finishes within an unrealistic budget allowance in a vacuum. Expect to spend anywhere between one to six months planning and developing the best idea because there is a lot to think about and because one design decision can affect all the others. So, making definitive design decisions early based on what matters most to you and then breathing life into the best idea is important so you'll be delighted at the reveal. In addition, with your interior design plan and design concepts in hand, you'll be able to receive apple to apple quotes from those you are considering hiring to be on your team. Design Development & design planning acts as your insurance policy to a successful project, demystifies the "I'll know it when I see it" approach to design and is where the real design genius happens.

black and white kitchen design
How to plan the perfect kitchen

Step 6 - Implement your unique Interior Design Plan - When you are remodeling, you're investing a lot of time, energy and resources into creating a beautiful and functional environment that will shape you and your family - and you want to be a good steward of these resources. But make no mistake about it, remodeling can be very stressful. After all, it's change and you'll be living in a construction zone. I often joke that interior design is like a moving train - you're either on it or getting run over by it. That's why it is important to plan before you plunge. Doing so will help you survive the dust and demolition, have your project will run smoothly and have your project reveal be exactly what you expected. Is that important to you?

how to take your kitchen remodel project to the next level
Black kitchen cabinets

The bigger the kitchen remodeling project, the greater the potential for problems, such as lost deliveries, wrong parts, adverse weather and more - so expect the unexpected from things you can't control. But the thing you can control to reduce surprises and stress is to carefully plan your project before you plunge - this ensures that you'll get what you expect. So when the unexpected happens, you'll be able to keep your cool, stay calm and flexible, maintain good trade relationships and be the authority behind your project.

How would that feel?

Are you overwhelmed with planning your kitchen renovation?

Contact me today to see if we're a good fit working together. During your 20-25 minute design coffee chat, I'll walk you through my unique process and provide a quote on design services depending on how much you want to be involved.

As my gift to help you take your kitchen remodel project to the next level, I'll send you a PDF of my 40 page "Kitchen Designer Visual Tool Kit" as an excellent place to start. Inside this complimentary design guide, you'll find inspiration photos of beautiful kitchens as well as my favorite cabinet colors, wood species, statement tile, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, four of my favorite kitchen interior palettes and so much more.

kitchen design planning checklist
Your Ultimate Kitchen Design Planning Guide

I hope it helps you move forward with more creative confidence because the sooner you can get heading in the right direction, the sooner you'll be waking up each day feeling inspired and living your best life ever!

Here's what the client had to say in his 5 star review when we were finished....

Until then,

Hugs and blessings (Numbers 6: 24-26),


p.s.. I work one on one with my clients in Elkhart, Goshen and Middlebury Indiana as well as customized virtual design services for clients across the country, to elevate them to the status of interior design hero by offering flexible, affordable service options by the day, room or hour.

Maybe that's why I'm called a pirate ship among the yachts.



Beauty needs boundaries so it only has 'happy accidents'. Therefore, my specialty is managing & directing the creative process through thoughtful planning which then magically interprets & integrates the practical and the pretty into one clear distinctive vision.

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