Easy Kitchen Remodeling

Your kitchen is more than a place to cook and eat your meals. It’s a gathering place for friends, a boardroom for family meetings, a home office and a homework centre. It’s the heart of your home. That’s why the kitchen is one of the rooms that people love to renovate.

If you are planning to remodel your kitchen, the first thing that you must do is set up a secondary cooking area. Find a spot in your home that gives you easy access to running water, like the laundry room. Try to choose an area that will accommodate your fridge and stove. If that’s out of the question, you’ll need to keep plenty of coolers and ice on hand, as well as a hot plate, toaster oven, microwave and an electric kettle. If you’re renovating in nice weather, be prepared to make full use of your barbecue.

For your kitchen remodeling project to be a success, be sure to avoid these common mistakes:

1. Damaged Walls: It’s easy to trash the walls when removing old cabinets and countertops. Try to leave the existing braces intact when you’re taking out the old cabinetry.

2. Damaged Countertop, Cabinets and Floors: Anything that you plan on reusing must be protected. Use drop cloths to protect all surfaces, including cabinets and countertops. The tools and materials used in a kitchen renovation can wreak havoc on floors, and laying a protective layer of plywood over your kitchen floor is worth the effort.

3. Shut off the Utilities: You might think that it’s enough to switch a breaker, pull a fuse or close a valve, but you could be in for a surprise. Safety should always be your first priority. Shut off the water and electricity supplies completely before you begin working.

4. Protect Against Debris. Even though you’re renovating in the kitchen, you can be sure that dust from sanding and tiling will find its way through the entire house. Use plastic sheeting to cover doorways to adjoining rooms, and seal air vents to contain the mess. Ventilation is important, however, so be sure to leave the kitchen windows and outside door open.

5. Timing is Everything: Kitchen renovations take time, and it’s easy to underestimate your completion date. Beginning a major kitchen overhaul two weeks before Christmas just isn’t a good idea. It’s easy to botch a job if you’re racing to meet a deadline, so give yourself plenty of time to do the job right.

Take the time to be sure that you, and your kitchen, are prepared for the task:

* Pack up everything that will not be used in your temporary kitchen area. Label the boxes clearly and store them away.

* If it’s not nailed down, get rid of it. Kitchen drawers, furniture, spice racks, appliances, lazy susans, clocks and trinkets should be removed and put aside or packed away. If you can’t move it, take time to protect it from dirt and damage.

* Plan for refuse removal. If you are replacing flooring, walls, cabinets or countertops, you’ll have a lot of debris. Arrange to have a truck on hand or rent a dumpster to accommodate the debris from a major kitchen overhaul. Remember that some materials can be reused, like old cabinets that can enjoy new life in the garage or laundry room. Many charity organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, will happily take the materials off of your hands. If you decide to keep or donate your usable materials, prepare a place to store them.

* Shut off the water and gas before you attempt to remove any major appliances. Most appliances have individual plumbing and water valves, but you should take the time to close the supply at the source. Gas shutoff valves are usually located near the meter. Remember to relight all of your pilot lights when you hook the gas up again, or you’ll be taking a cold shower at the end of the day.

* Disconnect electrical circuits to the renovation area. The wiring systems in many older homes have likely been modified over the years, so it’s not always clear which circuits or fuses control particular areas. This is one area where you cannot afford to make a mistake. If you’re not sure, call a qualified electrician for help, or turn off the main power to the house while you’re working. Tape over breakers to make sure they’re not switched back on inadvertently.

* Dismantle existing fixtures and outlets if you plan on upgrading your electrical system. First, remove all of the light bulbs, and then dismantle each fixture by unscrewing the cover plate and pulling the receptacle out of the box. Detach the wires carefully.

Any exposed wires should be capped until you are ready to install the new fixtures. The bare copper wire is the ground, and does not need to be capped. Electricity is a very dangerous area, and there is no room for error. If you’re not exactly sure how to replace electrical fixtures, invest in the services of a licensed electrician.

Your kitchen renovation will take smart planning and a lot of elbow grease, the results will be spectacular. Your family uses the kitchen for learning, playing and socializing, as well as for cooking and eating, so the time and effort today will pay off with years of enjoyment.

Freelancer Larissa Levise contributes to numerous web sites, on home equity and home improvement topics.

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