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How do you go from daydreaming about a bigger oven to baking Gingerbread houses in a beautiful brand-new kitchen? 

Where do you start? Do you get a builder in and start smashing down walls? Or do you pick out your new oven and hope someone can make it fit?

Please DO NOT go the impulsive route. It may cost you more than anxiety.

Planning first. Always.


I’m on a Facebook group for people who are renovating their homes. Maybe you’re on it too? I offer advice on it now and again. I’ve noticed something in that group. As well as amongst people I know IRL.

Many people don’t realise what’s involved in a kitchen project. No real reason they should, most people never get the chance to put in a new kitchen. But with that comes misconceptions and worries.

Where does a kitchen project start?  What happens along the way? Who does what?

After 14 years in the kitchen industry, I think I’m qualified to spill the kitchen renovation tea. And it’s not all set in stone – there are variations depending on the project scope.

I’ve worked on a vast range of projects. From efficient small space kitchenettes to massive upmarket mansion feature kitchens. But the process remains the same.


Where to start? An interior designer can help you design a layout. Look for someone with kitchen design experience. While you may have an idea of where you’d want the stove to be, there’s a lot to consider. So many details.

Kitchen companies will have a designer on staff/subcontract. Smaller kitchen carpentry businesses can also put together a very simple layout.

Get your new kitchen layout planned and finalised well before you begin demolition. For new builds, get your kitchen design started as soon as the architect has done your plans.

Read here if you’d like to know more about working with an Interior Designer.

Working with an interior designer – Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Meet with your designer to discuss the project. Besides aesthetics, there are standard sizes, inserts and service points to consider.  Tell them all your wishes and requirements. Discuss your budget and the style of your new kitchen. Speak about how you want to use the space and the finishes you love. You could even sketch out a simple layout for them to work off if you have some ideas. They can incorporate your dreams into their space plans.

The designer will either use your floor plans to do their initial design or measure the actual space. Or you can submit measurements to them if you have taken them already. Your designer must begin their design with measurements that are as accurate as possible. Otherwise it could waste time on changes later.

There is a measurement guide in my new Kitchen Renovation Project Planner ebook if you’d like to get started.

Your designer will take all the data from your consultation with them and get creating. Designers are problem solvers. They study the aesthetics; sizes; appliances; lighting; services; and finishes. They consider the style and functions. And the budget. Then they combine all the components of the new kitchen to create a unique new kitchen for your home.

Design Elements offers virtual design services. Drop me a mail if you need a kitchen design. As I work through online communication, I can help anyone in the country.

A 3D rendering of my new kitchen from our design stage.

This is when you’ll meet with your designer again. They will then go over the design(s) they’ve done, discuss any required changes, and advise  on finishes. If your designer didn’t get everything perfect the first time they may undertake to do revisions. They’ll also need to do revisions if project parameters have changed, ie. to suit budget or due to major floor plan changes.

Once you’ve approved your final design you can use it to get a quote.

Kitchen company designers will quote you directly. But if you’d prefer to shop around for pricing, go the design-only route. Some  interior designers offer project management services and can get quotes for you. Or you can track down some cabinetmakers and do it yourself.

Quotes should reflect quantities, finishes and hardware specs. It’s best to get a quote on the ultimate design, and then revise the design to shave costs if need be.

Check out some cost-saving kitchen reno tips.

Quotations may take some time if cabinetmakers are quite busy with other projects. Especially a few months before the big holidays. Not a good time to order your kitchen. Don’t let them take too long though, move on and find another to quote you.

Get in at least four quotes to compare and (generally) accept one priced in the middle. But also do a vibe-check on your options.

Once you’ve accepted a final quote, you’ll pay a deposit so your cabinetmaker can procure components.

Your cabinetmaker will visit your site and take final measurements before  anything else. If your site is still under construction they can’t make anything yet. Final measurements are taken after walls are plastered.

Final measurements are used to establish final kitchen unit sizes. They will do technical drawings with these final sizes and use them to build your kitchen units. 

Plumbing and electrical layouts must be finalised at this stage. You don’t want your carpenter to install the edge of a unit in the middle of a plug point. These things are much easier and cheaper to move when preplanned. Or the kitchen design could be adjusted if it’s not possible to move points.

Depending on the type of worktop, a designated person must order them from the relevant source. Ie. If they’re Formica worktops, the cabinetmaker can organise them as part of their scope. If tops are to be quartz/granite, a relevant company will be subcontracted (or directly contracted by yourself/project manager).

The BIG DAY will be confirmed between all the parties involved. Installers will converge on your home to start putting in your new kitchen. A few things to remember:

  • If you’re replacing an existing kitchen, it best be gone well before installation day. You can try selling it on FB Marketplace and get the buyer to take it out themselves. If there are to be alterations to the space, you can also do this step before demolition.
  • Installation can take from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the scale of the kitchen and the components.  Installers must make sure units are level, secure, and properly spaced.
  • Going for granite/quartz tops? First, the carpentry team will install base units. Then the countertop fabricator will come to take final measurements. They need to cut the worktop sizes back at their workshop. Cutting and polishing on site is nigh on impossible. They will need the sink and hob cut-out sizes (or the items themselves), on that day. Then they will come back in a few days to install the tops they’ve prepared. After the tops are in, the cabinet installers will continue with putting in the drawers and doors.
  • Any custom unique features requested by the client will take longer to make and install.
  • Sometimes there are small changes that need to be made on site during an installation. It’s rare for everything to go perfectly. Make sure you’re easily available for questions and quick decisions.
  • Your plumber will install the sinks and faucets, and your electrician will be responsible for the built-in appliances. If you have a gas stove, that’s for a licenced gas installer to sort out. All of these professionals will need to sort out their points prior to the kitchen installation and then work around the installers the installation process to do fittings. They will need to issue compliance certificates to you when their work is completed.
  • There’s an order to tiling and painting kitchen walls. Wall tiles first as they need to adhere to plaster. Cabinets must be well protected with tape and drop sheets for the painting process.

Want to know more about how a renovation works? Read this post about how we survived ours.

Installation team working on my kitchen in June 2023.

Once the installation is ‘complete’ you, your designer, and your cabinetmaker have a close look at the work and check for any issues. Things like chips, door alignment, sticking drawer runners, etc. You’ll all make a list together and the cabinet people will work through that snag list to rectify issues and complete the project.

The installation team will finish up and a cleaning crew will make all the sawdust and debris disappear.

After the snagging and cleaning is all done, homeowner and contractors would meet again. As a group, you would revisit the snag list, make sure everything was done, and conduct a final inspection.

If all parties are happy with the work done, you’d give your final approval and sign-off on the project. Your contractors should provide you with any maintenance guidelines or care instructions if relevant. Now is the time to ask if you haven’t already.

Our completed kitchen renovation (with a little revamp on the old fridge).

Are you feeling better about your impending kitchen project?

Let’s recap a few points to make sure:

  • The more information you can give your designer during the briefing, the better for the final product.
  • Keep in mind that the exact details of the process will vary depending on the scope of your project.
  • Effective communication between all parties involved is essential.  
  • If there’s ever anything you’re unsure of remember one thing. You are the client. It’s your money. You must approve the final product. Ask questions, even if you think it may seem like a dumb one. Ask all the questions. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • If you feel like the project is barreling on and dragging you along for the ride, call a team meeting to go over details. A kitchen project can take anywhere from 3 weeks to about 3 months (more if new build).
  • With both renovations and new builds, there are very often things that will go wrong on site. Though this may incur delays or further costs, keep your humour. Don’t be a pushover. I’m saying sometimes you need to roll with it and brainstorm Plan B with your contractors. It’s the best way to keep a happy site and a successful project outcome. Don’t be the client no one ever wants to work for again.
  • Ask for warranties or guarantees for the materials and workmanship. And get COC’s from the applicable professionals, ie. the Electrician, Plumber, Gas (and Solar).

Now, go forth and get that kitchen designed, manufactured and installed! If you’re like my Mother-in-law and I, you’ll be excited to be baking those gingerbread houses in a new kitchen this year.

Blessings, Chantal
Baking Gingerbread houses with the kids Dec 2023! 🙂

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  1. Oh wow! Thanks for the info and congrats on the new kitchen. Really do love the fridge. Thanks for including all those helpful details that are so easily overlooked.


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