How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers for Good

First, empty your cabinets and lose what you don’t use. Then follow these steps to keep your kitchen organized

By Annie Thornton

Getting your kitchen storage organized and working well is very satisfying, but it can be hard to know where to begin — especially if you’ve been using your kitchen for a while and are used to its quirks. To help, here’s a quick guide to the best ways to organize your kitchen cabinets and drawers by grouping items by type, storing them near where you use them, and getting rid of what you’re not using.

How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

These are the basic steps to organizing your kitchen storage. We’ll go into each one in more detail:

  • Empty cabinets and drawers, including pantry food items.
  • Sort the cabinet contents by what you want to keep, what to throw away or recycle and what to donate.
  • Thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your cabinets and drawers.
  • Group all the items you’re going to store in your kitchen by category.
  • Plan to place items near where they’ll be used.
  • Add baskets, shelf inserts, cabinet racks and any new storage solutions you want to use to keep your kitchen cabinets organized.
  • Return everything to cabinets and drawers, prioritizing items by use.
  • Enjoy your clean, organized kitchen.

1. Empty Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Take everything out of your cabinets at once, or go cabinet by cabinet, and place the contents on a table or countertop.

“Physically handling each item forces you to make decisions about keeping, donating or discarding,” says Karen Duncan, a certified professional organizer out of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

2. Decide What to Keep and What to Part With

The contents of your kitchen cabinets, like many storage cabinets around the house, are likely filled with items that you use often, but they’re also likely filled with even more items that you use rarely, if ever.

Give yourself permission to let go of those unused items. Donate or give away what you can, recycling or throwing out anything you can’t, such as expired pantry items.

3. Clean Cabinets and Drawers

Now that your cabinets are empty, spend some time getting them really clean before you fill them back up. Wash all surfaces thoroughly with gentle soap and water and allow them to dry completely before restocking. For an extra level of polish, and to make future cleaning easier, you can also add shelf or drawer liners, or replace old ones.

4. Group Items by Use

“Think of your kitchen as functional zones: washing, prepping, cooking on stovetop and baking,” Duncan says.

Group the items or tools you use for each of those tasks together for efficiency. In the pantry, this means grouping food types by category: cooking, baking, snacks and breakfast,or whichever grouping technique works best for your lifestyle.

5. Place Things Near Where They’re Used

Once you’ve grouped your items, plan to place them in cabinets or drawers close to where their function is performed.

In the panty, place the foods that you use most often in the easiest-to-reach places. (One possible exception: “If you think you eat too many snacks, put those up high so you don’t see them as often, and it’s more of a to-do to get them,” says Tori Cohen, an organizing and decluttering specialist in New York City.)

While you’re working out what to store in each cabinet or drawer, Duncan suggests placing temporary labels made of blue painter’s tape on the cabinet or drawer where each group is going. This will help you get a sense of how your storage plan is shaping up and simplify making adjustments as you go.

6. Consider New Kitchen Cabinet Organizers

Once you have determined where you’d like to store everything, look for places where your kitchen cabinets and drawers could benefit from additional organization and storage tools. Some ideas to consider:

Roll-out shelves. 
Extra-deep lower cabinets benefit from roll-out shelves, either custom-made or purchased from a kitchen or organizing store. The shelves will allow you to easily see the cabinet’s entire contents — even what’s at the very back.

Baskets and storage containers. Storage containers and open-topped baskets can be a great way to group like items, especially food.

Drawer pegboard. Pegboard systems, which feature adjustable screw-in dowels to keep plates in place, can be purchased for existing drawers.

The dowels can be moved to accommodate the size of whatever you want to store in the drawer. (Depending on your drawer’s construction, the bottom may need to be reinforced for heavy dishes.)

Cabinet risers and drop-downs. Freestanding cabinet shelves can double your storage by adding another shelf for storage without losing any accessibility.

Drawer dividers for kitchen tools. Standard drawer tray inserts work great for silverware, but kitchen tools can be a little more challenging to corral; they’re not uniform in size and not everyone has the same kind. “My best suggestion is [a set of] drawer dividers, and not a tray. That way you can create the sizes of spaces you need,” Cohen says.

Look for adjustable dividers, which can be expanded to fit your kitchen drawers. As you have done with the rest of your organizing, group kitchen tools by type before placing them in drawers.

Pan organizer racks. Consider a pan organizer rack, which can be added into an existing cabinet. “That way none of the pans need to sit in one another, and they’re easily accessible,” Cohen says.

7. Put Everything Away

Put the contents of your kitchen cabinets and drawers in their new homes, prioritizing what you plan to use most in the most accessible spots and placing rarely used items, such as seasonal platters, out of the way. “This is what the top shelves are for,” Cohen says.

8. Maintain Organized Cabinets

To maintain the organizing system, and to help you or guests quickly identify what is stored where, consider putting a label on the inside of each cabinet indicating the cabinet’s contents. “When you’re running around the kitchen trying to figure out where your roasting pan is, all you should need to do is read these labels,” Cohen says.

Other Considerations for Organizing Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Cabinets versus drawers.

“Shelves are great for taller and odd-shaped items, since shelves tend to be adjustable,” Duncan says. Drawers can be useful for everyday items, including kitchen tools and cutlery. Deep drawers can also be used for baking supplies and pots and pans.

Glass-front cabinets and open shelves. Glass-front cabinets and open shelves provide an opportunity to create an attractive kitchen display. Store your most attractive plates, cups and pots where they can be seen, and try not to stuff the cabinets too full.

If you’d rather not display your kitchenware, peel-and-stick window film can turn transparent cabinet doors translucent. Decorative bins can sit on open shelves, with items stored inside.

Corner cabinets. In areas where items always get pushed to the back and are hard to reach, install turntables, which make it easier to see and access the cabinet’s entire contents.

Alternatively, Cohen suggests using these blind corners for rarely used items, like holiday serveware, or for storing bulk items, like paper towels, that you don’t necessarily need to see in order to grab.

Small kitchens. Duncan and Cohen shared their tips for keeping a small kitchen organized:

  • Buy only what you really need.
  • Declutter frequently.
  • Purchase multi-use items, rather than specialty tools.
  • Designate an alternate closet for overflow items.
  • Consider a portable prep cart with storage underneath.

Smooth Solutions to Kitchen Counter Corners

The designers of these kitchens found creative ways to ease the transition from counter to walking zone.

Erin Carlyle April 26, 2020. Writing about the cost of renovation and what it takes to remodel. Former Forbes real estate reporter. Fascinated by cool homes, watching the bottom line.

It’s pretty standard for kitchen cabinets to run in a straight line until they meet the end of a wall or the start of a doorway. But sometimes, that isn’t the smoothest route. These six kitchens employ clever alternatives for ending a run of cabinets. Though the solutions vary, each makes the nearby passageway feel a little more smooth. Could this be a solution for your kitchen?

1. Curved Toward Walkway

For this Northwest Washington, D.C., kitchen by Case Architects & Remodelers, the designer gave the countertop a curve to soften the lines and give the space a transitional feel. The curve is also a practical choice because the counter abuts a walkway that heads toward a door. A curve in the pebbled quartz countertop means there’s no sharp corner to hit should you make a misstep.

2. Recessed by Door

Another way to pull the counter back from the walkway is to recess it, as Shannon Eckel-Braun of Design Factory Interiors did for this Waterloo, Ontario, kitchen. Instead of a full-depth cabinet abutting the door that leads outside, a 12-inch-deep cabinet creates some breathing room. “I wanted it to be recessed back so you feel like you can smoothly walk around it,” Eckel-Braun says. “I didn’t want the countertops to just end.”

3. Angled by Door

This kitchen in Stockholm, Sweden, by Stylingbolaget has a range that sticks out farther than the doorway wall. One option would have been to stop the run of counter where the range ends.

But the designer found a solution that also adds storage: angling the countertop to the left of the range so it forms a wedge that looks interesting but not awkward. More important, it creates a smooth route in and out of the kitchen. And with the space used for open shelving rather than a traditional closed cabinet, all that space is easily accessed.

Here’s a more traditional way to angle a counter near a doorway: with a corner cabinet. The shape of this end run of cabinets in Oakland, California, by Kitchens by Francis invites you into the room. It also smooths the way out — you can glide right by via an efficient diagonal route.

4. Rounded on End of Run

The designer of this kitchen in Hampshire, England, used curves to soften the lines of this long, narrow kitchen. The curve of the tall breakfast table echoes the curve of the cabinet by Lewis Alderson & Co. Both curves distract the eye from the otherwise long, straight shape of the space. The cabinet’s curve also allows space for a walkway around the table.

5. Rounded on Island

In this Minneapolis kitchen by Crystal Kitchen + Bath, squared-off cabinets at the perimeter maximize storage, but the curved shape of this island’s end zone offers a practical way to avoid uncomfortable bumps where people tend to hang out. As with the first example in this story, rounding the island adds to the room’s transitional feel, as do the speckled countertops and horizontal bar pulls on the cabinets.

10 Design Tips for Planning a Family Kitchen

When planning a new kitchen, it’s important to consider the requirements of everyone who’ll be using it. For family homes, this means having an adaptable space that can meet your needs and those of your children, both while they’re young and as they grow into teenagers. This is just as important for anyone planning a kitchen who hopes to have children in the future.

A kitchen is not just a place for cooking and eating, it’s also a sociable space for gathering, doing homework and simply spending time together as a family. So, with that in mind, here are 10 design tips to help you plan your ideal family kitchen.


Family_Kitchen_1.png

1. Choose the Right Layout

Getting the right layout is essential for any kitchen, but your best possible layout depends on whether you have (or intend to have) children.

The ideal layout also hinges on what sort of environment you want for your kitchen. If you want to create a child-free zone, a peninsula or U-shaped kitchen that closes off access at one end is ideal. This will keep family members clear of the area and out from under your feet. In a busy household, restricting passage in and out of the kitchen in this way can be safer during cooking.

If you prefer to have a bustling, family-centered space, an open-plan arrangement with an L-shaped or island layout that flows into a living area is the best option. With this type of layout, the family can freely access the kitchen, creating a welcoming feel.


Family_Kitchen_2.png

2. Create a Safe Prep and Cook Area

Many families prefer an open-plan kitchen. If your does, it’s important to let your designer know this, along with details such as how many people live in your household, the ages of any children, your family’s preferred cooking styles and who typically cooks. This will help them plan a safe and comfortable working environment that accommodates everyone.

For example, if you want a kitchen that allows teenagers to access the fridge or microwave, it’s better to have these appliances on the periphery of the kitchen, so they’re within easy reach but safely away from the cooking zone.

Similarly, a kitchen island with seating at the far end will let you keep an eye on young kids during cooking, but it also safely separates them from the hazards of the food prep and cooking area.


3. Decide How You’ll Use an Island

If you have space for an island, think about the ways you want to use it. An island with seating, for example, makes the kitchen more multipurpose. It becomes a place to eat, study, do homework or relax with a glass of wine once the kids have gone to bed.

An induction cooktop on the island makes it more sociable and enables children to watch and learn as the parents cook. In this kitchen, the sink is on the perimeter behind the cooktop, but it’s staggered to the right rather than directly behind. This staggering means you can check that it’s clear before turning toward it, which is important if you’re carrying a knife or a pan of boiling water, especially if there are children or pets present.

Alternatively, having a sink on the island itself allows easy cleaning up of splashes and spills.


Family_Kitchen_4.png

4. Include Work Surfaces at Different Heights

In a food prep zone, it’s best to choose a work surface at a height that’s best for the person who does most of the cooking, but it pays to include work surfaces at different heights too.

For example, an island countertop would be too low to tuck a baby’s high chair under, whereas a breakfast bar might be the perfect height. A breakfast bar could also accommodate older children on stools and be used for doing homework. If there’s space, an adjoining part of the island could also be at a lower level to accommodate a more formal family dining area.


5. Consider Appliance Safety

Safety is key for a family kitchen and care is needed when children and appliances come together.

Some types of appliances are safer than others. Induction ranges are ideal for families because, unlike a gas stove, they have no flame and the surface remains cool during cooking. They also have essential safety locks.

It also pays to raise ovens to eye level so they’re out of reach of small fingers. This can work well for adults too as it saves them from bending down.

Wine fridges and cupboard doors can be locked, while sink cupboards especially should be secured, preventing access to hazardous cleaning fluids.


6. Let Appliances Make Life Easier

Opt for appliances that are designed for convenience to ease the pressures of family life. Choose a dishwasher that sanitizes, thus eliminating the need for a separate baby bottle sterilizer. Similarly, go for a hot water dispenser and a fast-cook oven to save time. An induction range is faster at cooking than a gas one.

Look into the different types of washers and dryers, too — many have features and programs designed to cope with a high turnover of laundry.


Family_Kitchen_7.png

7. Opt for Fuss-Free Surfaces

Sticky handprints can be a constant problem with young children, so opt for surfaces and finishes that are less likely to show up smudges. Fingermarks are less visible on a matte surface than a gloss one, and even less so on a textured stone or wood door, so consider this when choosing door and drawer fronts.

When it comes to countertops, look out for materials such as Corian or quartz, which are stain-resistant and durable (but can also be repaired if broken). Similarly, Silestone is non-porous but also antibacterial, making it a popular choice for parents of very young children.

Go for easy-maintenance flooring, too, especially if you have pets as well as children. Ceramic, concrete or porcelain are popular, hard-wearing choices.


8. Ensure Generous Storage

Storage is especially important in a family kitchen, where a place has to be found for child-related items, such as bottles, sterilizers, baby food and bibs, as well as any additional cooking utensils. As your family grows, you’ll also need more food storage, especially if children start to develop a preference for a greater variety of foods.

Plan your storage so that anything dangerous, such as knives, are safely locked away. Similarly, breakables, such as glassware and delicate dishware, should be stored high out of reach.

As children get older, you might want to assign them their own low-level cupboard that they can access. For example, their plastic cups, glasses and plates could be stored in kitchen drawers. Not only will this help your children feel independent, it’s also safer than them trying to climb onto countertops to reach these items in a wall unit. Plus it means they don’t have to rely on you to fetch things on demand.


Family_Kitchen_9.png

9. Look to the Future

Plan your kitchen so it accommodates the changing needs of your family. A growing family generates more garbage, so include sufficient bin space in your kitchen plan that’s easily accessible. Also, if you’re eager to teach your children to recycle and compost, install a system like this one to encourage it.

Opt for a fridge and oven that’s large enough to accommodate food for a family of four or more. And factor in enough seating and a big enough table for your growing family, along with space for future school friends or other house guests.


Family_Kitchen_10.png

10. Enjoy Your Kitchen

Make sure the kitchen is a fun place where your family enjoys spending time. Include casual seating areas, such as a breakfast bar or adjoining bench, to encourage people to linger. Add in some eye-catching accessories to provide bursts of color, or try a blackboard wall, which is handy for shopping lists, reminders or kids’ art. It might even keep them entertained while you’re cooking.

What’s Popular for Kitchen Islands in Remodeled Kitchens

Homeowners often add or upgrade an island as part of a kitchen renovation, choosing features that make the island both stylish and functional. Cabinet styles, countertops and colors that differ from the rest of the kitchen are commonly used on the island, according to new research from Houzz.
The 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study gathered information from nearly 2,600 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition in the previous 12 months, were working on one or were planning to start one in the next three months. Read on to find out what homeowners are choosing for their kitchen islands.


Kitchen Cabinets 1.png


Kitchen Cabinets 2.png

More Than 60% of Renovated Kitchens Feature Islands
Islands remain a mainstay of renovated kitchens, with 61% of upgraded kitchens featuring them. (The numbers in the chart have been rounded down.) One-third of renovating homeowners remodeling their kitchens are adding islands, while others are upgrading an existing island (22%) or simply keeping it as is (5%).

Homeowners who have a kitchen island and completed their kitchen renovation in 2019 said they use their islands for eating (58%), entertaining (49%) and socializing (45%), according to the study.


Kitchen Cabinets 3.png

Nearly 2 in 5 Choose a Contrasting Island Cabinet Color

Among renovating homeowners who add or upgrade a kitchen island with storage, 39% select a contrasting color for the island cabinets. Gray is the top choice for contrasting islands (26%), followed by blue (19%), black (11%) and medium-tone wood (11%).


Kitchen Cabinets 4.png

More Than 1 in 10 Choose a Contrasting Cabinet Style for Islands

Among renovating homeowners adding or upgrading a kitchen island with storage, 13% are opting for cabinetry door styles different from the perimeter cabinetry. The most popular contrasting style is flat-panel (31%), followed by louvered (27%) and glass-front (21%).

Notably, Shaker is the island door style for only 6% of renovating homeowners upgrading a kitchen island with storage and choosing a contrasting door style for the island cabinets. Given that Shaker is the most popular door style for cabinets overall, this makes sense.


Kitchen Cabinets 5.png

1 in 4 Upgraded Islands Features a Contrasting Countertop Material

More than a quarter (26%) of upgraded kitchen island countertops in renovated kitchens feature a different material from the perimeter counters. The top choice for these contrasting kitchen island counters is butcher block or wood slab (41%), followed by engineered quartz (28%), granite (15%), marble (7%), quartzite (5%) and solid surface (2%).

Nearly 3 in 10 Kitchen Island Counters Have a Contrasting Color

Twenty-nine percent of added or upgraded kitchen island countertops feature a contrasting color in relation to the perimeter counters. Among these, the top contrasting color choice is wood tone (35%), which includes medium wood (21%), light wood (9%) and dark wood (5%). White is the second-most popular contrasting island countertop color (23%), followed by gray (10%) and multicolored (10%).


Kitchen Cabinets 6.png

Storage Is a Top Feature of Most Upgraded Kitchen Islands

Almost all renovating homeowners who add or upgrade a kitchen island include at least some storage in it (98%), with cabinets with doors (79%) or drawers (70%) the most popular options.

The majority of upgraded kitchen islands in renovated kitchens are rectangular or square (84%). A smaller share are L-shaped or U-shaped (11%).

A large share (39%) of upgraded kitchen islands are 6 to 7 feet long, while 32% are longer than 7 feet and 29% are less than 6 feet.


Kitchen Cabinets 7.png

More Than Half of Upgraded Islands Include Appliances

More than half of renovating homeowners (52%) adding or upgrading a kitchen island include a a new appliance in the island. Thirty-two percent of this group include microwaves, followed by dishwashers (31%), garbage disposals (24%) and cooktops (21%).


Lighting Above the Island Remains Popular

A majority (92%) of renovating homeowners who add or upgrade a kitchen island install new light fixtures above it. Pendant lights are the No. 1 choice (66%) among this group, followed by recessed lights (32%), a chandelier (11%) and a fixture with a fan (3%).

The 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study gathered information from 2,598 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition in the previous 12 months, were working on one or were planning to start one in the next three months. The study was fielded between June 19 and July 2, 2019.

Cosentino showcase stunning design at KIPS Bay Decorator Show House in Palm Beach

Discover all the spaces designed using Dekton® and Silestone® by Cosentino.

Cosentino is honored to sponsor the third annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach, a stunning and creative showcase transforming a plantation-style home as told by leading interior designers across the country featuring best-in-class brands — all benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. Dekton and Silestone by Cosentino are part of the stunning designs showcased in the space. www.cosentino.com Learn more about Cosentino and its brands:

Web: https://www.cosentino.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GrupoCosentino/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/grupocosentino LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cose…

The Most Popular Styles and Cabinet Choices in Kitchen Remodels

The majority of Houzz users who remodel their kitchens upgrade the cabinets, and they frequently choose white Shaker-style cabinets. Shaker is a good fit in a transitional-style kitchen, which remains the most common choice among homeowners who change their kitchen’s style as part of a renovation.
These insights on how homeowners are choosing to remodel their kitchens are from the 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, which gathered information from nearly 2,600 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition in the previous 12 months, were working on one or were planning to start one in the next three months. Here are five trends for kitchen styles and cabinets based on what these homeowners said.


Kitchen Styles1.png

1. Transitional Is Again the Top Kitchen Style

A majority (85%) of renovating homeowners change the style of their kitchen when renovating. And among them, transitional is the most popular look (21%), followed by contemporary (16%), modern (15%) and traditional (11%). Transitional, a blend of contemporary and traditional styles, has been the most popular style for renovated kitchens undergoing a style change for three years in a row.

Farmhouse style, by contrast, has fallen in popularity, this year capturing 11% of kitchen remodels that included a style change, compared with 14% in last year’s study and 12% two years ago. (Farmhouse style also is declining as a choice for renovated master bathrooms.)


Kitchen Styles2.png

2. Nearly All Renovating Homeowners Upgrade the Cabinets as Part of a Kitchen Remodel

Cabinets are among the most popular features to upgrade as part of a kitchen remodel: Ninety-four percent of renovating homeowners include some work on the cabinets as part of their kitchen projects. The majority (68%) choose to replace all of the cabinets, while 1 in 4 (27%) chooses a partial cabinet upgrade.


Kitchen Styles3.png

Among homeowners who are only partially upgrading the cabinets, 64% opt to refinish the cabinet exteriors. Twenty-five percent replace some cabinets, while 18% replace only the doors. Refinishing cabinet interiors (14%) or adding cabinets (7%) are other alternatives.


Kitchen Styles4.png

3. White Is the Most Popular Cabinet Color

White kitchen cabinets continue their reign, gracing 45% of renovated kitchens, according to this year’s study. Wood-tone cabinets are the No. 2 choice (22%), with medium wood the most popular of the wood tones. Gray is the third-most-popular color choice for cabinets.


Kitchen Styles5.png

4. Shaker Is the Most Popular Cabinet Door Style

The majority of renovating homeowners who upgrade their kitchen cabinets choose a Shaker door style (61%) for the new cabinetry, with flat-panel (21%) a distant second and raised-panel (18%) the third-most-popular.

The majority of upgraded cabinetry in renovated kitchens is custom (40%) or semi-custom (36%), with stock (12%) and ready-to-assemble (11%) less common.


Kitchen Styles6.png

5. Specialized Cabinet Storage Is Popular

Many new cabinets — inside as well as outside the pantry — contain specialty storage. The most popular cabinet organizers are cookie sheet or tray organizers, chosen by 50% of those upgrading their cabinets. The most popular specialty drawer types are pullout waste or recycling drawers (63%), followed by lazy Susans (40%) and pullout or swing-out drawers (36%).

Additionally, more than half of renovating homeowners upgrade their pantry cabinet (45%) or walk-in pantry (7%).

The 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study gathered information from 2,598 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition in the previous 12 months, were working on one or were planning to start one in the next three months. The study was fielded between June 19 and July 2, 2019.

How to Remodel Your Kitchen

You’ve decided to remodel your kitchen. Now what? Not knowing where to start, many homeowners start by looking at kitchen appliances. Others collect inspiring kitchen photos. Some homeowners decide they need more room. Others simply want to upgrade their current kitchen. Homeowners may find themselves in this exploration stage for a year or longer before they start interviewing kitchen designers or general contractors.

Once you’ve pondered long enough and you’re ready to green-light a kitchen remodeling project, then what? We’ll start with the first nine steps in this article and then get into the nitty-gritty details in other kitchen workbook stories.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 1.png

1. Think About What You Need in Your Kitchen Remodel

This step is all about figuring out how you use your kitchen and finding the layout and features that fit your household’s lifestyle. Get ideas from Houzz kitchen guides, photos, and discussions.

Think about your priorities and ask yourself some questions. How many people will be cooking and gathering here? How will they need to move around? Do you need an addition, or can you work with your existing kitchen footprint?

If you haven’t done so already, start saving photos of kitchens with features that suit your style. Your collection can be organized and beautiful as a scrapbook might be, or it can be filled with unorganized images. I like to randomly stuff images into my folders and ideabooks and go back to them later for edits.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 2.png

2. Research and Plan

Ready to green-light that project and take the plunge? The best place to start is by formulating what’s commonly referred to as the scope of work and figuring out your preliminary budget.

Both of these may be subject to change, so don’t feel as though you have only one chance at this. Budget and scope are intertwined and often change many times during the kitchen design process as you become more educated and able to reconcile what you want and what you can afford. As a homeowner, you’re not expected to walk into this knowing what everything should cost. Remember, this is an educational process.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 3.png

3. Find the Professionals You Will Need

Unless you’re building your own kitchen cabinets and doing your own electrical and plumbing, you’re going to work with a professional at some point.

The Houzz pro directory offers a list of design, remodeling and service professionals throughout the U.S. and internationally. You can search by your ZIP code and the category of professionals you seek. Click on pros’ profiles to learn more about them, see photos of projects they’ve completed and read reviews of their work by other homeowners.

Some homeowners start a kitchen remodel by hiring an architect or interior designer. Some go with a kitchen designer. Still, others might work on their own with a builder or contractor. Pros are available to help you with everything from contracts and permits to space planning, budgets, choosing finishes and fixtures, shopping, ordering products and managing your project from start to finish.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 4.png

4. Settle on a Schematic Design

This phase includes sketches, space planning, preliminary floor plans and elevations showing the layout and cabinet sizes. I try to keep my clients focused more on layout and space planning, even though the temptation is to talk about what the kitchen will look like. But I find that getting caught up in the look too early can distract from the space planning phase.

Plus, you need a plan to figure out what materials will go where, and how many square feet you will need, and ultimately how much this will cost. I like to begin the contractor interview process early and give them a preliminary drawing packet and scope of work so we can get some ballpark construction numbers. At the same time, you can be sending out drawings for estimates on some top choices of kitchen finishes and fixtures.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 5.png

5. Specify Fixtures and Finishes

Throughout this process, and probably long before, you have been saving photos of kitchens you love into your ideabooks and folders. You’ve found your kitchen style, whether it’s modern, classic, traditional, cottage or a personal style in between. You probably know if you want a white kitchen, a natural wood kitchen or some color.

Now you need to make your final selection of finishes and fixtures. This may include:


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 6.png
  • Cabinetry construction type, door style, finish and color

  • Countertop material

  • Refrigerators and other appliances

  • Kitchen sinks

  • Kitchen faucets

  • Light fixtures

  • Flooring

  • Backsplash

  • Decorative hardware


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 7.png

6. Work on Design Development and Construction Documents

This is the stage where you finalize the design and prepare final floor plans, elevations, details and, if applicable, mechanical and electrical drawings, lighting switch plans, and exterior elevations.

This is where your final permit set or construction drawings come into play. It’s important to have finishes and fixtures selected at this time since this is what will be considered in the final pricing from the contractor.

You’ll submit drawings for permits. These have a lead time, so check the timing with your local village. You’ll need an architect, designer or licensed contractor signed up to finalize the paperwork and pick up your permits, so get ready to hire someone in the next step. I often find that we’re submitting for permits around the same time or a little bit after we’ve placed the cabinet order, due to similar lead times.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 8.png

7. Get Contractor Estimates

If you don’t already have a licensed contractor on your project, your next step is to find one to carry the project through. I always recommend to my clients to get at least three contractor estimates. I like to do preliminary walk-throughs with the contractors once the schematic designs are done so we can get some ballpark estimates and find out if we’re on the right track or need to pull back some to fit the budget.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 9.png

8. Prepare for Demo

The big day is upon us, most likely about four to eight weeks from when you submitted for permits. Now it’s time to get that schedule firmed up and plan on cleaning out the cabinets, putting what you don’t need in storage and — if you’re living in the house during construction — setting up a temporary kitchen.

You may be moving out of your house temporarily, but most homeowners white-knuckle it and try to live in the house through construction. Preparation and organization can save your sanity.

Discuss the logistics ahead of time with your contractor. Will you meet once a week for updates? Will you have to be out of the house for certain tasks like demo or flooring? What about debris removal and dust? Are there any family allergy issues? What is a typical workday for the crew? Getting all this on the table beforehand can set expectations and make for a smoother ride.


How to Remodel Your Kitchen 10.png

9. Get Through the Punch List

Once construction is over — well, almost over — there’s typically a list of items that are missing, wrong or simply forgotten about. This punch list, as it is called, could include small things like a missing light switch plate, a caulk line that shrank and pulled away from the wall or paints touch-ups. Sometimes it can be bigger things, such as a faulty range hood, or a big scratch in the newly refinished floor.

Sometimes the homeowner does the punch list. It can be as informal as an emailed list of items that need to be fixed or finished. I like to use a little form I put together that identifies the item to be fixed or finished, the responsible party and the date of completion. I send it to the client for review, changes, and additions, and then forward it to the contractor.

It’s inevitable that the contractor may have to make multiple visits back to the house to finish these items. Prepare yourself for more than one visit and you’ll be fine. The best way to approach this is with a Zen attitude. Things happen, and little things get missed. It’s sort of like making a list for the grocery store and still forgetting some key ingredients. We all do it.


Cabinetry Care Guide

Cabinetry Care

As with any product constructed of wood, a few moments of care and a little common sense can go a long way in keeping your new cabinets looking their best. Here are a few simple suggestions to make your cabinet care easier.

  • Clean cabinets as needed with a mild detergent or with soap and water (use sparingly) and dry well using a lint-free cloth for both washing and drying.
  • Wipe up spills, splatters and water spots as they occur, keeping cabinets and countertop surfaces dry.
  • Give special attention to areas near the sink and dishwasher that come in contact with moisture.
  • Use cleaners and polishes designed for wood cabinets and clean all surfaces as needed.

Cabinetry Care Kit: contains all the materials required to repair nicks and scratches

Touch Up Marker: used to re-stain small scratches (one-step application, stain only)

Putty Stick: used to fill nail holes, minor nicks and dents

Stopping Problems Before they Occur

DO NOT use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads or powdered cleaners! These materials may penetrate the cabinet finish allowing moisture to enter and cause deterioration.

  • Do not use aerosol sprays containing silicone or paste waxes.
  • Do not leave wet cloths on or near cabinets.
  • Do not allow oven cleaners or other caustic cleaners to touch the cabinets.
  • Follow instructions carefully for self-cleaning ovens and other kitchen appliances around cabinets.

Remedies For Common Kitchen Accidents

Most problems can be prevented by wiping up any spills as soon as they occur. Follow these first aid suggestions for common household accidents. When removing a spot, begin at the outer edge and work toward the middle to prevent the spot from spreading.

Food Spots / Water Spots

Clean cabinets as needed with a mild detergent or with soap and water (use sparingly) and dry well using a lint-free cloth for both washing and drying. Use cleaners and polishes designed for wood cabinets and clean all surfaces as needed.

Greasy Spots

Rub grease, lipstick, crayon or oil with a damp cloth. Use cleaners and polishes designed for wood cabinets and clean all surfaces as needed. 

Chewing Gum / Candle Wax

Apply a plastic bag filled with ice on top of the deposit until it is brittle enough to crumble off. Use cleaners and polishes designed for wood cabinets and clean all surfaces as needed.

Nicks / Dents

Most nicks and dents can be repaired with a cabinetry care kit from your cabinet manufacturer. 

Scratches / Cigarette Burns

Most common scratches or burns can be repaired with a cabinetry care kit from your cabinet manufacturer. Rub the area with fine sandpaper until you have removed the scratch or burn. Re-stain with the cabinets color-matched touch-up stain and apply a light coat of clear sealer finish. Use cleaners and polishes designed for wood cabinets and clean all surfaces as needed.

Always treat your cabinets as you would fine furniture!

Natural Stone Countertop Care Guide

Countertop Care

Care & Cleaning of Natural Stone Surfaces

The natural stone you have purchased is an investment that will give your home or office many years of beautiful service. Simple care and maintenance will help preserve your stone’s beauty for generations to come! 

Care and Precautions:

Use coasters under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices. Many common foods and drinks contain acids that will etch or dull the surface of many stones. Do not place hot items directly on the stone surface. Use trivets or mats under hot dishes and placemats under china, ceramics, silver or other objects that can scratch the surface.

Cleaning Procedures and Recommendations:

Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the stone floor. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug is a non-slip surface. Normally, it will take a person about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes.

Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn. The metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the surface.

Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for other surfaces for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or other calcareous stones. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the stone.

In the bath or other wet areas, soap scum can be minimized by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about 1/2 cup ammonia to a gallon of water). Frequent or over-use of an ammonia solution may eventually dull the surface of the stone.

Vanity tops may need to have a penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations. A good quality marble wax or non-yellowing automobile paste wax can be applied to minimize water spotting.

In food preparation areas, the stone may need to have a penetrating sealer applied. Check with your installer for recommendations. If a sealer is applied, be sure that it is non-toxic and safe for use on food preparation surfaces. If there is a question, check with the sealer manufacturer.

In outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas; flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution to remove algae or moss. 

Know Your Stone:

Natural stone can be classified into two general categories according to its composition: siliceous stone or calcareous stone. Knowing the difference is critical when selecting cleaning products. 

  1. Siliceous Stone is composed mainly of silica or quartz-like particles. It tends to be very durable and relatively easy to clean with mild acidic cleaning solutions. Types of siliceous stone include granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite, brownstone and bluestone.
  2. Calcareous Stone is composed mainly of calcium carbonate. It is sensitive to acidic cleaning products and frequently requires different cleaning procedures than siliceous stone. Types of calcareous stone include marble, travertine, limestone and onyx.

What may work to clean siliceous stone may not be suitable on calcareous surfaces.

How to Tell the Difference:

A simple acid sensitivity test can be performed to determine whether a stone is calcareous or siliceous. You will need about 4oz. of a 10% solution of *muriatic acid and an eyedropper. Or you can use household vinegar and an eyedropper. Because this test may permanently etch the stone, select an out of the way area (a corner or closet) and several inches away from the mortar joint. Apply a few drops of the acid solution to the stone surface on an area about the size of a quarter.

  • If the stone is calcareous, the acid drops will begin to bubble or fizz vigorously.
  • If little or no reaction occurs, the stone can be considered siliceous.

Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and wipe dry. This test may not be effective if surface sealers or liquid polishes have been applied. If an old sealer is present, chip a small piece of stone away and apply the acid solution to the fractured surface.

*CAUTION: Muriatic acid is corrosive and is considered to be a hazardous substance. Proper head and body protection is necessary when acid is used.  

Stone Finishes:

A polished finish on the stone has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and marking of the material. This type of finish is used on walls, furniture tops and other items, as well as floor tiles.

A honed finish is a satin-smooth surface with relatively little light reflection. Generally, a honed finish is preferred for floors, stair treads, thresholds and other locations where heavy traffic will wear off the polished finish. A honed finish may also be used on furniture tops and other surfaces. 

A flamed finish is a rough-textured surface used frequently on granite floor tiles.

Stone Colors and Appearance:

Granites and marbles are quarried throughout the world in a variety of colors with varying mineral compositions. In most cases, marbles and granites can be identified by visible particles at the surface of the stone. Marble will normally show “veins” or high concentrations. The minerals in granite will typically appear as small flecks distributed uniformly in the stone. Each type of stone is unique and will vary in color, texture and marking.

Sandstones vary widely in color due to different minerals and clays found in the stone. Sandstone is light gray to yellow or red. A dark reddish-brown sandstone, also called brownstone, has commonly been used in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Bluestone is a dense, hard, fine-grained sandstone of greenish-gray or bluish-gray color and is quarried in the eastern United States.

Limestone is a widely used building stone with colors typically light gray, tan or buff. A distinguishing characteristic of many limestones is the presence of fossils that are frequently visible in the stone surface.

Slate is dark green, black, gray, dark red or multi-colored. It is most commonly used as a flooring material and for roof tiles and is often distinguished by its distinct cleft texture.

Spills and Stains: 

Blot the spill with a paper towel immediately. Don’t wipe the area, it will spread the spill. Flush the area with plain water and mild soap, rinse several times. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth. Repeat as necessary. If the stain remains, refer to the Stain Removal instructions.

Stain Removal:

Identifying the type of stain on the stone surface is the key to removing it. If you don’t know what caused the stain, play detective. Where is the stain located? Is it near a plant, a food service area, an area where cosmetics are used? What color is it? What is the shape or pattern? What goes on in the area around the stain?

Surface stains can often be removed by cleaning with an appropriate cleaning product or household chemical. Deep-seated or stubborn stains may require using a poultice or calling in a professional. The following sections describe the types of stains that you may have to deal with and appropriate household chemicals to use and how to prepare and apply a poultice to remove the stain. 

Types of Stains and First Step Cleaning Actions:

  • OIL-BASED (grease, tar, cooking oil, milk, cosmetics): An oil-based stain will darken the stone and normally must be chemically dissolved so the source of the stain can be flushed or rinsed away. Clean gently with a soft liquid cleanser with bleach, a household detergent, ammonia, mineral spirits OR acetone.
  • ORGANIC (coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, paper, food, urine, leaves, bark, bird dropping): May cause a pinkish-brown stain and may disappear after the source of the stain has been removed. Outdoors – with the sources removed, normal sun and rain action will generally bleach out the stains. Indoors – clean with 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia.
  • METAL (iron, rust, copper, bronze): Iron or rust stains are orange to brown in color and follow the shape of the staining object such as nails, bolts, screws, cans, flowerpots, metal furniture. Copper and bronze stains appear as green or muddy-brown and result from the action of moisture on nearby or embedded bronze, copper or brass items. Metal stains must be removed with a poultice. Deep-seated, rusty stains are extremely difficult to remove and the stone may be permanently stained.
  • BIOLOGICAL (algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi): Clean with dilute (1/2 cup in a gallon of water) ammonia, bleach, OR hydrogen peroxide. DO NOT MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA, THIS COMBINATION CREATES A TOXIC AND LETHAL GAS!
  • INK (magic marker, pen, ink): For light-colored stone – clean with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. For dark-colored stone – clean with lacquer thinner or acetone
  • PAINT: Small amounts can be removed with lacquer thinner or scraped off carefully with a razor blade. Heavy paint coverage should be removed only with a commercial “heavy liquid” paint stripper available from hardware stores and paint centers. These strippers normally contain caustic soda or lye. Do not use acids or flame tools to strip paint from stone. Paint strippers can etch the surface of the stone; repolishing may be necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, taking care to flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Protect yourself with rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Use only wood or plastic scrapers for removing the sludge and curdled paint. Normally, latex and acrylic paints will not cause staining. Oil-based paints, linseed oil, putty, caulks and sealants may cause oily stains.
  • WATER SPOTS and RINGS(surface accumulation of hard water): Buff with dry 0000 steel wool.
  • FIRE and SMOKE DAMAGE: Older stones and smoke or fire stained fireplaces may require a thorough cleaning to restore their original appearance. Commercially available “smoke removers” may save time and effort.
  • ETCH MARKS: Caused by acids left on the surface of the stone. Some materials will etch the finish but not leave a stain. Others will both etch and stain. Once the stain has been removed, wet the surface with clear water and sprinkle on marble polishing powder available from a hardware or lapidary store, or your local stone dealer. Rub the powder onto the stone with a damp cloth or by using a buffing pad with a low-speed power drill. Continue buffing until the etch mark disappears and the marble surface shines. Contact your stone dealer or call a professional stone restorer for refinishing or repolishing etched areas that you cannot remove.
  • EFFLORESCENCE: This white powder may appear on the surface of the stone. It is caused by water carrying mineral salts from below the surface of the stone rising through the stone and evaporating. When the water evaporates, it leaves the powdery substance. If the installation is new, dust mop or vacuums the powder. You may have to do this several times as the stone dries out. Do not use water to remove the powder; it will only temporarily disappear. If the problem persists, contact your installer to help identify and remove the cause of the moisture.
  • SCRATCHES and NICKS: Slight surface scratches may be buffed with dry 0000 steel wool. Deeper scratches and nicks in the surface of the stone should be repaired and repolished by a professional.

Making and Using a Poultice

A poultice is a liquid cleaner or chemical mixed with a white absorbent material to form a paste about the consistency of peanut butter. The poultice is spread over the stained area to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch with a wood or plastic spatula, covered with plastic and left to work for 24 to 48 hours. The liquid cleaner or chemical will draw out the stain into the absorbent material. Poultice procedures may have to be repeated to thoroughly remove a stain but some stains may never be completely removed. 

Poultice Materials: 

Poultice materials include kaolin, fuller’s earth, whiting, diatomaceous earth, powdered chalk, white molding plaster or talc. Approximately one pound of prepared poultice material will cover one square foot. Do not use whiting or iron-type clays such as fuller’s earth with acid chemicals. The reaction will cancel the effect of the poultice. A poultice can also be prepared using white cotton balls, white paper towels or gauze pads. 

Cleaning Agents or Chemicals:

  • OIL-BASED stains: Poultice with baking soda and water OR one of the powdered poultice materials and mineral spirits.
  • ORGANIC stains: Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and 12% hydrogen peroxide solution (hair bleaching strength) OR use acetone instead of the hydrogen peroxide.
  • IRON stains: Poultice with diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. Rust stains are particularly difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
  • COPPER stains: Poultice with one of the powdered poultice materials and ammonia. These stains are difficult to remove. You may need to call a professional.
  • BIOLOGICAL stains: Poultice with dilute ammonia, bleach, OR hydrogen peroxide. *DO NOT MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH, THIS COMBINATION CREATES A TOXIC AND LETHAL GAS!*

Applying the Poultice:

If using powder, mix the cleaning agent or chemical to a thick paste-like the consistency of peanut butter. 

If using paper, soak in the chemical and let drain. Don’t let the liquid drip.

  1. Wet the stained area with distilled water.
  2. Apply the poultice to the stained area about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and extend the poultice beyond the stained area by about one inch. Use a wood or plastic scraper to spread the poultice evenly.
  3. Cover the poultice with plastic and tape the edges to seal it.
  4. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly, usually about 24 to 48 hours. The drying process is what pulls the stain out of the stone and into the poultice material. After about 24 hours, remove the plastic and allow the poultice to dry.
  5. Remove the poultice from the stain, rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. Use the wood or plastic scraper if necessary.
  6. Repeat the poultice application if the stain is not removed. It may take up to five applications for difficult stains.
  7. If the surface is etched by the chemical, apply a polishing powder and buff with burlap or felt buffing pad to restore the surface.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO Dust mop floors frequently

DO Clean surfaces with mild detergent or stone soap

DO Thoroughly rinse and dry the surface after washing

DO Blot up spills immediately

DO Protect floor surfaces with non-slip mats or area rugs and countertops surfaces with coasters, trivets or placemats

DON’T Use vinegar, lemon juice or other cleaners containing acids on marble, limestone, travertine or onyx surfaces

DON’T Use cleaners that contain acids such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners or tub and tile cleaners

DON’T Use abrasive cleaners such as dry cleansers or soft cleansers

DON’T Mix bleach and ammonia; this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas

DON’T Ever mix chemicals together unless directions specifically instruct you to do so

Call your professional stone supplier, installer, or restoration specialist for problems that appear too difficult to treat.