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  • Writer's pictureCrispin Butterfield

Ready to renovate? A pro checklist for an epic kitchen renovation

Everything you need for a well-planned, well-executed kitchen renovation by top Kelowna Interior Designer, Crispin Butterfield

Renovating can be a daunting task, but with proper planning, budgeting, and hiring the right professionals to do the work, it can be a fairly smooth and rewarding process. In this checklist, I cover everything a homeowner needs to consider before, during, and after their kitchen renovation to ensure the best possible experience and investment. Let's go!

As a busy interior designer of over 19 years, I've had the opportunity to work on numerous kitchen renovations across Western Canada of all sizes and budgets. So if you have questions about embarking on your own renovation journey, you've come to the right place.

I'm sharing my very best tips and insights for planning, budgeting, designing, and finding the perfect trades for your project below. If you're tired of your outdated kitchen and dream of a space that's truly functional, beautiful, and tailored to your own personal style, read on to learn how to navigate a renovation with ease and the knowledge to back you up.

Budget Like An Interior Designer

Let's just rip the band aid off straight away - whatever you think a mid-range kitchen renovation should cost, take that number and add about 30%-40%

The most common mistake I see clients making before they contact me to design their home is not researching on their own and really digging deeper into the current costs of renovating. Labor, materials, fixtures, appliances... all of these have seen significant price increases over the last 3+ years and what you could have paid for these in 2018 is no longer realistic. Don't be shocked when I tell you the average cost of a full mid-range kitchen renovation in Kelowna, BC today runs anywhere from $65,000 - $85,000+. If that seems exorbitant, consider our geographical location/costs of living, and everything involved like pre-design, design drawings, permit costs, demolition, framing, electrical, plumbing, gas fitting, drywall, cabinets, tile, counters, flooring, lighting & plumbing fixtures, installation labor, finishing labor, and appliances... it all adds up really quickly.

Do some research and set a budget you're comfortable with but can also realistically accomplish what your goals include. Leave some wiggle room for unexpected expenses, because trust me, they always seem to show up no matter how well-planned things are.

Functionality & Style Planning

Next, think about what you want to achieve in terms of layout, functionality, and aesthetic. Are you tired of cramming your pots and pans into a tiny cabinet? Do you want to finally have enough counter space to meal prep like a pro? Maybe you want to update your kitchen's aesthetic to finally reflect your own personal vibe and style? I recommend working with a designer to really help you maximize the functionality of available space and artfully curate the perfect balance of materials and finishes for a look that uniquely suits you and your lifestyle. Whatever your goals are, be clear on what you want to achieve and be ready to communicate them to your designer and contractor.

"Design is so simple. That's why it's so complicated" - Paul Rand

Pinterest is Your Friend

Where do designers go to find endless design inspiration that helps set the guideposts for their clients' overall aesthetic? Pinterest. And you can - and should - too. Start gathering ideas and inspo by searching for kitchens in the styles you love, adding them to your own curated boards. If you're working with one, your designer will love that you've already started the process and can use them to help in the initial design phase of your project.

Hiring Your Contractor

Speaking of contractors, don't just hire the first one that pops up on Google Search. Do your due diligence here and research reputable companies with a proven track record of successful and beautiful projects. Look for reviews, testimonials from previous clients in the last 6-24 months, and don't be afraid to ask to speak to past clients in real-time. Your designer will also have an amazing pool of trades they work with regularly that you may want to consider hiring. A great contractor will guide you through the renovation process offering advice on execution and materials, bring quality trades to the table, and communicate with you every step of the way.

Smart Finishes & Perfect Touches

When it comes to selecting your materials, consider both aesthetics and lifestyle/functionality. Do you love the look of marble counters but also love to cook pasta and drink red wine? You might need to opt for a more durable and less stainable material like quartz here. Are you a busy family that loves entertaining? Beautiful texturized melamine cabinets will stand up long-term over solid wood any day. Choose durable flooring that is easy to maintain and clean. Make your kitchen life sweeter with soft close hardware, undercabinet lighting, integrated pull-outs, and things like concealed plug-in's, LED lighting controls, and built-in garbage and recycling bins.


A common question we get from clients is "will I need a permit?" The answers is: most definitely. If you're touching and altering drywall in any way you need a permit. Your contractor will take care of the building, electrical, and plumbing permits required for this type of renovation, so not to worry.

We shape our homes, and then our homes shape us. - Winston Churchill

How It All Works

Ever wonder what the sequence of events looks like for a typical kitchen renovation?

I break it all down for you below:

  1. Meetup with designer/contractor to discuss parameters & feasibility of project; can walls be moved? Are you adding any new appliances? Changing the footprint? Taking over existing floorspace of another room? Budget range and timelines are also discussed here at the start.

  2. Quotes & contracts - fees for design, contracting, management, and a rough construction budget are then provided.

  3. Design - all your drawings, floorplans, materials & finishes and fixtures/appliances are created and selected here so your contractor has a detailed plan and specification list to work off.

  4. Permits & demo - approval is granted and work begins closing off and clearing out your space.

  5. Framing - if you're changing layouts or taking over additional floor space from other rooms, new framing to create your kitchen footprint is done here.

  6. Rough-in - any changes to HVAC, plumbing, and electrical are done now while walls and floors are open and accessible.

  7. Drywall - after inspections of HVAC, plumbing and electrical, walls are closed up and made ready for cabinet installation.

  8. Cabinet & counter install - cabinets go in, counters are templated for stone (give yourself about 3 weeks to live on temporary plywood counters while your stone is fabricated) and then finally installed when ready.

  9. Flooring - unless you're running flooring all the way under cabinets, flooring is usually installed after cabinet bases go in and stop just past the toe kicks.

  10. Finishing work - things like tile backsplash, light fixtures, painting, and any other finishing details happen here.

  11. Deficiencies & remedies - if anything got dinged or scraped during finishing, a door face is missing, grout is patchy... anything that needs tweaking or completing before the job is finally done happens here. Walk through with your contractor and make a punch list both of you can monitor as these issues are addressed.

  12. Post-job cleanup - your contractor should hire a professional post-construction cleaning service to handle the weeks/months of drywall dust and dirt that naturally accumulates. There's nothing more defeating than going through a huge renovation and having to clean up the mess afterwards on your own. Treat yourself, trust me on this!

  13. Wine time - boom, you did it! It was a bit stressful (let's face it, change is hard even when it's exciting), and maybe a bit inconvenient if you had to move out while work occurred but now it's all done and you can finally enjoy your gorgeous new kitchen.

Renovating a kitchen can be a complex process, but with proper planning, budgeting, and hiring the right professionals, it can be a fairly smooth, stress-free, and rewarding experience. Remember to set a realistic budget, determine your renovation goals, load up on tons of online style inspiration, hire a reputable designer and contractor to oversee your project, and then sit back and enjoy your stunning new kitchen for years to come.

Crispin Butterfield is the founder & senior designer of Urban Theory Design, Kelowna's only modern-causal design firm. She and her team specialize in custom home design primarily serving Kelowna, British Columbia, the Central Okanagan regions, and currently have clients across Western Canada.

Be sure to leave a comment or question below, thanks for reading!


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