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How-to-Renovate Your Kitchen: A Guide to the Best Books

Renovating your kitchen? Such projects can range from sprucing up with paint and homey touches, to a full-rip-it-down-to-the-studs renovation (extreme make-over) or restoration (renewing the old so it retains its historical appearance, but is fresh.)

While contemplating what you want to do, watch the comedic Tom Hanks and Shelley Long movie, “The Money Pit.” When we first began our home renovations, I thought the incidents had to be far-fetched. I was wrong. Prepare yourself that the unexpected is more common than running without a hitch. Unexpected repairs or price fluctuations can increase the costs by 20%. Plan for it. Expect it. Then, you won’t be disappointed or unprepared when it happens.

Once the decision to renovate is made, where do you begin perusing the 293 plus books on Kitchen renovation; or purchasing the thousands of magazines that address the subject; or searching on line for more options? Is there a simple way? Yes, procure the five can’t-do-without-books that should be in your homeowner’s library.

Begin with the design using Design Ideas for Kitchens (2nd edition) by Susan Boyle Hillstrom, released in March 1,2009, and published by Creative Homeowner. This 224 page paperback is packed with 500 photos, clear designs, eco-friendly materials, both in what they used to print the book and the raw material suggestions for your project. She adds environmental friendly design adjustments to make the flow more efficient. She covers everything from start to finish; kitchen dynamics (how the heart of the house has shifted to the kitchen) to aesthetics (where beauty doesn’t have to be sacrificed for practicality); from lighting to hardware; floor plans to cabinets and appliances; she helps you evaluate each according to your lifestyle. Inspiration and creative excitement burst from the pages and fill your mind with possibilities-thinking out side the box.

But don’t take just one opinion; seek a second. The Smart Approach to Kitchen Design, Third Edition in paperback by Susan Maney Lovett and published by Creative Homeowner on September 1, 2006 is a must-have addition to your project portfolio. The 224 pages provide a “Smart” step-by-step walk through of kitchen remodeling, as it is the ‘microcosm of the whole house’. Nothing is left out of this user-friendly book. “Smart tips” enhance this illustrated resource. You have it covered when you plan your renovation using this ‘bible’ of kitchen design, especially using the timeline in the last chapter. It allows you to anticipate when the center of the house will be useable again.

For the final input to the design plan, check out the The Old-House Journal Compendium in paperback by Clem Labine (Editor) and Carolyn Flaherty (Editor), published by Overlook TP in December 2007. Such a large percentage of houses are older and their renovation requires additional knowledge.. Labine and Flaherty combine the years of This Old House Journal magazines in a 452 page book that provides you resources under one cover-no need to try to remember which magazine you read that important lesson about rehabbing. Issues unique to an older home are addressed here with suggestions for rehabbing it right. This fabulous reference comes from the experiences developed since the launch of This Old House Journal in 1980. They led the field in restoration.

The next two books are not specifically for kitchen renovation, but are essential if you want to be savvy about what any home renovation project entails.

The Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual: Completely Revised and Updated in hardcover by the Family Handyman Editors whose 528 pages are published by Reader’s Digest in April 2005 is indispensible. If you are a novice or a handy person, you can enjoy the easy explanations and diagrams of every aspect of home repair. You may not wish to install your cabinets, opting for a professional to do it for you, but at least you’ll know what it involves. It is a great resource when dealing with prospective contractors. Or, you can knowledgeably decide, after looking at the diagrams, that it is within your talents to take on this do-it-yourself project, thereby saving yourself more than the price of the book.

Once the scope of the project is determined, you know how much you are going to do and how much you will have to subcontract out to a professional. Then it is important to get to the nitty-gritty of expenses. How do you figure what this is going to cost? We used this resource from R. S. Means endlessly on our kitchen project and beyond: Interior Home Improvement Costs: The Practical Pricing Guide for Homeowners & Contractors published in 2004. This paperback is filled with simple worksheets that help calculate exactly what to pay for remodeling, with adjustments for your location in the form of percentages that can be entered into the equation. With the design plan in hand, plotting the specific costs is easier on the pages. You won’t forget that an outlet will need to be added here or there, requiring the running of electrical conduit, before you install the cabinets, saving you some hassles if you omitted them. Some have expressed frustration with the limitations on the generic costs that he lists around the country, since contractors and sub-contractors can vary within a city, but if you make a few phone calls to service providers in your area, you can obtain the necessary cost variations which will make your computations accurate, according to where you live.
For some, who love books, you will go buy more than you need to complete the project, but we found that we delved into these books most often and their dog-eared corners, creased spines and coffee spills tell the truth of their constant use.

Best wishes on your project. Our renovation is beautiful and most of it, my husband and I did together-well, to be honest, he did more. I might suggest that with any renovation, you plan to have frequent breaks for humor, be it a comedy club, movie, TV or a book. Laughter helps you over the bumps that will occur in even the most well designed and planned project.

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