Over the years it seems that it’s the kitchen, not the lounge, which has become the heart of the family home. Open plan kitchen/diner/entertaining spaces are incredibly popular, and it’s often one of the first priorities on a homebuyer’s wish list. A full kitchen renovation is usually not a cheap endeavor with the average kitchen remodel costing around $23,000 (approximately $150 per square foot) with some reaching as high as $34,000. As it’s such a significant investment, you don’t want to be wasting any time or money on hiccups along the way which could have been prevented with some careful planning.

To help you plan and manage your first kitchen renovation, so it runs as smoothly as possible, here are five essential tips for beginners.

1.   Prioritize and Plan Your Storage
One of the most important considerations when planning a kitchen renovation is storage. You need to have enough space to safely store all of your utensils, pots, pans, crockery, and appliances, as well as all of your food. Make a list of everything you will have in your new kitchen, including whether you want to keep storage out of sight or have specific items on display.

For example, some people prefer to have pots and pans hanging over an island where they can be easily accessed while other people go for a clean and minimalist look. Maybe you want to make a feature of your spice rack or your collection of novelty cups? You may even want to consider future purchases, but the key is to incorporate storage solutions which work for your lifestyle.

2.   Understand Your Style
When you think of your dream kitchen, it’s highly likely that you’ve already got color schemes and d├ęcor themes in your mind. You may be longing for glossy countertops and chrome fittings, or perhaps you’re thinking of a cozy and rustic farmyard look? It’s always best to research as many different looks and styles as you can as you simply may not have come across your ideal kitchen yet.

By browsing through kitchen design magazines, you’ll also be able to identify specific details like the faucets and handles for cupboards and drawers. If you are really struggling to put a name to the style you’re after, you may want to start by ruling out what you don’t like in kitchen design. Doing so will begin to narrow down your options.

3.   Measure Twice, Cut Once
Whether you’re carrying out the work yourself or bringing in professionals, you are likely to need to measure up your windows, doors, and space so you can order the right materials and/or get quotes for the installation. When you’re measuring, it’s crucial to do so at least twice to make sure that you’re taking an accurate reading. You’d be surprised how expensive and stressful a slight mismeasurement can be. If you’re not confident, always ask a professional to measure up for you or get the people who will be fitting the kitchen to give you a second opinion. 

4.   Bring in the Professionals
There are certain situations and stages in a kitchen renovation when you need to bring in professionals. It could be from the very beginning if you are hiring a kitchen design company to design and fit every element. They will have knowledge and experience to be able to advise you as to what layout and will materials work best in your space and which suppliers are the best to use.

On the other hand, you may be choosing to go it alone and maintain complete control your project, but it’s likely that there will still be some areas in which you’ll need the professional touch. For example, the gas supply, plumbing, and electrical system need to be installed safely by someone with the appropriate license. Luckily, you can easily search online for "electricians in my area" to find a reputable electrician.

5.   Think About Day to Day Living During the Renovation
A kitchen renovation can be a messy business and, unlike a dining room or bedroom which you can do without for a while, the kitchen still needs to offer some level of functionality for your family during the project. To minimize the disruption caused by the renovation, try to plan with your installers and laborers which jobs will be done when so you aren’t taken unawares.

When will the flooring be put down, when will the water be shut off and when will the stove be operational? Are there days when it would be best to send the kids to stay with family or take the pets to a local sitter? While the work is going on your may also want to create a small area to keep the microwave, kettle, essential utensils and table together, so you have a mini-kitchen to work in.

A kitchen renovation can certainly give your home a new lease of life. However, it’s only due to careful planning and hiring the best tradespeople to help which will ensure the best possible outcome.