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Let’s talk kitchen remodel must-haves.
When we bought our house seven years ago, we knew that we would have to do some remodeling. It was originally built in the 1960s and rocked some sweet linoleum floors and dropped ceilings.
As far as I was concerned, the sooner we remodeled it, the better. There was nothing besides the countertop (which was new) that I wanted to keep.
And yet we waited five years from the day we bought our house until we started the remodel.
Here’s the deal:
Undertaking a kitchen renovation is a huge deal and it costs a lot of money. It’s not something that you want to jump in head first. It’s always best to weigh all of your options and come up with a plan of action before moving forward.
We saved up the money and paid cash for our remodel. However, we spent many years getting our finances under control so we could spend the money on a kitchen remodel. It’s important to be intentional with how you spend your dollars.
Even though it took us a long time to get around to remodeling our kitchen, it was great in a way because I got a really good idea of how I used the space. I also did a lot of research on what I liked and did not like. I spent lots of time scouring Pinterest and home décor magazines and blogs looking for inspirations and ideas.
In the end, the kitchen that we did end up with after the remodel was the best option for our house and it also allowed us to include some awesome features that I greatly enjoy every day.
If you are looking to do your own kitchen remodel or just to upgrade certain parts of your kitchen, I wanted to share what are my must-haves for a functional kitchen that makes life easier on every level.
- Instant water heater: If you use hot water a lot, this is a must-have. I first saw it at a friend’s house and fell in love. I love tea and drink it year-round so having a nice electric kettle has always been a must-have item in my kitchen. The instant hot water heater comes in handy in so many cases and I’m sure there are many more uses that I have yet to discover. We use it for tea, oatmeal, to sterilize baby bottles and nipples, to speed up boiling water for cooking pasta and rice, to remove sticky foods from utensils (such as peanut butter on a spoon), to serve ice cream (just run the metal scoop under the hot water and it makes scooping frozen ice cream straight out of the container a breeze) and so much more.
- Motion-activated faucet with pull-down nozzle: I went back and forth on whether I wanted to spend the extra money to upgrade to the motion-activated version of the faucet I really wanted. I knew that a faucet with a pull-down nozzle would be a great idea because I did not really like having to reach for a separate nozzle to spray off food. I really wanted it to be all-in-one. However, having the motion-activated option has been so useful. It makes it so easy to wash my hands when they are dirty from cooking or from being outside. All I have to do is wave my hand to turn the water on and then I don’t have to get the handle dirty or to wash it off afterward. If I’m cooking raw meat, I can quickly and easily wash my hands without worrying about contaminating the faucet handle. It’s a great option to have and one I believe is totally worth the extra money.
- Pull-out spice and oil/vinegar racks: When we were working with the cabinet designer who custom-built our cabinets, I knew I wanted some kind of a pull-out spice rack on one side of the range since it was in an island and there were no upper cabinets to house the spices. We could have gone with a regular drawer and put in a spice organizer inside but I’m really glad we went with the pull-out vertical drawers.We have two – one on each side of the range and they are so handy. I have the spices I use the most on the top of the one on the left and all the bottles of oil and vinegar that we use in the one on the right side. It works great when I’m cooking since everything is right next to the range and I can just pull out the drawers, use what I want and close them. I’d highly recommend them to anyone looking for an easy way to organize spices and cooking oils.
- Double oven: Our old kitchen only had one oven that was built into the wall. When we designed our new kitchen, the best layout solution was to have the range built into the island, which meant no double wall ovens like I had originally dreamed about. I love to cook and, on many occasions, had wished for a second oven since I had multiple dishes I wanted to bake. Trying to find an electric range with a ceramic cooktop that would work for an island and had double ovens was quite a challenge but I’m so glad I went through all of the research and trouble to find one. Having two ovens has saved me lots of time and frustration. I’m easily able to bake a casserole or lasagna at the same time I’m baking muffins. With two little kids, my cooking time can be limited so I like to get as much done as possible in the time I do have so a range that multi-tasks is a must.
- Drawers for bottom cabinets: When researching ideas for our kitchen cabinet layout, I remember I saw all kinds of ideas for what worked and what did not. One thing that did stick with me since I saw it over and over was the having a pull-out organizer or drawer for the bottom cabinets works best.I could not agree more. I decided to go with pull-out drawers instead of traditional cabinets and have found that I use them way more efficiently than my old cabinets, which had doors. It’s so easy to look at the contents of the drawer and know, at a glance, if the item I need is in there. Pulling out bulky items to use such as a big soup pot or a slow cooker is so much easier from a drawer. I’d highly recommend going with drawers if you have the option.
- Pull-out drawers inside pantry and cabinet: Along the same lines, when we were designing the pantry, I decided I wanted pull-out shelves that were basically shallow drawers. Our pantry is pretty deep and getting to the items in the back can be quite a challenge.With the pull-out drawers, it’s super simple to get whatever I need, even if it’s at the very back. I can simply pull out the drawer all the way out until I see what I need and then just grab it.We also added a couple of shallow pull-out drawers inside a cabinet next to our refrigerator, which has been a great place to put our storage containers. Since we use all glass containers, they can be heavy and awkward to store. The pull-out drawers make organizing and storing them fairly easily and I can pull the drawers all the way out to grab something in the back without having to reach and rummage through the contents of the shelf.
- Pull-out trashcan: If you already have a pull-out trashcan, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t have one, I’d definitely suggest trying to figure out the best way to incorporate it into a kitchen remodel. There are even models that will let you retrofit an older cabinet. Ours is actually a trash/recycling combo from Simple Human that can easily be installed inside an existing cabinet.Before the remodel, our trash and recycling sat next to a cabinet at one end of the kitchen, taking up space while also being quite unsightly. Now that they are behind closed doors, it’s much more difficult for the dog or a child to get into them and they are out of sight.
- Microwave drawer: The original plans for our kitchen renovation did not include a built-in microwave. I simply did not see a good solution for incorporating a microwave into the rest of the cabinetry, especially since our range was in an island so we could not have the standard over-the-range microwave option. Enter the drawer microwave (I’m starting to sense a drawer theme going on here…). I had initially planned on simply leaving the microwave on the counter, however, having it below counter level has been fabulous. It makes it so much easier to heat foods and I don’t have to worry about lifting hot, heavy dishes down from above the range. In addition, our drawer microwave is huge! It’s by far the largest microwave I have ever seen so I can use it to reheat very large dishes, which is an awesome bonus.
These are my top kitchen remodel must-have for making your life easier. I think it’s important to think through how you use your kitchen on a daily basis and what are some of the frustrations that you encounter as you try to cook, prep and clean. Then do a quick search to see what are some of the potential solutions you can try for that problem and consider what would work best for your particular situation and layout.
What are some of your favorite kitchen remodel must haves? Let me know in the comments.