My husband, Pete, and I just completed a major remodel which doubled our kitchen area and has made it much more pleasant to work in. In the process we discovered a few helpful hints to reduce the hassle that a major kitchen renovation could entail.

We have a typical cape with the kitchen and dining room divided by a bar and the living room adjacent with a half wall. The original kitchen area was so small it was difficult for both of us to be in there at the same time. With Pete enjoying participation in meal preparation, the small kitchen space made meal preparation tricky for two people at one time to work in the kitchen. The dining room area was also small; sitting four was comfortable, but beyond that felt like we were packed in like sardines.

Our vision was to tear down the half wall to the living room, giving a more open space, and ripping out the bar and removing the dining room table. I also wanted to put a large island in the center and add cabinets to the empty wall — essentially eliminating the dining room and turning the two rooms into one large kitchen. New hardwood flooring would cover the entire area.

Pete wasn’t so sure he wanted to give up his dining room table, but did agree with the promise of comfortable, counter-height, dining room-type chairs instead of basic bar stools.

Where to begin!

Finding a reliable designer is the first, and probably the most important step in making your renovation a smooth one. You will be working very closely with that designer throughout the entire process. Not only will the designer assist you in design, he/she will be the backbone of the entire construction, giving you a timeline, dealing with issues and coordinating deliveries such as flooring, cabinets and counter top.


Because Pete is a contractor, and does a lot of business with Hammond Lumber Company, we chose designer John Trenoweth in the kitchen department at the Auburn location.

Before you see a professional designer, be prepared.

The first question John asked us was, “Do you have a budget in mind?” It’s important for a designer to know your budget to help maximize your dollar, evaluate the cost efficiency of products and make effective trade-offs if needed.

“There are some amazing cabinets out there, and which ones you choose have a big impact on your budget,” explained John. “You can find style at any price point, but there is more to consider than just looks; the type of construction, the materials used and type of joinery. There are also many options such as full-extension drawers and soft-close hinges to decide on as well.”

Your designer is a wealth of knowledge, and the more he/she knows, the better he/she can help you get the perfect kitchen that matches your budget and style.

Your designer may ask if you like wood or a painted finish. Do you have a timeline or are there any extras you want? For example, I told him I loved the combination of stain and paint. He showed us a display that had stained cherry cabinets with a black glaze in the grooves and then showed us how they would look adjacent to a black island. We quickly fell in love, and they are a perfect complement to each other.


Another plus to using a designer is to have him/her explain the different types of counter top. We decided on a solid surface called InDepth that was black with flecks of brown and white. John contacted Shad’s in Windham, gave them the approximate size/amount of material needed to be sure it would be in stock and ready to install in a timely manner — another time saver.

Once cabinets were ordered it was time to preplan, which can make the difference between a temporary inconvenience during construction and wanting to pull every strand of hair out of your head. With cabinets taking (on average) four weeks for delivery, there’s no excuse not to preplan.

Gather packing materials. Pack infrequently used items in boxes and mark them, even days before delivery. Pack everyday items last in clear bins or storage bags for easy access.

Take everything off the walls even in adjoining rooms to prevent falling.

Remove curtains and protect furniture and electronics from dust.

Create a space, be it a room or garage where all deliveries will be made and stored.


Your contractor can give you an idea of how many days you may have no access to the kitchen. Freeze a few meals to have on hand and don’t forget paper plates.

With the help of John and preparation prior to and during construction, our project was completed in about two weeks with minimal hiccups.

Cooking is now a joy, not a job and Pete doesn’t miss the dining room. He loves his seat at the island, which he claims had nothing to do with being in perfect sight of the big screen in the living room!

After all the work he did in giving me my dream kitchen he can sit wherever he wants.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.