First Foundation Reno Series - Kitchens

My favorite place in any DIY box store or those giant mazes made out of Swedish furniture, has got to be the kitchen design center. Being a Mom of four, the kitchen is my command post. I spend most of my day positioned in front of my stove, handing out bagels, bagged lunches, paint brushes, directions to the laundry room, advice about girls and Tacos on Tuesdays …always tacos on Tuesday. Is it any wonder I dream of Cape Cod cupboards and French Farmhouse sinks?

Kitchens are the heart and soul of any house and have the most potential to reflect the personality of the whole dwelling. However, sometimes they just don’t do the homeowners justice and it’s time for a change. Bring on the kitchen planners!

There’s so many options from simply replacing the doors of your cupboards to tearing the whole shebang down and creating your dream kitchen from scratch. What should you keep and what should you replace? What should you choose and what should be left on the showroom floor, to get the biggest bang for your buck?

For a little guidance, consider that according to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, if you are remodeling your kitchen as a face-lift prior to selling it, it’s recommended that you spend no more than 10-15% of the cost of your house. If you are going to remain in your house for more than five years, you can spend 25% or more – and in most cases you will recoup the cost of the renovation when you sell.

You can begin to explore some of your ideas by using the design program from Rona or the IKEA site, but do consider talking to a designer or contractor to finalize you plans – they are often aware of cost saving choices that can allow you a little more room in the budget for some luxury items.

Rona Design site

IKEA Design site

Something else to consider when browsing the kitchen design section of your favorite Do
It Yourself center – the average store credit card interest rate is between 19.9% and 25.9%. They often offer attractive, short term teaser rates or promos such as “don’t payment for 6 months” but it can be challenging to come up with the $10K- $25K that a full kitchen reno will cost in that period of time. Avoiding the use of store cards for such large purchases can save you thousands of dollars in interest. Instead, consider talking to your bank about a personal line of credit for smaller reno plans and to your licensed mortgage broker about refinancing your mortgage for the larger ones. With current mortgage rates under 4% for a five year term, you’ll be glad you did!

Lastly, here’s some advice on preparing for and living through a kitchen renovation from a forum on Ivillage’s GardenWeb:

- if you don’t already have one, a toaster oven seems to be a worthwhile purchase prior to dismantling your cooking area. However, they can be a bit of a fire hazard, depending on where you are situating them, so also consider using slow-cookers, rice-cookers, woks, electric griddles and single burners to avoid eating out every night. And of course if you’re renovating in the summer, you can always use the good ‘ol BBQ.

- be sure to cover everything – apparently the the dust is more than you’d expect.

- One writer sent in this great tip – “One thing that saved me in our last remodel was my husband moved our old sink and a section of the old cabinets to a temporary, non-construction area. He was able to hook it up to the hot and cold water and had it drain into a bucket. I had to empty the bucket outside or in the bathroom and be careful to not let it overflow, but I was grateful to not do dishes in the bathtub.”

or for a more Red Green approach:

“.... someone took the old sink out of their old kitchen and rigged it on top of some sawhorses and attached the garden hose to it outside. My carpenter did that for me, and it made my life so much better during our reno.”

And lastly – “ Taking pictures often to see the progress really helped. Oh yah – and holding on to my sense of humor was critical!”


As the company’s first employee, Jennifer has been a Licensed Mortgage Associate since 2004, but her current role is not focused on mortgages. She is the resident blog writer and…

Learn more about Jennifer Rochford