Kitchen ViewYou’re frustrated with your old kitchen – the drawers are overflowing and you don’t even know what’s in the back of that cabinet in the corner.  Enough is enough!  You’re going to take the plunge and invest in a new kitchen!  It’s going to be perfect.  It will have a Lazy Susan, roll-out trays, a wine rack, crown molding, and even maybe glass doors like you saw on HGTV.  You’ll choose cherry cabinets because they look so rich, and you might even have them glazed like Mary next door did.

If money is no object, and you’re not afraid to price your home out of the market for your neighborhood, you certainly can have everything your heart desires in your new kitchen.  Of course, most homeowners do have to work with a budget and not too many want to put $100,000 kitchen in a $250,000 home.  Savvy shoppers develop a list of “Needs”, “Wants”, and “Desires” about the same time they create their budget and definitely before they visit their first dealer’s showroom.

So, how do you go about creating this list?

A good starting point is to make a list of everything you don’t like about your current kitchen.  Write down everything you can think of down the left-hand side of a piece of paper.  Maybe you are tired of your natural Oak cabinets or of having to rummage through the silverware drawer.  Maybe you just want more space and better lighting.  Once you think you have a pretty good list of “dislikes” – you can always add more later – take a few minutes to number this list with one being the most important change you need to make.

Grab another piece of paper and all of your design ideas and magazine articles.  Go through everything slowly and list down the left-hand side of your page everything that jumps out at you.  If you see a style or finish that you really like, jot it down.  If you see a neat feature that you think might be important, like a Lazy Susan for that corner cabinet, write it down.  As you start nearing the end, be sure to leave room for new ideas that may come up as you’re shopping.  Draw three columns to the right of your list labeled “Need”, “Want”, and “Desire.”

With your list of “dislikes” close by, begin going through your list of new features.  For each one, if it clearly addresses one of the things you dislike about your current kitchen, put a check in the “Need” column.  If it does not, put a check in the “Want” column for something that adds value or a check in the “Desire” column if it is simply an “oh wow” item, like inlaid dentil molding or chocolate glaze.  This is one of the most important steps and the challenge here is to remain honest with yourself.

There are two more steps you’ll need to complete to come up with a great list.  First, you will need to prioritize all of the items in each of “Needs”, “Wants” and “Desires” columns beginning with one as the most important.  Compare the item to what it “fixes” from your first list to help determine how important it might be.  Take your time and even go through your list a couple of times to make sure you are happy with the order.   The final step is to re-write the entire list, in the order you have just selected.  This last step may seem trivial, but it gives you a final opportunity to make changes and adds a little piece of mind that you were thorough.

Armed with your budget, design ideas, and your new list of “Needs”, “Wants” and “Desires”, you are now ready to begin shopping.  And you will probably end up with a kitchen you love – and can afford!