It’s nip/tuck time. How to know when to cook up a remodel for the heart of the home

Ready for a Kitchen Renovation?
Ready for a Kitchen Renovation?

One day, it happens. You walk into your kitchen and suddenly hate everything from the yellow linoleum to the matching muslin curtains to the rooster wallpaper that originally felt so, er, French. It’s time for a major face-lift. Coastal Living magazine’s homes editor, Brielle Ferreira, shares a few other signs that a kitchen’s design days are numbered.

A Change of (S)Pace

When your life changes, your kitchen needs to as well. Maybe your kids finally started school (yes!) and need a place to do homework. (Enter the built-in desk.) Or maybe you just joined a wine club and plan to host monthly parties. (Enter the souped-up butler’s pantry with a fridge.) Whatever the case, your kitchen must evolve. That might be as straightforward as adding an island, Ferreira says, or as complex as installing a second sink and workstation for your spouse.

Kitchen, Interrupted

If it’s not so much the looks of the space as the functionality, get out your tape measure. That sacred area between the sink, fridge and stove (also known as the work triangle) should be somewhere between 4 and 9 feet, and clear of unnecessary traffic. Ferreira also says you should scrutinize pantry and cabinet storage, and sink depth: If they come up short, it may be worth considering an overhaul.

Cabinet Fever

And then there are sheer cosmetics. Kitchen cabinets are like a woman’s hands: At a glance, they can give away their age. “There are some colors that are sticking around from the ‘70s that are very deeply tied [to that era],” Ferreira says. But unless your cabinets are falling off their hinges, think about painting them instead of replacing them. Mixing two tones of the same hue (dove-gray doors with steel-gray panels) is a fun way to stay on trend without breaking the bank.

Rage Against the Machine

Most kitchen appliances are built to last 12 to 15 years, Ferreira says. After that, you may notice a slightly warmer fridge or an uneven cooking performance. The good news? Today’s appliances are fun (really!). Think about ovens that can be controlled from your phone, and the latest wine coolers, steam ovens, and dishwashing and warmer drawers.

Remember the Big Picture

If you’re remodeling rooms that flow into the kitchen, picture the house as a whole. “It’s really important to maintain consistency between spaces,” Ferreira says. That new teak-paneled family room isn’t going to look so stunning if someone peeks at your knotty-pine kitchen. Particularly in an open space, it’s worth spending a little to make sure that colors, cabinets, fixtures and finishes coordinate.