Remodeling a Kitchen? Here’s What You Need to Know

Looking to revamp your kitchen space? In this episode, we're diving into the essential things to consider when remodeling or building a kitchen. From cabinetry to countertop slabs, electrical layout to plumbing, we've got you covered. Plus, we'll explore the smart features and customizations that can elevate your kitchen design. Whether you're aiming to boost resale value or create your dream cooking space, we'll discuss how to maximize functionality and make informed decisions every step of the way.

Listen in as we highlight the importance of thoughtful planning, such as ensuring outlets are strategically placed and prioritizing storage solutions. We'll also touch on the benefits of temporarily moving out during the renovation process and the importance of early material selection for a smoother project timeline and budget management.

This Episode Will Cover: 

• Why the kitchen yields the highest return on investment.
• The importance of thinking about functionality in your kitchen remodel.
• How to make sure your outlets are in appropriate areas.
• Why it's essential to think hard about storage and cabinetry.
• The benefit of moving out during a kitchen remodel.
• Why we want clients to have all of their materials selected early.

Learn More About Ashley, Michelle, & Simply Home: 
• About Ashley & Michelle:
• Website:
• Podcast:
• Instagram: @simplyhomeaustin
• Facebook: @simplyhomeaustin
Episode Transcript

This is the Simply Home Podcast - Ladies Who Build, a podcast for women by women.

This is Ashley Wainscott and Michelle Mullins.

After spending the last 10 years revolutionizing the construction industry and raising the bar of the contracting world.

We are inviting you on our journey as we continuously learn how to be extraordinary and thrive in this industry.

Now, come hang with us.

Hello everyone and welcome to Ladies Who Build. We are on our 25th episode and we're talking about what to consider when remodeling or building a kitchen. So some of the key points we'll be talking about today are cabinetry, countertop slabs, electrical layout, all the smart features, plumbing and venting, and of course, last but not least, our customizations and timeline. So Michelle and I are gonna keep it short and sweet today. We're just gonna hit all the main topics. We've talked about some of these in previous episodes, but we're just kinda bringing it roundabout so we can hit it all in one big kitchen episode.

And Michelle and I have done so many of these kitchen projects that.

We've seen it all.

I was literally about to say that. We've seen it all.


So let's talk about where you want to start, Michelle?

I think, well, I think before you go into a kitchen remodel, first I would say even if you are selling the house later down the road, if you're just saying like, this is my forever home, I honestly think a kitchen remodel brings, my personal opinion, brings the best return on investment when you go to sell. Like I think the kitchen obviously is the place where people congregate, it's the hub, it's where people are gonna be like the wow factor if they're walking through a home.

I just think that that's like where you can put a great investment. If you're like, I don't know what to remodel. I would go with the kitchen. So there's kind of in saying that though, there's a lot that goes into that because in your kitchen, you really want to think about functionality and how you use this space. I think more than any other space really in your home, like maybe the master bathroom, but you really spend more time in your kitchen.

So in my opinion, you want to kind of really think through what would be the nice things to have, what would be some requirements that I need to have, what would look good for resale. So in regards to that is like paint colors on cabinetry or are you going to ball out and spend the nicest on the nicest on all materials, which is great, but would you get your return on that when you go to sell? I think those are kind of like some key factors to consider, but I think functionality, if you start out with the basics of, okay, I know I at least need more cabinet shelving here, or I really would love, I mean, this is like a nice to have, but like maybe you want like a little dog area for dog bowls. We've done those in kitchens, which are really cool. But yeah, I mean, I think how you use this space is gonna be huge for anybody in the home. Wouldn't you say?

Oh, I'd say. First of all, I have so many comments to what you just said. One, you just said ball out like we were in a 90s rap song.

That's what I thought about.

And that was the greatest thing I've ever heard. And you, yes, I'm glad that you backed us up before we jumped in because when I was like doing my brainstorming, walking through the neighborhood, I was thinking about, yeah, like what are the things that make or break a really good kitchen remodel? And it kind of goes back to things that we've talked about, which is like taking the time to plan.

And I'm thinking about redoing my kitchen right now. So I was just thinking about, oh my gosh, can I rush and get this done before the baby comes? But then I was like, no, because by the way, I'm having a baby. I'm having another baby. For those of you who don't know.

Number two.

I'm having another baby. Which by the time this publishes, maybe the baby will be here.


But I was like, maybe I should rush and get my kitchen done. And I took a step back and took my own advice and I thought, no, like it never turns out well when you rush it because there's always something you regret. There's something you don't think about and I feel like when you really take the time to think about like how am I going to use this kitchen that works best for me and not just oh I liked this picture. I really want to add like a little table at the end of my island and it's like that's nice. I know you really want to but is your space gonna allow for that number one and number two is it something you're actually going to utilize all the time even though it seems like fun and cute and you just like plop your little butt down in the kitchen. So those are like that's kind of where my head went when you started talking about all that.

Yeah, I mean, it is so much, you know, you could think about all the nice things to have, but then you break it down to, okay, what's actually necessary. And I think two, what gets tricky is every space is so different. So, you know, how many times have we done kitchens where we've done like a galley kitchen and it's really long? Well, that's great. So something you might consider in that is what you've got in your house is like, what if you did like a little bench and seating area at the end?

Or maybe you did like a little coffee, little wine station at the end that you could kind of just keep for appliances. Like you don't, it doesn't have to be like a long run of just cabinetry from top to top to bottom. But, you know, at the same time, like what if you have a space that's really kind of weirdly large, but you kind of have to walk from one space, counter space to the other, it's a lot. And so maybe you include like a small island.

Maybe it's a removable island on wheels. You know, kind of like what is the least path of least resistance basically to kind of get from one place to the other. And so again, it's like your space is so contingent on what you can do based on like, you know, how much you can allow in the space. So I think what comes to mind though, what I think about big is electrical. So this is like a big itch in my side because our electrical in our kitchen is bonkers. I don't know who put it in.

First of all, like nothing's up to code. A, whatever. B, the, where the outlets are placed. And like, no, when would I ever put a machine over here to plug in? Like that doesn't make sense. And so that's a really annoying thing. And so honestly your electrician is going to tell you, your GC is going to tell you exactly where, how many outlets you need in your kitchen, but you can always add more. So if you're like, okay, well, I'm always prepping in this space and maybe it's a little unconventional. I don't need an outlet here, but I really want to add one here. Or maybe you put outlets underneath your under cab lighting and you could use something there to where you can plug in inside your cabinet so you don't have to see cords. I've seen that a lot as well. Yeah, I mean electrical, you could really get out of control with customization in kitchens.

Oh my gosh, Michelle, we've seen clients get out of control because they start with like, oh, I just want to add a few cans. And then we're like, oh, okay, did you consider not because we're upselling, but just literally did you consider like a dimmer because it seems like 10 years ago, that was like the froufrou ad, but now it's the basic package, right? You just always add a dimmer in every room.

But you always have your can lighting and then you wanna think about, do I want additional decor lighting. Like pendant lighting. How is it gonna tie together with the other lighting in my room? You hit on outlets, which I think is huge because you need to know where and how many outlets you need. And I don't know, it kind of drives me crazy where my outlets are placed currently because I'm like this is the most inconvenient location where I'm like reaching around and plugging it in or it's in like a corner of my backsplash where I have certain things already placed and so it's just, it's not really great.

You're right.

But appliance garages where you can plug things in and hide them or literally whoever came up with that I'm like I want to shake your hand and like I don't know.Maybe give you a little hug or like a side kiss, you know?

I love an appliance garage, yes, and you can make them so cute and fun and if you don't know what they are, Google them because you need one in your kitchen.

Yeah, it's so amazing. I feel like most people don't think about electrical. It's just one of those things much like venting that gets put on the back burner, like all mechanical work is kind of just put to the side and they're like, oh yeah, we'll just add a few lights, but it really does make or break the space when how you're cooking when you can actually see what you're chopping and you can actually see what you're cooking on top of your stove. All those things matter.

Yeah, or like if you want under cab lighting, what do you want those to look like? What if you want in-cabinet lighting? If you have glass cabinets, do you want lighting to go in there? You know? So there's a lot to consider with lighting. You can go down a rabbit hole.

Yes, yes. And you need to get bougie with lighting. I feel like it makes or breaks a kitchen.


And lighting, you were talking about under cabinet lighting. So cabinetry, it was another thing we're going to talk about, but cabinetry and pull out shelving and all storage for the kitchen is like actually the bulk of the cost of the kitchen.


And I don't think a lot of people mentally prepared themselves for this number. And when it rolls out to the client and we're looking at, you know, like wide oak cabinets, custom wide oak cabinets or any sort of custom walnut cabinet or anything of that nature.

One, you're already headed down a costly path, right? Then starting with prefab, prefab is already costly, but now you're changing up the game and you're going real wood which love that for you, I love that. But I'm just saying you need to be aware that you are a little red riding hood going down two, you're coming to this Y in the road and you're picking two different paths and both have great storage options. Both are like phenomenal as far as like, you can never have enough storage in my opinion. But don't forget to save money also for that like, the, what am I trying to say Michelle? The shelving in the cabinets, like the storage in the cabinets, you know? The pullout drawers and the pullout pantries and all this stuff, like don't forget to save money for all that, cause those are all add-ons. Those don't just come with standard cabinets. So anyways, I'm rambling, but that's why I wanted to hit on like, whoa.

But yeah, but you make a good point because it kind of goes back to like, okay, it would be nice if I have this drawer. I'm opening a cabinet door. I want this door to pull out. Maybe it's a spice cabinet. You have all your spices and you can like look in the very back of the tray. Right? Or maybe it's like you could put do a lazy Susan inside your pantry because you want to reach all the far like the stuff that gets like buried in the back of cabinets. Okay, well, let's do some big lazy Susans in there. So to your point, yes, like all of those add ons.

And so yeah, you could go crazy and do the custom oak or custom wood options, beautiful, love those. Also, hire maintenance though, because you've got to maintain them. And if you have kids, think about every time they touch a cabinet pool, they get oil on the cabinets. So if you're doing something natural, then that's more upkeep.

And then you have to consider you're gonna start seeing more fingerprints. So I would, you know, ideally like a paint if you were, if you're gonna do a paint, then you could easily clean all the oil spots from fingertips. But yeah, I think that's a big one too. I like, we'll see kitchens and we're like, oh, y'all use this kitchen a lot because it's definitely beat up. So you see like, every little, like paint chip or whatever.

That is currently my kitchen. You're like, oh, there's no question this is in use.

Oh, you have kids and I haven't even met him yet. I got it.

Yes. Remember black cabinets too when those were so popular?


But people didn't realize the fingerprints and the grime is worse on black than it is white.

Yeah, you can see every little thing or like a tiny little scratch you're gonna see. And it's beautiful in hindsight, but it just doesn't work functionality-wise.

Yeah, and you gotta have a good cabinet refinisher or order them from the factory because black shows every single imperfection, not forgiving.

No, not at all.

It's not like our outfits. Like it's not black, like cute clothes.

No it's not, it's not cute.

It's horrible.

Okay, what about countertops? Which we kind of talked about this with bathrooms too though. Like the material that you use makes such a big difference.

Yes, it really does. And I feel like people, so there's a way to go really bougie with countertops. And there's a way to take this again down another path, which Michelle and I have seen a lot, which is the waterfall sides of the island, right? Mitering the edges so you don't just have the standard edging. You have like several inches thick around the cabinets and you can even take the countertop up the backsplash, which is another way to get more costly, right? Like all these things are just more costly because you're paying a fabricator, a countertop fabricator to install those and it's different. It's not the same as paying a tiler to install tile.

Right. Yeah, and I think too, like if you know you're gonna sell the house down the road, I don't know that I would really invest, again, to each is own, like you can do what you want, but I don't know that I would invest in like a high-end marble. First of all, marble doesn't do well on wet surfaces. It does. We install it all the time in terms of if you upkeep it, so the clients that we know upkeep their marble still look stunning.

Sometimes you have to buff it out every couple of years too, to buff out all the scratches. Again, not a big deal, but it's costly. So if you know you're gonna sell though, I would do, there are so many marble-like materials nowadays that look so close to actual marble that I would do something like a quartz or even a style stone or just something that you could get that's similar looking because you know you're gonna pay half the cost, it's still gonna look great and then you can go and resell it.

We even had people do, remember how we've done concrete countertops as well and you pour the forms on site, which are really cool, but way more expensive than countertops as well. And I think people consider it too because it's super durable, you can scratch it, it's kind of part of the industrial look of it. But whoa, it is not easy to install.

I mean, and I would consider countertop to be kind of childproof. Wait, did I say countertop? Concrete.

Did I say countertop? Okay. You said it and I said, what have we been talking about? Concrete, right? Is that what we said? Okay.

Yes, you said concrete. Yes. My pregnancy brain is like, it's like somebody flipped an on switch last week and it just kind of floats around and they're just like a little fish tank.

Well, I think it's rubbing off on me. You're pregnancy-pride.

Oh God, look out Michelle, you don't need all this. I don't want this for you.

No. Uh-uh. I don't want it.

No but concrete sounds childproof, which sounds very like, alluring for me. I'm like, hmm, let's talk about that.


But butcher block?

Oh yeah, but that's actually way more cost effective.

Yes, it is.

Butcher block is like way more affordable. And again, you can kind of like scuff it up. You can like hit it with a knife and it kind of, it's fine. You just oil it every now and then. But, so I'm not saying that's actually a bad option, but it's a definitely a certain look and aesthetic. And I don't think it can just go into any kitchen or any style. Like it has to be very intentionally designed or else you're just like, well you just threw that in there.

Right. And like, it's not, I mean, it's just like a cutting board, right?


And you do have to be really intentional with it because if you're chopping certain things often and like not cleaning it properly and like the stains that, you know what I mean? Yeah. Anyways, yeah. Just to, it's something to think about, but yes, it is somewhat of a cheaper option.

But also have you heard about though recently I've been reading, and I don't know how factual this is because I haven't done some like deep diving R&D, but apparently people are claiming that quartz countertops is dangerous for people to fabricate and then for fabricators to be cutting and installing because of what they're breathing in when they're cutting it.

I don't know how they're preventing, I don't know how fabricators are preventing this, but apparently it's way more dangerous than like a granite or a natural marble because of whatever they're putting in the man-made quartz. Have you heard about this?

Yes, okay. I'm Googling right now because I was like, it starts with an S. It's called silica dust and it's now referred to as the next of bestos. Yes, and it's airborne. Uh-huh. Yeah, it's really bad.

So I was kind of wondering where that's going to take the whole quartz industry.

Right, well, and it's especially, that's why you see a lot of installers will cut with a wet saw, because once it hits water, then it doesn't spread. So it's just the dry dust that's really bad. But I mean, you see a lot of installers not wearing masks when they're cutting, which is really dangerous. So that's why they do, they're cutting outside. Also to prevent dust, but just in general, because it is a dangerous thing to be inhaling. So honestly, like I would stay away from the install days. Once it's installed and the dust is settled, you're fine. It's kind of like lead in a wall, right? Like as long as you don't mess with the paint on the wall, it's fine, it's not gonna kill you.

Yeah, like don't take your saw to your countertop.

Right, just don't do that and then you're good. Yeah, but it's really bad. So definitely don't get into the countertop industry is what we're saying.

Right, right. Unless you have a really good mask and like.

Unless you know what you're doing.

Oxygen inhalation system. But also this is why I recommend that cleaning when your construction project’s over because you should be cleaning those ducks. We should be cleaning them for you, but like you should be.

Someone needs to clean them.

Yeah, somebody needs to clean these ducks. Okay. Because all of that dust, it's yeah, it's a lot.

Yeah, well, and I think to that point, too, if you, if you're able to move out during a kitchen room model, yes, do that. But we've also dealt with many, many clients who don't move out and we just set up like temporary kitchens, they can use their baths. Some people use their bathtub to wash dishes. We can set up like a little George Foreman for them. But you know, if you know that you're like highly sensitive and irritable to change in that way, where you're kind of doing all things in one room, then, which I know I would, so I'm only saying that because I would get highly annoyed pretty quickly. I would see if you could move out during that phase, because it is messy and it's loud and dusty.

Oh, it sure is. And first of all, I don't know how any of those guys carry that large slab because even the remnants, you know, that they'll give us to hold that are like this big, I'm like, oh, this is really heavy.

Yeah, it's so heavy. Yes.

It's like a Barbie-sized countertop and I'm like, oh.

Yeah. Yes. Totally is. Okay.

What are you talking about next? Smart features?

Yeah, I think that is something we're also seeing a lot of come up is smart features in the kitchen. So we've kind of hit on this on past episodes, but some things to consider are like those automatic faucets you could have. Okay, love those because yes, your hands are dirty and you want to tap it to turn it on. But what if you have a cat? What if you have, you know, your kids on the counter, whatever you're doing, you know, I just think that there's other ways that turns on and then you're not home and the cats like, has the water running for hours.

I could see that. That the cat's just like, paw fighting with it to turn on and off.

Yeah, and now it's just, you're just wasting water with your cat. But like, okay. So smart faucets we have installed. I think like top of the line ovens, which have smart features. We've installed vent hoods, top of the line microwaves. Like there's so much that's coming out that's smart features. So they're really nice. And if that's something you really care about, like that's like maybe more energy efficient.

You just have to understand that your electrical cost will go up because you're not just installing a standard. You know, plug that fits your stove, you also might need to be like, okay, I need to look at the specs because we need additional wiring for this, or can my panel handle all my smart appliances? Remember how many times we've done kitchen remodels and we've had to upgrade the whole panel because they might have an older house and an older panel that can't handle all of the new electrical requirements per code that we have to have, and their panel can't handle it. So then we have to upgrade the whole panel.

That is probably a minimum of what, $5,000? I mean, it's not cheap, so.

Oh yeah. And I was just thinking about that while you're talking about all the smart features, I was literally thinking about, oh, that panel is just like squealing.


Of like, wait, I don't know that I get to handle all of this. That's a lot. And most people don't do that, but you need to make sure you're like, part of our process is going on site and doing that due diligence and checking to make sure the panel can handle all of the appliance specs.

Which like in a weird way, full circle pulls us back to why we like clients to have all their materials selected really early because all of it plays into all of these things. Like the sooner we know what we're putting in your house, the sooner we can make decisions that are gonna affect your budget and decisions that are gonna affect your remodel. Like if you have an older home, I mean, of course we have to upgrade your panel, right? Like there's no way you're going to put any updated appliances in this kitchen without a new panel, but if you were like, well, we can put all these new appliances except this fridge will send over the panel capacity, right?

And then we'll have to upgrade. Then that's when you slash the client can decide, do I really need this fridge that talks to me and that has a TV and that like keeps track of my grocery list? And maybe the answer is yes.


But at least you have the option.

Right. And check your panel if you can have it.

I keep looking at, I keep looking at my appliances and I'm like, Oh my God. I just, they're so, they're so vintage.

I, oh, I know, I'm aware. Yeah, we have some old appliances, but like no one looks at my kitchen.

Seriously, I actually, in me thinking about my kitchen remodel, I was like, okay, it's time that I stopped just remodeling people's homes and I remodel my home.

You know that saying? This might not be true, but like you know the saying how really good therapists or counselors make really good, like they can help other people really well, but then when it comes to their own life, it's like in shambles. I don't know if that's true, but I think that that's relevant to construction world. It's like we're really good at focusing on the details and the construction work of other people's homes. And then you go into any of our homes and we're like, oh my God, you haven't remodeled your own home. Like, what are you doing? So that's a little.

Yeah. And I'm living out of like, a box with like, a cute curtain, you know?


And I'm like, ooh, don't look here. Don't look over here.

Yeah. That’s us.

I know. Oh yeah. Okay. And we were going to talk about customizations and just mention that sometimes clients like to make their kitchen really unique. And I love that. And Michelle and I thought about the kitchen that we did, and it had these really pretty shelfology shelves that were super thin and required, you know, a lot of critical thinking about how we were gonna build out to incorporate them with the backsplash. And then they had a lot of wood slat, you know, customizations like in their dining room and on their island and then where their lighting was, you know, there were a lot of like really pretty customizations, but it just, it takes a lot more time to think through all of that and to actually do it rather than like, oh, just put up tile and here are all the places.


It's like, oh, these are three more vendors that are involved with all these things. So I just want to mention that of like the more that you customize, the longer the timeline and the more elements there are to manage.

Yeah, yeah. I think and kind of to wrap all of this up is like a general timeline we've seen. I mean, timelines can go out just depending on the customization, but typically a kitchen remodel takes between six and eight weeks. And that does include permits, but if we the more like Ashley said, the more customization you do, the longer it can take.

Because sometimes, well, most of the time in a process of construction is like, things, activities are dependent on the other, on the previous activity, right? So like we can't necessarily start one thing until this one thing is in. Well, if this other thing takes time to make, we're just kind of waiting for that thing to be custom made. So you kind of have to think about, like what falls on each other to complete, but typically a general good timeframe is between six and eight weeks.

Yeah. And then as you customize and like add permits and things like this with all of it, it can just extend, but plan to not have your kitchen for a decent amount of time. It's going to be, it's not going to be easy, but you're going to be such a warrior by the end of it.

Yeah, I mean, it's so worth it. I want to do it to mine. Let's do it to mine next.

You’re like can I be, or like, be a Simply Home giving project to this year?

Yes, yes, I need charity work in my kitchen.

Right. Let's do that.


You know? Well, I guess that wraps us up. I was about to go into like, fun questions for us. And then I realized that we don't do that for each other. So.

We already know each other.


Yeah, no fun questions here.

Nope. Well, that's a kitchen in a nutshell brought to you by Michelle and Ashley.

Yeah, let us know if you have any questions. There's so much more that goes into it. So I'm sure we've got answers.

Yeah, we do. Okay, until next time. Ciao.

Ciao ciao!