Before you dive into the world of remodeling, consider these...

Before you dive into the world of remodeling, consider these tricks to make the process smoother. Credit: Getty Images/Westend61/TNS

Remodeling a kitchen requires a lot of effort (and cash). Avoid making costly mistakes with these expert tips for every aspect of your design from islands to floor plans and everything in between.

Start by planning ahead. Delays and changes midstream can send costs soaring. Do your homework and consider each choice ahead of time. Be sure to check that everything has arrived before the contractor is ready to install.

1. Plan the space

Even in big kitchens, you'll want to create a compact step-saving work core. Pick areas that will work hard during meal prep, dining and family time. A breakfast nook, for example, is the perfect way to add style without sacrificing too many steps.

2. Measure!

Kitchen aisles need to be wide enough to accommodate all that goes on in a kitchen. Clearance helps multiple cooks navigate the space and maneuver around each other. Make sure all aisles, such as those between islands, walls and appliances, are between 42 and 48 inches wide. Also consider offsetting the placement of key features, such as sinks and the range, so two cooks don't bump into one another.

3. Ensure it's functional

When planning the space, consider the size and direction of doors, appliances and cabinets. Fridges often need wide clearance, as do ovens. Take a walk through the space and plan door openings to ensure that you don't create a cramped kitchen.

4. Buy an island (or two)

In a big room, two islands are often better than one. It's a mistake to supersize an island, because anything longer than 10 feet is hard to walk around. Also, if an island is more than 4 feet deep, it's hard to reach the middle. Overstuffing an island with dinnerware, baskets and other items creates a similar problem. Make sure no island storage extends beyond the rim of the countertop.

5. Put in a peninsula

In a small kitchen, a small peninsula often works better than an island. Don't overwhelm a small space; there are options available for a variety of sizes and layouts.

6. Choose storage wisely

Between open storage, cabinets, shelves and more, there are hundreds of options available. Consider the goal of the remodel: If you are going for a sleek look and choose glass cabinet doors, keep the cabinet contents streamlined and unfussy, as well.

7. Include space for entertaining

Whatever a kitchen's size, expect friends and family to congregate there. People are drawn to other people, and your guests don't want to be hanging out in the living room while you're preparing dinner. Plan for interactive space in your new kitchen, whether it's a corner nook, island with seating or a banquette.

8. Bring home samples

Materials can look a lot different in a showroom than they do in your actual space. Don't commit to any major design element, such as flooring or countertops, until you've brought the samples home to look at in the space you're remodeling. You may also want to look at samples under lighting similar to what will be used in the new space.

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