(BPT) - Tackling a home improvement project can be a really daunting task - whether it's a simple redecoration or a full kitchen renovation. You may feel like you're the only homeowner, ever, to have questions. Renowned designer and LG Studio Artistic Advisor, Nate Berkus, has answered design questions from homeowners for more than 20 years, and he's found that the same ones keep cropping up.
"Redesigning your kitchen is a big investment," says Berkus. "It's not just about the money; you're also investing a lot of time and emotion. There are so many decisions to make, and you want them to be the right ones. You also want to create a space that reflects the people who live there. A well-designed kitchen needs to be functional and personalized."
Berkus offers answers to four design questions that commonly confound homeowners:
1. Where do I even begin?
Berkus recommends starting with a vision of what kind of kitchen you want to create.
"There is so much design inspiration out there - Instagram, Pinterest, design blogs, etc. Find out what you are drawn to and what catches your eye. Ask yourself - how do we want to live in the space, and what's important to us? The design needs to support that," says Berkus.
A redesign doesn't have to always mean a full renovation, or that you need to do it all at once. "Painting cabinets can be a weekend process, and change the appliances when you have the budget. You can do it piecemeal," notes Berkus.
2. How do I make the best use of my renovation dollars in the kitchen?
The kitchen is the number one room that consumers are most likely to splurge on when renovating, according to a nationwide study from LG Studio. So is it really worth it?
"Absolutely," says Berkus. "It's hands down the hardest working room in your home, and you need it to stand the test of time. A kitchen is also about bringing people together. We do a lot of living and create a lot of memories in our kitchens."
To make the most of your kitchen renovation dollars, Berkus recommends shopping local vintage shops or multi-dealer antique malls for one-of-a-kind items such as light fixtures and seating. Even shop your own home for things like trays, bowls and objects that could get new life displayed and used in your kitchen.
3. What's the most important thing to invest in during a renovation?
"If you don't start with innovative, hard-working appliances, it doesn't matter what backsplash you are using," says Berkus. "A kitchen needs to function, and great appliances are at the heart of that. They are 100 percent worth the investment."
Take for example the new 42-inch built-in side-by-side refrigerator from LG Studio, which Berkus helped design. "The stainless steel finish is so handsome and the inside of the refrigerator is huge. It's perfect for big families and kids. Your appliances need to seamlessly marry design with functionality," notes Berkus.
4. Tastes change, so how can I be sure I won't hate all this five years from now?
"The biggest thing is not to get sidetracked by trends. I always say if something was considered beautiful 10 years ago, it probably will still be beautiful in 10 years," says Berkus.
When investing money, Berkus recommends always reaching for what is classic and what has stood the test of time - things like subway tile, Carrara marble, butcher block and painted-wood cabinets.
"A typical renovation takes several months, but trends change often," notes Berkus. "If you pick out a backsplash or cabinet color because someone told you that is the hottest thing right now, by the time it's installed chances are you'll have moved on to something else."
Redesigning and renovating a kitchen can be a rewarding, enjoyable experience - especially with some advice from a design professional.
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