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Starting a kitchen renovation can be an exciting but extremely daunting project.

To help you navigate through the process, we’ve sat down with our Head Designer, Andrew, to ask him the essential questions you may be wanting to ask as you start your project…

“What’s the first thing I should do?”

Actually getting started is probably one of the most overwhelming parts of a kitchen renovation. There’s so much to think about, it can be difficult to know where to start!

To help gather your thoughts, start by making a moodboard of various kitchen designs that you love. Pinterest is a great place to do this as it’s full of inspiration for your home. Once you’ve created a moodboard, you can get a better idea of which elements you like the most in each design. Make a list of these elements – from the style, cabinet colour, hardware, worktops, appliances etc.

Then, set yourself a budget for how much you want to spend on your kitchen renovation. Once you’ve got a good idea of your budget and what design elements you like most, you can reach out to a designer with these details to understand what will be achievable with your budget. At Thomas James, we offer a free design consultation where we can help you get started with the design process, and help you design a kitchen that will fit your budget.

“How do I decide which style to go for?”

This is completely personal for each person – as everyone is different and design is subjective! If you’ve created a moodboard, you should have a good idea of your style. Do you like traditional design, a country-style aesthetic, or something more modern? Many people like to blend classic design with contemporary elements, but chatting with an expert designer will help you get the flow of your design just right.

One thing I’d always recommend is to avoid following trends that may quickly outdate. Your kitchen has a huge impact on the re-sale value of your home, and if you choose a style that most people wouldn’t like or that may date quickly, it may affect how you can sell your home. If you want to add quirky design elements, I would recommend you do this through accessories and art around the room, and keep the core design elements of the kitchen a timeless style.  

“What’s the biggest mistake you see people make in kitchen renovations?”

I would say people not considering how they actually spend time in kitchens. If you’re a busy family with kids, and use the kitchen worktops daily, marble may not be the best choice for you. Marble is a natural stone that stains and etches, and needs a lot more maintenance vs other worktop choices such as quartz. While it looks beautiful, it might not be a practical choice for your lifestyle! We’ve written a blog post about marble vs quartz worktops here if you’d like to read more.


“What’s the most important thing to consider?”

Similar to the answer to my last question, I would say consider how you spend time in your kitchen! Do you cook daily? Spend a lot of time with family? Host friends? Work? Your day-to-day use of your kitchen will help you decide which features of your kitchen will enhance your life, and advise the layout of your design to ensure it will feel just right.

Something I’d also stress is you need to get the measurements of your room right. And choose your appliances early, as the rest of the kitchen and cabinetry will be built around them. Our team can help with room measurements if you wish.

“What’s the most expensive part of a kitchen?”

That would generally be the cabinetry, as they make up the majority of the design. At Thomas James, we only use the finest materials that are handmade by our expert craftsmen, so you know your kitchens are built to last.


“How do you decide on lighting?”

This is a decision a lot of people struggle with but is a key consideration. The amount of light in your space has a huge impact on the final design, so don’t just leave this as an after thought!  

Consider how much natural light flows into the space, and think about lighting above cooking and preparation areas. Pendant lighting above kitchen islands can enhance your design and emphasise the island as the focal point in the room.

CGIs can be created to visualise key design elements of your kitchen design. If you can’t decide which lighting you think will look best in your space, find a few styles that you like online and ask you designer to get them mocked up on the CGI. At the design concept stage at Thomas James, we create CGIs of the proposed kitchen design (similar to the below) so you can envisage what your kitchen is going to look like.

“Any final tips?”

Be prepared to compromise! Obviously there will be elements you don’t want to budge on, but if your budget doesn’t really allow for the highest end appliances like Gaggenau, you should be open to going for mid range appliances that may be able to better fit into your budget but will still give you what you need in a kitchen.

You should listen to experts too! Obviously the design decisions lie with you, but designers work on kitchens day-in, day-out, so they know their stuff. Don’t dismiss their advice without properly thinking it through.

Additionally, don’t just make decisions off the cuff. You’ll be making A LOT of decisions throughout the design process, and to be honest you might get a bit sick of it at times. You should think decisions through properly so you don’t decide on something you may regret.

Want to have an initial chat with Andrew about your upcoming kitchen renovation or ask anymore questions? Email the team on or head to our contact us page to request a free design consultation and we’ll be in touch.

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