remodel guide
Illustration: Zohar Lazar
Hey, have you heard the one about the 36-inch pro-style range that ripped the molding off the back door on its way into the house? Or the poured-on-site concrete countertop that cracked three months after installation? Or maybe it was the contractor who was paid in advance, promptly skipped town, and was never heard from again.

Yep, we've heard those stories, too. Let's face it, in a nation where home renovation long ago surpassed baseball as the Great American Pastime, kitchen nightmares are a dime a dozen — and anyone who's ever traded Formica countertops and a Harvest Gold fridge for soapstone and a stainless steel side-by-side knows exactly what we're talking about.

Well, misery may love company, but what we all crave is a happy ending—a smart-looking, functional workspace that is a source of comfort, efficiency, and maybe a little neighborly envy (not to mention an excellent Porterhouse). To help you get there, we've compiled this handy guide to some common kitchen-remodeling disasters and offer expert strategies for steering clear of them. For each major phase of the job — hiring, planning, budgeting, and living through it — we've got an easy 10-point plan to follow. And don't let our cautionary tales scare you: Take our advice, and your biggest regret when your dream kitchen is complete will be that you didn't do it sooner.

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