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You may already know Shavonda Gardner from her wildly popular Instagram account. The interior designer cut her teeth while renovating her cozy Sacramento, California home room-by-room, chronicling her experiences on her blog, SG Style. She’s since amassed a casual 150k followers (and counting!) and is best known for her moody, eclectic interiors. Here, she shares her expert kitchen renovation advice.

Hi Shavonda, 

I’m beginning a home renovation next month. What’s the most important thing to decide on first in a kitchen?



Dear Michelle,

I’m actually starting a kitchen renovation in the next month or so too, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot! As both a designer and a homeowner, function is the number one thing I consider when renovating Kitchens are the most hardworking spaces in our homes, and they have to be really, really practical above all else.

First, think about how you use your kitchen on a day-to-day basis. How large is your family? How often do you cook? Do you cook a lot of meals from scratch, or do you rely on quick and easy 30-minute meals? From there, you can start to think about the space itself: how much room do you have to play with? Do you want more of an open floor plan, a peninsula, or a galley-style kitchen? The answers to these questions will serve as the foundation of a beautiful, hardworking kitchen that actually functions for your family. You can even draw out your ideal layout on grid paper to visualize the space. 

From a design perspective, I suggest spending some time on Pinterest. Even if you have zero clue about what your design style is or what you want, I always tell my clients to pin anything and everything that catches their eye. Over time, some patterns will start to emerge, whether it’s a color palette, a specific material, or a layout. Suddenly you’ll realize, “Apparently, I love butcher block countertops,” or “Every single pin features white cabinets.” This process will help you silence the noise and create a space that feels very you

Another great way to break down the design is to write out a list of non-negotiables. The cabinets, countertops, and flooring are a great place to start because they’re so visually impactful; selecting your finishes is so much easier after deciding on these larger elements. For example, if you know in your heart of hearts that you want marble countertops with beautiful veining, then you can build your design and color palette around that marble slab. Or if you know exactly what floor tile you want, let that serve as your starting point. You can even come up with a list of what you don’t want instead—it’s all about honing your design vision and creating a space that suits your unique needs. 

I hope this helps and best of luck! 



Comments (2)

  • Helen Greatrex says:

    I’m also starting a kitchen reno & was getting overwhelmed by all the choice out there, so this is super useful to help me refocus. Could Shavonda do a monthly blog or something!

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