Renovating a kitchen can become not only a nightmare, but can cost you thousands of dollars if you do not spend enough time in the planning stage.

According recent findings by Consumer Reports, many homeowners make the mistake of rushing the design process, not considering long-term use and function. It is not until people get to the middle of their renovations, or finish them, when they realize they missed something or do not end up liking something they chose.

That can all be avoided if people take their time in the beginning, before the renos even start, said Peter Rothney, a certified kitchen designer in Winnipeg.

He explained the average kitchen renovation costs anywhere between $40,000 to $50,000 from start to finish. It is important to look at how much the homeowner is willing to spend, he said, and develop a wish list.

“We compare that to the budget and let them know what is possible for the money they want to spend and what might be outside of that budget,” Rothney added.

Designing your dream kitchen should not be done by doing up a rough sketch. Both Rothney and Consumer Reports suggest using a 3D/virtual reality computer program that is able to make an exact replica of a kitchen, allowing the homeowner to get a good sense of the space they are working with.

“When you do a computer generated image and it has all those details, you can see if things conflict or they don’t work out, so yeah, it’s vital,” Rothney said.

Homeowner David Aradi took his time in the planning phase, which he found worked in his favour. He explained that he was able to make his kitchen exactly what he wanted because he did not rush the process.

“The planning process is incredibly important,” Aradi said. “After going through this I can certainly understand why a lot of people get into troubles with their kitchens.”

He said he was able to avoid the most expensive phrase when renovating a kitchen.

“There's certainly the ability to say 'while we're at it we should do this, or 'while we're at it, we should do that', so we managed to avoid that, which is big,” he added.

Rothney advises to give the planning stage at least six to eight weeks, which he adds is about as long as most renovations take.

The types of material people choose are significant too, Consumer Reports said, as some people tend to go for pricey exotic products, instead of less expensive low maintenance ones.

“We do get people sometimes asking for marble countertops, which we dissuade them from doing, because marble is not a good idea for a kitchen counter top,” Rothney explained.

He recommends granite countertops, or an even more durable product like quartz.

When it comes to your cabinets, spending a little more can save you down the road, Rothney said.

“If they buy inexpensive cabinets and the faces just don’t stand up to wear and tear, then they’re looking at five to 10 year life span. Where properly finished cabinets are basically going to be a lifetime.”

Utilizing space is essential, too. According to Consumer Reports, this can be done by simply adding more cupboards throughout your kitchen.

They also suggest considering under cabinet lighting, as it can be helpful when preparing food.

At the end of the day, Rothney said it all comes down to giving yourself the time to design your kitchen, as research and planning can make it go from a terrible experience to everything you ever dreamed.