An inefficient kitchen design layout leads to all kinds of headaches. If you don’t have adequate counter space, you’re constantly balancing plates and platters (occasionally losing one in the struggle). If your cabinets are cramped, you can expect periodic avalanches as things come spilling out. If you have outdated appliances, you may be paying way more than you need to in energy costs. In other words: if you’ve been daydreaming about a kitchen remodel, you’re not alone.
But what is the average cost of kitchen remodel projects? Can you afford it? How can you be sure you’re getting a fair price?
We get these questions all the time, and in an effort to shed some light on the subject, we’ve come up with this kitchen remodel estimator. Whether your budget is humble or grandiose, whether you’re looking to add some more modern touches, or rip everything out to start over, we’ve got you covered with this handy guide.
Let’s Talk Numbers
Here’s what you came here for:
The average cost of kitchen renovation falls somewhere around the $20,000 mark – but we want to stress the word “average” there. Depending on how much square footage you’re dealing with, and how involved you want your project to be, costs could be significant lower or higher than that.
In general, homeowners report spending between $10,000 and $30,000 on their kitchen makeovers. Obviously, smaller kitchens fare better if you’re angling for a lower price, but even larger kitchens can come in at reasonable prices, if you’re willing to do some of the work yourself, and/or stick to “facelifts” as opposed to complete rip-outs.
Calculating Your Costs
So where will your money actually be going?
Pay attention. Here’s your cheat sheet:
- Cabinets and hardware – 29%
- Installation – 17%
- Appliances and ventilation – 14%
- Countertops – 10%
- Flooring – 7%
- Lighting – 5%
- Walls and ceilings – 5%
- Plumbing and faucets – 4%
- Design fees – 4%
- Other/Miscellaneous – 1%
As you can see from this list, the average cost of kitchen cabinets is going to be your biggest contender, but overall installation costs aren’t falling too far behind. As with any construction project, there are a wide range of options, and the ones you choose will impact your final price.
Let’s get into some specific scenarios:
What Does a $5,000 to $10,000 Job Look Like?
We most often see remodeling jobs in this price range when the kitchens are very small, or when the renovations needed are very minimal. For instance, if you live in an apartment or condo, or if the kitchen in your house is simply very small, you will be looking at a significantly lower bill than you would with a larger kitchen.
Here are the issues most commonly addressed with small kitchen renovations (and what to do about them):
- Lack of Storage Space – Small kitchens must maximize their space efficiency in order to allow for adequate storage. One of the first ways this is usually addressed is through replacing the existing cabinetry. If your kitchen was built with standard cabinets, it’s a good bet that not a lot of thought went into them. You will want to speak to your designer/contractor about your space concerns, and ask about clever ways to work around this issue. Pullout shelves, Lazy Susan’s, wall-mounted storage racks, etc. can all help tremendously.
- Too Little Counter Space – people who have small kitchens will be quick to tell you about what a headache counterspace can become. The four walls of your kitchen only extends so far, therefore your countertops can only extend so far – right? Not if you creative. Talk to your designer/contractor about the possibility of installing pullout counters. This brilliant invention allows you to slide out a hidden panel of countertop when needed, and to tuck it away safely when you are finished.
- Overly Large Appliances – Just like standard cabinets do not always work in small kitchens, standard size appliances can cause similar problems. If you find that your full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, or greenish are taking up too much space that could be otherwise used for storage, find out about purchasing smaller, more space efficient versions of each appliance.
- Confining Wall Layouts – speak with your designer/contractor about whether or not the walls around your kitchen can be moved, or even eliminated altogether. Sometimes, allowing your kitchen layout to flow into a dining area, or eliminating a section of wall to open up more room, can make a tremendous difference. Obviously, you want to be especially careful with this project – and if you do live in a condo or apartment, make sure that you are permitted to do this type of construction.
But what if you have a slightly more ambitious remodeling project in mind? Next up:
What Does a $10,000 to $15,000 Job Look Like?
Assuming we have moved into more standard size kitchen projects at this point, a $10,000-$15,000 remodeling project is typically one where the homeowners are willing to do a lot of the work themselves.
Now, whether this work comes in the form of actual installation, or simply the selection, purchase, and delivery of materials is up to you. When you begin interviewing remodelers, be sure to ask them how much money you can save if you are to do certain aspects of the job yourself.
Of course, keep in mind that working with aspects of construction such as electricity or plumbing generally call for specialized knowledge, and are not always advisable as do-it-yourself projects.
Jobs in this price range are typically addressing the following issues:
- Upgrading the Backsplash – Typically a tile backsplash will be affordable.
- Replacing and Upgrading the Sink and Faucet – Keep in mind, in this price range, you will probably be keeping the plumbing exactly where it is. If the sink’s location must be changed, that will likely add more money.
- Replacing Countertops – We do not often see stone or granite countertops in this price range, but we do see tile, laminate, and vinyl options.
- Refacing or Refinishing Existing Cabinetry – changing the cabinet faces and hardware can give your kitchen a complete makeover for a fraction of the cost of replacing the cabinets entirely.
- Installing Stock Cabinetry – Basic cabinets can be installed in this price range.
- Appliance Upgrades – The purchase of brand-new refrigerators, dishwashers, or ranges.
- Fresh Paint – walls and ceilings can be brightened up and modernized by changing the color theme.
- Lighting Upgrades – energy-efficient lighting can replace florescent or incandescent lighting. Lighting can be added beneath cabinets for a warmer look.
Now we’ve rounded out the lower end of remodeling costs. Let’s take a look at what a higher budget can do.
What Does a $15,000 to $30,000 Job Look Like?
A kitchen remodel in this price range will allow you to hire professionals to take on most of the work. There may be a few odds and ends that you complete yourself, but for the most part, you will be relying on the installation crew, and the designers. If your kitchen has a lot of square footage, you may be leaning more towards the expensive end.
Here’s what you’re getting for this kind of money:
- High Quality Countertop Replacements – At this price range, you have moved to above vinyl or laminate. If you are looking to install granite, stone, wood or metal, you could do it for this amount.
- Semi-Custom or Custom Cabinetry – Rather than simply refacing or resurfacing your cabinets, and without relying on stock cabinets, you can have semi-custom or fully custom cabinets designed and built specifically for your kitchen. This is the absolute best way to maximize space efficiency, and storage capacity.
- High-End Kitchen Appliances – Appliances can be upgraded to more modern, state-of-the-art, energy efficient models, many of which have improved features.
- Floor Replacement – If you are looking to tear up, and replace your kitchen floors with brand-new material, you have lots of options such as solid hardwood, ceramic tile, concrete and more.
- Installing Freestanding Features like an Island – The construction and installation of a kitchen island can help increase counter space, as well as add more storage and utility to an existing kitchen layout.
- Advanced Lighting Design, and Rewiring – More elaborate lighting projects can be accomplished.
Most homeowners who did an extensive kitchen remodeling reported that their project fell somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000 (source: homeadvisor.com). This price range allows for a lot of creative freedom, and many families feel that if they are putting any effort to remodel, they might as well get the kitchen that they want.
What does a $30,000 + job look like?
We have reached the upper and the average budget. But what if you have a little extra money to spend to get a truly spectacular kitchen?
Here are the high-end features you can get for this budget:
- Custom-Built Granite Countertops.
- Plumbing Work – If you need additional sinks installed, that project could require specialized plumbing.
- Custom Cabinetry – Cabinets which are built and designed specifically for your kitchen.
- State-of-the-art Appliances – Highly energy efficient, and/or “gourmet” specialty features.
- Custom-designed Lighting – Light features specifically designed and wired for your kitchen.
- More high end flooring materials options such as natural stone.
A full-scale kitchen remodel can certainly go well beyond the $30,000 mark. The question that you need to ask yourself as the homeowner, is whether or not you think you’ll see that value returned to you.
Avoid Buyer’s Remorse
Your job right now is to avoid costly mistakes, and to make sure you keep your cool in the face of a large renovation project.
Here’s how you do that:
Know Your Budget
Home renovation projects can easily spiral out of control, especially if you go into them unprepared. The biggest favor you can do yourself is to draw up a budget, and stick to it. It can be very easy to become excited at the thought of a brand-new kitchen, and if you are not judicious in your selections, you can end up in debt.
Make a list of the issues you need addressed in your kitchen – and then make a separate list of issues you want addressed in your kitchen. Address the needs before the wants, and be prepared to give up a few things that aren’t strictly necessary.
Consider the User
Homeowners sometimes consider a kitchen remodeling project because they want to put their house up for sale. While it is absolutely true that improving upon your kitchen can help you sell your house faster and get a much better price, be careful about spending too much money on something that you will not even be using. If you are updating your kitchen in the hopes of selling your house, stick to the necessities.
On the other hand, if you are updating your kitchen, and you are fairly certain you will remain in your house for a long time, this might be where you want to make a bigger investment. Having an updated, well-organized, and efficient kitchen can be a tremendous quality of life improvement for you and your family. Nobody knows your kitchen better than you do, so pay very close attention to the issues you want addressed, and speak with a designer to help you get ideas on how best to do this.
The bottom line is this:
You are investing time and money into the most important room in your home, and if it doesn’t turn out well the first time, you may not get the chance to do it over again. You can help make sure you have a good experience with your remodeling project if you keep these guidelines in mind.
Feeling a little more confident now that you’ve seen some prices spelled out? (We all know how rare it is for anyone to come out and state hard numbers.) If this guide to the cost of kitchen remodeling projects was helpful to you, please make sure to share this with your friends on social media.