Often considered the heart of the home, it’s easy to see why the kitchen remains a popular space to remodel among homeowners. And yet, as popular as kitchen remodels are, they can in turn be some of the most expensive.
According to Home Depot and Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, kitchen remodel costs can range anywhere from $24,000 to $136,000, depending on the kind of work you’re looking to do. But you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to get the magazine-worthy kitchen of your dreams! In this post, we’ll outline some different ways you can update your kitchen yourself, the various costs associated with them, and when and how you should bring in a contractor and/or kitchen designer to help.
Table of Contents
What goes into a kitchen remodel?
Typically, a total kitchen remodel involves top to bottom upgrades. But while achieving a total kitchen makeover may not be in the budget, doing even one or some of these updates can lead to a big visual impact!
Choosing the right flooring
An example of hardwood flooring in a kitchen. Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash.
There are endless options when it comes to choosing flooring for your kitchen, though hardwood, tile, and vinyl are the most common. But which flooring you decide to put in should depend on a variety of factors, and not just style. For example, it’s important to consider the wear and tear that your flooring will face once installed; Tile is more durable, while hardwood and vinyl are subject to scratches and dents. You should also take into account the level of maintenance that certain types of floors require, and if you will be able to keep up with the, well, upkeep, long term. Hardwood does require regular care (such as sealing), while tile and vinyl can, for the most part, be wiped clean as needed.
In terms of cost, it varies widely by material. Without considering installation costs, on average, hardwood flooring costs roughly $8 per square foot. For tile, plan to spend anywhere from $1-$20. Meanwhile, vinyl can range from $2.50 to $12 per square foot depending on style.
Upgrading your lighting
Pendant lighting can lend warmth to different areas of the kitchen. Photo by Aaron Huber on Unsplash.
It’s likely that when thinking about remodeling your kitchen, you’ll also be thinking about multiple styles of lighting that serve different functions and act as accent points. For example, track and under cabinet lighting are naturally discreet and great for illuminating otherwise dark corners of the kitchen, while pendant and recessed lighting can create a sense of warmth and an overall inviting glow with a touch of style. Before making a decision, you’ll want to be sure to consider the kind of ambiance you want your kitchen space to embody and how best the lighting can be used.
Cost of upgraded lighting can be multi-faceted, especially when you take into account energy efficiency, as LED bulbs are much more affordable over time compared to traditional incandescent options. Otherwise, options such as recessed lighting cost an average of $365 per fixture while pendant lighting can go for anywhere from $55-$245 (not counting installation).
Kitchen Appliances: Out with the old, in with the new
Replacing old kitchen appliances, such as the stove/oven, is an effective and relatively simple way to give your kitchen an updated (and upgraded) feel. Gas and electric ranges are the two main options, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Those who love to cook, for example, may prefer the more precise temperature control of the gas stoves. Meanwhile, electric stoves are generally easier to clean and take less time to get to temperature.
However, between the two options, the upfront costs are almost identical. According to Bob Vila, electric stoves range from $450 to $2,800 while gas stoves run anywhere from $460 to $2,300. The important point to consider is long-term costs; in general, gas stoves cost 10 to 30% less to operate than electric ones.
Painting your kitchen cabinets
You know what they say about a fresh coat of paint! This is a great DIY option that can save you big bucks compared to putting in brand new cabinetry. Before picking up the paintbrush, be sure to allow time to thoroughly clean, sand, and remove all doors and drawers.
Paint varies in cost, but you’ll want to be sure to use one that’s relatively durable (in case of cooking splatter!) and will go on smoothly, depending on the material of your specific cabinets. If you want to hire a painter, budget for around $1,000 to $1,700.
Adding a backsplash
Backsplashes don’t have to be boring, like in this example! Photo by Roam in Color on Unsplash.
A backsplash can add a lot of style to your space with minimal effort on your part. If you choose to go the DIY route and want to save even more time, you can even find easy stick-on vinyl and peel-and-stick tiles. If you do decide to go the more traditional tile and grout route, you’ll want to remember to clean the walls and cover your countertops and appliances before getting started.
Stick-on options are definitely the most cost effective option and can easily be found through Amazon or other online retailers for around $30 per ten sheets. Installation costs for a tile and grout backsplash can run you around $1,000.
Customizing your countertops
Over the years, different styles of countertops have had their moments of popularity; nowadays the most popular are quartz, granite, soapstone or marble. Once you decide to upgrade, you’re going to want to carefully consider your budget, as costs vary widely between styles and can add up quickly.
For example, granite can cost anywhere from $40 to $100 per square foot while marble can run upwards of $125 to $250 per square foot. Plan to also spend about $10 to $30 per square foot for installation alone.
DIY or don’t? When to bring in the professionals
Before embarking on any kind of kitchen renovation (or any home project, for that matter), it’s vitally important to consider not only how much you’re willing to invest in terms of cost, but also in time.
Of course, going the DIY route is a great option for tight budgets, as it’ll allow you to eliminate the labor costs entirely. You can also go at your own pace and adjust/refine your processes as needed. However, going at your own pace does put the onus on you to see the kitchen renovation through to the end, which can be difficult for homeowners with busy schedules.
On the flip side, hiring a contractor means that you can feel confident that your kitchen renovation will in fact be completed, though it will require an investment from you through the added cost of labor. You’ll also need to be sure to thoroughly research and vet potential contractors (to avoid any renovation disasters- we’ve all heard the horror stories!), but in doing that extra and important step, you’ll be ensuring professional quality and lasting results.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, you should plan to pay contractors, on average, $20 per hour. Keep in mind that while it might not fit your budget to hire a contractor for your entire renovation, you can save money by having a contractor work on select parts while doing the rest yourself.
The benefits of hiring a professional kitchen designer
While bringing in a professional kitchen designer might not be on many a homeowner’s mind when considering a kitchen remodel, it’s worth considering.
A kitchen designer can help keep you on track as you navigate the ins and outs of the renovation, and ensure that everything fits together as it should (literally and figuratively!). They can also go to bat for you when it comes to any vendors and contractors you may be working with. It should be noted that some contractors themselves can provide design advice- however, a dedicated kitchen designer is better equipped to help with the overall picture and will use their expertise to help make sure that your kitchen will be functional, to your taste, and last a lifetime.
Embarking on a kitchen remodel might seem scary but it doesn’t have to be!
Whether you choose to focus on updating and upgrading a few areas of the kitchen or you decide to do a total top to bottom makeover, the keys to success lie mostly in the same two factors: the cost and your overall vision for the project and space. You may decide to go the DIY route or instead bring in a contractor and/or professional kitchen designer, but as long as you make a plan, set clear guidelines and expectations, and stick to the budget, you’ll be well on your way to achieving the kitchen of your dreams.