How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?
When my partner and I agreed it was time to upgrade our cluttered kitchen to the food prep haven of our Pinterest-powered dreams, we weren’t exactly prepared for the sticker shock.
But so many people get their kitchens upgraded. (Here’s looking at you, HGTV couples.) I started to wonder why — and how everyone can afford these major projects.
As it turns out, there’s an infinite number of ways we can slice and dice our renovation budgets to achieve the right look and layout.
Everybody loves a sparkly new kitchen…
Kitchen remodels are the second-most popular interior home improvements, after systems and equipment replacements, according to a 2019 Harvard housing study.
The kitchen really is the heart of the home for many families like mine. But limited counter space, awkward cabinets and dated finishes can make all that time spent on meal prep and cleanup pretty miserable. (Just ask my better half.)
A purposefully designed kitchen is more likely to encourage family togetherness and make this functional space somewhere you actually want to be.
Plus, a kitchen upgrade offers real-deal real estate benefits. Any agent will tell you that the kitchen sells the home. And, thanks to the increase to your property value, you might recoup anywhere from 50-90% of your remodeling costs, depending on the housing market and the changes you make.
…But at what cost?
Whether you’re looking at a minor facelift or a major kitchen remodel, average project costs can vary dramatically.
With a total renovation, you could be paying for appliances, home systems, custom finishes and even new furniture — not to mention the fees for your kitchen remodeling contractor. In fact, installation and labor typically take up about 18% of your budget.
But many homeowners don’t really need to go all-out. Even in a small kitchen, minor changes like new finishes and appliances can make a huge difference.
While you can make modest upgrades for much less, the average kitchen remodel costs between $22,000 to $34,000. More significant renovations can average $62,000 with the potential to reach $130,000 for upscale finishes and custom work. (Oh, if only.)
Here’s a breakdown of average kitchen renovation costs for some of the priciest categories — and, for the frugal family, some advice on where to save money. The rates below are based on our $23,150 renovation:
Dedicate about 15% of your renovation budget to new kitchen appliances. Choose energy-efficient models whenever possible to cut down on your utility bills. We spent $3,390 on a new dishwasher, oven and refrigerator.
Backsplash and countertop
If you have a little extra cash to spare, designers advise that you splurge on the countertop and backsplash. It’s the first thing you and your guests will see and it contributes a lot to the kitchen atmosphere. For about 11% of our budget, or $2,450, our new quartz island and tile backsplash make a big impact.
Kitchen cabinets take up a significant amount of space and about 28% of the budget, or about $6,550, in our case. Custom millwork can increase costs exponentially, but you can keep them lower by refacing existing doors or installing ready-made pieces. Adorn these with high-quality hardware for a more personalized look. (Hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen, after all!)
While a few new lighting fixtures can look stylish, this is another opportunity for energy-efficient upgrades that save money in the long run. Earmark about 5% of your budget — we spent $1,050 — for this category.
The bottom line
Remodeling your kitchen isn’t cheap. You’ll also need to budget for an increased cost of living while your home is being worked on. We’re talking endless dining out — and maybe even short-term rent.
Before falling in love with dreamy kitchen design inspo and marking out which walls to tear down, establish a remodeling budget that includes a contingency. Use a cost estimator to get a rough idea of what you can afford to spend in each category.
And don’t forget what your ultimate goals are. Do you want your kitchen to look nicer? Be more functional? Move to a different part of your home? Let these goals direct how you allocate your refurb funds.
Finally, being prepared for life’s homeowner mishaps is always a good idea. So having a comprehensive home warranty plan from TotalHome Warranty by HomeServe is key. Since you’ve already spent your hard earned money on the reno, having a plan in place will help with the costs of covered appliance and systems repairs in the kitchen and beyond.