How Much Does It Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?
The hardwood floors are warping. The light fixtures above the island are from the last century. And the peel-and-stick backsplash you DIYed one weekend isn’t so much sticking anymore as it is peeling. Whatever the case — you’ve decided it’s time for a kitchen upgrade.
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But remodeling a kitchen is prohibitively expensive, right? The good news is that there are an infinite number of ways to slice and dice your renovation budget to achieve the look and layout you want.
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 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
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 in your property value, you might recoup anywhere from 50% to 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 $12,500 and $40,000 (CAD 17,200 and CAD 55,000), according to data from LawnStarter. More significant renovations can reach upwards of $60,000 (CAD 82,000) for upscale finishes and custom work.
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.
Dedicate about 15% of your renovation budget to new kitchen appliances. Choose energy-efficient models whenever possible to cut down on your utility bills. Kitting out your kitchen with brand-new appliances costs around $2,900 (CAD 4,000) on average, but prices vary significantly by brand and appliance type. You could spend just that amount on a tricked-out fridge, for example.
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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. Most homeowners spend between $1,400 and $3,500 (CAD 2,000 and CAD 4,800) on new countertops, while installing a backsplash typically costs between $700 and $1,700 (CAD 960 and CAD 2,300).
Kitchen cabinets take up a significant amount of space and about 28% of the budget, or around $3,750 to $10,200 (CAD 5,200 to CAD 14,000). 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, or between $80 and $1,500 (CAD 110 and CAD 2,065).
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 or a hotel room.
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.
All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.