White Kitchen Remodel

The Step-By-Step Guide To Remodeling Your Kitchen

Miranda Crace16-Minute Read
UPDATED: May 25, 2023

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There’s an old saying in the real estate industry, “kitchens sell homes.” The kitchen is central to the home, and it’s one of the first spaces many house hunters look at. Whether you’re renovating to help your home sell or to create your dream kitchen, there’s some planning and budgeting you’ll want to do first.

Let’s take a look at how to remodel your kitchen with our step-by-step breakdown of this home improvement process.

How To Remodel A Kitchen In 14 Steps

Step 1: Determine Your Must-Haves And A Project Timeline

The first step in your kitchen renovation is deciding what you really want. Like house hunting, this helps you narrow down the options and formulate a budget.

What Will Your Kitchen Renovation Include?

It can feel like the options for your kitchen are limitless, but unless you have an infinite budget, you’re going to have to pick and choose what’s important to you. Do you need more storage? Do you want more space for entertaining? Do you want a flow that works better for your family? Asking yourself these questions can help you narrow down your must-haves with a new kitchen.

How Long Does It Take To Remodel A Kitchen?

The second part of the first step is to figure out how long the complete renovation will take. Generally, it can take 6 – 8 weeks to finish a kitchen remodel, but this time frame can vary depending on multiple factors, such as material availability and your contractor’s schedule. You’ll need to do your own research to determine a rough timeline for your renovation.

Step 2: Set A Budget

Setting a proper budget for your renovation project will largely depend on what you decide to change or add to your kitchen. Once you have finalized your remodeling plans, you can start calculating your budget.

How Much Does It Cost To Remodel A Kitchen?

A kitchen renovation costs about $25,000 or $150 per square foot on average. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $60,000. Of course, this depends on the size of your kitchen and how much remodeling you will do.

A good rule of thumb is to spend 5% – 15% of your home’s total value on the renovation. For example, if your house is valued at $200,000, a decent kitchen renovation budget would be 10% of that value, so about $20,000.

The important thing to keep in mind is making sure you’re not going over the budget you set for yourself. So, if you want to spend more in one area, make sure to balance it out by cutting back on another renovation project.

How Will You Fund The Project?  

You also need to have a budget planned out so you can determine how you’ll cover the costs. If you know the budget will be on the lower end, you might already have enough funds saved up.

On the other hand, if you expect to pay more than average for your kitchen makeover, you’ll probably need to apply for financing. Depending on how much equity you have in your home, you could use a cash-out refinance to fund the project. This option makes it easy to refinance your mortgage while converting your equity into cash.

Fund your renovations with a cash-out refinance.

Get approved online now!

NMLS #3030

How Much Can You DIY?

If you’re looking to stay on the low end of your budget for the kitchen remodel, consider the projects you can take on yourself. Elements like painting, upgrading cabinet hardware and tiling the backsplash can be DIY renovations.

You may want to leave the more strenuous projects to the professionals. You can quickly get in over your head updating electrical work or solving plumbing issues.

Will You Hire Professionals?

Kitchen renovations, especially in-depth ones, require work you might not want to take on yourself. There are countless horror stories of homeowners rushing into demolition day (demo day) without being mindful of wires or plumbing in the walls.

Don’t create more work for yourself. Leave room in your budget to bring in the professionals like electricians or plumbers. Here’s a quick breakdown of how much you can expect to pay for common kitchen renovation professionals:

  • Contractors: This cost will vary based on your location. Most contractors charge 10% – 20% of the total project cost.
  • Designers: Costs will vary based on location. Estimate 8% – 10% of your remodeling costs.

Step 3: Bring In The Pros

You know what you want, how much it’ll cost and how much you’re willing to spend. Now it’s time to hire the team that’s going to help make it happen for you!

Hiring A Contractor

A contractor is the point person for the actual renovation. They source and provide all the materials, plan out the timeline for the project and hire the subcontractors who will be working throughout your renovation. Essentially, they’re what makes the project run smoothly and finish on time.

Hiring a contractor is an additional cost, but they’ll have the best deals on materials and could end up saving you money in the long run.

You can look for contractors in your area and read their reviews on websites such as Angi or HomeAdvisor. Friends and family can also be a great resource. Ask around and see who has worked with a contractor they’d recommend.

Hiring A Kitchen Designer

Kitchen designers won’t be working on the actual renovation like your contractor does. They’re interior designers who plan out the design, style, layout and materials you need for kitchen renovations.

While independent kitchen designers will be an additional expense, if you’re using a national home improvement chain, kitchen designers often come free as an additional resource. While it won’t cost extra, designers affiliated with chains are limited to supplies and materials offered by that chain. Independent kitchen designers can source from different places, finding you the right price point and more variety.

Be sure to vet your designer options like you would with a contractor. Search for local designers and read their reviews online. Ask family and friends if they worked with someone they’d recommend. You can always reach out to potential designers with additional questions like:

  • Can I see samples of your past work?
  • What is the communication flow like?
  • What are your payment terms?
  • Will we have final approval before elements are incorporated into the design?

Step 4: Demo The Kitchen

After all the research, preparation, budgeting and planning, you’re finally ready to start the renovation. First things first – demo day!

If you’ve hired a contractor, you won’t need to worry about this part, other than clearing out your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. If you’ve decided to handle demolition yourself, there are a few things to take care of before you go sledgehammer-happy.

Make sure your kitchen is prepped for the demo by performing the following tasks:

  • Turning off the water, gas and electrical
  • Removing appliances and emptying cabinets
  • Having a dumpster ready for trash
  • Placing drop cloths on the floors that aren’t being renovated

Once the space is prepped, it’s time to start the demo by removing items from your kitchen, starting with the cabinetry and drawers and ending with the drywall and flooring. 

Step 5: Update Plumbing

Now that your kitchen is essentially gutted, you can get to work on some of the internal elements of your kitchen, like the plumbing.

If you’re handling this on your own, you’ll want to have a few things on hand, such as towels and buckets, in case anything starts leaking. Some common plumbing issues you might want to solve during your renovation are:

  • Low water pressure or hard water
  • Leaks from your kitchen sink, faucet or dishwasher
  • Clogged plumbing
  • A gas line addition
  • Updating or replacing shut-off valves

Step 6: Install Electrical And Lighting

Electrical renovation projects are no small feat and are usually best left to professionals. If you’re already working with a contractor, they’ll have an electrician lined up for this portion of the project.

If you’re handling the renovation on your own, consider calling an electrician to handle or guide you through these tasks. Some common electrical renovations include lighting, dimmer switches, wiring for the dishwasher or garbage disposal and setting up for a new range and oven.

Lighting Trends

If you decide to add some additional lighting, there are some lighting trends you should be aware of, including:

  • Statement light fixtures: If you want your kitchen to make a statement, a bold pendant light or a chandelier could be the perfect fixture for your new space. Go modern with glass bulbs or more natural with something like a wooden beaded chandelier.
  • Under-cabinet lighting: Hidden lighting under your cabinets is a kitchen lighting trend that has gained steam in the last few years. It’s practical and stylish.

Step 7: Hang Drywall

Once you’ve made any necessary upgrades to your plumbing and electrical, it’s time to close the walls back up by hanging new drywall.

Installing new drywall is fairly simple in comparison to other aspects of the renovation process. If you decide to do this part of the process on your own, make sure the temperature is at or below 55 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days before you start working. This helps keep humidity low in the room. Make sure you also have the right tools for the job, including a drywall saw, hammer, screws and screw gun, sanding tools, joint compound and tape, and other utility devices.

Step 8: Paint Walls

Kitchen with walls painted white.

Once your drywall is up and dried, it’s time to start painting.

The first step is to pick your paint colors. If you’ve been working with a kitchen designer, they’ll help you find the right color for your home. If you’re picking colors on your own, here are a few trends to keep in mind.

Kitchen Paint Trends

Neutrals still reign supreme in the interior design world, according to Derek Hales, the editor-in-chief of Modern Castle.

“Neutrals are in around the entire home, but certainly the kitchen,” says Hales. “Some people are opting for an all-white kitchen, while others are bringing in soft, warm grays or even blacks.”

To add interest while keeping a neutral wall color, Hales suggests accenting with interesting textures or colored dishes. “[It’s] a fun way to add variation without having bright colors on your walls,” adds Hales.

Even deep, moody neutrals are becoming popular in modern kitchens.

“Black is back and so is brass,” says Erica Reiner of E. Leigh Designs. “You can see black in everything from cabinetry paint, faucets, pendant shades to accessories, with pops of brass on the drawer pulls and knobs, faucets, pendants and accessories.”

Step 9: Lay Flooring

Blue kitchen with floor tiling.

After paint comes the flooring.

Depending on the material you choose for your kitchen flooring, the effort required for installation will vary. For example, laminate or hardwood flooring doesn’t require any grout work, but tile flooring will keep you a bit busier laying tile and adhesive.

Types Of Flooring

Below are some common flooring options for your kitchen:

  • Linoleum: Many renovators who are on a budget opt for linoleum flooring because it’s an inexpensive option that comes in countless shapes, styles and colors. You can find linoleum flooring that looks like wood, stone tile or classic-colored tiles.
  • Laminate: Laminate flooring in kitchens is a highly debated topic in the renovation world. Many complaints center around the fact that laminate is not waterproof; however, many say that since moisture can be controlled in a kitchen, it’s not as much of a concern.
  • Hardwood: Homeowners and house hunters flock to hardwood because of its natural aesthetic. Hardwood can also last for a very long time, but not without some work.
  • Concrete: Concrete is a more modern kitchen flooring trend, but one that is durable and functional.
  • Ceramic tiles: Tile flooring has been popular in kitchens because it’s durable, easy to clean and long-lasting. Plus, you can create some really interesting design elements with tile. It’s also moderately priced, giving homeowners the most bang for their buck in terms of quality and longevity.

Picking the right type of flooring will depend on the design style you’ve chosen and your renovation budget. If you need to adjust your budget to allow for the flooring you want, you can talk to a Home Loan Expert about how much equity you can use with a cash-out refinance. If you have been in your home for a long time and have a substantial amount of equity, you may be able to cover additional costs without looking for alternative financing.

Need extra cash for home improvement?

Use your home equity for a cash-out refinance.

NMLS #3030

Step 10: Install Cabinetry

Cabinetry installed in grey kitchen.

Even if you’re handling the renovation yourself, consider hiring a professional to install new cabinets for you. The last thing you want is to get your cabinets up and start refilling them only to have them fall down or to realize you didn’t level them properly. A professional will make sure the cabinets are installed correctly, and then you can start filling them according to your kitchen organization plan.

Styles Of Cabinets

If you haven’t been working with a kitchen designer to figure out what kind of cabinets you want, here are a few styles you should be aware of to help organize your kitchen space:

  • Shaker style: Shaker cabinets are classic and fit with many styles. The key element of these cabinets are the doors which have a middle panel that is set back from the trim that surrounds the edges of the door.
Shaker cabinets in the kitchen.
  • Low cabinets: Many homeowners like the look of high ceilings with cabinetry reaching all the way to the top, but it’s not the most practical placement in many kitchens.
Low cabinets in kitchen.
  • Open shelving: Floating and open shelving is trending in homes across America. This design concept is loved by many designers as well because it allows you to use your well-designed kitchenware as decor.
Open shelving in kitchen.

Step 11: Place The Countertops

You’re getting so close! Your kitchen is finally starting to look like a kitchen again and not a construction zone. Next up are countertops.

One thing to keep in mind about your countertops is the timeline. This is where progress can sometimes slow down because many designers prefer measuring for countertops once the cabinets are installed. This is especially important to note if you’re ordering fabricated countertops like quartz.

Countertop Materials

To decide which countertop material is right for you, take a look at the options below:

  • Granite: In recent years, no material stood a chance against granite. It was the be-all and end-all of kitchen counters. It’s still popular, but with the upgrades made to other materials, it’s not the only high-quality option.
Granite countertops in kitchen.
  • Quartz: Quartz is a very strong material and, when mixed with resin, makes countertops nonporous, stain-resistant, and easy to clean. Unlike granite, marble, or concrete countertops, you don’t have to worry about sealing, conditioning or polishing a quartz countertop.
Quartz countertops in kitchen.
  • Laminate: Laminate countertops get a bad rap, but they are cost-effective, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget.
Laminate counters in kitchen.
  • Concrete: Concrete countertops are a new trend in the home renovation world and are becoming increasingly popular. However, they’re hard to DIY without prior experience.
Concrete counters.
  • Butcher’s block: If you love the farmhouse style, a butcher block countertop is a perfect choice for you, but keep in mind that it can be scratched and stained easier than stone countertops.
Butcher block countertops.

Step 12: Install Backsplash

Backsplash on kitchen sink.

We’re in the home stretch! It’s time to install the backsplash in your kitchen.

According to Hales, there is something special about white subway tiles. “By far one of the most popular backsplashes today is the classic white subway tile,” says Hales. “And it’s hard to argue with it. The natural, simple color palette provides the perfect backdrop to beautifully plated meals and is easy to maintain.

If you want to spice up traditional subway tile, opt for something with a different shape. “Hexagons, mosaics, Moroccan lantern-shaped style and 3D textured tiles are popping up in backsplash supplies everywhere,” says Reiner. “And I like it. These tiles offer so much style, interest, texture and wow factor to the kitchen.”

Step 13: Bring In Appliances

Appliances in new kitchen.

The last step of the kitchen remodel process is bringing appliances back in. If you’re keeping your old appliances, this step will be a breeze. If you’re looking to make upgrades to your old kitchen appliances, you have a variety of options to choose from.

Interested in equipping your kitchen with smart technology? A selection of kitchen devices and appliances now have integrated systems that make basic kitchen tasks – like brewing coffee and cooking meals – easier and more automatic. Nowadays you shouldn’t have trouble finding smart refrigerators, convection ovens, coffee makers, slow cookers and even garbage cans.

If you’re opting for the more traditional route with appliance upgrades, it’s important to keep a few elements in mind. You’ll want to know the size and dimensions of your new appliances so they can fit seamlessly into the kitchen spaces available.

You may also want to consider purchasing appliances that coordinate or are made from the same material, like stainless steel appliances. If energy efficiency is important to you, you may also be interested in choosing appliances that can help save you money in the long run.   

Step 14: Enjoy Your New Kitchen

Renovating your kitchen can be a long process, but it’s worth it in the end. Whether you’re renovating to sell or to build the perfect kitchen for your dream home, you’ve put in the work and now it’s time to relax.

The Bottom Line

If you’re just starting a kitchen renovation and need extra funds to get it where you want it, consider your loan options. One of the most popular paths to financing is the cash-out refinance, which provides a way to turn some of your home equity into cash that you can, in turn, reinvest in your home. If that sounds good, why not start the process to get a cash-out-refinance today? 

Fund your renovations with a cash-out refinance.

Get approved online now!

NMLS #3030

Miranda Crace

Miranda Crace is a Senior Section Editor for the Rocket Companies, bringing a wealth of knowledge about mortgages, personal finance, real estate, and personal loans for over 10 years.