The Step-By-Step Guide To Remodeling Your Kitchen
Miranda Crace16-Minute Read
April 13, 2021
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There’s an old saying in the real estate industry, “Kitchens sell homes.”
Since the kitchen is central to the home and commonly used by families, it’s one of the first things many house hunters look at. Whether you’re renovating your kitchen to help your home sell or to create the kitchen of your culinary dreams, there’s some planning and budgeting you’ll want to do first.
Let’s take a step-by-step look at how to remodel your kitchen.
Determine Your Must-Haves
The first step when remodeling your kitchen is deciding what you really want. Similar to house hunting, this helps you narrow down the options and formulate a budget.
It can feel like the options for your kitchen are limitless, but unless you have a limitless budget, you’re going to have to pick and choose what’s actually 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?
Here are few questions you can ask yourself to help you narrow down your must-haves:
- What are the pain points of your current kitchen?
- What do you need more of?
- What do you need less of?
- Will you need to change the layout?
- What needs to be updated?
- Are you looking to sell soon? Which updates will add the most value to your kitchen?
Set A Budget
Now that you know what you won’t budge on and what would just be nice to have, it’s time to create a budget.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a kitchen renovation in the U.S. is $22,129. The lower end renovations come in around $4,000, with higher end renovations reaching more than $50,000.
How do you know what a realistic budget is for your kitchen renovation? A good rule of thumb is to spend 5% – 15% of your homes total value on your kitchen 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. Here are a few things you can do to get a more accurate budget and decide how much to allocate where.
Divide Your Budget By Area Of Focus
Let’s say you allocated $20,000 to renovate your kitchen. How do you know where to spend that money? According to HomeAdvisor and the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the breakdown could look something like this:
- Cabinetry and hardware: 29%
- Installation: 17%
- Appliances and ventilation: 14%
- Countertops: 10%
- Flooring: 7%
- Lighting: 5%
- Walls and ceilings: 5%
- Design fees: 4%
- Doors and windows: 4%
- Faucets and plumbing: 4%
- Other: 1%
Be mindful that everyone’s kitchen needs are different, so these estimates are just that – estimates. If flooring is more important to you than countertops, readjust how you allocate that money.
The important thing 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 element.
Visit Stores And Showrooms
Visiting hardware stores and showrooms will give you an idea of what materials and options are on the market and how much they cost. If you’re looking to cut costs in certain areas, take a look at what a similar but less expensive option might be.
For example, if you really like the look of natural stone floors in the kitchen, but that’s out of your budget, maybe opt for a ceramic tile that looks like natural stone. Or if you really want that high-end, custom cabinetry, invest your money there but choose a less expensive countertop option instead like laminate.
Leave Room For A Professional
Kitchen renovations, especially in-depth ones, require work you might not want to take on yourself, like actually installing electrical, plumbing, or cabinets, removing current cabinetry or knocking down walls. There are countless horror stories of homeowners getting their Chip Gaines on and rushing into 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. 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 contracts charge 10-20% of total project cost.
- Designers: Costs will vary based on location. Estimate 8-10% of your remodeling costs.
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!
Than Merrill of FortuneBuilders, a real estate education company, says that one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make in their renovation projects is ignoring the benefits of hiring a kitchen designer, as well as a contractor.
They can help you stay on track, on budget and on top of the job properly.
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 Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor. Friends and family can also be a great resource. Ask around and see who has worked with a contractor they’d recommend.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few professionals you think might be a good fit, it’s smart to reach out with questions to help you determine if they’re the right person for the job. Some our suggested questions include:
- Are you licensed?
- Are you and your subcontractors insured?
- Will you obtain any necessary permits?
- Do you offer free quotes?
- What would the next steps be?
- Do you have different payment options?
- Will you handle the cleanup from the project?
- Will we have communication throughout the renovation project?
Asking questions like these can help ensure you and your contractor are on the same page and could work well together throughout the renovation.
Hiring A Kitchen Designer
Kitchen designers won’t be working on the actual renovation like your contractor does. They are 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, but 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 have the ability to 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?
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 cabinets and refrigerator. If you 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 making sure to check these seven areas:
- Turn off water
- Turn off gas
- Turn off electrical from your breaker box
- Have a dumpster ready for trash
- Remove appliances
- Empty cabinets
- Place a drop cloth on floors that aren’t being renovated
Once the space is prepped, it’s time to start the demo by removing items in this order:
1. Cabinets, including doors and drawers
2. Garbage disposal
7. Trim in the room
8. Light fixtures
9. Small appliances
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
- Leaks from your faucets, sink or dishwasher
- Clogged plumbing
- A gas line addition
- Shut-off valves update
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 this these tasks.
Some common electrical renovations are:
- Dimmer switches
- Wiring for dishwasher
- Setting up for a new range and oven
- Adding more receptacles on the countertop
- Wiring for garbage disposal
If you want your kitchen to make a statement, a bold pendant lighting or a chandelier could be the perfect fixture for your new space. Go modern with glass blubs like this photo or more natural with something, such as 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.
One of the most popular features in modern kitchens and renos lots of light, “…especially under cabinets,” says Merrill. “It helps illuminate the meal preparation and cleanup process any time of the day.”
Upgrading The Circuit Breaker
While those who work with a contractor do not need to worry about upgrading the circuit breaker, if you plan on doing the kitchen remodel on your own, consider talking with an electrician to determine if you’ll need a new circuit breaker box with any electrical additions you’re adding to your kitchen. They’ll also be able to help you determine if your current wiring is up to code.
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 for a few days before you start working. This helps keep humidity low in the room.
Some tools you might need:
- Drywall saw
- Drywall hammer
- Drywall screw gun
- Utility knife
- Drywall screws
- Mixing tools (for the joint compound)
- Sanding tools
- Joint tape
- Joint compound
- Fiberglass tape
- Drywall panels
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 deliberate and find the right color for your home. If you’re picking colors on your own, here are a few things 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.”
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 whereas tile flooring will keep you a bit busier laying tile and grouting.
Below are some common kitchen flooring options:
Many renovators who are on a budget opt for linoleum flooring because it’s an inexpensive flooring option that comes in countless shapes, styles and colors. You can find linoleum flooring that looks like wood, stone tile or classic colored tiles.
- Stain resistant
- Easily dented and scratched
- Color can change if overexposed to sunlight
- Not recommended in high humidity areas
- Lower resale value
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.
- Very durable
- Similar look to wood or stone
- Easy to install
- Not waterproof
- Requires specific laminate floor cleaner
- Lower resale value
Homeowners and house hunters flock to hardwood because it’s naturally pretty flooring. Don’t believe me? Watch any show on HGTV and count how many times the homeowners mention hardwood. Hardwood can also last for a very long time, but not without some work.
- Beautiful and versatile
- Long-lasting, if properly maintained
- High resale value
- Requires more maintenance than other options
- Should be sanded and refinished every 10 years
Concrete is definitely a more modern kitchen flooring trend, but one that is durable and functional.
- Does not scratch or dent
- Versatile finishes
- Great for heated floors
- Very hard, which makes it uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time
- Difficult to install
- Stains if not sealed
- Some finishes can be very expensive
Last but not least is ceramic tile. 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.
- Lots of design options
- Very hard, which makes it uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time
- Can be cold
- Time-consuming and laborious installation
Even if you’re handling the renovation yourself, consider hiring a professional to install 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 properly.
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:
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 style cabinets are very in right now,” says Hales. “Whether you’re doing a farmhouse flip, classic craftsman or full-modern design, a shaker style is timeless, providing depth-of-field and has a good weight to it.”
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. Nancy Valent, president of NMV Strategies says low cabinets are becoming more popular. “Low cabinets allow for easy access and sturdy pull out drawers for pots and pans,” advises Valent.
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 décor.
Reiner says, “With floating shelves as uppers, you open up the visible and perceived space in the kitchen by doing away with bulky enclosed cabinets. This look is especially great for modern, contemporary, bohemian and transitional styles.”
So not only will exposed shelving showcase your kitchenware, it can also open up the space visually.
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: your countertops.
One thing to keep in mind about your countertops is the timeline. This is where things 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.
To decide which countertop material is right for you, take a look at the options below:
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.
- Comes in a variety of colors and styles
- Visually appealing
- More expensive
- Porous, which means it needs to be resealed often
“Quartz countertops are a low-maintenance option, perfect for any busy kitchen,” says Valent.
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.
- Easy to clean
- Versatile, with countless colors, textures, styles and shapes
- Can be damaged by chemicals like bleach
- Not heat-resistant
Image: Wilsonart International
Laminate countertops get a bad rap, but they are cost-effective, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget.
- Least expensive countertop option
- Easier installation than other materials
- Variety of colors and finishes
- Easily damaged
- Low resale value
Image: Seeking Lavendar Lanes
Concrete countertops are a new trend in the home renovation world, but are becoming increasingly popular.
“Concrete countertops are IN, IN, IN,” says Hales. “It provides a durable surface and a bit of an industrial feel. Don’t be deceived though—Pinterest may be able to sell it, but this is generally no weekend DIYer’s type of project. With professional experience, though this can be an affordable, unique approach to a solid slap countertop.”
- Versatile, as it can be pigmented and stained to be any color or pattern
- Industrial feel
- Stains easily
If you love the farmhouse style as much as the rest of the Joana Gaines fan base, a butcher block countertop is a perfect choice for you.
- Warms up a space
- Scratches easy
- Not waterproof
We’re in the home stretch! It’s time to install the backsplash in your kitchen.
Image: DIY Playbook
According to Hale, there is something special about white subway tile. “By far one of the most popular backsplashes today is the classic white subway tile,” says Hale. “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.”
Bring In Appliances
The last step of the remodel process is bringing appliances back in. If you’re stuck with your old appliances, this step will be a breeze. If you’re looking to make upgrades to your kitchen appliances, check out some of these smart options.
Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator
This refrigerator is top-of-the-line and about as smart as they get. It keeps an inventory of everything you have in your fridge with built-in cameras. So when you’re at the store and you can’t remember if you’re out of milk, check the camera on your smartphone and you’ll never have to guess again.
It also allows you to sync up other people’s calendars, leave notes for each other and stream music and video on the refrigerator.
The June oven is described as the world’s only smart convection oven. It lets you cook food from anywhere in your home, or in the world for that matter, with the use of your smartphone, but its real claim to fame comes from its presets.
You can set the oven to cook with your moisture and doneness preferences by creating presets. Now you can know your food will come out just the way you like it. Added bonus? It cooks three times faster than a traditional oven, so it’ll save you time and hassle.
Behmor Connected Coffee Maker
I thought it was a big deal when I got a programmable coffee maker, but this beautiful piece of kitchen technology takes it a step further.
Sure, you can still schedule your coffee to brew at a certain time, but better yet, the Behmor Connected Coffee Maker lets you control the temperature, pre-soak time and altitude settings all from your smartphone or Amazon Alexa.
Now you can make the perfect cup of coffee every morning!
Samsung Chef Collection Cooktop
The Samsung Chef Collection takes the best of culinary technology and brings it right to your kitchen. The cooktops in the Chef Collection have a modern design but better yet, they connect with your smartphone and other Chef Collection products.
For example, when the cooktop turns on, the hood automatically turns on as well. You can even connect wirelessly on your smartphone. This means you can check on your dinner even if you are in a different room.
Enjoying 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.
If you’re just starting a kitchen renovation and need extra funds to get it where you want it, consider your loan options, such as a personal loan or a cash-out refinance.
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