TIPS & GUIDES
The 101 Kitchen Remodel Guide for Budget and StyleBy Hauslane ∙ 12 mins read
There’s hardly a space in the home more popular in the kitchen. It’s the place for good eats, great memories, and plenty of quality time. Kitchens are one of the top places for remodels too as homeowners want to get the most function out of the high-traffic area as possible.
If you’re considering remodeling your kitchen, we’ve got the information you need here to nail both your budget and style. We’ll walk through the average price of a renovation at multiple tiers, tips for allocating your budget, how to choose a contractor, and show off some style inspiration as well.
There’s a reason we’re starting with your budget. It’s the single most important factor to getting what you want out of your kitchen model. It will help you set expectations, choose materials, select contractors, and ensure the end result you’re looking for.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on budgeting for extensive kitchen remodels. In other words, we’re not just talking about switching out a couple of appliances and your backsplash. Generally speaking, you can break kitchen remodels into three categories:
This first tier is typically done without making any major changes to your kitchen’s layout. It is more of a cosmetic upgrade than a complete overhaul. You may consider doing some of the work as a DIY project such as painting or changing out fixtures. Remodels at this tier may include:
✦ New countertops (generally of a more cost-effective material such as butcher block, ceramic tile, wood, laminate, quartzite)
✦ Update cabinets: may include refinishing, paint, new hardware, and even new cabinet doors
✦ Update sink and fixtures
✦ Paint walls, ceilings, and trim
✦ New lighting fixtures and potentially cabinet or task lighting
✦ Potentially refinished or new flooring (such as laminate), depending on your overall budget
While brand new appliances typically aren’t on the list of lower-end remodels, you can maximize your budget with a few new touches such as a microwave, coffee pot, and/or air fryer. Range hoods are another effective way to do so. Plus, you can improve your kitchen air quality and elevate your lifestyle. (More on that later!).
This tier is probably what comes to mind when you think of a kitchen remodel. You’re getting updated form and function here. Here’s what a mid-tier remodel may include:
✦ New cabinets
✦ New countertops (mid-range material such as quartz or solid surface material)
✦ Upgraded lighting fixtures
✦ New appliances
✦ Updated plumbing fixtures
✦ Paint: ceiling, walls, trim
✦ New flooring: luxury vinyl plank, tile, concrete
✦ Potentially some layout changes such as an island or reconfiguration of cabinets
✦ New cabinets
✦ New countertops (high-end material such as granite, marble or quartz)
✦ Lighting such as recessed, task, and cabinet lighting
✦ Updated plumbing fixtures
✦ Paint: ceiling, walls, trim
✦ Flooring: hardwood, natural stone, marble
✦ High-end or custom built-in appliances
✦ Renovation of layout which may extend to removing walls, moving windows and doors as well as adding square footage
As you can see, there’s a big range of options to include in your kitchen model. It’s a good idea to assess must-haves as you work on your budget. That way you know what to prioritize and if push comes to shove, what to skip. Now, when it comes to knowing how much to actually budget for the remodel, there are a few ways of estimating costs. Perhaps the simplest way comes from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). The trade association recommends setting aside or financing 15 to 20% of your home’s value for a kitchen remodel. HomeGuide recommends considering the square footage of your kitchen. According to their estimates, the average cost is $100 to $250 per square foot, which comes down to $12,800 to $21, 200 in total. They note the average cost of a kitchen remodel is $16,600. You can also try the Kitchen Remodel Calculator to see average costs by zip code.
Once you establish a range for your remodel, set aside roughly 20% for the unexpected. Something will pop up with just about every major house project and it literally pays to be prepared. If you have money left over, you can always choose to splurge on something or just enjoy the savings. Don’t forget to factor in the costs of takeout when your kitchen is unusable and even potentially the cost of staying elsewhere if you’re planning a major remodel.
If you want to get a bit more granular, check out how NKBA breaks down each element of a remodel:
✦ 30-35% – Cabinets
✦ 20-25% – Labor
✦ 10-15% – Appliances
✦ 8-10% – Flooring
✦ 7-9% – Electrical
✦ 6-8% – Countertops
✦ 5-7% – Plumbing
✦ 2-5%- Demo
✦ 1-3% – Permits & Other
You’ll notice this breakdown is well-cited across popular renovation kitchen and home blogs and for good reason. It gives a concrete way to decide where to invest your costs and where you can save. As you work out your budget, you may find yourself unsure of your must-haves. Always go back to the “why” behind your kitchen remodel. What made you want to update your kitchen in the first place? Does your kitchen feel outdated and drab? Or does the flow not work for your family? Are you lacking storage or do you want an eat-in space? Go back to these priorities when things get confusing or tense as you solidify your budget.
Choosing the Right Contractor
Labor is a big portion of your remodel budget so choose your contractor wisely. Depending on your preferences, you may have a complete plan of what you want your kitchen to look like or perhaps you’re expecting your contractor to provide some tips. To help narrow down your search, start by asking for referrals from friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. You can try browsing local social media networks such as Nextdoor for recommendations as well.
You may find that your connections are willing to share to avoid as well, which is always vital information. Once you have a handful of options, do a bit of legwork before contacting them. Ask your referral source what they liked about the contractor, if there were any issues, and if things were resolved appropriately. Visit the contractor’s website and search for reviews. You’ll also want to look into local requirements around certifications, licenses, and permits.
Next, narrow down your list to three to five options. During your initial contact with each contractor, ask about licenses, insurance certifications, other credentials, and additional references. You should expect the contractor to have some questions for you as well. If you think you’d like to potentially work with them, cross-check references and ask to see some recent projects. You can also reference their Better Business Bureau profile for more information.
When you’re ready to move on to the bid phase, get it in writing. It’s usually best to keep this step to three contractors so you can compare easily. How you choose to select your contractor is up to you but we recommend prioritizing experience and expertise along with budget. A contractor who has worked on projects similar to yours and has solid credentials will know what it takes to deliver the kitchen of your dreams.
As for the actual contract itself, it should include the following components:
✦ Project description
✦ Project timeline
✦ Price (materials and labor)
✦ Payment terms
✦ Scope of work
✦ Change-order clause
✦ Limitations of liability
✦ Disposal of all materials and condition upon completion
Choosing Your Kitchen Style
There are so many options when it comes to kitchen styles and truth be told, even kitchens that fall into the same “style category” are not exactly the same. We’ve compiled a list of the top kitchen design styles for inspiration. Be sure to leave a little room for creativity so you can add your own personal touch.
A traditional kitchen has a style that stands the test of time. It never looks dated or out of touch. Think tile floors, natural wood or painted cabinets, wooden or quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and simple fixtures. This style is a good choice for homeowners who don’t want to worry about updating in the future and love the comfort of familiar spaces.
A contemporary kitchen takes the simple, warm look of traditional kitchens up a notch. This style focuses more on being sleek and streamlined. You may see glass cabinet doors, marble countertops, oversized sinks, and chrome hardware. The definition of contemporary always changes so this style is more one you can recognize when you see it. It delivers what’s current. This style works well for homeowners who want something fresh and updated.
Modern kitchens take you out of your comfort zone a bit. Think faceless cabinets, open shelving, concrete floors, and dark granite or stainless steel countertops. In recent years, modernism has merged with minimalism so expect to see an emphasis on straight lines and little fuss. Industrial style can be considered a sub-category of modern as well. You might enjoy a modern kitchen if you like a style that always pushes the envelope and want a “wow factor” in your home.
While farmhouse has gotten a bad rap in recent years as its popularity has grown, the country-chic look is always in style. The trick to making this style work is focusing on warm color palettes, well-loved furniture, classic flooring (such as hardwood), and a family-friendly layout (e.g., island, eat-in kitchen). It should feel well-loved yet authentic. The farmhouse style isn’t just for homes on acreage; they are excellent options for anyone who loves that comfy, cozy vibe.
It’s hard to look at any interior design website or magazine these days and miss the influence of Scandinavian style. This look is all about less-is-more and the importance of function. In others, make it beautiful but make it purposeful. Scandinavian kitchens may be open concept with lots of shelving, neutral color palettes, wooden countertops, and floors. You can also expect to find unique touches such as leather barstools and sputnik light fixtures.
We should preface by saying there are many sub-categories to this style including beach, Mediterranean, and nautical. They all fall under the coastal look, which emphasizes the warmth and brightness found at the beach. You’ll see glossy finishes, patterned tile, playful backsplashes, and plenty of natural light. This style is a natural fit for coastal homes but also works well in general with spaces with large windows.
Mid-century modern kitchens typically feature lots of white or black with splashes of color. They’re all about functionality so think straight lines and little clutter. The cabinets will usually have chrome fixtures. They may also include fun features like soft closes or be completely handleless.
There’s a range hood to suit each and every one of these styles. As you prepare for your remodel, get to know the most popular range hood types and how to choose the right one for your kitchen.