When it comes to home remodeling, kitchens are hot. More money is spent on kitchen remodeling than any other home improvements. According to the 2017 Remodeling Impact Report published by the National Association of REALTORS®, kitchen renovations and kitchen upgrades are ranked at the top of the list when it comes to expected value at resale.
Kitchen renovations and upgrades also carry the top “Joy Score” in homeowner surveys conducted by NAR. The vast majority of surveyed homeowners loved the result of their upgrade or renovation. And they even reported they have a greater desire to spend time at home after the project.
Upgrade or Complete Renovation?
The percentage of value recovered is 57% for upgrades and 62% for renovations, according to the Remodeling Impact Report. Which direction you should go will depend on the circumstance and budget. For a rough idea of cost, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry provided a median price for upgrades at $35,000 and $65,000 for renovations in the Remodeling Impact Report.
Upgrades should definitely be considered if you’re selling a home with a kitchen that’s showing its age. 54% of REALTORS® surveyed in the Remodeling Impact Report recommended that sellers complete an upgrade before selling and 23% said their upgrade recommendations helped close sales.
With a large investment at stake, it’s not surprising home remodeling pros recommend being cautious with planning and taking your time. This helps with staying on budget, hitting all your goals, and minimizing the impact on your lives during construction. Inadequate planning will usually cause unexpected delays and drag out the project. To give you an idea, the National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends 6 months to plan a full kitchen remodel.
If you’re a home remodeling DIY-er taking it on yourself and feeling over your head, there are lots of resources for planning that don’t have to break the bank. A lot of the big retail home centers have in-house design and planning services that can help you out.
Kitchen Features and Considerations
If you decide to spring for new cabinets, consider choosing cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling for maximum storage.
If existing cabinets have solid construction and they’re in the right location, consider painting them and changing the hardware to transform your kitchen. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make them look like new. Whether you paint them yourself or hire a pro, you’ll save a ton of money either way.
Storage solutions have come a long way in recent years, so be sure to look around and talk with experts if you’re keeping existing cabinets and looking for ways to maximize storage. A perfect example of this is half moon pivot-and-pull shelves that turn unused cabinet corners into usable storage space.
Lighting is a huge factor in your kitchen design and function. And there are so many fun lighting options now! Take advantage of your upgrade or remodel to get the necessary wiring in place to light up your kitchen to make it both comfortable and safe. There are local codes and requirements to follow so make sure you consider these in your planning.
When choosing the type of lighting and placement, consider the layout of your kitchen, where the counters are located, and the different ways your kitchen is used. Lighting designers typically work with three main types of lighting:
Mostly decorative, accent lighting create focal points in the space and can sometimes contribute to the ambient/general lighting.
This lighting highlights areas where you work in the kitchen, including cooking and food prep as well as spots where light would be helpful for reading. For food prep and cooking in particular, you want to have good light distribution which requires light coming from multiple directions rather than a single source.
General lighting provides basic light for the room. Recessed cans, chandeliers, and pendant lights are common choices for general lighting.
If you’re looking for lighting ideas and inspiration, this article from Better Homes & Gardens is a great place to start.
Space and priorities
Generally speaking, you’ll want to establish your kitchen layout first, then choose the right appliances for the available space. Compromises are inevitable, so you need to establish your top functional priorities first. For example, if you need x number of burners on your cooktop, that could impact the size of your refrigerator, etc. It can be a lot like a game of Dominoes so planning and careful measuring is key.
Design vs function/reliability
Design and aesthetics are important but so is function. Don’t let design alone cloud your perspective when choosing the right tools that you need to count on every day. Some appliances are more prone to problems than others and a little research will help you avoid them.
Thanks to the web, research is a lot easier than it used to be. Some good places to start include wirecutter, Good Housekeeping, and Consumer Reports.
Narrowing down appliance choices
Cooktops. Range hoods. Microwaves. Ovens. Sinks and fixtures. Refrigerators/freezers. And more…The options can be overwhelming! There’s a lot to consider for each of these items. To get started with narrowing down choices, a guide like Choosing Kitchen Appliances from HGTV is a great place to start.
There are also considerations for getting the most for your money, such as these 10 secrets to saving money on kitchen appliances from the Washington Post.
Countertops are one of the biggest aesthetic statements in a kitchen and they also need to hold up to whatever your home throws at them. Fortunately, there are tons of durable options for a wide variety of design concepts. It’s hard to go wrong with many of the materials available today, so choices largely come down to budget, design preference, and the kind of use (or abuse) your countertops will need to endure.
Here are some resources that should help narrow down your choices:
This kitchen countertop resource guide from Remodelista covers the many options available today with beautiful photos and detailed write-ups on the pro’s and con’s of each.
Consumer Reports rated 14 different countertop materials based on stains, abrasions, cutting, and tolerances to heat and impact. See what they found.
Compare popular materials and prices in the Countertop Buying Guide from Better Homes & Gardens.
If you take your time and plan, your project will be a success, you’ll love your new kitchen, and you’ll have fun in the process!