Licensed Contractors

Guest post: Your guide to starting a kitchen remodel on a budget

This year, many American homeowners will finally start on a long-awaited kitchen remodeling project. Some may want to design their dream kitchen, while others just want to re-invest in their home and add value. In either case, you’ll need to start by establishing a budget and then prioritizing what you spend that budget on. In this article, we’ll review how to go about planning your kitchen remodel and the best ways you can get a great kitchen out of a tight budget.

Budgeting for your remodel

One of the most difficult parts of a kitchen remodeling project is knowing where to start. We recommend that you begin by setting a total budget for the project. On average, the American homeowner spends about $23,000 remodeling their kitchen. However, if this is far above the number you had in your head, don’t panic: by prioritizing the most important aspects of a kitchen remodel, you can complete your remodel for far less than that figure.

Completing a kitchen remodel on a tighter budget may require making some tough choices. For example, you may be dreaming of transforming the space into an “open kitchen” concept. But, doing so may involve extensive remodeling, plumbing, electrical, and flooring work. All of this adds up and may balloon your costs, lowering your return-on-investment (ROI).

It all comes down to what you want to get out of the project. If the open kitchen is key to your vision for the space, then you may need to wait to save more for the remodel. However, if you’re just looking to add value to your kitchen, keep in mind that an open kitchen concept is not always treated as a necessary upgrade by many prospective buyers.

Build your budget around new countertops and cabinets

The two most essential pieces of any kitchen remodel are the new countertops and cabinets. For many homeowners (and prospective buyers!), these two elements define the kitchen. They are also typically the most expensive components of the project: on average, American homeowners spend about 39-56% of their total kitchen remodeling budget on cabinets and countertops alone.

However, the end results often justify this upfront expense. Beautiful counters and high-quality cabinets can maximize your kitchen’s ROI and boost the overall curb appeal of your home. Our recommendation is that you factor in the cost for both into your initial budget and then work backwards from there, fitting the rest of the upgrades and changes that need to be made to the kitchen into your remaining budget. No single upgrade to the rest of the kitchen will be as consequential to your overall ROI as counters and cabinets.

Stretch your remodeling dollar further with small upgrades

Once you’ve dealt with the essentials of the remodeling project, your focus should shift to finding ways to maximize every dollar of your remaining project budget. Here are a few items that can add value to your kitchen without a major upfront cost:

  • New Lighting: You’d be amazed what light can do. The best kitchens feature natural light, but adding or updating light fixtures are the next best thing. Move away from harsh fluorescent lights to softer lighting that illuminates counters and highlights your new countertops. Pendant lighting is also highly effective and stylish. 
  • Painting: New paint is one of the least expensive things you can add to your kitchen. Depending on your design choices elsewhere in the kitchen, your walls may benefit from a splash of color, or may be best served with a neutral choice, such as a white, off-white, or light gray paint.
  • Backsplash: Typically, backsplash tile is not expensive, especially in the quantity needed for most kitchens. The right backsplash that complements your cabinet and countertop color choices—either by matching them or providing a splash of color or design to white or neutral cabinets—can add value and bring the entire kitchen together, from top to bottom.

For a full breakdown of average kitchen remodeling costs and even more tips for saving money on your project, be sure to look at this new infographic from the team at Superior Stone & Cabinet in Phoenix, AZ:

Keeping remodeling costs and headaches at a minimum

We’ve all seen the home improvement TV shows that follow a project from start to finish. 

Usually, there’s a hiccup, but either the owners secure a last-minute funding boost or the contractor finds a work-around to keep things under budget. That’s the magic of TV!

Life works differently. 

All parties, homeowners and contractors alike, have a role to play in keeping costs and frustrations to a minimum, as this Daily Herald article says. 

Like the article notes, homeowners can save themselves some headaches by remembering  that remodeling the kitchen is no small endeavor. Working within the existing plumbing structure will cut down on costs, while making big changes to the kitchen’s footprint will lead you to blow the budget. 

Also, enlisting the help of a designer and sticking to the plan once construction begins will keep you on your timeline and budget. 

If fixer-uppers are more your jam, here are some lessons one interior designer learned while fixing up her house. 

Monitoring progress, checking shipments, paying attention to details, hiring and firing folks, and working around holidays turned everything into a full-time job for the writer. 

And her partner is a carpenter!

Have a great week!

Remodeling bathrooms, kitchens, and contracts, oh my!

Everyone is ramping down their workweek to get ready for the holiday, so it’s a perfect time to discuss remodeling your home.

Remember, holidays make for a great evaluation period of your living and entertaining spaces.

If you are like most people, the majority of your entertaining will take place in and around your kitchen. Lucky for you we have some general remodeling tips from The Frisky.

They recommend considering new or fresh paint colors, adding new appliances or lighting elements, and focusing on coziness.

If you notice over the holiday that your bathrooms could use some improvement, we’ve got an article for you, too. has a list of questions to ask before a bathroom remodel.

First, start with the budget. The average cost is around $20,000, the article says, also citing an expert who gives a range from $10,000 to $30,000.

Next, think of who is using it. A shower/tub combination is good for families and for resale, but if you are empty nesters or have more than one bathroom, a nice open shower is a popular request, the article says.

Also, think about size and location. Keeping the bathroom in the existing location and space is less expensive than expanding or moving a bathroom.

Finally, remember aging in place. Even if you plan on staying in your home forever, universal design is great for resale, as the article says.

If one (or both) of these areas have piqued your remodeling interest, it is natural to wonder about payment. There are two types of contracts, fixed-bid or time and materials, as this article in the Seattle Times says.

A fixed-bid contract means both parties agree to a price and stick to it, barring anything crazy. A time and materials or cost-plus deal means an estimate is provided, but the contractor will bill you for materials, time and labor, and their markup.

Generally speaking, cost-plus deals shift the risk of running over budget to the homeowner. Also, it doesn’t incentivize efficiency because if the project takes longer (and costs run higher) the contractor will benefit. Take a spin through the article and let us know what you think.

Have a great Fourth of July, everybody!