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Kitchen Renovations: What to Consider Before Starting Yours

The term “kitchen renovation” can conjure up some seriously stressful mental images. A kitchen that’s stripped down to the studs. Exposed drywall and sheets of plastic hanging from the ceiling. A million design decisions to make and planning on at least one major thing going wrong. With all this stress, it’s amazing anyone undertakes a kitchen renovation project!

But going through the stress of a kitchen renovation can yield beautiful results. Just think of all the added functionality, style, and enjoyment you and your family could get from a newly remodeled kitchen, and you might find that your time and money are well spent on a kitchen renovation project.

Fortunately, there are experts who can help you get organized for your kitchen renovation, making the process a million times easier. In fact, this post breaks down the major choices you need to make for a kitchen renovation, including any kitchen renovation costs that go with those design decisions. So, whether your kitchen renovation or remodel is a complete gut job or just a facelift—you’ll want to read on before pulling out the sledgehammer.

Want some more help in the renovation planning process? With Modsy’s Renovation Design services, you can work one-on-one with a renovation design expert who will create immersive, 3D design plans for your renovation project, customized to your style, budget, and lifestyle needs. Learn more about Modsy Renovation Design.

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How much does a kitchen renovation cost?

Your budget and the final cost can vary greatly depending on the design decisions you make. But, in general, you’ll want to plan on a minimum of $20,000 for a full kitchen makeover. From there, the types of cabinets you choose (custom vs. ready-to-assemble), your countertop materials, and the appliances you choose will all greatly impact your overall budget.

Here’s a general breakdown:

  • A $20,000 budget will, on average, get you: new flooring, upper and base cabinets, a backsplash, countertops, 1-2 lights, a sink, sink faucet, and labor
  • A $30,000–$50,000 budget will, on average, get you new flooring, upper and base cabinets, a backsplash, countertops,, 2-5 lights, a sink, sink faucet, appliances, a pot filler, and labor
  • A $60,000–$100,000 budget will, on average, get you: new flooring, upper and base cabinets (including crown molding, glass cabinets, and under-cabinet lights), a backsplash, countertops, 5-10 lights, a sink, sink faucet, appliances, a pot filler, ceiling design, and labor

You’ll also want to consider your home’s value when landing on a budget. Experts recommend setting your budget for a kitchen renovation at about 6-10% of your home’s value for the best return on investment when the time comes to sell. (This essentially ensures that the money you put into your renovation will create a kitchen that matches the quality of the rest of your home.)

Below, we’re breaking down all the major design decisions that go into a kitchen remodel. Plus, we’re considering kitchen renovation costs, highlighting the best choices for budget-friendly, mid-level, and investment kitchen renovation ideas so you can design the kitchen of your dreams, no matter your budget!

Kitchen Cabinetry and Storage

blue wood cabinets add a serene charm to this kitchen renovation

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One of the first and biggest design decisions you need to make when planning a kitchen renovation is what kind of kitchen cabinetry you’d like. Not only do you need to decide on ready-to-assemble vs custom cabinets, but you also need to consider what color or finish you’d like, if you want your upper cabinets to be open or closed, and if there are any special features you’d like your cabinets to have. Not only this, but you’ll need to create design plans to ensure everything fits in the footprint of your space.

This is also one of the design elements that can take the longest amount of time to realize. With industry-wide production and shipping delays, the lead-time for cabinets has increased exponentially in the past few years. So, it’s important to make this decision early in the renovation process to ensure you aren’t left waiting for weeks or months on your cabinets before completing your kitchen renovation.

Below, we’re outlining the best choices to make, depending on your budget.

Budget-Friendly Cabinetry and Storage

If you’re on a tighter budget, you’ll definitely want to go with ready-to-assemble cabinets in a budget-friendly material.

And, as far as materials, cabinets made of particleboard, engineered wood (like MDF), or other synthetic materials will be much less expensive than solid wood, glass-front, or lacquered cabinets.

Another way to stretch your budget? Skip the wall-to-wall cabinetry and instead incorporate some free-standing storage. Floating shelves, rolling island carts, and even baskets are all easy, budget-friendly options to give your kitchen the storage space you need without breaking the bank.

Mid-Tier Cabinetry and Storage

To take your kitchen design to the next level, consider a semi-custom route. This will typically give you higher-quality options than ready-to-assemble, and give you a bit more of a custom look but without the fully customized price tag.

At this price level, you can opt for a wider variety of materials or customize your cabinet design further with painted cabinets. You can also use some extra budget dollars to customize your cabinet hardware and upgrade from base model choices.

Investment Cabinetry and Storage

If you have a large, robust renovation budget, it’s worth working with professionals to customize every last detail of your cabinetry to create a kitchen to your exact specifications. Custom cabinets allow you to opt for any color and material you’d like—like solid wood, lacquer, or glass-front cabinets.

With a higher budget, it’s also worth adding in a built-in pantry to give yourself plenty of food storage space. This is a luxury that many kitchens don’t offer but it’s definitely a feature worth including.

Kitchen Counters

Marble counters are a luxe investment option in this kitchen renovation

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After landing on kitchen cabinetry finishes and colors, the next major decision to make is kitchen countertop materials. The material you choose greatly impacts the overall look of your space—and your budget.

Budget-Friendly Kitchen Counters

The best choice for countertops when you’re on a budget is laminate. They come in a variety of styles and colors, which can help you find a look that suits your preferences. Plus, this material is durable and laminate countertops are easy to install.

Mid-Tier Kitchen Counters

For a mid-level renovation budget, consider concrete or butcher block countertops. They’re a more stylistic option than laminate countertops, but they’re still durable and versatile. You could also add in some solid stone on a kitchen island countertop for visual contrast and a pop of something more luxurious.

Investment Kitchen Counters

If you’re open to investing a bit more and want a higher-end look, opt for solid stone like granite, marble, or quartz. (Quartz is a great way to get the high-end look of solid stone at a slightly cheaper price point.) While solid stone requires more maintenance and upkeep, these natural materials are durable and absolutely beautiful, elevating the look of any kitchen.

Kitchen Appliances

Stainless steel appliances add a sleek and affordable touch to this kitchen renovation

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Kitchen appliances can eat up a major chunk of your kitchen renovation budget. But they’re items that get used on a daily basis, so it’s worth choosing options that truly meet your daily needs. Most people opt for matching ovens, stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, and dishwashers, in matching finishes. And when it comes to range hoods, some people go for a matching option, while others go for more of a statement finish or something that adds contrast. (For editorial purposes, we’re grouping sinks in with appliances as well!)

Budget-Friendly Kitchen Appliances

If you’re looking to save some money on your kitchen renovation, opt for super simple base model appliances. Skip the bells and whistles and stick with just the necessary features. Choosing a black or white finish will also be at a lower price point than stainless steel since these finishes aren’t as on-trend at the moment.

Designer Note: White appliances can be super high-end or an affordable option—it all depends on which brand you choose. (AKA a white SMEG appliance will be in the investment budget tier, while a basic white model will be much more budget-friendly.)

For your sink, opt for a drop-in style that works well with laminate countertops and is also more affordable and easy to install. Stainless steel sinks are the most affordable options; and they’re durable, too, resisting stains and heat.

Mid-Tier Kitchen Appliances

Stainless steel has been a very popular choice for appliance finishes for more than a decade. While it’s a bit more expensive, this material offers a higher-end look that gives your space a more modern vibe. However, stainless steel does tend to show fingerprints and smudges more than black or white appliances, so it requires more maintenance to keep clean.

Opt for a farmhouse sink in enameled cast iron or stainless steel for a slightly more custom and upscale look. Also known as an apron-front sink, this style features an exposed front and deeper basin, which may require countertop or cabinet modifications.

Investment Kitchen Appliances

Colorful appliances are a great way to add a splash of personality to your kitchen—but these trendy appliances tend to be from luxury brands. Translation? A much higher price tag. But if you want something that looks and feels very custom, this is a great choice. Smart appliances are also a great option for those with higher budgets. Who doesn’t want the ability to preheat your oven from your phone on your way home from the grocery store??

An undermount sink not only maximizes your counter space but the minimal design gives your kitchen a sleek look. This style works particularly well with countertop materials like marble or granite because of how they need to be installed. However, you may prefer a farmhouse sink in statement-making brass, copper, or marble depending on your style.

Other Considerations 

Beyond colors and finishes, the design and specifications of appliances have a large bearing on the price and your overall kitchen renovation costs. For cooktops, you can opt for gas, electric, or induction. For ovens, you can opt for a traditional bake/broil/roast style or a convection oven. When it comes to refrigerators, not only do you have to choose the configuration but you also have to consider the depth and if you want a single or dual-compressor unit. And then there’s the question of if you want your fridge covered with paneling to blend in with your cabinetry.

And these are only some of the choices you have to make that will impact both the functionality of your kitchen and your overall budget. If you’re overwhelmed by choices or are worried about finding the right fit for your kitchen, we recommend working with a designer to help plan your space and shop for the right appliances.

Kitchen Floors

Wood floors add a approachable feel in this kitchen renovation

The next design decision to consider in your kitchen renovation ideas? Flooring. This is a good choice to make after you’ve finalized your cabinet and countertop decisions since you’ll want to make sure your flooring choice coordinates with these other design elements. When choosing kitchen flooring, you’ll want to consider the style and visual impact but also the price point, the durability of the materials, and how easy they are to clean.

Budget-friendly Kitchen Floors

For budget-friendly flooring, opt for vinyl or laminate flooring. These material options are affordable and since they’re easy to install, it’s a great way for a high-impact but affordable facelift for your kitchen. There are a ton of style options available for vinyl and laminate flooring, so you can find a style, color, and pattern that suits the style of your kitchen. These are also great material choices for homes with kids and pets!

Mid-Tier Kitchen Floors

Many people love tile floors in their kitchens since it’s durable and so easy to clean. Plus, if you opt for a tile with more pattern, it’s better at hiding messes! However, installing tile flooring requires more time and effort.

Investment Kitchen Floors

Hardwood floors are visually warm, versatile in style, and are an incredibly long-lasting design choice—but the solid wood is definitely more of an investment. It also requires more maintenance and upkeep, since you want to avoid getting hardwood wet.

Kitchen Lighting

pendant lighting is an affordable and impactful option in this kitchen renovation

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When planning the design elements of your kitchen, don’t skip lighting! When dealing with food prep, you want plenty of good, bright lighting. But it’s also nice to have lighting that allows you to highlight specific design elements and layer your lighting depending on the time of day. When it comes to different budget levels for kitchen lighting, it’s less about choosing one type of lighting over another and more about adding and layering additional lighting options on top of the basic overhead light the higher your budget.

Budget-friendly Kitchen Lighting

Flush-mount lights are the best budget-friendly lighting choices for a kitchen. Flush-mount lights are your standard overhead kitchen lighting option and will have the best price point. But for just a little bit more you can pick a pendant light, which will give you the lighting you need—plus add major visual impact.

Pendant lights are great for larger kitchens, especially those that have a kitchen island. Hanging one or two pendants above your island gives you ample light over your food prep space, plus it helps drive home the overall style and vibe of your kitchen. For additional or alternate directional lighting, opt for easy-to-adjust track lighting.

Mid-Tier Kitchen Lighting

If you have a bit more budget to work with, start with your overhead lighting, then add in additional recessed lighting. Simple and sleek, recessed lighting is universally appealing for all design styles and is the perfect additional light source for kitchens of all sizes. With some styles of recessed lighting, you can even shift the directionality of lighting.

Investment Kitchen Lighting

Want to take your kitchen design ideas to the next level? Install under-cabinet lighting. This will give your kitchen a high-end feel—plus it offers better lighting for food prep stations. This is a great design choice for kitchens with low natural light, or for use as passive lighting in the evenings or overnight.

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