I designed my very first kitchen back in 2006. We were living in the Woodlea Historic District of Central Phoenix, and I got this gut feeling that it was time to cash out of the market. But, first, we needed to do something about our disaster of a galley kitchen.
At that time, I had started my transition into interior design by working at a home improvement/decor store for several months in the kitchen department. I learned enough in that time to plan and budget for my own kitchen remodel. We purchased IKEA cabinets – one of their least expensive door styles – and butcher block countertops, kept two of our three appliances, and used a handyman rather than a remodeling company. Our 10′ x 10′ kitchen came in on budget at $10,000.
I can’t imagine trying to fully remodel a kitchen for $10,000 today unless it were very small, the materials were all low-end or creatively sourced, and we were doing all of the work ourselves.
I’ve been designing kitchens for ten years now, and I have found that most people know they need more than $10,000 to remodel a kitchen. However, reality design shows have skewed perceptions of how much a kitchen remodel really costs. Every time I hear Chip and Joanna Gaines or the Property Brothers claim they’re going to remodel a kitchen for $20,000 or less, I cringe.
But, let’s define “remodeling” first. When I refer to a kitchen remodel, I am describing a project in which the entire existing space is demoed and everything is being replaced, including cabinets, flooring, countertops, appliances, etc. The space plan will change – walls might come down, plumbing could move, the lighting will be reconfigured.
Remodeling Magazine has a great online resource for getting a general idea of how much your remodel will cost. Their Cost vs. Value report can be customized according to where you live. For example, a mid-range, major kitchen remodel in Des Moines will cost nearly $60,000 while a mid-range, minor remodel is closer to $20,000. They define a minor remodel as one in which the cabinet boxes stay but the doors and drawer fronts are replaced. It’s very important to read the definition of terms carefully because these numbers assume that the new countertops are laminate, and I sincerely doubt many people are thinking that they aren’t going to get granite or quartz for $60k. An upscale, major kitchen remodel in Des Moines will cost well over $100,000. I know that number seems staggering, but in my experience, it’s very accurate.
As an aside, I referenced this report last year when planning our master bathroom remodel, which would be classified as major vs. minor. A mid-range bathroom remodel was estimated at just under $20,000, and we came in just over. That makes perfect sense because the report defined a mid-range bathroom as a 5′ x 7′ space with an alcove tub and one sink. Our bathroom is 15′ x 5′ and we put in a large double vanity and fully tiled walk-in shower with frameless glass. However, it would be difficult for me to recreate our space for a client at that budget because I used all of my discounts, painted the room myself, and hired a handyman for the job.
But, let’s get back to how you can figure out what your kitchen remodeling budget should be…
Make a Plan
The first step in any remodeling project is to make a plan. The better defined your plan, the more accurate your budget will be. If you’re capable with a computer or scale and pencil, you can sketch the space yourself.
You’ll want to measure your existing space as accurately as possible and then sketch your new layout, showing the locations of the major functional elements like the appliances and sink.
Now you should be able to calculate how many linear feet of cabinetry you’ll have and how many square feet of countertop.
Identify the Major Elements
I usually begin with the major elements or cost drivers for the project – the cabinetry, countertops, and appliances.
Cabinets can vary widely in price, with IKEA and some online sources at the low end, semi-custom cabinetry in the middle, and fully custom, hand-crafted cabinetry at the top end.
In the IKEA kitchen catalog, each cabinet door style will have a price for a 10′ x 10′ kitchen from which you can calculate the cost per linear foot. For example, a basic BODBYN kitchen is $1999 for a 10′ x 10′ layout or around $100 per linear foot. You can easily pay triple that amount for semi-custom cabinets or five times or more for custom.
Your cabinetry cost will be influenced by the frame style (framed, frameless or inset), construction, wood species, door style and finish. There is a huge range of price points depending on the combination you choose. The best thing to do is establish your budget first and then work with your kitchen designer to figure out what you can accomplish within your budget.
The cabinet fittings and hardware will also affect your budget. Soft-close doors and full-extension drawers cost more. Pull-outs, drawer organizers, and drawers all cost more. If you are shopping around, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
I recently designed an IKEA kitchen for a family in West Des Moines, and $150 per linear foot turned out to be a fairly accurate number for their cabinetry estimate, with most of the bells and whistles like soft close doors, pull-outs, lots of drawers, and even drawers within drawers.
The Supporting Characters
After you’ve identified the major elements, it’s time to list all of the supporting characters. This category includes the sink, faucet, and garbage disposal as well as decorative lighting, cabinetry hardware and backsplash tile. It could also include decorative elements, accessories, and window treatments.
Sink and Faucet
Sinks are a very personal selection. How big of a sink can your plan accommodate? Do you prefer a farmhouse style or an under-mount sink? Do you like stainless steel, cast iron or a composite? What color sink do you like? Sinks can range from a few hundred dollars to well over $1000 dollars.
I almost always recommend single handle pull-down faucets. Delta makes a few great options at reasonable prices, and Kohler and Brizo have some higher style (and higher priced) models. Finish will affect the price of your faucet with polished nickel and brushed brass being higher than polished chrome. Faucetsdirect.com is a good place to research your plumbing fixtures.
My advice is to purchase your faucet from a local plumbing supplier. Often, the parts in faucets that you can purchase at big box stores are cheap plastic even though the brand name is the same. You can add $300 to your budget for a lower end, quality faucet, and $700 for a higher end, high-quality faucet.
From your plan, you can easily figure out your backsplash quantity by multiplying the linear cabinetry feet by 1.5, then adding another three square feet for the range area, and multiplying the total by 1.1. A basic subway tile splash might run you $6.00 per square foot while a marble mosaic can cost $50.00 a square foot or more. I like to start with $15.00 per square foot.
Count the number of decorative lighting fixtures you’ll need for your plan. Maybe you need two or three pendants for your island or peninsula and another for over the sink. $300 per pendant is a healthy budget, though you can certainly find them for much less or much more.
If your plan isn’t finalized yet, you won’t know how many knobs or pulls you’ll need, but you can add an allowance for hardware. $400 is a good mid-range number for a small to medium sized kitchen. A large, upscale kitchen with decorative appliance pulls could require well over $1000 in hardware.
The idea is to list every single element you can think of and give it a number.
I think this is the hardest category to estimate. It can be influenced by so many different factors. Lately, I’ve been doubling the cost of my materials to estimate my labor costs. A project with more construction might have a higher labor to materials ratio. Once you’ve started getting bids on your project, you can update your labor estimates with more concrete numbers. The bids might also help you prioritize some of your material selections. Maybe fully custom cabinetry doesn’t work for your budget, but you can still get a great kitchen with semi-custom or even stock cabinetry.
There are many parts, pieces and variables that play into your kitchen remodeling budget. The faster you can make decisions, the more quickly you can hone in on the right number. With cabinetry playing a key role in the budget and design process, I recommend engaging a kitchen designer as soon as possible. Once you establish a layout for your kitchen, the other elements fall into place pretty easily.
If you need help planning your kitchen remodel, please get in touch with me. It doesn’t matter where you live…I can help you with an overall space plan and selections that you can use as the starting point for conversations with your cabinet supplier and contractor.