How to Plan Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget

How to Determine Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget

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

How to Determine Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget

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.


Brooklyn Decker

Brooklyn Decker

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.


There are more options for countertops now than ever before. Popular materials are quartz, granite, quartzite, marble, butcher block, soapstone, and concrete. Some quartzes and granites can cost less than others. For budgeting purposes, I’ve found that $90.00 per square foot is a good place to start. Of course, laminate and some other composite materials will be much less while quartzite, marble and soapstone will be more.


Just like with cabinets and countertops, you can easily blow your budget on appliances. Ask yourself what you really need out of your appliances. Clients often tell me that they can’t live without double ovens, but upon further questioning, I find out they only use them once or twice per year. A slide in range with two ovens or adding a speed cooker can save money and increase your countertop space by eliminating the large cabinet required to house the double oven.


How to Determine Your Kitchen Remodeling BudgetBlack Lacquer Design

I include flooring among the major elements because a change in spatial configuration will require the floor to be replaced or repaired. Depending on square footage, the cost of new flooring or repairing existing flooring can really add up. If you’re patching a wood floor, your contractor might determine that you need to refinish all of your wood flooring in order for the new to blend with the old. I would start at $5.00 – $8.00 per square foot for budgeting purposes.

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

How to Determine Your Kitchen Remodeling BudgetGrant K. Gibson

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 used the Kohler Vinnata in My Pennsylvania  Kitchen.

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. 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.



Spitzmiller and Norris

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.


Alice Lane Home

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.

In Conclusion…

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.

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How to Plan Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget


Before and After Kitchen Makeover with IKEA SEKTION

Back in March, I blogged about a kitchen remodel project that I designed for a family using IKEA’s SEKTION cabinet line. The layout of the kitchen was awkward mostly due to a doorway that led into a little used dining room. The cabinets were not in the best of shape, and they lacked storage and countertop space.

I suggested closing the opening to the dining room to create a u-shaped kitchen with an island. Closing that door enabled shifting the range to the center of the main wall with a generous amount of countertop on either side. Due to some architectural constraints, the refrigerator had to remain in place, but I suggested removing the built-in pantry in favor of IKEA’s large pantry cabinets with drawers and pull-outs.

This was the floor plan before:

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

And, this was my design:

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan

The builder of this development really did some goofy things architecturally. During construction, we found that the little wing wall next to the sink was actually load bearing, so it had to stay. Other than that small glitch, everything went perfectly smoothly.

This is the shot of the range wall before.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

And this was the rendering that I provided to the client:

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Perspective

And, this is how it turned out (forgive my iPhone photos):


One worry my client had was if she would be losing storage, especially in the pantry area. She said that she has much more storage now than she had before and couldn’t believe how much those pantry cabinets hold. I love how the two cabinets look like one big wardrobe piece with the drawers on the bottom. You can’t see it in this photo, but the panels go all the way to the ground on both sides to make it look like it has feet.


I really like the combination of white cabinets with gray countertops and gray marble subway tile. They blend together for a soft low contrast feel that makes the room feel larger.


This is a view of the sink before:

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

My rendering of the design:

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Perspective

And, this is the after:


Because of the issue with that wall by the sink, the client had to go back to IKEA and get a 12″ cabinet to go to the left of the dishwasher instead of the 15″ drawer base. They also decided to move their trash and recycling from under the sink to the island. They opted to purchase the simple deco strip for the top of the cabinets instead of painting a cove molding to match. I think it turned out great with the simpler design.

They are really happy with the increased functionality of the kitchen. I couldn’t believe how much lighter and brighter their house felt without the dark red paint and oak cabinets.

If you are interested in a kitchen remodel, I would love to help. And, if you live in Des Moines and are looking to use IKEA for your kitchen, I would definitely recommend the contractor who installed this job. His work was impeccable, and he is just a really great guy. You can get in touch to get his information via my contact page.

Amber Interiors - Dining Nooks

Dining Nooks

I have been obsessed with the idea of built-in dining nooks ever since I first read The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka many years ago now. There’s no space for such a nook in our current house, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about incorporating one into a future house somehow…or planning one for a client.

Tamara Magel | Elle Decor - Dining Nooks

Tamara Magel | Elle Decor

Round tables are perfect for dining nooks. It’s important to choose a table with a pedestal base to accommodate the largest number of seats and allow for sliding in and out. Legs at the corner just get in the way.

Nina Dobrev - Dining Nooks

Nina Dobrev

Barbara Westbrook - Dining Nooks

Barbara Westbrook

A long trestle style table works very well with a single sided bench as well as a U-shaped bench in combination with chairs along the open side.

Jan Turner Hering - Dining Nooks

Jan Turner-Hering

Becki Owens - Dining Nooks

Becki Owens

Amber Interiors - Dining Nooks

Amber Interiors

Dining – or breakfast – nooks are often the perfect solution for a tight space. By using a bench along the wall, you gain back the precious two feet needed to slide a chair back without hitting the wall.

Corner nooks are especially cozy and a great solution for empty nesters or small families who prefer to eat casually.

Better Homes and Gardens - Dining Nook

via Better Homes & Gardens

Better Home and Gardens - Dining Nooks

via Better Homes and Gardens

 There are so many options for different types of built-in benches. When I can, I like to incorporate drawers in the bottom of the bench for more storage. Another option would be a lift-up top. The benches can be built with a back (slightly slanted for comfort) or pillows can provide comfort as well as color and pattern. The variations are endless.

Check out more photos of dining nooks on my Pinterest board.

Nicole Davis Interiors White and Gold Kitchen

Pretty Gold and White Kitchen by Nicole Davis Interiors

As soon as I spotted this pretty gold and white kitchen by Nicole Davis Interiors on Pinterest, I was smitten and wanted to see more.

Nicole Davis Interiors White and Gold Kitchen

White Shaker style cabinets, white and gray marble and brass accents combine for a charming, feminine space with a timeless appeal. The large brass shade pendants add drama while the modern brass and walnut stools keep things from getting too precious.

Nicole Davis Interiors White and Gold Kitchen

I like how Nicole used a traditional style faucet with modern functionality and paired it with a white farmhouse sink but chose more streamlined contemporary hardware. By using a single metallic finish, she was able to play with form.

Nicole Davis Interiors White and Gold Kitchen

White painted open shelves to the right of the sink are a handy place to store everyday dishes. The restrained palette of white, gray and natural textures helps keep the space feeling clean and fresh. I love how they brought in crisp greens through the styling with fresh cut flowers and honeydew.

For more photos of this gorgeous kitchen, click over to Nicole’s website.

Shop Gold, White and Natural for the Kitchen

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

A Cozy Cottage Kitchen Makeover with IKEA SEKTION

Last Fall, I started working with a new client who wanted to update her 1990s builder basic kitchen. When she first called me, she was looking for some help selecting a new countertop. After seeing her home and checking out the cabinets, I suggested that she consider a full kitchen remodel. The cabinets were in the best shape, and the layout wasn’t optimal. It wasn’t a particularly large space, but I thought that were some changes we could make to the layout that would definitely justify a major remodeling project.

In the “Before” floor plan below, you can see that the kitchen was broken up by a doorway leading into what the builder probably intended to be the formal dining room. My client was using it as a library/den. Interestingly enough, I had met with another potential client with this same exact floor plan, and they too were using it as a den/office.
IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

This house (and the other one like it) had some really goofy architecture going on with oversize columns and soffits. You can see the drywall columns flanking the opening in the den. I was baffled by what the builder must have been thinking when he/she designed this plan.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

My thought was to close the doorway to the den in order to create a U-shaped kitchen and to demo the existing pantry and replace it with a cabinetry pantry. I also wanted to demo the little wall to the left of the sink which served no real purpose except to make the room feel smaller.

In this before photo, you can see the a view of the sink wall and the entry into the den. My client wanted to bring color into her space, but she was tired of the dark heavy red. I wanted to create a light bright space with a foundation of neutrals and bring in color through accessories, furniture, and artwork.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

This view shows the range wall.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

A little bit different view that shows the awkward corner with the doorway.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

And, a view of the refrigerator with the pantry.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover

We had a couple of issues to work out on the refrigerator wall. I had initially wanted to replace the pantry with deep pantry cabinets, but there was an air return behind the pantry in between the entry closet. That also meant that I couldn’t shift the refrigerator at all from its current position.

Those goals and constraints led me to this floor plan…

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan

It’s a little tighter than I would like it to be with the table and island, but I think the increased storage and more efficient layout achieved by closing the door was worth it.

My client and her husband had a tight budget, so I recommended that they consider IKEA SEKTION cabinets. The frameless style will allow them to maximize every square inch in this tight space, and they come with great organization options to further increase the storage capabilities.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan Elevation

I shifted the range slightly on the main wall. In the corner to the left of the range, I placed a regular lazy susan cabinet. The corner on the right has a cabinet with a straight susan that pulls out so you can fully access the contents. All of the remaining base cabinets are drawers. The trash is stored under the sink in a unique pull-out cabinet.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan Elevation

As I mentioned before, I got rid of the existing pantry closet with bi-fold doors and wire shelving, and I replaced it with two 15″ deep pantry cabinets. I like how the two facing doors with the drawers below have the appearance of a hutch. Behind those big doors are roll-out drawers.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Floor Plan Elevation

On the sink wall, I was able to incorporate an 18″ drawer base because that useless wall was taking up valuable inches. I placed a glass front cabinet to the left of the window to show off pretty dishes and glassware. A pendant light over the sink will increase the amount of task lighting available during clean up. In the electrical plan, I added pendants over the island as well as recessed cans to brighten the space, which seemed dark every time I visited.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Perspective

In this view, you can get a good idea of how closing the doorway really changed the entire space and created a kitchen that feels much larger.

IKEA SEKTION Kitchen Makeover Perspective

This view gives a good idea of the island in relation to the rest of the kitchen.

In addition to the plans, I put together two options for the finishes and other decorative items in the space. My client wanted to create a cozy cottage-like feel throughout her home, so we decided to go with white, raised panel cabinets, marble subway tile with gray veining and a gray quartz countertop that looks like concrete.

Option 1

Cottage Kitchen Makeover Concept

Option 2

Cottage Kitchen Makeover Concept

As you can see, the two concepts share many of the same elements with tweaks on the lighting and stools. My client ended up ordering the lighting in option 1. I really loved the striped stool in option 2, but she didn’t think that the light fabric on either stool would be practical with her kids. I think she eventually ordered a metal and wood pharmacy style stool from Restoration Hardware.

Yesterday, we selected the paint colors for the kitchen and adjoining rooms, and demo begins in two weeks. In the meantime, she and her husband will be assembling all of the cabinets. I hope to be able share photos when it’s finished because I think the transformation is going to be incredible. In addition to being much more functional, the white cabinets, glossy marble and quartz and increased lighting are going to brighten up the whole room.

If you’re interested in learning more about planning an IKEA kitchen, check out my post The Twelve Things You Need to Know before Planning Your IKEA kitchen.