This post was originally published in May 2020. Costs for remodeling have shifted so dramatically in the last two years that I edited this post to reflect more current pricing.
I’ve been designing kitchens for fourteen 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. But, take these estimates with a huge grain of salt.
It’s important to read the definition of “minor”, “major”, “mid-range,” and “up-scale” very carefully when referencing the report.
An upscale, major kitchen remodel in Des Moines will cost well over $100,000. I know that number may seem high, but in my experience, it’s very accurate.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can plan your kitchen remodeling budget.
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.
The first phase of my kitchen design process involves developing a conceptual plan based on accurate measurements. Once our layout is defined, I put together a budget and scope of work. I need the plan so I can estimate the quantities I need for materials, fixtures, flooring, and other design elements.
Identify The Major Elements
When planning my budget, I begin with the major elements or cost drivers for the project – the cabinetry, countertops, flooring, 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, depending on where you live.
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. When I originally published this post (pre-Covid), a basic BODBYN kitchen was $1999 for a 10′ x 10′ layout or around $100 per linear foot. You can easily pay five times that amount for semi-custom cabinets and ever higher 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 than a simple base cabinet with two doors and a top drawer.
If you are shopping around, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
In 2019, I 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. Sintered stone and porcelain slabs are now becoming popular as well.
Some quartzes and granites can cost less than others. Caesarstone and Cambria are on the higher end for quartz countertops. For budgeting purposes, I’ve found that $75.00-90.00 per square foot is a good place to start.
The edge detail that you choose for your countertop will affect the price as well. A basic eased edge (square) is included in the cost. More complicated edges like an ogee will add to the cost by linear foot.
Thicker countertop edges are a popular detail now, especially for islands. The double edge is created by mitering two pieces of the solid material together. The labor and materials involved will increase your cost.
Of course, laminate and other composite materials will be on the lower side while quartzite, marble and soapstone will be on the higher side. Once I have my conceptual plans done, I send them to my countertop fabricator and ask for quotes based on different materials, thickness, and edge details.
Depending on square footage, the cost of new flooring or repairing existing flooring can 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.
Popular kitchen flooring choices include hardwood, engineered wood, luxury vinyl plank, and tile. I would start at $10.00 (LVP or tile, not including labor) – $18.00 (hardwood or engineered wood) per square foot for budgeting purposes.
Just like with cabinets and countertops, you can easily blow your budget on appliances. On the low end, you could spend $10,000 for new appliances, and on the high-end, you could spend $60,000 or more. There is an enormous range.
What is appropriate for the value of your home and your neighborhood? This question is more important than ever because many higher-end appliances are now built-in and not easily changed without modifying cabinetry. If you live in a high-end or exclusive neighborhood, then future buyers may expect luxury level brands like Sub-Zero, Wolf, Viking, or Monogram, to name just a few.
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 can save money and increase your countertop space by eliminating the large cabinet required to house the double oven.
Fill in the Rest
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 other decorative elements, accessories, and window treatments.
Sink & 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. There are certain kitchens where a bridge faucet with a side spray can look amazing if the client is up for it. 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.
Hands-free technology is an option with most major brands, and it will increase the cost of the same faucet model without touch by a few hundred dollars.
Build.com (owned by Ferguson) is a good place to research your plumbing fixtures.
My advice is to purchase your faucet from a local plumbing supplier (like Ferguson). 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 $500 to your budget for a lower end, quality faucet, and $900 and up 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 $8.00 – $9.00 per square foot while a marble mosaic can cost $50.00 a square foot or more. I like to start with $25.00 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.
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 just to start. 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 connect with us over at Morris Lare. We offer one off strategy sessions to help get you started on your kitchen remodeling journey.