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. Those were the good old days! The cost of remodeling a kitchen has increased 20-30% in the last two to three years alone due to material and labor shortages as well as inflation.
I’ve been designing kitchens for almost two decades now, and I have found that most people know they need a lot more than $10,000 to remodel a kitchen. However, reality design shows have skewed perceptions of how much a kitchen remodel really costs.
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.
A major kitchen remodel for a medium sized kitchen 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 $1,999 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. The price of stock IKEA cabinets has risen 10% in the past year.
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.
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 $90.00 per square foot is a good place to start. Countertop prices have increased 15% or more in the last year.
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. All new hardwood flooring, professionally installed, may cost over $20 per square foot depending on the species and the level of finishing.
Just like with cabinets and countertops, you can easily blow your budget on appliances. On the low end, you could spend $15,000 for new appliances, and on the high-end, you could spend $80,000 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.
Do you use your microwave every day? Do you need it to be in your main kitchen zone? A simple countertop microwave is much less costly than a built-in model and can be tucked away in a pantry.
Do you need an extra beverage fridge? An ice maker? Add up your appliance wish list before you go shopping and do some research online to see what ranges the different brands fall into. AJ Madison is my go-to source for researching appliance pricing before heading to a showroom.
Filling in the Rest of Your Kitchen Remodel Budget Items
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 undermount 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. I like to budget $1,200 to start for faucets knowing the price might go up or down depending on the client’s preferences. Luxury faucets from Waterworks can run over $3,000.
There are other sink related items you will need to budget for as well. If your sink is on the island, you will need an air switch for your disposal unless you want to locate the switch in the cabinet below. You might need an R/O faucet for filtered water if you don’t have a whole-house filtration system. Some clients also like to have their soap dispenser located in the countertop. All of these items will add to your budget.
Finally, if you are planning for a prep sink and faucet, you should add those items to your line item budget as well. Generally, these items have smaller price tags than primary the primary sink and faucet. For example, a prep faucet might be $700 if the coordinating main faucet is $1200.
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. Some inspiration kitchen designs may show backsplash running all the way to the ceiling in certain areas. If you like this look, then you will need to increase your backsplash tile budget to account for the extra square footage.
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. $600 per pendant is a healthy budget to start, though you can certainly find them for less, depending on the size, or much more. My rule of thumb for a 9′ kitchen island is that you will need two pendants if they are 18-24″ wide and three if they are under 18″.
Other opportunities for decorative lighting include wall sconces and flush mounts. I like to do decorative fixtures by the sink for more directional light. This light could be a single pendant dropped over the sink or a pair of sconces on either side of the window or even over the window. Decorative flush mounts are becoming more popular in lieu of all recessed cans, but they will add to your decorative lighting budget.
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.
If you have preliminary cabinetry elevations where you can see the number of pulls or knobs you need on each wall, you can count up the total number of door and drawers to create an estimate. I like to put in $15 per item on the lower side and $35-45 per item on the upper side. Please know that upper number won’t cover high end hardware. It’s more representative of medium priced hardware. Luxury brands like Armac Martin or Modern Matters can cost over $100 per hardware piece.
Budgeting for Kitchen Remodel Labor
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.
Tips for Saving on Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget
Planning for a kitchen remodel can be incredibly overwhelming. I’m in the process of planning for my own kitchen remodel and have been both dismayed and surprised at how quickly the costs are adding up. Here are some of the ways I’m planning to save on my own remodel and that I also share with my clients.
- Get multiple contractor quotes. It’s wise to compare labor costs, but the cheapest bid is not always the right fit for your project.
- Reuse anything you can including flooring, cabinetry, and appliances. But definitely consider the cost and impact of switching out something later. A single hole faucet is easy to swap, but switching the sink into a new countertop isn’t often possible.
- Delay aspects of the design that aren’t critical. A backsplash can always be installed later. Some lighting is easy to swap if the high-end fixtures you like aren’t in budget now. As mentioned, a faucet can be replaced.
- Consider using stock cabinetry if it works for your layout. Or mix custom and stock cabinetry to make your budget go further.
- Minimize the number of integrated cabinetry organizers. You can add them after market from the big box stores or the Container Store.
- Purchase all your appliances at once from one brand. There are often incentives for bundling appliances. Definitely get multiple appliance quotes.
- Choose a basic granite countertop. Honed black granite is a timeless material. Some marbles, if you can handle the maintenance, can be well priced. Select a basic quartz from a reputable brand with low to minimal veining. Butcher block is a good looking, timeless and hardworking option at a great price point.
- Etsy has great options for hardware and lighting that can have a great designer look at a fraction of the price.
- Minimize changes to your layout. This will help you save on labor costs which are the biggest overall budget driver. Avoid moving walls, plumbing, and gas lines. Minimize changes to your flooring if possible.
- Opt for a basic stainless steel sink (we love Kraus and Ruvati brands) and a faucet from Delta in chrome.
- Plan as much as possible in advance so that as many costs are known up front as possible. Then you can adjust and pivot if needed. It’s more difficult to do this later after the project is underway.
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.