A stunning, well-appointed kitchen makes cooking and entertaining a breeze. Plus, upgrading the heart of the home attracts buyers and raises your home value to some extent. But before you can host Thanksgiving with your double ovens and gas range (all against a lovely backsplash) you’ll have to drum up the cash for upgrades. So just how much is it to remodel a kitchen?
Here’s the short answer: According to Harvard University’s Center for Joint Housing Studies, homeowners spend a median of $12,361 on their kitchen remodel. Sounds reasonable, honestly! But our research reveals that kitchen remodels can cost as little as $10,000 for a DIY spruce up to north of $50,000 for a full out chef’s kitchen.
To give you the most accurate picture of how much kitchen remodels cost, we’ll break down this ever popular home improvement project in four sections:
- Cost overview
- Project costs by scale
- Return on investment
- Personal budgeting for your remodel
Kitchen remodel cost overview
The average cost of kitchen remodeling ranges dramatically with variables like size, finish quality, and depth of the renovation differing from project to project. For a general overview, let’s compare a few of the web’s most reputable sources for remodeling costs:
Average kitchen remodel cost: $13,113 – $37,157
Average cost per square foot: $75 – $250
Low and high end remodel range: $4,000 – $60,000
Methodology: HomeAdvisor collected survey responses from 8,106 members who recently completed a kitchen remodel.
Source: Remodeling Magazine
Average kitchen remodel cost: $23,452 – $68,490
Average cost per square foot: $117 – $342
Low and high end remodel range: $23,452 – $135,547
Methodology: Remodeling Magazine estimates project costs using Clear Estimates remodeling software, creating detailed construction estimates for each project, and adjusting the cost for each market to account for pricing variations.
Average kitchen remodel cost: $12,800 – $21,200
Average cost per square foot: $100 – $250
Low and high end remodel range: $12,200 – $126,000
Methodology: HomeGuide connects people to local contractors for project quotes. The site tracks millions of estimates from local companies and creates reports on averages for their Home Improvement and Repair Cost Estimator.
Project costs by scale: From minor to upscale kitchen remodels
Now that you’ve got some broad kitchen remodel cost averages in mind, let’s dive into the details of kitchen remodels by scale.
Minor kitchen remodel: $10,000 – $15,000
Increase your home’s marketability with easy, low-cost improvements. Target the most dated elements in your kitchen to bring your home up to date without breaking out the sledgehammer. Top real estate Douglas Huebner, who specializes in buyer-focused renovations as the CEO and principal designer of The Habitatilist in Newark, NJ, details an easy makeover:
“A minor remodel could be something easy for a homeowner to do. They could easily just change out the hardware and the backsplash. New kitchen appliances, of course, are always a nice bonus.”
Where to save:
- Paint the cabinets: Go DIY for $200 to $600 depending on your supplies, or hire a professional for an average cost of $400 to $1,550. Color wise, adventure outside of white with a gray or navy blue hue, ranked the top color choices for kitchen cabinets in the 2020 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.
- Choose affordable tile: You can’t go wrong with a timeless white subway tile for a few dollars a square foot like these self-adhesive Metro Blanco peel and stick tiles.
- Install a low-cost countertop: Formica and butcher block look sharp for as little as $75 to $150 per square foot.
Where to splurge:
- Invest in appliances: Buy new stainless steel appliances in a bundle from big box retailers like Home Depot ranging from $1,398 to $5,102. This upgrade is a big selling point for buyers, with 40% stating they would pay more for a home with stainless steel appliances, the majority agreeing they’d offer an extra $1,850.
Mid-scale kitchen remodel: $15,000 – $30,000
For homeowners with a bigger budget, Huebner recommends investing in quality materials.
“If you wanted to fix up your kitchen to sell it, for a medium size kitchen — because obviously, you could add thousands if you start adding square footage — it would probably cost about $20,000 with labor. And that would get you nice, decent cabinets with quartz countertops.”
Where to save:
- Keep the existing layout: Stick to your kitchen’s original layout to cut down on added costs of plumbing, electrical, and structural work.
- Reface the cabinets: While a mid-scale remodel calls for upgraded cabinets, you don’t need to start fresh if your existing structure is in good condition. Instead, save thousands by refacing the cabinets with new doors, fronts, and hardware for an average cost of $4,000 to $9,500.
- Choose simple, but sleek hardware: Buyers might love pulls at $41 apiece, but they won’t add a line item in for them in their offer. Save yourself hundreds by choosing a low cost alternative like these top rated GlideRite 10-pack stainless steel pulls for $28.47.
Where to splurge:
- Invest in quality countertops: Avoid passé grainy granites, and opt for either a solid color or a veined design resembling marble. Expect to pay $40 to $60 per square foot for granite or quartz, for a total price of $2,000 to $4,500, including installation.
- Add a kitchen island: “The average cost of installing a kitchen island can range quite drastically. Depending on the size and material you decide to go with, a kitchen island can cost anywhere between $800 to $20,000,” explains Keith Melanson, Project Manager of RenosGroup, who has over 13 years of project management experience in home renovations. Kitchen islands are, in fact, one of the hotter kitchen renovation trends at the moment, as every kitchen needs more counter space.”
Major kitchen remodel: $29,000 – $64,000
In a competitive market, a major kitchen remodel can give a higher-end home an edge over the competition. This renovation level entails structural changes such as moving walls, reconfiguring layouts, and adjusting plumbing and electrical lines.
Where to save:
- Mix high and low end finishes: The best design seamlessly melds luxury materials with more affordable elements. Save on hardware, faucets, and lighting fixtures; quality cabinets and countertops will hold buyers’ attention.
Where to splurge:
- Open the floor plan: Modernize your home’s floor plan by opening the kitchen to the dining area or living room. The cost of removing a non-load-bearing wall — a wall that doesn’t support the weight of the floor or roof above — is relatively affordable, at as little as $700. Load-bearing walls, on the other hand, are more complicated to remove and can set you back a few thousand.
- Add a walk-in pantry: In the National Association of Home Builders’ latest What Home Buyers Really Want report, 83% of buyers selected walk-in pantry as their most desired kitchen feature. Convert an existing space into this coveted feature for an average cost of $1,000 to $6,500.
All-out chef’s kitchen remodel: $50,000 – $100,000
A chef’s kitchen is designed for functionality and efficiency, with top of the line appliances and a restaurant kitchen inspired layout. With an eye-widening price tag, a chef’s kitchen remodel brings you more joy as a homeowner than it will a high return on investment when it’s time to sell.
Where to save:
- Brighten the room with affordable lighting: Add character with unique pendant lighting over the island or above the eat-in dining table like this Anastasia Antique 3-Light Pendant from Overstock for $91.99 or this Bamboo Pendant from West Elm for $79. For lighting below the cabinets, install hidden LED tape lights like this Armacost Lighting RibbonFlex for $35 per 98 inches; hire-out hardwire installation runs between $50 to $100 an hour on average.
- Lighting and hardware: Aesthetic elements like lighting and cabinet hardware present an opportunity to save.
- Select chic, wallet-friendly hardware: There’s no reason to spend a fortune on cabinet jewelry when there are affordable alternatives. CB2, Etsy, Amazon, and AllModern offer a selection of knobs and pulls for as low as $3 each, with styles ranging from modern to farmhouse.
Where to splurge:
- Select high-end appliances: For a top of the line kitchen, you need a Sub Zero fridge and a Wolf Range stove, starting at $4,229 and $4,726 respectively.
- Build durable countertops: Outpricing granite, professional-grade stainless steel countertops cost $70 to $215 per square foot at an average of $7,500 for installation.
- Design a functional layout: Layout is everything, so expect to splurge custom cabinets running an average of $700 per linear square foot. Huebner describes the layout of a recent chef’s kitchen his team designed:“I laid out the kitchen so that we have all the areas covered. I have a prep area with its own sinks and a stove nearby, a cook area with its own trash and storage, and then a separate cleanup area where there’s another sink, trash, and dishwasher with its own storage for dishes. Then finally, a large pantry wall that’s just a ton of storage.”
Already know the scope of your remodel? Estimate your project cost
For a tailored estimate, Kukun’s Home Renovation Cost Estimator predicts the cost of your kitchen remodel based on your location, kitchen size, scope of remodel, and quality of finishes. Designed with sellers in mind, the tool also estimates the project’s return on investment by analyzing recent sales data.
Return on investment: Spend wisely for the best return
In a recent survey by Porch.com, buyers ranked a remodeled kitchen as their most desired home feature, admitting they’d spend on average $4,570 over budget to secure a home with this inspirational space.
“It’s what I called the AF: the aggravation fee. Whoever goes through the aggravation, gets the fee,” Huebner.
“If you are the seller and you go through the aggravation of the kitchen renovation, and you deserve to make the profit. Or, if you’re a buyer and you’re going to buy somebody’s old, outdated kitchen, then you have to go through the aggravation of renovating. So you should get the fees and should buy the house at a lower price.”
When planning the scale of your kitchen remodel, keep future homebuyers in mind to maximize your investment return. Generally speaking, kitchen remodels rarely bring a 1:1 cost to value exchange, so don’t expect a ‘spend more, get more’ dynamic.
According to Remodeling Magazine, a minor kitchen remodel with midrange finishes adds on average $18,206 to your sale price, yielding 77.6% ROI. Comparatively, a major kitchen remodel with upscale finishes adds $72,993, but only recoups 53.9% ROI.
While lower cost kitchen models might be the way to go for most homeowners, it’s not necessarily the route you should take. For instance, if your home belongs in the upper echelons of the market, budget materials won’t cut it with your buyer pool; you’ll need a mid-scale to major remodel to fetch a top sale price. For tailored advice, consult a top real estate agent in your market. They’ll let you know what buyers are looking for in your home’s price bracket.
Personal budgeting for your remodel
Your best remodel budget is unique to your home and financial situation, but we’ve pulled together a few tips to help get you started. According to Home Advisor, you should spend 5% to 15% of the home’s value on your kitchen remodel for the best return on investment. For instance, if your home is worth $300,000, then a modest remodel budget is $15,000.
When determining how much budget you should allocate to each part of your remodel, follow the one-third rule: spend one-third of the budget on cabinetry, another third on other upgrades including countertops, backsplashes, sinks, flooring, and appliances, and the final third on labor.
If you’re investing a fair sum in the remodel, bring in a professional designer to protect the quality of the final product. Professional kitchen designers charge on average $100 to $200 per hour, so leave some room in your budget for their services.
Last, but not least, set aside 15% to 20% of your budget for any unexpected problems that arise during the remodel. This is your insurance to cover extra costs for mending the termite damage, plumbing leaks, or mold you might discover when you rip out those cabinets from the last century.
Whether you plan to sell your home in the near or distant future, it never hurts to reach out to a real estate agent with your questions on your kitchen remodel’s return on investment. They can lend an objective eye on design choices, share what upgrades buyers crave in your market, and connect you to reputable local contractors.
Remodeled kitchens sell homes
Even people who fear cooking love a beautiful kitchen — elevate yours and buyers will flock. “The kitchen is the most important room,” Huebner reiterates; “you can’t go wrong in improving your kitchen before the sale, because it’s gonna help sell your house faster and more money.”
Header Image Source: (Sidekix Media / Unsplash)