If you have decided to remodel your kitchen, most likely you did not arrive at this decision lightly. For homeowners, whether they are intending to sell or reside in their home for the next forty years, the kitchen is one of the most popular rooms to renovate. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Families instinctively gather in the kitchen to connect through conversation and cooking; guests tend to linger there, even though you have taken care to clean up the formal living room for their arrival. A kitchen that glistens with new appliances, a space that you have reconfigured to fit your culinary preferences—the way you move between the stove and the island, or spread out your vegetables in every direction for salad-making—can make you fall in love with your house all over again. Only you know what you want and need in an updated kitchen. So why not take the remodeling into your own very capable hands?
Never fear…we can offer you quite a bit of sound advice as you consider the DIY option. And our approach shouldn’t drain your bank account.
The Basics of Your Budget
First, you do need to face your budget. We recommend that no matter the total amount you are planning to spend, you should distribute your resources in the following way:
• 29% to cabinets and hardware
• 22% to design and installation
• 16% to windows, walls, doors, ceilings, and floors
• 14% to appliances and proper venting
• 9% to electrical and plumbing
Of course, you can’t predict at the outset what problems might arise, but sticking as closely as possible to these guidelines will help you to stay on track. As you can see, you will invest most of your budget in cabinetry. But you can still make financially smart decisions and end up with stunning results.
One way to use your money wisely is to turn to a large distributor of made-to-order cabinets rather than calling your local craftsman. In a factory, a temperature-controlled environment guarantees fewer issues with wood later on, such as warping or cracking. The digital tools that workers use to carve and cut may not be as romantic as the deft hand of an artist, but they ensure precision. Finishes that dry in applied heat, rather than air, give the cabinetry a smooth and strong finish. And finally, a major manufacturer can offer warranties of up to a quarter of a decade. You should perform due research to find a manufacturer willing to include the services you want as standard inclusions rather than additions, so that you can avoid paying for upgrades. Along similar lines, resist the urge to order any customized features, such as drawer or wine organizers. You can find these extras at budget websites, or even your neighborhood Target.
Now, don’t forget the lighting that you’ll need for the undersides of your cabinets, so that you can illuminate your counters. Xenon lights are halogen bulbs that can give you the color you want, a beam with generous width, and a dimming option. Their only downfall might be that they can grow too hot to touch. Before installation, these lights may run you between $25.00 and $125.00. LED bulbs are efficient and last quite a while. They are sleek and discreet, often hiding under the edge of the cabinet. You will pay more for LED lights—maybe $75.00 to $190.00. Ask around before you make your decision, as most likely your friends and neighbors can point you in one direction or the other according to their experience.
In your lower cabinets, you might splurge for some conveniences. To avoid kneeling on the hard floor and rummaging blindly for Tupperware and pans, consider installing a half-moon lazy susan, double sliding shelves, or pull-out shelves. In each case, shelves slide out so that you can reach all of your items easily. A half-moon lazy susan will probably cost you between $200.00 – $300.00, while pull-out shelves could run you nearly $800.00. (Now you understand why cabinetry needs the bulk of your budget!) Another decision is whether to use drawers or roll-out trays in your base cabinets. Drawers are a one-step operation, opening with a swift pull. Rollouts require the opening of doors first, and then a tug on the tray. Drawers contain larger objects well, while roll-outs have low sides that can lead to your pans and lids sliding to the floor. But these lower boundaries give you more insight into what’s actually inside the cabinets, and unlike drawers, you can adjust their height and add new ones at any time.
You may have seen open shelving on many a design show. The look is certainly modern and appealing—though you are under pressure to keep your dishes and mugs in perfect alignment. Because dust collects quickly on anything exposed and used infrequently, we suggest that you use open shelving only for those items that you use daily. You can also store cookbooks here, or oversized serving dishes that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.
If you are a master cook, someone who has always wanted to spend more time cooking, or someone who spends a lot of time cooking out of necessity…you will look forward to selecting the right range for your new kitchen. Think about whether you truly need a top-of-the-line product, however. A pro-grade range is tempting. Besides the fact that it will last you 20+ years, its stainless steel construction is attractive and durable, and the burners allow for ultra-precise control of heat. On the flip side, a pro-range needs a 10-inch duct for ventilation, in comparison to the typical 7-inch. It requires expensive parts that require expensive repairs, and can also weigh much more than standard ranges, therefore placing strain on your floor. And of course, a pro-range will cost you between five and ten grand.
So how about a next-generation cook top? This kind of range uses an electro-magnetic field to warm up cookware, giving you the simplicity of electric heat but the versatility of gas. The heating process is faster, and yet, the top of the range stays cool so you don’t have to worry about curious children burning their fingers. You can install this type of range anywhere in your kitchen; no gas lines are necessary…just plug it in.
No matter the range you choose, you should invest in a decent hood for effective ventilation to the outdoors. You may not have realized that your hood needs to line up with your range when it comes to width, depth, and air flow to BTUs. Other factors, such as the distance between the hood and the range and how long the duct is, can affect the dimensions of the hood you should buy. Don’t hesitate to seek the advice of an expert at your local appliance store.
With so many dazzling designs on the market, the task of choosing a refrigerator can seem daunting. Do you go with French doors? A bottom freezer? One of those convenient mid-drawers for cans of soda and juice pouches? How about a built-in wine cooler? Well, here’s some food for thought.
An ice dispenser on the front of a fridge calls for a rather large apparatus on the other side. If you want to reduce the amount of space that the receptacle takes from the interior of your fridge, you should go with a side-by-side model so that the dispenser is relegated to the freezer. And if you are in the market for a fridge with French doors, think hard about the efficiency of a two-drawer freezer, as one large drawer filled with boxes of vegetables and leftovers wrapped in foil can render it impossible for you to find what you need at the moment you need it. In other space-saving news, purchasing a fridge with a recess in the back for cords and water line tubing will reduce how far the fridge juts out from the wall. Finally, a surge protector instead of a standard power outlet will lessen the threat of voltage spikes and outages.
The Drawer Dishwasher
Did you know that this kind of dishwasher even existed? Many people don’t! If you usually run just small loads of dishes, this option might be the right one for you. You will use less water this way. Another situation in which the drawer dishwasher is useful is when your kitchen is galley style and can’t accommodate a door that tips open. Third, think about the convenience of leaving your dishes in one of the drawers after you run a cycle, pulling them out at dinnertime to use, then loading them in the other drawer afterward. If you rotate through the drawers like this, technically, you never have to put another dish back in the cabinets! Lastly, if you have more than one kitchen area in your home, you can install a drawer dishwasher as a second dishwasher for your staff or caterers to use after a party, or in your finished basement near the wet bar.
Hands down, a gooseneck faucet with a sprayer will do the job best. Flexible to work around the most unwieldy of pasta pots, and available in simple or fashionable finishes, this kind of faucet will suit your kitchen no matter your taste. And though you might be inclined to treat yourself to a double-basin sink, a single will do just fine, and save you space in the process. Just beware of installing one that’s too deep, or else you will be leaning over too far, constantly drenched and popping ibuprofen for your aching back! Make sure that the bottom of the basin isn’t curved, or else your wine goblets will fall over and crack.
Though your guests might have to hunt for a minute or two to find it, a trash bin concealed in a base cabinet on a roll-out track will prove useful, and more attractive than a can out in the open. With some rollouts, you will be able to add a recycling bin, too. You might be emptying trash more often, but the slender bins are more efficient and will save you some heavy lifting, for sure.
You will encounter (so to speak) three main choices for your counter top edges:
- Eased. This kind of edge costs nothing extra, and complements contemporary and classic styles of counter, especially those thinner than one-and-a-quarter inches. It will also resist chipping.
- Full Bullnose. Again, there is no additional cost to this kind of edge. Again, this style fits in with classic and contemporary aesthetics. You won’t bruise yourself when you bump into it, and any spilled liquids will drain right into drawers.
- Ogee. And now we come to the extra cost—$8.00-$12.00 extra per linear foot. The ripples and coves in this style appear more formal, but the pointy edges can be harsh against a leaning body. If you are worried about your edges getting nicked or chipped, ogee would most likely not serve you well.
The Granite…or Not
Most people dream of granite counters when they envision their renovated kitchen. But you might want to entertain the idea of an alternative not created in nature. Engineered stone is stain-resistant, and requires virtually no care at all. Its quarried texture and quartz and resin blend are available in striking man-made colors. You could also investigate the option of solid surface, an acrylic polymer—Corian is an example. You can request an integral sink, avoiding seams. The finish is heat-resistant and responds well to sanding if scratches occur. Some colors even imitate the appearance of stone.
Let’s examine four routes to take with floor choices. First, hardwood. Many love the high-end look it lends to a kitchen, and are pleased to learn that boards beneath their current floor are in decent enough condition to use. Hardwood establishes a homey and either rustic or streamlined atmosphere. However, it also shows wear more quickly. You will most certainly need to refinish your hardwood floor at some point—perhaps multiple times—to fix gauges and scratches. With this option, you will spend $8.00-$30.00 per square foot.
You will thank your porcelain tile for its stamina, and find it easy to clean and maintain. A diversity of colors and sizes guarantees that you will find a look that pleases you. But tile is certainly not as warm under bare feet, and can be unforgiving beneath tired legs. Grout can grow fairly dirty over time. Tile will cost you $11.00-$25.00 to install.
Cork provides a soft and springy texture and a honey hue like wood. A coat of varnish already administered at the factory should save you time and effort up front, though you will need to apply another coat every three years or so to refurbish it and protect it. Cork costs about $10.00-$18.00 installed.
Linoleum is probably your most conventional choice. It offers endless designs and colors and comes in either sheets or 12-inch tiles that you glue down. You might not know that linoleum is antimicrobial and made of linseed oil. If you are using sheets of linoleum in a generously-sized kitchen, though, you won’t be able to hide the seams between sections. This option is the least expensive of all at $4.00-$8.00.
A kitchen renovation will barrage you with difficult choices and moments of self-doubt. Don’t worry—most likely, the decisions you are making will bring you years and years of delight. Still, before you bound away to get started, let’s consider features of your kitchen that you won’t miss if you decide to save your money for more important updates.
|Worth It||Forget It|
|A second sink for caterers, bartenders, or your home chef||Fancy finish techniques, such as distressing,and crackling, that can cost you more and grow outdated|
|Paneled cabinet ends for an attractive,finished look||Pot filler, as it doesn’t eliminate carrying,boiling hot water to the sink|
|Wine refrigerator, because you will rarely need that many bottles ready to drink at once|
All in all, the simplest solution to saving your money will be to avoid major construction in your kitchen. That is, if you have no problem with your layout as it is now, why destroy or move walls, change over from electric to gas, or completely reconfigure plumbing and wiring?
Easy for someone else to say, right? Of course, refraining from these large-scale changes might not be possible. If your budget does not permit you to undertake a major overhaul all at once, you can break down the process into manageable stages. In this case, you would want to start with renovations in layout. Install that island that you’ve always coveted. Switch your refrigerator with your oven. In doing so, you will have to tend to adjustments in all of those integral elements that no one, frustratingly, ever sees: the framing, electrical wiring, and plumbing. Attention to cabinets comes next. Go high end, and high number. You will never regret having more storage.
If you can hold off on any phases of your kitchen remodel, these might be your best save-it-for-later options:
- A brand new refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher. Your current ones still work fine, don’t they?
- Light fixtures. These accessories are easy to change at the very end of the entire process. All you need to know is that the wiring is in place.
- Top-of-the-line faucet. Again, an accessory that you can always add when you get your Christmas bonus.
- Backsplash. Your cabinets need time to burrow into their new space, so why invite problems with caulking and tiling? If you wait a while, you will have plenty of time to peruse those exotic glass designs available only in Germany. You can apply a semigloss to the wall behind the sink to fend off water until then.
A kitchen renovation is not only doable; it can be satisfying and thrilling. And if you invest care in your deliberations, whether you are one-hundred-percent certain of the outcomes, you will feel comfortable knowing that you strived to achieve the ultimate outcome for your home and for your budget!