Kitchen makeovers remain popular as homeowners continue to invest to create a warm, stylish, comfortable, and efficient heart of the home. In addition to improved aesthetics and organization, kitchen remodels also hold reasonable resale value. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report, midrange minor kitchen remodels—new countertops, appliances, cabinet fronts, and hardware—have an average national cost just shy of $20,000 and get 72% return on investment. Midrange major remodels, which include new appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring, and lighting, have a mid-range average of $57,824 and a nearly 66% return. High-end renovations can easily cost $100,000 and up.
Though aesthetics are important, the driving remodeling force is functionality. Start by doing some research and tour show houses and kitchen show rooms to see product up close and personal. Next, set a budget that reflects your main priorities for the new space and familiarize yourself with basic elements of design.
Planning Your Best Kitchen
Today’s kitchens average 200–300 square feet and are increasingly part of an open-floor plan. Other trends include a move towards simplicity, uncluttered looks, energy efficiency, and natural materials. Look to design books, magazines, and websites for ideas. And check out the helpful Kitchen Planner by the National Kitchen and Bath Assocation (NKBA), which is available as a free download.
Here are some key points to get you started:
How will you use the kitchen? Before you do anything, determine how you like to cook and entertain in your kitchen. Do you cook alone or with someone? Is your kitchen a multi-purpose room where kids do homework and friends love to gather? Keep track of what currently works well and what doesn’t. For instance, if you’re forever crawling into the back of lower cabinets to retrieve something, jot that issue down.
Stop the clutter. Now is your chance to take inventory of everything you need to store, then plan accordingly. Fortunately, cabinet makers realize storage and organization features drive sales, and they’ve responded accordingly.
Think about efficiency. If your kitchen feels more like an obstacle course than an organized work place, consider two tried-and-true kitchen layout basics:
• The Work Triangle. This imaginary triangle features the stove, refrigerator, and sink at the points. The old “26-foot rule” dictates that the perimeter of this triangle should not exceed 26 feet and that each side should be between four and nine feet long. Make sure that the triangle doesn’t intersect an island or peninsula for more than a foot. (To see additional layouts, select Galley, L-shaped, Corridor, and G-shaped floor plans.)
• The Work Station. Create separate stations for food prep, cooking, baking, and cleaning. Each area is centered around a major appliance and needs at least 15 inches of counter space.
Stick with a Budget. In all likelihood, you’ll need to make some choices on where to save and where to splurge. “Keep your priorities front and center,” advises the NKBA Kitchen Planner. “A $500 range or a $10,000 one? A $100 sink or one that’s $3,500? A $4 polished brass knob or a $98 crystal model? What’s important to you?”
As for budget breakdown, the NKBA Kitchen Planner notes that you can expect cabinetry and hardware to run about 29% of your investment, appliances and ventilation can be 14%, countertops typically run 10%, and installation is about 17% of the total project cost. Set aside 10% or 20% of your budget for contingencies.
For more on kitchen planning, consider:
Fresh Ideas for Kitchen Flooring
Counter Intelligence: Choosing the Right Countertop