Redoing the kitchen is one of the most perennially popular home renovation projects — and also one of the most varied and complex. From enlarging the space to reconfiguring the cabinets, from re-tiling the backsplash to upgrading the appliances, the options are endless, and so are the costs.
Even so, kitchen renovations fall into three generally accepted tiers that reflect the square-footage size of the kitchen, the scope of the work being done and materials used. They, along with their approximate price tags, are:
- Small or minor remodels ($24,000-$26,000)
- Midrange or partial remodels ($69,000-$75,000)
- Major or upscale remodels ($100,000-$150,000)
It’s important to have a sense of what each category entails, so you can intelligently discuss with designers and contractors what you really want, and where the money should go. Let’s look more closely at the three main types of kitchen remodels and what they involve.
Small/minor kitchen remodel
A small or minor kitchen remodel is typically the simplest and least expensive, because it’s primarily a cosmetic job. The current kitchen design, size and original layout are kept intact. What does get changed are surfaces.
Some of the most popular small kitchen renovation features include:
- Painting walls
- Refreshing backsplash
- Replacing lighting and plumbing fixtures
- Re-covering floor
- Changing cabinet hardware, facades
- Buying some new appliances
Minor kitchen remodels are ideal for new homeowners on a budget or for those who feel the kitchen functions just fine — it just could use a facelift.
Since it’s basically an aesthetic refresh, much of the minor kitchen remodel can usually be completed by a DIY-oriented homeowner — and can cost just a few thousand dollars if you are doing the bulk of it yourself. However, according to Remodeling.com’s “2021 Cost vs Value Report,” hiring professionals, choosing higher-end hardware or replacing all appliances with state-of-the-art models for this level of redo runs an average of $26,214.
Midrange/partial kitchen remodel
The middle tier of kitchen remodeling is more involved than a simple refresh. Homeowners may decide on a midrange kitchen renovation when the overall look, and to some extent the functional ability, of the kitchen is outdated.
It often involves replacing (not just repainting or refinishing) all the major surfaces of a kitchen, installing new flooring, countertops, sinks and custom cabinets. New features might be added, like an island or extra cabinetry. And of course major appliances will be upgraded, often with energy- or space-saving models.
Major/upscale kitchen remodel
A major kitchen renovation is the most complex and expensive type of kitchen-design project. Upscale kitchen remodels typically involve a new and improved floor plan, enlargement of the space, and re-arrangement of pipes, gas lines or wiring. Virtually everything is changed or replaced, and generally with top-of-the-line finishes and appliances, luxe or speciality materials, and much customization of sizes and shapes.
Cooking enthusiasts and homeowners interested in a customized space are more likely to go with a major kitchen remodel. It’s not unusual for interior designers, contractors and even engineers to be involved. Building permits may be required.
Not surprisingly, the cost of the project is usually the steepest. Expect to pay an average of $150,000 for a major remodeled kitchen. Plus, you may need to move out while the construction is in progress or make alternate cooking arrangements: Full-bore kitchen overhauls often take longer and can be disruptive because of the level of demolition required.
Breaking down new kitchen design costs
It’s generally construction and floor plan rearrangement that kicks a remodel into the “major” category. Some pros divide kitchen redos into two types — minor and major — with “minor” being purely cosmetic jobs, and “major” being those involving structural changes. They then top off the major category with an additional luxury tier, which reflects the type of materials.
The cost of those materials and features can vary wildly. For example, you could replace a refrigerator with an $800 model from a home improvement store or spend $20,000 on a Sub-Zero professional model with glass doors; spend $100 per on a set of stock cabinets, or $1,000 apiece for custom-made ones.
On the other hand, installation costs are relatively fixed. Here are some of the elements that go into an average kitchen remodel and their typical installation prices, based on small, midrange, or major kitchen remodels, according to Homeadvisor.
|Item to be installed||Minor kitchen remodel||Midrange kitchen remodel||Upscale/major kitchen renovation|
|Appliance||$100 – $200 each||$200 – $400 each||$400 – $600 or more each|
|Backsplash||$150 – $400||$400 – $800||$800 – $1,200|
|Cabinets||$100 – $200 per cabinet||$200 – $300 per cabinet||$300 – $500 per cabinet|
|Countertops||$200 – $500||$400 – $1,000||$1,000 – $2,500|
|Faucet||$125 – $200 each||$200 – $300 each||$300 – $550 each|
|Flooring||$600 – $1,000||$1,000 – $1,500||$1,500 – $3,000|
|Sink||$100 – $250||$250 – $400||$400 – $600|
Kitchen remodels and home value
As you can see, you could spend $1,000 or $100,000 on a kitchen renovation. In fact, homeowners continue to spend more year over year on kitchen remodeling — regardless of the project scale. The Houzz 2022 Kitchen Trends Study found that the median spend on a major renovation is 14 percent more than 2021 and 25 percent higher than the previous year for a minor redo.
The real question is, how much should you spend on a kitchen remodel?
A freshly updated kitchen is generally one of the most sought-after features by homebuyers. Improvements you make to the kitchen can add to your home’s value. However, splurging on a major kitchen remodel may bring more joy than an actual return on your investment. Spending $50,000 on a kitchen remodel does not mean you automatically add $50,000 or more in property value.
“In many cases, a minor refresh will have a higher ROI than a major remodel,” Reese Freeman, a general contractor in Steamboat Springs, CO says. That’s borne out by Remodeling’s “Cost vs Value Report,” which notes that minor kitchen remodels recoup about 72 per cent of their cost, while the most upscale major remodels only recoup half (53.9 percent).
“If your goal is to maximize the value of your home, such as for a resale, then a minor refresh is the way to go. But, if you have the funds, some extra features and complete renovation of the space will add quite a bit of added comfort to your life and have a ‘wow’ factor every time you walk into it.”
— Reese Freemangeneral contractor
Deciding on the type of kitchen remodel
If you do want bang for your kitchen-remodeling buck, keep certain factors in mind.
Choose mass appeal
Over-customizing a kitchen can limit your future home-buying audience. Choose features and design styles that would be appreciated by a larger variety of individuals. Custom items such as a walk-in wine cellar may work for your family but may only cater to a limited clientele in the future.
Consider the neighborhood
Before undertaking a midrange or major kitchen remodel, do some research on what homes in your area sell for — and the general condition of the kitchens and baths. You could look at local listings for your ZIP code through sources such as Zillow or Redfin to view interior photos for ideas. Keeping a kitchen remodel in line with other homes in the area could help you avoid overspending on features that are not as popular for the neighborhood you live in.
Know when to splurge
Saving on certain kitchen components and rolling the savings over to specific features could be a smart move. For example, choosing quartz countertops over natural marble could free up your budget (and require far less maintenance). The savings could be applied towards other upgrades such as better appliances. Teri Simone, the Chief Kitchen Designer for Nieu Cabinet Doors, explains, “Splurging on high-end appliances can save big in the long run on energy efficiency, and these appliances often come with better warranties or even service plans.”
The final word on the types of kitchen remodels
A kitchen remodel can be as simple as painting cabinets, updating faucets or replacing an appliance. Or it can involve knocking down walls, relocating plumbing and creating a whole new footprint, in partnership with interior designers and contractors.
When deciding on how large of a project you are willing to undertake, be strategic with your kitchen remodeling decisions: Evaluate the number of changes you wish to make, the expense of the project and the time frame. You may decide that a kitchen refresh will suffice. However, if you plan on living in the home for a while and are willing to take on the expense and commitment of a midrange or major kitchen renovation, the results could increase your property value and offer you years of cooking enjoyment.