Remodeling a kitchen can be an expensive project. So it’s natural for people to put it off. But then they wonder, when is the best time to create their dream kitchen?
And since so much money can be involved, homeowners don’t want to make a mistake. Instead, they want to get the best value for their money and maximize the return they’ll get from their investment.
Also, remodeling a kitchen can disrupt your life for a few weeks. So, you don’t want to undertake a remodel when you’ve got other major life events looming. But let’s assume you’ve got the space in your personal life so you can put some energy into upgrading your kitchen.
Is now a good time to remodel your kitchen?
There’s no easy answer to this question. Much of the answer depends on your why.
Why Do You Want to Remodel Your Kitchen?
Think about what’s fueling your desire for a new kitchen. If you’re facing a situation like a significant electrical code violation, appliances from the 80s, and a floor that testifies to more than one generation of teenagers growing up in the house, then probably an entire remodel is long overdue. But most of us aren’t in those circumstances.
So, think hard about what’s causing you pain in your kitchen. According to one survey from Houzz, almost half of the people who remodeled their kitchens said it was because they couldn’t stand their kitchens anymore.
But did they really need to remodel?
What are the Pain Points of Your Current Kitchen?
Carefully consider the features of your kitchen that frustrate and bother you the most. The ones that cause you the most pain. Some of the most common ones are:
One of the biggest complaints people have about their kitchens is that they look cluttered and untidy. Kitchen tools, spices, and other items crowd the counter space, leaving little room to work.
Instead of jumping to the idea that you need a larger kitchen or all new cabinets, maybe all you need to do is install organizers in your cabinets and drawers. Or perhaps add sliding drawers in your cabinets so you can make use of the hard-to-reach space in the back. In either case, you’ll be able to get rid of the clutter on your counters. Then you’ll be better able to decide if you really need more counter space or not.
Another common problem is that the layout of the kitchen is inefficient. Before redesigning your kitchen, try to see if you can reorganize for efficiency. Store the things you often use within easy reach. Stash the stuff you use only a few times a year on high shelves or in the back of cabinets. This simple fix might be the solution. Even if it’s not, you’ll probably have a clearer idea of what you need in terms of cabinets and storage.
The Workspace is Secluded
Nowadays, most people want to feel like their part of the party. What’s the point of having family and friends over if you’re going to be isolated in the kitchen? And most people have struggled with preparing dinner while keeping an eye on what the kids are up to in the family room. Remodeling your kitchen to create an open plan seems to be the obvious solution.
But before you dive into a remodel, try rearranging small appliances or adding a mobile kitchen cart. Even if this doesn’t help much, you might get a few ideas for what kind of kitchen layout will work best for you.
Your Kitchen is Too Dark
Of course, you want good lighting in your kitchen. While sometimes you might prefer romantic dim light, it’s a different story when you’re chopping onions. Upgrading lighting might be the solution. Or a fresh coat of paint on dark cabinets could lighten things up.
Outdated or Overly Trendy Finishes
Your kitchen might be perfectly functional and efficient.
But you may have grown tired of what was once trendy. For example, you’re sick of the open shelving that forces you to keep your cupboards tidy. Or you cringe every time you try to clean the granite countertops that are stained and chipped. Or perhaps your mosaic backsplash or subway tile makes your kitchen look frumpy and out of date. Or your kitchen island is a great workspace, but no one can sit and eat at it. And you’ve grown to despise the oversized drawer pulls that were all the rage ten years ago.
You might be able to fix some of this without a major remodel. For example, replacing a backsplash or cabinet hardware is relatively inexpensive. Countertops and redoing the layout are more costly fixes.
Your Kitchen Lacks Features You Want
Maybe you really want a gas stove, and yours is electric. Or you want a double sink, a wine cooler, pantry, island, breakfast nook…the list could go on. When you start thinking of deficiencies in your kitchen like this, now a remodel is looking like your best solution.
The Kitchen is Too Small
Now we’re getting to more challenging things to fix. For example, suppose you live in an older home, and the kitchen doesn’t even have space for a dishwasher. Looking into remodeling will most likely be your only option for making your kitchen work for you.
You’re Getting Ready to Sell
We’ve all heard from real estate agents that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And that kitchens and bathrooms are what sell the house. So, you might be thinking that if you are putting your house on the market in the next few years, this might be the time to remodel your kitchen.
While you certainly will want to spruce up your kitchen so it looks your best, a complete remodel might not be what you need.
Once you’ve tried the easy fixes and thought through what you want from your kitchen, you’re in a much better place to decide if the time is right to remodel.
This brings us to the next factor involved in deciding if this is the right time to remodel your kitchen.
What is the Cost of Remodeling Your Kitchen?
If you think you can spend $40,000 on a kitchen remodel and then sell your house for $40,000 more than you would have asked, think again. The average return on investment for a kitchen remodel is between 60 and 80%. While return on investment varies depending on the scope and quality of materials used [link to roi article], it’s important to remember you won’t get all your money back when you sell your house.
Major kitchen remodels can cost over $60,000, while minor remodels are more in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. The quality of the appliances and finishes you choose will have a big impact on the final price tag.
So, it is critical to establish your budget. You don’t want to spend more than you can afford, hoping to recoup it with the sale of your house. Instead, set a realistic budget, and accept that you won’t be able to do all that you want to. Or else wait until you have the means to do the project to create your dream kitchen.
What are Different Types of Kitchen Remodels?
Deciding if you are going for a major or minor remodel will greatly impact the price tag. Understanding the difference will help you decide which is right for you.
There are three general types.
Cosmetic remodels involve items like refinishing the floors, repainting cabinets, changing cabinet hardware or upgrading the lighting. These projects are very limited in scope.
Minor remodeling means that the basic layout and flow of your kitchen will most likely remain the same. You might replace some appliances and put down a new floor. Or instead you’ll put in new cabinets and backsplashes. In other words, you might do fairly significant work, but you won’t replace everything.
Don’t be fooled by the word minor. This type of remodel could cost $20,000 or more, depending on the price of the materials you use. If you opt for top of the line appliances, flooring and quartz countertops, things will add up quickly.
Major remodeling involves gutting the kitchen, reworking the layout, and replacing most of the appliances, flooring and cabinets. A major remodel could even include taking down a wall or adding a door or window. Work of this scope will easily cost more than $60,000. A lot depends on the quality of materials you choose and the size of your kitchen.
Choosing the scope of your remodel is a very personal decision. It comes back to why you want to remodel. For most people, the biggest reason for remodeling is to eliminate features they hate about their kitchen, replacing them with features they will love.
How Long Does a Kitchen Remodel Take?
This is another factor to consider. While good contractors work hard to minimize the disruption to your life, you’ll want to take that into consideration during your planning. Major remodels take at least three to five months. Generally, minor remodels take less time.
If you’re remodeling to sell and need to be out of your house in three months, then your focus should be on a minor remodel, taking care of the things that can be done the quickest.
When is the Right Time to Remodel Your Kitchen?
Now we’re back to the question we started with. If you’ve thought through what you don’t like about your kitchen and easy fixes won’t be enough, then this is a good time to consider a remodel.
If you’re thinking of selling in the next few years, then some remodeling will most likely be a good idea. You won’t get all the money back, but a fresh updated kitchen will help your house to sell faster.
If you’re planning to stay in your home for a few years and there are things that you just can’t stand about your kitchen or stress you out, why suffer with them? Think through the things that you really want from your kitchen, what will make you happy and make it more enjoyable for you to be in your home. Set a budget and scope for your remodel. And look forward to enjoying your newly remodeled kitchen.