7 min read

Man measures something while his dog watches

It’s often said that the kitchen is the heart of a home. That’s why having an inviting kitchen with updated features can be so valuable.

But a kitchen remodel or renovation can be a major expense. Many factors affect the cost, from kitchen size to appliances to whether you have professionals do some or all of the work. The total cost can range from a few thousand dollars all the way up to six figures.

Before starting work on a new kitchen, you will need to plan your budget.

“You’ll want to start by getting labor quotes for your project and select your materials so you know what your costs will be,” says Gina Hacken, owner and principal designer with Gina Lauren Interiors. “Having all the numbers will really help you determine what you are able to do,” she adds.

Thinking about the answers to these questions will get you started:

What’s the difference between renovating and remodeling?

You may hear a contractor or designer use these words interchangeably, but they have important differences. Typically, a renovation means you’re keeping the layout of the kitchen the same and are upgrading things like counters and appliances.

Remodeling usually means a more in-depth project. It could involve changes to layout and infrastructure, like the location of your plumbing and gas lines. As a result, a kitchen remodel can cost more than a renovation. But there are many decisions that affect the price of both kinds of project.

How much does the average kitchen renovation cost?

In total, a kitchen renovation generally costs homeowners $40,000 for a 200-sq.-ft. space, according to Fixr.com.1 As noted, that number can vary dramatically based on the level of re-do you’re taking on. Fixr.com indicates these general averages:

  • Low end, mostly cosmetic = $8,000
  • Average cost, which might range from a partial remodel (like adding or changing some cabinets) to a complete overhaul = $15,000-$50,000
  • High end, typically a luxury remodel = $150,000

If you are like most people, once you have determined what your renovation will cost, you will be on the lookout for ways to trim expenses. The good news? There are lots of ways to do that.

How can I save money on a kitchen renovation?

First, list all your must-have and nice-to-have features. Then consider one or more of these cost-saving options:

1. Consider refacing cabinets instead of replacing the entire structure. Refacing is when you add new cabinet doors, put on a new veneer or paint, and add new door hardware. It can cost a lot less than installing entirely new cabinets, but it requires keeping the structure and footprint of your current cabinets.

“If we compare by linear foot, it costs an average between $210 and $750 per linear foot to reface cabinets, whereas replacing them can set you back anywhere between $400 and $3,000 per linear foot, depending on the scope of the project,” says Graham.

2. Choose stock or lower-cost options for materials. Many materials are available for countertops or flooring, for example, and they have very different costs. “There are some really beautiful options out there with good quality at a great price point,” Hacken says. “To save money, look for porcelains, ceramics, quartz, and porcelain slabs for countertops. These materials will help with cutting costs.” 

For flooring, hardwood is very popular but can get expensive. “Slate tile is very inexpensive and can give you a refreshed look. It’s a natural stone, which can add value,” Graham explains. “Slate starts at $2 a square foot, so installed in a 200 sq. ft. kitchen, your costs could be under $1,000 with professional installation.”

3. Keep your current layout. By not moving electrical, plumbing, or gas lines, you can save a lot of money. Major structural changes require trained professionals and the labor involved with those renovations can be very expensive.

4. DIY when and where you can. If you can do some of the work yourself, you can save on costs. But remember, plumbing, electrical, and gas work require trained professionals. Can you replace a backsplash or apply a new coat of paint? These are activities that homeowners can safety handle themselves to bring down their renovation budget.

Once you understand the scope of your kitchen renovation, it’s time to prioritize your projects so you can plan your budget and financing.

How do I prioritize my kitchen renovation projects?

As you decide on the extent of your renovation or remodel, ask yourself some questions: How often will you cook and entertain in your new kitchen? What does your family do in the kitchen other than eat? What upgrades are must-haves, and which are nice-to-haves?

If an appliance is starting to fail, for example, that is something that must be replaced. But, while luxury types of tile or design choices may be great, you could save money by choosing a lower-cost option.

“Prioritizing what is absolutely essential versus more of a cosmetic repair is the best place to start,” Hacken says. “From there, it’s really about what you can do from a cost perspective.”

If you plan to stay in your home for many years, you may want to make more thorough changes so the kitchen is just the way you want it. On the other hand, if you plan to sell your home soon, focus on aspects that could make the kitchen attractive to potential buyers. This means choosing neutral tones and designs and updating key appliances.

Also think about the amount of time you’re willing to have your kitchen under construction. A renovation can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months, depending on how many changes you make.2

Now that you’ve outlined your priorities, make a list of what you plan to change or upgrade, and start researching costs in your area. You can compare prices online and at local stores. Items on that list can include:

  • Appliances
  • Cabinets
  • Countertops & backsplashes
  • Flooring
  • Installation & labor
  • Lighting
  • Painting
  • Plumbing

The price ranges you find will vary based on many things, like the size of your kitchen, the materials you choose, and if you do any portion of the labor yourself. Cabinets are usually the biggest expense in a kitchen renovation. Installation and labor are often the next most expensive element, followed by appliances .1

“Consider long-term investments, too,” says Adam Graham, industry analyst with Fixr.com. “Changing out old appliances for energy-efficient ones may cost a bit upfront but will pay for themselves in the long run by saving you money on monthly bills,” he explains. This kind of upgrade may also be eligible for a green loan.

“Do your homework. Before you hire anyone, start looking at material costs or get quotes for labor. Make sure you know all of your numbers.”

Gina Hacken, Owner & Principal Designer
Gina Lauren Interiors

How can I pay for a kitchen renovation?

First, look at your savings. It’s important to not dip into your retirement or emergency savings funds. Instead, set a monthly savings goal: Figure out what you can set aside each month, and start saving.

Another option may be a personal loan, which can be used for home repairs and renovations. Since many personal loans have a fixed interest rate and a set regular monthly payment, they can be easier to manage when planning your budget.

You can also look into a home equity loan if you need more than you can borrow with a personal loan. With a home equity loan, you borrow a fixed amount against the equity in your home, often up to 90%. You may be able to get a fixed interest rate with these loans, so your payments will be a set amount each month. Your house acts as collateral to secure the loan.

Or you might consider a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This is a revolving line of credit, which means you can keep using your available credit as you make payments. The equity in your home determines your credit limit.

One drawback is that a HELOC has a variable interest rate, like a credit card, so your payment amount can change each month. Like a home equity loan, a HELOC is secured with your house as collateral.

Get ready to renovate

Renovating or remodeling a kitchen can be a major undertaking, but both Hacken and Graham stress that planning can make all the difference.

“Do your homework,” Hacken advises. “Before you hire anyone, start looking at material costs or get quotes for labor. Make sure you know all of your numbers.”

“Take the time to shop around for the best options for materials and speak to a professional for advice,” adds Graham. “What is right for one homeowner may not be the best for another.”

A renovated kitchen can give you better functionality and make your home more inviting. For many people, this makes it worth the cost and effort. What’s more, a quality renovation can last for a long time.

With careful planning and the right financing, you can make your dream kitchen a reality.

Want to learn more about budgeting and paying for your dream kitchen?Prepare For Your Renovation

Articles may contain information from third parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third party or information.

1 https://www.fixr.com/costs/kitchen-remodeling

2 https://www.houzz.com/magazine/homeowners-workbook-how-to-remodel-your-kitchen-stsetivw-vs~1198907