Kitchens remain the heart of most homes. It's not only where we cook and eat, but where friends and family gather, children do their homework, and daily chores are organized and completed. Kitchens provide a sense of comfort and belonging, so it's good news that kitchen remodels can retain a significant portion of their value.
But before you begin, especially in today's shaky economy, it's imperative to select the correct level of remodeling for what you need now, with an eye on your home's future resale value. Critical factors to assess include the overall budget you have to work with, how long you expect to stay in your home, and what type of kitchens are in other homes in your neighborhood.
According to Remodeling magazine's 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report, midrange minor kitchen remodels or "cosmetic" changes — which include new countertops, cabinet fronts, a few new appliances, light fixtures, and hardware — have an average national cost of $20,000 and get 72 percent return on investment. Midrange major remodels, which include all new appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring, and lighting, have a average of about $58,000 and a 66 percent return. High-end renovations, which can include structural work or relocating to another area in the home, installing larger windows, and replacing all kitchen components can easily cost $100,000 or more; the more extensive and expensive the renovation, returns fall to the 50 percent to 60 percent range.
Tips in planning your remodel
• Assess your needs and wants. How do you use your kitchen? How many cooks are there? How many daily meals do you cook there? What kind of appliances and equipment do you need? Do you eat there? What other activities occur in the kitchen? What are the storage requirements? Is there plenty of natural lighting? Do you want to display any kitchen items?
• List out all items that you would like to replace and establish priorities. If you are a gourmet cook, then you will probably want to splurge on some professional grade appliances. If you have six children, then you may want a large farmhouse table and a large pantry!
• Develop an initial itemized budget.
• Research the latest in kitchen design on the Internet, blogs, decorating magazines and even local show houses or model homes.
• Organize your inspiration and thoughts. Houzz.com provides a great site for collecting and storing your ideas!
• Finalize budget and determine the extent of the renovation. For larger projects, it is recommended that you hire a design professional to help you navigate the layout of your new kitchen, along with making all of the selections.
Ways to maximize your budget
Cabinetry: Trends are helping with the style of cabinetry. Most people today are drawn to a cleaner sleeker kitchen, which means flat panel doors such as Shaker-style, which are cost effective vs. heavier raised panel doors and opulent molding. Also, alder wood, in lieu of cherry or maple, can provide a way to save on cabinetry. Some cabinet manufacturers have reduced or deleted up-charges on painted finishes, which remain popular in Florida. Opt away from glazes, which can add 15 to 20 percent to the cabinetry price.
Countertops: Typically for resale and if your neighborhood has similar grade kitchens, stone countertops are most attractive to prospective buyers. Quartz, such as Silestone or Caesarstone, is a cost effective material that adds a great look with easy maintenance properties. Granite remains another popular choice, with level 1 being the least expensive. The edges of the stone can greatly affect the cost, so choose a less expensive square edge. In addition, another way to save money is to use a less expensive option on the main counters, while splurging a bit more on the island.
Appliances: Again, these must fit your lifestyle. If you are a serious cook, then it will be worthwhile for you to invest in nicer grade appliances, and you will want to save money in other areas. Always check for rebates or promotions, and if you are buying many appliances, you might be able to negotiate a "package" discount with the vendor. Don't purchase extended warranties especially if you've done your proper research up front, as you should not have many service issues.
Flooring: Pre-finished hardwood floors, porcelain tile, or natural stone remain popular selections with cost effective options, and these floors attract prospective buyers. Don't forget to research the maintenance and typical life span of any type of flooring, because the kitchen is a high traffic area.
Check out Verde Grande Antico White Oak Smoked Hardwood Flooring, with its gorgeous wood graining and durability.
Backsplash tile: There are wonderful glass and/or stone mosaics on the market that are affordable and eye catching. Stay away from decorative accent pieces that are priced per single piece. Subway tiles remain forever classic, while providing a crisp look.
Michelle Jennings Wiebe, ASID, is president and principal designer of Studio M in Tampa. You can reach her at (813) 221-5260 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Studio M, go to interiorsbystudiom.com.