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Now you’re cookin’

5 ways to make the kitchen remodel work

It’s a well-known fact that if you’re looking to add value to your home, the best room to renovate is the kitchen. Potential homebuyers want to see what kind of money has been spent inside the house, and eye-catching granite countertops and stainless steel accents make a magnificent impression. The kitchen is a family’s indoor gathering space, so the better it looks and more inviting it feels, the better your return could be when it comes time to move on. 

As you plan your kitchen renovation, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

Update accordingly

Even if you’re a master chef and want all the best equipment and materials, remember to keep your upgrade consistent with the rest of your house. For instance, a $40,000 kitchen renovation simply doesn’t make sense in a $200,000 home. Any return on your investment would be realized when the house sells at a higher purchase price, but that price is still mostly determined by the rest of your home that isn’t the kitchen (as well as other factors discussed below). According to HomeAdvisor.com, a kitchen remodel should not exceed 15% of your home’s value.

Budget your vision

It’s important to identify every specific change you want to make before the project starts, as this will determine your budget. HomeAdvisor.com reports the national average price of a kitchen renovation to be $20,556. With a mid-range remodel like this, you might consider updating countertops, installing custom cabinets and adding some new appliances. Smaller upgrades might consist of eco-friendly updates and maximizing storage, whereas a major remodel can mean a total kitchen gut job, where virtually everything, including the floor, is removed and replaced. When you know what changes you’d like to make, add an extra 10% to your budget for unexpected issues that may arise.

Location matters

The worst mistake you can make when renovating is to price yourself out of the neighborhood. Whether it’s an addition or upgraded kitchen and baths, be careful that your house doesn’t stand out garishly from surrounding houses, outside or inside. Your house will be compared to other houses in the area (aka, “comps”) when the time comes to sell. Though you may have a new hardwood floor, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, custom cherry cabinets to the ceiling and a wide, easy-rolling butcher-block island with storage compartments and a hand-sani station, the remodel may not translate in dollars because the home’s value also correlates to your location.

Prioritize

This is pretty straightforward: if you have a leaking roof, the last thing you should be thinking about is a kitchen upgrade. Make sure all necessities in your home are accounted for and in good working order. Heat, electric, plumbing, cooling, major appliances, roof, foundation, termites—these and other aspects of your home’s overall health should come before improving the kitchen. If the oven is shot and the refrigerator is so old it’s a fire hazard, these are practical reasons to segue into a larger upgrade to the space. All things being equal, though, keep a “first-things-first” mentality when pondering a kitchen renovation.

Balance is key

Sometimes an upgrade can spin out of control. For some people it’s hard to know when to stop, and for others there’s a misguided sense of trend. In the first case, consider the chain-reaction that occurs when making a wedding list: “We have to invite the Smiths because the Andersons will be there,” becomes, “We have to have stainless steel light fixtures because we have stainless steel appliances.” This phenomenon illustrates the second case as well. Yes, stainless steel combines sharp lines with an eye-pleasing luster and it’s easy to clean—perfect for kitchen décor and function—but don’t overdo it. It’s best in small doses, set against a stained or colored wood backdrop to balance its modern appeal with more rustic, natural elements.

Updating and improving your kitchen is an exciting change to your lifestyle and living space, and it may prove financially beneficial when you make another big life decision down the road. To make it work out best for you and your family, know your home, your location and your specific intentions first.


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