How to Plan for a Kitchen Remodel


A kitchen remodel can be one of the biggest and most expensive projects you undertake in your home. There are a lot of elements you have to consider, and you may need to make sure you have enough in your budget for all your must-haves. 

You have to think about not only your personal preferences but also might want to consider the resale value of your home and subsequently, how your remodeling could affect it. For example, let’s say you love the idea of gray kitchen cabinets, but you worry that they’re too trendy and will diminish your home value in a few years. 

Should you go with what you love or stick with resale value as a top priority? These are questions that are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of a kitchen renovation, and the following are tips and things to keep in mind as you get started. 

Set Goals and Objectives

Before you do anything else as far as moving a remodel project forward, know your whys. Think about what you want to achieve and your objectives. 

For example, maybe your goals are all about aesthetics, and you want a space that feels fresh, modern, and updated. It could be all about cosmetics for you. 

Another goal is to make your kitchen more functional. If functionality and creating a space that’s easier to work in are your biggest goals, then you’ll think about the work triangle. The work triangle is formed by the locations of your refrigerator, stove, and sink. If these points are too far away, it makes cooking and cleaning much more difficult. 

Another goal is opening up your kitchen and generally making your main living area more open-concept. 

If you think you could sell your home soon, then you might make your goal of improving the resale value. 

If you’re going to spend money on a kitchen renovation, you want it to be what you dream of, but you also have to make sure your goals are realistic for your budget, home, and lifestyle. 

Set a Budget

Your budget is what’s going to dictate what you actually end up getting in your renovation. A medium-sized kitchen remodel averages anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. 

The budget will be based on the products and finishes you choose, your home’s value, where you live, and the scope of your project. You don’t ever want to over-improve your home. This means that you do such a high-end remodel that if you were to ever sell your home, it wouldn’t be comparable to the other ones in the neighborhood. 

When you’re budgeting, you should put around 30% into your cabinets and 17% into appliances. Countertops should account for around 11% of your budget, and lighting and electrical around 10%. Then you have to budget for your plumbing, backsplash and flooring, and miscellaneous expenses. You should also set aside 10-20% of your total budget for unexpected expenses that are inevitable. 

If you’re thinking from an investment standpoint, realize that a kitchen can make or break a sale when the time comes. Smaller remodels can actually end up having a better ROI because they solve problems of functionality. Expensive projects tend to be more personalized and focused on aesthetics, which could turn some buyers off if they don’t have the same taste as you. 

Compare Needs and Wants

Once you have a general idea of your goals and your budget, start to narrow down your needs versus your wants. Yes, you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on high-end appliances, but is that really the smart decision? Would you be better off with basics that are going to be reliable? 

Layout and Space Planning

Your kitchen, above any other room in your home, has to be functional and practical. You should start by assessing how you work in your current kitchen. What do you like in terms of functionality, and what do you not like? How could things be easier and more pleasant for you?

How many people are typically working in your kitchen at any given time?

While working with a designer or contractor can help you as far as safety and technicalities, it’s up to you to think about what’s personally convenient from your perspective. 

A few things to keep in mind include the following:

  • You need to have at least 36 inches of counter space so you can make food here. You need a minimum of 24 inches on one side of your sink and 18 on the other, but when possible more may be better. 
  • You need enough floor space in front of your appliances so even when the doors are open, you’d be able to walk in front of them. This could mean you need anywhere from 30-48 inches in front of appliances. Be mindful of the depth and direction of slinging appliance doors—especially your refrigerator. You don’t want the wall to block a door from opening fully. 
  • Leave room for the flow of traffic, meaning you need at least 42 inches between your counters and the island so people are able to walk through easily without interrupting what someone at a counter might be doing. 

Are You Hiring a Contractor?

If you’re fairly handy, you might be able to do most, if not all, of your kitchen remodel on your own. If not, you’ll hire a contractor. You want to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to hire a contractor because they’re often booked up months in advance, especially if they’re good. 

When you’re hiring a contractor, if you can visit a current job site, do so. It’ll give you a feel for how they work and the quality of their work. 

Finally, you might also need to work with a designer, but it’s possible you could get away without doing so. If you’re hiring a cabinet company, they might have an onsite design team, and they can give you a 3D kitchen design using the software. You can also use this software on your own.