As far as metaphors go, there aren’t many that ring more true than “kitchens are the heart of the home.” It’s where we go to nourish our bodies with the food that keeps us fit, and in many cases, the setting for where we replenish our souls through conversation with our closest friends and family. We may spend more time in our bedrooms, but we live more in our kitchens. Because of a kitchen’s role as that central gathering place, many homeowners find themselves searching for ways to improve or fine-tune the space. And try as they might, there comes a time when paint and new furniture just isn’t enough. When that finally does happen, it may be time to think about a kitchen remodel.
There’s no doubt about it: Kitchen remodels can be expensive projects. In fact, you’re probably here because you set out in search of information about the average kitchen remodel cost. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Based on research we’ve conducted on similar projects, we’ve put together a quick recap on the different types of kitchen remodels and what you’re looking at for an average kitchen remodel cost for each.
Level 1: The Cosmetic Kitchen Remodel
The cosmetic kitchen remodel is really a somewhat temporary fix. This type of project comes with the least average kitchen remodel cost, so you shouldn’t expect to see dramatic changes. The best way to think of cosmetic remodels is that you’re replacing the things you can see and what can be easily removed. In the kitchen, that might include appliances, countertops, and light fixtures. Depending on your budget, you may even be able to replace the cabinet doors—a much more cost-effective alternative to ripping out existing cabinet boxes and starting from scratch. Painting the cabinets is another lower-cost option to upgrade an outdated cabinet’s appearance.
What you won’t get in a cosmetic remodel is any real demolition, so moving walls or changing your kitchen’s footprint or flow is probably out of the question. And for homeowners who hope to merely brighten the space, that’s perfectly OK. One of the nice things about cosmetic remodels is that you may be able to take on some of the work (like painting cabinets or installing a new backsplash) yourself, which will lighten the load on your wallet. Generally speaking, the average kitchen remodel cost for this type of job if you have someone else handle it should be under $150 per square foot. If you aren’t going crazy, earmarking around $5,000 to $15,000 should be a good start.
Level 2: The Middle-of-the-Road Kitchen Remodel
To be clear, when we say middle-of-the-road, that isn’t any kind of knock on the quality of the materials or the work being performed. It’s merely a reflection of the scope of the job and the average kitchen remodel cost for what’s being completed. This type of project usually includes everything (or most of) the cosmetic kitchen remodel, and then some. With a level 2 remodel, you start getting into not only new materials but also upgraded materials. So, while you’re replacing the floor tile, you may elect to go with ceramic tile to upgrade the existing laminate. Older granite countertops may become quartz or marble. And if the budget allows for it, homeowners going this route will usually replace the cabinets as well. Cabinets come in stock, semi-custom, and custom options, and while custom may not be a possibility for this level, you can still find high-quality stock cabinets.
When it comes to the average kitchen remodel cost for level 3, you can expect a price hike from strictly cosmetic updates. Some experts suggest that a good guess is around $250 per square foot or more. If you’re looking for a number for planning purposes, anywhere between $20,000 to $50,000 is an often-cited range.
Level 3: The Custom Kitchen Remodel
Most of the kitchens you see in design magazines and on Pinterest will likely fall into this custom kitchen remodel level. We’re talking about a complete renovation, from top to bottom, with new everything. Custom remodels also give homeowners a chance to make changes to the footprint that the less-expensive levels don’t allow. Always wanted a sink under the window? Here’s your chance. Looking for that kitchen work triangle configuration? Design your heart out. However, all these changes come with a price (more on that in just a second).
Custom kitchen remodel jobs also tend to have upscale or luxurious materials. The cabinets most likely aren’t something you’d find on the floor in a big box store, with homeowners opting for uniquely designed and built cabinets that maximize efficiencies in their specific space. It’s also in this type of remodel where you start to see amenities like wine fridges and pot fillers come into play.
Creating that custom kitchen of your dreams certainly won’t come cheap. Contractors that take on these jobs can fetch $300 to $500 per square foot, with the average kitchen remodel cost between $50,000 and $80,000. Still, there’s an old adage in construction that says you get what you pay for. While it may be a splurge, upping the budget could be worth it to get what you really want.
Parting words on the average kitchen remodel cost
There are obviously many different factors that go into the average kitchen remodel cost—including decisions the homeowner must make, like if they want to keep the layout as-is and if they’re willing to do a little DIY. Other cost influencers include the size of the kitchen and the types of materials selected.
It’s also important to mention that homeowners will recoup most of what they spend on a kitchen remodel, particularly in the two lower remodel levels. Because kitchens are so popular, updated spaces tend to stick out to prospective buyers. So, if you do end up selling your home down the road, your kitchen remodel may be the thing that helps you unload it quickly and at a dollar amount you’re happy to receive.