Jim Strickland'S Kitchen Design
J. Savage Gibson

Wear and Tear

The kitchen is where you’ve baked birthday cakes, prepared weeknight dinners, raised kids, and connected with friends. You’ve introduced new recipes and whipped up old standbys. Your kitchen has seen a lot of living. And it might show.

Every kitchen needs an occasional update. Maybe the space isn’t working for a changing family. Perhaps you’re tired of the noisy dishwasher or the oven that heats unevenly. Or, maybe it’s simply time to create the kitchen you’ve always wanted.

Ellen Silverman

A Remodeling Checklist

Before you tear out the first cabinet or knock down walls, here are issues to consider.

  • How long do we expect to live in this house?
  • What do I like about my existing kitchen? What do I want to change?
  • Do I have adequate storage and counter space? Do my appliances do what I need?
  • How many cooks regularly work together in the kitchen?
  • What other activities take place in the kitchen?
  • How will my family change over the next few years?

Antoine Bootz and Jeff McNamara

Where To Start?

Research is the first major step in creating a dream kitchen. Gather kitchen ideas from your favorite magazines, books, Web sites, and dealer showrooms. Ask friends what they love about their kitchens. Identify colors, styles, and materials you like from paint chips, swatches, and cabinet samples. Collect plumbing, lighting, countertop, and flooring catalogs and brochures. Once you have a folder of ideas, it’s time to do a reality check on needs vs. desires.

Remodeling tip: If you’re selling in a few years, for example, it may not be best to invest in high-end appliances and custom cabinets. On the other hand, if you plan to remain in your home another 10 years, you have more latitude because you’ll have time to enjoy the space.

easy kitchen remodel
Margot Hartford

Small-Ticket Remodel

These guidelines can help you get the most bang for your remodel budget.

Budget of $5,000 or Less

  • Paint with a bold, bright color; use a faux finish, such as a glaze, on an accent wall; or add wall coverings.
  • Retrofit existing cabinets with organizing devices like cutlery dividers, spice racks, and roll-out waste cans or wire baskets.
  • Change existing cabinet knobs and pulls to more interesting styles and materials, such as glass, pewter, or stainless steel.
  • Improve lighting with dimmer switches; add eye-catching switch plates; and replace outdated lights with stylish fixtures.
  • Add a new backsplash made of a durable, easy-to-clean material such as ceramic tile or stainless steel.


kitchen sink
Art Gray

Medium-Ticket Remodel

Tip: At this level of remodeling, focus on improvements at the top of your wish list, such as a new countertops, flooring, or higher grade appliances.

Art Gray

Big-Ticket Remodel

Budget of $45,000 or Less

  • Consult with an architect, remodeler, or kitchen designer to make any structural changes that will expand or change the floor plan, such as opening walls, moving plumbing and electrical components, and replacing windows and doors.
  • Install countertops of solid surface material or natural stone, such as granite or engineered quartz.
  • Choose semicustom cabinets, which offer various options in height, depth, and drawer and door styles, or custom cabinets built to your specifications.
  • Upgrade appliances to commercial style, such as a 48-inch cooktop, and add specialty appliances such as a wine cooler, under-counter ice maker, or built-in coffee system.
  • Resurface floors with wood, tile, stone, or earth-friendly products like bamboo, cork, or rubber.

John Granen

Stick to Your Budget

  • Stick to the plan. While it’s tempting to have your contractor do something else while he’s handy, like adding undercabinet lighting, anything that’s not specified in the original contract will be added to the final bill. Painting kitchen walls with bright colors can add excitement to the room and provides an inexpensive way to reflect your personal style. The same holds true for changing cabinet hardware.
  • Keep a reserve. Decide the upper limit of what you can spend, and then decrease that amount by 20%. That way you’ll have enough to cover unexpected change orders, such as updating old plumbing or wiring that’s not up to current building codes.
  • Just say “no.” It’s easy to change your mind and think, “A little extra expense on this one lighting fixture won’t matter,” but that’s how people go over budget.

/interior designer
Marla Carter

Choosing a Professional


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