by John Riha
Kitchen remodeling can turn a ho-hum room into your home’s pride and joy. Here are strategies to help your project run smoothly.
A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 66% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to recent data from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.
A minor kitchen remodel of about $20,000 does even better, returning more than 72% of your investment.
To make sure you maximize your return, follow these seven smart kitchen remodeling strategies that will help you come up with great kitchen design ideas.
1. Establish priorities for a kitchen remodel
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending at least six months planning your kitchen remodeling project. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction, create change orders, and inflate construction costs. Here are planning points to cover:
- Cooking traffic patterns: A walkway through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.
- Child safety: Avoid sharp, square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the proper height—3 inches below the shoulder of the primary user but not more than 54 inches from the floor.
- Outside access: If you want easy access to entertaining areas, such as a deck or patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.
A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.
2. Keep the same footprint
No matter the size and scope of your kitchen remodel, you can protect your budget by maintaining the same footprint: Keep the walls, locate new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, and forget bump-outs.
Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.
3. Get real about appliances
It’s easy to get carried away during your kitchen remodeling project. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.
High-priced appliances are worth the investment if you’re an exceptional cook. Otherwise, save thousands with trusted brands that receive high marks at consumer review websites, like www.ePinions.com and www.amazon.com, and resources such as Consumer Reports.
4. Light your way
Good kitchen lighting helps you work safely and efficiently.
- Install task lighting, such as recessed or track lights, over sinks and food prep areas; assign at least two fixtures per task to eliminate shadows. Under-cabinet lights illuminate cleanup and are great for reading cookbooks. Pendant lights over counters bring the light source close to work surfaces.
- Ambient lighting includes flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights. Pair dimmer switches with ambient lighting to control intensity and mood.
5. Be quality conscious
Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.
If you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.
“Individual upgrades don’t necessarily give you a 100% return,” says Frank Gregoire, a real estate appraiser in St. Petersburg, Fla. “But they can give you an edge when it comes time to market your home.”
6. Add storage, not space
Here’s how you can add storage without bumping out walls:
- Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more–and you might need a stepladder–but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.
- Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.
7. Communicate early and often
Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:
- Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.
- Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.
- Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.