Design 101: How to Budget for your Kitchen Remodel

Have you been considering a kitchen remodel but confused about what it will cost? Today I tackle that elusive topic using industry accepted data to help you come up with a realistic budget. 

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, upscale kitchen remodels average more than a 50% return on investment, while a mid-range minor remodel can yield higher than 80% return on investment. Numbers aside, having a functional and beautiful kitchen you, your family, and guests can enjoy for years, is simply something you can't put a price on. 

Today I'll share a basic budget breakdown, then what you can expect with a Basic, Mid-level, and Premium Kitchen remodel. I would add there is another level, which I call a luxury kitchen renovation, which we will not be discussing here.  Most projects fall between the Mid-level and Premium budget range. 

Remodeling costs vary by region so begin by researching the numbers in your area and come up with a budget number that you feel comfortable with. Be sure to add 20% for unforeseen issues that inevitably come up.

A few general guides are:

  • $65-$100+ for a Large Kitchen

  • $55-75+ for a Medium Kitchen

  • $30-50+ for a Small Galley Kitchen

Now let's take a look at how you might allocate that money and what you can expect in the three levels outlined above. 

Basic Kitchen Remodel Budget Breakdown

Kitchen Budget Graphic.png

The 2 first questions to ask yourself for budgeting

#1 What are your quality expectations?  If you know you have a penchant for finer things, don't expect that to change when it comes to selecting quality finishes for your kitchen. Take a good look at your closet and garage to best reflect your expectations. Two 300sf kitchens can have wildly different price tags based on the chosen finishes. 

#2 How big is your kitchen? Square footage is the second biggest factor in determining a realistic budget. There are baseline costs that can't be ignored. Bottom line, the bigger the kitchen, the bigger the price tag. 

Use this chart above as a general guide but make it your own. If you fall in love with a beautiful backsplash tile or a gorgeous chandelier, maybe you decide you're willing to DIY the demo work to reallocate that money toward your tile or lighting budget.  

What you can Expect 



  • Stock cabinets. Averages $70 per linear foot, Cons - limited sizes and finishes

  • Re-paint (professionally) or Re-surface your existing cabinetry

  • Buy reusable cabinets from Habitat for Humanity and have professionally painted

  • Ikea flat-pack cabinets - Good for DIY'ers but consider cost to have assembled and trips back and forth to store for inevitable mishaps


  • Semi-custom cabinets - Averages $150-$250 per linear foot.

  • Typically comes in 3" increments so you can have more precise configurations without a lot of filler pieces.

  • Quality can vary from veneered particle board to plywood

  • Many lines offer custom paint color selections


  • Custom Cabinets - Averages $250-$500 per linear foot

  • Designed to your kitchen so there are no filler panels

  • Ability to add custom features such as lift cabinets, knife storage, specialty storage

  • Ability to do custom appliance cover panels for refrigerators and dishwashers

  • Plywood boxes

  • Premium wood species such as Walnut

  • Any paint color

Construction & Labor


  • Plan to DIY most of the work. Leave electrical and plumbing to the professionals. Always work with a licensed insured pro and ask for recommendations from past clients.

  • Don't DIY the cabinetry paint. A pro should paint the doors in a professional spray environment that prevents hair, debris, etc. from sticking to wet paint. Always use the right paint for the job. I recommend Benjamin Moore's Advance paint which is engineered for painting cabinetry and furniture. It drys hard and with proper clear coat, will not easily chip or scratch.

  • Plan to assemble your own cabinetry if they don't arrive pre-assembled


  • Plan to hire more help.

  • Save money by doing your own demo work.


  • Leave the work to the pros

Major Appliances


  • Re-use existing

  • Re-finish with Liquid Stainless Steel

  • Purchase white appliances which tend to be less expensive than their stainless counterparts.


  • Mix appliances - Perhaps you decide to splurge on a nice range but save on a dishwasher

  • Buy a suite of appliances - If you don't mix, consider buying all from the same line which are often discounted when bundled.

  • Time your renovation so you can take advantage of Black Friday deals.


  • Consider finer appliances such as Viking and Blue Star which allows you to customize the color of your appliances

  • Look into integrated panel-ready appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers that blend with the cabinetry for a custom look.

Floors & Wall Tile 


  • Plan to keep your existing floor

  • New ceramic backsplash tile. Lay them in a unique pattern for visual interest


  • Existing hardwood floors can be refinished

  • Replacing existing floor tiles may blow your budget if you don't find other areas to save

  • New ceramic backsplash tile. Lay them in a unique pattern for visual interest


  • New tile or wood flooring

  • Wood flooring can be laid in interesting patterns such as herringbone or chevron

  • Can play with inset tile "rugs"

  • New backsplash can be natural stone or more premium ceramic tiles

Countertops, Sinks & Faucets


  • Countertops - Level 1 Granite or Quartz (Simple edge details, 2CM thick), Butcher block, Laminate

  • Level 1 plumbing and faucets


  • Countertops - Level 2 Granite or Quartz (Simple edge details, 2CM thick)

  • Level 2 plumbing and faucets


  • Countertops - Level 3 Granite or Quartz (Detailed edge profiles, Thicker 3CM), Natural Stone

  • Level 3 Pluming and Faucets



  • Recessed Lighting

  • Look for salvaged or DIY options


  • Recessed Lighting

  • Level 2 lighting on basic such as island pendants, or over sink light.


  • Recessed Lighting

  • Level 3 lighting throughout

  • Under cabinet lighting and/or cove lighting.