How Much Should I Expect To Invest In My New Kitchen Remodel
A quick search online will yield plenty of results on what you will (or should) spend on your kitchen remodel. But, to be honest, it’s hard to find truly helpful information. Most of what you find is vague, unhelpful, and frankly, misleading.
You see, nobody wants to actually put numbers on anything because then they show their hand, reveal their prices, or open themselves up for critique.
Here’s the reality...it’s so hard to say what your kitchen will cost because there are SO many variables!
Unknown factors of your project, millions of available products, and limitless unique style preferences make a general pricing guide extremely difficult. You can dial-up or down the cost in a thousand ways!
But, that doesn’t change the fact that YOU want answers as you’re researching! And we think you deserve to have them.
We genuinely want to BE HELPFUL and give you a guide that actually educates and informs.
So…after working with hundreds of clients, speaking with designers in multiple markets, and evaluating the data available manufacturers and vendors, we’ve created this guide for you.
Here’s what this guide is not:
It’s not a promise or contract, your kitchen may be drastically different.
It’s not a ploy. We actually want to help you, not just build an email list or have good SEO.
It’s not exhaustive. There are items we’ve intentionally left out for brevity.
There are constant exceptions. Your situation could contain one or many of these.
Here’s what this guide is:
We’ve built this guide for clients looking to invest in Custom or Semi-Custom cabinets (more on these later) for their new kitchen. You can do a kitchen for way less than we suggest here, but the product will not be high-quality or last a lifetime. Clients who desire a long-lasting, beautiful kitchen and are willing to invest to achieve this outcome will find this guide most helpful.
If you just want to see the numbers, skip to page __. However, we think a quick education below is crucial to understanding your kitchen investment. There are a lot of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and (worst of all, please watch out!) misrepresentations in this industry. We want to clear them up and empower you to make great decisions as you invest in your home.
In short, we want your family to flourish! It’s what we’re all about.
What actually makes a kitchen “Custom”?
Confusion abounds around the concept of “what is a custom kitchen?” Does it simply mean that it’s designed for your house? Or does it refer to who or where the product is made? Or is it simply a reference to a high-quality product?
Let’s clear up the confusion!
Here’s what we mean when we talk about a “custom” kitchen:
Custom cabinets are like luxury vehicles. Every detail is flawless. Every stitch is considered. Every curve is purposeful. They feel like perfection, and you feel rich just sitting in them.
When you look at, touch, and feel custom cabinetry, you know that it’s luxury! The finish is flawless, the function is supple and smooth, and they even smell lovely too.
Custom cabinets are handcrafted piece-by-piece by men and women who are masters at their craft. They work with the finest materials available, and they care deeply about every detail of their work. They sand the wood until it’s perfectly smooth. Connect the joints with more precision. And apply the finish multiple times with ample coverage and the greatest care!
Sometimes people say that they can’t tell the difference between custom cabinets and lesser alternatives, but this just simply isn’t possible. Sticking with the car analogy, it’s like sitting in a Bentley and a loaded Honda and saying you can’t tell the difference. Sure, there’s leather, a radio, a steering wheel, and a shifter. But, if you actually look closely at and feel the leather, move the shifter, and turn the steering wheel, there’s absolutely no comparison.
When you’re looking at cabinetry. Touch and feel it. Look at the finish. Look at finished photography. Trust your gut. The quality will speak for itself!
Because these cabinets are hand-crafted by the finest craftsmen, there are nearly unlimited options for you in custom cabinetry! If wood can be formed in the shape you want, then it can be done! And if not, then an alternative material can be found to create your desired look.
If you’re building a custom kitchen, you should almost never hear the word “No” from your designer as to what is available to you. Your imagination (and ultimately your budget) is the limit!
Your cabinetry can be any color you choose, any style you choose, any configuration you choose. Unlimited options!
Custom kitchens bear marks of the creativity and professionalism of a highly skilled kitchen designer. The wrong designer can make a custom kitchen look like a disaster! Designers who work with custom cabinetry have to think differently than those that work with stock or semi-custom cabinetry. Rather than designing with cabinet SKUs in 3-inch increments, custom cabinetry designers start with a desired layout and size the cabinets according to symmetry and scale.
A custom kitchen should look customized and fit perfectly! There should be no fillers and no unnecessary spaces.
Now, you will have to pay for this high level of execution in design. Don’t allow a designer to fool you into thinking they will invest this kind of time and effort without charging for design execution. If they try, they probably aren’t as good as they claim to be.
But, it’s worth the investment because you deserve to have the finished product of such a large investment be perfect.
There’s a common misconception that “custom” means that the cabinetry is built by the guy in his workshop down the street! That’s not necessarily true. That said, there are many high-caliber custom cabinetry shops that are small, “mom-and-pop” shops that can produce cabinets with the above features. However, these are the exceptions, not the norm. We recommend that you do your research before deciding to invest this kind of money with a guy in a small shop down the street.
We prefer to work with regional or national manufacturers who have invested millions of dollars in equipment and manpower to build cabinetry of the highest quality. These companies have existed for decades, and are likely to continue for many more. This ensures your warranty is meaningful, your issues can be addressed, and your money is safe.
What determines the cost of cabinetry?
Let’s demystify what actually drives the cost of cabinets up or down!
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You get what you pay for!”
Well, when it comes to cabinets, it’s absolutely true. As long as you’re working with a reputable dealer and designer, your investment level will determine the quality of your cabinetry. You’re not going to get a “steal” on high-quality cabinets (Beware if this is pitched to you!).
Quality & Craftsmanship
High-quality materials are costly. Excellent craftsmen and craftswomen must be paid more. Pristine finishing requires substantial time sanding, quality paint/stain products, and many coats applied.
Products produced in North America and Europe are of higher quality, held to higher environmental standards, and therefore they cost more. While products produced internationally are typically inferior, held to lower environmental standards, and therefore are cheaper.
In short, it simply costs more to produce a better product. So, the better the product, the more it’s going to cost.
The second factor that determines the price of a cabinet is the options available to you from a manufacturer. By limiting or expanding their offerings, a manufacturer can increase or decrease their capacity to produce products quickly.
Fewer cabinet SKUs, fewer door styles, and fewer colors are typical of manufacturers of stock cabinets who desire to mass-produce their products and compete on price. The more SKUs, more door styles, and more colors are offered by a manufacturer, the more their price increases.
The final thing you pay for in cabinetry is a warranty. The industry standard is a Limited Lifetime Warranty from Custom and Semi-custom manufacturer. If you are not offered this warranty, you are likely looking at a lower-quality, “stock” cabinet line. In our eyes, a manufacturer warranties an item for however long they feel comfortable standing behind it. The shorter the warranty period, the more concerned you should be with the product lasting over many years.
What’s the difference between Custom & Semi-Custom?
This is a great question! Semi-custom cabinetry is an excellent option for those who want a stunning final product, but simply don’t have the budget for Full-custom cabinetry. Semi-custom cabinetry is made of high-quality materials, and can be made to look fairly custom! These cabinet lines also offer a wide selection of colors, door styles, and customizable SKUs. For many homeowners, semi-custom cabinetry offers plenty of options to accomplish their dream kitchen!
However, these manufacturers are designed to do high-volume work, so you will not be able to customize your kitchen fully. Your designer will have to reign you in at times because some items or configurations are just not doable. You will find there will be significant limits, and these manufacturers will upcharge for any customizations you decide to make.
In short, semi-custom cabinetry is a perfect option for limited budgets that still want a high-quality product with plenty of options to choose from! While Custom cabinetry elevates the look, feel, quality, and options available to you to make your project absolutely stunning!
How much should you expect to invest in a kitchen remodel?
First, we’re going to help you estimate what a new kitchen will cost in total. Then, we will get into the details of what each section will cost.
If you do a simple Google search, you will see estimates of what you should spend based on your home’s value. You’ll see some sites suggesting numbers as low as 5-10%. For most homeowners, this estimate is extremely unrealistic! If you want to do a nice kitchen that will last, you will need to plan on investing more than that.
We want you to have proper expectations, and we believe a more realistic estimate is 15-30%.
So, if your home is worth $500,000, your semi-custom or custom kitchen will likely cost $75,000-$125,000. If your home is worth $750,000, it will likely be $112,500-187,500. These are assuming a full-gut, all-new project!
But, there has to be a better, more specific way to estimate costs for your kitchen project!
This is where our experience and research have given us unique insight that we’re excited to share with you. As we surveyed clients, evaluated our own projects, and collected data from designers across the country, we’ve found it much more helpful to evaluate costs based on the size of your kitchen. We found that clients consistently reported a total investment in their kitchen of $353 per square foot of kitchen area.
Here’s how you can apply this to your space:
Take rough measurements of your kitchen, and come up with total square footage (length x width). Take that square footage number and multiply it by $353. Based on our research, this will give you another very quick way to get in the ballpark of what a new kitchen, all-in, might cost.
For example, if your kitchen is 14 x 17, that would be 238 SF. Your square footage, 238, multiplied by $353, or $84,014. All-in, you’re likely to spend $84k after everything is completed.
But, it’s probably even more helpful to get into the nitty-gritty of what the actual products cost. So, we’ve gathered more information to help you out on Cabinetry, Appliances, and Countertops.
What about just the cost of cabinetry?
Here’s an easy way to count the number of cabinets in your kitchen and come up with an investment range without even taking out a tape measure!
Many in the industry discuss a “per linear foot” cost of cabinetry. Typically, we see this from the lower-end, “stock” cabinetry sold by big box stores. We prefer to talk in terms of “per box” pricing. Obviously, there is more to the pricing of cabinets than simply how many boxes: accessories, moldings, door styles. But using lots of actual client data, we were able to take the total cabinetry cost divided by the number of cabinets (Total $ / # of cabinets), to come up with these simple calculations for you.
If you’re doing semi-custom cabinetry, you can expect to spend $1,100 – $1,300 per cabinet.
If you’re wanting to do high-end, full-custom cabinetry, you can expect to spend $1,400 – $1,700 per cabinet.
Here’s how it works:
Count the number of cabinets in your kitchen (not doors, full cabinet boxes). Count a floor-to-ceiling pantry as two (2) cabinets. Then, take that number and multiply it by the above estimates.
EXAMPLE #1: Let’s say you have 25 cabinets, and you think a semi-custom cabinet would be a great fit for your family and home. By multiplying 25 by $1,100 and $1,300, you would calculate your investment to be between $27,500 and $32,500 for cabinetry.
EXAMPLE #2: Let’s say you have 40 cabinets, and you want to invest in custom cabinetry that will last a lifetime for your family and home. By multiplying 40 by $1,400 and $1,700, you would calculate your investment to be between $56,000 and $68,000 for cabinetry.
Now, say you’re removing a wall and adding an island. In this case, add an additional cabinet to your estimate for every 2 feet of island width. To be safe, add an additional cabinet (islands tend to have more features and cost more). For example, if you think an 8’ island will fit, you would take 8 feet (island width) / 2 feet (1 cabinet for every 2 feet) and get 4. Then, we would add an additional cabinet to be safe, and end up with 5 cabinets to add to our total number.
EXAMPLE #3: Let’s say you have a kitchen with 17, and you want the above island added. Take our island calculation of 5 cabinets above, add it to the 17 original cabinets, which would give us a total of 22. So, now our investment range would be $24,200 – $28,600.
This simple calculation will give you a great starting point, and then the unique elements of your space and design will drive the price up or down.
What about the cost of appliances?
In our experience in multiple markets, clients buy appliances that cost 30-50% of what they spent on cabinetry. And, they almost always buy appliances of the same quality as the cabinets they chose. In other words, clients don’t buy custom cabinets and then buy cheap appliances. No, they buy higher-end appliances. But those who spend less on cabinets also tend to be satisfied to purchase less expensive appliances.
Makes sense, right?
In general, the 30-50% rule is helpful for budget purposes. Here are a few examples:
EXAMPLE #1: If a client spends $40,000 on semi-custom kitchen cabinets, they will likely spend between $12,000 and 20,000 on appliances.
EXAMPLE #2: If a client spends $75,000 on Custom kitchen cabinets, they will likely spend between $22,500 – $37,500 on appliances.
EXAMPLE #3: If a client spends $25,000 on semi-custom kitchen cabinets, they will likely spend between $7,500 – 12,500 on appliances.
That said, some homeowners spend $20,000 on a luxury French or Italian range or $10,000 or more for an elevated custom range hood. It’s simply a rule…and rules are meant to be broken! If you want that French range with your $40,000 cabinets? You do you…Go for it!
What about the cost of Countertops?
Countertop pricing can vary drastically based on the material you choose.
Quartz is the most popular surface option in semi-custom to custom kitchens, while many higher-end custom kitchens choose to go with natural stone.
Quartz prices vary by $20-40 per square foot, depending on the manufacturer, while natural stone (marbles, quartzites, granites, etc.) can vary over $300-400 per square, depending on the exclusivity and availability of the material.
To be helpful to most people, we’re going to focus on the more popular options for custom cabinetry clients.
Countertop pricing is usually quoted as an all-inclusive price for the material, fabrication, cutouts, edge details (unless very unique), and installation. (NOTE: If the company you’re working with is charging fees for all of the above, find another option. They have tried to get you in the door with a low price and are now up charging for things that should be included.)
It’s important to note that your all-inclusive price actually reflects 2 factors: the price of the stone material + the labor to fabricate and install. While the labor rate stays relatively the same on most materials, the pricing of the material varies.
For high-quality quartz, you can expect to pay $85-115 per square foot installed. So, for example, a standard 14×14 kitchen with a 4×8 island would have approximately 78 square feet of countertop. Simple math says that we should expect a countertop to cost $6,630-$8,970. Some quartz options could be higher or lower, but this is a good rule of thumb.
For natural stones, such as marble, the cost will be determined primarily by the cost of the stone. Fabrication cost stays relatively the same. Some marbles – like a standard Carrara – could price out in the $8,000 range, while others – like a Calacatta or other popular white-body options – could price out closer to $11-12,000 or more for the same kitchen.
Generally, widely available granite is a budget-friendly option that does not give semi-custom to custom kitchen clients the look they want. Many builders use generic granite in new tract homes because of its affordability. Though it’s durable, it’s usually not on-trend. However, an exotic granite can provide a great deal of drama that some clients love. These stones will be priced comparable to middle-to-high-end marbles.
We hope we’ve accomplished our goal of providing you with up-to-date and transparent information on the cost of a new kitchen. And we hope you’re armed with the education and knowledge to make great decisions for your family and home!
For more information, or if you have questions, please reach out to us!