How to Remodel Kitchen without Spending a Fortune - Home Renovation

Beautiful Life

After the bathroom / restroom remodel, we proceed to plan about the remodeling work of the next most-visited area, the kitchen.  We like a beautiful and classy kitchen, but do not want to over-invest.  We made a checklist and Q&A for ourselves to help guiding the project scope and expectation.  Most importantly, I want to have a good time with my wife in planning in time.  In contrast to bathroom remodel last time, I plan to say "yes" to most of her decisions.

1. Estimated Budget
  • What is the house value?  Answer: $620K
  • Is the remodel for investment or personal leisure? Answer: More for personal leisure, yet hope it will bring up the house value. 1:1 returns would be satisfactory
  • What is our financial affordability? Answer: We plan to fund with our savings, no additional loan from banks.  Research indicates typical expense is $15K minimum.  (But that kitchen remodel looks really crappy)
       Our preliminary estimate: $23K. Good enough for a 30-years old house

3. Hire the right licensed contractor (~3 months to search)
      I can not emphasize this for more.  Find an experienced and reliable contractor.  Maybe the price is above average. If the quality of work is excellent, work schedule is reliable and good ethics, it will make the remodel communication easy.  We called at least five friends who live near, asked their opinions on their contractors, pros and cons.  We also chatted with the contractors to get a feeling of good.
  • Do you like your friend's new kitchen? the quality of work, the details ... etc
  • Do you feel comfortable communicating with the contractor?
  • Does the contractor has a license and experience working in your neighborhood?
  • Is his price within your financial affordability, and time-to-start fits your schedule?

3. Apply for remodeling permit.
      It varies by where your house is and what type of remodeling work.

4. Planning time:  ~6 weeks
  • What style (classic, contemporary, modern) of kitchen do you like?  Suggestion: Look at the current furniture in the house, purchase a kitchen remodel book from HomeDepot or Amazon, check out IKEA kitchen areas will help you decide.
  • List of items to be replaced or upgraded.  (Almost everything except the refrigerator is broken in our old kitchen, so we decided to replace everything except the frig, which is still nice-looking)
  • List of appliance-like: dish-washer, kitchen sink, faucet, oven, range, microwave, vent, refrigerator
  • Other items: kitchen cabinet, counter-top material, lights, wall tiles, floor tiles, paint
        Our choice:  light color since our house floor is dark wood floor. Appliance color will be aluminum. I like bright design which gives me energy also.

5. Start Purchasing Materials: ~ 8 weeks  
Our first questions: what brand, what is the price range for each item? We had no prior kitchen remodeling experience. I researched on the brands, prices, pros and cons. The following is our list in this data format.

[1.Item Name].[2.Brand].[3.Price].[4.Where purchase].[Notes]
[1. Dish Washer].[2. Maytag].[3. $1000].[4. Home Depot Store].[size fits, water-saving feature, match frig color]
[1. Oven].[2. General Electric].[3. $1300].[4. Home Depot Store].[size fits, match frig color]
[1. Vent].[2. Zephyr].[3. $800].[4. Local Appliance Outlet].[size fits. Zephyr is a reliable brand]
[1. Cooking range].[2. General Electric].[3. $1000].[4. Home Depot Store].[size fits, match frig color]
[1. Kitchen sink].[2. Kohler].[3. $650].[4.].[cast iron, size fits, match cabinet color]
[1. Kitchen cabinet].[2. no brand].[3. $4000].[4. local cabinet store].[made of real wood. price is 40% of good-brand cabinet]  This one we have regret.  It is worth to pay more for higher quality kitchen cabinet.
[1. Quartz counter-top].[2. no brand].[3. $5000].[4. local store].[prefers over granite, price is four times of granite, however] This one we have regret. I would select Caesar-brand Quartz stone for reliability and higher product quality. Caesar offers life-time warranty. Price would be $7000.
[1. ceiling lights/all lights].[2. LED].[3. $50 each].[4.].[LED lights, saves energy]
[1. wall and floor tiles].[2. generic brand but made in Spain].[3. $4000].[4. local store].[Porcelanosa tiles are high quality and design. We preferred to try out non-branded ones]

Recommendations for Budget remodeling:

  • If a storage space is available, have all necessary appliances ready before contractors start, because they typically charge by time.  Our contractor is semi-retired, so we had the flexibility to choose when to start the project.  With good timing, we waited for good GE-brand appliances discount from HomeDepot Store, ordered online items through Chase Ultimate Online Mall which offers you more rebates.  We ended up spending close to $30K, because ceiling molding and interior house painting were added.  Whether we were lazy or not, we "stored" all new appliances in the living room first.
  • As friends have recommended, do not start remodel project until either side is ready to endure some debates and resolve them peacefully..  Hot debates or arguments can break up a relationship.

And this time, Isa made most of the decisions with ease.

This is our new kitchen after remodel.  We designed the new kitchen ourselves, such as layout, color, functionalities.  Probably because I had some educational background in architecture, I was not opened up to competitive artistic idea.  Interior design is a different area.  Isa proves she is much better than me.

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