Kitchens remain the heart of most homes. It's not only where we cook and eat, but where friends and family gather, children do homework and daily chores are organized and completed.
Kitchens provide a sense of comfort and belonging, so it's good news that kitchen remodels can retain a significant portion of their value.
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Before you begin, especially in today's shaky economy, it's imperative to select the correct level of remodeling for what you need now, with an eye on your home's future resale value.
Critical factors to assess include the overall budget, how long you expect to stay in your home and what type of kitchens are in other houses in your neighborhood.
According to Remodeling magazine's 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report, midrange minor kitchen remodels or "cosmetic" changes -- new countertops, cabinet fronts, a few new appliances, light fixtures and hardware -- have an average national cost of $20,000 and get 72 percent return on investment. Midrange major remodels, which include all new appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring and lighting, have an average cost of $58,000 and a 66 percent return. High-end renovations, which can include structural work or relocating to another area in the home, installing larger windows and replacing all kitchen components, can easily cost $100,000 or more. With a more extensive and expensive renovation, returns fall to the 50 percent to 60 percent range.
Tips in planning your remodel:
• Assess your needs and wants. How do you use your kitchen? How many cooks are there? How many daily meals do you cook? What kind of appliances and equipment do you need? Do you eat there? What other activities occur in the kitchen? What are the storage requirements? Is there plenty of natural lighting? Do you want to display any kitchen items?
• List all items you would like to replace and establish priorities. If you are a gourmet cook, you will probably want to splurge on professional-grade appliances.
• Develop an initial itemized budget.
• Research the latest in kitchen design on the Internet, blogs, decorating magazines and even local show houses or model homes.
• Organize your inspirations and thoughts. Houzz.com provides a great site for collecting and storing your ideas.
• Finalize budget and determine the extent of the renovation. For larger projects, hire a design professional to help you navigate the layout and make decisions.
Ways to maximize your budget
• Cabinetry: Most people today are drawn to a sleeker kitchen, which means flat-panel doors such as Shaker-style. These are cheaper than raised panel doors and opulent molding. Also, alder wood, in lieu of cherry or maple, can bring savings on cabinetry.
• Countertops: Stone countertops are most attractive to prospective buyers. Quartz, such as Silestone or Caesarstone, is a cost-effective material that adds a great look yet has easy maintenance properties. Granite remains another popular choice, with level 1 being the least expensive.
• Appliances: If you are a serious cook, it will be worthwhile to invest in nicer-grade appliances. Don't buy extended warranties.
• Flooring: Prefinished hardwood floors, porcelain tile or natural stone remain popular selections. These floors attract prospective buyers.
• Backsplash tile: There are wonderful glass and/or stone mosaics on the market that are affordable and eye catching. Stay away from decorative accent pieces that are priced per single piece. Subway tile, a classic with enduring appeal, provides a crisp look.
Scripps Howard News Service