Kitchen remodels have become one of the most popular remodeling projects in recent years. There are many benefits to doing either minor or major kitchen renovations. But how should you decide whether to simply refinish your existing kitchen or tear it all down and start from scratch?
Let’s take a look at the differences between Major and Minor Kitchen Remodels and how an average project of each type is defined.
This is what Hanley Wood Remodeling would define as an average Major Kitchen Remodel:
“Update an outmoded 200-square-foot kitchen with a functional layout of 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets, including a 3-by-5-foot island; laminate countertops; and standard double-tub stainless-steel sink with standard single-lever faucet. Include energy-efficient wall oven, cooktop, ventilation system, built-in microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and custom lighting. Add new resilient flooring. Finish with painted walls, trim, and ceiling.”
A project like this can cost on average about $50,000. Much of that is the cabinetry cost and installation labor.
Now let’s take a look at the description for an average minor kitchen remodel, also from Hanley Wood:
“In a functional but dated 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops, leave cabinet boxes in place but replace fronts with new raised-panel wood doors and drawers, including new hardware. Replace wall oven and cook-top with new energy-efficient models. Replace laminate counter-tops; install mid-priced sink and faucet. Repaint trim, add wall covering, and remove and replace resilient flooring.”
Minor remodels tend to cap out around $30,000 in cost, also including labor. But you’ll notice that the only major difference between major and minor remodels truly is the new cabinetry. So to decide between a major or minor remodel is really to ask: is your cabinetry worth keeping around or replacing entirely?
You might ask, are there in between options? Of course, every kitchen is different, and every situation is different.
The first best thing to decide is if the kitchen’s layout in particular is a problem. It is completely possible if the existing cabinets are in good shape and were well-constructed to rearrange them. Anything you can save in any sort of a remodeling project cuts costs. If you have good solid granite or engineered stone counter-tops already and they still suit how the space will be restyled, hold onto them. Even if they’re not used for the counters, some of that counter-top could be used for a utility island elsewhere.
Therefore, there are many benefits of doing a minor kitchen remodel when the existing kitchen layout is already functional and the existing cabinets in good enough shape for re-facing and/or refinishing. But sometimes major changes need to be made to the kitchen layout for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the cabinets are not sturdy enough to be worth saving or your needs do not match the existing layout or space.
The other major difference with a major kitchen remodel is the complete swap-out of all major appliances, whereas minor remodels typically focus only on the oven and cook-top. Range hoods, built-in microwaves, dishwashers, and garbage disposals are all typical expenses in a full-scale major kitchen remodel. But if you have models that fit just fine and will fit the new style you have in mind for your kitchen, there’s no sense in replacing them.
A somewhat less significant, but still important difference between major and minor kitchen remodels is the size of the sink. If you don’t think you need a double-tub sink (helpful if you’re going to be adding a garbage disposal), then you may not need to worry as much about cabinet reconfiguration. However, if you end up using a bigger sink, this will have to be accounted for in the cabinetry layout. It’s still possible to integrate older cabinetry with newer cabinetry – design/build remodelers do it all the time, so this is an option to consider, and an important detail that should never be overlooked.