Thinking of giving your kitchen a facelift? As with any home upgrade, a kitchen remodel — big or small — can really start to add up when it comes to picking out countertops, cabinets, backsplash, flooring, lighting, etc. But whether you’re going for a vintage style or super modern look, you probably don’t want to drop dollars on anything unnecessary. Or something you might regret later. To get an idea of what’s worth including in your reno plans, and what you’re better off skipping, we asked the pros what they would do in their own homes.
Here’s what they’d never pay for.
Mustafa K. Guner, Managing Principal and founder of TX Project Management & Construction in Houston, Texas says that regardless of the material you choose to go with, any countertop that is very dark, veiny, shiny or a strong color might be a trend you’ll regret spending the money on. Instead, he urges you to consider natural tones for countertops.
“Every fashion has a limited life span of 5 to 10 years,” he says. “However, if you go with natural light tones with little or no texture — or veining — you may avoid replacing them on your next round of renovation.”
“Nothing is better than paint/stain grade wood when it comes to kitchen cabinets. You can sand and refinish or repaint with little cost,” says Guner. That means that if in a few years, you want to try another color, it’s easy enough to do without damaging the material. With a quality cabinet, you can keep changing the colors to suit your style for years to come, says Guner.
Angelo Goncalves of MichaelAngelo Contracting in Brooklyn says a good cabinet box will go far in a kitchen remodel. “What people don’t understand is a lot of cabinet boxes are basically made the same. A ¾-inch hardwood cabinet is a sturdy cabinet that’s solid wood,” he says. “The doors are the face of the cabinet. If you want to give a facelift, and have good boxes, you can just change out the doors.”
Guner says he loves wood flooring, but it’s not the best option for your kitchen. “Spills, dishwasher and sink back-ups are common, and they will destroy wood floors,” he warns. “The best way to go is stone. And porcelain is inexpensive and offers a tremendous amount of options.” He adds that you could even go with a porcelain imitation wood flooring option if you’re in love with the wood look but want something more durable.
Microwave/range hood combinations
“If you are going to use your kitchen for cooking, do not waste your money on a hood that barely pushes 80-90 cfm out of your kitchen,” says Guner. “That is equal to a toilet exhaust fan.” Instead, he says to opt for a nice-looking dedicated vent hood for a similar price as it can push out three times more air. (Translation: less smelliness.)
They’re a lifesaver for renters, but if you’re doing a real kitchen reno, Guner says to skip this trend — you’ll just end up redoing it later. “Peel-and-stick backsplash options are glue-backed plastic materials mostly, and are not durable against humidity, water, heat/cold exchange,” he says. Not to mention: They can actually be more expensive than some basic ceramic tile options.
A reconfigured kitchen footprint
“The footprint of the kitchen is a huge deal,” says custom-home builder Ray Clites of C&C Homes in Tampa Bay. He says if you want to add an island, that’s an easy addition, but the costs start adding up when you start changing the current footprint.
“When you start taking down walls and patching in floors, you might not be able to find those particular floors again, so then you have to re-do the whole floor.” You can see how what might seem like a few medium changes could turn into a full-on gut renovation.
Permanent fixtures in statement-making designs
“If it’s a forever home, go wild,” says Clites. “But if you’re thinking you might not be there forever, and you want an accent feature, do it in light fixtures or just one accent wall.” He adds that if future buyers don’t like an accent wall, they can easily change it, as opposed to having to change out a bold-statement countertop.
“Instead of small little backsplash tiles, which you can get grime, grit, grease and everything in, there are a lot of people opting for the larger, wider tiles,” says Goncalves. He adds that while many are tiling their kitchens right now, going with a larger tile is a smarter option, as well as not tiling certain walls or just tiling a half wall to be more budget-friendly.
Do you need two ovens just because a huge kitchen on HGTV had two ovens? If you’re being honest with yourself (you order takeout, you never cook, you just want a nice-looking kitchen), do you even actually need a dishwasher? “Where people can save money is possibly on certain appliances they don’t need,” says Goncalves. “It’s more about efficiency and space, and the use for it that should determine your budget.”