Ever consider remodeling your kitchen?

If you live in a home that is 20+ years old (or in our case, 40+ years old) with all the original materials, odds are, you probably have…

Problem is, how do you give your kitchen the makeover it needs without completely crushing the wallet?

Truthfully, it’s not easy!

Depending on the size, condition, and the fit/finishes of the kitchen, you could spend tens of thousands of dollars on a remodel. After all… counters, cabinets, and appliances really start to add up.

But what if you just want something that looks and feels better?


Maybe you want to sell your home for top dollar.

Whatever the case, I am going to show you how we did a remodel project that turned out very nice, was done quickly, and didn’t completely break the bank.

Background on this project

This home was just over 1,300 sq ft, 3 bed, 2 bath, and built in 1971. For the most part, it was all original. The kitchen hadn’t been touched since it was built (with the exception of an appliance or two – and that’s a definite maybe).

Despite the homes age, everything was still in good working order and overall, the home was well maintained.

Our goal was to sell the property and get as much as we could for it. This lead us to studying the comps (comparable properties that were listed and sold within the last few months).

The comps revealed two things:

1. Original homes with little to no upgrades sold for around $285k-$290k


2. Homes that were squeaky clean and renovated/remodeled traded in the $325-340k range.

The comps revealed what we figured all along… the home needed to be cleaned up to become more appealing to the buyers currently shopping in our market.

I thought about where to begin and decided to call my buddy Steve (also a Real Estate agent). I wanted to pick his brain about the project and see what he thought. Steve had taken on many projects like this in the past and I valued his feedback and trusted his judgement. I figured he would know (with a higher level of certainty) whether or not putting money into this property was a sound decision.

After telling Steve about our plans to sell, he said “I gotta see the place, I’ll come by tonight.” Typical Steve… he doesn’t like to waste time.

Steve came by the house, toured the property with me, and confirmed, “Lou, you need to clean this place up. If you do it right, you should be able to get a $2-3 return on every dollar you spend renovating.”

That was the validation I needed and it led to the official kickoff of our project.

Project Details

Steve connected me with some of his contractors and handyman contacts and we were off to the races (Thanks Steve).

Over the next couple days, I arranged to have contractors and sub-contractors come by the property to bid the project. We considered several renovation options ranging from completely gutting the kitchen and doing custom cabinetry to keeping the existing cabinets and updating the hardware, counters, appliance, etc. We opted for the latter to stretch our budget and maximize the return on our investment.

As it turns out, we ended up stretching the budget and doing more than expected in the renovation (be careful – this happens easily 🙂 ). We did new flooring throughout the home (wood style laminate flooring in common areas, carpet in the bedrooms), interior paint, 5 ¼” baseboards, new 6 panel doors, updating the bathrooms (tile floors, quarts counters, tile shower stall in master), etc.

Did I mention that it was easy to end up doing more than originally planned?

Well, as easy as it is to get carried away, I wanted to highlight the kitchen because it really turned out nicely and we had a ton of great feedback from the buyers that visited our open house after we listed the property. Best of all, it didn’t crush the pocket book.

Let’s take a looks at some of the “Before” and “after” photos and I will add commentary explaining the “why” behind the “what.”



Notice the upper cabinets in the pictures above. Does one look like it was added? We decided to get rid of the mismatched cabinet. The dishwasher had seen better days as well, so we opted for a stainless steel replacement.


In this picture, you should be able to see that the original counters where the old school white tiles. What you can’t see is that the grout lines were starting to bubble up and fill will dirt and grime from regular kitchen use (gross). Also, the original cabinet hardware was brass and the upper cabinets did not have any hardware at all. New counters and new hardware were in order.


This was the original oven… still worked like a charm, but not all that appealing to the eye. We decided to get rid of this all together and custom fit a microwave into the space.  As for the oven, we purchased an oven/electric cooktop and moved it to another area of the kitchen.


Here was the original counter mounted electric cook-top and exhaust fan. In this area, we decided to install a new standalone oven/cook-top and custom fit the cabinet. Additionally, we scrapped the exhaust fan, pulled out the upper cabinets and installed a stainless exhaust fan that dropped from the ceiling.


This kitchen had a unique peninsula with a sort of bar feature on the back side. This was cool in theory, but in reality, it only functioned as extra storage. We decided to get rid of the bar feature and enlarge the counter space while keeping an overhang so people could still hang out near the kitchen area with bar stools.


11 kitchen

Notice the new counters, stainless steel dishwasher, sink, faucet, and mosaic tile back-splash.

12 kitchen

Remember the old school oven? We replaced is with a microwave and customized the cabinet to fit giving it a sleek look. We also added the new oven/cook-top and exhaust fan.

7 living room

Check out the peninsula. We removed the bar feature area and enlarged the counter space making for a cool hang out area. We also removed the tile floors and upgraded to wood style laminate flooring. The last thing I will point out (which is sort of hard to see from the pictures) is the canned lighting we added in the kitchen area (we added 6 can lights and removed the old school lighting covers).

10 kitchen

Picture from a different angle.

Well… what do you think? Does it look a little better? Do you think the kitchen attracted more buyers and commanded a higher price?

Yep, sure did!

At this point, I am sure you are still wondering… how much did this all cost? Let’s take a look.

Project costs

As mentioned earlier, our renovation ended up extending beyond the kitchen. As such, I estimated some of the labor costs and did my best to prorate the expenses based on the total price of the project and the portion that was done in the kitchen.

Here are the numbers:

kitchen rehab budget

As listed in the image above, this kitchen ended up costing approx. $7k. I found this to be very reasonable given the quality of the work and everything that was done. Keep in mind, each contractor operates and bid jobs differently. It is important that you do your homework and find someone reputable that does quality work… Trust me, the lowest price is not always the best.

In the end, the buyers that previewed the property loved the look and feel of the shiny new kitchen, the upgraded appliances, and quarts counters. Needless to say, the kitchen was a major selling point for this property. We listed the property at $345k, received multiple offers, and closed above list.

All the best!

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