Guide to Kitchen Remodels in Dated Homes

Project planning
August 05, 2019

Are you considering a kitchen remodel? You’re not alone. Kitchens are the second-most popular remodel project, coming up short to bathroom remodels by just 2% according to a 2016 survey.

It’s no wonder why - the kitchen is the heart of the home after all. Whether it’s cooking meals for family, entertaining guests, or feeding pets, our kitchens get a lot of use.

Times change, families grow, and technology improves, which may leave you feeling like your dated kitchen is no longer up to snuff. Luckily, there are plenty of projects that can help your kitchen into the 21st century - and make sure it suits your family’s changing needs.

If you’re one of the millions of people who will remodel their kitchen this year, take some time to do your research, and find the upgrades that will turn your outdated cooking space into the chef’s dream kitchen.

Read on for your complete guide to remodeling your dated kitchen, and get one step closer to making this central part of your home the absolute best it can be.

Family talking in kitchen

Examining Your Reasons for a Kitchen Remodel

Motivations for completing a kitchen remodel can come in many different forms, but you’ll want to narrow down your motivations as you get started on your renovations.

Whether you plan to remodel with style in mind, or you really need to increase the functionality of your cooking area, it’s important to start your remodel process by examining your reasons.

Crafting a clear understanding of what’s got you yearning for a new kitchen will help you work towards a final result that satisfies all your wants and needs.

If you’re renovating for style points

If it’s an aesthetic change you’re after, there are a few important questions to consider before demo gets underway.

Do you want your kitchen to match the period of your home? A dated, 80’s kitchen in a farmhouse-style home may stick out like a sore thumb. White shaker cabinets might blend in better than older melamine cabinets.

Do you want to switch to a more modern-looking cooking space? Installing a modern kitchen may be the biggest undertaking in modernizing a home, and a modern kitchen remodel paired with a few small updates throughout the remaining rooms can bring the whole house into the now.

If you’re remodeling your kitchen to improve function

Perhaps your kitchen remodel spawns from frustration with a kitchen that’s not quite functional. The addition of a new partner or a child who is just starting to come of cooking age may have you wishing for extra room for a second cook.

Additional counter space and wider walkways can make a world of difference in a cramped kitchen. A breakfast bar can create a place for the kids to eat somewhere out of the way on busy school-day mornings. Maybe your kitchen has never quite been functional, and you’re ready to install that island you’ve always wanted for additional prep space.

If functionality is your driving factor, be sure to consider the proposed layout of your new kitchen. A poorly designed layout may leave your kitchen feeling like more of a pathway between rooms than a functional space.

If there are multiple cooks in the kitchen, work aisles should be at least 48 inches wide, leaving each of you enough room to move around each other with ease.

If you’re environmentally conscious

For the eco-minded, energy efficiency may be an enormous motivation for a kitchen remodel. Dated kitchens are not always the most efficient, and energy-sucking appliances can be a detriment on both your pocket and on the environment. You may want to seek out water conserving and energy-efficient appliances and fixtures to conserve precious resources. You can also opt for more sustainable materials if you’ll be replacing your kitchen flooring, countertops, or cabinets.

Couple using laptop in kitchen

Setting Your Budget for Remodeling Your Kitchen

The extent of your kitchen remodel is often largely determined by one significant factor: budget. In a 2015 survey about spending on kitchen remodels, the most common range was between $25k and $50k, with only 7% of respondents spending upwards of $100k on their kitchen remodels.

Where you land on the budget spectrum will help determine the scope of your project.

Unsure where to start with your budget? Let’s take a look at two essential steps:

  • Do your research: Visit kitchen showrooms, home stores, and search projects online. Spend some time talking candidly with a salesperson about your wants and needs, and where you are and are not willing to compromise in terms of project updates.

  • Ask friends: If you have close friends or family who have recently undergone a kitchen remodel, consider asking them about their budget. Which projects came in significantly higher than expected? Which could they have gone without?
  • Give yourself a bit of wiggle room: Once you’ve determined what you think is a reasonable estimate for your remodel cost, plan to budget more than this in case of unexpected costs. Working with an older home means you may run into challenges you didn’t anticipate, such as electrical issues, inadequate heating or plumbing, or structural concerns. The more extensive your remodel, the more likely it is for unexpected expenses to occur.

Projects to Consider During Your Kitchen Remodel

If you’re remodeling a dated kitchen, you may find you’re ripping out the old to replace with the new. The bulk of your kitchen remodel may be comprised of big renovations, for which you might want to call in a professional.

  • Kitchen cabinets: If your kitchen cabinets are a level of dated that a new coat of paint just won’t fix, you may want to consider new cabinets throughout your kitchen. New cabinets come in a range of materials that vary in price and durability.
  • Countertops: Countertops come in a variety of materials and colors, and a professional contractor can help you determine which are best suited to your kitchen, both aesthetically and in terms of practicality.
  • Kitchen lights: If your kitchen lights just aren’t cutting it anymore, it may be time for an update. Installing brighter bulbs may do the trick, but for lighting that’s uneven or simply too sparse for your space, additional lighting might be a bright idea. Depending on the construction of your home, this upgrade may require rewiring to allow for extra wattage.
  • Windows: Upgrading your windows can improve curb appeal and may help you become more energy efficient. Outdated windows can be a source of heat loss in your home.  You may be able to minimize this by applying weather stripping, but a full window replacement will be a more effective and long-term solution.
  • New flooring: If you’re installing a natural flooring option like hardwood or stone flooring, a contractor may be able to provide expertise that helps you get them laid perfectly. The same is true if you’re refinishing your old kitchen’s current floors; a professional with a practiced hand will likely garner the best results, and coax out that old charm of your home’s original flooring.

Planning for the Unexpected

If you’re undergoing a major kitchen remodel, you may find that you won’t be able to do everything on your list. Whether it’s a matter of time or budget, things may not go as planned - and this can be especially true in older homes with dated kitchens.

So how do you plan for the unexpected? It’s all about priorities, which you can hone in by looking at the initial motivations for your remodel.

  • Separate your list into needs and wants: Complete your “needs” list first, then move on to the “wants.” This priority designation will provide an extra safeguard, so that you’re not left high and dry with a half-finished kitchen.

  • Choose based on function: The projects that are most worth your time and money are the ones you’ll get the most use out of. It may be nice to have a display case for your china built into your cabinets, but a well-functioning stove might be a better use of a limited budget.

  • Opt for timeless over trendy: Here’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to kitchen design, especially as you spruce up your dated cooking space: if you’re not sure you’ll love it in 5 years, don’t do it. A thorough kitchen remodel may only come along once every few decades, so it’s good to try to make sure yours is styled to last.

Final Notes

A kitchen remodel is a big undertaking—but don’t let that scare you away from this worthy project. With proper planning, the kitchen of your dreams may be only a remodel away. Consider your motivations, find great contractors to help make your vision a reality, and be flexible while renovations are underway.

For more help planning your kitchen remodel, be sure to check out the first of our four-part series, “Planning Your Home Renovation.”