From Plain Vanilla...
Designer: Patrick Benkowski, president, RoadRunner Remodeling, in Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Before: While this kitchen wasn't in desperate need of a complete renovation, it was in need of a makeover to address its lack of lighting and color; the countertops, backsplash, appliances and sink were all white. To hold down costs, Benkowski says the homeowners opted to keep the existing cabinetry and appliances, which can be two of the pricier projects to take on in a kitchen remodel.
...To Bright and Blue
Cost of renovation: Around $20,000
After: This kitchen remodel entailed upgrades to the countertops and backsplash, as well as some modest plumbing work, but it's the new lighting that makes the renovation stand out. Benkowski employed two different treatments: under-cabinet lighting and blue pendants above the breakfast bar. Granite replaced the white tile countertops, and a new sink, faucet and disposal rounded out the makeover.
Tip for homeowners: If you're thinking about selling your home, "kitchens are one of the first places potential buyers look," Benkowski says. If yours isn't up to par, would-be buyers will likely offer you a minimum of $40,000 less than your asking price because they know they'll have to spend that amount to make improvements, he says.
From Aged and Impractical...
Designers: Rick Kazmierczak, president, The Kaz Companies; Mike Santoro and Mike Falkner, designers, The Kaz Companies, in West Seneca, N.Y.
Before: Santoro says the owners of this house, a Cape Cod built in the early 1900s, ran into the same problems encountered by most people with older properties: "(Their kitchen) was an unproductive area that was dated with limited cabinet space." Times have changed, he adds, and the ways homeowners use their kitchens today -- to entertain, for example -- require more space.
...To Clean and Uncluttered
Cost of renovation: $24,985
After: Rearranging the kitchen so that it was more functional was the key to the success of this renovation. Kazmierczak's team removed one of the walls to create more space and added another window. They replaced the countertops with a high-quality laminate and added a tile backsplash. The old, damaged cabinets were swapped for new ones with a stained wood finish that complements the age and style of the home. New stainless steel appliances, as well as a new sink and faucet, helped pull the room together.
Tip for homeowners: When it comes to remodeling a kitchen on a tight budget, Falkner, one of the designers, recommends that homeowners stick with standard features and accessories to keep expenses in check. Glossy photos in home magazines of uniquely renovated kitchens may look stunning, but keep in mind that the more custom you want a space to be, the more money it'll cost. "Design with practicality in mind," he says. "Pretty can be expensive."