Budgeting a Kitchen Upgrade

Kitchen upgrades can increase the asking price of a house when selling. However, these upgrades can cause homeowners to spend a huge chunk of money, especially if they don’t have a plan. Creating and staying within a budget can be difficult, but it is possible with a few steps.

Homeowners should set a budget based on the increase in value they believe they can get when they sell. Spending a ridiculous amount on an upscale kitchen in a middle-class neighborhood probably won’t reap a positive return.

From there, the costs should be broken down into percentages. Labor usually makes up between 20 to 35 percent of the budget costs. Then break up the costs based on the priorities. For example, the appliances may be in decent shape, but new cupboards and countertops may be in desperate need of an upgrade. It is also recommended to set aside about 20 percent of the budget for unexpected costs such as water damage.

Homeowners should also have a plan for how they are going to go about paying for the upgrade. Many people need to borrow money to finance a kitchen upgrade and they have multiple options for doing so. They can take out a home equity loan, a personal loan, refinance, or borrow against a retirement plan. It depends on the state of their finances and what will work best for them.

One detail that can get overlooked when doing a kitchen upgrade is the cost of not having a kitchen for a period of time. Homeowners will have to eat out or rely on take-out while the kitchen is being worked on, depending on what projects they are doing. This should be worked into the main budget as well.

Don’t just set a budget and then forget about it. Keep checking purchases and quotes against it. The easiest way to do this is to put it in a spreadsheet. This will help homeowners stay on track.


New Year, New Kitchen

Organizing the home can be a fairly common New Year’s resolution, and is often needed after the holidays. If the kitchen is in a state of despair try some of these ideas to whip it back into shape.

Stash the Pots and Pans: Stacking them on top of each other means pulling out five different items when only the one on the bottom of the pile is needed. Trying installing a pot rack in an area where it could be out of the way, such as above an island. Or perhaps a pegboard on an open kitchen wall. Turning a cabinet into a pullout cabinet can be a great alternative as well. The dividers separate the pots and pans, making it convenient to get them in and out.

Tackle that Tupperware: Those plastic containers can quickly get out of control, causing an avalanche when the cabinet door opens. Separate and organize lids and containers by size and shape so they are much easier to stack. If a container is missing a lid or has become warped or badly stained, take the plunge and throw it out. Use containers to store the lids so they aren’t thrown about haphazardly and hard to find.

Spruce up the Spices: Throw away old spices and combine duplicate bottles to make more room. Organize it so the spices used less often are toward the back while the ones used more frequently are in the front.

Clear the Countertop: Appliances can take up an unnecessary amount of counter space, while hardly getting used. How often does that quesadilla press get used? What about that mini cupcake maker? If appliances do get used a decent amount, but not enough to be sitting out constantly, a nearby cupboard might be a better location. If they rarely get used, consider moving them to a basement or pantry area or even donating them. They’re just taking up valuable counter space.

Show off the China: Display pretty china or glassware on shelves or in cupboards with a glass front. This can simultaneously make the kitchen feel more open and display decorative pieces that have been hidden away. Displaying them on shelving can also make more room in the cupboards for appliances and other dishes.

Organizing the kitchen may seem like an impossible task, but once done it can bring a lot of stress relief into the home. Start the New Year with an organized and clutter free kitchen.

Save Energy in the Kitchen

The kitchen can be a major cause of the energy bill skyrocketing. There are ways to save energy, even when using the most common kitchen appliances.

To make refrigerator usage as efficient as possible, set the temperature to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, make sure there is ample space between it and other surfaces, especially the stove and oven. Keeping the freezer packed full, but leaving more space in the fridge better allows for cold air circulation.

When using the stove top, try to schedule cooking during off-peak hours. Cooking with pots that are the correct size for the burners also helps to not use excess energy.

Don’t let oven heat go to waste when baking. During the last few minutes, turn the oven off and allow the food to cook in the residual heat. Take advantage of the oven light, and check on the food through the window instead of opening the door. This will cut down drastically on energy loss. When you’re finished baking, leave the oven door open a bit to let the warm air help heat the kitchen especially during the cooler days of fall and winter. The best time to let the oven self-clean is right after cooking so the oven won’t have to reheat itself just for cleaning.

Did you know the dishwasher uses 33 percent less hot water than washing dishes by hand? Also, only running the dishwasher when it is at capacity will significantly lower the energy bill. During the cycle, turn it off before the drying cycle begins and open the door, allowing the dishes to air dry for even further energy conservation.

Organizing the Kitchen

When smaller kitchens lack a pantry, it can be a pain trying to fit cooking utensils and food into the limited amount of cupboard space available. Organizing a small space like this is crucial to getting the most out of it.

To start the process, clear everything out of the cupboards. Any pot, pan, baking dish or container that hasn’t been used in the last month or longer should be put on a top shelf or somewhere not as easily accessible. Because they don’t get used as often, having them readily available is unnecessary.

Spices can sit unused and forgotten in the cupboard for years. If the last recipe that called for a certain spice was used more than a couple years ago, it’s probably safe to throw it out. Unused spices can make it a huge mess trying to dig through the cupboard and find the right one. Spice racks can help open up cupboard space as well if there is counter space to spare.

Consolidate grains, flours and sugars if there happen to be multiple bags of each sitting around. Some of these could be put into plastic or decorative containers. This makes them easier to stack in the cupboard or display as a decoration on the counter.

Coffee cups seem to accumulate and multiply more than any other dish. If they’ve taken over more than one shelf, it might be time to cut down on the collection. Hang some of the most-used favorites on hooks as a decorative element and also an easy access point.

Plastic to-go containers are often thrown into a cupboard without care. This can make it difficult to find the right lids when you need them. Match up the containers with their lids. If a lid or container is missing from a set, get rid of it.   Then stack them by size before putting them back into the cupboard.

Decide where to put everything in relation to how it will get used. Separate items into different zones of the kitchen. In the food preparation zone, put knives, cutting boards, mixers, blenders, etc. This should be next to an open counter space, where all of the mixing and chopping will occur. Keep pots and pans in the cooking zone, next to the oven. In the dish/dishwashing zone, everyday dishes and utensils should be stored. Everything used for eating meals on a regular basis like napkins, salt and pepper shakers, serving bowls should be stored in the eating zone closest to the kitchen table.

The main idea of organizing kitchen cabinets is to bring what is most used to the forefront for accessibility. Reorganizing the whole kitchen can seem like a daunting task, but taking it step by step and having a plan of attack can help.

Conventional Ovens vs. Toaster Ovens

Ovens have long since been a staple in every kitchen. They are used for baking, roasting, broiling, reheating food and toasting. But with the introduction of the toaster oven, they have found themselves gathering dust in some kitchens.

Conventional ovens have their perks like being able to hold larger quantities of food, keeping the temperature steady during cooking, and they keep getting more technologically advanced. With a conventional oven, the air inside is heated and then gradually cooks the food from the outside in.

They can also have their drawbacks, however. The size that some love for the convenience of cooking multiple dishes at once, some find unattractive and unnecessary. When cooking multiple dishes, sometimes they cook unevenly. They also use a lot of unnecessary energy for some smaller tasks. Many people avoid using the oven as much as possible during the summer months because it tends to heat up the house.

Toaster ovens, which function as mini ovens, are often a better option for every-day cooking. They take up less space than their bulky cousins and can do almost as much, sometimes with great efficiency. They have a lower cost and can be built into cabinets or just have a place on the countertop. With their smaller size, they cannot cook larger items, which can be a drawback for consumers. But with their diversity of being able to broil, bake, toast, defrost, roast and dehydrate they can be the perfect option for smaller or medium cooking projects. A toaster oven may be the perfect complement to your newly refinished countertop.

Mini Kitchen Makeovers

Sometimes we need a little change in our lives. Why not start with your home décor. Not all change has to be big, grand or expensive. Sometimes mini makeovers can help spruce up our living spaces, like the kitchen, without breaking the bank.

Add a little pop of color, maybe coordinating with the season, to your chair cushions. All you need is some fabric and a staple gun. Changing up the chair cushions at your kitchen table, island, bar or maybe all three can be a simple way to brighten up the kitchen or celebrate a certain holiday.

Organizing your storage areas like pantry and cupboards can create a less chaotic environment by getting rid of the clutter. Invest in a couple Lazy Susans and tin can racks and find a spot for everything. You’ll feel a lot better without the mess and it will be easier to find everything you need.

Have any old pictures hanging out around the house you wouldn’t mind getting rid of? Use the frame to make a gallery wall. Paint them with some latex paint and put knick knacks inside them like decorative plates or teacups. It’s an inexpensive way to add a visual element to an otherwise boring wall.

If you have too many cookbooks and nowhere to put them, add some shelves to a bare wall to save on counter space. You can also add fresh flowers and cute figurines on the shelves. It can double as storage and decoration.

Add some color to boring, plain window shades. Window shades serve an important purpose, but they don’t have to be unstylish. Use some paint and create a cute pattern on the shades in your kitchen windows.

Get a stylish rack to put your spices on. They will be easier for you to search through and grab while cooking. Put your spatulas, wooden spoons and whisks in a cute, cheap vase on the kitchen counter. They will also be easier to grab while adding a cute touch to the kitchen area.

Rugs have long been a fix for adding life into a boring space. Put one in the kitchen to guard the floor from spills and damage, but to also add a colorful, fun element to the kitchen. If you’re worried about cleaning it, try a flat weave or indoor-outdoor rug.

Show off those expensive and pretty pots and pans by hanging them on a rack. If you have the room to spare on a bare wall, use a simple rod like those used for curtains and add some S hooks to it. This can create a restaurant feel and open up some room in those crowded cupboards.

Use open shelving and put dishes on display. Why buy all those plates and bowls with the pretty pattern if they’re going to sit in the cupboard? Using open shelving can create an open and airy vibe in the kitchen.

Make a window treatment with leftover fabric and a tension rod for the window above the kitchen sink. You still get the natural light, but add a cute, decorative detail.

You can create a whole new space with small changes. Try a few of the ideas above to brighten, organize or show off your kitchen. Or try refinishing your countertops and sink for a whole new look. Contact Refinish First if you’re wanting to create a new kitchen style.

Save Some Space

With more and more kitchen gadgets coming out, finding space to store them can be difficult. There are some space-savers that can help you maximize your entire kitchen. Check out these ideas to help you get rid of the clutter.

Putting your trash can in a cabinet instead of out in the open can save you some space. This is also essential for people with small children or nosy dogs who like to get into the trash while you’re not looking. Many people simply put the trash can on the floor under the sink, but there are other options for hiding it in the cupboards. You can attach it to the back of the cupboards or have it slide in and out of a cabinet. To do this, tracks can be mounted on the bottom of the cabinet’s interior.

Corner cabinets can be annoying when storing and retrieving items. By installing pull-out shelves, or a lazy Susan you can make it much easier to store and find things in these impossibly tiny corner areas.

Pot racks and spice racks can help free up some of that prime cupboard space. They also make things easier to access and can add a unique charm as well. Putting your microwave in a built-in cabinet or mounting it above the stove can give you a big chunk of free counter space.

Get clear or decorative jars to use for flour, sugar or other items that can bring a flair to the kitchen counter. This way they are on hand and you can make more room in the cupboard by getting rid of those big bulky bags.

Kitchens can become cluttered and overflowing real quick, but with some ideas and ingenuity you can come up with ways to save some space and put everything in its place.