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.


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.

Lighting Your Kitchen

There are many options when lighting a kitchen. Some designers say that the best way to light a kitchen involves multiple types of lighting blended together. These are task, ambient, accent and decorative lighting. Successfully incorporating all of these into the kitchen creates a unique area, great for both working and entertaining.

Using a single overhead ceiling light can end up overpowering the whole space and creating a massive glare. It is one-tone and not very effective. Task lighting is important when cooking and preparing food, but if placed wrong it can ruin the overall efficiency and create shadows. Placing task lighting underneath overhead cabinets, over an island and even in the pantry will create bright, focused lighting in the areas where it is most needed.

Putting lighting under overhead cabinets can also double as ambient lighting with the addition of a dimmer switch. Ambient lighting is frequently overlooked while designing kitchens. It is more useful during entertaining and creates a warm feeling. When the kitchen is used as more of an entertaining space, this type of lighting becomes even more important. Ambient lighting fixtures come in many forms such as ceiling fixtures, pendants hanging over an island and adjustable track lighting.

Like ambient lighting, the accent lighting layer is often overlooked and is becoming increasing important because of the changing functions of the kitchen. It is used to highlight and bring attention to artwork and details like backsplashes. Track lighting, up-lighters, directional eyeball lights and wall sconces can be used as accent fixtures.

Decorative lighting can be expensive, but brings its own element to the kitchen. The scale of the fixture compared to the size of the kitchen is important when picking out a decorative lighting piece. Chandeliers and hanging pendants are some of the decorative lighting options. When choosing, remember to check that the fixture has enough opacity to effectively hide the light bulb.

To make sure all of these layers work together, dimmers can help with coordination. By putting each layer on a dimmer, the entire mood of the room can quickly and easily be changed. There are also preset options for different times of the day.

Effectively placing these layers together creates a warm and stimulating environment for cooking or entertaining. These fixtures and layers will be sure to show off all the hard work put into the kitchen design.

Designing the Perfect Kitchen

As kitchens are morphing into a focal point of the home and an integral part of entertaining, they are beginning to reflect personal style instead of just functionality. Here are a few kitchen styles to consider.

Country kitchens bring the weekend getaway feeling straight into your home. Using primary red, yellows, blue and cream with a mix of finishes on cabinets creates a lived-in feeling. Farmhouse tables and furniture-like cabinets are common in these kitchens. A slight distressed look and natural light bring the country anywhere, even in the suburbs.

Modern kitchens are all about sleek lines and polished surfaces. They are designed to cut out clutter and bring an air of sophistication. High-tech materials often adorn the highly reflective surfaces. Exotic woods are also used to bring luxury into the kitchen.

If you’re going for a cozy feeling that draws you in, the cottage style is perfect. High-end appliances in retro colors add to the charm of this style. There are often imperfect finishes on surfaces in these kitchens. Putting in homey touches and collectibles finishes off the look.

Contemporary kitchens mix functionality and family friendliness along with new and old materials. With lots of open space it creates room for hosts and guests to work and interact at the same time. Creating the perfect environment for entertaining.

Travel across the ocean to the South of France with a Mediterranean or French Country design. With colors that reflect nature and worn surfaces, it creates a romantic feel associated with that area. Using rich tones like russet, cobalt and ochre along with warm wooden cabinets can create the perfect atmosphere. Top it off with handmade ceramic accessories and copper pots.

Beaches are a wonderful place of relaxation. Coastal designs use cool shades of blue, green, white and sand to create a beach vibe. Use wicker and seagrass for seating and make sure to let in plenty of sunlight.

Old World design brings back a time when craftsmanship was important. This design says luxury with its dark mahogany finishes complete with carving and detail. Stone or wooden floors help complete the look along with heavy fabrics and historical accessories.

Lastly, the traditional kitchen is a staple in design. It revolves around holidays, after-school snacks and family. The clean, comfortable look is created with paneled or glass doors on the cupboards and bright, white elements. This kitchen design radiates a welcoming vibe in any home.

There are countless kitchen designs to reflect a certain place, time period or feeling in a home. They can be a blueprint for how to style the rest of the home or continue a style from the rest of the house.

No matter which kitchen style fits your family and personality, Refinish First can refinish the existing countertops and tile to match. Contact us today for a free kitchen refinishing estimate!

Add Value to Your Home

When thinking about remodeling or fixing up your home to increase the value before selling, there are two rooms that need the most attention; the kitchen and the bathroom. Out of all the rooms in the house, these two are the only ones that are likely to have semi-permanent fixtures. Walls can be repainted, carpets can be replaced, but cabinets and bathtubs can be pricey and difficult to replace.

The kitchen is often the first and last room buyers look at while touring a house. As a whole, people are spending more time in the kitchen than we have in the past. We gather there, entertain there and obviously, cook our meals there. Real estate experts are in agreement that you can get the greatest return from a kitchen upgrade.

Even simple upgrades can transform the entire room. Refinishing worn out or dated kitchen counters and painting the cabinets can bring your kitchen from dull and boring to bright and lively. You don’t always have to go big to get a big return.

Bathrooms are a high traffic area and can accumulate wear and tear pretty easily. A dingy shower-bathtub combo isn’t likely to attract many buyers. Cracked and chipped counters will make them run the other way. Buyers are looking for a clean, attractive space especially in a guest bathroom. Tile can bring an element of sophistication to any bathroom, but if it becomes cracked and needs to re-grouted, it can look like a nightmare. Refinish First can repair tiles and replace grout. Refinishing also seals the grout.

Putting even a small amount of effort and money into these rooms can pay out big. Talk to Refinish First about upgrading your home and get a free estimate.

Kitchen Trends


Kitchens are becoming more of an artistic viewpoint. Functionality is being combined with creativity and design to create a kitchen worth marveling at. Check out these new kitchen trends and how you can incorporate them into your home.

Fewer upper cabinets creates wall space for decorative lighting such as sconces. Most sconces have adjustable arms so you can move the light directly where needed. They also come in a variety of finishes to match or make a statement in the kitchen.

Large backsplashes are another option with the upper cabinets gone. They can bring natural materials into the kitchen and become a focal point. Refinish First has a wide range of Stone Accents that can convert your backsplash and countertop from plain to eye catching.

Warmer metals are starting to replace chrome, nickel and stainless steel in the kitchen. Shades of iron and graphite are becoming more popular and can go well with that new Stone Accents backsplash.

Natural materials are coming into play this season as well. Brick, concrete and wood create an industrial, yet warm feeling. Creating open shelving with reclaimed wood can be a fun DIY project to add some rustic charm to your kitchen.

Need some ideas to get you started? Contact Refinish First. We would love to help you update your kitchen!

Great Kitchen Lighting

Like so many elements in the kitchen, lighting gives you one more way to express yourself. Lighting certainly is great for providing overall lighting for general needs and providing specific task lighting.

Do you have a large light smack in the middle of the kitchen ceiling? Do you like it? This light provides broad exposure that gives some light to every part of the kitchen. Some people might even call it ambient light because it is the light that exists in the situation or space that fills in where task lighting doesn’t exist.

Here are few examples of interesting main ceiling flush mount lights:



Usually, there are areas that need task or decorative lighting. Do you have a spot light over the kitchen sink? Great for dirty dishes. Or do you have under cabinet lighting? This lighting provides a wonderful option to shed more light while you’re chopping, cleaning and organizing.

Another decorative consideration comes where you have an island, whether attached or sticking out from the wall. This often is an eating area that can be used for interesting lighting. It might be accomplished with spot lights, a track or with wonderful pendants. The choices are endless. Here are a few pendant examples:




Deciding your style and budget will help you make confident lighting decisions. Considering existing elements will help with overall cohesion or juxtaposition. Have fun picking out new lighting!