paul bookbinder

Can you afford a new kitchen?

BOOKBINDERWhether you’re walking down the street, passing by a kitchen showroom or in a home center strolling down the isles, it’s hard not to notice the stunning new kitchens on display, and your mind begins to drift.

You work hard. You’re a good person. If anyone deserves a new kitchen, it’s you. But then reality rears its ugly head. The pleasant vision of standing in your new kitchen, effortlessly preparing a gourmet meal, is replaced with a view looking out from the poor house. And so you walk on, abandoning the momentary dream of what you truly deserve.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re inspired by those beautiful displays, there are steps to follow that can lead to a new kitchen without sacrificing everything you hold dear. The most important of these steps is to determine the budget that you are comfortable with, and then sticking to it.

Today, there are kitchen solutions including new cabinets—refacing and restoring—as well as countertops and appliances that will fit into almost any budget. The trick is to figure out what your budget really is, and then finding what options will fit within that figure.

If you’re not sure what your budget should be, for an all-new kitchen, depending on who you speak with, you should plan on spending between 5 percent to 15 percent of the current value of your home. If I do the math for you, a home worth $500,000 would deserve a kitchen that costs approximately $25,000 to $75,000. Spending less than this could actually reduce the value of your home and, if you spend more, you most likely won’t recoup what you put in.

Naturally, this is just a rough estimate, but these figures include cabinets, appliances, countertops, flooring, lighting, trim and installation with approximately 40 percent to 50 percent of the cost allocated for the cabinets.

If this figure is out of reach, you can investigate alternatives to a completely new kitchen, such as refacing, or just restore your existing kitchen cabinets. Both of these options will save a lot of money and you still can have a great looking room.

While determining your budget, it’s a good time to do your homework. Make one list of what you absolutely must have in your future kitchen and another wish list of things you’d like, but really could live without, if necessary. Pick up some kitchen magazines in town and look through them. When you see something that interests you, tear it out and put it into a folder so that you can show it to your designer. It’s always easier and safer to show someone a picture rather than trying to explain it, leaving less chance for misinterpretation of what you had in mind.

With budget in hand, it’s time to visit with a kitchen designer who will work with you to create your “Dream Kitchen” at a price you can afford. They will review your ideas and then transform them into a working design. Don’t be afraid to share your budget with your designer. Whether your proposed expenditure is $5,000 or $100,000, if the designer does not know this, chances are their plan will not meet your expectations and you’ll have wasted both your time and theirs.

A creative designer, with whom you’ve shared your “wish list” and other desires, should be able to create an affordable, functional and stunning new kitchen just for you. You may have to compromise here and there, but the end result will be something that you can not only afford, but be proud of as well.

Paul Bookbinder, M.I.D., C.R., is president of DreamW­ork Kitchens, Inc. located
in Mamaroneck, New York. A Master of Design (Pratt Institute), and E.P.A. Certified Remodeler, he serves on the Advisory Panel of Remodeling Magazine. A member of the National Kitchen & Bath Assoc., he is also a contributor to Do It Yourself magazine. He can be reached for questions at 914-777-0437