Kitchen Remodel Costs and Tips in Los Angeles: What You Should Know
Some people have called the kitchen the ‘heart of the home’, and I think that’s a pretty good description. With the trend of open kitchens, most families spend a large portion of their at-home time in their kitchen and adjacent areas. We’re in the kitchen preparing & planning food, eating meals, snacking, chatting, doing work or homework, sitting at the island enjoying a cup of coffee, and much more. As the hub of the home, it’s not surprising many homeowners see the kitchen as the space they’d most like to remodel and modernize.
Kitchens are generally a reasonably straightforward project to remodel, as long as you do some research, prepare your scope & budget and hire a quality contractor who shares your vision of the desired outcome. Learn more about individual aspects of a kitchen like the typical kitchen remodel costs, which materials are important, and more.
Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable general contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about planning their desired kitchen remodel – here are some ideas & tips to get you started.
What are Kitchen Remodel Costs in Los Angeles?
Kitchen remodel costs in Los Angeles vary between $30,000 – $100,000k+. This range of costs is wide, but most kitchen remodel projects fall into the $40-70k range. The majority of your kitchen remodel costs will primarily come from only a few categories: cabinets, countertops, appliances, and labor. And there are only a few variables that impact the total kitchen remodel costs: kitchen size, the need to reconfigure the kitchen or make structural changes, materials (including appliances), and the exact scope.
If you are looking to add extra coverage to any new appliances, don’t forget about the cost of repair plans such as home warranties. To learn more about kitchen remodel costs and remodel costs for other areas of your house, read our remodel cost guide blog.
If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen by replacing the cabinets, counters, appliances, etc. in the same exact location as the old kitchen, this will be the most straightforward and cost-effective option. It’s very clear to the contractor the quantity of materials necessary and where they will be installed.
On the other hand, reconfiguring a kitchen will add to the remodel cost because ‘utilities’ like water, electrical, gas, and venting may have to be relocated in order to accommodate the new design. Also, removing and/or adding walls as part of the kitchen remodel will add costs for similar reasons.
The costs of reconfiguring a kitchen vary depending on things like the need to remove load-bearing walls and the difficulty of running utilities to a new location.
If you’re planning to redesign the layout of your kitchen, you’ll need to develop a new plan. You can either hire a designer to perform this task, have the contractor prepare it, or do it yourself. If you’re not using a professional designer, here are a few basic principles that are important to keep in mind:
- Design the kitchen in a square/rectangular shape, and not an odd configuration like an L-shape or T-shape, etc;
- Make sure to create a good flow between the fridge, sink and range (sometimes referred to as the kitchen ‘triangle’),
- Make sure the aisles are wide enough (36” min),
- Include enough counter space
- Don’t locate the fridge right next to the oven/range (hot vs cold).
Kitchen Layout Tips
The kitchen is generally a high-traffic area, and it is crucial to have enough open space for cleaning and general use. You’ll also want to keep efficiency in mind for preparing and serving meals, and the cleanup afterward; you don’t want to run across the whole kitchen multiple times while working on a task.
Check out this video from one of our contractor’s kitchen remodel projects where he explains the optimal kitchen layout using the ‘triangle’ concept:
If you’re planning on adding an island, you don’t want it to be too close or too far from the appliances and fixtures. Try to plan for enough room to easily walk around the island while still quickly being able to reach important areas.
Many designers like to decide on the kitchen sink placement first and go from there. Since the sink is a place where we spend a lot of time, and the best locations for it are generally underneath a window or as part of an island.
Stoves should almost always be placed on an exterior wall for the ventilation system to be installed correctly without adding a lot of unnecessary expense.
Vertical storage, like open shelves and overhead racks, is a great way to open up more space while adding convenience and dimension to the kitchen. We tend to focus more on designing cabinets and drawers, and it is easy to overlook the utility of vertical storage options.
How Much do Kitchen Cabinets Cost?
Kitchen cabinets cost $150 – $400 per lineal foot.
Homeowners generally have two cabinet options. The lower-cost option is pre-fabricated cabinets that come in standard dimensions (IKEA or Home Depot, etc). In terms of kitchen remodel costs, these are likely to start at around $150 per lineal foot installed. (calculated by adding the length of the lower and upper cabinets).
Homeowners seeking a kitchen remodel with a higher-end look and design will likely choose to use custom cabinets. These are manufactured in any style & size desired for your specific kitchen and generally start at $250 per lineal foot installed.
There are a few things worth discussing with your contractor to ensure you’ll get your desired result: Do you want the upper cabinets to run all the way to the ceiling? If so, be aware that most ceilings aren’t perfectly level so discuss with the contractor how best to deal with this upfront. If there is a corner upper cabinet, decide if you want it at a 45-degree or 90-degree angle. Inform the contractor if you expect specific cabinet features like trash drawers, pull-out shelves, or soft-close doors & drawers.
How Much do Kitchen Countertops Cost?
Kitchen countertops cost between $50 – $150 per square foot.
Like cabinets, countertops are similar in that they come in either pre-fab or custom slab. Pre-fab counters are less expensive but come in a limited variety of styles and sizes. Custom slabs come in a much greater variety of style & design options and can be cut to any size needed. Cutting and forming these slabs into custom sizes is called ‘fabrication’ and is part of the reason these are significantly more expensive than the pre-fab variety.
You’ll want to visit a countertop retailer or slab yard to start selecting your material. The salesperson should be well versed in countertop material options, so make sure to inquire about the pros & cons of materials such as granite, quartz, marble and others that interest you.
When purchasing multiple slabs, make sure to carefully look at each to ensure they are the same color & quality. You’d be surprised how much the same slab material can vary from one shipment to the next and you don’t want mismatched countertops.
Also, speak to your contractor regarding details of countertop fabrication and installation. Let them know if you want a rounded or squared edge. Discuss where the countertop joints or ‘seams’ will be and whether you want them to be diagonal or straight. Ask how the countertop pieces will be cut and seamed.
Countertops prices can start as low as $40-$50 per square foot and go up to $100-$150 per square foot for unique, luxury products. So, the cost of the counters for the whole kitchen remodel will usually range between $5000-$20,000 in most cases of a kitchen remodel costs.
Kitchen Island Tips:
Although the kitchen island is comprised solely of cabinets and counters which were mentioned above, there are a few details worth discussing with your contractor to ensure you get the final product you desire. You’ll almost certainly want to have one or more electrical outlets in your island, so let the contractor know where these should be installed; on the side or rear of the cabinets, or even on the countertop. And remember to decide on the color of these outlets and covers!
Another item to discuss is exactly where you want to hang the lights over the island. There is no standard formula on the spacing of lights over an island, so if you don’t dictate exactly where these should go, you may be unhappy with the location/spacing of the contractor’s installation. Simply mark on a plan or on the ceiling exactly where you want them hung.
Finally, while creating the kitchen remodel plan, make sure to discuss the functionality of the island with regard to the length & depth of any overhang to accommodate your desired amount of seating at the island (bar stools, etc.)
How much do kitchen appliances cost?
Kitchen appliances can range between $2500 – $50,000 depending on your selections.
If you’re planning to save and re-install any existing appliances, be sure to let the contractor know so they are treated with respect during the kitchen remodel. Inform them where to store the appliance. Before the demolition, tape a large sign to each appliance you want to keep that says something like “DO NOT TRASH – MOVE TO GARAGE” in both English and any other language your contractor speaks.
It’s important to select any new appliances early and well in advance of construction so you can provide this information to your contractor. They will need to plan for the cabinet/countertop sizes based on the style & dimensions of the chosen appliances.
Also, review your layout carefully with your contractor to ensure there won’t be any large gaps between cabinets and appliances in the finished product and that chosen appliance locations don’t hinder any other cabinets from fully opening and vice versa.
Appliances can be a small or very large portion of your total remodel budget, depending on your preferences and budget. Appliance prices run the gamut from the cost-effective, $2,500 total, to wildly expensive high-end brands, which can easily be over $50,000 in a kitchen remodels costs.
Kitchen Backsplash Tips
Your options for a backsplash range considerably. The simplest option is to install a 6” tall piece of countertop material, which will be the most cost-effective because it’s included in the countertop price. Other options for backsplash tile come in a wide range of materials including marble, quartz, glass, metal, porcelain, ceramic, etc.
Because the options are so varied, the hardest part is picking a material that complements the cabinet and countertop colors you chose. Obviously, these materials all vary widely in cost, but the quantity of tile needed for a backsplash is reasonably small, so this shouldn’t be a large portion of your total kitchen remodel budget.
As with other elements of the kitchen remodel, there are a few important details to discuss with your contractor. First and foremost, do you want the tile to be installed horizontally or vertically (or a combination of both)? Next, explain exactly where you want the tile to start and end on the walls, both horizontally and vertically. That means either label the location on a plan or mark the exact location on the walls.
Remember to consider whether you want backsplash tile around any windows and/or above the range hood.
Finally, make sure to define the color of grout you want to use. This often-forgotten item can drastically change the look of the finished product.
Kitchen Cabinet knobs/pulls
Because there is no ‘standard’ location for cabinet knobs, you’ll want to inform your contractor exactly where you want them installed on your cabinet doors and drawers. Label the location with a pencil directly on one door and drawer so they can use that as a guide. Also, with cabinet pulls, clarify if you want them installed horizontally or vertically. Finally, if you have unique cabinets like extra-long drawers, inform them whether you want one or two knobs/pulls.
Kitchen Pantry Tips
If you’re doing a walk-in pantry, tell the contractor which way you want the door to swing and where you want the switch for the light inside the panty.
When renovating a walk-in pantry, one of the most prominent features you have to decide on is whether to keep it the same size or extend it into another space, but this will take up room from other areas. You’ll also need to choose the size, color, and amount of shelves that will be in the pantry, along with the design of the door and doorknob or handle.
A well-built and organized walk-in pantry can add a lot of value to your kitchen, both monetary and utility wise.
You’ll need to select the size and style of your sink early in the process because this will dictate the width of the cabinet required under the sink. Let the contractor know which side of the sink should have the garbage disposal and how many holes you want at the back of your sink for faucet, dishwasher air gap, soap dispenser, etc.
There are many different options for choosing the material of your new sink ranging from composite to enamel to various metals. Stainless steel sinks are the most popular; they look good with most countertops and cabinets, are affordable, and easy to maintain. Stainless steel sinks are also tough and sturdy, so you can expect them to last for quite a while.
Inform your contractor exactly where you want your wall outlets, light switches, and recessed lights. Decide if you need a light over the sink and if it will hang from the ceiling or wall. Finally, inform the contractor of any other lighting locations.
When choosing where to place outlets, keep in mind that major appliances require dedicated circuits, so be sure that you are positive about where you want them placed before starting on the electrical work.
For small appliances, think about where they will be used the most and have outlets installed above the countertop in those areas. Don’t forget to have an outlet underneath the sink for the garbage disposal!
Kitchen Flooring Tips
If you’re installing flooring as part of the kitchen remodel, you’ll first need to decide on the material. Kitchen floors stand up to a lot of traffic and get splattered with spills and stains; it’s essential to choose a sturdy material as well as one that looks good with your appliances, countertops, and cabinets.
Sheet vinyl, porcelain tile, hardwood, and linoleum are all durable materials that are relatively low maintenance and are highly customizable to meet your new kitchen flooring’s design needs.
Next, inform your contractor in which direction you want the flooring installed. Discuss whether the flooring material should be installed under the cabinets or not. And remember if you are using tile to dictate the color of the grout too.
How do I find a good kitchen contractor?
Once you’ve done your research about planning a kitchen remodel and have some understanding of the costs & your budget, the next step is to meet with a few good kitchen contractors. There are a few ways to find local contractors and some ways are better than others. It’s not a great idea to just look for random contractors online or sift through your junk mail for contractor flyers.
There are over 20,000 licensed general contractors in Los Angeles County alone, so picking one ‘at random’ is too risky. Ideally, you could get a contractor recommendation from someone you know personally. If a friend or relative recently remodeled their kitchen and liked their contractor, that would be an ideal candidate.
If you cant get a personal recommendation, consider speaking with a free service (like GreatBuildz) that will connect you with heavily screened & vetted contractors that fit your needs & budget. For a comprehensive guide on finding and screening great contractors, check out my contractor screening blog.
Related: Your Renovation Won’t Be Perfect
When it comes to planning and coordinating a kitchen remodel for your home, you shouldn’t have to go it alone – GreatBuildz can help simplify your remodel experience.
GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish. Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next remodel project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com