How to remodel a kitchen step by step

remodel a kitchen step by step

Remodeling a kitchen is one of the most desirable home improvements. It also can be one of the most expensive. If you are tired of your kitchen and want to make improvements, it is completely possible to renovate a kitchen step by step. This way, you can pick and choose what part of your kitchen needs the most TLC and control costs.

A while back, we did a piece on remodeling your bathroom, step by step, and wanted to give our readers a guide to the mother of all home improvements – the kitchen. Here’s how to remodel a kitchen step by step.

Decide how much effort and money you want to put into it

There are a number of levels of improvement you can shoot for, and each has increasing effort and cost. They are:

  1. Superficial or cosmetic changes
  2. Semi-invasive, where you leave most of the components in place
  3. Gut the kitchen, but leave gas and water connections in their places
  4. Gut the whole kitchen, inside the boundaries of the room
  5. Change the entire footprint of the kitchen, extending it into another room or rooms

We’ll go through each type of renovation, so you can see what to consider for effort and cost.

1. Superficial or cosmetic changes

Some of the types of superficial changes you can make include new paint, cabinet color changes, backsplash changes and lighting changes.


A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to a kitchen, help tie it altogether and brighten up the look of it. Kitchens get a lot of wear and tear and a simple coat of paint or two might be all the fix you need.

Painting cabinets

Cabinets are quite expensive to swap out, but these days, many homeowners are choosing to simply paint their cabinets instead. It’s economical and also an ecological choice – reuse. There are many types of paint specific to cabinets. It’s a very common thing to do and there are many YouTube videos to choose from to help you get the best effect.

Changing backsplash

Along with paint, adding a backsplash or swapping in a new one can make a dated kitchen look more modern. You can install tile, which is common, but there are many other types of materials to consider. Consider materials such as wood, pressed tin, stone, wallpaper and there are even some super easy peel-and-stick options. Here are some Pinterest boards you can use for backsplash inspiration, and here are some examples of materials that are not just tile.

kitchen renovation backsplash

Here’s a simple peel and stick option that both affordable and easy to install


Swapping out your old pendant lighting for brighter, multiple LED fixtures or adding under cabinet lighting is a relatively easy and cost effective improvement. Of course, you may need to hire an electrician when you are adding new lights, but swapping out old lighting and replacing it with ones that suit your taste and needs can be a snap, depending on the fixtures.

kitchen renovation lighting

Pewter and mason jar kitchen lighting


If you were to gut your kitchen, or replace cabinets, you might want to run flooring under the cabinets, wall to wall. But, you can also simply upgrade the floor within the borders of the cabinets without the hassle of ripping anything out.

2. Semi-invasive: where you leave most of the components in place

You can save a lot of money if you don’t plan on moving too many things around. For example, if you like the general layout of your kitchen, you can do things like replace certain appliances or select cabinets.

New appliances

Upgrading appliances can make a kitchen look up to date, without even doing much else. Not to mention that newer appliances may be more energy efficient, resulting in a larger return on investment, by saving you energy costs. You might choose to replace one or more appliances. You can do this over time, when effort and cost allow.

kitchen renovation appliances

You can get creative with your appliances, depending on your taste!

New cabinets

If you are sick of your cabinets and don’t think it’s worth the effort to paint them, you can simply swap in new cabinets exactly where the old ones were. You may choose to add cabinets, too, if you have room to spare.

Cabinets can be costly, but there are some affordable solutions, such as IKEA cabinets, that are also very easy to install.

3. Gut the kitchen but leave water and gas connections in their places

If you are looking for a real overhaul, but want to minimize the unknowns, you might consider leaving your water and gas connections in place, but upgrading the rest. You might even be able to get away without filing with the Department of Buildings, though you’ll want to check to see what the threshold is in your area.

Move around cabinets and/or replace

Tearing out existing cabinetry can make room for new configurations and sizes. Maybe your cabinets don’t provide enough storage for your current needs? Ripping out the old makes way to choose new sizes, depths and arrangements.

kitchen renovation cabinets

Larger or smaller appliances – or the same size!

If you keep the gas and water hookups as is, you can still accommodate larger or smaller appliances, since you’ll be moving other things around, too. If your refrigerator isn’t hooked up to a water supply, for automatic ice, for example, you can move this around, too.

Add wall-to-wall flooring

With under cabinets gone, you can redo a floor by putting flooring in under the entire kitchen, such as wood, linoleum, or new types of flooring like marmoleum.

kitchen renovation flooring

Marmoleum can be a good choice for sustainable wall-to-wall kitchen flooring that’s also affordable

If you are doing a tile kitchen, you don’t necessarily need to take the tile out to the boundaries of the room if much of the square footage will be covered. But in a scenario where you are taking out cabinets, you can run the tile further in under the new cabinets so there are no gaps.

4. Gut the whole kitchen, within the boundaries of the room

Certainly, a whole new kitchen sounds very luxurious – new cabinets, appliances, fixtures, flooring and moving the gas and water hookups to their ideal locations. But with it comes longer disruptions and higher costs.

In addition, moving gas and water around surely require building permits and inspections so you’ll want to make sure you accommodate those in your timeline and costs.

5. Change the entire footprint of the kitchen, extending it into another room or rooms

For this option, you’ll want to be aware that when you are extending into another room or room, there can be the phenomenon called “scope creep”. That’s when you account for project size and costs, but then you have new factors to account for. For example, if you extend into another room, that may mean that you need to redo the floor in the other room, in addition to the bigger, reconfigured kitchen.

This is where you can see the most cost overruns and greatest project delays.

Interested in the return on investment of various home improvements? Check out our annual guide to home improvement return on investment.