Tips for upgrading your kitchen

Speed is of the essence when you’re upgrading your kitchen, considering that you’re likely to be spending more money on takeout and dinners out during the renovation.

Consumer Reports offers this advice.


To limit costs, leave the layout alone. If that won’t do, consider moving only the fridge, because it requires just a standard 120-volt outlet (and access to a cold-water supply line, if it has an icemaker). Moving a range requires altering gas or electric lines, which adds a day or two of labor from an electrician, a plumber or both – at anywhere from $45 to $145 per hour apiece. Likewise, moving a sink requires a day’s worth of plumbing work.

Don’t skimp on cabinet quality. Remodelers that Consumer Reports surveyed said cabinetry was a top spot where they wished they’d spent more. To make room in the budget for high-quality cabinets, skip the uppers altogether and use open shelving to showcase pretty items. If you’re adding an island, work in any storage space you’ve lost to stash anything you don’t want on display.


Before knocking down a wall to create an open-concept kitchen, consider how you’ll marry the flooring in the two spaces. To extend hardwood throughout, install unfinished planks parallel to the old, and either get a pro to match the existing finish or have him sand the old boards and stain everything at once – about $3.50 to $4 per square foot.

If your kitchen will stay sealed off, “porcelain tile is probably your best bet,” says Joan Muratore, Consumer Reports’ test engineer for flooring. “It’s excellent at resisting stains, dents or scratches. And it holds up well under heavy foot traffic.” You’ll find options from about $3.60 per square foot, plus $1,200 or so for installation.

When it comes to counters, granite and quartz top Consumer Reports’ tests, thanks to their ability to resist staining and stand up to abrasion and heat. Installing these workhorses in the average kitchen could save between $500 and $1,000 over higher-end marble or soapstone.


Consumer Reports reveals that you can skip pro-style appliances. “You’ll pay $15,000 to $20,000 on a full kitchen suite, when $5,000 would get you better-performing models from mass-market brands,” says Tara Casaregola, Consumer Reports’ kitchen test engineer. Adam DeSanctis of the National Association of Realtors adds, “pro-style appliances won’t necessarily boost the resale value of your home, beyond the bump you’d get from having any new appliances in place.” If you long for that built-in look, turn to slide-in ranges and cabinet-depth refrigerators. Both blend nicely into the surrounding cabinetry.

You can earn a discount by buying matching appliances in a package. Select a suite with a stellar range – there’s no fix for an oven with hot spots, but you can learn to live with an imperfect microwave. For the very best performance, Consumer Reports’ experts advise mixing and matching brands. And opting for a range, rather than a separate oven and cooktop, is by far the most cost-effective route.

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2017, Consumers Union, Inc.

Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication for UFS

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