3 Tips for Knowing When to Remodel or Refresh a Kitchen

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One of the most frequently asked questions we get is about kitchen remodels. This is why we are sharing 3 Tips for Knowing When to Remodel or Refresh a Kitchen with you today. People come to us knowing they want a new kitchen look, but oftentimes they have absolutely no clue how much a full kitchen renovation can cost. From brand new cabinets to floor refinishing, to backsplash, countertops, sinks, hardware, lighting, paint, and much, much more. A full kitchen renovation can start at around $50K depending on the size of the kitchen and scope of the project. It can go up from there depending on the selections chosen and how extensive the remodel work is.

When people hear that number they are often shell-shocked and are suddenly left wondering if a full kitchen remodel is within their budget or not, and if not, what to do?  So begins the debate – DO WE GO ALL IN AND DO A KITCHEN REMODEL, OR CAN WE GET AWAY WITH JUST DO A KITCHEN REFRESH? When determining whether or not to refresh or remodel your kitchen you should consider the quality of the existing cabinets, the function of the kitchen, and the cost.


When deciding whether or not to refresh or remodel a kitchen the first thing to consider is the shape of the pre-existing cabinets.  In the Kane remodel, my recommendation was undoubtedly to do a FULL KITCHEN REMODEL, including gutting the cabinets. Let’s talk about why….

CC’s RECOMMENDATION: Full kitchen remodel because the cabinets were not in good enough condition, in my opinion, to be painted successfully and the kitchen layout was not functional for the family.


Kane Project Full Kitchen Remodel Before & After


This family-centered home had a heavily used and loved kitchen that was the heart of the home. The cabinets were original to the house and when she told me they wanted to remodel I took a close look at the cabinets. I noticed that some of the cabinets doors didn’t seem to function well and the cabinets had already been painted multiple times. I felt that painting the cabinets again would be a waste of time and money and would not give the client the desired end result, so I recommended a full remodel for this kitchen.

We used the Terracotta Sky Loren rug from CC and Mike the SHOP in this remodel. It’s such a gorgeous runner and makes a beautiful area rug as well! Below you will also see it in a beautiful kitchen desiged by Stefana Silber as well.

KITCHEN DESIGN: Stefana Silber featuring the Terracotta Sky Loren rug

We also used the Sabrina counter stools from CC and Mike THE SHOP in this kitchen remodel as well.


Now Let’s talk about the Stonebrook Kitchen Refresh that we just completed!

In comparison to the Kane Remodel, if you look at before pictures of the Stonebrook kitchen, you will notice the cabinets were less than 10 years old and were very solid and heavy quality cabinetry. My recommendation in this instance was that a coat of paint alone would update the kitchen cabins and give the client the desired end result.  In other words, a full kitchen remodel (including gutting the cabinets) was not necessary for the Stonebrook remodel.


As you can see from the before photos, the Stonebrook kitchen had great, quality wood cabinets. These were high end cabinets in a home that was around ten years old. BUT, the kitchen was dark and dated and the homeowners wanted to brighten it up!

SHOP THE TASK COUNTER STOOLS from CC and Mike’s Stonebrook Kitchen Refresh

CC’s RECOMMENDATION: For the Stonebrook Kitchen, I recommended a refresh which meant keeping the pre-existing cabinets and just painting them then updating with hardware, and new countertops.

In contrast to this, I will show you the Good Remodel Project that we completed in 2017. This was another kitchen that had the original cabinets that were over 30 years old and the function and layout of the kitchen needed updated to work for the family. So, my recommendation in the Good Remodel was also to do a full remodel not just a refresh (see photos below).

CC’s RECOMMENDATION: For the Good Kitchen, I recommended a full remodel since the cabinets were original to the home which was built in the 1970’s and the function and layout of the kitchen wasn’t ideal for the family. Which brings us to my second question that you need to ask yourself when trying to consider whether to do a kitchen refresh or a kitchen remodel.


If the kitchen doesn’t function the way you want it to, then you probably want to consider more of a full remodel. Gutting the cabinets and doing a full remodel allows you to replan the space and move elements where you want them to go (within reason considering where your plumbing elements are) so that it works for you. Again, in the Kane remodel, Good Remodel, and Navy and Cedar Modern Ranch remodel (See below), I recommended a full kitchen remodel because the function of the kitchens were limited and very dated.  I felt by doing a new kitchen design, including new cabinets, we could not only drastically improve the look of the kitchen but we could also improve the function. This is in contrast to the Stonebrook kitchen refresh were I recommended a refresh because the fiction of the kitchen was perfect as it was.

We completely gutted the cabinets and did a full remodel in the Modern Navy & Cedar Ranch House for the same reasons – the pre-existing cabinets were in no way going to work both because they were in bad condition and they didn’t function properly.

Stonebrook Kitchen Refresh

The Stonebrook Kitchen Refresh

In contrast to this, my recommendation for the Stonebrook Project was to refresh not remodel because their kitchen design functioned beautifully.  There really wasn’t anything that the homeowner needed to change from a function standpoint and the flow of the kitchen was perfect, so we did a refresh (painting pre-existing cabinets) instead of doing a full remodel (gutting the kitchen and doing new cabinetry).

Just to revisit what this kitchen looked like before, let me show you another picture just so you can see what a fresh coat of paint, some new hardware, countertops and some new barn stools, and some styling, did for this kitchen!


3 Tips for Knowing When to Remodel or Refresh a Kitchen

I would be remiss if I did not mention the cost. It’s probably one of the first things people want to ask us about when the call for a consult. Bottom line is, full kitchen remodels are costly. The larger the kitchen, the more costly it’s going to be for new cabinetry, flooring, lighting, backsplash, countertops, and so on and so forth. 

After you take a good hard look at #1 (IS THE QUALITY OF THE PRE-EXISTING CABINETS GOOD?) and #2 (DOES THE KITCHEN FUNCTION WELL?) then it is time to be really honest with yourself. If you answered NO to both of those questions, then you are probably just going to waste your money by painting and updating low-quality cabinetry that doesn’t function well for you. I would recommend saving your money and waiting until you can do the kitchen the right way and do the full remodel! But that’s just my two cents.

CC + Mike Kitchen Refresh
Stone Hill Project Kitchen

Are you considering a full-scale remodel? If so, CC and Mike can help make your dreams into a reality.  From concept to completion, CC and Mike can help you remodel your home or turn a dated home in an amazing neighborhood into your dream home.  We do, however, only accept full-scale remodel projects. To see if we are fit for your next project, please fill our contact form with details about your remodel needs and we will be in touch!