New cabinets or major modifications? $$$

Maggie PasselJune 5, 2013

We are in a 20 year old house that originally had white wood cabinets that we had faux painted. We are replacing all appliances, countertops, backsplash and refinishing the floors. Our cabinet boxes are fine however we currently have a 30" cooktop with microwave over it and 27" double ovens that if replaced with 36" gas cooktop, vent hood and 30" oven would require new cabinets. The current drawer fronts do not match the size of the doors and we want a more updated cabinet style so at a minimum we would replace drawer fronts, doors, hinges with soft close etc. We are in a family friendly suburban subdivision and are planning on staying here no more than 5-6 years.

The rest of the kitchen and the general layout of the island, etc is a whole different question that I will post later. My questions so far are-

Would you replace cabinets or try to modify? We know we could get much more space and function with new cabinets but it functions ok for us as is-especially if I put in roll outs in the bottom cabinets.

Would you consider replacing the ovens with 27" instead of a larger 30" so that you keep more storage and counter space? 27" is fine for our cooking needs.

We don't want to take room in other cabinets for a microwave. Is it a mistake to put in a single oven, with a combination microwave convection oven instead of a double oven?

Please let me know what you think. We have so many questions about appliances, layout, finish but the first question is do we try to modify or replace the cabinets. The cost difference is obviously huge but we don't want to redo everything and find that it really isn't updated. Thanks.

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You'll get a lot more informed opinions from others than mine, but the thing that struck me about your description is that you plan to stayin the house 5-6 years. If you were planning to stay in the house "forever", I think you rennovate based on what you really love within your budget.

With a 5-6 year time horizon, I would consider what investment level makes sense from a resale perspective. Maybe you should get a knowledgable realtor in your area to give an honest opinion about your kitchen.

It sounds like the kitchen works for you from a functionality perspective. The items you list that would require changes to the cabinets sound more like personal preferences more than requirements to make the space work.

I know 36" ranges and larger hoods are popular, but unless your are a chef with tons of things going at once, a 30" stove/range works very well. I like the idea of a wall oven plus a speed oven in place of the two double ovens. I don't have a speed oven, but hear good things about them. Might as well have appliances that multi task! Re size of oven--maybe others with 27" ovens can comment.

Just based on your picture, if you changed the appliances (personally I like SS), countertop and backsplash, and refinished the floors, the space would look very different (and you're starting with a space that already looks good!)

I totally get your dilemma and understand the concern about changing everything but the cabinets, and then looking back and second guessing that decisions. Again, though, maybe the way to think about it is within the context of the 5-6 year horizon...

Good luck! I'm sure others will weigh in!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Five years is not that long as time goes fast. Before spending a dime I too suggest you talk to a few different real estate agents. Also do your own research. Go look at our houses that would be your competition.

It may turn out that you should do the bare minimum if it turns out that most kitchens in your area/type of house are going to be gutted anyway. As for MWs, in many areas MWs over cooktops are consider normal even in highend new builds (my area). So moving the mw is something I would want to do my me it may not make a difference in resale.

Its stuff like that you need to sort out.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:35PM
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If you're happy with a 27" stove, keep it.

The biggest waste of time and money is retrofitting for roll-outs. Hate 'em. Find 'em stupid. If you're retrofitting, go for more functional drawers. It's not hard. I did it myself.

I second the thought that, though, if you're only there 5-6 years, you shouldn't put too much into it. However and update and decent cabinetry (maybe the 30"er) is a good selling upgrade.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:39PM
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I agree with debark. If the kitchen works for you the way it is, I'd leave it. As long as all your cookie sheets and pans fit into it to cook, it's good. And leaving more room for storage is a plus too. I wouldn't change the kitchen based on someone else's preferences and I wouldn't spent the money just for a few years worth of my use. There will be things you will want to do when preparing it for sale and it would be a shame if you spent a lot of money now and found it needs to be redone to sell later.

This post was edited by marti8a on Wed, Jun 5, 13 at 12:48

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Maggie Passel

Thanks everyone. We want to be out in 5 years but it could stretch on. Our house was one of the first to be built and all of the houses are 18-20 years old. Most people changed out to granite countertops years ago but this is our first-and only-remodel. I did have a realtor over who sells in our neighborhood said that some people in our neighborhood are replacing cabinets and she thinks that we definitely should. Appliances will be stainless except that I hope to have panel front dishwasher and refrigerator. Any other thoughts?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:51PM
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The realtor will be able to tell you if you need a double oven (or if it is expected) or not. In my area--not expected/required. In other areas, I understand that is different.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:54PM
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We only plan to be in our house another 5-6 years before we retire, but I redid the kitchen anyway. My cabinets were 28 year old builder grade that I had painted white about 15 years ago. I could have painted them again, gotten a new, fancier laminate counter, etc....but I was sick of living with and looking at cheap finishes. Same with master bath remodel. Probably spent more than the neighborhood warrants...but after almost 30 years it was time..and a present to myself. At the very should help the house sell a lot faster...maybe even bring our property values up a lilttle. If we hadn't done it or just painted cabs and replaced laminate, I feel like we would have had to sell it as a fixer-upper. We may not get our money back, but for 6-7 years I have a kitchen and bathrooms I like coming home to.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 2:21PM
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Maggie Passel

I looked at pictures online of houses for sale in our neighborhood. There is a mixture of people who have done major renovations and those who had not. I also started thinking about replacing our 30" electric cooktop with a 5 burner gas one but our cooktop is currently in a 30 in cabinet which means that the wall vent hood could only be a max of 30". I had planned on using a wider wood paneled hood or chimney type larger than the cooktop. We definitely want to put in gas for the cooktop. Thoughts? Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing. If I knew I was moving in 5 years I would live with what I have. Especially if you are going into debt to do the renovation. You could put that equity into your next house.

You say this will be your first and only renovation, why do you say that? You may want to do it the next place you live.

What you put in today, might not be what the next big thing is in five years and make your house harder to sell than a well priced house without a "fashionable" kitchen. There are many post on this forum from people who just bought a house and are going to gut it the kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 3:15PM
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I wondered what you meant exactly when you said "redo everything and find that it really isn't updated"

To me, updates aren't just trendy décor (which could change in 5 years) but more functionality.

Some things will always look right in a kitchen, if put together well. We still love kitchens that hearken back to the 19th century (with modern conveniences of course!)

I wouldn't change the cabinets unless you want to change them for yourself, and can easily afford to. They look pretty good to me (of course, I am comparing them to my who-knows-how-old cabs...)

About the double oven. Have you found it very useful, or just something you use once a year?
I think that replacing one with a combo microwave/convection sounds like a great idea, incorporating modern technologies into the kitchen and making good use of the space.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Due to space constraints when I remodeled 5-years ago I put in 27" double ovens. When I measured the useable interior I found it to be just as spacious as the older model 30" ovens. I've never regretted it and much prefer having that extra 3" devoted to counter and drawer space between my ovens and cooktop.

I think you've gotten good advice here, but I would caution you to set a budget, shop and plan before doing a thing. Even if you keep your cabinets, appliances and counters can also be very expensive. When I was looking for a home several years ago, nothing turned me off more than new granite counters on old kitchen cabinets.

I do think it's possible to do a cost effective kitchen remodel that would work much better for you than what you have and add to your resale, especially if you can DIY some items. Using a combination of IKEA, Craigslist and/or scratch and dent for appliances may actually work out cheaper for you than just doing new appliances if you are constrained to the sizes you have now.

Then again, we first bought our house when it was 20-years old and our experience was that many things start breaking down around that time, like the roof, water heater, etc. as life span for many items seems to be about 20-25 years. So you should take stock of the age of all of your major appliances throughout your home, perhaps even have a home inspection done if you haven't recently before embarking on a kitchen remodel.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 6:53PM
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