Kitchen Renovation Ideas

If you’re working on a rehab with an old or virtually destroyed kitchen, you might be looking for some kitchen renovation ideas.

A lot of real estate investors pick up cheap houses to flip or to buy and hold for rental income. And one of the first rooms to get a makeover might just be the kitchen.

The previous owners or tenants might have let things go in their kitchens: old cabinets with broken hinges, ranges that don’t work, poor lighting or so outdated, you know you’ll never be able to show the property, let alone flip it or rent it unless that kitchen is totally redone.

Planning is Key to Staying on Budget

The first thing you want to do is have a plan. Are you going to rent the house to tenants? Lease option? Or flip to another investor who’s looking for rental properties?

Your kitchen renovation ideas may be different depending on your exit strategy for the house you plan to rehab.

If you’re going to resell the property retail and you’ve allowed yourself a pretty good profit margin, you might want to go the expense of brand new everything – just gut the kitchen and start over.

I once rented a house from an investor while helping to rehab it. We took the kitchen out, floor to ceiling, and started all over – it was that bad.

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Since he was planning to resell the property on a lease-option, and it was in a bad neighborhood, we used a lot of discount and lower-end materials and appliances. We made it look nice, usable and “good enough” for the next tenants or owners.

If you’re planning to sell it retail to a new first time home buyer for instance, you might want to do a complete custom kitchen remodeling project and go the extra mile with mid-range materials and appliances, maybe even throw in a new frig and microwave oven.

DIY or Hire a Contractor

This is one of the essential parts of your planning. Do you have the experience, know-how and time to do a complete kitchen makeover yourself? Or will you have to hire a contractor who has more time and experience?

A kitchen renovation project, especially if you’re going to start from scratch, can take some time, so you have to know how long you plan to have the whole house rehabbed before you start on the kitchen.

Can Existing Cabinets and Fixtures Be Salvaged?

Sometimes your kitchen renovation ideas can be simply to keep everything in place with a lot of elbow grease, some fresh paint and new flooring.


Other times, everything but the plumbing and wiring has to be torn out.

Maybe the original kitchen layout isn’t quite as efficient as it could be, so cabinets, ranges, sinks, etc. have to be moved around to make better use of space.

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In that case, you need a design plan too, so when you go to make your purchases, you have the right measurements for all the new things you’ll be putting in the space.

Kitchen Lighting Ideas

What good is a fresh, new kitchen if you can’t see it? The lighting in your kitchen needs to be bright, especially in the fall and winter seasons when the days are shorter and it gets darker sooner.

Fixing dinner in a darkened room can really be frustrating. But you don’t want it too bright either.

Some of the key areas in the kitchen that should be well lit are:

  • Over the sink
  • Over the stove
  • Any other darkened corners like near a pantry closet
  • Optional would be adding lighting inside a pantry or utility closet so you’re not solely relying on the overhead lighting alone to see inside

Type of Lighting

The type of lighting to use in the kitchen may actually depend on the style of the kitchen itself.

For example, in a smaller kitchen, one that’s not an eat-in kitchen and is mostly square, can benefit from one overhead light fixture that casts a blanket of light over the whole room.

Then you can add additional lighting over the sink, stove and areas that need a little extra light for meal preparation.

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Larger kitchens or galley style kitchens can benefit from track lighting so just about every area of the kitchen is lit up. By adding a dimmer switch, you can dim or increase the level of lighting as you need it.

Track lighting can help larger eat-in kitchens or kitchens that have a dining area just outside the actual kitchen area.

Remember – It’s Not Your House

Technically speaking, you hold the deed, but you’re going to be handing it over either to new owners or new tenants once the rehab work is done.

One tip I heard about is to see if there are any open houses in the neighborhood that you can walk through. This will give you an idea of what others have done with their kitchens.

You want to be a little better than your competition, but for example, if you’re rehabbing a smaller ranch-style or split-level house in a middle working class area, you don’t have to have granite countertops and a marble entranceway.

You don’t need the most expensive flooring or top of the line appliances either. The house simply needs to be clean, attractive and in good working order, especially the kitchen and bathrooms, which are often the most used rooms in any house.

Recently finish a rehab? Share what you did with the kitchen!

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