Understanding Project Scope

Before you break out the calculator to figure out how much you’ll spend on your kitchen, think about how much remodeling you’ll be doing.

Man with drill and tape measure preparing to finish kitchen cabinet installation

Remove and Replace

If you’re generally happy with the current configuration of your kitchen but want to update the appearance and make it a bit more user-friendly, a remove and replace remodeling project is right for you. As the name implies, you’ll remove existing pieces from your kitchen and replace them with new ones. Since this level of remodel tackles mostly cosmetic upgrades, remove and replace projects have the lowest overall costs.

  • Includes new cabinets, storage solutions, countertops, sink, etc.
  • Possibility of keeping existing flooring, appliances, lighting fixtures, etc.
  • No significant modifications to the existing floor plan or layout

Female holding architectural plans discussing kitchen renovation with a contractor


Sometimes, you need to make more dramatic changes to your kitchen for it to fit your life. That calls for a full renovation. You might hear people refer to a renovation as a “gut” because you’ll be tearing everything out of your kitchen down to the framing.

In this type of remodel, your kitchen will basically remain within its existing footprint. But you’ll have the chance to make bigger modifications, like rearranging the floor plan or opening up a wall to create an open-concept feel. (This is certainly a time when working with a professional kitchen planner comes in handy.)

  • All new walls, cabinets, countertops, flooring, etc.
  • Reconfigure the layout to improve traffic flow or make room for an island
  • Ability to change the location of your sink, stove or refrigerator, if desired
  • Opportunity to make behind-the-wall improvements, like replacing outdated wiring, plumbing and insulation

Hands holding down an architectural drawing of a kitchen addition


You can transform your entire home when you take on a large-scale kitchen remodel that reimagines the space altogether. These kinds of projects involve big-time changes to the kitchen and surrounding rooms. Think: doubling the kitchen size by expanding into that underused dining room or bumping out the foundation to add a mudroom entry near your kitchen.

  • A blank canvas to create impressive changes in appearance and usefulness
  • May involve significant structural changes to your home, which may require the expertise of an architect or engineer and several subcontractors
  • Extended project timeline
  • Likely requires permits and multiple inspections