Ready to remodel? You’re not alone. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies say that, in 2021, home remodeling is going stronger than ever. The reason, they say, is we’re all spending more time at home. Our home isn’t only a place to sleep, but provides a space for work, play and self-care. That means those flaws that were merely annoying in the bathroom or kitchen are now magnified.

Kitchens and bathrooms are often the most fun rooms to tackle. Not only do these rooms date really quickly – yes, those subway tiles and pot racks are out again – they can significantly impact (read increase) the sale price of your property.

Which one to remodel depends as much on your budget as your lifestyle. Some love to luxuriate in a spa-like bathroom, while others spend half their life cooking up all kinds of things in the kitchen. Let your priorities guide you.

Questions to ask before you start remodeling

Design-build company FBC Remodel recommends deciding on the scale of your remodel first:

  • Are you rearranging the space? If you want to move or add features in your existing layout, you will have to do some space planning.
  • Do you need to gut the space and start from scratch? For example, tear out the bath or countertops to place them elsewhere? Then you may need professionals to move plumbing and do electrical work.
  • Are you mostly focused on new fixtures and an updated look? Fresh paint, new hardware and refacing are easy ways to supercharge the end result.
  • Are you wanting a simple refresh? A cosmetic fix is sometimes all it takes.

Money matters

Your budget determines how smart you have to be about what you do, and how much of it you can do yourself. Once you know what you can afford, make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves for each room.

Things that will eat into your budget are cabinets, tiling, flooring and countertops. Then comes labor – contractors, tilers, plumbers, electricians, etc., and the materials you’re going to use. Luxury stone or marble countertops, high-end bathroom accessories and faucets, hard-wood flooring and glass tiles can all significantly increase the cost of a renovation.

However, investing in these means you won’t have to turn around and shell out more cash in a couple of years when they chip, crack or stain.

Kitchens are generally more expensive to remodel than bathrooms because of all the cabinets, appliances, electricity points and fixtures. Remodels of either room can cost anything from $10k to $90k, so take a long hard look at priorities and the design before you get going.

Plan and save for surprises. Felicia Feaster, managing editor at, recommends setting aside 20 percent of your budget for unpleasant demolition discoveries such as water damage, electric that is not up to code, and other budget-spiking gotchas.

Pro tips for bathroom and kitchen remodels

Leslie Eiler, Design Manager at CRD Design Build says poorly designed kitchens are common in American homes, even in brand-new homes. “If your kitchen is in need of a redesign, make sure the changes you make go beyond aesthetics.”

She’s a firm believer in functional layouts: “You want your kitchen to be aesthetically pleasing, but you also want to make sure that it fits your family’s cooking and eating needs. While sleek new appliances and fixtures can add visual appeal to your space, it’s the underlying design of your kitchen that counts.”

And bathrooms? Leslie says: “When we find ourselves in a beautiful bathroom, it’s easy to feel calm, happy, and a little bit fancy. Don’t forget to provide adequate lighting in the shower area or spot lighting if you like to read in the tub. You can even incorporate indirect lighting strips to the tile work in the shower to provide a splash of mood lighting to the niche.” Sounds like a fab idea!

If your family is outgrowing the existing bathroom, it can cause a lot of frustration and a remodel is the only remedy. A narrow heated towel rack with a shelf (USA), (also available in South Africa, and Australia) alternative option, for instance, not only ups the luxe look, it provides space to dry and store up to four towels. Leslie also recommends wall-mounting toilets, cabinets and washbasins. They look sleek and modern, and allow you to add extra storage or have a more open bathroom.

Keep in mind, whichever room you choose to do, you are going to need a backup plan to cook or cleanse while either room is being remodelled. Careful planning – including for the unforeseen – will ensure it’s done on time, within budget, and spending more time at home becomes an absolute pleasure.