Remodeling Budgets in Real Life

Puustelli cabinetry (Courtesy Puustelli USA)

TV lineups tell the tale: We love home improvement shows. From the disasters (Oh no! BLACK MOLD!) to the high/low redesign options to the big reveals, remodeling drama is fun, instructive, and inspirational.

In real life, kitchen and baths are the spaces homeowners most often remodel. And they are also costly. If a kitchen or bath remodel is in your future, you’ll want to investigate Remodeling magazine’s 2018 research, “Cost vs. Value Report.” This annual report gathers costs for these and many more home improvement projects in 100 markets across the country, as well as estimates from real estate professionals on how much a homeowner can expect to recoup at resale from making these investments.

The “Cost vs. Value Report” is particularly handy for a homeowner ballparking costs, since it drills down to major metro markets and defines what the project includes. The 2018 report finds that a major kitchen remodel costs between $63,829 and $125,721; a bathroom remodel between $19,134 and $61,662; and a bathroom addition between $44,717 and $83,869.

Consider the price tag in Minneapolis, however, and the range rises: $71,040 to $137,924 for a major kitchen remodel. That low end is the final tally for remodeling a “mid-range” 200-square-foot kitchen. It includes 30-linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets; a 3-by-5-foot island; laminate countertops; and a standard double-tub stainless-steel sink with standard single-lever faucet. Appliances include energy-efficient range, ventilation system, built-in microwave, dishwasher, and garbage disposal. Add in custom lighting, new resilient flooring, painted walls, trim, and ceiling.

The top of that range is the estimated cost for a high-end kitchen of similar size. Quality accounts for most of the cost difference, beginning with top-of-the-line custom white cabinets with built-in sliding shelves and other interior accessories. Include stone countertops with imported ceramic- or glass-tile backsplash; built-in refrigerator, commercial grade cooktop and vent hood, wall oven, and a built-in microwave unit. Also an undermount sink with designer faucets and water filtration system; general and task lighting and low-voltage undercabinet lights; and installation of tile or similar flooring that looks like wood.

One of the most important decision points—one you want to consider before tearing out that first cabinet—is how long you intend to stay in this home. Do you love it—except for the kitchen? Is the location ideal? Is it the home where you want to “age in place”? Will it be easy to navigate as you grow older?

All questions worth asking, since the payback at resale for many home improvement projects may not be as immediate or great as you think. In fact, the Cost Vs. Value report finds that the investment recouped for major kitchen and bath remodels hovers at around 50 percent. Decidedly unsexy improvements produce much better payback: A new garage door, for example, recoups 112 percent of its cost. But none of these figures take into account the quality of life improvement that a new, fabulously functional kitchen can make. That, indeed, may be worth every dollar you invest.

Artists putting their artwork onto products is nothing new—in 2001, Marc Jacobs arguably pioneered the trend when he brought on famous contemporary artist Stephen Sprouse to embellish some of Louis Vuitton’s iconic monogram bags in his distinctive graffiti style. But recently, a wave of artists are striking a balance between the fine and commercial art worlds, creating original works alongside pattern and product designs and blurring the line between fine art, pattern design, product design, and illustration.

Cait Courneya is part of this emerging group of Minneapolis-based artist-designer-illustrators, which also includes Kate Worum and Ashley Mary. Courneya is known for her whimsical fashion illustrations, which can be found on her calendars and notecards, and her bold, brush-stroke paintings and prints that are inspired by nature.​

Unlike many other artist-designer-illustrators, Courneya was first drawn to illustration while studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. She returned to Minneapolis, where she went from providing custom fashion illustrations for wedding invitations and retailers, to being enlisted for commissioned work including wall murals, fine art, event and venue design renderings, logo design and branding, hand lettering, and various commercial projects. Her prints and cards were also sold in Target’s “Made in MN” pop-up at its Nicollet Mall flagship this past fall.

Recently, the artist launched her first line of home goods—a collection of gift wrap paper, art prints, throw pillows (featuring plush velvet backing), and tea towels, available in three different prints—under the Cait Courneya label. It’s not the designer’s first foray into product design: In 2015, she collaborated with local branding company, MaeMae & Co., on a tropical-inspired capsule collection of throw pillows and prints, and last year, she partnered with Solid Manufacturing Co. on a stylish collection of hand-painted leather accessories.

Shop the new Cait Courneya home goods line, along with her collection of prints, original artwork, note cards, and calendars, at this Thursday’s pop-up at Gray Home + Lifestyle (10 a.m.–5 p.m. @ 366 Water St., Excelsior), and at her website,

Cait Courneya gift wrap, $11.95 per roll @ (Cait Courneya)

How did the idea to create a home goods line come about?

“Earlier this year, I was having a conversation with a friend about my business, and how I felt a little overwhelmed by all the directions I could take it. She asked me a really simple question: ‘What do you like doing the most with your art?’ It seems like the most obvious question to ask yourself, but when you are immersed in your own busy business, sometimes you forget to ask yourself those simple questions. I realized that my favorite thing about my job is when I get to put my illustrations and art on everyday products. The collaborations that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of have been so inspiring and life-giving for me. That conversation led me to decide to pursue a home goods line. I love interior design and have been passionate about textiles since college, where I studied fashion design. The whole process of product development is so magical for me. It was a natural evolution for me to transfer my art and illustration skills to home goods.”

What is the aesthetic inspiration behind the three prints for the line?  

“I wanted to create something that was very ‘me.’ My own home has lots of indigo and gray, along with rich fabrics like leather, velvet, and faux fur. My style is definitely a bit on the masculine side, so the patterns and prints I created were more androgynous in nature. I am also always thinking about what my customer would want, and so I look at trends and ways to make them my own. Velvet was so strong this fall, and I knew that I wanted to incorporate it into the collection. I created an inspiration board that was filled with imagery that I loved, but also had a strong singular voice that would help me keep the collection focused.”

Are you selling the collection anywhere other than your website & this weekend’s pop-up at Gray?

“Right now, it is only available on my website and any pop-ups that I will be doing this winter. I am exploring the option for wholesale down the road, but I wanted to keep this first collection small so that I could learn first, and grow it later.”

Is the line limited-edition? Do you plan on releasing additional home collections in the future?

“Yes and Yes. I only made a small amount of inventory for this first collection. When it’s gone, it’s gone! I definitely have plans for another collection next spring/summer.”

What else is new for you? Any big plans for 2018?

“I am so excited about 2018! I have several collaborations in the works for the spring, and can’t wait to create my next home goods collection. I am still freelancing as an illustrator, and have so many amazing clients that dream up really special projects for me. I feel like this next year is going to be really instrumental is shaping the direction of my brand moving forward, and I can’t wait to watch it grow.”

TV lineups tell the tale: We love home improvement shows. From the disasters (Oh no! BLACK MOLD!) to the high/low options to the big reveals, remodeling drama is fun, instructive, and inspirational.

In real life, we spent more than $340 billion on home improvements in 2015, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. And in 2017, homeowners in the Twin Cities spent nearly 17 percent more on improvements than the year before—double-digit growth that is projected to continue. Kitchen and bath remodels, master suite additions—the dream remodels of many—are also the spendiest. Costs vary dramatically, affected not only by the extent of the changes and the finishes selected, but also by the size of the space and the location of the home.

Remodeling magazine’s “Cost vs. Value Report” annual report gathers costs for 20 of the most popular remodeling projects in 100 markets as well as estimates from real estate professionals on how much the investment improves a home’s value. You can ballpark costs for the improvement project you’re contemplating using Minneapolis-St. Paul data. For example, a major kitchen remodel in Minneapolis costs from $71,040 to $137,924, which the report defines as

a bathroom $22,763 to $69,178, and a master suite addition $142,555 to $283,651.

Pay back

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