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Glossy glass shower tiles, double-duty offices, eco-friendly insulation—these are just some of the features that have played major roles in home renovations in the past two years. But even while people were carving out more room to work and play, one remodel reigned supreme: redoing the kitchen. 

For the past three years, according to Houzz’s latest home trends study, the median spending on kitchen projects has been flat (in 2019 the average cost was $35,000). But our newfound need for proving drawers and discreet appliance garages has apparently sparked a big spike. Remodels of large kitchens have jumped 14 percent to $40,000, topping bathroom makeovers and even additionsWe might not know exactly what everyone is doing with that additional $5,000, but we do have some ideas to get you started.

Add an Island 

A standard island (think: base cabinet with a countertop) will run you a lot less than you think. It ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, with $1,500 going toward labor. All you need is the floor space to accommodate the structure—and voilà! A bonus prep area.

Swap Dated Laminate Counters for Soapstone 

The versatile dark natural countertop stone is only a step above granite in terms of pricing (it’s around $2,700 to $4,200, per HomeAdvisor). Some noteworthy pros? It’s stain- and heat-resistant, and light scratches are easy to sand away. 

Carve Out a Luxe Bar Cabinet

Turn the empty nook next to your fridge into more storage, particularly for alcohol and other cocktail-making tools. Designer Maureen Stevens built one for a client in New Orleans for $2,500 that has mesh doors and a wine cooler. 

Not up for a DIY? Never fear: Kick-start your project with HomeAdvisor’s directory of cabinet pros in your area.

For hands-on advice from designers and pro DIYers, plus more scrappy before-and-after transformations, subscribe to Reno. Let your in-box do all the hard work—for now.