If you're considering remodeling your kitchen, think about ways to do it in modular fashion, improving the overall space one step, one appliance at a time. There are countless ideas for the small kitchen that make sense when you don't have a fortune to spend. Adding a new cooktop or stove within your budget is a great way to begin kitchen remodeling.
Gas cooktops are the most popular options for the serious cook. Models come with 13,000 - 18,000 BTU burners, and you can even find gas cooktops with low-BTU simmer burners. Expect to spend between $500 and $2,500, depending on your needs and optional bells and whistles. Consumer Research selected the 36-inch GE Profile JGP975WEKWW as its top-rated gas cooktop. The Profile comes with durable porcelain enamel, rather than the painted metal tops that come with the low-end cooktops. But expect to pay at least $914 for one.
Going with electric cooktops in your kitchen
Electric coil cooktops offer the least-expensive outlay for a cooking surface. However, electric cooktops work under continuous heat rather than the cycled heating offered by smooth electric cooktops. On the plus side, coils hold more heat after you shut off the burner than do the flattop models. Coil cooktops come in a power range from 1,500 to 2,600 watts. A 30-inch model starts around $300.
Consumer Research chooses the Electrolux Icon E30EC65ESS as the best model for a smooth-top electric cooktop. The model comes with five radiant burners that heat up quickly. Expect to pay around $1,100 for an Icon.
Complement the kitchen stove with a hybrid cooktop
Thermador manufactures a radiant-induction hybrid heating system that produces 17 different power levels and eliminates the need for magnetic pots and pans required by traditional induction stoves. The hybrid is one of the fastest-cooking tops on the market, but you pay for the performance. The silver-mirrored cooktops range from $3,049 to $3,599. Black ceramic models cost less, from $2,449 to $3,229.
If you're not qualified to install a new cooktop yourself, you can still upgrade your kitchen for a reasonable price. Hiring a contractor when the money is tight often depends on the market and the amount of work you can do on your own. It's still the off-season for labor, so start rounding up bids before the spring arrives with a flurry of customers scurrying into remodeling projects.