When kitchen renovations cost $20,000 or more, you might think you’re stuck with an outdated, inefficient or simply boring space forever. That simply isn't true as this article demonstrates by outlining the various cost items for any kitchen remodel. Budget kitchen renovations aren't new and the idea is consistent with one of our remodeling strategies to do things around your home in stages. You don't have to replace all your windows at one time, and the same is true of your kitchen.
To start, let's look at the major cost items that go into most kitchen remodels. We want you to see that there are many budget kitchen renovations you can tackle when you don't try to do it all.
- Adding space to a kitchen that feels too small can be done with more physical space, or to save money, opening up visual space might be enough.
- Kitchen appliances might be the focus of your kitchen remodel, with a change from white to stainless or the new slate appliances. Energy efficient appliances will also reduce your monthly electric bill.
- Kitchen islands when there's space, offer an opportunity to add storage and countertop work space.
- Cabinets are typically the biggest expense in a kitchen remodel. You'll love our tips on how to give your cabinets a new look without replacing them.
- Countertops can change the look of your kitchen. Fortunately it's not quite common to mix and match your countertops to keep your budget under control.
- Kitchen storage is critical so we've got tips on how to create more storage with a budget kitchen renovation.
- Budget kitchen renovations can include special features that are functional with a touch of personality. Kitchen lighting, flooring or a beautiful backsplash are items to consider.
You can perk up one of the busiest rooms in the house for under $5,000, and that buys a lot more than just paint or wallpaper. You might not fit all of these ideas into your budget in a single year, but they give you a good idea of what you can do for less.
Kitchen Renovations & Adding More Space
Sometimes you can borrow space from an adjoining room to make your kitchen bigger. You might only need more visual space which was the problem in the kitchen above. Here my friend Maria replaced her u-shaped cabinets with an island, opening up the kitchen to the dining area.
Just above you see a new, larger kitchen created from space in three rooms. The original kitchen was tiny, comprising the space between the refrigerator and the wall cabinets to the left. This space was combined with a large pantry (where the stove and sink are on the right) and part of the dining room once we removed the wall between the pantry and the dining room.
Changing the floor plan often won't fit into a budget kitchen renovation, as you've got to move electrical wiring and plumbing pipes which can get tricky. But there are some creative ways to pick up smaller spaces:
- Push an appliance into an adjacent room, which for us meant the bathroom which had enough space for this refrigerator in our Victorian addition.
- Push extra kitchen cabinets through a wall, which we did in a California kitchen remodel. We created a wall of 12 inch deep cabinets and pushed them through to the dining room which we didn't use that often. The bonus was a new shelf in the dining room, above the kitchen cabinets (shown here).
Kitchen Appliances When Remodeling
Our kitchen appliances are key to a successful kitchen. Can you even imagine life without your refrigerator, microwave oven or dishwasher?
The number of appliance choices has expanded over the years but you might not need all the extra features that drive up cost. There are two important considerations when planning budget kitchen renovations:
- Size matters if you don't want to alter your cabinets or change the location of electrical outlets and/or plumbing.
- Energy efficiency is also important to reduce your monthly utility costs, so don't scrimp here.
One way to create your dream kitchen over several years is to replace your appliances first for the energy savings. You can find great deals, what I call “builder appliance packages” that include four or more appliance that deliver great value for a lower price. You'll save even more if you wait for a holiday weekend, as that's when most appliances go on sale.
PS You can learn more about buying a refrigerator and other kitchen appliances here …
Budget Kitchen Renovations & Kitchen Islands
Kitchen islands are handy for many things. Some homeowners place a sink or their stove top on the island while others save this space for food prep, eating and other kitchen activities. If you have a kitchen island that looks outdated, why not replace it with a more modern-looking island?
The space you have for a kitchen island may limit your options but it's now trendy to use different cabinets and countertop materials for the kitchen island, giving your more flexibility. Depending on the cabinets you pick, you can add storage to your kitchen plus more countertop space. Consider your kitchen island as workspace that doesn't take up any visual space, making your kitchen look and feels larger.
If you want to add an island where one doesn’t exist, be sure to buy (or build!) one that’s the right size. Building one gives you more flexibility if you don't have a lot of space to work with. That's because you need about 3 feet of space on all sides, which allows room for walking, seating and opening cabinet and appliance doors.
Another option is to use a piece of furniture, new or old, which will give your kitchen more personality. This island option works best in a kitchen where the island does not hold a cooktop or vegetable sink.
Budget Kitchen Renovations & Cabinet Alternatives
Replacing the cabinets in your kitchen typically won't fit into a $5,000 or less update. That's not to say it's impossible as you might find cabinets someone else is getting rid of online or at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. And it's not unusual for these cabinets to be brand new as my story illustrates.
It might take you months to find new cabinets or you can consider other two other options. With wood cabinets (not veneer) that are in good shape, you can paint them, replace just the cabinet door and drawer fronts or sometimes, some sleek new handles are enough to create a fresh new look.
Paint is the easiest way to give your cabinets a whole new look. If you decide to paint your kitchen cabinets, please don't take shortcuts as you'll regret it for years. There are lots of important details like removing cabinet doors and hardware, before painting. Don't skimp on the paint because kitchen cabinets get lots of use. Most cabinets have an oil-based finish. Applying common latex paint will result in a great big mess once it starts to peel off. You can use oil-based paint, but durable, scrubbable latex enamel is safer for you and the environment, and it holds up beautifully.
Here are resources to help you learn how to successfully update your kitchen cabinets, from painting to resurfacing or replacing cabinet doors/drawer fronts:
- Short video on How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets (there are longer ones so if you're not comfortable after this one, watch a few more videos).
- How to Redo a Fake Wood Cabinet Surface offers some good ideas for cabinets that have a wood veneer or laminate surface. While I don't have experience with these, if your cabinets are structurally sound they could be good choices for budget kitchen renovations.
- Nice Tutorial on Painting Fake Wood Kitchen Cabinets that goes into enough detail to keep you out of trouble.
- DIY Budget Kitchen Renovations to turn ordinary cabinets into beautiful ones with trim added to the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, in addition to painting the cabinets and … black hardware which became part of the appeal to these cabinets.
- There are many companies online offering replacement doors/drawer fronts. Look for one with choices to fit your needs and who pays attention to details, like CabinetDoor.com. They have videos showing you how to measure your doors plus information on wood choices and more.
Kitchen Renovations For More Storage
Kitchen storage is often a big concern. You can add storage, seating and style with a window seat bench that has storage underneath, or consider built-in bench seating with a table and pull out drawers. Custom seating with storage could cost $1,000 and up or you can buy a triangular-shaped, built-in corner bench with a lift-up seat for storage is an option.
Other ways to add storage in your kitchen include:
- Use taller upper cabinets that go up to the ceiling, when replacing kitchen cabinets.
- Add an island with storage underneath, like this rolling island from Amazon.
- Add shelves under your upper cabinets to store smaller items like spices. You can see one of my kitchen shelves here, with hooks for coffee cups below the shelf.
- Add a narrow broom closet at the end of your cabinets or refrigerator.
Budget Kitchen Renovations Need Something Special
If you could have one thing for your kitchen that’s unnecessary, but would make you very happy, what might that be? One splurge item won’t necessarily break your budget, if you cut costs in other areas. What I always told my handyman clients was pick one focal point for each room you're remodeling and get what you love. Then fit everything else into your budget.
Maybe it's a copper sink that will add a warm, glowing beauty that only gets better with age and complements your countertop. You'll need to pay between $500 and $1,000 for one similar to this farmhouse sink and you'll be glad you did it.
New countertops can take a huge bite out of your budget, but they don’t have to. Granite isn’t the only attractive surface, especially when recycled glass, butcher block, and tile all cost about one quarter of granite’s $150 average cost per square foot.
If your appliances are sad and old, that might be your primary budget focus. Maybe you want a high-end stove if you love to cook, or a new refrigerator with all the bells and whistles (learn how to buy new appliances).
Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to set you back as much as a new car. With a few select choices, you can brighten and modernize the space and give it a fresh new look. And while your neighbors might be paying off their kitchen renovations for years, yours won't cost much more than a nice vacation.
Are you planning to remodel your kitchen?
Have you picked a budget for the project?
PS We've got lots more tips to help you with your kitchen remodeling project and … good luck!
- What You Should Pay for a Kitchen Remodel
- Kitchen Remodeling Trends to Follow or Skip
- Open Concept Dining & Kitchen Renovation Ideas
- Picking a Kitchen Cabinet Style Is Challenging
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