by Donna De Palma
You don’t have to spend a fortune to give your kitchen a fresh look. The average cost of a kitchen remodel is $25, 000. If your budget is closer to $2,500, do what experts do and transform your kitchen with these budget-friendly makeover ideas.
First, prepare a realistic budget. Begin with the one item you can’t do without. To cut expenses, consider working with the kitchen layout you already have. Most kitchens are one of four basic design footprints: L-shaped with an island, two triangle, two-wall galley or U-shaped with an island. Tearing out and replacing cabinets and walls, repositioning a sink, or converting a peninsula into an island, can mean big bucks. Instead, inject some love into what you already have. Use a little DIY know-how and your dream kitchen will become a reality. Improve flow, give your kitchen an open feel, and make it look like new by following these simple tips:
Open up the space you already have
By taking doors off cabinets and replacing them with open shelves, you can create an airy, spacious feel in any room. A kitchen with windows offers an opportunity to incorporate storage in unexpected places. Place a shelf above a window or above the sink.
Put unused walls to work by installing floating wooden shelves with invisible brackets for a contemporary, open feel.
Refinish existing cabinet doors with paint or strip and stain. If you reface your cabinet doors, remove them first and be sure to refinish them somewhere other than in your kitchen.
If totally exposed cabinetry sounds daunting, consider replacing some of your cabinet doors with frosted glass. Or, install a row of small clear or frosted glass cabinets above your existing cabinets to display oversized serving bowls and decorative items. This simple step updates an entire room.
Install new hardware
Tired or worn knobs and pulls on cabinets date your kitchen. Give your cabinets new life with pulls that complement your design scheme. If your kitchen is traditional, try decorative pewter pulls or select a sleek stainless steel design for contemporary cabinets. Switching out old knobs and pulls can transform the look of your cabinets.
Do something simple to add counter space and improve workflow
Getting everyday items off your countertops improves workflow. Hang a magnetic strip to hold utensils so they’ll be within reach. Look for a short metal rod outfitted with S hooks to hang spoons, whisks, ladles and spatulas. Pass on the professional-grade stainless systems which can be too pricey if you’re remodeling on a shoestring.
If it’s limited cabinet space you’re trying to overcome, install a pot rack. Hang a rod above your stove or above an island to keep your pots and pans within easy reach.
Light up your kitchen
Hang a unique pendant light. Balance style with function by selecting pendants that provide adequate lighting for kitchen tasks.
Switching out an overhead light fixture is easier than you think. Don’t forget the value and convenience of under-cabinet lighting. Light up your work space. A well-lit kitchen is more inviting and functions better.
Replace your countertops
Countertops, especially in an open concept kitchen, play a prominent role in the overall look of your kitchen. If you’re replacing countertops, quartz is an affordable alternative to marble, granite or other natural stone. Quartz comes in a wide variety of colors and is low-maintenance. Laminates are another cost-effective choice and can make a statement even on a budget especially if your look is contemporary.
Look underfoot at your floor
Replace an old, dingy floor with porcelain tile or laminate flooring. Both are budget-conscious alternatives to hardwoods and natural stone. If you’re using porcelain tile, choose a grout color as close to the color of your tile as possible for a seamless finish.
Wood laminates simulate hardwoods with wood planks and graphic grain patterns and are much more durable than wood. They’re also easier to install if you’re doing it yourself.
Another wood-like flooring is vinyl planking which has depth and texture and is soft underfoot. These new vinyls are not what you’d expect. The look is high-end and comfort factor rates high for children and pets.
Don’t overlook natural materials like cork and bamboo. Cork comes in rich colors and adds texture to your floor. Have a professional install cork or bamboo. If you choose bamboo, buy the highest grade possible for best results.
Add a backsplash
If your kitchen needs some color, pattern, or shine, install a backsplash behind your sink or stove. A mosaic-tiled backsplash adds character and texture to a plain wall. Tiling a backsplash is an easy DIY project. Tiles come pre-attached to sheets of mesh to ensure accurate spacing.
If you want to add color and surface design to a ho-hum kitchen, try a backsplash. An even more cost-effective choice is porcelain subway tile available in a variety of colors.
Replace an old faucet
Often called ‘kitchen jewelry,’ a faucet draws attention to your sink just as an old, nondescript faucet gives away the age of your kitchen. A single-handed faucet in an attention-grabbing design can be found for as little as $80.00. Shop for finish and shape. A faucet’s shape should be unique enough to draw the eye yet mimic other shapes in your kitchen. Match the finish of your faucet to your cabinet pulls.
Decorative brackets add detail to the traditional kitchen. Either in wood or wrought iron, they impart an understated flourish to solid panels of wood on cabinets. If your kitchen is traditional, search for brackets that match the style of your cabinets.
For a unique take on the traditional bracket, position brackets below your countertops or under the countertop of an island or peninsula. Repurpose vintage brackets from historic house parts or from old furniture to add charm to your kitchen.
Paint, paint, paint
When in doubt, paint. With so many color choices available in paints that wipe clean, if your kitchen needs color, paint walls so they come alive. Find a palette that breathes fresh life into your kitchen project. If you like crisp white, use it as a trim color for molding instead of on an entire wall.
Paint walls and ceilings in warm and cool neutrals for the perfect backdrop to your new color scheme. Paint an accent wall in a contrasting color to add variety.
Add a rug
Put down a 4’ X 6’ cotton rug near your sink or add a colorful runner alongside an island or in a walk-through area of your kitchen. A rug draws the eye down to the floor, introduces pattern and a pop of color.
Add softness with window dressing
Keep it light when covering kitchen windows. Natural light gives your kitchen a clean, fresh look. Window treatments are a great way to soften your kitchen’s look.
Roman and roller shades, stationary valances and cornices, accent kitchen windows without obstructing views or reducing natural light.
Replace your sink
For a seamless look, install an undermount sink. Match your sink to the scale of your kitchen. If your sink is large, you may be giving up precious counter space. Choose a finish that matches your appliances. If you’d rather make a color statement, Kohler has a line of colored sinks that are great for contemporary kitchens.
Swap out kitchen accessories
Update your small appliances, dish towels and oven mitts. Play off the design elements of small appliances and other accessories stored out in the open. A fire engine red KitchenAid mixer, retro toaster, stainless steel dish rack or a set of navy blue and white striped kitchen towels bring color and style to your new kitchen.
Some fabricators keep off-cuts on hand that are cut from larger pieces of stone. These are usually sold for a fraction of the cost of the original material. Ask your contractor for surplus from other jobs. Tile or laminate from another job can be half the original cost. Look for close-outs. Shop online for deals on discontinued items.
Don’t ‘live with’ your outdated kitchen. If you’re willing to be creative, share some of the work with your contractor, and get a little dirty, your dream kitchen can be yours for under $5,000. You may be working nights and weekends for a while but your new kitchen will be well worth the extra hours when complete.
This Old House
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