Think a renovation is out of your reach? It's not! We lay out some kitchen remodel ideas for every budget, from $50 to $10,000.
It's not necessary to spend an astronomical amount of money on a kitchen remodel. Whether your budget is small or sizable, it's possible to get the kitchen you yearn for at a price you can afford. In fact, you can begin making improvements for as little as $50. Remodeling in stages is an excellent way to update in a manner that will fit your budget. But make sure you tackle projects in a logical order, or you could end up wasting a ton of money. For example, if you plan to rearrange cabinets and appliances, hold off on replacing the flooring. Similarly, don't install a new sink or faucet if replacing the countertop is also on your to-do list.
Use this road map to create the kitchen of your dreams -- no matter the reality of your budget.
BUDGET: $50 OR LESS
Paint is the easiest, least expensive way to transform a tired looking kitchen. Choose a semigloss latex paint, which will allow you to easily sponge off the inevitable food splashes and spatters. Also, opt for a semigloss finish on the trim, such as the baseboard and around windows and doors. For best results, don't skimp out on prep work. Kitchen surfaces accumulate grime, so be sure to wash all walls and the ceiling with a TSP (trisodium phosphate) or a TSP substitute before painting. This will help clean and prepare the surface so that the paint adheres to it properly
BUDGET: $100 OR LESS
Now matter how expensive your cabinets and countertops are, an organized and tidy kitchen will always be an instant upgrade. If your budget is $100, it will be well spent on organizers
Pot racks, lid holders, shelving
, drawer organizers, pullout trays, and utensil crocks are affordable ways to keep clutter at bay and let the charm of your kitchen shine greatly. Open shelving takes advantage of empty walls and gives the kitchen an airy feeling. Stretch your makeover dollars by DIYing your storage organizers
BUDGET: $200 OR LESS
Another quick, inexpensive way to update a kitchen is with the right lighting
Replace those dim CFL floods with halogen floods. You'll still save energy over traditional incandescent bulbs, and the light will be a substantial improvement. Install a dimmer switch so that the halogens last a longer and save even more energy. As for those still-good CFLs, don't toss them. Save them for use in utilitarian spaces, such as the garage, basement, attic, or closets. Add under-cabinet lighting
to existing kitchen cabinets and bring countertop work areas out of the shadows. Use decorative lights over kitchen tables to change the mood when it's time to dine.
BUDGET: $350 OR LESS
: REFURBISH CABINETS
are often the most expensive items in any kitchen makeover. If yours look worn and have become soft and gummy around the pulls, consider refinishing or repainting the doors and frames instead of replacing the entire units. This will make a big impact in your kitchen at the fraction of the cost of brand-new cabinets.
Use a furniture refinisher, such as the one made by Formby's
, to strip off most clear finishes. Refinishers often remove some of the stain, too, so you may have to even out the remaining stain color by rubbing on one or more coats of a matching stain. Once the color is to your liking, allow the stain to dry, wipe carefully with a tack cloth, and apply a new clear protective coat. Just be sure to protect yourself from fumes; use a respirator (with the correct cartridge), allow for plenty of ventilation, and work in a dust-free environment as possible when reapplying the clear coat. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully, especially with regard to health and safety, as these products are flammable and poisonous.
If you want to repaint cabinets
, be sure to prep surfaces by cleaning them thoroughly and sanding them with a fine-grit sandpaper so that the paint sticks. Virtually any surface can be painted, but some are better suited to it than others. Metal, solid wood, and plywood cabinets take paint well. Thermofoil cabinets, which are made of MDF that's wrapped with vinyl laminate, may not. If the laminate is loose or bubbled, painting is not a good option. Even if the paint adheres to the vinyl, the vinyl will probably continue to delaminate. In some cases, it may be possible to peel the laminate off the cabinets, prep, and then paint the underlying MDF.
Check out this video demonstration of how to paint kitchen cabinets:
Regardless of the surface, use a high quality primer and a durable topcoat, such as Benjamin Moore's Impervo (alkyd) or Impervex (latex). Apply paint to the rails and stiles (cabinet framework) with a high-quality brush or foam roller. For an extra smooth finish on the doors, remove them from the cabinet frames and take off all hardware. Number the doors and cabinets to make rehanging the doors easier. Then rent a compressor-powered sprayer to apply the paint. This will minimize those annoying brush strokes in the finish. Be sure to practice on scrap wood first to master the spraying technique. Apply several coats for best results. Sand lightly with a very fine abrasive paper and wipe off dust between coats.
Clean cabinet knobs and pulls thoroughly and buff with a clear wax. If your hardware is dated, replacement pulls, knobs, and hinges can be purchased online or at many home centers. Swapping out tired old hardware can give your kitchen a facelift on the cheap.
BUDGET: $500 - $1000: NEW FLOORING
Refresh your kitchen flooring
for a brand new look.
Vinyl floor tiles are not only affordable, but have come a long way in terms of style and ease of installation. This type of flooring is comfortable to walk on, easy to clean, and durable. To install, you no longer have to deal with messy adhesives; the floors float atop the underlayment
. At less than $2 per square foot, you can put a vinyl floor in just about any kitchen for $500.
Want a more natural flooring material? Choices include wood (solid or engineered), cork, and bamboo. You'll have to shell out two or three times the price of vinyl, but the finish can not be beat. Avoid laminates, which are susceptible to moisture damage. Also, try to steer clear of ceramic tile, which is cold and hard to the touch, plus cracks easily.
BUDGET: $1000 - $2500
: NEW SINK, FAUCET and COUNTERTOPS
and countertops bear the brunt of work in the kitchen. As a consequence, they can look very worn after 10 or 15 years. A new sink, faucet and countertops are within this budget -- providing you choose economical materials for the countertops, such as plastic laminate or wood. You can dress up the former with a beveled or rounded hardwood molding along the front edge. Or fake the high-style look of granite, marble, or soapstone with affordable laminate. Butcher block, long neglected as a countertop material, is again in vogue and quite functional. It will need periodic sealing with mineral oil, but can be easily renewed with a sander when needed.
BUDGET: $5000 - $7,500
A green kitchen in Windermere, FL. Photo: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/MCT
: A RECYCLED KITCHEN
Now that we're talking about serious money, you can consider buying a complete recycled kitchen, often with the appliances included. Check out Green Demolition
at and similar organizations that accept and resell used building materials. Green Demolitions' New York metropolitan area showrooms offer entire kitchens that have been donated by homeowners who are about to remodel. The donors get a tax deduction, and the purchasers get kitchens at prices that are a fraction of the original list price. Everybody wins, including the environment.
BUDGET: $7,500 - $10,000
: NEW CABINETS
This budget range will allow you to purchase new kitchen cabinets. Stock cabinets for a 10 x 12 kitchen start at about $5,000. Custom cabinets, that are built to order, cost $8,000 and up. Solid wood, plywood, and stainless steel cabinets are best. Cabinets made of MDF (medium density fiberboard) are good. Avoid cabinets made with particleboard. Look for well-crafted rabbeted or dovetail joints, especially on drawers. They should be carefully glued and fastened. You may also be able to replace your old countertops in this budget range, but most likely not with granite or other synthetic stone materials. To keep this remodeling project under $10,000, you'll have to do much of the work yourself and minimize changes to plumbing, venting and electrical systems.
- Consult with a pro:
If your budget is in this range, do yourself a favor and spend some of it on a professional designer. If you have a pretty good idea of what you want, $500 spent on consultations and plans can go a long way. An experienced designer has seen it all and will likely be able to help you avoid costly mistakes. In addition to suggesting an efficient layout for cabinets, counters, and appliances, a designer will help you create free-flowing traffic patterns to dining rooms and to outdoor entertainment areas. They can help with a lighting plan, mudroom or kitchen-office solutions, color selection, material and appliance choices. A good designer will suggest ways to minimize changes to your kitchen's footprint that can add significant cost to your project.
DIY Kitchen Islands
Refacing Kitchen Cabinets
Minute Makeover: Remove Kitchen Cabinet Doors
Makeover Inspiration: Color in the Kitchen