How to Stretch a Small Kitchen Budget

kitchen cabinets
It's time to upgrade your kitchen, but remodeling can get pricey. Here are our top 10 tips for stretching your budget so you can get the stylish results you're looking for.

Paint the Cabinets

Cabinetry is typically the most expensive part of a kitchen upgrade, so working with what already exists can really save the budget. If the doors and boxes are in good shape and are made of wood, not laminate, you can sand and paint them for a shiny new look. If the cabinets look dated, replacement doors are an easy upgrade and cost far less than ripping out the boxes and installing new cabinetry.

Use Remnant Countertops

Love the look of stone counters, but can't afford the hefty price tag? Get the look by using a remnant piece for a small area of the kitchen, such as an island. Stick to affordable laminate for the long runs of countertops, and look for remnant granite or quartz pieces left over from other projects. A scrap may be the perfect size for an island, and it's sure to add interest to the space.

Use Open Shelving

The sleek and modern look of European decor is gaining popularity here. Stealing ideas from this design aesthetic can save you money in the kitchen. For example, open shelving is common in Europe. Skipping a bank of cabinets in favor of inexpensive shelving can dramatically reduce your expenses. As a bonus, the shelves allow for easy-access storage and create an opportunity for displaying colorful dishes or other decorative accents.

DIY Island

Islands often become the hub of a family kitchen. When you’re tight on funds, however, adding one can make the cabinetry bill skyrocket. Save funds by using a counter-height table or bar instead. Shop for wooden options at a furniture or lumber store, or look for stainless-steel designs at a restaurant supply store. As a bonus, homeowners can take a make-do island with them when they move.

Choose Special Lighting

Going for broke doesn’t mean you have to go broke. Create a memorable kitchen by spending big bucks on one or two “wow” pieces, and being frugal with all of the other components. Basic cabinets seem less basic sitting next to a state-of-the-art stove. And no one will even notice cheap cabinet pulls if there’s a one-of-a-kind light fixture above the island. 

Simplify Flooring

Even small design changes can save big dollars. Switching from 6-inch ceramic floor tiles to 20-inch or larger means fewer grout lines and cuts during installation, which greatly reduces labor expenses. Also, a simple grid or diamond pattern is less expensive to install than a more complicated design, such as circular or basket weave.

Perfect Pairings

Knowing where to splurge and where to save is important when remodeling on a budget. Laminate countertops are far more affordable than solid-surfacing or granite. Choose one designed to look like stone, and then dress it up by pairing the countertop with a designer backsplash, such as a sparkly glass-tile mosaic. 

Use Look-Alike Materials

Look-alike materials are a great way to add style without spending a fortune. Wood-look tile is more affordable than real hardwood flooring. These faux floors are also water- and scratch-resistant and easy to clean, perfect for a kitchen environment. The tiles are available in a variety of grains and colors to match any decor.

Trim It Out

While the budget may only allow for stock cabinetry, there’s no reason to settle for a boring look. Spend a little money on wood trim to take off-the-shelf cabinets from basic to beautiful. Upgrading cabinets by installing crown molding and other wood trims is a quick and affordable way to add character without a custom price tag.

Integrate Appliances

Fancy new stainless-steel appliances can cost a pretty penny. One way to cut costs is to choose a moderately priced dishwasher and/or refrigerator, and buy a panel kit from your cabinetry supplier. Integrating the machines into the cabinetry can save money, while making the basic appliances look like expensive built-ins.

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