June 8, 2023


Creative living

10 Kitchen Remodel Ideas on a Budget

7 min read

Kitchen renovations can easily consume — and surpass — your budget. The median investment in a kitchen renovation reached $14,000 in 2018, according to the 2019 Houzz & Home study, a 27% increase from spending in 2017.

Not everyone has that kind of money to spend updating their kitchen, let alone other parts of their house. But there is good news: If you’re part of the 19% of U.S. homeowners spending less than $5,000 on a home renovation, according to the report, and you dedicate a majority of your budget to your kitchen, you can still make a difference.

[See: The Best Free Interior Design Apps]

Here are 10 ideas for remodeling your kitchen on a budget:

— Change the paint color.

— Update appliances.

— Find used or overstock appliances.

— Paint or reface the cabinets.

— Install a backsplash.

— Opt for countertop remnants.

— Bring in more light.

— Upgrade or remove doors.

— Focus on organizing.

— Keep an eye on the accents.

Change the Paint Color

One of the simplest projects to transform any room is to change the paint color on the walls. If your kitchen is still rocking a 1990s look or has the all-white palette that’s been popular in recent years, pick a new color to help update the space. Warm neutrals are always a safe option, but if you’re looking to break up a kitchen that’s all one color, introduce paint in a contrasting color.

Anticipated cost: HomeAdvisor reports that the average cost to paint a room that’s 10 feet by 12 feet ranges from $200 to $800, with the total cost being $300 or less if you’re painting the room yourself.

Update Appliances

A new refrigerator or dishwasher can modernize a space and help it function more efficiently. “If your appliances are white — or they used to be white but now they’re taupe — you might want to think about spending your money there,” says Leneiva Head, owner of Welcome Home Realty, a real estate management company in Nashville, Tennessee.

Appliances can get pricey, but Head recommends visiting big-box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, which offer kitchen appliances at a bundled price. Plus, if you visit on a holiday weekend, like Labor Day or Columbus Day, you may see those bundled appliances discounted even more.

Rather than having to shell out a lot of cash for new appliances right before selling your home, consider upgrading now since you know you plan to live in the house for a few more years, “and you’re still enjoying it,” says Mischa Fisher, chief economist for ANGI Homeservices.

Anticipated cost: Appliance packages including a refrigerator, oven range, dishwasher and microwave can save you a couple hundred dollars per appliance, but you should still expect to pay between $2,400 and $3,500 for all four pieces outside of a sale.

Find Used or Overstock Appliances

You can also outfit your kitchen with appliances purchased at a discount on clearance, or you can buy slightly used pieces that will be new to you for much less than new versions.

Companies specializing in lightly used or dented appliances are often local ones, so it’s best to conduct an online search of potential resources in your area. For clearance items, check with brand manufacturer websites to see if they have outlet locations or a site that specializes in selling clearance pieces.

Anticipated cost: Major kitchen appliances that are sold as overstock are typically discounted by a couple hundred dollars. GE Appliances sells clearance items through its outlet store, for example, offering anywhere from roughly 20% to nearly 50% off the manufacturer suggested retail price. Your local Habitat for Humanity chapter may have a ReStore location where you can purchase donated used or overstock home improvement items, including appliances.

Paint or Reface the Cabinets

New custom cabinetry is often one of the biggest costs of a kitchen renovation. But when you’re working with a smaller budget, you can still achieve a whole new look for your cabinets. “Spruce up and refresh what you already have,” Head says.

In lieu of new cabinets, many homeowners opt to either reface their existing cabinets or paint them. Head says having the cabinets professionally painted can make the space look completely different, and you won’t have to shell out more money for customized carpentry work.

Anticipated cost: Angie’s List reports refacing laminate cabinets can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, and refacing wood cabinets is much higher at $7,000 to $9,000. HomeAdvisor reports that on average, it costs about $1,000 to paint kitchen cabinets, though the price rises if you need to remove existing stain.

[Read: The Guide to Home Renovations.]

Install a Backsplash

Installing or replacing backsplash in your kitchen can add new color and texture to the room at a low cost since it accounts for little square footage. You can cut the cost even more by limiting your backsplash to a smaller area, like the space over your stovetop, to create a focal point in the room.

If you’re looking to dip your toes into DIY renovations, “a backsplash is a relatively easy one,” says Mark Page, a construction estimator for Pro.com based in the greater Boston area.

Anticipated cost: Subway tile is a classic option that’s budget-friendly, often costing less than $1 per tile. For easier installation, peel-and-stick mosaic tiles vary in cost, but you can likely get enough for your backsplash for less than $200 from stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Opt for Countertop Remnants

Countertop suppliers often have discounted materials that are leftovers from another homeowner’s custom countertop design — whether they were broken in transport or have been scrapped for a different material. Buying from these suppliers can make new custom countertops far more affordable.

However, because the size of remnants and partial slabs were likely based on a different home renovation, there’s not a guarantee you’ll be able to outfit a large kitchen with lots of counter space with remnants.

Anticipated cost: Stone retailer company Stoneworks, which specializes in countertops for kitchens and bathrooms, states on its website that a custom granite countertop of less than 25 square feet with a sink cutout made from a remnant or partial slab can be purchased and installed for $1,200 or less.

Bring in More Light

An old kitchen will look even more dated if you don’t have enough lighting to help make the kitchen feel usable at all hours. Under-cabinet lighting, for example, can help illuminate meal prep when there’s not a lot of natural light, and lighting along the tops of cabinets can make the empty space feel more intentional.

Anticipated cost: A variety of under-cabinet lighting options start at $21 at Home Depot, though you should expect to need more than one light strip or set of lights to brighten up all your cabinets. Most of these options can easily be linked and plugged into a nearby outlet as an easy DIY project, or they can be wired directly to a switch.

Upgrade or Remove Doors

A kitchen that opens up to the living room or dining space is considered standard in many homes today, but the cost to remove walls — especially if they’re load-bearing — may be beyond your budget. You can still take a step in the right direction by getting rid of any outdated doors that stand between the kitchen and the rest of the house.

You can also make the kitchen feel a bit lighter by removing the doors from a few cabinets. Open shelving is popular in current kitchen designs, but it may not be feasible for homeowners with lots of mismatched dishes or overloaded glassware. By opening up just one or two cabinets, you can get a similar look without showing off your disorganized kitchen odds and ends.

Free up additional space by replacing a traditional pantry or kitchen closet door with a sliding barn door. The door doesn’t need to swing out, and the fresh design can make a big visual impact on the space.

Focus on Organizing

If your kitchen doesn’t require as much cosmetic updating, increase the utility of the space by focusing your small budget on organization. In-cabinet racks can keep pots and pans in order, separators can conquer the ever-messy junk drawer and attractive, matching containers can make items on the counter look more purposeful.

Anticipated cost: How much you spend on organization depends on what you have in your kitchen and where you want to purchase items, but glass and plastic containers are often less than $10 each, and sliding cabinet organizers range from $28 for a single piece at Walmart to $193 for an organization kit at The Container Store.

[Read: 7 Reasons Why Renovating Is Better Than Buying a New Home.]

Keep an Eye on the Accents

A new granite countertop or floor can quickly eat up your budget, but you can make your kitchen feel new without changing out those big-ticket items.

If you have multicolored counters or tile flooring that you had previously tied in with the wall color or decorative accents, Head recommends picking a different color in that marbling to focus on. The new accent color will make the surface stand out in a different way. “That keeps you from having to spend money to change out your floor,” she says.

Take a look at your cabinet pulls as well, and consider switching them out for something new and trendy. Brushed nickel cabinet hardware — especially on freshly painted cabinets — can make the entire kitchen look like a new design.

Anticipated cost: Sets of brushed nickel cabinet hardware sell on Amazon for about $16 for 10 handles, or you can buy single pulls for as little as $1 in stores like Lowe’s and Ace Hardware.