8 Budget Kitchen Renovations You Had No Idea Were so Affordable

When we say, “kitchen remodel,” the first thing you probably visualize is gorgeous new cabinetry, sleek countertops, and stainless steel built-in appliances that would make you actually want to cook. The second image that “kitchen remodel” conjures? Dollar signs—lots and lots of dollar signs.

According to a survey conducted last year by Houzz, Americans spent an average of $28,030 in the last five years on kitchen remodels. $28,030? That’s a lot of cheddar. Or bread. Or cabbage. (Insert your own food-related word for money here.)

Before you decide that you can’t take the heat and choose to get out of the kitchen, we’re here to reassure there is such a thing as a budget kitchen makeover. Check out these helpful hints for updating your outdated space to something inspired and chic.

1. Buy ready-to-assemble cabinets.

When homeowners consider a kitchen remodel, it’s often because they’ve grown tired of their dated, unattractive cabinets. They dream of something fresh and modern, that will give their kitchen an entirely new look. Then they get an idea about the price tag associated with custom cabinetry, and their renovation dreams end there.

Cabinetry usually commands the largest percentage of a renovation budget, and with good reason—your cabinets are most likely the first thing people notice about your kitchen. Rather than hire an expensive cabinet maker (or risk completely destroying your kitchen by painting existing cabinetry), consider ready to assemble cabinets. Cabinets are shipped to you in a flat box with everything needed so that you can assemble and install them by yourself. By taking this approach, you save thousands and thousands of dollars, yet still achieve a custom look.

Cabinets from the RTA Store are an especially great choice. They carry a huge variety of styles and finishes, but still retain an extremely personal approach, so there’s no fear in putting together the cabinets yourself. You have 24/7 access to their kitchen designers, and they offer vides and live chats to help you with the process. Not sure if you’re up to the task of full assembly? Check out their pre-assembled cabinetry, which is another incredibly cost-effective option.

2. Try scratch and dent appliances.

The term “scratch and dent” refers to appliances that have either incurred minor damage during the shipping process, or have been used as floor models. Do words like “scratch and dent” make you nervous? Well, perhaps the words “half-off” can suddenly make those minor imperfections disappear before your very eyes. Scratch and dent models can be purchased at a significantly lower cost than their counterparts, and often the naked eye would never pick out the damages. Plus, these are new appliances, so most will be covered with a warranty.

Another smart option? Check and see if there are any restaurant supply stores in your area. These can carry high end, restaurant quality appliances at considerably lower prices.

No matter where you buy, be sure to give the appliance a careful once-over before purchase, and you’ll wind up watching more of your hard-earned greenbacks stay where they should—in your wallet.

3. Think about countertop overlays.

Another huge expense when remodeling your kitchen is tearing out existing countertops to replace with granite or stone. If you don’t have that cost in your budget, consider countertop overlays. These are slabs of engineered stone that actually fit right over your existing counters. This eliminates the tear-out aspect, saving you the huge labor charges (as well as massive inconvenience).

4. Add beadboard to an island or peninsula.

Beadboard (also often referred to as wainscoting) is not only inexpensive and durable; it’s great for adding detail and character to the back of an island or peninsula. It’s fairly simple to install, often requiring some measuring, cutting, aligning and adhering. Though it’s usually purchased white, it’s easy to paint. It can give any kitchen an immediate facelift, especially when paired with touches of crown molding or corbels. No longer thought of solely as country or cottage style, beadboard can look sleek and modern, especially when painted black or espresso.

5. Consider replacing your faucet.

Although this seems obvious (duh, it’s super cheap), you’d be surprised how many folks still have those ugly, builder-grade faucets in their kitchens that simply scream “1992.” Begin by thinking about the style of your kitchen. French Country? Try something rustic with a side sprayer. Modern? Maybe a contemporary pull down. Then check online sites like Overstock.com or even eBay to find the best prices. Not only will it give your space a facelift for a small sum, it will make post-dinner cleanup just a bit more enjoyable.

6. Don’t be afraid to try new lighting.

Most people shy away from adding new lighting to a kitchen because they don’t want the expense of calling in an electrician. However, new fixtures can often be connected to existing wiring. Banish the brass chain and cheap-looking frosted glass for a more stylish and updated pendant. Keep styles simple, and make sure you don’t under- or over-light (no one wants to feel like they’re preparing meals in a prison).

7. Try a reflective backsplash.

Adding a tile backsplash is usually what people think of first when updating a kitchen, but that can be incredibly expensive, especially when labor costs are factored in. Instead, think more creatively, where you won’t have to hire anyone to do labor. One economic option is adding a mirrored backsplash.

Mirrors reflect light, so this is especially beneficial for a small, dark kitchen because it immediately appears larger. In addition, it will brighten up your prep areas, so you can actually see that pepper you’re slicing. Mirrors are tough, durable and scratch-resistant as well.

8. Add art from Etsy.

Yes, it’s time to remove that giant fork and spoon set hanging on the wall of your kitchen. Often we become so accustomed to the stuff on our walls that we no longer notice it. So to begin with, take a good, long look at what you have hung. Pastel posters framed in brass? Yup, it’s time to take those down. With spots like Etsy (the world’s largest handmade marketplace) offering tens of thousands of original, fun, funky options, it’s easy to find modern details to update your space.

If you’re on the hunt for posters, simply add inexpensive but simple wooden frames from a place like Ikea and you’ll be shocked by how much better your kitchen looks.