Save Money When Remodeling Your Kitchen

You don’t have to overcook your budget to revamp your kitchen. Be willing to get your materials from unorthodox places, as well as learn how to do some of the improvements yourself, and you can end up with a better-looking kitchen than your neighbor at a fraction of the cost.

How To Manage Money Tips dishes out advice on how to cut costs on a kitchen remodeling project:

* Prioritize. You may despise everything about the way your kitchen looks, but identify what bothers you most to start off. For instance, better-looking counter tops may overshadow the dinginess of your cabinets. Taking the renovations step by step prevents unnecessary overhauls.

* Fake it. Instead of opting for, say, marble counters or expensive cabinets, aim for lookalikes that offer the same look but cost much less. Salespeople can usually find you cheaper alternatives.

* Search the scrap heap. Rather than buying everything new, check ads and junkyards for used materials. Finding the right parts takes some legwork, but you may be able to find like-new stuff for obscenely low prices.

* Learn on the job. YouTube abounds with videos that show you how to do just about any home improvement job. Even if you mess it up, you can always start over and learn from your mistakes.

Tips for Renovating Your Kitchen on a Budget [How To Manage Money Tips]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    “Taking the renovations step by step prevents unnecessary overhauls.”

    Or it may cause an unnecessary overhaul. If you replace that countertop now, then decide to replace the cabinets later, you may end up replacing that countertop again.

    If you’re going to renovate your kitchen, it’s best to do it all at once.

    • DerangedKitsune says:

      Going through what’s turned into a whole home rennovation myself, I have to agree. Those nice counter-tops you bought might just turn into a waste of money if you discover you have to rip out and replace the cabinets instead of just being able to give them a simple rehab.

      If you’re going to piecemeal a rennovation, be EXTREMELY sure you know that what you want to do won’t be affected by something down the line. Better to expect and budget for a full blowout before starting than discover it’s a bigger than expected job when you’ve already sunk a decent chunk of money into it.

    • kalaratri says:

      Yes and no.

      We know that when we replace our cabinets we will lose our new counters and backsplash, but we also know that we won’t be doing the cabinets for at least 8 years, which is plenty of time to enjoy our current work (and we only spent about $800 on the counters and tiling anyway.)

    • George4478 says:

      We did ours in stages over a 4 years period. Floors and walls; appliances part one; cabinets and countertops; appliances part two.

      We had to do a little wall paint touch-up when we did the cabinets since the crown molding had a different profile. Other than that we had no issues with this approach.

  2. rdm says:

    We got our Cabinets from Cabinets To Go and totally love them. We splurged on the granite (…comparatively, anyway) and these cabinets are sturdy and sharp and cost about 33% of what other places wanted to charge.

    • George4478 says:

      You have granite cabinets? Did Fred and Barney do the install?

      • rdm says:

        I meant to be clearer, haha. We splurged on granite countertops but for the cabinets were able to stay relatively cheap.

    • CreekDog says:

      Why were they cheaper at Cabinets to Go? Employee Discount? ;o)

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      Hmm when we redid our kitchen, we found that cabinets to go was a little cheaper than buying premium from a custom cabinet place, but getting Ikea was MUCH cheaper and had all the same features as the premium ones, we just had to plan ahead of time to make sure all the standard pieces would fit. Disclaimer: If you want a solid oak look you probably can’t do this, but we wanted a paneled white kitchen.

  3. DGC says:

    Rule #1: Leave trendy behind. If you’ve seen it on this old million dollar house, you’re going to lay out big.

  4. daemonaquila says:

    There are more and more stores now that specialize in used materials and fixtures. They’re a great place to shop. I’ve also dumpster dived great pieces, such as a sink that a neighbor had thrown out when redoing their bathroom. The only thing wrong with this lovely porcelain pedestal sink was a broken tap knob. $500 sink for the price of a $40 kit.

  5. gman863 says:

    Check and see if Habitat for Humanity has a “ReStore” sales outlet in your area.

    In addition to used items, ReStore often receives donations of excess new stock from builders, retailers and manufacturers. I was able to get connercial carpet squares (retail about $10 each) for under a buck apiece. I also saw similar markdowns on lighting fixtures and kitchen cabinets.

  6. cybrczch says:

    When I do the major overhaul of my house (gut it, replace windows and doors, rewire and insulate, finish walls), the little crackerbox of a kitchen is going to get the most work done on it. I’m going to remove the soffit over the old cabinets and extend the new ones up to the ceiling. And I’m going to remove the pantry next to the refrigerator nook and put in roll out pantry shelving (if you’ve watched Good Eats you’ve seen what I’m talking about), which should give a little more breathing room to the refrigerator, and let me redo the wall to the basement to actually put in a light switch.

  7. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    other places to look: thrift stores and, if you have them, habitat for humanity re-stores.
    one of my favorite thrift stores had several bathrooms sinks and counters in last weekend, and a full set of wall mount cabinets. ugly paint but they were solid wood and could always be repainted

  8. BennieHannah says:

    I know a lot of design shops go exotic with the kitchen colors and finishes. My decorating rule is to keep expensive and/or rather permanent items neutral. If you want to experience the trendiest colors or looks you can do that with paint or accessories. Every few years I’ll update my white/black/slate floors kitchen with a new wall color, window coverings, light fixture or countertop accessories.

  9. Not Given says:

    If the cabinets are sturdy just reface them and change out the handles and hinges.

  10. wickedpixel says:

    I’m having my beat oak cabinets professionally painted and swapping out the hardware rather than replacing them. I don’t think the granite would survive a cabinet replacement and I can’t shell out to replace that too right now. The little facelift should be enough to brighten up the space for a few years.

  11. DrPizza says:

    I found the new owner of an upscale home selling their 3 year old kitchen cabinets on Craigslist. (The wife wanted teak or some other exotic wood; the husband sighed when I gave him $1000 (“I wish MY wife liked oak.”) I rented a u-haul and drove 6 hours to pick up those cabinets. I also did my research and found that I could purchase two brand new cabinets of the same model (to complete my kitchen design.) If you knew what to look for, you could see a slight difference in color. But after 2 years of aging, they’re indistinguishable now. Moved a wall 4 feet to make the kitchen larger, reframed part of the floor, 11 electrical circuits, new plumbing, reframed an exterior wall to center and put in a larger window over the sink, built a supporting wall, vaulted the ceiling, tongue and groove on the ceiling, granite counter tops, ceramic tile floor; all for under $4k. (Not including all new stainless steel appliances.) Would have cost about $20k+ if I had a contractor do it. As I said in the purchasing a house article; if you know what you’re doing, home ownership is much cheaper, and you can buy less home & turn it into more home.

  12. FLConsumer says:

    Rule #1 — Don’t DIY an entire kitchen remodel yourself. I’ve had to un-f**k more than a few DIY remodel projects over the years, including those done by paid handymen. It costs far more to redo it twice.

    Also, look into piecing together a countertop. I’ve used granite floor tiles as countertops in various places (trim the edges with wood) and it looks stunning but at a fraction of the cost.

    Used appliances can be good, but I prefer scratch & dent myself. Still has full factory warranty, and you can often find an appliance with a non-noticeable dent/scratch.

    • Winter White says:

      As long as you don’t expect to be able to do any serious plumbing or electrical work yourself, there is no reason the average homeowner with half a brain couldn’t lay their own laminate floor, hang their own cabinets, etc. It’s not that hard though I may be giving the average homeowner way too much credit here.

      But you can save money by helping. One of the design services we worked with offered a “DIY Assist” where they’d send a guy out to help you with the complicated stuff or get you started, and you could do the rest for substantial savings.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      I don’t know. I see people ripped off by kitchens redos more than anything else. I laugh when I see the common BS number of “the average kitchen renovation is $70,000”. 70k? What are people putting in their kitchens? I completely gutted two kitchens in the last decade. Spent about $6k on each. Bought pre-made real wood cabinets and laminate counters. Were they kitchens of a million dollar homes? No, but they looked great and helped me both houses when I moved. You just need to shop around and price compare. Don’t be a smuck and spend $2000 on a faucet. It’s a faucet, there is no reason it should cost $2000.

  13. Rachacha says:

    * Prioritize with a plan. Don’t redo the floor and then decide a year later that you are going to knock down a wall that will require you to modify or lay down new tile, Don’t replace the countertops this year and then decide you want to replace the cabinets next year. Look at your goals and work out a plan that will minimize the potential damage to your new upgrade.

    * Fake it. To an extent. We recently designed our kitchen, and the cabinet designer suggested Alder wood as an alternative to Cherry as it was cheaper. After we determined what cabinets we needed, I asked her what the price difference for the stained cabinets was between Alder and Cherry. Cherry was a bit more expensive, but not prohibitively so, For the painted cabinets we went with maple which was significantly cheaper.

    * Learn on the job. Just know when you are in way over your head. Installing cabinets is not a terribly difficult job, but moving walls and redoing electric or plumbing is not something that many homeowners should attempt. Don’t believe me, just watch Renovation Realities on the DIY network.

  14. IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

    no, don’t fake it, a marble top is there for a reason, it can take 50 yrs punishment and look 99% new (its been a floor tile for centuries), the sticker board will get cut/burnt/soaked/chipped to crap within a year if you actually use your kitchen. when i was house shopping any fake trim was automatically subtracted from my bid, save yourself time and money and let it be until you can do it right. also, when doing cabinets, consider whether fiberboard (essentially rough cardboard) is the best choice for a high moisture/temperature environment, all it takes is a few nicks in the tape and you will have to redo the entire kitchen as no one actually stocks the same fake cabinets for more then a few years

    • lettucefactory says:

      My thoughts too. Do it right once and you’ll save money over faking it and having to redo the project in a few years. Unless you expect to be selling soon.

    • jnolan says:

      Marble is actually quite soft and typically doesn’t get used for kitchen counters because it stains easily (as anyone with marble floors will attest).

  15. Winter White says:

    We just did a full kitchen renovation in our new home:

    Cabinets from local cabinet retailer: $5200 delivered (retail price, $17981)
    Laminate flooring:$3.19/sq ft shipped online, total cost $580ish
    Wilsonart HD travertine countertop: $678 plus $100 for molded edges to get rid of the “laminate look”
    Contractor to knock out a wall and patch ceiling: $1000
    Electrician/plumber to relocate some baseboards and add a few outlets: $1200

    We did all the rest ourselves. Total expenditure: $8758 and change.

    Increased value of our home based on the average of 3 complete home appraisals? $24,800.

    Worth every penny if you can do the work yourselves and get a good deal on real cabinets. Ours are 100% cherry full plywood construction Kraftmaid cabinets. The only place we really sacrificed was the countertop– but we’ll put in Silestone in a few years when the farmhouse sinks go out of fashion again.

  16. Rjones465 says:

    Habitat for Humanity has ReStore retail stores selling building materials and furniture and such. We installed Ikea cabinets and we’re very happy with them several years later. Every once and a while I kick around the idea that we could just change out the doors on them fairly cheaply to re-renovate the kitchen.

  17. Myotheralt says:

    I am in the process of buying a large building that I need to convert from office and dorm space to apartments. Maybe 5 apartments, short term lease office area on the ground floor, a wholesale pastry kitchen and a wood/metal fabrication shop in the basement (separated of course).

    So, we need, not counting the commercial kitchen, 3 apartments with the full size kitchen, large bathrooms, etc, the other 2 would be maybe 1 bedroom or so. We are going to build the current floor plan next week, and go from there.

  18. bobloblaw says:

    currently in the process of pouring concrete countertops right now. total cost for 50 sq ft: $150.