Ten Best Cost-Effective Updates for Kitchens
You want to make your kitchen look great (or at least better) and you don’t have much of a budget, no problem. I have about 20 years of experience in construction and renovation and some amazing transformations can be done on a tight budget. Here’s a few to give you the most bang for your buck.
1. Painting Cabinets
Painting is always a great bang for your buck whether it’s on the walls or to rejuvenate cabinets.
Painting cabinets is much less expensive than tearing them out and replacing them which also requires new countertops and sink plumbing at a very minimum.
Paints have gotten very good so you don’t have to worry about long-term durability. Benjamin Advance and Sherwin Williams has ProClassic are probably best known and in our experience but there are others that may be less expensive.
The appearance will be good and most clients cannot see the difference between painted and lacquered finishes unless they are side by side. (So don’t do that.)
Our only issues we have had with damage when they’re used a lot before the paints are given time to harden, they hold up well.
Painting cabinets allows you allows a lot of flexibility. First, they can be easily fixed and repainted if gauged — where is that child on the scooter? Painting allows you to add cabinets to the original kitchen and make them match. It allows you to repair damaged doors to near and patch the old hardware locations so you can put all new hardware of a different dimension on.
There’s even a trend among high end cabinet providers to paint them rather than lacquer them so it won’t look second rate.
2. Change Cabinet Hardware
Hardware is a small feature that people notice. Going from single pulls to the right four or eight inch bar pull in your style can add tremendous impact. Hardware can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. It rarely wears out so look for bargains online. If it looks good, you can usually buy it. Changing hardware can be done as a diy project.
New hardware is a must when painting cabinets.
3. Add A Pantry To The End Of Your Cabinet
Pantries are the most efficient cabinets in your kitchen. They’re as deep as lower cabinets but they extend floor to ceiling so they nearly double the storage room of typical upper and lower cabinets. In other words, a 2 foot wide pantry has the equivalent of adding 3.75 extra feet of uppers and lower cabinetry to your kitchen minus the countertop AND countertop expense.
If the cabinetry is being painted, chances are the pantry can match perfectly. Add a nice storage solution inside and your kitchen will reach new heights of utility and show-off appeal.
4. Enlarge Your Island
Enlarging your island means added additional cabinets or in this case a table to one side of the island.
Since islands are independent, new countertops for them are far less expensive than doing your whole kitchen.
Changing an island has a huge impact on the kitchens look and functionality. Suddenly there’s a place to eat a meal, do homework, store pots and pans or cookbooks.
5. Improve Countertop and area Lighting
Getting the lighting right is essential. My rule is you can never have too much in a kitchen. It’s really nice to have a lot of light for food preparation and if you need to tone it down, just add dimmers.
There are three areas of lighting and these can be accomplished in most kitchens. Countertop and area lighting, pendants, under cabinetry.
If you have a large ceiling mounted light, get rid of it and put in a track to run the length of your kitchen’s walkways. They start inexpensively at $100 and can go up to $1000 dollars or more. Even the least expensive model will be a huge improvement over a simple mounted light. More expensive models can look great.
6. Change your Pendants
If you have pendants, it may be time to replace them to be part of your new look. Pendants can really make a statement and switching them out is not a lot of work. It’s also a possible diy job.
If you don’t have pendants over the island or peninsula and electrician may be needed to get you power to the area. The least expensive way is to put in a track. Mounting them singly is slightly more expensive. Again tracks and pendants come in all different price ranges. They are more of a statement than other lights because they hang down low into the visual field, so if you’re going to spend money or get design help, this is the place to do it.
7. Add or improve Under cabinetry lighting
Under cabinetry light really makes a kitchen feel cozy and special. It highlights the backsplash and makes it pop. There are a variety of choices. If you have old fluorescent ones, tear those out and put in LED either at 2700 or 8000K depending on the look you want. 2700K is warm, 8000K is cool and modern. You can buy units of the same size and possibly add additional units by linking them to the existing one.
Some situation are complicated and you may need an electrician. They can offer more choices and add switches if needed.
If you really want to have saving, you can buy battery powered LED under cabinetry lights. They are very inexpensive, super simple to put up, but you will have to turn each one on and off separately and change the batteries from time to time.
8. Go creative on The Backsplash
Backsplashes make a HUGE difference. They can explode with color, retreat into the background, tie countertops to cabinets, set a mood. They can be a diy project. Most backsplashes we put up run about 1500 all in but as a diy, they can be a fraction of that.
If you’re existing countertop has a 4 inch backsplash don’t take it off, just go up from there. It will look fine and avoid some problems as the countertops are sometimes not cut close enough to the wall.
If you have a backsplash already and you just hate how the grout looks, buy grout stain. It’s very easy to apply and will really make an old subway tiled backsplash look renewed.
For advice on this year’s trends in backsplashes click here.
9. A New Faucet is a Must
A new faucet can really create a lot of pleasure working at your sink. Some great faucets are available on line in the $200. The quality is uniformly good but read the reviews. There are some that are prone to leak. Don’t worry about buy a lesser known name. They can be very good.
10. Change Countertops can be less than you think.
Have about 4 to 7 thousand for this choice at least? Will it make a difference? HUGE.
Other light countertops whether marble or granite can sustain damage if not carefully looked after.
Are there alternative to replacing it? There are surfaces laid over old stone countertops but I’m not sure I trust them and they’re not commonly done.
If you do countertops, a new sink and faucet are usually part of the deal so add $1500 at least for those.
Article by Mitchell Newman, Principal of Habitar Design. Mitch has twenty years of experience in construction and has been named twice in the Fixr 200 for top influencer in the industry. His company has won numerous awards based on recognition by consumers.
Before Photos for this kitchen
These clients painted cabinets, added a new pantry on the end, new countertops, an extension of the island, a new backsplash, under cabinet lighting, track lighting, and cabinetry hardware.
Note a wall came down and the soffit was extended to tie the new cabinets in with the old.