11 Expert Tips for Renovating Your Kitchen on a Budget
Your kitchen is the epicenter of your home. It’s where you cook, dine, socialize, work, and play. To put it simply, your kitchen is where you live. So if you’re thinking of renovating, make sure to really think about what you need, what you want, and how much you’re willing to spend. We talked to design expert Tammy Edmonds, the founder, CEO, and creative director of Tammy Edmonds Design, for some tips on how to renovate on a budget and still build your dream kitchen. Scroll through for incredible kitchen renovating tips.
Before you commence the planning stages of your kitchen, ask yourself what you’re looking for. If you’re not sure what your dream kitchen looks like, do your research. “Houzz.com has been a great resource for clients as well as design professionals in making it easy to share ideas and design styles,” says Edmonds. She recommends picking a timeless design in lieu of adopting trends of the moment. “A timeless approach is always best when designing a kitchen. Look for materials that offer easy cleaning and less maintenance. When shopping for a tile, consider the amount of grout lines and the maintenance it will require.”
Function is just as important as style. Who is going to be cooking? Will you be entertaining? “These are essential questions because you really need to understand what your needs are and how you like to cook. Do you like to entertain while cooking? Are you a casual cook or a microwave pro?”
Your kitchen renovation budget will determine the scope of its makeover. For $5000 you can get a cosmetic upgrade, $10,000 can get you a more customized cosmetic makeover, and $20,000 can include a full remodel including stone tops and new cabinets. Make sure you factor in labor costs if you plan on hiring a contractor. “When moving walls or making changes to plumbing or electrical outlets, it is always good to hire a professional. It really depends on the size of the kitchen and features that are important to the user,” says Edmonds. “Countertops and tile can be the most costly portion of the kitchen, but if you shop right, it does not have to be budget breaking. In a well-used kitchen, the countertop takes the most abuse. It’s important to have counters that will hold up well.”
Put 20% of your budget aside for emergencies and unexpected situations like rotted floorboards or a broken faucet. If you find yourself in danger of going over budget, Edmonds recommends looking to IKEA or vintage/reclaimed material for less expensive alternatives. “IKEA has some surprising wallet-friendly designs that now offer longer warranties. Another approach to save money is to call local stone yards and fabricators who might have leftover materials from other projects. Beautifully reclaimed items at architectural salvage yards can also become wonderful features in the design as they can lend character to an overall design.”
The reality is your dream kitchen is likely beyond the scope of your budget, so it’s best to categorize it into stages. What do you have to have first? What can you live without for the foreseeable future but will need eventually? What can you live without altogether? Your answers to these questions will help you decide which features of your kitchen to prioritize and which to save until a later stage in the process, when you can re-evaluate your remaining budget.
Small changes such as a new faucet, a fresh dinnerware set, or window treatments can alter the vibe of your kitchen in a big way. It’s always best to see these types of additions in person so you can feel their texture and see how they look offline. When considering appliances, however, it’s best to research first online. “It pays to do some research online first since appliance shopping can be overwhelming. Know what you are looking for and what your price range is for each specific thing. Some local appliance stores can price-match, so it pays to be prepared,” says Edmonds.
“A great feature light in a kitchen that can make a bold statement is usually worth the investment while saving on the rest of the design,” says Edmonds. She makes the case that whether it’s lighting or a high-end stove, fridge, or backsplash, choose what’s most important to you and have that be your splurge. Lighting is our pick as we have a thing for pendant lamps and love how your light and lighting fixture can set the mood of a room.
Open shelving can be a great route if you want to add some texture and personality to your kitchen. Of course, it’s essential that you keep these open shelves tidy at all times; otherwise your kitchen can look frazzled. “Remember that these spaces should reflect your own personality and character, so don’t be afraid to personalize them with meaningful things,” says Edmonds. Rather than stick with the perfect white ceramic dinnerware you see in décor editorials, don’t be afraid to use your own heirlooms or pieces that you’ve collected over the years. “Old kitchen antique collections of cooking spoons or creative storage containers add interesting conversation pieces,” she says.
There’s nothing chic about a cluttered kitchen. This is the time to load up your real or virtual Container Store cart and stock up on drawer organizers. It’s great to make your storage really work for you. So before you go on a buying spree, think about how many spices you own, how many pans you have, how many serving dishes, etc., and then consider how you want to access these tools. You want your kitchen to flow with your rhythm, not how a store thinks it should.
We love what Edmonds said about calling local stone and architectural salvage yards for inexpensive materials that you can repurpose and make your own. Some furniture shops, like Semihomemade, make customizable cabinet doors for IKEA products, so you can buy your kitchen on a budget and then make it your own upon installation.
A bright kitchen is a nice kitchen. Light paint colors hide imperfections like dents and scratches, and an inexpensive light kitchen looks more elegant than a dark alternative. Edmonds tells us to avoid color trends in lieu of lighter hues: “If you follow the latest color or shape trends, those designs tend to become dated quickly. Select a neutral palette that you can pop with other accents that can change with the trends.”
Dress your windows, add some pillows to your breakfast nook, put a pretty soap by your sink—anything to accessorize your kitchen will take its look to the next level. Even something as simple as giving your kitchen sink window a fun trim can add unique flavor to your kitchen.