Five Frugal Tips for Kitchen Remodeling

We recently renovated a condo on a very tight budget. I started watching all of the HGTV shows to get ideas for ways to make the kitchen look good without spending a lot of money. I didn’t end up using many of the tips that I wrote down from asking friends, watching those TV shows, and reading books, but I thought that I would share them with you. Your kitchen is the most important room in your house. Selling your house hinges on the look and functionality of your kitchen. So, it’s in your best interest to start thinking about updating your kitchen if you ever think about selling the house or increasing its overall value.

  • Paint the cabinets and replace the hardware. Your biggest expense will be replacing kitchen cabinetry. It can run anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000 to replace the cabinetry. If you really want to save some money, paint the cabinets a nice neutral color and buy updated hardware such as brushed nickel with a sleek, modern style. You’ll be surprised at what this simple job will do for your kitchen.
  • Use granite tiles instead of a full slab of granite for the countertops. I inspect houses all the time for insurance claims, and I’ve seen numerous kitchens with granite tiles Use a dark granite with dark grout, and you won’t even see the grout lines from far away. I think it’s a great alternative to a full slab of granite for a fraction of the price.
  • Use vinyl or sheet metal for a sleek, modern back splash. Tile back splashes are expensive because of the labor and the decorative tiles. You can create a modern look with a custom pattern vinyl back splash or a sheet of metal to match stainless steel appliances.
  • Look for scratch and dent stainless steel appliances. If you search long and hard enough at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Sears, they’ll have scratch and dent appliances out for sale. You can find these appliances with scratches or dents in areas that will normally be hidden! If the dent or scratch is on the left or right side of a refrigerator or range, typically they will be hidden by cabinetry or walls. We did use this tip ourselves. We went to Best Buy, bought an open item side by side refrigerator that was stainless steel for $699. then, we got an open item stainless steel dishwasher for $279! We paid full price for the microwave and range, but the savings from the refrigerator and dishwasher was about $500.
  • Update the light fixtures. Updating the light fixtures is always an inexpensive way to give your home a fresh look. We replaced the ugly fluorescent lighting with track lighting for about $50. Fluorescent lights are a thing of the past. Install warmer lighting to your kitchen for a nicer feel to the kitchen.

It was fairly simple, but we built the kitchen in my condo for under $5,000.

Remodeling doesn’t have to a costly endeavor. Do the projects that you can do on your own and contract out the more complicated projects. Also, do your own demolition. Contractors charge a lot of money to destroy things, and it doesn’t take a general contractors license to rip out cabinetry and flooring. If you have any other questions for me about remodeling in the kitchen, bathroom, or other areas of the house, we gutted our condo and started over from scratch, so feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to bounce ideas back and forth to help you save money on your remodel.

  • Jacquelyn Hart-McCoy

    You guys did well. The kitchen looks great.

    Shawn and I want to remodel our kitchen, we really have to to sell it. Unfortunately the cabinets are so old and and low quality we can not rehab them, they need to be replaced. However since we don’t need anything fancy or custom we found a place online who sells discontinued and overstock cabinets…we are going to save a bundle buying them there and then installing them ourselves.

    The granite tiles is something I never thought off. Does it look really nice? I wonder if the grout is a pain to clean. Thanks for the tips. I may need to talk to you about things once we get the project up and running.

    • Shelby

      Yes – grout is a pain to clean and it’s also a magnet for bacteria!

      • alex

        Nice tips! i realy like to my heart and follow my upcoming projects.

  • KG

    One thing I learned with granite tiles isn’t just the lower cost but also it is easily replaced if it is cracked. Wouldn’t be able to do that with a full slab.

    Also don’t forget the most basic of upgrades: A nice coat of fresh paint.

  • Doug

    “Fluorescent lights are a thing of the past”? When was this article written, 1974? It’s incandescent lights that are obsolete.

    The rest of the suggestions are good, though.

  • author

    Doug, thanks for correciting me. I just meant those big tube bulbs that give off a less warm light. But, maybe incandescent is the right way to say it.

    Jacqui, yes, I’ve seen the granite tiles in many homes, and it looks really good. Just make sure you pick a very dark grout for it, then you won’t have to clean it. You’re right that some cabinets can’t be rehabbed. It just depends what they’re made of.

  • Lesa Steele

    Habitat For Humanity ReStores is one of your best bets for donated goods (often new, surplus or discontinued)at great prices…..escpecially cabinets and plumbing supplies. Not only are you supoorting Habitat but you’re getting a great deal too. Heres the website :

    DIY’s can find free (or low cost) traing classes from Lowes, Home Depot and even some Habitat for Humanity locations. This is a great way to save money. Consider installing you own backsplashes to save $$$. I’ve never seen a vinyl blackspash (sounds very 50’s bathroom, not kitchen) and metal is a very personal choice. Ceramic tile is affordable and easily installed by most people if you read up on it or back it up with some professional instruction.

    And those “big tube lights” have come a long way since first introduced. No way I could begin to scratch the topic of lighting here. In college we take a full year on the subject alone. Needless to say it’s very important, especially in the kitchen. SOunds like you’re doing your home work. Keep it up and I wish you the best of luck in your endevours.

    As a former Professional Licensed Interior Designer (ASID) I would *NOT* recommend the granite tiles unless you are on a very tight budget. Slabs can be found now at low costs to fit most budgets, If your kitchen is small you can even find remnants at usually half the cost to further save on cost. Granite tiles cheapen the look and is one of the first things a prospective buyer will notice. Granite is much more affordable now that so many people have it and it is so widely available….it’s no longer the Rolls Royce of countertops.

  • Erica Thomas

    Great tips. I’m still holding off on doing anything to our kitchen- scared mostly! My uncle used granite tiles rather than solid granite. It is beautiful. He did it himself and it was hard work, but it looks great and probably saved them loads of money!

  • Sean

    Good tips all around. I like the idea of adding a coat of paint to the cabinets, I’m not terribly fond of the wood color of the cabinets in my kitchen. As for granite, it just isn’t for me. It looks pretty nice, I think I’d just prefer something more like silestone that won’t stain or crack as easily. I’m pretty sure a tile backsplash could be done pretty easily on your own, especially with the small square tiles you can pick up at your local big box hardware store.

    Anyway, thanks for inspiring me.

  • Elizabeth I

    Although dark granite may look great in some houses and stainless steel is in, both of these fall into the dark color range and may make a small kitchen look even smaller or may make a kitchen look too modern to appeal to future buyers.

    Also, you can remodel your kitchen in steps. Painting the cabinets and new appliances in year one, granite counter tops in year two.

  • Audra

    I totally agree with the tip about looking for scratch and dent appliances. When we were shopping for a new dryer, we found one (with a small dent on the top) and got it for less than half price! I never even see that dent because it’s always covered up by detergent bottles. Another good tip, if your hunting for appliances, is to check out your local estate auctions. If you’re not in a huge hurry, and you don’t mind buying used, sometimes you can find a fabulous deal.

  • Mac

    For some reason, the photo of the remodel no longer appears in this blog. However, the advice was excellent. A few years ago I too remodeled our kitchen, but just the lighting portion. We had a drop-ceiling that was poorly installed (like everything else in the house). I removed the fluorescent lighting and replaced it with recessed…and did a LOT of sanding & some drywall. I didn’t mind the lighting, but next time I’d call in help with the drywall. So it ended up being very affordable, but look a long time…but so worth it.

  • DG

    I like your recommendations about painting in neutral colors and going for the stainless steel look for appliances. and the lighting idea is great! know of any great sites that have decent deals for kitchen lights ?

  • Kitchen

    When doing a small kitchen remodel, remember that space is extremely limited. By having sufficient cabinet, drawer, and closet space, you can remove a great deal of clutter from your work area. Store your infrequently used items and small appliances to conserve space.

  • Marguerite I. Finley

    Contractor Support also is very about making sure that we were happy with the quality of their work. About a week after they were done it we discovered that one whole wall had not been properly primed and needed to be redone. The guys from Contractor Support were down there the next day to redo the work–no hassles and no extra charge. contractorsupportonline

  • Alexis

    Love the backsplash idea with the vinyl or sheet metal…so much cheaper than tile. Thanks for the tip! We were just about to go out tile hunting for a backsplash.

  • Eric Myers

    These are great tips. I particularly like the idea of painting the cabinets and getting new hardware. I think thats a very very cheap way to give you kitchen a whole new vibe. I recently redid my lighting in my kitchen and its made the world of difference. I put in some track lighting on a dimmer switch and its given my kitchen a totally different vibe for real cheap.

  • Linda

    A great place to find deals on near new appliances is Craigslist. Many people move and don’t want to take their appliances with them, or are being foreclosed on and are selling their appliances. You can pick up a $2000 stainless fridge for $800 or less or a stainless top of the line dishwasher for a few hundred dollars.

  • John Batt

    Good idea about looking for scratched and dented appliances – it’s definitely worth it if you think that you can cover them up without much problem.

  • Linda Leyble

    Hi! Great ideas. Painting your cabinetry will save you so much money instead of replacing it with new – and painting it a neutral color (White Sand or Windswept from Benjamin Moore) are great choices. If your backsplash tile is outdated – you can rough it up with sandpaper, prime it and paint with a good quality paint…then trowel on a neutral colored plaster (like SandStone from Aqua Finishing Solutions). Do it in thin coats – don’t make it thick. Then you can come back with an awl or a small screwdriver and remove the texture to re-create the grout lines. You can create a look that approximates tumbled marble tiles. We’ve done this for our clients who were selling – and it saves a lot of money (not to mention Mess because you don’t have to rip it out). You can see some of our kitchen work on our Beautiful Staged Homes blog. Linda

  • home improvement Baton Rouge

    It is always such a relief to find amazing tips like these whenever someone is planning for a kitchen remodelling project but hoping it will be budget-friendly yet with great end-result. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!

  • plumbing

    Doing it yourself is another way to save some money. If you have the time, some basic common sense and a handful of basic tools, many remodeling projects are within your grasp.

  • 123Remodeling

    Excellent remodeling tips for DIY’s These are the most common updates we perform when we get budget kitchen remodels.

  • Max

    Budget is a very important thing to consider when remodelling your kitchen. So, you should set your budget to remodel your kitchen.

  • Cameron

    Remodelling your kitchen will increase the value of your home. It requires creativity and proper planing. There are lots of things you can do to remodel your kitchen in the most effective way.

  • john cartrner

    Kitchen Remodeling is not easy process because kitchen is a main part of home which contain stove, gas, sink, water and foods equipment, furniture, etc. Renovation of kitchen is totally changed of design. Kitchen cabinets are built of furniture in kitchen for storage of food, cooking equipment, etc.