8 Way to Keep Kitchen Remodeling Costs Down

Laminate Countertops
Laminate Countertops

One of the readers of my newsletter asked me to pull together some thoughts about ways to keep kitchen remodeling costs down — So here they are:

  1. New Cabinets are one of the highest costs in kitchen remodeling.  So the first thing I do with clients is to assess the existing cabinets.  If the boxes are solid and in good shape – I think first about replacing the doors and drawer fronts instead of replacing the whole cabinet.  If it’s primarily the color that you don’t like – think about staining the doors, drawer fronts and frames instead of replacing the cabinets.  That’s what we did in the kitchen, above.
  2. I hate using cabinet bases that have doors instead of drawers – but if you’re keeping the old cabinets and staining them, you can use after-market organizers if you want greater access to old door front base cabinets.
  3. Mix & Match.  If you can keep some but not all of the cabinets or need additional cabinets – for all but the most modern of design themes, you can very successfully mix and match different designs and woods.  In fact, an un-fitted kitchen can make today’s kitchen feel more like the center of the home that we all crave.
  4. Another major expense is construction labor.  You can keep those costs lower by eliminating complexity – create rhythm and interest by use of materials instead of using lots of levels or soffits.
  5. Keep plumbing costs lower by leaving the sink where it is (or close to where it is) and any gas appliances close to their current locations.
  6. Appliances & Plumbing Extras are a 3rd major expense item.
    –    Use a 30″-36” Range instead of separate cooktop and ovens
    –    Plan for Single Sink — unless you usually have more than one cook in the kitchen
    –    Forego the Pot Filler — you’re going to have to carry the heavy pot full of hot water when you need to drain the pasta anyway
    –    Design for a stand-alone Refrigerator – make it look built-in instead of going for the built-in model
  7. Use Laminates!  I know that granite is all the rage – but laminates have come a long way since the 1950’s!  Laminates are used extensively in European-style modern cabinetry and countertops.  Using laminates can save thousands of dollars.  If you can’t live without an undermount sink, use stone just around the sink area.  Use a large stone trivet near the range.
  8. Lighting  – Fluorescents have also come a long way in terms of color and function.  We can now design in quite attractive and functional fluorescent fixtures at a fraction of the cost of large areas of recessed can lights.  Similarly, fluorescent under-cabinet lights keep cabinets cooler and save money over halogen or xenon lights.  Save money by finding unusual, but lower cost, pendants for a design accent.

Use the money you save to open the kitchen to the rest of the house and to the outdoors.  Create eating and sitting areas on either side of the kitchen so family and guests along with the cook visit together in comfort.  The un-fitted, lower cost kitchen remodel can make the kitchen blend seamlessly with the rest of your casual, comfortable home.  And you can relax knowing you haven’t mortgaged your soul.

Stain Cabinets Instead of Replacing Them
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