Great Kitchen Looks for Less

Beth Asaff
New Kitchen
Winter Carnival Mirage Finish With AEON™ 1874K-35
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The kitchen is the heart of many homes, which is why so many people focus their home renovations there. Unfortunately, many custom kitchen renovations can cost as much as $40,000 - far more than many homeowners can afford. However, there are ways to get your dream kitchen on an ordinary budget.

Great Ideas for Budget Savvy Kitchens

No matter what type of kitchen design you've selected for your home, there are many ways you can get similar looks for less, no matter how expensive the original model.

Traditional Cream Kitchen

Traditional cream kitchen

This cream-colored, understated kitchen design features stone counters and backsplash with custom, glazed cabinets and two-tone metal accents. Recreate it for less using some of the following techniques:

  • Paint your existing cabinets and wipe a thinned-down coat of glaze over the doors to highlight the details.
  • Pull down your soffit and add some crown molding to the existing cabinets to give the kitchen height and elegant custom detail.
  • Replace your countertops with affordable, stone-look alternatives like Golden Romano laminate from Wilsonart.
  • Purchase five or six sheets of readymade mosaic tile blends for a backsplash focal point over the stove and select a single, solid-colored ceramic tile to fill in the areas along counters.
  • Select a light fixture at your local home improvement store that picks up the darkest tone from the counter and match your cabinet hardware to its finish.

Oak Kitchen Update

Two-tone oak kitchen

An older oak kitchen may appear dark and out of date. Make it work to your advantage and lighten up the room by creating a two-tone effect like in this custom oak and white kitchen.

  • Paint or reface blocks of cabinets in plain white while you leave other sections the original oak. Keep the rails and trim natural to tie the two areas together.
  • Install a very inexpensive slate or quartzite tile on the backsplash; slate is cheap and picks up the earthy tones of the oak. If you don't have hardwood floors, consider installing a larger version of the same slate on the floor for just a few dollars a square foot to create a cohesive design for less.
  • Either paint your existing counters an understated mid-tone gray to pick up the color from the backsplash, or consider a stone-look counter of similar tone.

Country Modern

Country modern kitchen

This updated country-style kitchen features white panel cabinets with glass inserts, a handmade tile backsplash, black granite counters and stainless steel accents. Get a similar look for less with the following techniques:

  • Remove the center panel from all of the upper cabinets and replace it with glass cut to fit and held in place with mirror clips on the corners. Replace all the cabinet hardware with oil rubbed bronze to match the color of the counter.
  • Use honed black granite tiles on the backsplash with matching black grout, or use countertop paint to transform your existing counters into a matte black surface.
  • Instead of using expensive handmade subway tiles with subtle color variation, use a less expensive light-colored limestone tile, available at most home improvement centers. You'll see the color variation and depth without the expense.
  • Replace your kitchen faucet with a stainless steel pull-down model and use a counter plate to cover up any extra holes in the counter that may be there from the previous faucet.

Contemporary for Less

Contemporary Kitchen

By making the right choices in your kitchen, you can create a sleek, contemporary design without having to skimp on items like a new kitchen island. Get a new kitchen like this one featuring Wilsonart's Golden Romano laminate counters by making strategic choices like these:

  • Pass on upper cabinets and install shelving instead. This both opens up the kitchen, making it seem larger, and opens up your budget to install a spacious kitchen island for more storage. Make the area functional by installing hooks above the range to keep your utensils in reach.
  • Use stone-look laminate on the island counter to give the room focus. Use the money you save to install stainless counters with an integral sink around the perimeter of the room for contrast.
  • Install an inexpensive solid glass backsplash for much less than individual tiles. Use the savings to splurge on modern and renewable flooring like bamboo, which costs less than many exotic hardwoods, but has a lot of visual appeal.

Wilsonart's laminate counters help bring this particular design to life. In addition, their low cost affords savings that allows you to invest your money in other areas of the kitchen, such as the stainless counters along the perimeter. Wilsonart's durability, edge treatments, optional integral sink and scuff-resistance make it a very viable alternative to granite and other costly stone solutions.

Formal Kitchen

Formal kitchen

This elegant, formal kitchen features a marble backsplash, detailed cabinets and appliances and a mosaic strapped floor. These details help to create the appearance of luxury and can be added to any existing kitchen easily for less than a custom design will typically cost.

  • Paint your kitchen floor to create the strapping effect. Nearly any floor can be painted, including ceramic, vinyl and hardwood. Use a urethane-based paint made for floors and go over it with several coats of urethane-based sealer to protect it.
  • Paint your appliances to match your cabinets with appliance paint. Blend them into the cabinets using similar shades and colors so they virtually disappear.
  • Pick out the details in your cabinets with paint, highlighting raised panels and adding your own details such as gold "ribbons" and dentil moldings.
  • Create the illusion of a luxurious backsplash by confining a very rich and expensive marble to one small area behind the range. Frame the area with a chair rail or mosaic and either leave the rest of the area bare, or fill it in with a less expensive tile.

Other Ways to Update Your Kitchen for Less

In addition to full kitchen remodels, you can give your kitchen a quick update that won't break the bank. Try any of these ideas out to stylize your space for less:

  • Cut up sheets of expensive mosaic tile and use them as a border in the backsplash and in the floor with less expensive field tiles.
  • Use a rollaway kitchen island to provide more storage and some extra prep space when needed. These inexpensive islands come in many sizes and are also perfect for small spaces.
  • Take the doors off your kitchen cabinets and sand down the frames. Display your pottery and dishes in artful arrangements to make the kitchen seem more open and spacious.
  • Hang shelves right next to your cabinets and paint or stain them the same color. Use them as an extension of the cabinets to hold pottery, glassware and dishes.
  • Update your kitchen lighting with some LED lights under the upper cabinets to illuminate your work space and backsplash. Hang some inexpensive pendant lights over any peninsulas, islands or tables as well.

Get the Kitchen of Your Dreams

Many people spend the bulk of their time at home in their kitchen, cooking, eating and spending time with friends and family. Make your kitchen the room you want to spend time in by giving it a makeover that you can afford.

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Great Kitchen Looks for Less