How Can I Remodel My Kitchen for Less Money

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Starting a kitchen remodel can be daunting, but the rewards could be great.

As a home inspector, I see many great and poor kitchens. As a person who loves to cook, I know that fantastic meals can come out of small kitchens. There are wonderful large kitchens, but I do not need the grand island, or the tons of storage space. My current space is a smaller square of a 1960′s design. I did purchase storage racks to place beside the refrigerator to keep certain items close at hand, yet the basic layout is fine for me. I have longed for a kitchen remodel, but my wife and I end up on other projects. My wife recently decided that new wood flooring was required in the bedrooms, which led to redecorating. I felt that if we are working on those rooms, then I wanted to update the electrical outlets and fixtures to current standards. We also have a new French door onto the patio. These projects pretty much zapped my budget for home improvements for right now. I tried to argue with my wife that a kitchen remodel adds value to the home, but we are not selling, so why focus on adding value there. However, I did feel that the look of the kitchen needed to be improved, so I created my plan for a remodel that would achieve my goals while being on a tight budget.

    What do you really need to update your kitchen? Part of my goal with the house is to live a conscious life about what I place into the home, and what is removed. You can call that a sustainable lifestyle or a green choice, but I simply want to be smart. Since I like the layout, I do not need to rip everything down if I do not desire. I know people complain about the cabinets installed by the builder. I would tend to agree. The cabinets are not horrible, but they are of a standard quality. My older home has cabinets from fifty years ago, which are not particle board. They are fairly sturdy (the only damage was to a cabinet base by a plumbing issue before I moved into the home). By keeping the cabinets, I save on the cost of the cabinets, the labor to install new cabinets, and the demolition of the old cabinets. This lets me evaluate what do I need to remodel the kitchen.
    I began to examine the kitchen critically to find out what did I really need to spend my money. Using money effectively is the biggest step to saving money. The next part of my plan was to find other ways to save. This means looking for discounts or rebates on the products that I want. To be more energy efficient, I need a new refrigerator and dishwasher. Those will be big expense items. To improve the look, I want a new faucet, but the stainless steel sink is fine for me. I already had new hardware on the cabinets, and I do not think they need to be replaced. The countertop and backsplash are not to my liking, so I need to find an option there. The countertop and backsplash could be expensive. When I began mapping out my desires, I realized that saving money could be achieved by taking the remodel in steps while planning out creative options.
    How long will my remodel last? I do not know. The first step is that I have the plan, and I will work on one step when I have time and money. I discovered that by having this plan worked out, and I can go to a home center to find items on the cheap to complete one stage of the project. I saw that paint was being sold for five dollars per can when walking around a building supply store (these were mixed paints that a customer decided not to buy). I found that I could discover other products at discounted prices too. This discovery led me to the first step in my remodel: a new tile backsplash.
    Have you seen those glass tiles? I see these tiles all of the time in new homes. I was thinking that I could use them as a backsplash behind my cooktop as a standout feature, then I would use a plain tile for the remaining backsplash. I had priced these before at $10/sq ft. I was thinking of a small highlight of six square feet, which would be sixty dollars. I discovered the tile I wanted had been reduced to a little less than $5/ sq ft.  Looking through the tile section, I found quite a few glass tiles that I liked. I also realized that the tile that I wanted was quite thin in profile. I came up with a plan. I bought enough tile to cover the entire area behind the cooktop ($20 less than the $60 I thought that I would spend for the highlight), and I knew that I had a tile adhesive at home. Within an hour, I had the glass tile up. I still need to grout though. Instead of taking down the old laminate backsplash, I had covered it with the new glass tile. My plan now is to cover the remaining backsplash with a glass tile that is more neutral than the metallic browns behind the cooktop. I do not need to rip out the backsplash. You may ask: why had the tile been reduced in price? Once a tile is going out of production, stores sell them at reduced prices to move the tiles off of the shelf. This means that you may want to buy extra tiles to repair possible future damage, because you will not find that tile later.
    The key to saving money is to find the good deals. The tile is not bad, because it was discounted (neither is the paint). Appliances go down in price at certain times (if I remember correctly, this happens later in the year). Watch and wait will lead to my goal. This will be the first post in this series of dealing with my own efforts in the hope that you may find ideas for your own kitchen.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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