Remodeling a kitchen on a tight budget takes some creativity, but it can be done!
Last fall we completely remodeled the kitchen in our little farmhouse. Check out the before and after pictures.
As little as possible! As with all the renovations in this house, we hoped to keep expenses minimal. The long-term plan has always been to build a new house. For now, it is all about using what we have and making this house comfortable while saving for a new house. I worked very hard to work with what we had while trying to create a house we could comfortably live in for 5 to 10 years. The kitchen we bought with this house was just not one I personally could live with.
We moved everything in the kitchen, except the kitchen sink. In order to save the expense of new plumbing, I designed our kitchen without having to move any of the existing plumbing. The refrigerator moved into the kitchen, the range moved, and the washer and dryer moved (you read that right, the washer and dryer!)
Spend Time Thinking About What You Need (and Do Not Need)
I recommend taking a lot of time to draw, think, measure, and plan. Think about how you cook, and what your kitchen needs. I have the advantage of having lived in thirteen houses in the past ten years (yes, really) so I have tried out many different kitchen layouts and styles! I tried to borrow from my past experiences to incorporate what worked well and avoid what did not. I tend to keep things pretty simple in the kitchen, I do not use many kitchen gadgets or small appliances, so I knew I could get away with less cupboard space. Handy Husband and I do a lot of cooking together. We knew we needed a kitchen layout that could accommodate us both.
I spent a lot of time on our plan. The kitchen by far took the most time to plan. Handy Husband and I talked. A lot. We both threw out a lot of different ideas. If possible, I recommend using cardboard to represent major appliances in your space to test out your layout.
Identify your Must Haves
A dishwasher was a non-negotiable for me. Sure, tougher women than me manage just fine without one, but for me, it was a deal breaker!
My refrigerator has to be in the kitchen. It just does.
Identify your Wants
I wanted butcher block countertops and a copper farmhouse sink. I was willing to spend a little more on those particular items that were important to my overall plan.
To Do It Yourself or not to Do it Yourself?
We did everything ourselves. While Handy Husband did most of the heavy lifting in the bathroom, we did a lot of the work together in the kitchen. While doing the work yourself offers huge cost savings, it does take a lot of time. It is also important to be aware of your limitations. If you are not the handy type, please hire someone! Even if you are the handy type if you have a day job (like we do!) be aware that this takes so much time! I love to get to work hard and get my hands dirty. Cleaning up mice nests, scraping 100 years of paint, sanding countertops, wearing a face mask in 95-degree weather, and painting for hours sounds like my idea of a good time!
Work with what you have
What can you save? What can you reuse? What can you salvage from someone else’s project? Is the kitchen you are working with functional with respect to the layout? Sometimes a kitchen update can be as simple as some serious scrubbing. I personally love to paint and always feel like painting offers a fresh start to an otherwise icky situation. Maybe you can update the existing cabinets by adding some shelf liners and changing out the hardware. Paint the walls and change out the light fixtures.
Word of Caution About Resale
Always consider a potential buyer looking at your kitchen. Of course, it is okay to customize according to your tastes, but I think it is always prudent to really evaluate resale value versus expense when investing in remodel projects. If you do decide to make investments in specific appliances, or particular design elements, keep in mind that they might not appeal to buyers. Even if you like it, you might not recuperate those costs if you sell.