Kitchen Remodeling

What you need to know before you start

One of the first things potential buyers look for when purchasing a house is an updated kitchen - in fact, some experts estimate that a remodeled kitchen can increase the sale of a house by at least 20 percent. Even if selling your house isn't an option, you might still be considering a kitchen remodel - and you wouldn't be alone. The Home Depot estimates that 25 percent of their annual sales are on kitchen remodeling supplies. It seems as though everyone is interested in updating their kitchen, and it's a lot easier than it might seem.

The most important thing to think about before starting a kitchen remodel is a budget. If you start buying everything you like or want right away, your costs can easily skyrocket into the five-figure range. Walk into your kitchen and take a look around. What exactly do you see that you are unhappy with? It might be the cabinets, the appliances, the flooring, or some combination of everything.

For those on a budget, look for easy inexpensive ways to update existing items. Cabinets can get a new look with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. All the work can be completed on a lazy Saturday, or spread out over a whole weekend. Measure the hardware, including hinges and handles, and take your measurements to a home improvement store to ensure the hardware you buy is the right size. Take down the cabinet doors, repaint, add the new hardware, hang the doors, and you're done. You will be surprised at how different it looks.

Think carefully about what things are wants and what things are needs. A fancy built-in range will look sleek, but will it really improve the functionality of your kitchen? On the other hand, installing a garbage disposal is hardly chic, but it will get daily use and make your life easier. When your budget is tight, you'll have to try to balance style with substance.

Quick Tips

  • Dark cabinets repainted in a pale yellow or off-white can lighten up a small room or make the room appear bigger.
  • Another quick way to update cabinets is to look for new doors with small windows inside.

A budget-friendly alternative to marble countertops is poured concrete countertops. Instructions for how to make them are available on the Internet, and are simple enough for even a home improvement novice to master. If you are hesitant to try this on your own, consider finding a local handyman with more experience who will often do the work at less money than an expert.

A quick way to jazz up your decor is with a new kitchen backsplash. Choose colorful tiles for an easy and effective accent that will update the look of your existing counters and cabinets. If you are installing new countertops, consider extending the countertop material right up the wall as a backsplash for an integrated look that's easy to clean.

As an alternative to expensive new appliances, look into restaurant supply stores, discount warehouses and used appliance stores. These stores often sell the same merchandise as the big chains, but at a significantly lower price. Also think about purchasing floor or display models, which cost less but are usually in like-new condition, and have never been used.

And when it comes to flooring, don't waste money on fancy slate or tile if you can get the same look with a vinyl or laminate. Vinyl and laminate flooring comes in thousands of choices, from color to style, and offers a fit for every kitchen and personal taste. They also withstand more wear and tear, and are easier to clean.

Before starting a kitchen remodel, plan a budget and stick to it. In no time, you'll find a way to update your kitchen without breaking the bank.

By Jennifer Eblin