Keeping That Simple Kitchen Remodel Budget Under Control

It’s startling just how quickly the costs for what seems to be a simple remodeling project can spiral out of control.  As stated in Remodeling Magazine’s recent cost vs. value report, the 2010 national average price tag for a minor kitchen remodel was $21,695.  And keep in mind, that’s a minor remodel.  As real estate prices have gone down, it’s easily possible to pay more for a kitchen remodel than other people may pay for an entire house!

So, if you are a do-it-yourselfer on a budget, what steps can you take to keep the costs of that “simple remodel” under control?

Start with specific advance planning.  Planning costs nothing but time and imagination, and yields big results.  List the features you want to change in your kitchen and then arrange them in order of importance and preference.

Include a list of the items you’re craving—Are new counters at the top of your wish list?  Then that’s where you place them.  These can take a chunk of your budget, but they provide a large variety of benefits.  A new laminate countertop, for example, helps create a fresh, more attractive finish and, with a bit of forethought, can help eliminate previously wasted or unused space.

Control expenses by using—or reusing—existing materials.  Rather than replacing cabinets altogether, consider whether you can create the effect you want simply by replacing the front panels.  Or maybe a little repainting will achieve the unifying, modern look you’re after.

You don’t want to underestimate the effect that flooring has on a kitchen; it can make or break the overall appearance.  It may be necessary to replace a dated or damaged one, but if some serious scrubbing can polish the old tile to a pristine appearance, or if adding a layer to the existing floor can accomplish the look you want to achieve, those are lower cost alternatives that go a long way towards sprucing up the room where you spend a good deal of your time.

Of course, every individual has their own list of priorities.  You may have your heart set on a designer sink or a new appliance.  If that’s the case, do some careful investigating; perhaps the energy-savings function of a new dishwasher will help to offset the remodeling costs in the long run.

Don’t underestimate the power of lighting.  The American Lighting Association recommends you keep three things in mind:  ambient, task and accent lights.  The right combination of the three will give you what you’re seeking in both function and atmosphere.  With a judicious use of LED strips and modern track fixtures, you can achieve this without straining your pocketbook.

Naturally every home and its owner are unique, so you’ll want to organize your priorities to suit your own wishes.  Just keep in mind that advance planning, along with an eye toward the practical can inspire you to improvements that will suit your taste, match your skills and keep that pesky budget under control.

Source material: “Fabulous and Frugal Fixes,” by Connie Bastyr, Handy, Feb/Mar 2011.