Kitchen remodeling has one of the highest ROI’s of all home remodeling projects. It is also one of the most expensive projects to undertake. Each person’s remodeling budget is different, and it really comes down to the amount of time, money, and energy that you want to put into updating your kitchen.

We’ve put together some cost-saving ideas to help you design your kitchen on a budget.

Create A Realistic Budget

Conduct research to determine the average cost of kitchen remodeling projects that are similar to what you want or your space and create a budget. Knowing how much various kitchen remodeling projects cost from the outset will provide realistic expectations of what you’ll be able to accomplish with the budget you have

Look at photos and profiles of similar kitchen remodeling projects to get an idea of what your project will entail and speak to a kitchen designer or remodeling company about keeping your costs low. Professional have experience getting quality materials for less and may be able to help you select items that cost less but still look and function great. Even if you aren’t sure how much you’re willing to spend on design changes, making an initial budget will help you begin a dialogue with remodelers and allow you to narrow in on material selections and make design choices.

Creating a budget will also help you to determine what aspects of your current kitchen you are willing to live with, and what things must change. You may need to adjust some of your wish-list items to fit your budget or rethink your budget to get all your must-haves for the project. Many times, a remodeling budget consists of give and take to get the best possible outcome. If your budget or wish list semi-flexible or within a designated price range, then a designer can work with you to prioritize the most important aspects of your kitchen remodel.

Reface Instead of Replacing

New cabinets make up the bulk of the remodeling costs for a kitchen (generally between 30-35%), and for good reason. Well designed and sturdy cabinets made from hardwoods can completely transform the look and function of a kitchen. With information in mind, consider refacing your cabinets instead of replacing them entirely. Oftentimes, there is nothing wrong with the older cabinets in your kitchen–they may just be dated or have surface issues.

Consider changing the faces or door panels of your cabinets instead of getting entirely new ones. This will keep costs low and can serve the same purpose of getting a new design that you can enjoy which may be a better fit for your updated kitchen design. You can purchase new cabinet faces from a manufacturer or remodeling company and have them measure and install the cabinet faces to ensure they are a proper fit.

However, if your cabinets are falling apart and have structural issues, you’ll have to find other options beyond simply replacing the cabinet panels. If your cabinets were to fall or break, they could cause more damage to other items and leave you with costly repairs.

Refresh With Paint

Give your kitchen a fresh face with new paint. Whether you are changing the color on your kitchen walls or updating your kitchen cabinets with a new color, paint is an inexpensive way to freshen the face of your kitchen without breaking the budget. Painting your kitchen walls can provide a much-needed change to brighten the space or change the look and feel of it entirely.

Painting kitchen cabinets can make them feel new without spending most of your remodeling budget on new cabinets. If you aren’t a great painter or would prefer to have a professional handle the work, painting is still a fairly affordable way to update your kitchen. If you do decide to DIY painting, be sure that you have all the materials you will need handy and watch a few tutorial videos before you begin painting.

Update Cabinet Hardware

Swapping out the hardware in your kitchen is a cheap way to improve the look of your cabinets and can provide a great accent color or material to match other fixtures in your kitchen. Cabinet hardware is a small detail that can make a big difference in the aesthetic of your kitchen. Replacing hardware is an easy way to make an older kitchen feel new and is an affordable option for upgrading your kitchen without breaking the budget.

When selecting cabinet hardware, consider the type of cabinets you have and your overall kitchen design. Traditional cabinets generally call for more traditional handles or pulls and the same is true for modern cabinets–they tend to look better with modern hardware. Changing old, outdated kitchen hardware is easy on your wallet, so why not make a change that will add additional value and beauty to your space?

Swap Out Kitchen Lights

Oftentimes, a kitchen may look older or smaller because of dim overhead lighting. Adding brighter and more energy efficient LED lights can help illuminate the space and make it feel larger. Lights can add extra flair to your kitchen without changing too many aspects of it. There are many different lighting options to choose from, including:

  • Recessed–disappear into the ceiling and make the space feel more open
  • Surface–Most common form of lighting, easy to clean and replace
  • Track–Multiple lights on a “track” that spans your kitchen and is easy to angle individual lights
  • Chandeliers & Pendant–Hanging lights that brighten direct spaces, such as over a kitchen island
  • Wall Scones & Wall Lights–Lights that sit on a wall instead of the ceiling to provide ambient light
  • Under Cabinet–Great option for different levels of light, especially at night or early morning

Get A New Backsplash

Getting a new backsplash is an affordable way to improve the look of the kitchen without making major changes. A kitchen backsplash can be installed in an afternoon and adds a “splash” of color to your cabinet and countertops for a relatively low price. A backsplash allows you to select a material, color, and design that adds contract or complements the rest of the room.

There are so many different materials available to choose from such as tile, metal, glass, stone, ceramic, and even brick, and wood. The materials used for backsplash tiles are usually very easy to care for and clean and require a simple wipe-down, which helps keep your kitchen walls clean and in good condition. In addition, a backsplash acts as a guard to protect the area above your stove or sink from spots and stains that can be difficult to remove–such as water sports or grease stains. Installing a backsplash means that you don’t have to worry about using harsh cleansers, painting, or scrubbing wallpaper which can damage the wall.

Stick To Your Floorplan

To keep costs low, try to keep the same floorplan that already exists in your kitchen. Dramatically changing your kitchen layout is a guaranteed way to drive your costs through the roof. Many of the items budgeted for kitchen remodeling and design area associated with moving electrical, plumbing, and carpentry in a kitchen–which can be costly. Changing the floorplan for essential services such as the refrigerator, dishwasher, and sink requires consultation and work from a plumber. Moving electrical items such as outlets, lights, refrigerator, dishwasher, and even garbage disposals requires drywall removal and electrical relocation and rewiring by an electrician.

By maintaining the same floorplan, you can use more of your budget for décor and other aesthetic changes as opposed to moving essential items. If you really feel like the floorplan is limiting your ability to use your kitchen or decreasing its functional space, talk to a designer about the easiest way to keep essential items in the same place or how to limit the need for relocating MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) items.

DIY the Small Things

DIY what you can. Remodeling projects range from simple to moderately difficult to DIY. For easier projects, such as replacing hardware, all you need is a design preference and a few tools. For others, such as an open floor plan kitchen or new flooring, it might be best to consult the professionals. Sometimes DIY work can save you a lot of money and allow you to show your own unique flair, and other times a project may be more efficient and turn out better with the help of a designer, contractor, or kitchen remodeling company.

Even in an initial consultation, you can ask about different aspects of your remodeling project and see which areas they can help you with– while still sticking to your budget. If you are willing to get your hands dirty and put in the time, effort, and research, you can accomplish much more than you think. For smaller projects it may seem like a no-brainer to DIY and save money. The best items to DIY include small changes or easily learnable tasks that will save money but can also be fixed by a professional, should they go wrong.