There’s something that drives me nuts about first time home buyer shows. Many times they look at a room and say “this needs to be gutted”, to which someone replies “oh yes, a kitchen remodel will cost about 15 to 30 thousand” and they get all scared because they can barely afford the closing.
They’ve got it all wrong. You can gut and pour money into a room all at once, but you do not NEED to. Here’s how to afford a kitchen remodel when you can’t afford a new kitchen.
For most people or rooms, it’s just not possible right off the bat. You might have to do-it-yourself, learn how, and/or ask family members for help. Your remodel might take longer, you chip away at the parts you don’t like bit by bit, invest money into projects when you have it, and maybe wait a few years to have a finished (or semi-finished) space.
If you’re attempting a bit-by-bit renovation on a budget, here are some tips:
- make a list of the things you want to change (all of them)
- re-write the list so that it is written in the order that you can finish
- visit stores often, look for deals, specials, closeout sales
- scour your local Habitat for Humanity Restore for paint and fixtures, as well as garage sales
- have an open discussion about finances and make a plan
- turn off the TV at night in favor of painting or working on stuff
- help family members out with their projects and exchange services
- same goes for babysitting (see this post on tips for working on a project with kids)
When you have your plan, get to work!
Here is our kitchen in September 2009:
Beautiful, isn’t it! ;) Right off the bat we moved some cabinets around. We had a non-working “avocado” double oven, a working range/oven, and no dishwasher. The double oven was taken out, a cabinet next to the sink was taken out and put in place of the double oven, and a dishwasher was added next to the sink.
We painted the cabinets and walls, and spray painted the existing knobs and hinges. Moving the cabinets made the gold flecked countertops wonky, but okay to live with. The fridge and oven came with the house and worked great, so they stayed too.
Our in-laws were replacing a fridge and gave us their white one (bye, green fridge!).
We found granite-look laminate countertops at a Black Friday sale for around $100, and installed them. Wow, what a difference! This is what our kitchen looked like for a while. Didn’t love the tile, but it worked!
In April 2012, we were able to install hardwood floors in place of our 30-40 year old laminate tile. We were able to find a sale, signed up for emails for 10% off, and signed up for their card to get even more off. The total price per square foot was around $2.20, making the approximate cost around $300 for the kitchen (including supplies).
While you don’t see it, we also fixed squeaky floors. And I blurred out the mess in the dining room. Oops.
While we were in project mode, the kitchen was painted a grey-beige (Martha Stewart “Sharkey Gray”), and the rest of the trim was painted white.
In February 2014, we replaced our white appliances with stainless steel. I liked the white and wasn’t so sure about this change, but we found a really great sale and went for it. We bought all Frigidare and got a multi-appliance rebate, the store had their friends and family deal, and we negotiated free delivery. The total cost for the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and range hood was around $2,200.
We touched up cabinets and Doug rebuilt the trim near the doorway to the dining room. We also bought and installed glass knobs and pulls (found these online at D. Lawless Hardware for half the retail cost). Here’s our kitchen now:
Four and a half years total, money spent bit by bit. We didn’t gut or replace everything, we used what we had and improved it. And the biggest change was the one that cost the least – painting the cabinets!
If you’re interested, you can see more updated house pictures and before pictures in our house tour.
So what do you think?
Do you have a room (or whole house) being remodeled over time?
Note: I’ve gotten emails asking if anyone really lives in this space. (HA! Yes.) I do like our kitchen counters clean, but we are in the process of selling our home and took everything out for the pictures. :)