Today, we have a great guest post! I’m honored to welcome Melissa Michaels from The Inspired Room , enjoy!
Top Ten Things I Learned about Remodeling a Kitchen On A Budget
Several years ago, we took on our biggest home improvement project to date — and lived to tell about it.
Sometimes Paint Isn’t Enough
Remodeling a hideously ugly, smelly, rat-infested sorry excuse for a kitchen was not for the faint of heart. We bought the house knowing how bad the kitchen was, but I thought I was just going to break out the bleach to scrub it down, slap on some paint to freshen it up and buy new appliances that actually worked and call it good. I was prepared for everyone to step back and be amazed that something so ugly could be pretty again with a new coat of paint.
But, sadly, sometimes a little paint isn’t enough. Once I really assessed the situation, it became obvious that I had to do MORE! The kitchen is an important room in the house, so it pays to do it right if you can. I am so glad I did, because my kitchen is what probably sold my house this spring.
Let me clarify here: doing it “right” doesn’t mean spending $100,000. It just means doing your homework.
I thought long and hard about what we could do ourselves and what was best left to the professionals. And I also came up with a number of creative ideas that gave me a lot of bang for my buck.
It took a lot of thought but it was worth it. Two years after buying our house, we finally had a lovely kitchen!
So, what are the top 10 things I learned about remodeling a kitchen on a budget?
1. Assess the situation ahead of time and get a lot of opinions.
Let professionals come over and give their opinions. Get bids on doing individual projects like new counters as well as bids on the entire kitchen. Eventually you’ll start to get a feel for what is necessary, what you could do without and who you want to work with.
2. Find a creative contractor.
We interviewed at least five contractors before we decided on one. While the estimate was important in our decision, finding someone who had creative solutions was by far the most important thing to us in the long run. Our contractor would suggest things that made our kitchen look more custom and high end but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I am not a contractor so I don’t always know what can be done, so having his opinion was invaluable.
3. Take your time in the planning stage.
I was super anxious to have a working kitchen, but my husband and I spent many many hours looking at magazine photos for inspiration, thinking creatively and drawing up sketches to show our contractor.
I estimate we saved about $30,000 by doing a lot of the thinking and creative planning ahead of time. We found solutions to what could have been very expensive fixes simply by taking the time to solve them creatively.
4. Do at least some of the prep work yourselves.
Neither my husband or I are particularly handy with tools or building things. But, we do know how to use a sander and a paint brush. So, we (OK, I really mean my husband) spent countless hours sanding rough dark beams, priming them and painting them.
I cannot even imagine how expensive it would have been to replace the beams, let alone have someone else do all the prep and painting.
5. Details, details, details.
The key to a custom looking kitchen is in the details. I don’t mean fancy pants hand carved marble corbels either. You can choose things that look unique and special, or you can chose something that is plain and non-descript.
It is the little details that will give your room the “ooh and ahh” factor so be unique and add some special features. Here is a post where I shared specific ideas from my kitchen, if you want to see more.
6. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
I think we drove our contractor crazy sometimes because we wanted everything to be just right. Sometimes would get out our level and let him know if things weren’t quite level. We actually overheard one of the subs tell his boss that we were using a “piece of crap level” (can I say that here?) because to his eye, it looked fine. But, we were paying a professional and we deserved to have things look right to OUR eye.
7. Mix things up.
Don’t be boring when you can be special! Mix things up! Yes, you can use more than one style of hardware and more than one cabinet finish.
We had five kinds of cabinet pulls in our kitchen. We chose four types that were hammered black iron, but various shapes and styles. And then for our glass cabinets we chose glass knobs with an iron base. They all tied together but gave more interest because of the various shapes. We had two different cabinet finishes and a couple of variations on our basic cabinetry detail to bring in more personality.
8. Drawers are better than cupboards, IMHO.
If you are putting in any new cabinetry or retro-fitting an old cabinet, I must tell you that I love drawers more than cupboards. I find cabinet doors clumsy. And I especially do not like the cabinet doors that you open and then have to pull out a drawer. Too many steps for me!
I like to pull out a drawer and see what is in it right away. No standing on my head to see in a deep dark cupboard and no fancy maneuvers to pull out a drawer within a cupboard. Just a simple drawer works for me! I had lots of them with HEAVY DUTY HARDWARE in my kitchen and I LOVED them!
9. Creative concealment: my money saving weapon.
I do not like to spend big money to rip things out if I don’t have to. I had the craziest window EVAH in my kitchen. Several contractors told me to rip it out. It was ugly. Yes it was ugly. The cost to replace that beauty? $20,000 because it would involve remodeling the whole corner of my house. Yeah. NOT!
A good coat of primer and paint, a little trim work from my contractor, a curtain rod and strategically placed panels disguised this hideous feature for teeny bits of money.
10. Work with what you have.
We kept the basic footprint of our kitchen intact. We were able to keep plumbing and electrical costs to a minimum, as well as avoided replacing a tile floor by simply leaving our floorplan the same.
Furthermore, we reused all of our existing perimeter cabinet bases and freshened them up with new doors and paint. It all looked brand new! LOTSA money saved. Using what you have whenever possible makes the job much more affordable.
RG – That’s some great advice…especially the part about hiring a creative contractor!
I’m sure you all know Melissa! She’s the smart and creative soul behind The Inspired Room which is just chock full of, well, inspiration. And humor. And insight. (and don’t miss that link up in #5 – great pictures of the whole kitchen there!) Thank you Melissa for your post here today!
Melissa was one of the first to RSVP for the Remodeling Guy Round-Up (even though no reservations are required!) and I’ll be back tomorrow to show you some super quick and easy ideas you can get done before Friday!