Seven Ways to Save on Your Kitchen Renovation


Renovating a kitchen is never cheap.

The average national cost to update a 200-square-foot kitchen, including installing new flooring, semi-custom wood cabinets and standard appliances, is roughly $62,000, according to Remodeling magazine, which tracks the cost of home improvement projects annually. Adding luxuries like stone countertops, a built-in refrigerator, a commercial-grade cooktop, designer faucets and top-of-the-line custom cabinets can bring the cost to about $123,000, on average.

But there is another option. Before you empty your bank accounts overhauling your outdated kitchen, consider giving it a face-lift with these tips from designers.


“A bold color and modern hardware can breathe new life into old, ordinary cabinetry,” said CeCe Barfield Thompson, an interior designer who gave her own 1990s-era kitchen a makeover a few years ago by painting the cherry wood cabinets Smokestack Gray by Benjamin Moore. “The dark-blue glossy paint added a sophisticated pop to what had been a drab and dated wood kitchen,” said Ms. Thompson, who also covered the pea-green tile floors with a Celtic-inspired graphic laminate, Parquet Charcoal by Harvey Maria, “for added impact.” Ms. Thompson spent just $7,050, which included the laminate flooring, the labor and all the new Baldwin cabinet handles and drawer pulls. It was an “extremely cost-efficient fix,” she said.


For cabinet fronts made of material that cannot be painted or stained, consider refacing, also known as resurfacing, which involves keeping the existing cabinet framework and replacing all the doors, drawer fronts and side panels with new ones. Carolyn DiCarlo, a Manhattan-based designer, took this approach when she was working on a loft in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn last year. After remodeling the living area, “we saw that the kitchen was a bit tired-looking next to the renovated part of the loft,” she said. Instead of ripping out the old cabinets and installing new ones, Ms. DiCarlo exchanged the cabinet fronts “that had yellowed and chipped over the years” for recessed-panel doors lacquered white.


If your cabinets are too far gone to reface, open shelving will reduce the cost of upper cabinetry, said Liz Tiesi, the owner of Threshold Interiors. “That way you are only paying for the piece of wood to make the shelf and the bracket to hold it up — not an entire cabinet box, which is a lot more in material and labor,” she said. It also eliminates the need for hardware, which can add up, she noted.

Another way to reduce the cost of cabinetry is to use particleboard where no one will see it. “A lot of people think they have to have all-plywood kitchen cabinetry, and they don’t,” said Mina Fies, a designer in Reston, Va., and the creator of the Renovation Roadmap, a website dedicated to helping homeowners work with contractors and stay on budget and schedule, going online later this month. While plywood should be used under the sink (in case of a leak), Ms. Fies recommends using particleboard to build out the upper and perimeter cabinet boxes. “You can still use maple, cherry, hickory, etc., for the door and frame, which is what you actually see,” Ms. Fies said, noting that she cut cabinet costs by $1,420 using this method in a 17-by-15-foot kitchen remodel.


The same stores that are willing to haul away your used kitchen components also sell leftover building supplies, showroom floor models and items from new developments that buyers decided not to keep. Sign up for their email newsletters to get an idea of what they have in stock. In July, Green Demolitions, a store in Fairfield, N.J., that sells used luxury kitchens and other fixtures collected by the nonprofit donation program Renovation Angel, ran a “make an offer” sale on already discounted pre-owned luxury kitchens, including a traditional Russet kitchen from Rye, N.Y., with a fireclay farmhouse sink and Miele and Viking appliances, for $7,700. Contractors and do-it-yourselfers also sell surplus on Craigslist. Just be sure to test the appliances before you take them home, because few come with a warranty.

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