Kitchen remodels don’t come cheap. The average cost to update a 200-square-foot kitchen—including installing new flooring, semicustom wood cabinets, and standard appliances—is a whopping $62,000, according to Remodeling Magazine. Homeowners who want to add in more luxurious touches, such as stone countertops, a commercial-grade cooktop, designer faucets, and top-of-the-line custom cabinets, may pay as much as $123,000.
Before your clients gut their kitchen, advise them to consider more affordable options that can still make a big impact at resale. The New York Times recently spoke with designers to get some of their best budget-friendly tips for remodeling a kitchen.
Try painting or resurfacing cabinets instead of replacing them. “A bold color and modern hardware can breathe new life into old, ordinary cabinetry,” interior designer CeCe Barfield Thompson told the Times. She gave her own 1990s-era kitchen a makeover by painting the cherry wood cabinets a smokestack gray color. She also covered pea-green tile floors with a parquet charcoal laminate surface. She says the renovations cost her $7,050, which included the labor, laminate flooring, paint, and new cabinet handles and drawer pulls.
You can also reface or resurface dated cabinets, keeping the existing cabinet framework and replacing the doors, drawer fronts, and side panels. New York–based designer Carolyn DiCarlo, who used this approach when working on a Manhattan loft, says new cabinets would have cost about $22,000—but the price to reface was just $2,500.
Consider alternative materials for countertops. Instead of choosing high-end items such as quartz or stone, go for less expensive options such as butcher block. This material can be purchased for as low as $99 in standard sizes. “It’s kind of like having a built-in cutting board throughout your kitchen,” says Kimberly Winthrop, an interior designer in Santa Monica, Calif. She says she paid $500 for a 20-foot butcher block to use in a recent kitchen makeover. But it requires some maintenance: Butcher block typically needs to be sanded and oiled twice a year.
Keep the layout intact. “Moving walls, electrical, and plumbing is where installation costs spike,” says Dana Hudson, divisional merchandising manager for kitchens at Home Depot. Mina Fies, a Reston, Va.–based designer and creator of RenovationRoadmap.com, recalls a client who wanted to reconfigure the kitchen walls to allow for more natural light. The layout changes would have required moving plumbing. Fies says she was able to show the client a design that met her needs but did not open up the walls, instead installing recessed lighting, pendant lights, and under-cabinet lighting. The client saved $8,000, Fies says.