Frugal ways to remodel a kitchen: 8 ideas under $1,000

Remodeling your kitchen is a great way to add sparkle to your home or enhance its appeal to prospective buyers. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most expensive rooms to redo, costing between $100 to $250 per square foot on average, according to HomeGuide. The national average is $16,600, within a range of $12,800 to $21,200.  But major projects of large spaces can mount into the six figures, and even a minor kitchen remodel could cost at least $10,000.

While many kitchen makeovers cost thousands, yours doesn’t have to. There are plenty of frugal ways to remodel a kitchen that are both functional and stunning.

Naturally, there are limits to what you can do on a budget. But many home-remodeling experts stress that moderately handy homeowners with just a little cash to spend can make a big difference in their kitchen. And if the work looks good, you’re adding equity to your home, says Erin Davis, owner and lead designer for Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, Oregon.

Here are eight kitchen remodeling ideas that cost $1,000 or less.

Add smart features

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The kitchen is often considered the focal point and heart of the home. It’s also a place where people often congregate during parties, to chat with the hard-working hosts (and get first crack at the food).

Modernizing your home with smart features is a great way to remodel your kitchen on a budget, advises Bailey Carson, Home Care Expert at Angi. “Think about smart lighting or an entertainment system to make cooking [and entertaining] that much more fun.”

There are apps that run “smart” ovens and other appliances. A set of under cabinet lights that work with Alexa, Echo, Google and Siri costs less than $60. You can get a Dash Wand that works with Alexa and Amazon Fresh to find the nearest restaurants or order groceries costs $20, or get a Dash button for $5.

Consider upgrading your smoke detectors to a Wi-Fi enabled Google Nest. A single wired smoke and carbon monoxide detector runs about $120 while a 3-pack that’s battery operated will cost around $350.

Freshen up cabinets

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Cabinetry can dramatically alter a kitchen’s appearance. Brand-new cabinets are expensive, but most DIYers know redoing cabinets is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to revamp a kitchen.

One simple trick: Add or replace the hardware on existing cabinets. “You can often swap out the hardware in your entire home for under a few hundred dollars,” says John Maxim, a Salt Lake City-based professional house flipper and home renovation expert. “Black and gold hardware are both trending in new homes,” by the way.

Whatever the hue, “hardware is like jewelry for your cabinets,” Davis says. “You’ll be surprised at how different your cabinetry looks with updated hardware.”

Another quick-fix cabinetry option: refinish instead of replace them. The simplest way is a new paint job; as long as they’re in good shape, most cabinets, even laminate ones, can be painted if you use a strong primer.  That’ll brighten them up considerably, which will in turn transform the room. Supplies should run less than $100. But before you paint, it’s important to prep. Remove the doors from the cabinets, cover the hardware or remove it, and be sure to sand away old paint.

Another kitchen remodel idea for the cabinets that doesn’t require as much work and prep is having your cabinets refaced. “Depending on the size of your kitchen you can order custom-made new doors and all of the exteriors for your cabinets in a new style and color, instead of just painting over cabinets you don’t like the style of,” says Teri Simone, Chief Kitchen Designer for Nieu Cabinet Doors.

Update the lighting

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If you’ve ever thought your kitchen might look better in a different light, you may be on to something, according to Davis.

“It is amazing what a great light fixture can do to a room,” Davis says. “Just swapping out new fixtures in the existing locations is the most affordable way to go. Another good idea is to add recessed can lights to a kitchen to improve the general lighting.”

Maxim agrees. “Lights can transform an older looking home to a brand new home” when you replace the old fixtures with more modern options.

Davis says most homeowners can change the light fixtures pretty quickly on their own with some basic instruction. But adding recessed cans might get a little tricky for a novice. Each high-quality recessed light installed by an electrician should run about $125 to $300, which includes materials and labor. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing anything electrical yourself, Davis says it’s possible to hire a good electrician for up to $100 an hour.

While you’re at it, have a look at the light switches. Outdated outlet covers – especially the old egg-colored outlets – are an easy and inexpensive kitchen swap. Even if you swap out all the light switches and outlet covers in your home, it should only cost around $100, advises Maxim.

Renew counters and floors

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New counters and floors will probably test your kitchen remodel budget and your handiwork. But if you’re up for it, either one of these changes can have a dramatic impact on your kitchen’s appearance.

Peel and stick floor tiles is a great solution for the novice DIYer, running between $1 to $5 per square foot. They come in lots of colors and styles so you can add personality and fun to your kitchen.

As for the countertops, you have even more options — without resorting to pricey, professionally installed stones like granite or marble. “A countertop epoxy kit [can help you] get those coveted marble countertops DIY-style,” says Simone. Though some prep work is involved, a kit will run you $200 or less.

If you prefer butcher block countertops, Maxim recommends checking out your local ReStore or other building materials reuse location. Second-hand hardwood countertops run around $99 each, “are very in style and look super clean.”

Similarly, Davis points out that you can install laminate countertops on top of existing counters. Hardware stores sell countertops for as little as $45 per section. And if you’re looking for an installation tutorial, the experts say you can find a lot of quality presentations on YouTube. Just remember to keep a laptop or tablet handy as a reference.

Buy (almost) new appliances

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Replacing kitchen appliances can be a real budget-buster. But if you’re willing to accept minor imperfections, it is possible to pick up a major new appliance for less than four figures.

Big box stores like Lowe’s have a “scratch-and-dent” section; other businesses, like ReStore, focus solely on selling cosmetically flawed (but properly functioning) appliances at steep discounts. The scratches and dings preclude retailers from selling such appliances at full price; however, from an operational/structural standpoint, they are brand-new products.

Do bear in mind that even discounted appliances like dishwashers or ranges should probably be professionally installed, which could add a few hundred dollars to the bill.

Add a backsplash

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You may not think the wall space behind your sink offers a lot of design potential. But the truth is that adding (or sprucing up) a backsplash is one of those small changes that can have a big impact.

The cost of this kitchen remodel idea depends on the type of tile and size of your kitchen. White subway tiles, for example, can cost as little as $0.15 per square foot; something like slate, $5 per square foot; metal or glass, $25-30 per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor. Also, you have to factor in the price of grout, which can cost up to $80, and sealant, which could set you back up to another $50.

You’ll need to block out a day to do the job, or two days if the tiles need grout work. But the good news is you don’t have to be a tile expert to put in a backsplash. A lot of hardware stores run free weekend classes that show you how to do these projects.

You could also do a “peel and stick tile backsplash for a quick and affordable update,” advises Simone. A box of 12 square foot backsplash tiles will run you $60 or less, depending on the brand and design.

Install floating shelves

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“Want to put some of your favorite items on display, or display dry goods in glass jars?” asks Simone. “Consider taking down some of your upper cabinets and installing simple floating shelves.”

There’s a wide variety of floating shelves to choose from. You can pay as little as $20 for a set of two pre-cut pinewood shelves, or up to $250 or more for shelves made of hardwood butcher block.

As a bonus, “this will make small spaces feel less cramped, and give you something to accessorize,” Simone says. However, if you choose this budget kitchen remodel idea, make sure you’re anchoring your shelves into studs, so they can withstand the weight of glass jars or your favorite cookbooks.

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