So you're tired of your kitchen? According to an annual survey by the leading trade journal, Kitchen & Bath Business, so are 4.92 million other homeowners who plan to do a kitchen remodel in 2001 -- a record number. But with the typical kitchen remodeling job costing from $7,000 to $14,999, remodeling on a limited budget can be a challenging task.
The effort, however, can pay big dividends. Consider that even minor kitchen remodeling provides an 81 percent return on investment, according to Remodeling magazine's latest "Cost vs. Value Report." This means that you can enjoy your kitchen for years to come, plus reap a hefty return on your investment if you decide to sell your home down the road.
"Though adding a second story also offers a good return on investment, it's a much more invasive and costly remodel," says Nina Patel, Remodeling senior editor. "A minor kitchen remodel and bath update are simpler and more fun."
According to Patel, the popularity of home improvement stores, HGTV and the Web has educated and inspired many homeowners in their remodeling process. "In this age of large stores that carry all varieties of products, consumers want to see, touch and feel all the options so they can choose the right one for them," she explains. "Homeowners overall are more willing to spend money on items that reflect their style."
Here are simple remodeling ideas that can dramatically increase the appeal of your kitchen without breaking the bank.
1. Tile Backsplash
The days of automatically matching the backsplash to the counter are gone. Today's latest kitchen trend is adding some color and personalization with unique backsplashes that complement but don't necessarily match countertops. Try brightening the room with a backsplash featuring yellow or blue accents or even mix things up a little with a number of different colored tiles to make a checkerboard pattern. Manufactured tiles are affordable, starting at approximately $4 per square foot, and adding a few hand-painted tiles with such items as fruits, flowers or shapes can provide creative flair. Adding backsplash tiles is a simple project that even the beginning DIYer can take on without hesitation, and it can be completed in just one afternoon.
2. Pullout Faucets
Consider adding a new pullout faucet to your kitchen to provide the functionality needed for filling large pots, watering houseplants and doing assorted dishwashing and cleaning tasks. These faucets combine great looks as well as added convenience. Manufacturers such as Moen now provide pullouts with design options to make them stylish additions to the room. For example, its new Colonnade offers the charm of traditional, classic styling, while the Salora has a sleek and contemporary look complementing modern kitchen decor. Starting around $250 each, these faucets still install as regular fixtures, thanks to a simple, single-bolt tie-down installation method.
If the last time you purchased a faucet your finish options were "chrome" or "chrome," you will be pleased to see that faucets are now available in more stylish finishes, including copper or brushed stainless steel. Copper finishes are becoming increasingly popular and can provide the perfect complement to range hoods, teakettles, cookware and other items. Brushed stainless steel continues to be a popular choice, in part because it matches the look of many of the latest commercial-style appliances.
3. New Countertops
Your countertop is one of the most important and visible parts of your kitchen. A new countertop can give your kitchen a whole new look, and your choices are virtually limitless. The most popular choice is laminates. Available in hundreds of colors and textures, these countertops cost approximately $25 per linear foot. They are easy-to-clean and long lasting, but they do show cuts and nicks.
Following a close second to laminates are solid surface countertops. Although they can cost quite a bit more -- $90 to $200 per linear foot -- solid surface countertops will allow nicks, scratches and burns to be buffed out. Quartz and granite surfaces are also increasing in popularity -- but increasing in cost as well.
If you want some extras but don't want to spend a lot, consider using a laminate on your main countertop and tile on a small area of the kitchen, such as an island. Tiles cost about $4 per square foot and work beautifully on secondary work surfaces.
4. Refacing/Refinishing Cabinets
In a kitchen-remodeling project, new cabinets are usually the largest expense -- but they don't have to be. If the general structure of your cabinets is good, consider refinishing or refacing them. This can cost less than half the price of new cabinets. Refinishing means stripping, staining or painting the surface; while refacing requires replacing cabinet and drawer fronts and putting a matching veneer on the cabinet frames. Refacing creates a totally different look and allows you to change from dark wood to light, which will brighten an outdated kitchen. Both refinishing and refacing will not only save in material costs, but will also save labor costs compared to new cabinets.
If even refinishing or refacing cabinets is not in your budget, you can simply change the cabinet hardware. New knobs and handles are available in all shapes, sizes and finishes -- and some are even sculpted allowing you to create your own special kitchen look.
5. Stainless Steel Sinks
If your kitchen sink is stained, scratched or pitted, you will be happy to know that for about $300, you can get the latest in stainless steel sinks. A new trend is under mounting for fast, easy cleanup with no ridges to get in the way. In its Lancelot line, Moen offers new shapes, such as oval, round and trapezoid. If you need to fit a new sink to an existing countertop, the rectangular sink is still a popular option. Today's stainless steel sinks are durable and, thanks to sound-deadening designs, quiet. Double-bowl models, though slightly more expensive, provide more work area while extra-deep bowls provide additional capacity for large jobs.
6. New Lighting
Illuminate dark work areas with under-counter lighting that can be purchased as separate halogen lights or as a strand of rope lights. Halogen lights cost about $3 each and should be spaced 18-24 inches apart. Rope lighting is one continuous strand of lights and usually costs $3 per foot.
In addition to under-counter lighting, you may consider changing ceiling fixtures. Some of today's hottest styles are recessed lighting or pendant fixtures that hang down a few feet from the ceiling to provide better illumination for an island or eating area. Usually you can find fixtures at relatively moderate beginning prices at home centers or kitchen showrooms.
7. Stenciling, Painting and Wallpapering
Plain-colored walls are becoming a thing of the past as more homeowners opt for bold, colorful designs. Many new, faux finish designs use sponging techniques and stencils to personalize the look of the kitchen. Even the color palettes are changing from neutrals to dark blues, greens and maroons. Besides being inexpensive, painting is one of the easiest projects to complete in a fairly short amount of time and it makes a dramatic difference in the appearance of any room.
Borders and wallpaper are also as popular as ever in the kitchen. Since so many of them now come pre-pasted, the wallpapering process is pretty simple. If your kitchen is already painted, a decorative border can add just the right touch of style and color. Borders are popping up on all areas of the wall, not just near the ceiling. Try a waist-level, chair-rail border or even something at eye level to break up the room.
One of the biggest expenses in a kitchen-remodeling project is replacing the appliances. To avoid buying new appliances all at once, selectively add appliances by choosing the one that is most out-of-date in either look or function, and then add others over time as your budget allows.
If your old appliances still fit the bill in terms of performance, but you'd like an updated look, you can actually repaint them or buy new panels to match the new decor or cabinetry in your kitchen. Visit your local home center to find out how this can be accomplished for your particular brand of appliances.
9. Workspace and Storage Options
The island is usually the hallmark of any kitchen remodel, but if you are on a budget, a new, built-in island may not be on the agenda. If you still want the convenience and storage space of an island, consider one on wheels. For approximately $300, you can have a kitchen island that has the extra advantage of allowing you to stow it away in the corner when not in use.
Another suggestion is to create elegant storage areas in the kitchen by taking the fronts off your cabinets and installing glass shelving. In this way, you can mimic the open look of today's modern kitchen cabinetry while still having a place to display cookbooks, dishes or glassware.
To maximize storage space in the kitchen, go to your local home retailer and look for little extras that can be added to your current cabinetry such as a spice organizer, a place for recyclables, plate racks or wine racks.
10 Window Treatments
Nothing catches the eye like windows, so making them look good is critical. If you sew, you can bring a new look to your windows for the price of materials and an investment of your time. If not, pre-made window treatments can beautify your kitchen, often for less than $100 per window. The latest styles include tab top valences, swags mounted on metal-finished rods and a variety of blinds. You can add shelves or interior window boxes to your kitchen windows for plants or flowers. This little trick is perfect for blocking out a less-than-desirable view of a neighbor's house or insulating the room from a busy street.
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