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A Kitchen Renovation for Every Budget

Discover how much of a makeover you can afford

Think you can’t afford a kitchen renovation? Think again. Tamara Myers, a principal at Philadelphia design-build firm Myers Constructs, shares the design changes you can make at every price point.

Have $5,000? Start by …

... peeling off that flowery chintz wallpaper someone hung in 1986, and painting the walls a light, fresh hue.

• Now’s also a good time to pull down dusty drapery and hang a clean Roman shade.

• Shed some light on your space! Your kitchen is probably already equipped with overhead lights, so install task lighting—say, under-cabinet lights, or a chic pendant strung over the island—that can double as warm ambient lighting at nighttime.

• Switch out old cabinet hardware. “Make the least invasive change,” Myers advises. “If your existing knob has just one screw, find a new knob with only one screw so you don’t have to drill new holes.”

• While you’ve got the screwdriver out, affix new switch-plate and outlet covers.

• Next, upgrade your faucet. All of Delta’s single-hole kitchen faucets come with a 4-inch baseplate, which makes it easier to cover up existing holes you don’t need.

• Finally, if one of your cabinets is still home to a disco-era trash compactor, remove it and get creative with the space. Myers has turned just such nooks into 18-inch-wide “recycling centers.”

Have $10,000? Do all of the above, and …

• Think about how you interact with your kitchen and fix any speed bumps. Are you always rubbing elbows with your better half when making dinner, or is there never enough room for your pots and pans? “Consider adding another prep station or storage area, perhaps in a new surface—block or stone—that doesn’t fight the existing aesthetic,” Myers says. The solution could be a new island, or a piece of free-standing furniture to corral the clutter.

• Or if your kitchen is on the small side, change your counters and sink instead. But Myers cautions that installing new countertops and kitchen sinks often triggers plumbing and electrical changes that only the pros should handle, so keep some wiggle room in your budget. You might also be able to afford a flooring change. Look at laminate options that float over your existing floor, as you’ll save money (and dust!) by skipping the demo.

Have $20,000? Everything above, plus …

• Consider bigger interior design changes. Installing a kitchen’s worth of brand-new cabinetry is spendy, so Myers suggests focusing on upper cabinetry. Or eschew upper cabinets altogether in favor of open shelving.

• Make the backsplash a focal point by adding tile all the way up to your cabinets. (You might need to upgrade wall outlets).

• Lusting after a new double oven? You may be able to afford it. Complete appliance packages can run $6,000 to $11,000, Myers says. You’ll usually get a deal when you buy them all together, but an individual piece won’t bust your budget.

• Finally, install a hood vented to the outside. “It’s an unglamorous part of a remodel, but ventilation truly affects your quality of life,” Myers says. “When fumes are everywhere, you don’t enjoy cooking, and you don’t want to spend time in your kitchen.”