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7 Budget-Friendly Ways to Revamp Your Kitchen

Consumer Reports

A five-figure makeover might not be in your plans, but the kitchen of your dreams can be. Here are seven ways to resuscitate a tired, old kitchen for $5,000 or much less along with product-specific advice on ways to save.

Revamp the Cabinets

Provided the cabinets are structurally sound you can spruce them up with a fresh coat of paint or reface them with peel-and-stick veneers. Improve capacity with inexpensive cabinet organizers.And applying crown molding to the top of cabinets gives them a finished look.

Add or Update an Island

Whether it’s a permanent unit with furniture-style looks or a small portable one on casters, an island adds work and storage space. The style should complement your cabinets, but it needn’t match exactly. A wood island can add warmth to a white kitchen, and a painted finish can inject color into an all-wood one. Be sure that there is at least a 42-inch clearance around the island to ensure easy access and smooth traffic flow. Prices start around $150 and go up to $1,000 or more.

Already have an island? Try applying a decorative beadboard panel and a baseboard to make the island look like a piece of furniture, says certified kitchen designer Pam Newton.

Refinish the Backsplash

Visually prominent but small enough not to need much material, the wall space above the counter or between the top cabinets and the counter is a great place to add color or contrast. Paint is the simplest and cheapest option for making over a backsplash. Tile—ceramic, colored glass, or stone—costs $10 to $40 per square foot installed. Or use stainless steel, at $100 to $150 per square foot installed, to complement stainless appliances.

Bring in the Old

Choosing energy-efficient appliances isn’t the only way to go green. Salvage shops are stocked with new or gently used stone countertops, hardwood flooring, decorative lumber, kitchen cabinets, and stained glass. Habitat for Humanity sells used and surplus building materials at outlets called ReStores.

Free-cycling, used by networks of people who offer household items free of charge, is another option. Membership is free, and you'll get e-mail postings of items. Groups include,, and Craigslist also has an area for free items.

Upgrade the Appliances

New features, improved efficiency and styling, and relatively stable prices make replacing your appliances tempting. French-door refrigerators, which combine split doors on top with one or two freezer drawers; faux-pro ranges; and quieter dishwashers are all available in stainless steel for about $150 to $250 more than basic black or white. Check the Ratings in each appliance report for models that combine performance, value, and reliability.

Read on for more tips on how to revamp your kitchen for less! has no relationship with any advertiser on The Nest.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.


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