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How to Remodel a Kitchen on a $550 Budget or Less

A complete kitchen renovation can be overwhelming. This is from the 'make do or do without' school of renovation. Steps 8 and 9 show the before and after pictures of a 1956 kitchen. Total costs came to less than $550, this included the dishwasher. Order new unfinished doors online and have a local shop install the glass, the total job is less than $200. The countertop and sink were purchased at a Habitat for Humanity Store for under $75! The new dishwasher was on sale at a local hardware store for $199.

The biggest job was painting. It was also the least expensive but took the most time and effort. It's easy to dismiss this job and take shortcuts but it is well worth the effort to do it right. A photo of a famous French Chef's kitchen was the inspiration to paint the inside cupboards blue and the walls a butter yellow with white trim.

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Instructions ;
things you'll need:

  • a flexible plan
  • degreaser, sponges
  • vinegar, mesh scrubbers
  • Stain Proof Primer like KILZ or BIN
  • brushes, rollers, rags
  • a bucket, ladder
  • Habitat store
  • Truck
  • a handy or strong friend :-)
    • 1
      Align Left

      Degrease walls

      An old kitchen first needs elbow grease. Remove everything you can, tables, chairs and cover appliances with old sheets. Stay green, use soap mixed with vinegar to cut through even stubborn grease.

      With a large scrubbing sponge wet the surface with the soapy water, do one wall at a time. After allowing to soak, go back over wet wall with the scrubbing side of the sponge. Finally, rinse the wall 2-3 times with clean water. Don't try to make the walls look clean, feeling clean is what you need. Years of cooking leaves a thin layer of grease on everything -do this job correctly and the effort in prep will save you later, you do not want your paint peeling off.

    • 2

      Prime Surfaces

      Do You Know whether the finish is laquer, varnish, oil or latex? You can always remove the finish on the wood trim and cabinets but first you'll need to determine whether it is lacquer, varnish or shellac? Each finish requires a different remover and most are very noxious and dangerous to breathe. Or they are too expensive.

      Or you can cover it up. Rather than removing the varnish from wood window trim and cabinets, apply a coat or two of very good primer. Two stand out: KILZ and BIN -they also stop stains from bleeding through your paint. While not cheap, a gallon will not go to waste, it will cover water stains on ceilings and other bleeding stains, every homeowner should have a gallon in the basement.

      Prime Rather Than Strip
      Paint everything, trim, doors, and walls with the primer. You do not want to go back over anything. It also adheres well to all surfaces and you do not have to worry about whether you are painting over oil or latex. Keep the windows open when you use the primer, it can give you a headache -if you are sensitive. I use a window fan to blow air out and turn on the stove top hood.

      The kitchen walls were originally white, the trim and cupboards dark pine with a shellac finish. One coat of primer was enough for the walls but the wood trim needed three coats. The primer dries very fast and is very thin, the more coats of primer I use, the fewer coats of paint you'll need. When you see the price of paint, you'll see why, fewer coats are better, also fewer coats keep the wood crisper and any architectural features sharper.

    • 3 . Choose Your Paint Quality: $$$, $$ or $?

      You will find paint offered in three price tiers:
      - Cheap is okay to freshen up the same color but even pale yellow over white will require several coats to look even. If you go with cheap you'll regret it. It would have been cheaper if you had bought either moderate or expensive paint.
      - Medium priced paint is good, if you are not changing colors too much, you may still need several coats if you are going light over dark.
      - The expensive paint is often your best option. It will often cover in one coat. This will save you in the amount of paint you will need and the amount of work painting, after prep and priming, you may not have the desire or energy to apply several coats of paint!

      Gloss It Over!
      For a kitchen, I recommend a gloss finish, or even semi-gloss paint. Never choose flat or eggshell finish paint. I love to cook and I have managed to splatter many substances on my walls: espresso disasters, batter explosions, tomato sauce torpedoes... and heaven forbid the loose blender top! Gloss paint will allow washing off any multitude of sins, fast and easy.

      Start with Trim and Baseboards
      Using a small brush, paint the crown molding, trim and baseboards. Since, we are painting white over white and the walls were white, you will be able to avoid masking the walls. Use a painter's masking tool to avoid getting paint on floor. Keep a wet rag handy as you paint to wipe up any stray spots and drips, while still wet. I dDo not bother masking the window glass when painting trim. Coming back later with a straight edge razor is much easier and leaves a sharp clean edge.

      Cut In Walls First
      Using a small brush or edger cut in the walls first. Cutting in means you paint the edges. Paint a good 4 inches along the ceiling, around windows and along baseboards. It is then a fast job to use a roller and paint the walls, slightly over lapping the painted edges.

      Finish Up
      Wash your brushes and rollers thoroughly. Remove as much paint in water as you can and then use soapy water. D o not pour paint down the storm drains, this is illegal in many areas. Recycle large food cans and allow the water to evaporate in a safe place, out of reach from children or pets. Then bring can with dried paint residue to the recycling center.

      Spend the time to look over your work, repeat the exam the next day. Correct any errors, missed spots, touch ups. Do it now and errors won't drive you crazy

    • 4

      Replace Cabinets with Glass Doors:

      I described this in my eHow article: How to Update Kitchen Cabinets to Glass Doors and Save Money. Bottom line, this will often save you up to 80% the cost of new complete ones.

    • 5

      Replace Sink & Countertops:

      Tear off the old countertop and formica backsplash. Your local Habitat Store or Rehab Store often has perfectly fine used counter tops and sinks! The blue formica went well with the blue interior in the cabinets. A dishwasher on sale and it was easy to install. Used a piece of bead board for the new backsplash and install new GSFC outlets.

    • 6

      Make A Pantry:

      If there is a nearby closet, that you can live without, turn to into a pantry! This kitchen had a closet in the dining room, which created a new handy serving path, in addition to added storage.

    • 7

      Create a Window Shelf:

      Nailed two supports on each side of the window and set a shelf on top. The shelf can be easily removed to clean the window. Also install a wine glass rack, so expensive wine glasses can safely drip dry over the sink!

    • 8

      Compare Original Kitchen: Here she is in all her 1956 glory!

    • 9

      Admire The New $550 Kitchen: Looks much more expensive, the secret is in taking your time and doing it right.

Tips & Warnings
  • Go to Goodwill and buy old bedspreads - they make great drop cloths and cheap too! You can reuse them over and over.

  • Stay green, use soap mixed with vinegar to cut through even stubborn grease.

  • Visit your local and nearby Habitat stores weekly, get to know the employees, let them know what items you need, mine called me about several things that they received.

  • Be careful whom you hire to help and handyman can be handy at taking your money, ours connect the water reversed!

  • Google each item you buy and each step, often you can save lots of money but sometimes cheap is as cheap does!

How to Estimate Costs of Kitchen Remodeling

Kitchen remodeling can range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars, but it doesn't have to break the bank. Depending on the amount of remodeling to be done, costs can generally be broken down to the cost of labor, mechanical and fixtures. Put aside some extra money for unexpected costs too. Here are some tips to help you estimate the costs of a kitchen remodeling.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

1. Put it down on paper.
Draw a plan and make a list for your kitchen remodel to help you
determine costs. Decide if you'll need new cabinets or if you can paint them. Many home improvement centers offer computer generated kitchen remodeling plans based on your own photos.

Decide if appliances will be replaced and what type you want. Check online for
appliance features and stores that offer discounts. Some appliance stores offer substantial discounts when buying more than one appliance. Appliances, cabinets and fixtures will be approximately 30 percent of the total remodeling cost.

2. Hire a reputable contractor
who is experienced in kitchen remodeling if you aren't going to do
it yourself. Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. Get references from the contractor and make sure that you have a time frame in writing. Labor costs are estimated at approximately 30 percent of the total remodeling cost.

3. Do it yourself.
If you are experienced in home repairs, you may be able to do a lot of the
work yourself to save money. Experienced do-it-yourselfers can do their own painting, hanging kitchen cabinets and installation of some appliances.

Gas appliances need to be installed by
experts. Make sure you hire reputable plumbers and electricians to help with the mechanical aspects of the kitchen remodel if necessary. Depending on the age of your kitchen, mechanical remodels can take as much as 30 percent of your budget.

4. Keep at least 10 percent of your budget for those unexpected costs.
You might have termites
or dry rot in wood, which will need to be replaced. Wiring may be old and not up to code. Old water pipes could be leaking and need to be replaced. Always keep a "contingency fund" for just such repairs.

For more details on how to estimate costs of kitchen remodeling, CLICK HERE.

How To Remodel Old Kitchen Cabinets

By Linda Ray

1. Considerations

Save an enormous amount of money by remodeling old kitchen cabinets either when you completely redo the kitchen or as a single project to modernize and decorate. There are a number of ways to change the look of old kitchen cabinets. Replace hardware for a more streamlined look; paint the front facing of the cabinets to freshen up the room, or remove the doors on the old cabinets and replace them with new cupboard doors.

Consider the time you want to put into the project, your budget and your skill level when looking at remodeling options. Get quotes from outside contractors to do the work for you before setting aside your time allotment for the job. It may costs less in the long run to hire a professional. If you enjoy home remodeling, build extra time into your estimate for preparation work, shopping and unforeseen obstacles.

2. Painting

Painting is the easiest and least expensive way to update old kitchen cabinets. For the best results, remove the doors and the hardware. Take the cabinet doors down one at a time to lessen the interruptions in your daily routines. Lightly sand the surfaces of the doors to remove any cracking or loose paint and wood. Wash the surfaces completely with soap and water, and leave them out to dry.

If the doors are made of laminate, plastic or metal, plan to coat each side with primer before painting. While the door is drying, remove the contents of the cabinets and clean thoroughly. Sand and clean the edges and trim that will be painted. Choose a color that will brighten up the kitchen and match new window treatments or flooring. Allow each coat of paint to dry completely before attaching new hardware and replacing the door.

3. Replacements

Invest in new custom doors for old kitchen cabinets to give the room a more thorough redesign. Consider replacements if the doors are cracked or broken. Unless you have a fully equipped woodworking shop, you will most likely need to call in specialists for the job. Local kitchen cabinet refacing companies will come to your home, measure the doors and make recommendations for the replacements.

Trim work is usually included in the refacing process. Measure the doors yourself and order new doors online through companies such as Pinnacle Home Products. Check with your local home improvement big box store to see if your cabinet doors are standard sizes. You may be able to purchase ready-made standard doors.

For more information on how to save money on kitchen remodelling, CLICK HERE.