Planning a kitchen remodel, but you’re worried about the cost? No worries. Here are some simple tips on how to save money on a kitchen remodel.

how to save money on a kitchen remodel

I have literally been working on this post for a zillion years.

Every time I add something to the kitchen or put away a dish or clean off a countertop or talk on the phone and stare up at my kitchen cabinets…

…I think of you.

And how I need to tell you something.

Like how to take what you have in the kitchen and make it cuter.

Like how to put your money where it counts in the kitchen and save your pennies where it doesn’t.

Like how to make every dollar count.

And the best part?

I did it first. I put my money where my kitchen mouth is. This is the kitchen that we remodeled for about 1/3 of a traditional kitchen remodel. Yep. This kitchen cost only cost us 30% of what a standard kitchen would cost. THAT’S OVER 60% SAVINGS. Every time I think about it the kitchen gets cuter.

Even if your kitchen doesn’t need an overhaul—these tips work for a simple refresh, too.

Are you ready?

Here’s a little advice from someone who just walked the walk on how to save money on a kitchen remodel.

how to remodel a kitchen on a budget before pictures

Before we can tell where we are going we have to look at where we have been.  Here’s the original kitchen when we purchased the house.  Here was a list of things on our to-do list (ie what we kept and what we changed).

  1. Take down the wall between the butler’s pantry and the kitchen
  2. Move the refrigerator to the other wall
  3. Keep the stove and dishwasher
  4. Buy a new refrigerator
  5. Keep the existing tile and sink
  6. Keep the lower cabinets
  7. Keep the kitchen island
  8. Change out the countertops
  9. Change out the light fixture over the island
  10. Move the cabinets from the butler’s pantry to the upper cabinets in the kitchen

how to remodel a kitchen on a budget moving cabinets

1. Save money on your kitchen by keeping the existing floorplan

Keeping the existing floor plan is KEY. One of the biggest money zappers is moving plumbing, stove pipes, electricity, new flooring. This is the kitchen after the wall was removed. Even though we took down the wall, we kept everything else in the same place except the fridge.

For example, I wanted to move the island down slightly to make more room for traffic flow, but that would have increased the budget by almost 10 %.  The wood floor didn’t go under the island, so I would have had to replace flooring, have the island rebuilt and have the cabinets reconstructed.  Just keeping the island in place, gave us room in the budget for my big splurge—marble countertops (more on splurges later).

how to build in an island and save money on a kitchen remodel

2. How to save money on your kitchen remodel by using what you have

These were the cabinets from the butler’s pantry. Instead of pricy new cabinets, we just used the ones that we already had and framed them in. We used one large cabinet and one smaller cabinet to frame out the new island and then added a wider countertop to create a bar to make them feel even more substantial.  They actually were a little too short, so we found a creative solution that only cost $50.

Here’s the back of the framed out island.  I added this picture so you could see the plywood back we added to make the cabinets feel built-in.

You can see the cabinets we added from this angle.  See the larger cabinet with two drawers on the left and the smaller cabinet with one drawer on the right.  Then, see the space in the middle?  That’s where we added a gap to make the cabinets fit.  I just had the carpenters leave the gap, then frame it out and add shelving to create a custom shelving unit for the space.

Here you can see the custom shelving unit. You can see the existing corner cabinet that was already there and the smaller cabinet that we added. Next to that is the gap from the previous picture transformed into shelves.

It’s three shelves with a simple plywood front. Each of the shelves was only 1″ thick, so I had them add a 1 x 2″ piece of wood to the front to make them appear even more custom. The top basket holds dishtowels.  The second basket holds paper plates and napkins and the bottom basket holds plastic silverware. The shelves are so deep that I can fit stacks of melamine dishes behind them for all the littles that eat at our house.

3. How to save money with molding and plywood

Molding and plywood are your friends. Seriously. A little molding and a little plywood and a little paint and a little caulk can transform any kitchen for a fraction of the cost.

The upper cabinets in this kitchen came from the butler’s pantry. We removed the existing upper cabinets and open shelving and replaced them with these cabinets.

The challenge?

I wanted the cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling, but they were too short. We simply attached the cabinets at the right height and then added a piece of plywood to the top to give the appearance that they were about 12″ taller than they actually are. If you look closely, you can see where the cabinet ends and the plywood starts. I’m planning on adding a piece of finish molding to cover the gap.

After we added the plywood, we trimmed it out with crown molding.

On the end of the cabinets closest to the island, we had a dilemma. The cabinet just ended into space.

It left the awkward impression of being unfinished. I came up with the idea of adding this corner cabinet. It goes all the way to the ceiling to mimic the other cabinets and it’s built out of plywood and caulked and painted.

This is where I store all my big milk glass pitchers and over-sized pieces.

To see how to style glass cabinets click here.

4. How to save money by shopping big box stores for sales

Don’t overlook the big box stores and sales. I price shopped everything. Lowe’s gives a discount to military, too and that helps.

I wanted a faucet like this and had priced them out and they were SO EXPENSIVE. I knew I was keeping the sink, so I had extra money in the budget for a faucet—but instead? We were able to find a similar faucet to my dream faucet at Lowe’s for 1/3 of the price.

(total kitchen aside: I had a reader just ask me what was up with my drawers. I told her I live in a house that was just like me—imperfect.)

To see more on these realistic faux topiaries click here.

5. How to save money by adding in furniture

Instead of building in cabinets at the end of the wall? I brought in one of my favorite thrift store pieces and filled the wall with it instead. Everything in the kitchen doesn’t need to be built-in. This wall of cabinets was going to cost us $4000 to add to the kitchen.


When you can spend $75 on a hutch and bring a little personality to the kitchen. Look for opportunities to add vintage finds or built-in vintage pieces instead of purchasing new cabinets. You will save so much money and your kitchen will be one-of-a-kind.

To read about all the yard sale finds in this kitchen click here.

6. Pick one place to splurge

Sometimes finding the perfect ______ (fill in the blank with whatever your splurge is) makes the rest of the kitchen feel so high end.

When you stop by for sweet tea and you are sitting at the plywood and molding kitchen island next to the $75 hutch and the cabinets that are built-in to look higher ended than they are and the painted cabinets—you don’t notice any of that.

What you do notice are these marble countertops.

They are the star of the show.

This was my one splurge. I started there in the budget and worked backward to make sure they fit. I’ve never regretted it for one day. I love the classic, simple appeal of the realness and authenticity of marble.

Here’s where we started.

And here’s where we are now.

I’ll leave you with this.

You can remodel a kitchen on a budget.

Yes. Yes, you can. You just have to decide what your budget is and look for creative ways to make it work.

Because you know what’s even sweeter than a remodeled kitchen?

A remodeled kitchen with enough money left over to fill that refrigerator for years to come. 🙂

PS Let me know if you have any questions that I didn’t answer.

PPS You got this friend.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Robbin Robbin

    LOVE THIS!!!! Remodeling on a BUDGET is my jam!!!! My kitchen needs a huge facelift. My cabinets are alder wood, stained mahogany and they are beautiful. But I"m ready to lighten things up. I mentioned one time about painting the cabinets and my husband's eyes got HUGE. "Paint over wood?" I still haven't convinced him . . . .

  2. Image for Missy Missy

    We are on a TIGHT whole house remodel budget (doing all of the work ourselves). We have the kitchen cabinets hung and will paint them next weekend. Counter tops have us stumped. I have been to the Habitat Restore looking for them and have even considered using solid wood doors. I do not like the unevenness of a tile/grout counter. Anybody have other suggestions?

    1. Image for Graham Graham

      MIKEA has butcher block countertops that are very reasonable (cheap). When I had my kitchen upgraded I had the carpenter use the space between the top of the existing cabinet boxes (we got new doors only) and the ceiling where the sofit is to make shallow cabinets with matching doors. The are lots of little used items that fit nicely in those cabinets. In one place they are only 9”deep but it works great for spices in baskets from the dollar store.

    2. Image for Mindy Mindy

      These (very beautiful) countertops are plywood painted with chalkboard paint and sealed with paste wax to resemble soapstone

    3. Image for Kathy Kathy

      After much research, we went with Wilsonart marble looking laminate in our new build. I just could not justify the expense of real marble. I also didn’t want to deal with the up keep and fear of stains, etching, etc. They are beautiful and have fooled several guests!

    4. Image for Sojourner Sojourner

      Laminate has a bad name recently, but the new ones are great. If you like black, you can get a soft matte black countertop with sides that wrap around so it looks like a thick solid surface. If you are not changing the configuration of your current countertops you can get something you brush on (Featherstone?) that makes it look like concrete but is very light. It's gorgeous. And if you're up to it, there are many blogs and YouTube videos that teach how to pour your own concrete counters. And I agree with another comment, butcher block is affordable and beautiful. Good luck! It's going to be beautiful.

    5. Image for Tori Tori

      Check into butcher block countertops. They’re so pretty, much more affordable than stone, and you can probably cut and install them yourselves, which saves on labor costs as well. 🙂

  3. Image for Shelley Shelley

    Absolutely beautiful kitchen remodel! I have always thought that a lack of a big budget makes one more creative, and the more creative you are the better the results. This kitchen proves that point completely :-) I followed with interest each of the steps that you did, and agree with every one. But looking at your original kitchen, I’m not sure I could’ve had the inspiration that you did. You are very talented and I enjoy your blog so much!

  4. Image for Marcy Marcy

    I see you went with marble countertops...polished? Honed or polished and if you have etching problems?

  5. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    This is sooooooooo fabulous. Read the text I just sent you. I need a private plane to get u to Winter Park, Florida soon. Getting ready to do a big flip and I need more help and inspiration!

  6. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Yes to all of this! I love the hutch for adding personality! I am always shocked when my husband gives me a reality check for the cost of doing what I think would be a simple move this here or that there. Turns out moving plumbing is expensive and time consuming...who knew! Ha! Don't bore me with the details! It looks so easy on the tv shows! Thanks for all the tips!


    Thanks for all the hints!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!We need to do a kitchen remodel soon, so this is great!!!!!!!!!

  8. Image for Brenda Brenda

    We are doing a kitchen remodel and are keeping our 1969 plywood cabinets. Moulding and paint are our friends! The kitchen is configured in a horrible way. Changing the footprint was not possible. Think ceiling replacement, moving wiring, losing a window and new flooring. Budget busters all! But the cabinets look like old furniture. I love how they look!

  9. Image for Marty Marty

    I love your kitchen, it is fabulous. We did the same thing with our kitchen. We kept most of the cabinets, rearranged the, and added a few off the shelf box cabinets to finish the layout. Then tons of great molding and beautiful paint and hardware and our kitchen looked like a million.

  10. Image for Young Young

    Love all the great ideas and so cute. The one thing I noticed is there is NO clutter on your cabinets!!!! I just can't seem to put it all away. Thanks for the before and after photos.

  11. Image for Pam Pam

    I'm searching and searching for a new light fixture over my kitchen table. I love yours and it may work if not too large. Do you recall where it was purchased? Also what do you use to clean your marble countertops? Thank you and I enjoy your blog!

  12. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

    I'm having a gas range installed where a built in electric cooktop is now. There will be a gap (30" range, 42" cooktop) where I'll have similar shelves installed. I plan to do the same thing. Hadn't tho't of the 1x2 though. Love that. Years ago I had this teeny tiny weird kitchen. NO work space. One Sunday morning I stood in the doorway & tho't...I'm a contractor's daughter! I should be able to find a better layout. And I did! I even found a matching cabinet at a yard sale for $10!!! And a scratch & dent counter top for another $10! (The scratch was where the sink would go.) I painted the yucky cabinets & my boyfriend reinstalled them. It was a really cute kitchen. (Still teeny though!) I made dinners for 30 people in that kitchen!

  13. Image for Sharon Sharon

    Karianne ... love your kitchen. I retired and re-did my kitchen, so it had to be on a budget. One side of the kitchen was just replacing the doors. I did customize a couple of the interiors so that I had slide out drawers under the sink and behind a double door I had sliding drawers for a spice rack and all my baking supplies. Part of the other side was just new doors, but I took out the table area and had new cabinets installed with deep drawers and a garbage cabinet. I had a new shorter cabinet installed above the stove to allow a microwave. New counters, new sink and faucet, crown.. Love it now. It was really the customization behind the doors that made all the difference.

  14. Image for Rachel Going Rachel Going

    KariAnne, This is gorgeous!!!! That's the way I LOVE to do projects! Make them look like a million dollars without spending that! You're the!!!! An amazing one at that!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Renee, Great question! We actually had the floor guys come in and patch it in a few places. It's just basic wood flooring, so they stained it to match the rest of the floor! Hope this helps friend! karianne

  15. Image for Amy Amy

    Oh what a great post. You inspire, educate and entertain all in one great blog post. I will offer that your "island" with the very creative use of reused cabinets and some "dead space" is really a peninsula. It makes for open space and yet anchors the kitchen. As always, reading your posts are my reward, after I work out, do a tedious computer job or just when I need a lift. Thank you mucho. Amy

  16. Image for Sharon Sharon

    Oh KariAnne, once again you give me hope. I moved into my condo as a widow 3 months ago. My husband could do anything! But now it is just me! Love the layout of my kitchen with it’s cottage style look but the cabinets are old. They are hand made and sturdy. Thought I would get new ones but now you have shown me what I can do. You always come to my rescue. You are amazing! Will show you before and after someday! Thank you for always inspiring me!

  17. Image for Dianne Miley Dianne Miley

    Amen, sister! We did a minor kitchen re-do by painting the cabinets white, changing the hardware, adding a kitchen cart from Wayfair as an island, and buying stainless appliances. The fridge was used and half price. The old dishwasher we love, so my hubby painted it ‘stainless’ and no one knows the difference! Love the fresh look AND the fact it is paid for and we have groceries too! 😉

  18. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    *Sigh* OH if I had but a smidge of your talents! Best kitchen EVER. Well done - been drooling over your remodel for months. Please please please visit me and help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ♥♥♥

  19. Image for Lynn W Lynn W

    Yes!!!! We did a lot of what you’re talking about here. So much of a savings with utilizing the big box store and getting creative. Your kitchen is spectacular Karianne 😊. Thanks for this post.

  20. Image for Elizabeth Shivel Elizabeth Shivel

    Karianne, thank you for all of your information about your kitchen remodel! This is great! I live in a 1975 condo with a galley kitchen that’s in need of a remodel. I love your all white kitchen, dishes, and nice beautiful marble countertops! I’m aiming for the all white kitchen in cabinets and counters and backsplash, but my green French theme dishes, France photos of lavender, old blue shutters, plus old butter yellow bowls will still need to be included! Guess I can’t go “all” white, but almost! Thanks for the cabinet reuse tips! And I would love to have the $75 China cabinet that you included! 🌻 Thanks again! Enjoy your blogs!

  21. Image for Shelia P. Shelia P.

    Hi Karianne! I would never have known you’d reworked your kitchen if you hadn’t told us! It looks so expensive!! Having the cabinets white really helps. Y’all did a fabulous job! We’re to the point that our makeover we did is already outdated and needs redoing, lol! We had yellow Formica counter tops before we did our little DIY on the kitchen. Those marble kitchen counters are to die for! I would like marble as well but I keep hearing about etching etc... what is that, have you had any experience with that, and how do you keep that from happening??? Yours really “make” your kitchen, I have to say. I had to get rid of a lot of my nice furniture when I moved in with my life partner, (we can’t get married or I’d lose my military health coverage) 😌, but I refused to give up my humongous china hutch that I got for a steal that’s all wood! I crammed that sucker in this little house and didn’t think twice about it, hahaha!! I’d much rather have a cute hutch than a wall of cabinets any day. They add so much character! I love yours and you made the right decision because yours adds so much to your kitchen. Y’all did a great job, KUDOS! Looks fabulous! Have a great week! Happy April Fools Day! 😊

  22. Image for BeverlyO BeverlyO

    Karianne, sometimes I wonder if you are peeking into my head! I have been dreaming of revamping the kitchen in this house since I moved into it ten years ago! I began with a coat of paint - right over the ugly fruit wallpaper from a bygone era. I’ve been searching and pinning and planning and gathering ideas. I first changed out a dishwasher and light fixture that didn’t work. Then, I began saving and kept gathering ideas but the fridge died. I splurged on exactly the one I wanted and began saving again. We inherited my husband’s dream table and a bit more sliding and shifting took place. Like turning the island around and using a small drop-leaf instead of the island bar. Right now I’m working on revamping the island altogether. With pine shelving, beadboard, paint, and a slab of butcher block it will transform the middle of the space and is already making me excited! I will go back to saving so that later we can extend the cabinets to the ceiling, change the remaining counter tops, replace the stoves and microwave, and redo the vent hood. I’m a dreamer and am patient till my budget can manage it! I will soon have a blog post sharing our progress and vision. Thanks for this encouraging post!

  23. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    Beautiful!! Don't you think the most exciting thing about remodeling is actually the making things fit in the space and with the stuff you have? You're a rock star, for sure! ;)

  24. Image for PJ PJ

    KariAnne, I love your practical view of home improvement. You have so many great tips here. When garage/yard sale time arrives in a few weeks, I will be on the hunt for a hutch for my kitchen. Have an amazing day!

  25. Image for Becky Becky

    Well done. And I love your wobbly drawers. It's a REAL kitchen! AND beautiful! Thanks for making 'thrifty' acceptable!

  26. Image for Pamela Griner Pamela Griner

    What a great post! Your ideas...and enthusiasm are inspiring!! Loved every word. I don't need a kitchen makeover...but kinda wish I did. Lol.

  27. Image for Paul Paul

    Hey Karianne, just letting you know that it's by far the most useful post I've read on saving money on kitchen remodeling, especially because of the fresh ideas!

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