Gray cabinets with new butcher block counter tops

5 Low-Cost Ideas for a Kitchen Remodel on a Budget

The average kitchen remodel costs the same as an Ivy League school. But you don’t have to pay that much.

Image: Clair Carter of Middle of This Street

If you’ve got $65,000 lying around, you could buy a luxury SUV. You could pay for one year at Harvard. Or you could remodel your kitchen. Yup. It typically costs that much.

But unlike fancy new cars and Ivy League experiences, you can opt out of the full retail price of a kitchen remodel. Here are five low-cost ideas so you can remodel your kitchen on a budget.

#1 Keep the Cabinets, But Change the Doors

Olive and gray kitchen cabinets awaiting door replacement Before
Blue and white cabinet doors in kitchen with open shelves After
Image: Refreshliving.net

New cabinets are a big chunk of the average kitchen remodel cost (30%-35%). But most of the time, it’s only the fronts that need updating.

A great low-hassle way to save on pricey new cabinets is to buy only the fronts from a manufacturer, like these gorgeous blue ones that were installed on existing cabinets.

Or, if you’re into DIY, save even more, possibly spending only a few hundred dollars by:

  • Repainting or staining
  • Adding new trim or molding
  • Removing doors for an open-shelf look

Don’t forget new kitchen hardware, a tiny, affordable change — even if you don’t change your cabinet fronts.

#2 Stencil Outdated Tile Instead of Replacing It

White tile with stencil taped to it for DIY tile upgrade Before
Blue and white kitchen with starburst stenciled tile After
Image: Covella Design & Staging

Tearing out old tile and replacing it with new can get expensive. To free up some serious room in your budget, just paint it.

Tile stencils are easy to find online, and it only takes a little prep-work to get your tiles ready. You’ll be done in less time than it would take to pry half the old tiles off the wall.

#3 Use DIY Kits to Update the Lighting

White kitchen with pendant lights installed using light kit Image: Diane Rath of The Rath Project

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to update your kitchen is to use a recessed lighting conversion kit — no electrician required.

The kits only cost $15-$20 each and are a cinch to install, even for DIY newbies. The parts screw right into the recessed light, a brace holds the new light fixture in place, and a decorative cover hides the recessed light.

In about 15 minutes, you’ve got dramatic new kitchen lighting.

#4 Paint the Floor Instead of Replacing

Run-down wood kitchen floor being prepped for paint Before
Wood kitchen floor painted white with navy blue stars After
Image: Dawson Interiors

If you have an old wood floor or have pulled up your old flooring only to find subflooring (rather than the beautiful hardwoods you were hoping for), try paint.

It might seem a shame to paint wood floors. But professional refinishing can cost as much as $2,000, while painting costs $200 — or less, depending on the size of your floor. That makes it one of the most budget-friendly kitchen updates you can do .

For the most durable results, use polyurethane-based porch and floor enamel.

#5 Keep the Footprint, But Change the Look

Neutral-colored wall awaiting tile upgrade | Budget Remodel Before
White kitchen with white tile backsplash along archway After
Image and Design: Deeply Southern Home

Send a dingy or dated kitchen down the disposal with two updates that make a big impact: a new backsplash and countertop.

Together, they cover an awful lot of surface area, setting the stage for a totally new kitchen look.

A little paint on those cabinets, and it’s like a brand new kitchen.

The countertop pictured is quartz, a timeless choice, but if it’s not in your budget, there are plenty of DIY countertop options, too.

Related: What To Do About Dinner When Your Kitchen’s Being Remodeled