“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
Dave Ramsey —

“Under Budget” are the sweetest words in any kitchen redesign.

Completing a major kitchen makeover under budget can feel like winning the design lottery. Alas, being able to say your kitchen remodel came in under budget requires strong planning, execution and vision of how you will bring your dream kitchen to life.

And as American families budget for major home renovations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, any money you can save on your home’s priciest renovation project can feel like savings gold. We live in a pricy design age where Remodeling Magazine pegs the total cost of a minor kitchen remodel at $22,500 and the National Kitchen and Bath Association reports a major kitchen renovation involving a designer averages from $48,000-$90,000, depending on the kitchen’s size.

The first rule of keeping your kitchen redesign under budget is reminding everyone, including yourself, you are the chief architect and foreman of this project.

“As a homeowner, it’s ultimately up to you to keep costs down for your kitchen remodeling project,” The Spruce’s Lee Wallender writes. “All of the secondary parties involved – including contractors, subcontractors, architects, designers and suppliers – are trying to maximize their profits as you’re trying to maximize your savings. While it’s not common to work with a person who willfully tries to punch holes in your budget by heaping on extra costs, you’re still likely to have to remind the secondary parties to stay on budget throughout the project. What’s easier to control are the remodeling choices you make to keep the costs manageable.”

The second rule of keeping your kitchen redesign under budget: Know where you can save. These helpful secrets are guaranteed to lower your kitchen remodel budget.

Refresh Rather Than Replace the Cabinets

By general rule, all tear-out and-replace-projects are more expensive than projects that keep most of the materials. A prime example: Kitchen cabinetry. New kitchen cabinets can be very pricy, especially if custom-made pieces are required. Cabinetry, the NKBA notes, is the biggest expense of a kitchen remodel.

“Cabinets are the workhorse of the kitchen,” Tennille Wood, CEO and principal designer at Denver’s Beautiful Habitat, told Nerd Wallet. “The entire floor plan and function of the kitchen is built on them.”

Cabinets can be refreshed through painting, refacing, adding new hardware (like modern knobs and handles) and adding shelving (including stylish open shelving).

Refurbish the Appliances

Other than a perhaps disreputable shady contractor, whoever said you can to throw out everything in your kitchen, including the kitchen sink?

Repairing and refurbishing appliances, rather than paying for a professional or spending money on something new, can slice thousands of dollars off your costs. Some appliances you can DIY include dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves, water heaters, water softeners and garbage disposals.

Keep the Same Kitchen Layout

Nothing skyrockets a kitchen remodel budget than throwing out the old layout and dramatically changing the look of your kitchen. Choosing a new layout is choosing to keep your checkbook wide open and the costs meter running. For example, moving plumbing for the sink, dishwasher or refrigerator instantly requires hiring plumbers who will have to take a sledgehammer to your walls.

Keeping your kitchen layout essentially the same while updating the elements within that framework is remarkably cost-effective. You don’t have to new plumbing or electrical and can (if you wish) keep your existing flooring.

“Keeping your layout is a surefire way to save money,” Los Angeles-based interior designer Melanie Burstin told Architectural Digest.

Do Some Work Yourself

Let’s face it, no kitchen remodel contractor is going to work cheaper than yourself.

Do-it yourself kitchen remodel projects bring your labor costs down to zero. And there are some kitchen remodel work that, depending on your DIY expertise level, can be fun budget super savers, including: interior painting, tiling, flooring installation, changing outlets and lights, hanging drywall and installing baseboards and other trim.

Local hardware stores and community classes have a variety of available how-to classes and demonstrations for common home projects.

Smart Budgeting Has But One Rule

Keeping your dream kitchen remodel under budget can feel trying to find affordable parking in downtown Chicago, but it can be done with careful planning, discipline and outside-the-box renovation thinking.

“Think about how you use the kitchen, and put your money there,” Cleveland designer Ellen Rady tells HGTV.com.

And as New York debt resolution attorney Leslie Tayne notes, keep the golden rule of smart budgeting in your head to stay under budget.

“Budgeting only has one rule: Do not go over it,” Tayne said.

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