13 Must See Budget Kitchen Remodel Ideas You Won’t Regret in 5 Years

updated cape cod kitchen with white cabinets and floating shelves

Imagine how much less stressful and on-budget your kitchen remodel would be if you knew how to get the best deals and exactly what to do to get the most return on your investment.

  • It doesn’t matter how small your budget is.
  • It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are.
  • It doesn’t even matter how big or small your kitchen is.

These 13 kitchen remodel ideas will turn your outdated kitchen into the home of your dreams by arming you with a boatload of budget-savvy ideas, newfound DIY confidence, and enough inspiration from the shocking before and after pictures that you’ll make remodel decisions without any hesitation.

My budget? Close to nothing, but the kitchen remodel ideas I used (that I’m sharing with you) made me a quarter million dollars!

My level of experience? My latest Pinterest session was the closest I had been to a DIY kitchen remodel.

As you read these first few lines, you may begin to wonder if you could tackle and afford a kitchen remodel. 

But Amanda, I don’t have much money or DIY experience.

Girlfriend, yes, that’s precisely why I’m confident these 13 kitchen remodel ideas and inspiration will get you the results you are looking for!

But before I share these unbelievably affordable kitchen makeover ideas, let me tell you a little story about how I remodeled my kitchen without even owning a drill.

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Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.

How I Remodeled My Kitchen Without Even Owning a Drill

A dark and outdated kitchen and then the same kitchen remodel to be more modern. White kitchen cabinets with light wood floating shelves and stainless steel appliances.

First, let’s get one thing straight. DIY doesn’t mean doing it alone; everything in life takes a village, and home renovations are no different. You gotta find your person. Your helper. The Yin to your Yang.

For me, that person is my dad. Who also happens to be in the business of fixing homes. Like, he has owned a successful business for over 40 years. He’s the Braun, and I’m the brains—or at least the design and idea brain.

So, I’ve been in my new home for about five months, and the house is still a construction war zone. There are four different floors in the main living area (from layout changes).

No matter how much I painted, there was still an endless amount of orange around me. And the combination of the darker days (winter in Vermont…) with my very dark kitchen made me sadder than when Leo died on the Titanic.

Now, that story about how I remodeled my kitchen without a drill. I want you to know about my dad because when I decided I had finally had enough of my kitchen, he was out of town working on a project. A big one that kept him from working on my house for two months! I couldn’t wait. 

So, at the most ideal hour of 9 pm, I unloaded the cabinets, grabbed my screwdriver, and started taking down the cabinets. 

Or should I say, I tried taking down cabinets. I got as far as one screw and realized I needed a drill. Not deterred by this revelation, I jumped in the car and headed straight for Walmart.

Now, I don’t know what is scarier, the thought that I had no idea what I was getting myself into with these cabinets or the people I encountered at Walmart at 10 p.m. on a Saturday. 

So, I make it out of Walmart alive and get back home as fast as I could. After fiddling with the drill, for whatever reason, I thought it was damaged because I couldn’t get the drill bit attached. 

So, a made a second trip Walmart, but once I had the same issue with the second drill, I realized the issue. It turns out it wasn’t damaged; I just needed to spin the tip longer to get it to latch. So embarrassing!

Once I had my handy power-drill and figured out how to work it, these cabinets were coming down! 

And holy shit! 


Cabinets are freakin’ heavy! 

Out of the six upper cabinets, there were two that I needed help to get two down. 

Ugh, I was frustrated! One screw was stripped. And the other was the corner cabinet that I was smart enough to know I could not safely lower off the wall.

My mom came over the next morning and helped me get the corner cabinet down. And then a few weeks later, the show’s star (my dad) was back, and in less than 30 seconds, he had that stripped screw handled.

And, just like that, my kitchen renovation was fully underway! 

13 Budget Savvy Kitchen Remodel Ideas You Can Start This Weekend

kitchen with white laminate countertops and a subway tile backsplash and light wood floating shelves

Imagine how your life will change when you finally love your home. What would it feel like to have a space that reflects who you are instead of despising it?

What would it feel like to cook for your family in a welcoming, modernized kitchen instead of your dreary, outdated one?

Can you feel that rush of satisfaction knowing you painted those cabinets, hung that backsplash, and stripped the paint off that table you sit around every night making memories with your family?

Have you noticed how excited you’re starting to feel about home projects? Maybe your mind has wandered to an accent wall in your living room, bathroom floor tile colors, or something really big like a complete gut of your home. 

Every day you’re not putting these home renovation ideas to work for you is another day your home is not meeting your expectations. Another day of struggling to be excited about having friends over. Another day with no progress on making things better.

Choose to start now! Choose to say yes to your home renovation! Choose to say yes to every single one of your design ideas!

Which one of these DIY home renovations ideas will you do first?

#1 Removing the Kitchen Bulkhead

The ceilings in my house felt short, so one way to remedy this was to remove the bulkhead over the cabinets. I got lucky because nothing was hiding in this space! No electrical, no air ducts, no nothing! Wahoo! Definitely a win.

The only thing hiding in the bulkhead was another bulkhead—double bulkheads. I’m just that lucky! It made no sense, but it didn’t matter because I was so happy this could come down.

I did not feel comfortable attempting to take this down on my own. My dad and mom helped with this step. Ok, actually, now that I’m thinking about it. They did it all one day while I was at work. They literally may be the best. Just look at the mess!!!

Kitchen remodel with the bulkhead removal process showing all the blown-in insulation falling onto the countertop

Taking this down totally opened up the kitchen. And it was worth the hours of clean up!

#2 DIY Budget Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

Despite how this kitchen looked on the surface, it had several things working in my favor when it came to being budget-friendly and reusing the existing cabinets.

First, you may recall me talking about how pristine these cabinets were, especially for their age. This house was 60 + years old, and the shelves looked untouched.

Another bonus was the quality of the cabinets. I’m talking solid, real wood! That’s hard to find these days.

And lastly, but maybe the most important out of all three, the door style was not outdated. Paint can fix many things, but not weird curves or moldings; luckily, these cabinets did not have any of that. 

The door panel was not quite a shaker style, but close enough that the thousands of dollars I would save from reusing them was well worth this subtle nuance. 

To update my cabinets, I painted them and could not be more thrilled with the results. I was meticulous with the time and steps I took doing so because the last thing I wanted was to have the paint chip.

I put together a guide on how I painted my cabinets because there are a few critical steps that most people miss. 

This tutorial not only shows you how to avoid the most common mistakes and the best paint to use on kitchen cabinets, but it also includes easy-to-follow steps that will give you lasting results- you won’t find this anywhere else! 

You be the judge; take a look here.

If your cabinets are salvageable, I highly recommend painting them because it’s one of the most cost-effective and budget-saving things you can do during your kitchen remodel!

Go ahead and price out new cabinets, even the RTA ones. You can not beat the bargain of painting your cabinets. You can’t find a better deal anywhere else. You will waste time searching for a better kitchen cabinet deal instead of just painting them. 

#3 Building a Kitchen Island

I had to make a kitchen island since there was not one in my original kitchen. I went back and forth between something less traditional, like a refinished piece of furniture, but I went with stock cabinets for whatever reason I can’t recall right now. 

If I had to guess, price is what swayed me. Remember, this is a budget kitchen remodel! 

Shopping for New Cabinets

Consider yourself warned, but shopping for kitchen cabinets online is overwhelming. There are way too many options. So, when this happens, I head to the stores! 

Lowes had this great in-stock option. They were white, shaker style, and affordable! No waiting. No worry about ordering the wrong size. No wasting extra money on shipping. I even got a discount because they were having a sale! 

What I also love about this cabinet option is that since I bought them locally, I could return them if need be. This option reduced my stress and analysis paralysis because I could see the cabinets in my kitchen. 

In the end, I didn’t need to return anything, but boy, was it comforting knowing I could if my idea of building an island out of base cabinets didn’t work out. 

I put together a guide on building an island out of stock base cabinets. This tutorial not only shows you how easy it is, but it also lays everything out in simple steps to help you get this project done faster than you can read the post; you won’t find this anywhere else! 

You be the judge, take a look here: How to make a kitchen island out of base cabinets.

#4 Budget Savvy Kitchen Countertops

White laminate countertops with subtle grey veining in matte finish

I have incredible intuition, but after years of being manipulated by a narcissist, I had to re-learn how to listen to it. Something I learned after years of therapy was to listen to my gut. 

So, that’s what I did; I went with the unpopular choice for kitchen countertops! 

What I love about the unpopular choice for kitchen countertops 

Here is how that went down. So, I love marble, but I have a juice box budget and two kids I can’t trust to keep this finicky stone stain free. So, that option was out before it was even in.

The next best option, which I have used in another project, was quartz. But the thing was, I felt like I was forcing myself to kind of like one of the options enough to get a quote. And the price? It’s ridiculous, especially since, if you recall, I just said I was forcing myself to like one.

Do you know which ones I liked? The laminate! The options caught my eye, but I initially turned my nose to them because of their bad reputation for being “cheap.” 

I may be on a budget, but this girl doesn’t do cheap. Affordable, refinished, work hard for the good stuff; yes, but cheap, no.

But again, back to that insane quartz quote, my eyes wandered back to the laminate display, where I finally put my ego aside and more seriously considered the laminate options. 

There were several I loved. Not liked. Loved! The veining was perfect because it looked more like marble than any quartz. And the finish was this gorgeous matte, which was way more my style than the ultra-gloss of quartz.

The cost difference between laminate and the other options is shocking. Like a ⅓ of the cost.

The Myth About Laminate Countertops

You’re wrong if you think you can’t have an under-mount sink with laminate! Well, it’s more like you’re outdated with your info because there are options. I went with a large single bowl sink, and other than the quality of the one I selected, I loved how bright white yet matte finish it was.

I’ll get to my regret about this kitchen sink in the regrets section of this post, but for now, I want to stick to the positives.

Butcher Block Countertop 

butcher block kitchen island countertop

The second budget-savvy countertop option I chose was butcher block, which was even more affordable and faster than Laminate because Home Depot always has this in stock. 

I did consider using exclusively butcher block, but since I wanted wood floating shelves, I felt this would be too much wood.

I treated mine with a wax, which you do have to re-apply now and then. But it takes only a few minutes to do. You’ll know when it needs it. It starts looking dried out and sad. That’s your cue to give it another coat. 

The one thing I was surprised about is how soft the wood is. I dropped a pot accidentally once, and it left an indent. Granted, this was a large, heavy pot, but still. It adds character, right? And for the cost, I couldn’t be mad.

#5 Designer Looking Gold + Black Faucet

black and gold gooseneck faucet with a black over the sink pendant light fixture

Shopping for gold finish anything was nearly impossible to do locally. Same with black. The only thing the stores carried was chrome or oil-rubbed bronze. 

So, in this case, I headed to Amazon! The faucet I went with was not all that expensive, like under $120, and what I liked about it was the gold had a more muted finish. 

This faucet was not some fancy USA-made one, which these are so nice, but just so far out of my budget that I didn’t even look at them. 

The way I looked at it was if this faucet lasted me just a few years, I could replace it because let’s be real, my taste will probably change by then anyway. 

I’m not one to be wasteful, but in this case, I was ok with an off brand where I had no clue how long it would hold up. (PS- it turned out to be shockingly durable!)

#6 Upgraded Cabinet Hardware 

Oh, gold kitchen cabinet hardware. You are the bane of my existence. Matching different gold finishes is just stupid annoying. And finding a decent gold cabinet hinge was equally as difficult. 

I lost count of the number of times I bought and returned hinges. But, as always, my persistence paid off. I finally found these gold cabinet hinges on Amazon.

Hardware packs a mighty punch of difficulty for as small of a piece compared to some of the other components in your kitchen.

I put together a guide to make selecting cabinet hardware easier. This tutorial shows you all the different options, this tutorial gives you the best size and placement based on your cabinet dimensions.

#7 Wood Floors in the Kitchen

Selecting flooring for the kitchen was pretty simple because I have an open layout. Running one continuous flooring throughout the first floor helped tie all the rooms together and make the space look larger. 

I had no issues with wood flooring in my kitchen. And I absolutely loved the juxtaposition of the bright white cabinets with the wood tones; it dialed up the cozy factor!

#8 Subway Tile Backsplash

white subway tile backsplash going all the way to the ceiling

I went with a white subway tile backsplash with white grout. Subway title is not only the ultimate modern farmhouse choice but also the ultimate budget-friendly option.

My trick to making a basic subway tile backsplash look expensive is to go up to the ceiling. It adds beautiful texture to the room. It draws the eye upward, creating the illusion of taller ceilings. It makes your kitchen feel expensive!

Running the tile to the ceiling only costs a few bucks more, making this a huge return on investment for money spent and achieving a luxury look.

#9 Light Oak Floating shelves

Finding the perfect floating shelves was quite the ordeal. I wanted light wood that wasn’t too thin or too thick. Oh, and they had to be a very specific length. 

The easier route would have been to build these myself. But at this point in my renovation, that would take time, and my patience was running thin. In combination with the cost of building them, by the time I also bought a bracket, I was determined to find something close to the same cost as the DIY option, but that would save me time. 

Months of searching paid off. I found these shelves from this company right here. They are not real wood, but they were the right size (length, width, and depth!). Right color. And the right price. 

Installing was a breeze, way easier than we had anticipated. My dad obviously helped me with this project, but even he was pleased with how smoothly installing this over tile went. 

There was one thing he did ahead of time that made all the difference in the installation. You can find that out in this must-read right now post: Considering Kitchen Floating Shelving? Read this right now!

#10 Kitchen Lighting

Another budget-friendly design decision I made was to forgo the island pendants. I did so for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t particularly like pendants because they obstruct your view.
  2. Pendant lights are nearly impossible to keep clean.
  3. Pendant lights are stupidly expensive.

I went with recessed lighting throughout, on a dimmer, duh! And an accent light over the sink. This lighting layout gave just enough detail and dimension while keeping my lighting cost incredibly low. 

I found this pendant light on Amazon. It’s the perfect diameter for over the sink. It’s the perfect farmhouse light fixture because of the depth of the bowl. And the perfect budget-savvy kitchen remodel fixture because it was under $30!

#11 Updated Kitchen Appliances

The last thing I did in my renovation was replace the appliances. Well, truth be told, my parents gifted me the dishwasher and stove because they couldn’t stand how bad the old ones looked. Ha! 

New appliances were low on my priority list because A) the old ones still worked. B) you can always swap the appliances out later when money is more available. 

Those designer appliances were way out of my price league, so I didn’t consider them. You can always upgrade later! 

I went with some of the most affordable stainless-steel options I could find, and I will say I am pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Upgrading to more modern stainless-steel appliances from the super outdated white ones made a huge difference in the overall aesthetics of my kitchen. 

One thing I was very particular one was the stove knobs. To keep costs down, I did not upgrade to gas. And I think the knobs on an electric stove make them look chintzy. 

So, what I looked for were knobs that were positioned similarly to the ones on a gas stove. There were limited options, like 2, but this subtle detail made this stove look so much more higher-end.

#12 Create a Space to Gather

white kitchen island with light rattan bar stools

I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but gosh, kitchen island seating is expensive! But finding second-hand furniture that looks designer at a bargain price is my specialty. With style in mind, off to Marketplace, I went. 

I found these three stools locally and for under $300 total! That’s the cost of one new stool. They had minor imperfections, like the rattan fraying on one of the seats. Beyond wiping them down, I didn’t have to do anything to them. It almost felt too easy!

#13 Cozy Kitchen Decor

I had already owned everything I used to decorate my island and floating shelves. I’m not as bad as Joanna Gaines, who has an entire warehouse of her collecting, but I have a few shelves in the basement where I keep things that I find and love but don’t yet have a place for. It’s not hoarding; I prefer to call it “Shop my home.”

Each piece was a secondhand find, and I had so much fun curating these looks. My favorite is the small mason jar glasses and the oversized containers. Both are truly functional, yet are pretty to look at!

I found the small mason jar glasses at one of my local thrift stores and paid $0.25 each. I had never seen this size before, and I thought they were adorable, so I snagged them. I’ve never seen them since! To this day, I still have my eye out for more, but it’s been years of looking, and still nothing.

My 4 Kitchen Remodel Regrets [How I’d do it differently]

kitchen island seating

Surprise, I’m not a kitchen designer! And there are a few things I learned that I would do differently the next time around. 

Lucky for you, I’m giving you those things now, so you don’t have to make the same mistake! 

  1. Find a spot for the trash can. Make it a priority! I had thought about it during the remodel, but I opted not to put it in a cabinet since cabinet space was so limited in my small kitchen. I hate looking at mine and would find a hidden spot for this necessary but ugly eye sore.
  2. Find a spot for the microwave. Same thing, I thought about it, but since cabinet space was so limited, I did not prioritize this either. Luckily, I had a spot in the dining cabinet for it. Although not ideal because of how far away from the actual kitchen it was. Microwaves are such an eye sore, but (maybe sadly) a necessity. Prioritize finding a spot for this the same way you do having the fanciest-looking countertops.
  3. DIY laminate countertops! I did not consider this then, but after completing my kitchen remodel, I realized you can DIY this. They sell the same countertop by the roll, which you then apply to a wood base. I’m sure it’s not easy, but the cost difference is impressive. The rolls of laminate cost around $100! Talk about budget-friendly!
  4. Go for an upgraded sink material. I was given two options, which I had no clue about sink material at the time. And the sales lady was worthless when explaining the differences between my options, so I just went with the most affordable. But, if I had time to research, I’d have picked something more durable. Lesson learned: cheaper isn’t better for your kitchen sink. To spare you from repeating the same mistake, I created a useful guide to the best sink materials for busy households.

The 4 Crazy Simple Ways to Stay on Budget During a Kitchen Remodel

A few other ways I saved money during my kitchen remodel but didn’t cover in the above are these:

  • Kitchen layout – keep the same. Not having to move water, power, gas lines, etc. saves you time and mucho money!
  • Reuse what you can – in a throw-away society, I feel like I must say this again! 
  • Shop for the best deal – prosecco taste on a juice box budget takes patience and persistence. The energy put into finding the exact item at the exact low price I was willing to pay took time.
  • Follow your gut – don’t be swayed to spend more than you can afford just to have “the best” material. The on “trend” design. The “coolest” gadgets, etc. Tune out the influencers and tune into your intuition! 

Am I so proud and impressed with the transformation I came up with all on my own and with such little money- you betcha! 

I hope these ideas inspire you and you realize how obtainable a kitchen remodel on a budget is.

  • You don’t need to hire a designer. 
  • You don’t need to wait until you have more money. 
  • You don’t even need to do everything all at once! 

Xo, Amanda

Don’t Stop Now! Keep Reading!

>> Get the whole story on why I poured myself into transforming this house into our home and then sold it!

>> What can I possibly have learned about renovating a home from the end of a marriage and some of the darkest days of my life: Find out right here!