Kitchen Face Lift for under $2,000!

Remodeling a kitchen is expensive, that's no secret. In our first home, we were not in the position to pay $30K (or more) for a dream kitchen. Sure, we could go for less expensive but that would have meant compromising on quality in both material and labor. I knew if we were going to remodel, we wanted to do it right. 

That said, I could not continue to deal with plaid green floors and fruit-flower wall paper. 

We caught a lucky break and found hardwood flooring beneath the linoleum. If that hadn't happened, to keep it cheap, I would have just selected a nicer looking linoleum to go in its place. That can either come in a roll or as adhesive backed tiles. I like the adhesive backed tiles because you can easily replace one of them if needed and they're easy to install. Interlocking vinyl tiles or laminate could have been options also.

We removed the wall paper, painted the cabinets, replaced the cabinet pulls and added new lighting fixtures. That totaled around $800. I purchased the lighting fixtures from Habitat for Humanity and the rest from Menard's. Lastly, we spend $1,100 on used appliances and wah-la, my kitchen was no longer an eyesore and actually maintained some vintage charm! 

For less than $2,000, we were able to transform our embarrassing kitchen to one that we were proud of!

My husband did all the labor so that was hugely helpful and we also lucked out on the floors. We didn't need to replace our counter tops or back splash. If we'd needed to replace the counter tops, I would have just selected another laminate counter top (there are some attractive options out now) and it's the least expensive option. I wouldn't have selected a granite counter top for this little face lift in case we wanted to change the kitchen layout down the road; in which case we would not be able to reuse the granite. If we'd needed to replace the back splash,  I would have selected an inexpensive ceramic tile or even used a semi-gloss painted bead board. 

You can't really see the paint color on the other wall but here is the adjoining eating area on the back porch that we also did ourselves and it coordinates with the kitchen. Here, we did use the interlocking vinyl tile flooring and it was a HUGE PAIN to install but we are not professional installers so that could have something to do with it. Turned out nice though! 

We took the back porch down to the studs however, unlike the kitchen!

That's me after too much coffee. Three hours later, I was not so chipper trust me!

 

 

Quartz or Granite?

If you are remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, the tasks might seem daunting. One of the big ticket items you'd be purchasing is the counter tops. How do you know which material is right for you? With so many options in so many price ranges, it is important to understand the differences. Here, we will examine two popular options: granite and quartz.

Granite

I put granite on the top of the list since it is the most specified counter top material for updated kitchens and bathrooms. Granite is a natural stone that is usually "speckled" in appearance. Some slabs might appear more even grained and some might have more movement. Generally, the more movement and the more you see speckles that reflect a rainbow of colors, the more expensive it will be. Pricing for granite slabs is not so much based on durability since it is all the same kind of stone but on appearance and availability. 

Granite with a more swirly, movement appearance

Granite with a more swirly, movement appearance

Some granite has "speckles" that reflect a rainbow of color.

Some granite has "speckles" that reflect a rainbow of color.

Granite is extremely durable and does not chip or scratch easily. Since it is a natural stone, it does need to be sealed about once a year or so but that can vary from slab to slab and there even products out there that can keep your granite sealed forever! Sealing granite is not very difficult and really shouldn't dissuade you from selecting granite, contrary to what many Quartz manufacturers will say. That said, Quartz is also a very popular choice for counter tops.

The variation inherent in some slabs of granite can make a strong design statement, especially if you can display a large area of the slab such as on a kitchen island. It is important to remember that vanities and kitchen counter tops will only be 20-26" deep or so. If your slab has a particular area of interest that you want to be displayed, you must work with your fabricator to ensure it does not get cut out or apart.

The larger, darker area of this granite has very beautiful reflective features that you would want to make sure stand out!

The larger, darker area of this granite has very beautiful reflective features that you would want to make sure stand out!


Quartz

Quartz has become very popular in the last few years due to its durability, low maintenance and wide range of color selections. Despite the way the name sounds, Quartz is not 100% natural stone. A Quartzite slab is a natural stone whereas Quartz counter tops are made of a polymer resin that bonds together quartz aggregates.  

A resin bonds together quartz aggregates. Photo of Silestone Stellar Snow, courtesy of Home Depot.

A resin bonds together quartz aggregates. Photo of Silestone Stellar Snow, courtesy of Home Depot.

They use pigments to color the resin and that is why Quartz counter tops have the ability to come in more vibrant, even color than granite. They can even put mirror or other aggregates in quartz to add a unique visual interest.

Quartz can come in vibrant colors since pigment can be added to the resin. Additional aggregates such as mirror can add interest also. Photo courtesy of sabbini.com

Quartz can come in vibrant colors since pigment can be added to the resin. Additional aggregates such as mirror can add interest also. Photo courtesy of sabbini.com

Quartz is generally more expensive than granite but there is such a variation in the different slabs of each, there are often exceptions to this. Quartz does not typically have the "movement" that natural stone has and depending on your design intent, this can be a positive or a negative attribute. Visually, I tend to prefer quartz in more contemporary settings. Silestone and Cambria are two popular brands of quartz. Cambria does a better job of mimicking natural stone while Silestone has a wide selection of fantastic color and texture choices. Even though Quartz is man-made, it is still formed into slabs and is usually purchased by slab.