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Kitchen Remodel: Choosing Materials to Fit Your Lifestyle

Updated on April 3, 2014

Remodel A Kitchen on a Budget: $1200 Can Make a Big Difference

Making Progress. The next step is having the electrical contractor come to move the light switches. Is that an angel in the upper center of the photo?
Making Progress. The next step is having the electrical contractor come to move the light switches. Is that an angel in the upper center of the photo? | Source

Select Remodel Materials Wisely

Get samples of the materials you are considering. Be sure to keep colors in the same tone, such as warm, neutral, or cool tones for best results.
Get samples of the materials you are considering. Be sure to keep colors in the same tone, such as warm, neutral, or cool tones for best results. | Source

Research Remodel Materials During the Planning Stage

When doing a kitchen remodel, it is important to choose materials that will fit your family's lifestyle in addition to adding beauty and functionality. If you want to see the before and after photos of this project you can scroll down to the bottom of this page. For now, though, let's talk about the preliminary planning. Researching your remodel project is very important. By doing the homework now, you can save a lot of headaches later.

When I talk about researching, I am talking about reviewing your project plan. If you do not have a written plan, you should begin by making one. This plan is your guide. It is your vision for your finished kitchen.

In order to develop your budget and stick with it, you may need to revise your plan several times. This is why the researching stage is so critical to the success of the project. During this phase it is a good idea to begin browsing your local home improvement stores to get an idea of how much it will cost. While you are doing this, ask yourself what parts of your kitchen you can keep and revive.

For example, when thinking about cabinets and counters, can you repair, reface, paint and keep the cabinets? Doing this can save a lot of money in your budget that you could put toward something else in the project, such as floors, window treatments, or that granite you fell in love with.

Prepare yourself for a series of trade-offs unless you have an unlimited budget.

Kitchen Colors and Textures

See how things look as you go along. Here you see natural stone back splash with a little bling worked in. The counter tile is slightly metalic in shades of copper and bronze. These tones are very neutral and work with a very wide variety of colors.
See how things look as you go along. Here you see natural stone back splash with a little bling worked in. The counter tile is slightly metalic in shades of copper and bronze. These tones are very neutral and work with a very wide variety of colors. | Source

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Plan Your Kitchen Color and Texture Scheme

When planning your colors and textures, your senses can be inundated with the sheer volume of materials and colors. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind here is that colors have basically three tones: Cool tones, neutral tones, and warm tones. Even a color such as blue can be either cool, neutral, or warm.

If the major elements are in cool tones, then you will want to choose colors that are also cool in tone for the paint, decor, and other finishes. When choosing colors for major elements such as counter toppings, and cabinetry, remember that you might want to change your color scheme in five years or even sooner. By choosing your colors well, you can easily switch out accessories and have a completely different look for the room without having to remodel the entire kitchen.

In this kitchen remodel project, I chose to use natural stone and metalics in the shades of copper, bronze and gold. For the most part, metals and stone are neutral. By using a color scheme based on natural elements, the scheme for the rest of the kitchen can easily be changed because the natural elements go well with virtually every color on the spectrum.

Get a couple samples in the colors you are considering and then live with them for a while. Tile samples can be returned to the store for a refund. When choosing tile, I usually buy about two square feet and just set it out in the area where it will be used. Then I position various objects that will be used on a daily basis around it so that I can see how the colors and textures work in different light and how it will look on real days. Not just when everything is picture perfect. I do this because that is how reality works. We have to live with what we purchase on the messy house days as well as the perfect days.

When choosing the textures, think about your normal daily lifestyle. Will the material be easy to clean? Is carpet going in a high-traffic area? If so, a low pile seems to wear better and look nice longer than a longer stranded carpet, which tends to mat down instead of standing up as it did when it was first installed.


Base Cabinet Recycled Into Kitchen Island

Before photo. The base cabinet was removed from a wall. A new counter top was added to turn this wall cabinet into a kitchen island.
Before photo. The base cabinet was removed from a wall. A new counter top was added to turn this wall cabinet into a kitchen island. | Source

Counter Top Surface Selection

The surfaces of your counters should match your lifestyle and budget. We all love granite and marble, but these materials are very expensive, both in the cost of the actual product and in the expense of having them installed.

Availability also depends on where you are geographically. When you search online for colors you may find out that the color you like is not available in your area. This is usually due to the high cost of shipping. Granite that is taken out of the ground on the east coast is very costly to ship to the west coast. In addition, I have found that in my area at least, the variety of color in the granites and marbles is very limited. I do not want my kitchen to look like every other kitchen in this area. So in this remodel project I decided to go outside the box and use materials that I could get in the colors I wanted instead of changing my color scheme to fit the available and standard counter top materials available.

Another major consideration is lifestyle. Because I cook a lot at home, I wanted a kitchen island with a surface that would absorb impact if I needed to break up a bag of ice, as well as being super easy to clean. The kitchen cupboard that was removed from a wall that was knocked out was just the right dimensions for the island. The old counter top was removed and a new surface done in an earth-toned laminate was installed. This saved money and gave me the functionality I wanted.

New Kitchen Floor on a Budget

This vinyl kitchen tile was easy to do and the tone and texture work well with the dining area hard wood floor.
This vinyl kitchen tile was easy to do and the tone and texture work well with the dining area hard wood floor. | Source

Floor Coverings

As you can see in the photo at your right, the new floor covering in the kitchen goes well in pattern, color, and texture with the hardwood flooring in the dining area. For this project I chose a simple vinyl plank style. I installed it myself and it was easy to do. The knotty pine boards on the floor will be used to fill in the floor where the wall was removed. They will be cut to shape, sanded and refinished to blend well with the transition between the vinyl and hardwood.

This project needed a smooth transition between rooms. If I had used a wood laminate flooring for the kitchen, there would have been a ridge on the floor between the two rooms. It was important to keep the hardwood in the dining and living areas, so to make a smooth transition, the vinyl worked perfectly.

A New Kitchen Sink Can Make All The Difference

Living with a kitchen remodel in progress can be tough. But this new sink makes a sink full of dishes and recycling stuff look so much better!
Living with a kitchen remodel in progress can be tough. But this new sink makes a sink full of dishes and recycling stuff look so much better! | Source

Sinks, Faucets, and Light Fixtures

These items can become costly very quickly. When choosing sinks, be sure to consider not only the cost of the sink and faucets, but the cost of paying someone for the installation as well. Some sinks can cost upwards of $500, and require reworking of existing plumbing and cabinetry in order to complete the installation.

The sink shown in this photo cost about $100. The faucet, however, cost about $160. Both were very easy to install, though, and the cabinet did not need to be modified to complete the installation.

Light fixtures can also cause remodel costs to skyrocket. For this project I kept it very simple. Moving light fixtures can be expensive and incur extra contractor fees for cut-outs and fill-ins, not to mention costly electrician fees for moving and adding wiring. I decided to keep the fixtures in the same place, but found new fixtures on clearance at a local hardware store. Then I applied a copper finish to the fixtures to make them blend well with the style of the rest of the room. Total cost for two light fixtures was about $15. It took the electrician exactly 12 minutes to install both fixtures. Saved lots of money on this.

Save Money on Kitchen Appliances: Work with Existing Stoves, Dishwashers, and Refrigerators

Because the major appliances were all the same color and in good condition, remodel costs were greatly reduced.
Because the major appliances were all the same color and in good condition, remodel costs were greatly reduced. | Source

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Kitchen Appliance Size, Style, and Colors

Whenever possible, working with existing appliances can save thousands of dollars. In this case, all of the appliances were the same color, white, and were in good working condition. The side-by-side refrigerator freezer with the water and ice maker is large enough to accommodate a busy family, and does a good job of keeping food at the proper temperatures. The appliances also match the color of the cabinetry, so money was saved by not changing them. While new cabinetry was added to the right of the refrigerator, the finish, color, and style was easy to find.

If you find that you need to replace these major appliances, try to make them all match in finish. Brushed metal finishes will work with almost any style and color. If your cabinets are white, however, white appliances will blend well and create a more uniform look to the room. An added benefit here is that white appliances usually cost less than their metalic counterparts.

Before: A lonely, drab room.

This kitchen was cut off from the family and dining areas and had a lot of wasted space. The laminate counters were so old the finish was wearing off from repeated scrubbing, and the color of the room was lack-luster
This kitchen was cut off from the family and dining areas and had a lot of wasted space. The laminate counters were so old the finish was wearing off from repeated scrubbing, and the color of the room was lack-luster | Source

After: A functional Kitchen With Depth and a Luxurious Feel

After the remodel, the kitchen is very high-functioning and you are not cut off from the rest of the house. The island is the workhorse of the room, and guests can pull up a chair and visit while you cook.
After the remodel, the kitchen is very high-functioning and you are not cut off from the rest of the house. The island is the workhorse of the room, and guests can pull up a chair and visit while you cook. | Source

Microwave and Beverage Station With Added Storage

This Station is guest-friendly. While I cook, my guests can fix beverages and even microwave something. Having the microwave up off the counters increased the available work areas.
This Station is guest-friendly. While I cook, my guests can fix beverages and even microwave something. Having the microwave up off the counters increased the available work areas. | Source

© 2014 Nancy Owens

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  • Nancy Owens profile image
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    Nancy Owens 3 years ago from USA

    Yes, it can be a lot of work. Another way to save on costs is to buy the materials yourself. Contractors add a mark-up to the actual cost of materials, and it is fair because they are spending the time to go and get them, haul them, and if the homeowner decides not to continue with the project, they are left with unused materials they have to store until they can use them in a future project. By selecting and purchasing the items yourself, you can save quite a bit of money. Most home improvement stores will deliver for a flat fee. If I need a lot of stuff I come out ahead by making the purchases myself.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    I need to do this as well, and I'm not excited about the process. The inconvenience, having to make such big decisions, and then the cost. I like how yours has turned out for you. A backslash and an island redo is definitely in the cards for me.

  • Nancy Owens profile image
    Author

    Nancy Owens 3 years ago from USA

    Living in your home while you do the remodel is a bit chaotic, but is okay when you do the work in sections. That way you can clean and organize as you go. While doing this, it was really messy removing the two short walls, but after that it wasn't so bad. However, I had to move furniture and other stuff almost daily!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    We have to do this in the next two years before we sell this house...and I'm dreading it like the plague. LOL Thanks for the tips!