How to Balance Your Budget in a Kitchen Remodel Project

1. You love the look of stainless steel appliances, but not the price tag. Near-record prices for stainless steel drove the cost of pro-style appliances up as much as 10 percent last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. A 36-inch pro-style dual-fuel range now runs $6,000 or more.

Affordable alternative: Get the look by installing a six-burner pro-style cooktop ($800 – $2,500) and a pair of mid-range wall ovens (about $1,500). Save $2,000 or more.

2. You really need more storage space, but you plan to move in a few years and would rather not invest in custom cabinets. Custom-crafting every nook and cranny for the way you cook may not be the most economical use of your dollars when someone else—with different cooking and lifestyle habits—will be living in your kitchen before the home-equity loan is paid off.

Affordable alternative: Consider working a walk-in pantry into your plan. It’s a remarkably economical way to upgrade your kitchen—a pantry can supply as much storage as a wall or more of custom built-ins. Save as much as $1,100 per linear foot.

3. You want granite countertops, but they’ll bust the budget. Granite’s resistance to moisture, scratching, and high heat makes it a perennially popular (if pricey) choice.

Affordable alternative: If you love the look of granite—or soapstone or marble or handcrafted tile for that matter—work it into your plan. But instead of using it for every countertop, try limiting it to a high-visibility island or to the areas flanking the range. Elsewhere, use less expensive options like plastic laminate or ceramic tile. Mixing also adds visual interest. Save $150 or more per square foot.

4. You want a lighter, brighter kitchen, but knocking down walls just isn’t an option. The space may be drab and dingy, but it gets the job done, and a major overhaul isn’t in the budget right now.

Affordable alternative: Sometimes a well-planned lighting scheme is all it takes to brighten a kitchen. Spend the bucks for the services of a professional planner or lighting designer. That plus simple cosmetic upgrades, such as a fresh paint job, new cabinet hardware, upgraded counters or flooring, and a couple of new appliances can totally transform the space. Save untold thousands by sticking to the original layout.

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