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Easy kitchen remodel ideas to give you a new look before fall

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2014

As summer wanes, thoughts turn to fall -- and all those kitchen improvements you had intended to get to this season but never found the time or the money to do. Must you live with that old kitchen for another year? The good news is that a few simple upgrades can give you a kitchen that looks new at a fraction of the cost.

Here are a few cheap kitchen remodel ideas that are easy on your time and on your pocketbook. Please note that most price estimates are courtesy of CostHelper.com.

Rethink your countertop

Working on the same countertop every day can become annoying, especially if you really hate the look and feel of it. Simply replacing the countertop space can make your kitchen much more fun. Laminate is a good bet if you want something attractive, durable, and affordable: At between $210 and $900 for a typical kitchen, it's an investment that won't hurt too badly.

Reface kitchen cabinets

Are your kitchen cabinets looking rather ragged? Refacing them means that you get a new look at a fraction of the cost. A full cabinet refacing in a typical kitchen might cost between $1,000 and $3,000 for plastic laminate or rigid thermofoil, or between $2,500 and $6,000 for real wood veneer. Don't have that kind of cash? You can spruce up your cabinets with paint for a tiny fraction of that.

Paint like mad

Speaking of paint, a new layer can make any room feel fresh and new. The ultimate do-it-yourself job, this is something that can be done in a weekend. The cost of supplies varies depending upon the quality of the paint you choose, but expect to pay between $12 and $50 per gallon, plus an additional cost for primer and supplies. Turning to a professional to paint a 15x20 foot room can run between $300 and $700.

Invest in new hardware

It really is the little things that count. Consider your kitchen hardware like jewelry that completes an outfit -- the right stunning piece can make or break the entire ensemble. One of the least expensive options for your kitchen upgrade, attractive hardware begins at $2 to $4 at any home improvement or hardware store, though it can go up to $20 to $50. A frugal homeowner might be able to install new hardware on all cabinets in an afternoon for less than $100.

Light up the new space

When it comes to renovations and updates, lighting tends to be one of the last things homeowners think about -- and as a result, lighting is often inadequate or awkward. Blaze a new trail by making light a priority. Simple under-cabinet lighting can run around $10 at home improvement stores, but consider other lights that might make a splash. For instance, typical recessed lighting costs about $20 to $60 for each light. With new lighting, your kitchen could have a whole new vibe.

Choose unique furniture

If you have an open space in your kitchen, lucky you! That means plenty of room for kitchen furniture that transforms your space from ho-hum to wonderful. Think along the lines of an antique hutch, dry sink, or old farmhouse table. If you are willing to spend some time searching for the right piece, flea markets and antique shops are great places to try. Expect prices to range widely, depending upon the condition of the piece -- you might find a nice table for a few hundred dollars, but that prized hutch might run you $1,000 or more. You can cut costs by committing to buying cheaper pieces with good bones and putting in some DIY work on them.

Consider new appliances

An old, tired kitchen can get an instant update when a new appliance is nestled into place. Though appliances can be pricey, they are built to last for a very long time, so you get your money's worth. A typical refrigerator can run anywhere from $900 to $3,500 and up, depending upon the bells and whistles. A basic range can run between $400 and $1,000, with much higher prices attached to deluxe models. For a cheaper alternative, inquire about purchasing floor models. If you don't a couple small dings, you may be able to score a serious deal.

Which cheap kitchen remodel ideas will you use?

Just one of these upgrades can make a difference in the way your kitchen looks. Consider what is most important to you -- are the cabinets truly annoying you? Is the countertop scarred and dented? Do you get frustrated with the lack of light where you need it? Focus on what you want to change the most, then look at your budget and figure out how to make it work. You spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, so it should be a place you truly enjoy.

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.