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Ultimate kitchen buying guide: How to renovate your kitchen on a budget

Ultimate kitchen buying guide: How to renovate your kitchen on a budget

©iStockphoto.com/PaulMaguire Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/PaulMaguire Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Ultimate kitchen buying guide: How to renovate your kitchen on a budget

Your kitchen is a hardworking room, possibly the hardest working room in your home. So when it comes to updating your house it only makes sense to consider upgrading your kitchen to make it more functional and family friendly. Plus, should you decide to sell your home, a kitchen renovation will give you the highest return on your investment.

But if the word "renovation" makes you break into a sweat, relax! You don’t need to take out a second mortgage on your house to get the job done. We checked in with Meredith Heron, principal designer of Meredith Heron Design, to find out what you should consider before you start a kitchen renovation and how to do it without breaking the bank.

How to choose a kitchen countertop

Wood is one of the most budget-friendly countertop options on the market. It’s durable and it looks great, but be sure to seal the wood to prevent damage. Heron recommends using "a spar varnish, which is used to protect wood boats from water," she says.

"Carrara marble is another excellent budget-friendly choice if you want to splurge a bit more and go with a stone," Heron suggests. It’s a softer marble, though, and is more prone to scratches. If you’re worried about scratches and marks, she recommends a honed finish instead of a polished finish. "If you keep it sealed, staining is less likely to occur," she explains.

Laminate is another budget-friendly option. "The key to using a laminate is choosing an edge detail that is not a bullnose," says Heron. "That's always the laminate giveaway. A stepped edge or square edge on a dark laminate will fool people into thinking it's a stone."

Kitchen cabinet ideas
Updating your cabinets doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch. 

"If the boxes of your cabinets are in decent shape, you can always reface your cabinetry with new doors," suggests Heron. "To do a decent-size kitchen, including glass doors and drawers, you’re looking at investing about $5,000 to completely reface the cabinets, including installation."

Another wallet-friendly option is painting your existing cabinet doors. While it’s possible to do it yourself, you may want to consider hiring a professional who can remove the doors, spray paint them uniformly, then reinstall them for you. A fresh coat of paint – white is always a fresh choice! – can breathe new life into your kitchen at the fraction of the cost of new cabinetry. Simply install new hardware to complete the look.Upgrade your kitchen sink
You’ll need to decide what you’re looking for in a sink. Do you need a single or a double basin? Consider the width and depth that will work best for your space.

"When purchasing a new sink, you should know what your countertop material is and how you are going to want to install the sink," says Heron. "Undermount sinks, for example, would not be recommended with a wood countertop," she explains.

You want to choose a sink and a countertop that will go well together, but that will also minimize water damage. The colour of the countertop is also going to influence your choice of sink material and colour, Heron says.

"White countertops, for example, often look better with a light sink versus stainless," she explains, "so a cast-iron sink in white may be a better choice."

And don’t forget about the faucet: "If you’re opting for a brass or brushed bronze faucet, this doesn't work well with a stainless sink the same way that white counters don't always work," she says.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but you might want to consult a professional to help you make a choice that you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Kitchen backsplash ideas
Backsplashes and countertops should be replaced together. If you’re planning on changing your countertop in five years, wait until then to update your backsplash, as ripping out the countertop may damage it.

"If you are going to opt for a less expensive countertop – say, a wood counter – but want to make it look more expensive, then consider splurging on an upgraded backsplash, perhaps in a marble mosaic," says Heron.

But if you’re looking for a less expensive alternative, consider simple but elegant subway tiles. "Subway tiles will never go out of style," says Heron, "and they come in a range of sizes and styles. If you’re a messy cook, consider opting for a dark charcoal or black grout instead of matching it to a white or off-white subway tile."

Heron also cautions against choosing matte-finish ceramic tiles or any rough stone finishes, explaining that they are almost impossible to clean, which is definitely not what you want in the kitchen!

Ideas for kitchen floors
Sure, you know what the typical kitchen flooring options are, but Heron is a big fan of Forbo Flooring.

"Forbo floors are great options for kitchens," she says. "They are made from recycled products, are antislip and are comfortable underfoot. I love hardwood in a kitchen as well."

While ceramic tiles are a common choice for kitchen flooring, Heron suggests staying away from them because they can chip easily and tend to look dated.

Ready to start a kitchen renovation? Check out our eight easy ways to update your kitchen on a budget


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Ultimate kitchen buying guide: How to renovate your kitchen on a budget