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Affordable Custom Kitchens: Keep Kitchen Remodeling Costs within Your Budget

by Susanne Clemenz

Is your cramped, outdated kitchen driving you crazy? In these unsure economic times, your ultimate custom kitchen may be too costly. Instead, do a kitchen remodel that provides your biggest items now and plans for others later.

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How to Prioritize Custom Kitchen Wishes

On a sheet of paper, write kitchen element categories in a column down the left side. At right, label columns "Priority 1," "Priority 2," and "Priority 3." Rate each item. Here are category ideas to get you started:

  • Flooring: Want tile? High-end vinyl or laminate flooring creates a similar custom kitchen look. Postpone tile five years.
  • Cabinets: Tired of the style, but the cabinets are sound? Get new doors, drawer fronts, and hardware, or refinish just the doors and drawer fronts. Or reface all the cabinets for terrific savings over new ones.
  • Appliances: Shop sales, or shop at a store with new, slightly blemished appliances. Or, replace one or two appliances each year.
  • Countertops: Granite is beautiful, but granite-patterned laminates look similar at a fraction of the cost.
  • Plumbing: Splurge on that special kitchen faucet and install a garbage disposal. Clean up the old sink with chlorine bleach and appliance touch-up paint. Sand excess paint with fine automotive sandpaper.
  • Lighting: Install under-cabinet lighting to brighten task areas. Add a decorative pendant light over the sink or kitchen island.
  • Kitchens Islands: Add a manufactured one now. Build a custom kitchen island in a few years.

Research prices on your Priority 1 items. Add any Priority 2 or 3 items that fit your custom kitchen budget. Focus on other items in a year or two. Your kitchen can look and function better immediately, and it's fun to watch it get even better with time!

About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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