It’s the hub of the home. The only room where the design must be "built with love." Perhaps that's why the average kitchen remodel costs $25,000, according to an article in Forbes. Most luxury kitchen upgrades probably cost a lot more.
Chances are, if your garage isn’t filled with table saws, routers and other professional woodworking tools, your ability to create a professional custom kitchen will be limited. That said, you don't have to drop double digits on an upgrade. You also don’t need to gut your entire kitchen to get a space you’re happy with that has a luxurious finish.
For a contractor, a big part of the cost of building a custom kitchen is client relations. Many hours are spent learning what the customer wants and ensuring the designers are creating a perfect space. If you’re the customer for your own project, you can save a chunk of money by figuring out exactly what you want and what it will cost to build it. Even if you’re aren’t sawing and nailing the wood, a clear understanding of material and labor costs will help ensure a reasonable price for the project.
Get inspiration — and search for used elements
Look around and figure out what you do and don’t want. Perhaps you can pick up tables and chairs made by designers you love at an estate sale or on eBay. You may need to paint over scuffs or even refinish some pieces, but the overall cost will be much lower than what it is on showroom floor. Restoration shops may even have a bank of cabinets that were removed from an upscale kitchen and can be reinstalled in your home.
What are you comfortable building?
In order to understand what you can build and what you may need to hire someone to build, you need to be very honest about your abilities. Maybe you can install a backsplash, but attaching a range hood is going to be out of your comfort zone. Even Eric Reinholdt, an architect and host of the 30X40 Design Workshop Youtube channel, admits he made mistakes and then redid parts of his kitchen rebuild.
Are you okay with making mistakes?
If you’re living by yourself, you may be willing to shrug off a power outlets being unusable for a couple of days. Will your partner and children be okay with it? What if days stretch into weeks while you wait for repairperson to show up and fix the mistakes you made?
High-end faucets and sinks aren’t always as cheap as you would like them to be, but they can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a kitchen. With a little research and planning, you may be able to install them yourself.
You’re probably not going to build your own stove and oven, but shopping at the right places can help you cut down on costs. You may be able to find a low price online or for a model that’s been discontinued. For example, you can check on superiorhomesupplies.com for specialized cooking and HVAC systems. Want a professional grade stove? Restaurants unfortunately go out of business and supply stores sell reconditioned units.
Depending on your comfort level working around electricity, you may be able to install new recessed and hanging lights. Research goes a long way into finding the right product. These days you can even find programmable lights that can be customized for your space.
Refacing Cabinets or Ready to Assemble Cabinets
Maybe you can get away with refacing cabinets instead of building new ones. Some companies specialize in selling new doors for popular cabinets, like the ones made by IKEA. You may need to do a little drilling for everything to line up properly, but it’s a lot easier and cheaper than completely new cabinetry.
Even if you’re not a woodworker, you may be comfortable putting together ready-to-assemble cabinetry. Like IKEA products, these cabinets and drawers come in pieces with instructions. You have to be comfortable with measuring and designing your space in addition to installing the pre-made cabinets. In the above video, Alicia from Pneumatic Addict demonstrates that even with the ready-to-assemble system, they also cut and installed extra pieces of wood where some insulation was necessary, like next to the stove and ovens. Depending on the shape of your kitchen walls, you may need to shave down or shape some of the corners of these pieces to properly install them.
Are you a baker who keeps 10 pounds of flour in the cupboard just in case inspiration strikes? Do you regularly shop for the freshest fish you can find and need to have an arsenal of razor sharp blades within arm’s reach at all times? It’s likely that your personal approach to cooking will impact the custom kitchen you want and how it will be laid out.
Some people love the look of exposed knives and pots; others prefer everything in its place so the kitchen almost looks like an interior design store when it isn’t being used.
If you know your preferences beforehand and can plan accordingly, you’ll likely have an easier time getting what you want.
If you want to remove the clutter from your countertops, new under the sink options or smarter in-drawer organizers can help get you there.
While a kitchen rebuild probably won't ever be "cheap," you can definitely keep costs down by thinking through your preferences, shopping wisely and building within abilities.