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Our Lake House Kitchen Remodel On a Budget

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open kitchen and living room with vaulted white ceiling, leather couch, island stools, black ceiling fan, rope pendants

Updated: I recently shared this cute lake house purchase story in New Hampshire earlier this year so if you missed that post, be sure to check out the post, our lake house in New Hampshire.

The old kitchen had a kitchen wall with a door and window. We decided to remove the old door and window to create space for a new wall of kitchen cabinets increasing the kitchen layout and cabinet storage.

Here is the cabin style lake house kitchen before:

lake house rental log cabin stained plank walls living room kitchen

Removing the door and window allowed for a small u shaped kitchen providing space for additional cabinets.

Here is a picture I snapped with my phone before we hung the pendants and added the counter stools.

lake house kitchen, white cabinets, black countertop, driftwood color flooring, raised dog bowl

Here is the kitchen after with new pendants, counter stools and decor.

Small modern lake house kitchen with U shaped layout, white subway tile backsplash, dog bowl attached to island, black counters and coastal pendants from Amazon.

Isn’t the before and after kitchen amazing!? You will notice in the kitchen picture above, the vaulted ceiling is white. Yes, we painted the entire interior white and it’s so pretty! Our kitchen remodel on a budget project was one of the first things we tackled and it was so exciting to see if finished.

Kitchen Remodel Ideas On A Budget

Our lake house kitchen “before” layout was small and a mix of appliances, counter and cabinets. The flow was awkward due to the existing window and door on the far wall.

Here is a picture of the lake house kitchen before the remodel. I snapped this picture the first day we visited the house after we bought it last October. You can see more of the “before” kitchen and lake house here.

lake house rental log cabin stained plank walls living room kitchen

As you can see above, the old kitchen layout was a bit hodge podge and needed some TLC. The window didn’t open and the door was broken so they both needed to be either replaced or removed so we opted to remove and enlarge the kitchen.

These small kitchen remodeling ideas will get you the most bang for your buck. Google and pinterest have several small u shaped kitchen remodel ideas and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when trying to update a space on a budget. Our motto for this kitchen space was to keep it simple while still making it look nice.

The prior lake house design was more of a cabin or camp style. It was very cute but we wanted more of a modern cottage on the lake feel with a hint of coastal.

adding a new wall of kitchen cabinets to a wall and removing an old window and door

How do I design my kitchen on a budget?

When remodeling and designing a kitchen on a budget, it’s important to maximize the existing space and layout as adding on an addition or tearing down walls is not budget friendly. Most of our budget was spent on buying new kitchen cabinets to add on the far wall and a butcher block countertop. Keeping the same layout when designing a new kitchen will save you thousands of dollars.

We did have some labor charges involved too as Jim needed to pay some of his crew for a couple days of work. There were many late nights though where Jim and I worked (with maybe a bottle of wine 😃) until almost midnight on this kitchen. Sweat equity is a real thing! 🙂

We also removed the old upper kitchen cabinets and rehung to the correct height of 54″ adding more distance from the counter to the bottom of the upper cabinets (click through the post, how to rehang kitchen cabinets) I love it!

attaching white upper kitchen cabinets to a wall in a lake house remodeling project

The existing kitchen cabinets were the Diamond line from Lowes so they were budget friendly and in stock. That was a bonus! There are several ways to give builder grade or budget friendly kitchen cabinets a customized look so we decided to keep the existing cabinets and purchase additional cabinets for the new wall. Keep reading, I will share how we gave these builder grade cabinets a custom look below.

How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen?

Remodeling costs in a kitchen will vary based on the size, materials, layout and structural considerations. No kitchen is the same but an average mid-size kitchen remodel will be approximately $20,000 – $50,000 depending on materials, your personal choice in products and location ect.

Our lake house kitchen is a second home for weekends, vacations and will be rented by the week a small portion of the time (will be coming soon to Airbnb!) so it didn’t make sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars to spruce up the kitchen.

A budget remodel for under $3000 made the most sense. Jim did most of the work himself so your cost will be higher as you will need to hire help but if you are handy, then you will save thousands in labor!

Today, labor and material costs are insanely high so a kitchen remodel cost in 2020 or even 2021 is now significantly higher in 2022. In many cases, we have seen in the building/construction world, materials double and sometimes triple in price vs. a year ago to two years ago.

Isn’t the DIY raised dog bowl feeder below the cutest ever! Jim is very talented and whipped this up in an hour! Yes that is a working water faucet too which makes filling the dog bowl very easy :).

lake house kitchen, white cabinets, black countertop, driftwood color flooring, raised dog bowl

Here are the cost savings and all of the money saving tips we did for our lake house kitchen remodel:

Our Kitchen Remodel on a Budget Ideas

  1. Reuse existing kitchen cabinets. A kitchen remodel on a budget does not usually incorporate new cabinets. You can either paint your old cabinets, change cabinet doors or buy a few more to create a larger kitchen space like we did.
  2. Change the layout by adding additional cabinets without tearing down walls. If you change your layout and need to rehang your existing cabinets, that is still cheaper than buying all new cabinets. Keeping the existing layout will definitely save you money but if you have a wall (like we did) that would be better served with cabinets and your budget allows, then purchase additional cabinets to match your existing cabinets.
  3. Replace just the kitchen cabinet doors and leave the existing upper and lower cabinet bases. Having new doors made and mounted is a great way to update a kitchen without breaking the bank. Of course, you may need to paint your base cabinets but that is still much cheaper than buying all new cabinets. We are considering doing this in our current kitchen! Haven’t seen our kitchen yet, click here for a tour! Our kitchen in our home is very fancy, traditional and was popular in the early 2000’s. Not my first choice but it’s a very expensive change so it’s on my wish list :).
  4. Keep existing counters and buy a butcher block countertop and stain it to coordinate with your existing counter. We opted to keep our existing counter and we stained the butcher block counter black to match the existing counter. We saved thousands by not replacing and adding all new counters. A quartz kitchen countertop for this kitchen would have been roughly $5,500.00.
  5. Add strip under cabinet lighting. LED Strip cabinet lighting is a DIY budget friendly lighting that anyone can install and it’s barely noticeable under the cabinet. We installed our under cabinet lighting in 30 minutes for under $50.
  6. Purchase wooden drawer organizers or install pull out cabinet drawers to add more storage features to basic builder grade cabinets. We purchased this wooden silverware drawer organizer on Amazon and wow, it made the drawer so much more organized and pretty! These pull out drawers are also very easy to install and perfect for stacked pots and pan storage. We have these wooden pull out drawers and they help keep items from getting lost in the back of a deep cabinet.
  7. Add crown molding to the top of your upper kitchen cabinets. Crown molding will add a custom look and eliminate the gap between the upper cabinets and the ceiling. In our case, our ceiling is vaulted so the crown doesn’t go to the ceiling (that would look pretty funny -ha) but you can see how the crown adds a finished look to the overall kitchen design. If you have a gap above your kitchen cabinets, I highly recommend installing a crown molding! It’s a budget friendly way to make it look custom.
  8. Purchase your appliances at a 2nd hand or used appliance store if possible. Purchasing 2nd hand appliances is a great choice when doing a kitchen remodel on a budget. We purchased all of our kitchen appliances from a place in Rhode Island that essentially buys leftover appliances from big box stores and/or refurbishes 1-2 year old appliances.
  9. DIY! The biggest money saving tip when it comes to a kitchen remodel on a budget is to do the work yourself. If that is not possible, then you can still save thousands by shopping wisely for materials and considering the money saving tips I mentioned above.
  10. Install white subway tile. Our lake house kitchen backsplash is simple subway tile which is one of the cheapest backsplash options and if you have a small amount of DIY in your blood, you can do this project! White subway tile is classic and never goes out of style (in my opinion) and we purchased our tiles for approximately $1 a square foot. For under $300 we installed a full tile backsplash that I think came out great! Jim showed me some time saving backsplash installation tips (I’ll share a post on that soon) and off I went, installing the kitchen backsplash. I’m not a fan of grouting though – Jimbo helped me with that!
  11. Add new cabinet hardware! The original kitchen cabinets had nickel knobs which were fine but we wanted the white and black contrast so changing the cabinet hardware was an affordable way to get that look. We decided to go with these black “knot style” knobs on the cabinet doors and these black drawer pulls. The feel like the door knobs resemble a coastal rope knot which tied in nicely with the modern coastal cottage theme.

Here is an example below of the kitchen drawer organizer I mentioned above. Click through this post, “best kitchen drawer organizer” to see which organizers and drawer pull outs we used for this kitchen.

Small little organizational features like this drawer organizer below is an easy way to enhance a kitchen while staying on budget.

wood kitchen drawer organizer from Amazon for silverware and utensils

Budget Kitchen Remodel

Have you seen the waterfront view from this kitchen overlooking the lake? Check out our post, lake house in New Hampshire , the view is amazing. The house sits about 50′ from the lake and it’s the number one reason why we purchased the property last year.

Remodeling a kitchen on a budget (check out our full DIY kitchen renovation at our old house if you want to add an island and tear down walls) is definitely doable if you plan ahead and are organized with your ideas. Whether you are completing a full kitchen renovation or a DIY kitchen remodel the updated kitchen will add value to your home.

Our modern lake house kitchen now has an open concept and the living room flows nicely into the kitchen.

white kitchen cabinets, coastal rope ball pendants, black countertop, white stools blue leather seat, dog bowl with faucet, rustic barnwood vinyl plank flooring, black ceiling fan

Home Decor & Products We Purchased:

  1. The white and blue leather seat counter stools are 24″ and fit perfectly at our kitchen island space. You can find them here and they come in a variety of colors!
  2. The rope style coastal woven island pendants add pretty texture to the space and help soften the rectangular lines of the kitchen cabinets. You can find them here on Amazon.
  3. We used 3×6 white subway tile (buy here) for the backsplash keeping it neutral and classic.
  4. The black ceiling fan (see here) provided a modern element to the space while adding functionality.
  5. The stainless steel gooseneck faucet was reasonably priced, looked great and had good reviews so that’s a win!
white kitchen cabinets, coastal rope ball pendants, black countertop, white stools blue leather seat, dog bowl with faucet, rustic barnwood vinyl plank flooring

If you are looking for more kitchen makeover inspiration and kitchen updates, check out this kitchen remodel we recently did at the split level flip house. There are so many ways to save money on a small kitchen remodel (even a big one for that matter!) if you do your homework, complete some or all of the work yourself and purchase budget friendly materials.

Meet Jessica

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.

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