Kitchen update advice

AndresrrFebruary 14, 2014

Live in a house that was built in the 50's. The kitchen is outdated and my wife and I desperately want to update, but don't have the funds to do a full remodel. The countertops are especially bad, as they are tiles in a burnt orange that need regrouting at the very least. Obviously, the preference would be to destroy them.

The cabinets were actually resurfaced probably 15 years are withe a light wood laminate over what I think are the original cabinets. The doors are flat. Structurally, the cabinets are rock solid and do not appear to have any issues, except that they are boring and probably would not look great with nice counters.

We have priced new quartz counters in a grey, cement like tone. The average is about 5k demoing current counters and installing new ones. We could swing this, no problem. But estimates for the cabinets are 15k for the cheapest of the cheap. That would not be good regardless.

We have not priced the cost of resurfacing cabinets but if it was 10k, that's probably too rich as well. If we replaced counters, I imagine we could not then replace cabinets later but might have a chance to resurface later. Does that seem sound?

So what to do. Would quartz counters with laminate cabinets look ridiculous in the meantime? Should we just grit our teeth and wait until we saved enough for the full deal? Any idea the cost of resurfacing with something other than laminate versus full replacement?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd either grit my teeth and wait or install a very inexpensive countertop to get by tell you can afford a full kitchen remodel. Like Formica sheets from Lowe's. I would not spend $5K on quartz.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 6:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are a lot of surprisingly nice looking and reasonably priced laminate options out there if you can't live with the countertops (and from what you described, I wouldn't be able to either). Another possibly reasonably priced option is going with butcherblock - you might want to check out an IKEA if you have one nearby as they have butcherblock options that you might be able to use.

If you think that you would like to do a full kitchen remodel sometime in the semi-near future (say 5-7 years), I would save the money that you would have used for another more expensive countertop to help get you closer to your future remodel goal. It's a shame when you are doing a full remodel to allow yourself to get locked into keeping what may be a less than ideal design because you need to work within the parameters of the countertops.

Let's just say for sake of numbers, you will spend 5K for the quartz but can spend 1.5K-ish (maybe less to even significantly less) for another type of counter that you will keep for 5 years before you can redo the entire kitchen. This means that over the course of 5 years, your quartz countertop will cost you $83 per month to enjoy it (and probably lengthen the amount of time that you will need to wait for a new kitchen) or you can spend what works out to $25 per month if you get a less expensive option.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 7:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I agree the burnt orange tiles need to go. I would replace the counter top now. Also agree to go with a laminate. It is the most reasonable option for price as far as I know. I have laminate and I have never been sorry I got it. They do have a wooden trim around the outside edge and I think that makes them look much better.

I would not spend money redoing cabinets that have already been resurfaced. I would wait until I could afford a real remodel. If I were on a budget, I would definitely think seriously about IKEA cabinets and maybe you could use their wood counters for part of your kitchen surfaces to bring some interest if the cost was not more than the laminate.

If you can't stand your cabinets, maybe you could change the hardware or add some trim to them, if you can DIY with some degree of confidence. Just to hold you until a full remodel.

Probably not what you want to hear, sorry.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the layout works for you, what about replacing doors or painting the cabinets and perhaps go with wood counters?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 11:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We're juggling similar decisions in our 60's house, and it's not easy. Two additional things we consider are:

-Other updates often needed by older homes (we updated HVAC, windows, electric service, for example.) We tend to look at the house needs as one big bucket of money, so the kitchen budget has to make sense in relation to other needs.

-How much at risk we are for overinvesting/underinvesting for our area, based on what kinds of kitchens neighboring homes have.

We're keeping our old cabinets and going with wood or laminate counters, to keep costs down, so we can float more money around elsewhere.

I had a tile counter for many years, but if the grout on yours is in bad shape, I'll bet a pretty new laminate countertop would be a great relief!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 12:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All houses are a bucket of money! I live in a 15 year old house that we built that needs new windows( leaking air like a sieve, cloudy due to broken seals) our cabinets are butt ugly fake crap that are starting to fall apart, we have replaced all the faucets(leaks, ugly) all the ceiling lights,most of the flooring, 2 new water heaters, repaired the furnace, etc. the joke is that we stayed away from the older homes because we thought new build meant, no fixing or replacing!
We have 18 cabs quoted(5 drawer bases) in the medallion silver and kemper echo for $8k. They are perfectly reasonable choices for a modest home so if you went new cabs , you could do it for less than 15k
Or if the cabs are original and real wood, you could paint them. I sanded down and repainted some old furniture this summer and the items ended up looking awesome. It is a very up to date look for old wood. Then you could get the counter you like within budget.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for responses thus far. Perhaps I could add to the thread by posting pictures of cabinets and layout. The cabinets are original but the doors are not, as the cabinets were refaced several years ago by previous owner.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 4:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the layout works for you, I'd paint them or maybe gel stain them. Just checked out a book form the library "Debbie Travis' Painted House: Kitchens and Baths." Really nifty painting ideas.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 7:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i really like your slab door and layout. it is sort of 50s modern but the tile counter takes away from that cool retro look. the cabs are probably nice solid wood but i am not sure what the refinishing process does to the cab box so stain could be problematic. if you like the color and it is in good condition, you could do a nice quartz and have a cool retro modern kitchen for a minimal cost!
i thought about painting my cabs but unlike your, they are particle board with thin peeling veneer. most new cabs are just not as solid as old ones!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

also you could could channel the 50s vibe and paint them the funky 50s colors

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gosh, wish my prior kitchen looked *that* good! If it was mine, I would change the countertop, a laminate, and move on to something else for the time being. That's not to say I wouldn't spend time dreaming, researching to make a realistic budget, including project creep monies, and really think about what my new kitchen would be like, while I was waiting to obtain the funds.

With the difference in monies between getting a less expensive countertop and a more expensive one, I'd open a kitchen/special projects account and get the ball rolling. (Sometimes I need motivation to keep me engaged). I didn't notice any mention regarding current appliances. Depending on age and condition, as was my case, fridge went before I was ready to remodel. I replaced based on my vision of my future kitchen. The 20 yr old dishwasher was on its last leg but I refused to replace it (only 2 of us) before the remodel since I wanted a panel ready in my future kitchen. Everyone's different, but that's what I'd do.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You know, I really think that getting rid of that tile countertop and changing the backsplash will give your kitchen a whole new look and feel. From what I could see in the photo, it seems reasonable that you might want to change the layout in the future, so I would for sure look toward a less expensive counter, use another few hundred to spruce up a bit here and there, and then bank the rest for when you can do the remodel. Remember, get a counter you can live with, but not cry about when you get rid of it once you save up for the full remodel.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 10:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with above posters..those countertops have to go. Tile/grout is very unsanitary in the kitchen. Bacteria flourishes in the grout.
Your cabinets and floors look to be in good shape. I would just replace the countertop with a GOOD laminate for now. Of course, you'll have to replace the backsplash too if it is installed on top of the countertop. If not, bonus, just replace the countertop, and save those nickels and dimes until you can do the kitchen of your dreams.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 11:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all for the advice thus far. Still rumination but your input is very helpful.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 11:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Looking at your photo, I agree, your kitchen doesn't look bad at all. The cabinets look like they are in good shape and you said yourself they are 'rock solid'. They may not look like the style you like, and to you, they look 'boring' but they have clean lines that will work with many styles. I think changing out the counter and maybe painting the wall and putting up a different window treatment would give you a whole new look that you could get by with for quite awhile, providing the appliances will last. Then when you have the funds you can do it over the way you want it. The floor also looks to be in great shape. And it is a neutral color that goes with anything.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 7:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You know that look is coming back. What kind of wood are they?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 11:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is a pic with a couple quick changes. I do not like either of the changes (painted range hood, light countertops), but I am posting it to give you the image. Not an improvement, I think.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I could see those cabinets stained dark with shiny hardware and it would look totally modern. Put a new inexpensive countertop on and you are good to go. We are in the process of figuring out what to do as well. I checked out Cliqstudios online and they are all wood cabinets and for my kitchen would have run $7000. You can measure and go to their site and put in the linear feet and it will give you a quick quote so you will have an idea if the price is within what you can spend . Then you have to add costs for installation and rerouting things if you change location of things. I'm still waiting on a quote for that but in the meantime got several quotes from cabinet makers and was surprised that the costs for custom cabinets are coming in cheaper than what the kitchen remodeling stores would charge.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Blue-gray wall paint, dark grey or black counter, maybe the IKEA ones with the metal edge, chrome hardware, black toe kick. SS accessories. Or maybe white counter tops. Like this look:

Here is a link that might be useful: slab front birch

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 5:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have to admit, I wouldn't do anything expensive before any cabinet changes. What if you invest in some great countertop -- which will make everything else look dingy -- and then, when you can afford cabs, you decide to change your layout and make it more functional?

I'd hang tight and just get rid of the counters. I have a great, Wilsonart 'Olivine' counter my friend made for me. Actually, I have 1.5 sheets of it still! :) Anyway, it's so durable! I actually have spilled mineral spirits and paint stripper on it and it didn't even blink.

I like your kitchen, though. I also think staining them a more rich color and some glitzy hardware would do wonders. Again, pick hardware you really like so if you change everything, you can keep the hardware!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 7:03PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
"Ledge" sinks and accessories -- do you use them?
I'm considering an undermount stainless sink that has...
Conestoga whites
For those of you that have conestoga cabinets in one...
Kohler Whitehaven Sink - 33 or 36"?
Does anyone have the 33" Whitehaven single bowl?...
Melissa Silva
Can you help me make an idea board?
After looking more realistically at our kitchen renovation...
Sexist or Fun?
Trouble from young feminists over this billboard.
Joseph Corlett, LLC
Sponsored Products
5' Red Cedar Classic Fanback Glider
Perky Pet 24 oz. Red Antique Bottle Hummingbird Feeder - 8119-2
$34.99 | Hayneedle
WBM Himalayan Lamps Ionic Crystal Natural Salt Basket Lamp - Tall (9-11lbs)
$23.95 | Home Depot
Perky Pet 16 oz. Glass Top Fill Hummingbird Feeder - 131TF
$32.99 | Hayneedle
Perky Pet 24 oz. Green Antique Bottle Hummingbird Feeder - 8120-2
$34.99 | Hayneedle
'Be Still' Exodus Box Sign
$8.99 | zulily
Wesley Bird Die Trying Throw Pillow - 14060-THRPI1
$39.00 | Hayneedle
4' Red Cedar Classic Fanback Glider
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™