Need Budget-friendly Kitchen help!

JessL85August 14, 2014

Okay, we are in the process of buying our first home. This is the kitchen, and i can't stop thinking about how to make it better, on a budget. This is not our forever home, but we will be here probably 5-8 years.

Now, I will admit I am pretty clueless when it comes to decorating, I am not crafty/capable of most DIY stuff. But as I've been searching the internet for ideas, I've been brought back time and time again to threads on this forum, so I know I can find help/ideas here!

I presume these are the very basic builder's grade oak cabinets. The counter is granite, so we will keep that and applicances. The floor has got to go, but not sure what to do. The dining area is wood laminate. Should we extend that into the kitchen or go with tile? Or something else?

Painting the cabinets is probably not going to happen, but I was wondering if we should maybe stain them darker?? Thoughts? Obviously they need hardware as well. Would you bother with the expense of adding crown molding in a non-forever home kitchen? Or I also read about adding top cabinets, since that gap seems pretty big...

Oh, and my husband doesn't like the wall color. We were thinking gray (the hallway is gray), but I'm up to other ideas, and not sure what would look best if we did stain the cabs darker. Also, husband likes back splashes. Thoughts?

Thank you!!

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Wood laminate flooring in a kitchen would not be my first choice. You are asking for trouble with small spills that get overlooked.

You could reface the cabinets for not too much money.

Those must be at least 9' ceilings. Some painted crown molding would look nice and not be too expensive to do.

Love the window. Is that a passthrough over the sink?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:27PM
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Wow, nice space! Looking at your kitchen, I can totally see gel stain in java (black).
1. It would be great if you could somehow add stacked glass cabinets; however, I don't think that this would be that easy.
And yes, I think molding would be very worthwhile.

2. Do you need all the uppers, or could you live with open shelves? Or remove some uppers.

3. Lower dark, uppers IKEA frosted glass RUBRIK.

4. Check CL or Habitat for Humanity for higher oak uppers; then gel stain.

5. Open shelves above kitchen cabinets.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:41PM
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Also, check out that link below. I'm a great fan of general finishes gel stain in java. The result may be similar to the kitchen below.

Here is a link that might be useful: dark kitchen cabinets

This post was edited by nosoccermom on Thu, Aug 14, 14 at 19:53

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:43PM
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If Java gel stain is too dark for you, there are other darker colors that will work or use less coats of a dark gel stain. That is what I plan to do to a 30 year-old hickory stained red oak bath vanity that has aged to have an orange tone. I just want to tone down the orange with one coat of a darker brown gel stain.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:54PM
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Thanks for some ideas!

Nosoccermom - Java is definitely darker than I was thinking, but I could see that working quite nicely with the granite so I will definitely have to think about that! Love that kitchen you linked too from the other thread.

I'm not a huge fan of open cabinets, mostly because I don't have nice enough stuff to display! but I did like the look of open ones up on the very top.

rmtdoug - yes that passthrough looks into the dining room/living room (all one room).

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:26PM
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Everyone has given good ideas above and in addition to those I would definitely add some nice hardware to those cabinets. The uppers look disproportionally short so stacking a small glass cabinet or open shelf type cabinet (as shown above) would probably help a lot.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:06AM
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I just started staining our cabinets and found the java too dark, so after two coats I added a coat of brown mahogany and now I really like the end result (pic attached). From what I understand the satin top coat once added will really add something to the end result. Knobs and pulls will really dress up your kitchen... so many choices there. I read that the brand Berenson enables their retail distributors to send you home with samples and clips that help you visualize the hardware.

You have a great kitchen footprint actually - I love the big window and countertop space. Perhaps an island would be nice if there is room and if it's not over your budget.

Congrats on your first home by the way. :)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:20AM
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Oh, Christina is right, I did not notice at first, but yeah, if you can add some cabs up there it really would look nice and not too expensive.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:21AM
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Congrats on your first home! I'd recommend, in addition to staining the cabinets and new hardware, to paint the wall. Your floors actually look very neutral and if you got something like a Chilewich mat it could up the look without having the replace the floors. If you have room for an island (I can't tell from the pics) then consider Ikea (they are solid and inexpensive) and paint it a contrasting color to go with the cabinets and your new paint color.

I attached a pic of a chilewich mat.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:06AM
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I honestly think that you have enough light and height to go for a darker stain. I'd suggest to look at lots of kitchens, either Houzz or Google image to get some idea of what style you like. Because your cabinets are so simple, you could go either more traditional or contemporary.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:32AM
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Oh yes, I've been looking at lots of pics on Houzz!! I guess after we move in, I'll have a better idea on how well that big front window lights up the room and if we should go dark...

We definitely will be painting the walls! The yellow goes into the living room too.

The floor is pretty neutral, it's just super boring and I don't like it at all. I don't have a better pic of the floor currently, but it does have some pattern to it and I was not fond, so it has got to go! Although, in the meantime, throwing a Chilewich mat on there is a good idea. Thanks Christy!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:37PM
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Congrats on your 1st home! You could just add rugs/runners to floor to delay floor decisions. There are so many styles available today. If pergo is considered wood laminate, we did that 20 yrs ago. It's not as hard on the legs/lower back as floor tile, since it has some give. After almost 20 yrs, it was prolly the *only* thing in the kitchen that didn't look 'so bad'. Lol.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:33PM
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Tight budget? Java gelstain the cabinets. Leave the floor as is. Paint the walls. Add crown moldings and new hardware to cabinets. Probably under $500 for everything.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 8:09AM
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If Java gel stain is too dark, check out general Finishes Antique Walnut. See pebscat's at link below.

The beauty of the gel stain is that it requires no sanding (just some quick scuffing) and is very easy to use.

If the floor is in good shape, I'd get some area rugs and/or runners. Easy to change, and not a major investment.

Here is a link that might be useful: Antique Walnut gel stain

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 9:57AM
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If interested, see the Kitchen FAQs for information on how to gel stain cabinets.

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ: How do I Gel Stain my cabinets?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 10:00AM
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What a beautiful space you have found for your first home! I love how bright and open it looks.

Here's what I would do:
--Stain the cabs a dark color that matches the granite. To me this would be way more important than the floors.
If you want specific help on which shade, post a thread with a close up of the granite to get some feedback. From these pics it looks like black would work well.

--Paint the walls a grey color that goes with the granite and new cab stain

--It's hard to tell from the pic, but I think I could live with that floor with a seagrass or jute rug on it. I love having a rug in the kitchen anyway.

--DEFINITELY get a moveable island! Looks like you easily have the space and they can be such a fun and creative element in a room, and can be found for a very reasonable price.

--Door hardware

--I would use the money I saved from not replacing the floors to address the space issue above the uppers. I love the ideas that others have posted. I would try to do the open shelves (you can literally spend $100 to buy some white, grey or black jugs/vases/platters etc to decortate it). If I couldn't do the open shelves or stacked cabinets, I would do crown moulding.

Lastly, you mentioned a backsplash. I wonder if there is anyway to remove that 4 inch granite splash in order to install a full backsplash? If not, I would probably leave it as is.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 4:25PM
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Thanks! I'm really not sure how I feel about black cabinets..I wouldn't normally say it's my taste, but I do agree it would go well with the granite, so it is certainly something to think about!

Unfortunately, neither I nor my husband have any wood-working experience, so we would have to pay someone to do the crown molding, and I have no idea how much that would cost....but from looking at before and after pics with crown molding, it really does seem to make a huge difference!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 4:44PM
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Crown molding on just your cabinets won't be too bad, price-wise. We had a similar-ish kitchen in our old house (but with laminate counters) and had molding added to the top, upper and lower lighting installed, cabinets and trim painted white, granite counters, new sink & faucet, and new backsplash. The granite was the biggest cost. My dad is a builder, though, so we just had to pay for his materials and the subs, but even so, other than the granite, none of it was terribly pricey.

In your case, I'd probably paint or dark gel stain either all the cabinets or just the lowers and paint the uppers white if you like the 2-tone look. Add molding to the top, it makes a huge difference and will be a big bang for your buck. Remove the 4" backslash and have a simple white subway tile backsplash installed. Add hardware to all the cabinets. If the budget allows, have a light installed above the sink. If you do decide to have a backsplash installed, consider under cabinet lighting. You'll need to do it before installing a tile backsplash.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 7:58PM
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I don't think I mind the cabinet and counter combination that you have. I would replace or add a window treatment, paint, get a moveable island, change the light fixture, add under cabinet lighting, add cabinet hardware, and then decide on the rest later. That will probably be $1,000 or less, depending on what you select and if you can provide all of the labor. Ikea is a great idea for the island.

This post was edited by julieboulangerie on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 2:11

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 2:08AM
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The floor is pretty neutral, it's just super boring and I don't like it at all.

Add a rug.
What material is it?

You can mix stains of the same brand to get custom colors, going darker or redder is EASY.

... For example, if General Finish's "Brown Mahogany" is too light, mixing in about 25% "Java" will darken it. Measure and test, then use the same proportions, and keep track of how much you add of each.

If 1 teaspoon Java and 2 teaspoons mahogany was perfect, keep the proportions if 1:2 ... 8 oz of Java and 16 oz of mahogany ... or 8 buckets and 16 buckets.

Adding Georgian Cherry will darken and redden most stains (it's REALLY red). is my cabinets with 1/3 Georgian Cherry and 2/3 Java. On walnut

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 5:53AM
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We purchased our own crown moulding and had a carpenter install it for $120, which we felt was a bargain, as we had several corners and angles. Its not that expensive and if poorly done, can make the job look very amateurish.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:49AM
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