I have recently found that if you tell the average person that you are gutting your kitchen and completely remodeling it for under $2000, the reaction is a little lackluster. Tell that same person that you not only intend to remodel a kitchen, but also a dining room, hallway that connects to the dining room and a laundry room, and they will think you are nuts! I, my friends, am not nuts. I am frugal.
One of the most expensive parts remodeling the kitchen is new appliances. My appliances are mid-grade and work absolutely fine. I see no need to replace a perfectly good appliance that I bought merely 5 years ago. The only appliance-related expense in my budget will be to repair the broken dishwasher. (If you listen carefully you will hear my girls singing songs of joy over this event, since they have been the resident dishwashers for the last year at my house.) Another huge expense in remodeling is flooring. A couple of years ago we replaced the floors in the laundry room, dining room and kitchen, so that will be another project out of the way. I made a long list of things that were going to be done a couple of weeks ago, and if you would like to see exactly what we are doing, then go here.
So, how does one do everything on that list with that budget? A lot of shopping, a lot of work, and some good help goes a long way.
1. In with the old! There are some great stores out there, along with online resources, that sell used building materials. My favorite? The Habitat for Humanity Restore, hands down! Although there are several within a two hour radius of my home, the best one by far is located in Nashville on Division Street. In Nashville there are two different stores, one with furniture and decorating items, and the other with building items. Although both offer some great deals, you also have to know what you are looking for, and know the average retail price for those items. Originally I was going to buy a farmhouse sink, and the one that I found that I was going to get was $700. I know that sounds expensive, but it was supposed to be my "one big splurge" for the project (which at the time was running about double my current budget). That was before we went to the Restore. On our first trip there, I found a sink that was almost exactly what I wanted, minus the apron front. I looked at the price tag, $18.75. After taxes I would save nearly $750 to live without an apron front! You better believe I scooped it up (ok, well DH lugged it up front). The same sink that I got for such a great bargain is listed in Home Depot's website for $381.41. So, at the very least I saved $320. Although it is a little dirty and scratched, it cleaned up well. As for the scratches, after six months even a brand new one would look the same.
On another trip to the same Restore (after checking out a couple of others with no luck at all) we bought all enough doors to replace all of the interior doors, exterior doors, and a set of beautiful doors that will become "French doors", all for around $280. The same set of French doors at the local Home Depot was $300. I also found a double paned window to replace the one in the kitchen for a mere $5. Yeah, I love that place! The estimated savings for all that we have purchased there so far is about $700 if you are comparing the sink to the Home Depot one. Since I fully intended on buying the apron front sink, the savings would be much, much more if you consider that.
2. You better shop around! Home Depot and Lowe's both have a price guarantee. If you find the same product somewhere else for cheaper, they will match the price and give you an additional 10% off. This is not generally worth the hassle of running all over town, unless you are buying a huge amount of one item. Well, we were! First we went to Home Depot, where we looked at all the prices of lumber and wrote everything down. After we got all of that info, we went to look at faucets and light fixtures. I simply did not find what I had in mind at Home Depot, so next we went to Lowe's. While I was looking at light fixtures, DH decided to go see what the price of bead board paneling was, since this was going to be the biggest single expense of our entire project. The Home Depot price was $18.97 a sheet, while the Lowe's price was $17.99. That translated to about $2.79 a sheet savings, and multiply that by 30 -- after tax we saved $75, all because DH looked at the price while I was finding light fixtures. He took a photo on his cell phone, we showed them at Home Depot, and voila! Another big cost cutter we found was the "cull cart" at Home Depot. We needed several 2x4s, and DH found ends that had been cut off of 2x8s that were amazing cheap. For $2 we got 13 2x8s, which means 26 2x4s, once DH ripped them on the table saw. Between the cull cart and price matching, we saved nearly $125 total. It really does pay to shop around!
3. Do it yourself -- or have someone you know help you! Custom kitchen cabinets are soooo expensive. Traditionally I could not even get the cabinets for this project on the original $4000 budget, let alone the slashed-in-half version. Fortunately, my wonderful father-in-law is an awesome carpenter. His father built houses literally by hand, no power tools needed. His name is still well known in our area for the quality work that he did the majority of his life. He taught my FIL how to do things right, who in turn taught his son (my DH) the same lessons. My FIL can build anything by simply looking at a photo of the object. He is amazingly talented and I am so grateful to be lucky enough to have such a resource. For my kitchen cabinets, I simply had to purchase the wood and hardware for the project. This one thing has saved me at least $5000. Honestly, it is probably much, much more than that, since he came to my house and took all the measurement, asked me exactly what I wanted in my kitchen, and is doing all of the work out of love. (My budget will not absorb the gift that I will give him for his wonderful generosity.) The only other discount I found in this particular project was the handles for all 7 of the new, deep drawers that will soon find a home in my kitchen. I found drawer pulls at Hobby Lobby for $2.99 and bought them during a 50% off week (these usually rotate every other week), and with 11 total pulls, I saved about $15. Similar pulls at Lowe's or Home Depot were $5 each, so the savings were much greater. (I guess this tip also falls into shopping around.)
4. Beg, borrow or barter. The original budget included the purchase of a new dining table and chairs. I looked and looked, but never really found anything that just sang to me. I wanted something that went well with my style of decorating, but was also sturdy and dependable. I did find a set of chairs at the Nashville Flea Market, but there was only 4 of them and they were $200 each. I might have splurged on them, had there been six of them. The saving point for me was that the day we went to the flea market we drove the car instead of the truck. Silly, I know! Let's just call it divine intervention, because the next day when I was at my mom's house I noticed that she had gotten different dining chairs. The chairs were worn, but had a great shape to them. They were a freebie from a friend of hers, who simply wanted to get rid of them. Stained white pleather covered the parson-type chairs, and she used them because she needed chairs, but did not like them very much. I, on the other hand, instantly fell in love with their shape. I knew that with a little work they could be amazing. Ever see something that you just knew was worth saving? These chairs had the it-factor. I half-jokingly said, "Mom, we need to trade chairs." She loved the idea! The chairs in my dining room were originally a hand-me-down from her. She had bought a new dining set and gave me her old chairs. Although the new table she bought was gorgeous and sturdy, the chairs were not and didn't survive very long.
The very next day she asked me if I really wanted to trade, and I confessed that I really did want to. Since DH was off work that day, he took my chairs to her house and picked up the six matching parsons chairs that needed some love. When I got home and started looking at the chairs, I found a plate on the leg of each of them that said "Richland Country Club, Nashville, TN." These chairs were expensive in their day. There is no way that any self-respecting southern country club would have cheap chairs. I carefully took apart the first chair, and realizing that all of the springs were worn out, brought it down to the bare bones. I have gotten two broken down so far, along with sanding them so that they are ready to be painted. A warm, clear day is all I am waiting for. $100 worth of upholstery fabric (bought on sale at Hancock's), a half-sheet of plywood to put on the seats in place of springs, some foam and batting, and a couple of cans of Scotch Guard and I will have new chairs. New custom chairs are outrageous! They would cost at least $400 each for the quality of the chairs and the expensive fabric. Since I intended to spend about $600 on a new table and chairs, we will call it a savings of $500.
There are dozens of other ways I have saved money on this project, many of which will reveal themselves in the upcoming weeks. Please excuse my random posting, but we are simply using all free time available to work on dozens of big and small projects that are in various stages.
Currently working on: Redoing dining chairs, Painting/glazing china cabinet, Painting/Polyurethaning counter tops, Sewing curtains and table runner, Among others......