5 inexpensive ways to redo a kitchen on a tight budget – it's easier than you think

A chic new look for the kitchen doesn't need to cost the earth. Here's how to redo or update a kitchen on a shoestring budget

budget kitchen with wood cabinets and pendants
(Image credit: Joris Van Apers Studio)

Remodeling a kitchen on a budget is a tricky task, but done right, it can transform a tired and unloved space into an inviting room for the whole family to cook, dine and entertain. 

A brand-new kitchen is one of the top projects for most homeowners looking to refresh their properties. This is because a generous kitchen is now the epicenter of modern home life. And while we wouldn't recommend undertaking this entire project if you can't afford to, there are, in fact, many budget kitchen ideas that will allow you to update, or redo a kitchen on a shoestring budget.

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What is the cheapest way to redo a kitchen?

An entire kitchen remodel is never cheap, but that doesn't mean you should be stuck with a space that isn't fit for purpose. Follow our simple steps below to update or refresh your kitchen on a minimal budget.

1. Replace cabinet doors

Budget kitchen with wood cabinets and green walls

(Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

If rising costs are delaying your plans for a new kitchen, some smart thinking may allow you to move forward without breaking the bank. Replacement door fronts could give your kitchen cabinet ideas an instant refresh, especially useful if you are happy with the layout of your room and if the cabinets remain sound – or if you want to use new off-the-peg cabinets and boost their impact with stylish doors. 

‘The doors are the aspect you see and touch the most,’ says Jayne Everett, design director of Naked Doors, which makes frames, doors, and drawer fronts ready to be fixed to the front of cabinets. ‘They are a fabulous way to meet a certain budget for a savvy, design-driven homeowner.’

2. Consider pre-loved

Budget kitchen with green wall, wood cabinet

(Image credit: Used Kitchen Exchange)

A second-hand or ex-display kitchen can be a good way to help save furniture from landfill – and money, saving up to 80% on the original price. ‘Buy a kitchen that is a little bigger than you need to give you more flexibility when it comes to reconfiguration,’ advises Helen Lord, founder of Used Kitchen Exchange, ‘and bear in mind that any changes to layout may mean some end panels, kickboards and decorative trims need replacing.’ You may also be able to sell your old kitchen if it is in reasonable repair.

3. Source reclaimed materials

Budget kitchen with reclaimed wood cabinet and island

(Image credit: Joris Van Apers)

Salvaged materials and vintage furniture may be repurposed to great effect. Look out for them at auctions, antique fairs and reclamation yards – they can cost significantly less than brand new while introducing character and individuality to your kitchen design, as designer Joris Van Apers explains. ‘They bring texture, they make you feel at ease,’ he says. ‘Since they are already weathered, you don’t have to be afraid of using your kitchen, of really living in it.'

4. Be creative with paint

Budget kitchen with yellow painted cabinets

(Image credit: Mylands)

Painted kitchen ideas can breathe new life into a lifeless space. Color can also be a cost-effective way to transform your space, whether you choose to put a patterned linen curtain below the sink, group a collection of hand-painted plates on the wall, or add a tap and cabinet handles in a burnished metal finish. A shelf with a considered display of ceramics, for example, is likely to cost less – and may make the kitchen feel less cramped – than wall units. 

To ramp up the impact, consider repainting wooden door fronts, using gloss, satin, or eggshell paints. ‘They will ensure a stronger and more durable finish, and the paint sheen is easy to wipe clean, which is an essential factor to consider for high-traffic areas, like kitchen cabinets, that are more prone to dirt or mess,’ advises Dominic Myland, CEO of Mylands. ‘As ever, preparation is key: before you paint, take the time to fill in any dents, sand the old surface and add a primer for a really smooth finish.

5. Invest in double-duty appliances 

Miele kitchen

(Image credit: Miele)

Many modern appliances are designed to offer multiple functions: for example, an oven that offers both steam and fan heat functions is likely to be more affordable than two separate appliances of similar quality. 

‘For a cost-effective extraction solution, a hob with an integrated extractor removes the need for a separate, traditional hood,’ adds Tom Hopper, kitchen spokesperson at Miele.

How can I remodel an inexpensive kitchen?

The easiest way to remodel an inexpensive kitchen is to consider replacing large surfaces. 

When compiling budget kitchen remodel ideas, it is tempting to focus on the room's finished look, but the functionality, durability, and ease of cleaning of the kitchen countertop you choose is a priority, too, because longevity must be a top consideration for anyone remodeling an inexpensive kitchen. 

'While every aspect of a budget kitchen design is important, the choice of countertop material is particularly so, as it has such a visual impact. Consider the characteristics of each material, and your existing kitchen cabinetry, to make the best choice for your lifestyle,' says Melissa Klink of Harvey Jones. 'You'll be surprised by just how many beautiful budget options are available.'

Laminate work surfaces are more affordable and easier to install, but less robust than other materials. However, today’s premium finishes can be a good solution, particularly for areas such as kitchen and laundry rooms.

Amelia Thorpe
Contributing Editor

Amelia Thorpe is a specialist interiors and design journalist, covering every topic to do with homes from fabrics, furniture and lighting to surfaces, kitchens and bathrooms. 

As the daughter of an antique dealer and a lifelong collector of old cookery books and vintage graphics herself, she also has a particular expertise in antiques, mid-century and decorative arts of all kinds.

Drawn to homes because of their importance in the happiness of our lives and the enjoyment they can bring, Amelia has been writing about the topic for more than fifteen years. She has interviewed some of the most influential designers of our time, from Piero Lissoni, Antonio Citterio, Jaime Hayon and Arik Levy to Nina Campbell and Robert Kime.

With contributions from