How do you afford stainless steel and stone on an almond-bisque-and-laminate budget? For Augie and Emmeline Harrigan of Milford, Connecticut, the answer was to preserve those elements of the existing kitchen that were still in good shape, cut out labor costs by doing the work themselves, and shop sales and Craigslist.
“To stay within the $6,000 we allotted for the project, gutting the whole kitchen was not an option,” says Emmeline. By keeping the basic layout and painting the oak cabinets rather than replacing them, the couple saved big right off the bat. Augie took a carpentry course and spent many nights trying out his new skills. Emmeline trolled the Internet and roamed big-box stores in search of well-priced replacements for their tired appliances, disco-era vinyl flooring, and coordinating laminate countertops. Her first find was a one-year-old stainless-steel Bosch range on Craigslist for a third of its original price. The next biggie: granite countertops from Costco.
"The truth is, you just have to know where to look," says Augie. "See those canisters by the sink? Only five bucks."