Transform your kitchen with budget-consicous improvements that'll boost your home's wow factor—and its value
Renovating a kitchen is like cooking a gourmet meal. Take on too much, and the work can mushroom out of control, busting your budget and your patience. While we can't choose your recipes, we can help focus your renovation on the elements that give the most bang for your buck: the countertop and backsplash.
Here, near-black soapstone replaced dingy white laminate. Because it cuts and shapes with woodworking tools, the only cost was for the stone—$24 a square foot from M. Teixeira Soapstone, which also sells a DIY tool kit at soapstones.com. For the backsplash, the homeowner chose easy-to-clean solid surfacing milled like beadboard from Swanstone. One 3x8 sheet cost $556 and went up with a jigsaw and construction adhesive. Completing the makeover are a new stainless-steel undermount sink from Elkay and pull-down faucet from Grohe.
See more DIY countertops and backsplashes, and the fixtures that complement them in this gallery.
Even more manageable than this soapstone slab are 12-by-12-inch stone squares, which lay out in a grid just like ceramic tiles. Use unsanded grout for tighter joints and a smoother surface that better approximates the look of seamless stone.
Granite tile looks high-end if you finish the edges with a 1½-inch bullnose. And compared with about $90 a square foot for an installed slab, it's also a bargain. About $25 per square, Benissimo
In contrast to the high-tech solid surface used here, other stylish and DIY-friendly backsplashes are made from age-old materials: glass, metal, and porcelain.
A backing on these light-reflecting glass subway tiles prevents trowel marks from showing through. About $21.50 per square foot, Artistic Tile
The 6-inch repeating pattern on this clear-finished metal ceiling tile makes it ideal for a backsplash, hiding cuts along the grid seams. $12 and up per 24-inch square panel, The American Tin Ceiling Co.
Inspired by commercial kitchen faucets, pull-down residential models can't be beat for function. And thanks to ergonomic controls like thumb-touch sprayers and a range of designs and finishes, they're also tops for comfort and style.
This arched gooseneck in Tuscan bronze has three spray functions and traditional styling. About $230, Price Pfister
It's easy to keep a counter tidy. Just sweep crumbs and spills into an undermount sink, rather than worry about gunk collecting around a drop-in's lip. Some of the most durable undermounts are made from stainless steel and copper. For steel, the lower its gauge, the thicker the basin's walls. So pick 20-gauge or lower to ensure that it won't dent. For copper, hand-hammering is a telltale sign of top quality.
This stainless sink's removable drying shelf frees up counter space that would otherwise be occupied by a dish rack. About $825, Elkay