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Before: Outdated Decor

Photo by Frank Jurgen

Dingy vinyl floors, yellow laminate counters, and dark cabinets made this 1970s kitchen feel dated and gloomy

Before: Interrupted Traffic Flow

Photo by Frank Jurgen

A narrow path between the peninsula and the pantry made it hard to pass through with the pantry door open.

After: Deal Hunters' Luxe-Look Kitchen

Photo by Jurgen Frank

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."

Range, Hood, and Cabinets

Photo by Jurgen Frank

The pro-style range by Bosch was on Craigslist for just $700, compared with $2,000 for a new one, and was still under warranty. A bigger score was the used 30-inch vent hood from Viking, which was just $100, versus $1,000 retail. The oak cabinets look like new after a few coats of oil-based paint in Soft Chamois by Benjamin Moore.

What They Saved:

$3,500 on cabinets

$2,200 on range and hood

Countertops, Dishwasher, and Faucet

Photo by Jurgen Frank

Granite counters from Costco were a splurge at $3,600 (with installation), but a $200 rebate lessened the blow. Augie saved $450 on the cost of a new subway tile backsplash (just $136 for 20 square feet at Lowe's) by doing the installation himself, following a step- by-step video on The brushed-nickel faucet, found for $150—30 percent off its $220 retail price—is by Water Ridge. It complements a new Blanco sink and a stainless-steel LG dishwasher, which Emmeline bought with a Home Depot gift card she got

by cashing in American Express Membership Rewards points.

What They Saved:

$740 on counter and backsplash

$890 on faucet and dishwasher

Dutch Door

Photo by Jurgen Frank

The wooden Dutch door, which cost just $50 on Craigslist, got a makeover with red paint. By leaving the top portion open, Augie can work in his home office and still keep an eye on his kids in the kitchen.

What They Saved: $1,045 on Dutch door

Cart and Floor

Photo by Jurgen Frank

The granite-topped cart was just $75 on Craigslist. And the sleek flooring beneath it—375 square feet of ebonized bamboo—was leftover from

a local job site. Emmeline paid $750,

or half what it would cost to order

the boards directly from the maker, Premium Green Color Studio.

What They Saved: $775 on cart and bamboo floor

Improved Traffic Flow

Photo by Jurgen Frank

New cabinets on the range wall shifted the pantry and improved traffic flow.

Open Access to Dining Area

Photo by Jurgen Frank

Open access from the kitchen to the dining area allows Augie and Emmeline to watch their sons Ethan, 4, and Oliver, 1, at the table and to pass plates across the peninsula.

Functional Elements Retained

Photo by Jurgen Frank

The narrow, pull-out pantry was a great asset in the Harrigans' existing kitchen, but opened into the walkway between the cabinets and the island. To make the pantry more accessible and widen the walkway, the Harrigans chose to move it further down the bank where it could be offset from the island.

What They Did

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

1 | MOVED THE TALL PANTRY cabinet farther down the range wall so the door wouldn't open out toward the tip of the peninsula and block the path between the kitchen and adjoining dining area.

2 | ADDED AN UPPER AND BASE CABINET that Augie and a friend built themselves between the range and the pantry, creating extra countertop work surface and storage. Also, removed an upper cabinet above the range to make room for a larger ventilation hood.

3 | REMOVED UPPER CABINETS over the peninsula that obstructed the view of the dining area. Added two new cabinets with reeded glass doors to fill the leftover void and to replace an odd-sized one on the sink wall.

4 | EASED THE PASSAGE to the family room by exchanging a sharply clipped corner for a longer, gentler angle. This yielded more counter space and allowed for open display shelves below, now used for storing dry goods in glass canisters (found on Craigslist for $5 each).

5 | MADE THE PASS-THROUGH PRACTICAL by adding a wide granite ledge for serving up snacks to the couple's two boys while they play

in the family room.