$40K or Under: CabinetsBest for: Someone who plans to stay in their house three to seven years. At this price point, think about investing in cutting-edge, brand-name appliances and cabinetry with add-ons, like rollout shelves. "To stretch your dollars, pick one area of the kitchen to really splurge on at this price range," says editor Janice Anne Costa.
Decorative options like glazes and moldings make stock cabinets an attractive choice. Installation is important as well; consider raising low-hanging cabinets up another six inches to allow for undermounted appliances or racks for stemware to save interior cabinet space. If you have the room, install an island, which will offer additional storage and provide more counter space for a cooktop or small prep sink.
$40K or Under: Sinks and AppliancesSinks: Make a design statement with an eye-catching color, like this turquoise-hued, apron-front sink from Kohler. Look beyond traditional drop-in sinks and consider a trendier undermount style for a seamless, custom look. "Homeowners have become more sophisticated consumers," says Diana Schrage, interior designer at the Kohler Design Center in Kohler, Wisc. This is the price range where add-ons like a water purification system or an instant-hot system are the little extras that can really make your kitchen perform better than ever for you.
Appliances: "This is the level where you may want to splurge on a Viking range if you're someone who entertains a lot," adds Janice Anne. Or go for a less costly cooktop like this one from Kenmore so you can splurge on reconfiguring the traffic flow in your entire kitchen.
$40K TIP: Who can forget that ubiquitous avocado green kitchen of the '70s? Before you pick out that Jadeite green countertop color, remember that neutral colors are timeless and won't date your kitchen as fast as trendy, stronger hues.
Erinn Bucklan is a New York City freelance writer.