Look Into LaminatesIn this Lincoln, Neb., home, Kyle and Mike Rabino wanted copper accents in their kitchen without paying top dollar for the real thing. So around their kitchen island, they installed a metallic laminate that mimics the look of real copper, which saved them more than $5,000. They also got a great deal on a copper sink for their wet bar; they bought it on eBay for $100. To top off the look, they added what looks like copper tiles to the backsplash; it's actually just copper-colored foil that Kyle hand-wrapped over cheap white porcelain tiles.
Custom Isn't the Only WayThis Longmont, Colo., kitchen is beautiful, modern and inexpensive. Homeowners Kim and Robby Finley got an initial bid of $60,000 to have custom cabinets built in their kitchen. Finding that estimate way too expensive, they decided to just build the cabinets themselves. The cabinets are made from purple heart wood flooring that creates quite a luxurious look. The center panels are stainless steel sheets that Robby found at a local auction. The handles are simply plumbing pipes from a hardware store. As for the countertops, Kim found a beat-up stainless steel counter at an old pizza parlor for $50. She took a sander to it and created funky swirls to camouflage the old scratches. Total cost of the cabinets and countertops: $3,000.
Consider Concrete Instead of GraniteLooking for a do-it-yourself, inexpensive alternative to granite countertops? How about concrete? In Houston, homeowners Ann Eamon and Mark Schatz got high style at an extremely low price. They went to a hardware store, bought five bags of concrete and poured it into forms they built themselves. The end result: a countertop that's simple, has a clean aesthetic and costs $25. Best of all, it's a day's worth of work.
Get CreativeIn Aspen, Colo., homeowners Katie and Paul Viola put their creativity to use designing a sleek modern kitchen. Instead of spending $2,500 on a custom kitchen island, they found two premade Ikea cabinet units for $500 and sandwiched them together. In the bar area, they used a glue-laminated beam that they cut to size and stained to match the cabinets. Instead of expensive barstools, they found old soda-fountain stools online and had the builder anchor them into the floor joists.
Incorporate Personal TouchesWant to add a personal touch to your kitchen decor? Look around your garage and attic. That's what Scott Bowman of Troutdale, Ore., did. He came up with a great idea that incorporates a bunch of antique wrenches his grandfather gave him. He created hardware for his cabinets by welding the wrenches to threaded rods and soaking them in saltwater so they'd rust. The result is the look of expensive rust-patina hardware that cost him nothing.
Use Stud Space for ShelvesArchitect Fiona O'Neill came up with a great cost-saving idea for the kitchen of her northern California home. She saved $1,500 by not shelling out money for cabinets. Instead, she used the stud space inside the walls to add shelving. It's an idea borrowed from Victorian architecture. She says it does take some preplanning so that a builder doesn't put electrical wiring or plumbing pipes in that space. To cover it up, she uses recycled doors hung from a track. Hardware cost: approximately $250.
Shop SalvageWhen you have just $5,000 to build a kitchen, you have to be creative. That was the challenge for Lisa Inglese in Olathe, Kan. She scored big by going to a restaurant supply and salvage store, where she purchased her commercial oven, refrigerator, rolling carts and shelves, and even the kitchen sink for a fraction of retail price. She also stacked and hung old electrical-outlet boxes to create an inexpensive, one-of-a-kind spice rack.
Think SavingsNow here's a kitchen in Athens, Texas, that blends luxury with a bit of playfulness. This couple saved about $10,000 on their countertops by going with a less expensive alternative to granite. They chose an Italian-manufactured product called Okite. Made from ground quartz, it's a sustainable material and comes in 90 colors. Next to the island is a pantry with doors made of inexpensive plywood and chalkboard paint. It's a great place to jot down the grocery list.
Use Flooring for the CounterWould you ever consider putting floor material on your countertops? A couple in Boulder, Colo., did and created a fabulous look. The countertops are a natural linoleum made out of cork, linseed oil and wood pulp at a cost of about $30 per square foot. It's very durable but also smooth to the touch. They finished off the look by lining the linoleum with an inexpensive aluminum trim that ties in with their modern Ikea cabinets. And while most people would use a plywood base underneath the linoleum, this earth-friendly couple used something called wheat sheet, which is made from a byproduct of the wheat industry and has no formaldehyde in it.
Get InnovativeIn Lady Lake, Fla., homeowners Holly and Judd Dickerson came up with some innovative ways to make their kitchen look custom without breaking the bank. They spent about $24,000 on standard cabinets created by a national manufacturer, but they turned a few of them sideways and added shelving to make them look custom. Instead of expensive tile or granite, they bought wire safety glass at a local hardware store, had a glass shop cut it to size and then Judd installed it as a backsplash. The cost for the glass: about $11 per square foot.