I need your help!

>> 10.02.2009

I’m going a little bananas (in a bad way, not the Rachel Zoe way) trying to figure out where to spend the remainder of my renovation budget. It’s not that I don’t have projects that I’d like to do (because you know I do ), it’s that I’m basically down to enough funds to do one more big project before I need to start concentrating on building up other savings accounts. I just can’t decide which to choose to get the most bang for my buck! I would really appreciate it if you would vote in the poll to your right!

Enough with the babbling! Here are my front-runners:

1. Kitchen countertops/ backsplash (granite, under-mount sink, subway tile)
How much? $2,900 (I’m including plumber, faucet, etc)
Why? I’d like to do these because the laminate I currently have is dated and has rust stains. In addition: he drop-in sink always builds up gunk where it meets the counter.
Pro: This would make a big visual impact on the room and create a cleaner cooking environment.
Con: Would this date everything else? I would end up repainting the cabinets myself.


2. Reface kitchen cabinets (with sleek, European-style doors)
How much? $1,600 (my carpenter friend will do it for me)
Why? The doors are very old and have been painted over several times. Currently, they do not shut all the way.
Pro: Another big visual impact on the room.
Con: I’d still have ugly countertops. Would you even notice the cabinets?

3. Kitchen appliances (stainless!)
How much? $2,600-3,000
Why? The bisque color that I currently have is sooo dated! Instant update!
Pro: Pretty!
Con: I would have to repaint the cabinets myself and live with the countertops.

4. Replace sliding glass door and bedroom window
How much? $2,000
Why? The neighbors are getting to me. Also, I would love a nice French door.
Pro: Energy efficient and more sound proof.
Con: Would anyone else even notice?

Thanks for the help!! I would really appreciate it if you would vote in the poll to the right, and you would be my hero if you added some explanation of your choice in the comments section!


*For all you financial advisors out there- Don’t worry, I’m not draining my bank account! I have a completely separate emergency fund ready to go if anything happens to my job, my house, or me.

36 comments:

Meg October 2, 2009 at 10:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meg October 2, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

Hi Kasey! How cool that you can go ahead and update one of these items! You're definitely thrifty! I'm torn between stainless steel appliances and granite countertops because I think those will give you the biggest return and kitchens and bathrooms seem to be the best places for investment. I might have to say countertops and a backsplash because your appliances aren't that bad and countertops and a backsplash would have a HUGE impact!! Can you show us the countertops and backsplash you're considering? I'm excited to see them!

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog October 2, 2009 at 10:48 AM  

@Meg- Yes, I've actually looked into everything a bit already...
For the countertops, I would do a black granite and paint the cabinets white (also adding new hardware). Here's a black and white example: http://www.cococozy.com/2009/07/kitchen-week-idaho-reader-inspired-to.html
For the appliances, I would need to do a bottom drawer freezer refrigerator: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp;jsessionid=D5FC6FBA2CBC0D323AA23C75701F6BAC.bbolsp-app06-24?skuId=8834835&type=product&id=1212192241616 plus a gas range and hood

change is a good thing October 2, 2009 at 10:50 AM  

Great projects! Don't we wish we had the money to do them all at once? I feel your pain! If it were me, I would do the granite counter and tile backsplash and then paint the cabinets myself. That would be 2 major upgrades right away and at least your appliances aren't pea green or harvest orange! :) It's been said that kitchens and bathrooms are definitely the areas to spend your money to the best bang for your buck too. Looking forward to hearing what you end up doing first. I'm taking the weekend off from renovations and going to see the fiance in California. Have a great weekend and don't work too hard.

Anonymous,  October 2, 2009 at 11:05 AM  

Hi~ kithen countertops. You can slowly replace the appliance 1 by 1, and paint the cabinets (or take off the doors for open shelving), and get the doors, but this will need to be done in one big swoop. Plus you will love to go into the kichen.
Nicole~

Kate October 2, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

I voted for the french doors/window replacement. I know it's probably the least "wow" worthy thing, but it seems like saving up to the counters and cabinets at the same time would be the way to go. Plus it would save you money/energy while you live there and increase your home's value.

chacha October 2, 2009 at 11:46 AM  

I would skip the stainless steel appliances for now (you may be able get some good deals on Craigslist for that stuff - even stainless). I would either go for refacing or countertops...

You could probably do entirely new cabinets from IKEA for a very reasonable price (I'm talking 2-3K) - you don't have a large kitchen. We have installed two kitchens ourselves (the first one cost me under 2K including sink, counter, and faucet - it was around the same size as your kitchen, looks like) - it's not difficult. Seriously. I had zero experience the first time I did it and it went fine.

And if money isn't there for the counters afterward, get a cheaper new laminate (or butcher block) for now until you can upgrade. It'll be better than the old laminate.

There is nothing like a nice kitchen.

Other option is to order new doors online (they have custom sizes) and then strip down frame of the cabinets and paint it all.

ashley morgan October 2, 2009 at 12:20 PM  

I would go with the countertops and backsplash. It will be the most noticeable thing in the kitchen. Refacing the cabinets and appliances can come later. Countertops are always the first thing I notice in a kitchen.

Strapless Living October 2, 2009 at 12:58 PM  

definitely the counters! i have faith that you can strip and repaint the cabinets for a decent upgrade yourself, and i think that new counters will make your white appliances look a little nicer, whereas brand new stainless appliances will make the old counter look way worse. plus, you're not going to want to spend lots of time preparing amazing dinners in your stainless steel oven if you have to chop everything on a grungy counter!

WhimsAndInconsistencies October 2, 2009 at 1:04 PM  

I voted for the counter tops because those are 100%, no way around it, really ugly and gross. The other things in the kitchen weren't that bad, I thought. Ultimately, it's about how you live and what matters the most to you.

I'm not sure where you live and how the seasons are there, but I might wait more until Spring for the doors because they won't be as much in the winter. Of course, if they would insulate better heading into winter that might make them a bigger priority.

Good luck!

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog October 2, 2009 at 1:12 PM  

@WhimsandInconsistencies- You have a good point about the doors as insulation! Luckily, it rarely gets below freezing here in Texas so I could wait until after winter.

Katja October 2, 2009 at 1:37 PM  

I would go with the new countertops and backsplash and then paint the doors myself :)

Live Simply- Live Well October 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM  

I would take the money and add it to savings for right now. In all the options it seems like you have some work to do. Why not save it for a few months, add some more to the total, then do 2 things at once.

:::Lyzz::: October 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM  

I totally feel your pain with my kitchen. My kitchen were in the shape yours are in, but luckily, came with granite. Thankfully too is that between housewarming gifts, we were able to get stainless appliances. Unfortunately, the cabinets are so bad that they can't even be resurfaced. My cabinets don't close. So, to remedy the situation for now, I just took off the doors for open shelving. They look 100% better until I have enough money for upgrading the cabinets.

I vote for yours to be counters and backsplash. Like other said, if the cabinets can be salvage, you can certainly do that yourself for two big renos done that would just absolutely change your kitchen. Good luck.

le petite Sparrow October 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM  

I am doing a major kitchen remodel as well, actually I just blogged about my troubles today as well :)

I think your best overall looking kitchen updating would be to redo your counters and backsplash and paint your cabinets yourself.

:)

Live Simply- Live Well October 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM  

what part of texas do you live in? I am in the hill country

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog October 2, 2009 at 1:50 PM  

@Live Simply- Live Well: I'm in Austin... sounds like we're neighbors!

Jenny October 2, 2009 at 2:12 PM  

I would definitely go for the windows/doors. Although you might not save much on heating costs, you could definitely save on A/C costs during the summer. Take that extra utility $$ and set it aside for your kitchen countertops! (I almost chose those, until I read the post about the obnoxious neighbors - quality sleep is very very very important!)

PS - Thanks for the comment on my blog! I've added you to the list on my page - I love the post you did on resurrecting the paint brush! I've definitely tossed my fair share of brushes in the past, so hopefully this will save them in the future!

And to solve the non-closing cabinets in the mean time, can you attach strong magnets to the door/cabinet to keep it shut? I don't know the exact situation, but it's worth a try.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog October 2, 2009 at 2:23 PM  

@Jenny- Ah, magnets... that might be a good solution! One other possible solution I came up with was replacing the hinges. I though that part of the problem might be that the current ones are rusted.

Sara @ Russet Street Reno October 2, 2009 at 2:37 PM  

Do the counters! It will instantly upgrade everything around them. Plus, you will get to run your hands over their silky smoothness to calm down when your neighbors irritate you, or you can't close a cabinet door! haha

Jane@ the borrowed abode October 2, 2009 at 4:56 PM  

Hey Kasey - first off, thanks for stopping in to The Borrowed Abode today!

Secondly, I'd definitely do the countertops. Like others are saying, it's worth it. Your cabinets may bug you, but they *look* fine - and yes, you could probably sand them down yourself if need be. Also, your appliances don't look that bad...

Have you seen those vinyl decals that cover refrigerators? Check it out - I saw it on a blog and loved the idea. http://www.kodudesign.com/

Danielle and Clint October 2, 2009 at 5:43 PM  

I am going to go with the patio door. The reason is because I think that is the top priority for you. Maybe tax season you could do another project!

micah @ the yellow front door October 2, 2009 at 5:49 PM  

Kasey- Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I voted for a new kitchen countertop. I think a new countertop with freshly painted cabinets would be a huge improvement and you can replace the appliances later. Good luck with your decision!

Patti October 2, 2009 at 6:42 PM  

Get the granite counter top and sink, paint the cupboards and wait on the appliances until they 'die"...stainless is cold and commercial, so if you choose a granite with cream in it, the appliances might look better...good luck

All The Pretty Things October 2, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

I found your blog by way of Young House Love...

Anyhoo, my advice is to skip the granite countertops - trends are already moving AWAY from granite and you don't want a dated kitchen!

You can paint appliances.

You can repaint cabinets.

You can even repaint countertops - or install a more modern and less expensive solution - poured concrete, solid wood, ceramic tile, etc.

My big reno $$ money would go into flooring or doors/windows... in your case, the doors and windows would be the best option.

Linda,  October 3, 2009 at 7:39 PM  

Nice blog! Looking forward to seeing more of your projects. I'm a pragmatist, so I voted for the patio door. I also read about the noise next door. :)

I think your kitchen looks nice, but it's clearly bothering you. Maybe you can try to rearrange things or try some cheap cosmetic changes that will cause to you focus in on the projects that will help you most in the kitchen (is the the countertops, the appliances, cabinets, all of the above?).

Figuring it out is always tough. Best of luck!

Kate R.,  October 3, 2009 at 8:32 PM  

I think you should do the French door and window. They will add to the value of the house, increase your quality of living, and are not tied to anything else. The kitchen upgrades are very enticing, but granite is a lifetime material, and if you won't be happy with your cabinets, you shouldn't top them with something so permanent. Chances are, you would want to redesign your cabinets somewhat if you had the choice. I would wait until you can do them all at once. Someone else mentioned craigslist for appliances - I got my stainless stove, microwave and refrigerator off craigslist for less than 1/3 the new cost. If you look regularly and get to sellers right away with a phone #, it's possible to get fantastic deals!

Yansy October 4, 2009 at 12:29 PM  

Just wanted to thank you for your sweet comment on my master bedroom reveal on YHL.

Marcy Tate October 5, 2009 at 2:34 AM  

I voted for the new counter tops; but I think the door-window is pretty imp. But, we spend so muc time in the kitchen and countertops go through so much wear and tear that I think it's imp. to put the money in the countertops. I think you;ll be really happy if you go w/ the countertops.

alanna rose October 5, 2009 at 10:09 AM  

I would definitely replace the door and window. After living and cooking in your kitchen for a while, you might decide to change the footprint of your kitchen - if you've already spent a good chunk of cash on granite counters you'll run into a problem. Rocky Bella just posted a tutorial on resurfacing her counter tops http://tinyurl.com/ya8lx44 maybe you could do something like that to perk up your current counters?

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog October 5, 2009 at 10:27 AM  

Wow, you guys rock! I'm so much less confused about which would be good choices.

One thing that I forgot to mention is that I'm only planning on living her for the next 3-7 years so I don't plan on putting big money into a major kitchen renovation (I'll save that for my 'forever' home).

Kitchen Magic October 5, 2009 at 10:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hannah October 5, 2009 at 12:56 PM  

We are both DIY'ers and thrift experts. So here is what we'd do.

1.)Tile the backsplash in the kitchen yourself. You can learn how online and it is not that difficult. Check out IKEA's countertop options. A few of our friends have used their butcherblock counter and love it. It looks modern and updated!

2.) Take down you kitchen cupboards and put up open shelving. It will give a lot of visual impact to your room and an immediate update. Keep the lower doors as is, maybe update with some sleek modern hardware.

3.We bought all of our kitchen appliances at a SEARS scratch and dent store except for our slide in range, which we bought off of e-bay. None of them have visible defaults and all had a warranty. I think the stainless fridge was $400, the oven $200 and the dishwasher $180 or so. Also, check craigslist.

I'd check craiglsist or a Habitat store for the French door size you need. I'd probably do that project last as it might take a while to find the right door size and it will make the least impact that others will see.

Ok, that's all for my two cents!

Hannah

Liz October 6, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

Wow... all these suggestions are awsome! I'm having a kitchen countertop/backsplash conundrum myself, so that's my vote, just b/c I know how nuts mine are making me in their current state. But, the sliding door replacement would also be huge.

Adrienne October 18, 2009 at 12:48 PM  

I'd definitely go with the window and door replacement. It will help with sound and insulation. AND, if you get an Energystar window and door, you can reclaim 30% as a tax credit (30% up to $1500 under Obama's green improvement incentive). Like many others have said, there are solutions for the cabinets (paint, new hinges and hardware, open shelving), you can do the counters and backsplash yourself, and you can buy the appliances inexpensively and incrementally.

onegrandhome November 17, 2009 at 12:35 AM  

The choice you made was great and one I might have made. More than that, I just love that you are tuned in to the idea of trade-offs and that you aren't determined to have it all immediately, consequences be darned. A lot of folks could use such a lesson in restraint. (And I include myself).

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