How to Save Money on Your Kitchen Remodel: 5+ Old vs New (Smarter) Ways!

Over the years, Matt and I have figured out some fa-fa-fantastic ways to save money on kitchen renovations, saving our clients (and us) TEN$ UPON TEN$ OF THOU$ANDS of dollars…

…but first let’s talk about the 5 most “generic” and “usual” ways people say to save!

These are the ideas we think most people know about already (thanks to home decor shows and mags), but we’ll mention this “usual advice” anyway before we get to OUR ways!😉


Ordinary Advice #5: “Just Paint Over Your Existing Cabinets!”

I don’t know who to blame for this…HGTV?

Almost every client we’ve worked with who’s asked for help with their kitchen has mentioned in their first call with us, “…or should we just paint over our existing cabinets?”

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, because sometimes it can be a valid one. But not always, and it’s not as “easy” or “cheap” as people think!

WHY painting over cabinets IS OLD NEWS:

  1. Most people think they know what they’ll be doing to paint over old cabinets, but most get a shocking reality check once starting.
  2. You’re still stuck with the same design on your cabinet & drawer fronts.
  3. You’re still stuck with the same layout, placement, everything!
  4. Unless you’re DIYing it 100% yourself, you’re going to pay a solid amount for labor.
  5. If you’re DIYing it 100% yourself, say goodbye to hours and hours of your nights and weekends (especially if you’ve never done it before–there’s a learning curve you’ll spend hours figuring out).
  6. As per the above, if you’re someone who has limited time and energy, or values your time highly (see our resource on nailing your life dreams via your home!), this cabinet painting business is going to be more expensive to your irreplaceable resources.
  7. If the work isn’t done painstakingly properly, your paint can easily peel, chip, or have a host of other issues.
  8. If your cabinets already have significant damage or wear, such as deep scratches or water damage, painting over them doesn’t always hide these imperfections–you’ll need to repair or replace the damaged ones.
  9. It’s grown so “common” and low-end feeling that it can affect your resale value. (See my below PS!)
  10. Painted cabinets can require more maintenance and careful cleaning to preserve their appearance. Scrubbing or using typical cleaners can damage the paint, making it necessary to be cautious during routine cleaning.
woman chopping vegetables at kitchen counter
Don’t forget to grab our Kitchen Design Bundle!

Now don’t get me wrong, painting over cabinets can be a good option in unique cases, but it’s just become such a common thing to do that people don’t even think about the pros and cons or what that’s going to really cost them (in more than money!).

PS: If someone tells you painting the cabinets will increase your home’s value, it might–or it might hurt it! If the person you sell to in future (or their real estate agent, inspector, etc.) is super home-improvement savvy and recognizes not only are these “just” painted-over cabinets but that it wasn’t done well, you haven’t saved much money at all. Some potential buyers may prefer the natural wood finish or may not appreciate the quality of the painted cabinets, which could affect the overall appeal and value of your kitchen.


Ordinary Advice #4: “Just Keep Your Existing Layout!”

This is akin to the advice to “leave all your appliances in the same old location to save money” rubbish.

And when I call it rubbish, I mean this: it’s just simply not always true!

Can it be true in certain cases? Sure…but you also might SAVE money by MOVING your layout around!

Is your mind blown? It should be!😂🤣

But THIS IS WHAT WE DO 🧠💪, and when you look at a kitchen makeover or remodel as a whole, there are many, many times that adjusting your layout will only save you mucho dinero in the long run!

white minimalist kitchen created on a budget with simple marble backsplash
Click for our FREE Interior Design Guide!


Ordinary Advice #3: “Don’t Hire a Designer!”

One of the ways most people think they can “save” is by not hiring an interior designer or kitchen designer. We agree with this to some extent:

  1. They’re going to charge you for their time. A lot of their time.
  2. They’re not always good at what they do. (We’ve worked with so-called “kitchen design companies” before in various capacities and most of them are just glorified sales companies just trying to sell you more of things you may not need (and probably don’t, unless you’ve first identified it here!).

You don’t want a designer if they’re not reeeeeally good at what they do. And unfortunately the majority of “kitchen designers” out there are not ones we would ever recommend.

However, finding a fantastic, talented, true-blue kitchen designer is going to save you SO much money over the years!

WHY THIS IS OLD thinking:

A good kitchen designer will save you

  • money
  • time
  • space

But first, make sure…

You must interview your potential kitchen designer and make sure he/she is smart about strategy! You don’t just need someone to tell you what will look pretty, or what the trends are, or show you “the latest” thing they’re selling…

You need someone

  1. who is 100% on your team.
  2. who is thinking and asking you thousands of questions about how you really use your kitchen…
  3. …and can read between the lines to help you figure out what you really need!
  4. who has zero vested interest in how much money you spend on the remodel (another reason we advise staying away from using the “designer” the contractor, kitchen showroom or build company gives you.
budget galley kitchen remodel with islands, white cabinets and white islands, food on countertop, window above sink
Notice something different about our kitchen? Why we designed our kitchen island without pendant lights!


Ordinary Advice #2: “Have a Budget and Stick To It!”

While this is generally good advice for almost everything in life (kitchens included), I feel like it’s one of the most unoriginal, boring pieces of advice people tell you.🤣 I mean, of course I want to stick to my budget!

But you know what’s even better? Having a budget and coming in UNDERNEATH it!

And really, I just feel like this advice helps so few (unless it’s a person who really has no self-control or zero budget/monetary awareness, in which case they’re either insanely rich or aren’t and just need a lot more help of the mental health professional genre).


I feel like it’s better to say, “If budget is a live-or-die situation to you, you’re going to need to exercise some self-control…and you’re also going to need to give yourself a massive “cushion” of 10-20% to allow for the inevitable things that come up. (We all pray they don’t happen…and yet, surprises spice up renovations every single day!😆🤷‍♀️


Ordinary Advice #1: “Get IKEA Cabinets!”

Living in a variety of homes across Europe, Matt has heard me get preeeeetty passionate about why most people should avoid IKEA kitchens, but that’s going to take a whole other blog post past the scope of this article!

small white IKEA kitchen with wood countertops and small backsplash tile hexagon, white budget kitchen
21 Clever Kitchen Organization Ideas To Make Your Life Easier!


Let’s just say that unless you’re remodeling a rental kitchen or tiny home/ADU, the IKEA kitchen cabinets, drawers and other setups are absolutely, 100% not the smartest choice for everything from functionality and organization to ergonomics and space-saving considerations!

“Cost” comes in more ways than just dollah bills! And trust me (or trust Matt), Jess is rarin’ to go on this IKEA subject.😂🤣 (Another clue: You know she’s serious when she starts writing in the 3rd person!)

We have a #1 way we like to save big money (B-I-G money, if you know what I’m sayin’!😉), but it takes a lot of explaining to make sure you’re not just aware but truly educated and empowered to take advantage of it for yourself! So we created a 20-page printable document that goes over ALL our favorite new and “non-usual” ways to save money on a kitchen remodel, which recently saved a client over $30,000 (and we helped another save over $57,000).

So clearly this document MORE than pays for itself!😅

white simple kitchen with wood floors, island with wood barstools, black pendant lights from ceiling
No Hardware? No problem! I go over the pros & cons of kitchen cabinets without handles!


+BONUS MYTH: “Just Do Cabinets…Drawers Are Too Expensive.”

False! I’ve written extensively on the 5 intelligent reasons you should choose drawers instead of cabinets! (Saves you something more precious than a few extra dollars = YOUR TIME & EFFORT!)

And we’ve created a SUPER-EASY 3-in-1 Drawer Design Guide that shows you exactly how to do drawers easily and inexpensively! (We share our favorite random source for wholesale materials in the guide!)


  1. If you haven’t already, grab our Upgraded Kitchen Bundle full of help with kitchen organization, the best kitchen layouts, and how we tell you TO save serious money in fresh, real, updated ways!
  2. See our 21+ Genius Kitchen Hacks in action!
  3. Get help with all our Kitchen Remodel posts!

PS: The full list of our house projects is viewable HERE.

PPS: If you’d like our help on your own home, be sure to check out our Design Guides & Plans!

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