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28 Ways to Customize Your Kitchen for Less

28 Ways to Customize Your Kitchen for Less

Who wants to settle for a cookie-cutter cook space? Not us.

But these days we're all looking to improve on what we've got without forking over fistfuls of cash.

READ: How to Afford the Kitchen You Want

See how to use fresh paint and paper, vintage finds, and other smart buys to get made-to-order looks at off-the-shelf prices.

(Josh Savage Gibson | ThisOldHouse.com)
Go for an Updated Farmhouse Feel

1. Zinc-top prep table: Use a potting bench to stand in for an island; its shelf can hold pots for cooking just as easily as ones for planting. Finish it to match your cabinets, or use an accent color to make it a focal point. One we like: Living Accents bench, about $240; Ace Hardware

2. Warm wood counters: Gentle on knives and simple to install yourself, butcher block is one of the most popular—and affordable—countertop materials. Choose long, edge-grain strips or blocky end grain. A ½-inch-thick-by-26-inch-square beech slab, about $29; Ikea

3. Skirted sink: A curtain on a $7 rod handily hides cleaning supplies and plumbing and adds a welcome hit of color and pattern. Buy a fabric remnant and stitch it yourself or have a tailor sew it to your specs. Find designer prints for under $10 per yard; Joyce Fabrics

4. Pendants with patina: Repro lights can cost more than the real deals. You pay for new wiring and the ease of not having to troll salvage yards. But these days many dealers refurbish their old lights, and the search is half the fun. Find ready-to-install vintage industrial pendants like these, about $100 to $225; Portland Architectural Salvage

5. Metal backsplash: A nod to commercial kitchen backsplashes, galvanized-steel roofing forms a fire-safe barrier between the range and the wall. Make yours using Galvalume Ribbed Steel Roof Panels, about $32 per 38-by-144-inch piece; Lowes

6. Stylish score: A hanging plate rack doubles as a dramatic window treatment. Get a similar one, about $130; Plow & Hearth
 

READ: Steal Ideas From Our Best Kitchen Transformations

(Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn | ThisOldHouse.com)
Create Crisp Cottage Style

7. High plate rail: A deep shelf with decorative wood brackets turns the dead zone along a soffit into an attention-grabber. Painted white against a white wall, it's an ideal display space for colorful collections. Make your own with the Real Organized kit containing a 48-inch-long, white-painted MDF shelf and two brackets, about $20; Lowes

8. Made-to-order cabinetry: Wood lattice gives stock stile-and-rail doors a designer touch. Build your own by removing the solid center panels and replacing them with checkerboard-pattern grilles, about $65 for an 18-by-24-inch grille in paint- or stain-ready red oak; Van Dyke's Restorers
 

READ: Read This Before You Redo a Kitchen

(Mark Samu | ThisOldHouse.com)
Add Interesting Details

9. Decorative moldings: A beadboard back and custom face frame accented with turned posts add instant architecture to an ordinary open-base cabinet. Put together your own frame using stock porch parts. We like the 20-inch-high Classic Cedar Balusters, about $16 each, for the center supports, and the cedar Fleur Spandrel Running Trim, about $81 for a 7-inch-tall-by-4-foot-long section, for the decorative top rail; all from Vintage Woodworks
 

(Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn | ThisOldHouse.com)
Craft Some Country Charm

10. Freestanding hutch: A piece of furniture offers all the storage of a custom built-in for a fraction of the cost. Expect to pay about $700 for a vintage wood step-back cupboard like this one at antiques stores, or, if you're lucky, find one for less at a yard sale.

11. Patterned walls: White-painted metal ceiling tiles used as wall cladding add new dimension to the room. Install them floor to ceiling or only halfway up as a wainscot, then cap it with a wood chair rail. Save on paint by using tiles finished with a white satin powder coat. Find them for about $13 per 2-foot-square tile; American Tin Ceilings
 

(Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn | ThisOldHouse.com)
Try the Lived-In Look

12. Stylish score: Dress up your task lighting. Convert recessed cans with a pendant-light adapter and fabric shade, about $79; Ballard Designs

13. Repurposed island: A country store “seed and bean” counter offers twice the charm for half the price of a carpenter-built island. Search salvage yards and flea markets for rustic, unrestored versions like this one, starting at about $800.

14. Period pot rack: The rusted patina on this custom wrought-iron rack imparts an antique feel to this kitchen. For a DIY version, mount a section of Victorian-era iron fencing horizontally on the wall and hang pots from hooks on the rails, about $45 per linear foot; Recycling the Past

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