Transforming a townhouse kitchen on a budget can seem daunting, but with some DIY spirit, creativity, and strategic spending, it is possible to give this important space a whole new look without breaking the bank. In this article, we will explore how one homeowner managed to entirely overhaul her dated, cramped townhouse kitchen for just $8,700.

Assessing the Existing Kitchen and Developing a Vision

The first step in any kitchen remodel is assessing what you currently have and deciding what needs to change. Our homeowner took stock of her mid-1990s townhouse kitchen and realized the layout was inefficient and closed off from the rest of the main floor. The maple cabinets looked worn and outdated, and the laminate countertops were scuffed and chipped beyond repair. Appliances were reaching the end of their lifespan, and storage was minimal.

Although the footprint could not be altered, opening up the space to improve flow was a priority. She decided to remove one wall separating the kitchen from the dining room to create an open-concept main floor. Her vision was a fresh, contemporary space with clean lines, crisp white cabinetry, lighter counters to reflect more light, and modern stainless steel appliances. Storage solutions and maximizing every inch were critical in the compact space.

Shopping Secondhand and Salvaging Materials

One of the keys to renovating on a strict budget is searching for secondhand materials and bargains. Our homeowner haunted online classifieds, thrift stores, architectural salvage warehouses, and garage sales to find cabinets, fixtures, flooring and other items at a fraction of retail price. Patience and persistence paid off with great scores:

  • Used cabinets: She sourced clean, solid maple cabinets for $500 at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. These became her base cabinets.
  • Secondhand island: A $250 customized kitchen island provided extra prep space and storage.
  • Vintage tiles: Demo of the existing floors revealed 150 square feet of usable vintage mosaic tile in good shape. This was refinished and sealed, saving $1500+ on new flooring.
  • Cheap marble: She found an unwanted prefabricated quartz countertop discarded by another homeowner for $50. Cut to size, it covered her island.
  • Salvaged sink: An old hammered copper farmhouse sink purchased for $35 added cottage character.
  • Discounted appliances: Scratch and dent appliances were 50% off retail. She purchased a full suite for under $2000.

Strategic Splurges for Maximum Impact

While our homeowner got creative to save on many elements, she strategically invested her limited budget on a few impactful finishes to give the kitchen personality and visual appeal:

  • White shaker cabinets: In addition to the base cabinets, new glossy white shaker-style upper cabinets opened up the space. At $1500, these made a huge vibrancy impact.
  • Marble herringbone backsplash: A marbled herringbone backsplash tiled by the homeowner added texture and tied everything together beautifully. Purchased on sale for $500, it gave the impression of high-end luxury.
  • Wood countertops: To warm up the space, she opted for handsome butcher block countertops on the perimeter. At $650 including delivery, these are durable and affordable.
  • Pendant lights: Three inexpensive but chic black pendant lights created a focal point over the island on trend with contemporary design.

DIY and Cost-Saving Installation

Installation is where professional labor can really inflate budgets. Our savvy homeowner watched YouTube tutorials, asked for advice, and did all the demolition and installation herself alongside supportive friends and family members. Some of her DIY savings included:

  • Cabinet installation: With helpers, this took 2 days and saved $1000+ on labor. They used crimpers for plumbing and electrical.
  • Backsplash tiling: The herringbone mosaic backsplash was tedious but doable, saving about $800.
  • Painting cabinets: She painted the secondhand cabinets herself with a sprayer for $100 instead of $2000+ for new painted cabinetry. Priming, multiple coats, sanding and protective finish took time but produced a flawless look.
  • Countertop installation: She found a countertop company that provided instructions for homeowners wanting DIY installation. This saved $500 on labor.
  • Lighting and accessories: She installed all new lighting, hardware and accessories like shelves, pulls and knobs.

While exhausting at times, our homeowner found tackling installation herself deeply rewarding, not to mention affordable. Her sweat equity makes the kitchen that much more special.

Results: A Fresh, Contemporary Townhouse Kitchen for Under $10k

In the end, this townhouse kitchen was utterly transformed for just $8700 into a light, bright, contemporary space with a custom look. The homeowner is thrilled with her new kitchen that completely suits her tastes while aligning with her budget constraints. She now has renewed enjoyment of cooking and entertaining in a functional, welcoming space.

Key points to recap when remodeling a townhouse kitchen on a budget:

  • Take time to evaluate needs and develop a vision
  • Scour secondhand sources for discounted materials
  • Invest in a few strategic new elements for visual impact
  • Maximize DIY installation to avoid labor costs
  • Work with the existing footprint creatively

With careful planning, resourcefulness and elbow grease, transformation is possible! This townhouse kitchen makeover shows that a DIY spirit and strategic choices can go a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions About Remodeling a Townhouse Kitchen on a Budget

Here are some common questions about remodeling a townhouse kitchen affordably:

How much does it cost to remodel a small townhouse kitchen?

For a minor remodel of a small 100 square foot townhouse kitchen involving new paint, cabinets, countertops and updated appliances/fixtures, expect to spend $15,000-$25,000. For a more extensive remodel including layout changes, new flooring, lighting, windows, plumbing/electrical, costs typically run $25,000-$50,000+.

What are inexpensive alternatives to replacing townhouse kitchen cabinets?

Instead of full cabinet replacement, consider repainting, adding new hardware/knobs, installing glass door inserts, adding interior lighting, or shelving/organizers. Refacing with new veneer and doors can also save substantially. Buying secondhand or RTA cabinets are other budget-friendly options.

What are some affordable townhouse kitchen countertop ideas?

Butcher block, laminate, and recycled/composite materials like concrete or paperstone can cost under $1500 installed. Tile or stone mosaic patterns can also give high-end looks while using less material. Discount salvaged granite, quartz or marble pieces work for smaller surfaces.

How can I update my townhouse kitchen on a budget?

Quick affordable upgrades include new cabinet hardware, stylish lighting, accent wall paint or removable wallpaper, artwork/tiles, updated faucet and sink, shelving, and rugs. Consider repurposing furniture like dressers or hutches for unconventional island or storage options.

Should I keep or remove walls in my townhouse kitchen remodel?

Removing walls can improve sightlines, light, and flow, but may require structural work, permits, and floor plan redesign. Keep existing walls if possible, but create openings for pass-through windows, breakfast bars, glass door inserts or enlarged doorways. This balances improved access and visibility with affordability.

How much does DIY installation save on townhouse kitchen remodels?

Doing your own demolition and installation, like cabinets, countertops, backsplashes, lighting and accessories can save 30% or more on project costs. But factor in your time and skillset – complex electrical, plumbing or gas work may best be left to professionals. Combining DIY on some elements with pro help on tricky parts can maximize savings.


Remodeling a townhouse kitchen affordably requires clever use of space, strategic budget allocation, resourcefulness in finding deals, and a DIY spirit. Our homeowner proved that with $8700, persistence and elbow grease, a dated, cramped townhouse kitchen can be utterly transformed into a fresh contemporary space perfect for entertaining and everyday meals. We hope these tips and ideas provide inspiration to tackle your own townhouse kitchen renovation and make the most of your available budget to create your dream space.