Renovating a kitchen is like cooking a gourmet meal. Take on too much, and the work can mushroom out of control, busting your budget and your patience.
While we can’t choose your recipes, we can help focus your renovation on the elements that give the most bang for your buck: the countertop and backsplash.
Above, near-black soapstone replaced dingy white laminate. Because it cuts and shapes with woodworking tools, the only cost was for the stone—$24 a square foot from M. Teixeira Soapstone, which also sells a DIY tool kit at soapstones.com. For the backsplash, the homeowner chose easy-to-clean solid surfacing milled like beadboard from Swanstone. One 3×8 sheet cost $556 and went up with a jigsaw and construction adhesive. Completing the makeover are a new stainless-steel undermount sink from Elkay and pull-down faucet from Grohe.
Other countertop options
Above left: Unlike most natural stone tiles, this sandy-hued engineered stone-look tile never has to be sealed. About $12.60 per square foot, e-counters.com.
Above middle: Even more manageable than a soapstone slab are 12-by-12-inch granite stone squares, which lay out in a grid just like ceramic tiles. Use unsanded grout for tighter joints and a smoother surface that better approximates the look of seamless stone. Granite tile looks high-end if you finish the edges with a 1½-inch bullnose. And compared with about $90 a square foot for an installed slab, it’s also a bargain. About $25 per square, Benissimo.
Above right: The dramatic veining of this slate tile rivals marble, and because it’s less porous, it’s stain- and bacteria-resistant. Starting at $6.50 per square foot, PebbleZ.com.
Other backsplash options
In contrast to the high-tech solid surface used in the kitchen at the top, other stylish and DIY-friendly backsplashes are made from age-old materials: glass, metal, and porcelain.
Above left: A backing on these light-reflecting glass subway tiles prevents trowel marks from showing through. About $21.50 per square foot, Artistic Tile.
Above middle: The 6-inch repeating pattern on this clear-finished metal ceiling tile makes it ideal for a backsplash, hiding cuts along the grid seams. $12 and up per 24-inch square panel, The American Tin Ceiling Co.
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Above right: Mesh backing on these porcelain mosaics makes installation a snap. Beige bricks: About $21 per square foot, Home Depot. Mint penny rounds: about $8 per square foot, American Universal Corp.
Other faucet options
Inspired by commercial kitchen faucets, pull-down residential models can’t be beat for function. And thanks to ergonomic controls like thumb-touch sprayers and a range of designs and finishes, they’re also tops for comfort and style.
Above left: This arched gooseneck in Tuscan bronze has three spray functions and traditional styling. About $230, Price Pfister.
Above middle: The 59-inch pullout hose on this minimalist faucet eliminates the need for a dedicated pot filler. About $340, Cucina.
Above right: The 22-inch-high arch and commercial look of this chrome faucet suits a modern kitchen. About $276, Danze.
More sink options
It’s easy to keep a counter tidy. Just sweep crumbs and spills into an undermount sink, rather than worry about gunk collecting around a drop-in’s lip. Some of the most durable undermounts are made fromstainless steel and copper. For steel, the lower its gauge, the thicker the basin’s walls. So pick 20-gauge or lower to ensure that it won’t dent. For copper, hand-hammering is a telltale sign of top quality.
Above left: This stainless sink’s removable drying shelf frees up counter space that would otherwise be occupied by a dish rack. About $825, Elkay.
Above middle: This handmade copper sink offers a rugged texture and a finish that will darken over time, but you pay for it. About $2,725, Native Trails.
Above right: Two stainless-steel bowls let you wash in one and rinse in the other. About $340, Franke USA.