No matter how extensive the project, remodeling your kitchen is a chore – and typically a costly one. The average cost of a kitchen remodel is $21,711, according to HomeAdvisor. Remodeling magazine pegs the price tag at $20,830 for a minor kitchen remodeling project and $62,158 for a major overhaul.

But the reality is that you can spend a lot less (or a lot more) on your kitchen remodel depending on the choices you make.

“There’s a lot of ways you can kind of cut corners,” says Toni Anderson, publisher of The Happy Housewife, who has done three major kitchen remodeling projects in her homes, both do-it-yourself renovations and with contractors. “There are things where you can get the look of something with other materials.”

For most people, the big-ticket items are appliances, cabinets and countertops. All of those items are available in options ranging from less expensive to more expensive.

“You can get really, really good appliances now without breaking the bank,” says H. Dale Contant, president of Atlanta Design & Build. A range, for example, can cost $200 or less used and up to $15,000 for a pro-style 48-inch Thermador model.

[Read: How to Stick to Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget.]

Cabinet prices, even if you look only at wood cabinets, can range from $80 to $1,500 per linear foot. The cost depends not only on the choice of materials, but also on finishes and where you buy them. This is a good item to shop around.

“There are a lot of really good standard cabinet makers out there,” says Hooper Patterson, an interior designer in Wilmington, North Carolina. A local shop may be able to build you custom cabinets for the same price a big-box store will charge for standard cabinets.

Countertop prices vary significantly, too. While laminate is generally considered the least expensive – and tile and butcher block cost even less – the more common granite countertops often don’t cost much more. Among granite itself, you can pay exponentially more for a rare stone than you would pay for one that is readily available.

When it comes to backsplash tile, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures and cabinet pulls, hunting for the best deal can net you quality items at a fraction of the retail price. Start by visiting online resale sites and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, then check out the clearance sections of big-box stores and local tile and fixture retailers.

You can also find some great deals online. “I love Overstock and Amazon for getting the look that you want for less,” Anderson says.

[See: 9 Outdoor Living Renovations to Splurge on This Summer.]

Here are some tips for getting the look you want in your new kitchen at various price points. Since prices vary considerably by region, the figures here are ballpark estimates.

Layout

One way to save on your kitchen remodeling project is to use the same layout. If you move gas, plumbing or electric, that significantly adds to the cost. Removing walls that aren’t load-bearing isn’t terribly expensive, but as you tear down the wall, you will often discover wiring or plumbing that needs to be relocated. Removing walls may also create a situation in which flooring has to be replaced.

Budget: Retain the current layout.

Midrange : Take out a wall, but keep the stove, dishwasher and sink in the same place. (The refrigerator uses a regular outlet so it's easier to move.)

Splurge: Knock out whatever walls you want to design an entirely new layout, perhaps creating a great room with an island.

Cabinets

New kitchen cabinets account for a significant chunk of your remodeling budget, and cabinets prices can vary considerably depending upon what you buy and where you buy it. Stock cabinets from a big-box store are often cheapest (unless you can find used cabinets). Factors that influence cost include materials (fiberboard vs. plywood vs. hardwood) as well as interior pullouts and glazes, such as decorative coatings over the wood. Get prices from local shops as well as big-box stores and online because you'll likely encounter a range of prices for what is essentially the same cabinet.

Budget: Repaint or refinish existing cabinets.

Midrange : New basic plywood cabinets with real wood or laminate doors.

Splurge: Solid wood cabinets with a custom glaze and molding, plus lots of pullout drawers and other features.

Countertops

Like cabinets, countertops can vary widely in price based on materials. There is even a lot of variation in price even among the same materials. Granite, for example, can be $50 per square foot for a common stone but more than twice as much for a rarer color. The thickness of the granite as well as the edging you choose also affects price. Granite tile is significantly cheaper, usually under $10 per square foot installed. Granite is usually priced for the entire job, but be aware that the cost of fabrication can vary as well.

Budget: Laminate, tile, butcher block or granite tile.

Midrange: Granite chosen from the less expensive slabs or solid-surface such as Corian.

Splurge: Marble, quartz or rare granite.

Accessories

Handles for cabinets can cost you $10 apiece, and you can spend $100 or $1,000 on a faucet. This is where savvy shopping can really cut costs, including shopping online. Your choice of materials in this case may be less important than where you buy them. You should start shopping for fixtures as soon as you decide you are going to remodel. In most cases, you’ll save money if you buy these items yourself rather than have a contractor supply them, but you should ask your contractor where he shops.

Budget: Check online sites, the Habitat ReStore and the clearance sections of big-box stores.

Midrange: Order online or look for items on sale.

Splurge: Rush to the specialty store the day before you need the items, and pay full price for whatever is in stock.

[Read: Should You Repair or Replace It? When to Buy New Items and Appliances.]

Appliances

People love professional appliances, but before you spend the money, consider how you will use the kitchen. Do you cook a lot? Do you enjoy baking ? If not, don’t splurge on high-priced appliances. And remember that even the best cooks can do quite well with basic appliances.

If you know you’re going to be replacing appliances, start shopping early and jump on sales, clearances and friends selling perfectly good used appliances. It’s smart to buy appliances before you start remodeling your kitchen, so that the cabinets can be built to fit around them. Stoves and dishwashers are standard sizes (though high-end stoves can be larger) but refrigerators have some variation in width, height and depth.

Budget: Use your old appliances or buy used appliances.

Midrange: White appliances from Frigidaire, Whirlpool or GE. If you must have stainless steel, however, it’s not significantly more expensive. They don’t all have to be the same brand.

Splurge: Professional-grade appliances from Wolf, Viking, Thermador and other elite brands.

Tags: real estate, home improvements, home prices, money, personal finance


Teresa Mears writes about personal finance, real estate and retirement for U.S. News and other publications. She was previously the real estate blogger for MSN Money and worked as the Home & Design editor for The Miami Herald. During her journalism career, she worked on coverage of immigration, religion, national and international news and local news, serving on the staffs of The Miami Herald, The Los Angeles Times and the St. Petersburg Times. She has also been a contributor for The New York Times and The Boston Globe, among other publications. She publishes Living on the Cheap and Miami on the Cheap. Follow her on Twitter @TeresaMears.

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