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Kitchen helpers 

Tips for heating up your kitchen design without torching your budget

click to enlarge Laminate countertops are durable alternatives to granite and stone — and are a lot less expensive.

Laminate countertops are durable alternatives to granite and stone — and are a lot less expensive.

The kitchen is a great place to start when updating a house, whether to make it more appealing to homebuyers — remodeled kitchens can substantially increase the value of a home — or more comfortable for yourself. When approaching what could be an expensive undertaking, many homeowners seek ways to add modern touches, convenience and luxury without breaking the bank.

"Whether you want to splurge on cabinets, countertops, appliances or floors, homeowners are finding they really can have the kitchen they've always wanted by doing their research and learning about the many high-quality yet cost-effective alternatives that exist in home remodeling," says Trisha Schmitt, vice president of VT Industries (, which manufactures architectural wood doors and countertops.

Here are some ideas for updating a kitchen on a budget — and getting the most out of your remodeling dollars.

   Countertops — The addition of new countertops, which are an integral part of your kitchen space, can easily become the priciest part of the remodeling project. Homeowners who like how granite and real stone look should seek a durable and affordable alternative that helps them achieve the design they desire on their budget. An alternative is choosing laminate countertops that mimic the beauty and strength of stone materials at a fraction of the cost.

   Backsplash — A way to add a sleek, modern touch to your kitchen is adding a new backsplash. Typically made from ceramic, glass or stainless steel tiles, a backsplash can provide an understated change or a pop of color to the room. Compared to other remodeling projects, installing a backsplash is quick and easy.

   Hardware — Did you know you can refresh the look of your whole kitchen for as little as $50? If the hardware on your kitchen drawers or cabinets looks old or out of fashion, buy new ones at your local hardware store. Replace old, brushed stainless or gold knobs and pulls with on-trend styles offered in pewter or bronze.

   Porcelain tile flooring — If you want the look of stone flooring without the hefty investment, porcelain tile may be an answer. This sturdy, chip-resistant surface is easy on the wallet and can provide long-lasting beauty.

  To make the most from your remodeling budget, do some research to find the best alternatives at the lowest prices.

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