9 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel

Did you know that remodeling your kitchen is one of the best ways to add value to your home? It’s the most lived-in room of the home, so it’s important to keep it up to date, for your own satisfaction as well as for any potential buyers. The downside, however, is that kitchen remodeling can also be incredibly expensive. So how do you maximize your home’s value on a budget? We’re glad you asked. Here are some easy and affordable solutions to revamp the look of your kitchen for far less than a costly remodel.

Add new trim

Even if you hire someone to make custom trim for your kitchen, you’ll still save thousands of dollars by using your existing cabinets—and you’ll see just how drastically a change in trim can revamp your kitchen’s look. Adding crown molding trim or under-trim can transform your box cabinets with the look of custom built-ins—and if your cabinets have a lot of space at the top, adding crown trim will draw the eye upward and make your kitchen look bigger. Plus, with newer trends of mixing wood colors, it’s not as important to have uniform color anymore, so you may even save money by mixing wood trim color.

Add new hardware

Whether you choose to add new cabinets or reface existing cabinets, adding new hardware will really spruce up the look of your kitchen for less. You can even scour online or local resale shops for complete hardware sets for an upscale and unique look.

Convert a table or an old cart into a kitchen island

Instead of installing a new kitchen island, or hiring someone to build one—which may eat into your budget with the requirement of additional permits and codes—think outside of the box. Moveable islands will achieve the look you are going for, and they’ll also save you the cost of construction. Adding castors to an existing table or even a thrifted cart to make it a mobile, workable island will give you the look and functionality without the cost and work. (Check your own area for rules and regulations on building an island.)

DIY your countertops

Depending on your level of DIY savviness, you can save a lot of money on countertops. Granite is the most popular option, and you can check to see if you can score a granite remnant, although for kitchens, it can be difficult to find enough remnants to cover all of your kitchen’s surfaces.

Outside of the classic granite, you can actually make your own countertops out of cement—although it will take some serious work. For the easiest and most affordable option, choose to install your own new laminate countertop. All you’ll need to purchase is trim router with a flush-trim bit and a laminate roller, dowels, and glue and you can have a new laminate countertop in a single afternoon. Some types of new laminate even allow you to apply the new layer to an existing laminate. However, if you do choose to install your laminate countertop, don’t forget to factor in the cost of a plumber to put a new sink in or replumb your sink.

Add a backsplash

A kitchen backsplash is a very manageable project that makes a big aesthetic impact. There are different options for different DIY levels, ranging from “lick-and-stick” backslashes that don’t involve a lot of cutting, but for the most custom look with real tile, you will need a trowel and tile cutter to get the job done, along with finishing with a pre-mixed grout. You can also go with a beadboard backsplash for one of the fastest, easiest, and most affordable options for a kitchen.

Shop local for custom kitchens

If you have to install all-new cabinets, consider all of your options. Put-together box cabinets might be the cheapest option at first glance, but keep in mind that those types of cabinets may not have long-term durability. There may be many custom local woodworkers who will tear out and install a kitchen for the same price as some higher-end cabinet prices, so you may get more bang for your buck by asking for local recommendations for small business owners.

Use your existing kitchen layout

If you’re happy with your kitchen layout and are just craving a fresh update, work with your contractor or kitchen builder to maintain as much of your current layout as possible for a huge cost savings. Moving the actual layout of a kitchen—such as moving the position of an oven or a sink or a wall—will involve changing wires and plumbing, at much higher costs.

Shop floor models or dented appliances

For discounts on appliances, ask your local store if they have any floor models for sale. Many stores will offer discounts on floor models or even offer steep discounts for dented (but still fully functional) appliances. If the damage is cosmetic, you may be able to fix it yourself and still save some serious cash for the appliance. Also consider where the appliance will fit in your kitchen—if you can save a hundred dollars on a refrigerator with a small dent that will never be seen, it may be worth overlooking a minor imperfection.

Buy refurbished

For accessories, lighting, or even hardware, don’t overlook the value in shopping for refurbished pieces. Even places like thrift shops or flea markets can have high-quality, unique, and fully functional pieces that will save you money—and they’re a more eco-friendly choice, too. We call that a win-win.

With a little creativity and elbow grease, you can still save money on a kitchen remodel that will add value and beauty to your home. By evaluating your current kitchen layout, shopping local, and exploring ways to do the work yourself, you can save the money in your kitchen remodel budget for the pieces—like cabinet refacing and new hardware—that will really make an impact.

From kitchen upgrades to total home remodeling, SemBro Designs and Remodeling knows how to do it right and we love to build the confidence of every Columbus client, year after year.

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8 Questions to Consider Before Your DIY Bathroom Remodel

So you’ve caught the DIY bug and are feeling inspired by the new year to tackle your own bathroom remodel—congratulations! You’ve got this under control and can be confident that you’re making the right decision in remodeling your bathroom to add extra value to your home. Plus, if you’re doing this on a budget you’re adding even more value to your pocket by cutting down on the expenses of renovation by doing most of the work yourself. You clever homeowner, you.

But before you get started, there are some questions you’ll want to consider that can make everyone’s life much easier. And when you’re done and enjoying the peace and quiet of your brand-new (well, kind of) bathroom, you’ll be glad you did.

What’s your mold protection plan?

There are many different options for mold-proofing your bathroom, but you’ll want to have the materials prepared and ready to go to streamline the process. Once you’ve stripped your bathroom down to bare bones, it’s time to re-build from the ground up, and if your bathroom is prone to mold, it may be worthwhile to investigate your mold protection options. For example, blue board is a form of drywall that’s mold resistant and only costs a few dollars more.

Don’t forget the fan.

It may not sound like a big deal, but think about all the moisture your bathroom creates on a daily basis, trapped in such a small space. A fan is a necessity in keeping your bathroom as healthy and mold-free as possible. But what kind should you buy? If you opt for a separate fan and light, your overall cost will be cheaper, but they’ll be trickier to replace. If you decide to go with a combination fan, you’ll be spending more money, but will be choosing the more convenient option.

What kind of budget do you need for professional services?

There’s a lot you can do on your own for a bathroom remodel, but if you’re touching plumbing or electricity, you will need to hire a professional. A remodel is a great opportunity to assess if your current bathroom is working for you and move outlets to a more convenient location or update plumbing to more efficient versions.

Does the layout of the bathroom work for you?

It may be easier than you think to freshen the layout of your bathroom without actually making a lot of changes. For example, an easy option is to rip out a linen closet and replace it with cabinets. It’s a big change without the added expense of moving plumbing.

And let’s be real about the purpose of a bathroom and not forget the little things, like where is the toilet paper holder going to go? Plan the flow of your bathroom strategically and you’ll avoid any unwanted surprises later on.

Do you have what it takes to do a tiled shower?

If you’re considering replacing your drop-in shower with a tiled version, you’re going to have to do your homework. With mudded tiled showers, the need to waterproof is real and it’s not always easy. There are a lot of steps involved, so research and preparation is key.

Do you want to spend the money on a shower door?

If you’re yearning for a fancy-schamncy glass shower door, but don’t have the budget at the moment or want to reallocate those funds for other important things, like a heated toilet seat, keep in mind that because glass shower doors are standard-sized, you can always add one later. Stick with a colorful shower curtain for a while while you save up for a shower door.

Don’t tiptoe around the tile.

What size tile do you want? Larger tiles are harder to lay down because they are less forgiving, but you can cover ground faster with them. However, they are also more slippery, so inside the shower, you will need smaller tiles with larger grout areas for your feet to hold on to. Mosaic tiles are a good idea for anti-slip protection if you don’t want rugs on your floor.

What do you want to do with your cabinets?

Before you seal the deal with your DIY bathroom remodel, you’ll need to make a decision about your cabinets. First up, thoroughly check inside each cabinet for water damage. If you will need to replace the whole cabinet, you can then decide if you want to have a custom bathroom cabinet made to fit a piece of pre-cut countertop or go the other way around and have a countertop cut to fit your cabinet.

However, if your cabinets are not water damaged, it may make more sense to repurpose your vanity by sanding them down and painting them with a latex or oil-based paint.

Can you re-use older bathroom fixtures?

While it may be tempting to throw out all the older bathroom fixtures, like that cream-colored toilet, it may be worth your time (and wallet) to consider if you can incorporate a cream-colored bathroom scheme. You can purchase newer almond or cream-colored components, such as a toilet, to blend the old with the new without actually having to purchase all-new appliances. Now that’s some DIY remodeling to be proud of.

From kitchen upgrades to total home remodeling, SemBro Designs and Remodeling knows how to do it right and we love to build the confidence of every Columbus client, year after year.

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Everything You Need to Know About Range Hoods

Range hoods can be a quick, affordable way to hip up a kitchen on a budget, but with so many models and styles, they’re not always easy to parse through. There are so many questions. What’s the best brand for your wallet? What’s a downdraft range hood? We heard your queries ringing across the internet and decided to create the ultimate guide to selecting and maintaining a range hood.

Do I even need a range hood in my kitchen?

Not necessarily. If you cook often in your home (think 3 to 4 times a week or more), then you’re going to want a recirculating hood to keep grease particles from accumulating on kitchen surfaces, and also take care of smoke in case of a botched baking job.

What kind of range hoods are out there?

Options, options, options. You’ll find that when you’re seeking out new range hoods, there are tons of ways to categorize the available products. The first thing to consider is the way the hood is vented:

Ducted or Vented Hoods: These hoods are ideal, because they vent to the outside, meaning smoke, grease, and odors are drawn away from your kitchen’s interior.
Non-vented, Duct-free, or Recirculated: These hoods, on the other hand, use a filter to collect cooking byproducts up and out of the oven area.
Convertible: Convertible hoods can be installed as ducted or duct-free. There are also some differences in model. Here are some of the most commonly installed models:

1. Under-cabinet Hoods: The most common type of range hood, under-cabinet hoods fit below a cabinet above the stove range.
2. Wall-Mount Hoods: Wall-mount hoods are designed much like under-cabinet hoods, but they are attached to the wall instead of to the underside of a cabinet.
3. Island Hoods: Island hoods are suspended over a cooktop on a kitchen island.
4. Downdraft Hoods: Downdraft hoods fit into the counter next to a cooktop.

What materials are available?

A range hood can be a real statement piece in your kitchen, and there are about as many models as there are aesthetics. Both the material and the design of the hood will affect your kitchen’s overall look. A distressed copper hood with curved sides adds a vintage look, while an angular stainless steel model or glass hood is perfect for a sleek, contemporary kitchen.

What type of ventilation system is most affordable?

The true answer is, it’s complicated. Unless you’re planning a major kitchen renovation, including a new stove, the location of your oven will limit the model of hood you can buy, because you’ll need to place it according to what makes sense for your layout. However, when it comes to ducted versus duct-free, duct-free has a much cheaper installation overhead—you won’t have to have a professional called in for the duct work. On the other hand, in a duct-free unit you’ll need to change the filters every 3 to 6 months, especially if you cook frequently in your home. That’s a $15 to $30 expense 2 to 4 times a year, which can add up. If you have the money to invest in a ducted system now (approximately $500 to $1000 for the hood, labor, and duct work) then it can really pay off, especially considering that it’s a better ventilation system.

What type of hood is the most affordable?

Like most things, hoods will be cheaper if they come without extra bells and whistles. Models with features like multiple fan speeds, thermostat controls, and exhaust timers will bring up the cost of the hood. Brand also plays a part: affordable companies include NuTone, G.E., Kenmore, and Whirlpool, which will run you between $80 to $200 dollars for the hood.

From kitchen upgrades to total home remodeling, SemBro Designs and Remodeling knows how to do it right and we love to build the confidence of every Columbus client, year after year.

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5 Easy DIY Bathroom Upgrades That Will Surprise You

When we built our home two years ago, I told the designer that the bathrooms weren’t my first priority. Since we had limited resources and a tight budget, I planned to DIY our bathroom upgrades later, when it was more realistic.

Now that time has come. I’ve been focusing on designing a beautiful guest bathroom, and I’ve found some impressive DIY bathroom upgrades that I didn’t realize were possible! Most of them involve very little money, and minimal work. These do-it-yourself bathroom makeovers are perfect as a long-term addition, or even as an inexpensive but stylish revamp to hold you over until you can do a full remodel.

Frame Your Builder-Grade Mirror

Many basic bathrooms come with a glass mirror adhered or clipped to the wall. Rather than pulling it off, refinishing that section of the wall, and buying a new, large mirror, you can add a wooden frame to the mirror you already have, creating a beautiful and finished look. The possibilities for style and color are endless, so this DIY allows you to really have fun and show off your design personality.

Paint your fixtures

It can be expensive and tedious to switch out all of your bathroom fixtures, but with a couple layers of auto-grade paint you can turn the old, shiny chrome into a sleek oil-rubbed bronze or matte brass. It’s an easy way to add a transformative change to your bathroom without much work—and the results are impressive.

Refinish Your Sink

Colored ceramics were a huge hit for bathrooms in the 1950s, especially in pink, mint, and baby blue. And plenty of homeowners put up with their pastel-hued bathrooms to avoid a pricey and complex remodel. But there’s a much easier and cheaper solution! Ceramic epoxy is simple to use and will refinish those older ceramics into sleek white sinks and counters. The transformation is simple, inexpensive, and really effective.

Paint Your Tile

Patterned cement and encaustic tile are so on-trend, but unless you’re starting with a new build or doing a full remodel, you probably won’t want to pull up all of your existing tile to replace it. Did you know you can get the same look with chalk paint and a stencil? I actually love my slate tile floors, but am considering trying this anyway!

Stain Your Tile Grout

I love the look of light tile and dark grout, but when we built I had everything put in white on white. Staining the grout dark is a simple and easy way to mimic the modern, international look of classic subway tile. I’ve done this at our home, and loved the results.

I had no idea that there were so many simple yet dramatic DIY bathroom upgrades besides the standard switching textiles and painting the walls. These do-it-yourself projects make a big impact by upgrading the fixtures, hardware, and whole landscape of the bathroom—you can even do all five in just one weekend!

From kitchen upgrades to total home remodeling, SemBro Designs and Remodeling knows how to do it right and we love to build the confidence of every Columbus client, year after year.

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Everything You Need to Know About Window Replacement

Columbus Ohio Remodeling Contractor SemBro Designs Home Improvements

A window replacement is a sizeable investment—but it’s well worth it, in terms of making your home more energy-efficient, visually appealing, and comfortable. We sat down with Columbus Remodeling Experts to ask your top questions and make the window replacement process more manageable. Here’s what he had to say.

How can you tell that it’s time to replace your windows?

People have many different reasons for replacing windows.

First, because they need to. Second, because they want to. I like to think of it as comparable to two different types of surgery. If you have a ruptured appendix, you need it. But if you’d like to have body sculpting, for example, it’s because you want it. It’s much more fun, I imagine, for a surgeon to help people feel more happy about the way the looked, versus the other surgeries, even though both give you a certain level of satisfaction as a doctor. So we really like it when people contact us to say, “I want my home to be more beautiful and/or more comfortable.”

With those kinds of projects, do you ever do any major replacements, such as to the wall structure (ex: enlarging the window, etc)?

There are times a customer will contact us and say (for example) “I have a new pool going up and I’d like to turn this double window into a door or a sliding door.” That’s one of the projects we’ll take on as a company. A lot of times, people who are in the window/door replacement business truly aren’t qualified or interested in the extra time and work it takes to involve a mason, to do siding, or finishing out the new opening, or building out transition pieces between existing flooring and the new door, etc. But we have a qualified crew that does this at least a few dozen times per year.

What can a homeowner expect with their first initial meeting with either on a sales floor or a contractor?

One thing that separates us from other window companies is that we offer 18 brands of windows to choose from. I designed our business around the CarMax model—we offer lots of different brands, and we’re happy to give our opinions about the different brands, but ultimately it’s up to the customer. So on a typical first visit, we spend more time listening than talking, so that we can determine what you want and if we have a product, and if we have the skillset needed to do your project—and if we don’t, we’ll point you in the right direction.

Once you get to the quote/estimate, what should a homeowner expect to see in it?

We’ll come out and take some measurements, for estimate reasons, and give you an on-site estimate (based on that info), specifying each window opening based on its “room name” (living room, etc). Then we come back with specifics for each window—the energy efficiency rating, the sound transmission, how much each window costs individually, etc. We like doing this more than giving a lump sum price on the back of a business card, etc. This builds confidence in a homeowner about us, and it enables them to make changes if needed, based on budget. For example, if you want a big picture window facing your backyard pool, rather than two smaller windows, we’ll print out both options (prices) to give you the choice. This is important because that big picture window could require much heavier glass, or it may require tempering the glass. As a result, a project that should’ve been $10,000 is now $12,000, so this helps you plan and adjust your budget for the project.

You said that when you make the estimate, you also include the energy ratings. What are some of the energy considerations when you’re replacing your windows?

If you have a super energy efficient window, it’s definitely going to improve your home’s energy efficiency, and therefore decrease your monthly utilities, but the trade-off is that it will make your home much darker. So I like to look at it by each particular project and what they’re trying to accomplish, and also room by room. If they say “upstairs on the west wall is a game room, and it’s always hot up there, we might go with a more energy efficient option there on that side where the sun sets (than we would across the front of the house) because otherwise, they end up with these dark living rooms.

Is there a time of year that’s best for replacing windows?Is there a time of year that’s best for replacing windows?

It depends on where you live. If you live in Minnesota or Michigan, winter is a really tough time to have your windows open and people in your home. But in the southern climate, where we are, the phone typically rings all year round. A lot of homeowners who delayed their project for years and years say they wish they’d done the replacements sooner, because they realize they could have enjoyed the improved comfort, reduced energy bills, etc, for so many more years. Plus, the prices of new windows continues to rise each year, so waiting 5 years to save money doesn’t make sense. So if you think you’re going to do it eventually, it makes sense to do it sooner rather than later.

Have you seen any new products on the market, etc, that you’re excited about/that seem to be taking off?

Milgard Windows and Doors came out with a product line called “Essence”—it’s a full fiberglass-framed window with a real wood interior. When most window companies offer a wood product, it’s a wood window that has some form of a small thin layer of cladding on the exterior. But in our climate, once water gets behind that cladding, it can’t get back out—and then the wood begins to rot and the cladding pops off.

But Milgard’s window is different. The entire window is made from a composite material, and the wood is on the inside, where it’s not exposed to any of the elements. It works well for humid and wet climates, or for really cold climates. But one of their latest products was a radius top casement window. They’re the only company in the US making this radius top casement window, where you don’t have to have a divider between the top and the bottom. For example, sometimes you see a window that has an arch on top of it, or there’s a bar separating the arch from the window beneath it. So they’re able to take a product that’s a composite 4×8 sheet, almost plywood—it was considered the product of the year by Window and Door Magazine.

Anything else you’d like to add, or any advice for homeowners?

There are two chief components for a successful, “I’m happy, I’m smiling at the end of my window project” project. The first is finding a window you like (meaning you’re happy with the look, performance, color, and warranty), and the second is a good installer. Unfortunately, I see the mistakes that other people have made, and the problem is almost always not the window itself, but the installation. Having a great window with a bad installer is, in my opinion, a bad window. If anything, you’d be better off having a great installer installing a bad window. This is something that people tend to overlook, the installer. Focus a lot more than you are now on the installer, more than the window itself.

From kitchen upgrades to total home remodeling, SemBro Designs and Remodeling knows how to do it right and we love to build the confidence of every Columbus client, year after year.

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