Old Kitchen Renovation: 8 Low Cost, Big Impact Solutions

Lots of issues to address in your old kitchen renovation and not a lot of money? Been there, done that (checkout the before state here and the after/in-progress here), and now I’m so happy to share 8 low cost, big impact solutions to help your old kitchen renovation.

If your old kitchen renovation is anything like ours was, you are probably facing issues like
a claustrophobia-inducing lack of space, lack of storage, lack of prep space, only one oven, and really bad traffic flow.  Though each old kitchen renovation is obviously unique, we’ve run into most of these issues in the majority of older homes we’ve looked at over the years so I bet these 8 low cost, big impact solutions for your old kitchen renovation will help you too.

These 8 low cost, big impact solutions for your old kitchen renovation will help you:

  1. Create a more open feeling space;
  2. Create better storage;
  3. Create bigger, usable prep spaces to accommodate multiple cooks;
  4. Upgrade to double ovens; and
  5. Minimize traffic through the kitchen work area.

Goal 1. Create a More Open Feeling Space

Solution 1: Eliminate as many upper cabinets as possible but especially those short ones hanging over the peninsula in every single old kitchen!  This change helped eliminate the claustrophobic feeling and to improve the peninsula workspace in our kitchen.

Solution 2: Use glass doors instead of solid on the upper cabinets  to continue the feeling of openness as much as possible.

Solution 3: Add recessed lighting.  Light always helps a small space feel larger.  This one might cost a little more than our other solutions, but if you already have lights in the area then it can really be a pretty easy DIY project!  We had to call in an electrician and it still wasn’t bad at all.

Removed upper cabinets during old kitchen renovation

Goal 2: Create Better Storage

Solution 4: Move the trash can away from or from underneath the sink. Though convenient, keeping the trash can right next to the sink meant we lost access to storage space in the back corner of our kitchen.  Corner storage isn’t the most ideal type of storage but we would always rather have it than have wasted, dead space.  Likewise, we wanted the entire under sink cabinet for storage and prefer a larger trashcan.

Solution 5: Eliminate the bar area and instead create a single level, deeper peninsula/island with more storage on the other side.  Where we once had zero storage at all, we now have four gigantic drawers that can fit anything from awkward small appliances to expensive china and serving dishes.  Since it’s on the backside of the peninsula and not overly accessible to the kitchen, we store things that aren’t used every day or things that we need when eating at the table…like baby bibs and extra napkins.

Changed to single level peninsula with 4 drawer storage where bar during old kitchen renovation.
Changed to single level peninsula with 4 drawer storage where bar was during old kitchen renovation.

Goal 3: Create Bigger, Usable Prep Spaces

Solution 5, again:   Eliminate the bar seating and create a single level peninsula. It’s worth it y’all.  We don’t miss having the bar at all!  Furthermore, this change made the primary prep space (the peninsula) feel significantly larger and more workable.   It is also large enough to accommodate three cooks when two stand on the backside.  Now if I can just find two more people to help me cook dinner then I would be SET!

Solution 6: Close in the kitchen.  I know this goes against every bit of modern kitchen design theory, but let’s be real, if you are contemplating an old kitchen renovation on a small budget, you probably already have a fairly closed off kitchen and aren’t going to achieve an open kitchen concept no matter what you do! You might as well make your closed-in kitchen as functional as possible. 

A huge decision for us during our old kitchen renovation was to close off the doorway to the formal dining room and re-purpose the dining room to be a study/guest room.  This allowed us to extend the countertop space on one wall of the kitchen and accommodate double ovens.

Closing the doorway off was actually very simple and a very cheap solution all things considered.  We did the entire project ourselves with the exception of calling in a painter to texture the drywall when we were done.  You could easily buy a few orange peel spray cans to texture such a small area but we had lots of other areas we had them do as well.

Closed off doorway to the formal dining room and added double ovens during old kitchen renovation.
The trashcan and the skinny, solid cabinets, and drawers are located where the old door to the formal dining room was previously.

Here’s my sketch-up model (not to scale) showing where the old doorway was located:

New Kitchen Layout (not to scale)
New Kitchen Layout (not to scale)

Goal 4: Upgrade to Double Ovens

Solution 7:  Consider two lower ovens instead of stacked double ovens. This was one of the hardest aspects to figure out since double ovens competed with other goals like creating more storage space.  Ultimately,  we opted to place both ovens on the bottom as opposed to stacked so that we could have a larger prep area above them.  Though we lost some bottom cabinet storage space, our other changes more than made up for it and we picked up lots of new storage in the upper cabinets on this wall.  From a cost perspective, two lower ovens shouldn’t derail your old kitchen renovation budget as they should cost you about the same as a more traditional stacked option.

Goal 5: Minimize Traffic Through the Kitchen

Solution 8: Move the trashcan and microwave on the edge of the kitchen.  No matter what we tried, there is only one way to get from our garage and utility room to the rest of the house, and that’s to walk through the kitchen.  That kind of traffic we weren’t able to improve.  However, we were able to create a new built-in area near the pantry to relocate the trash can, microwave, and toaster oven.  This does actually eliminate a fair amount of traffic through the working area.  The relocated trash can, from the sink to the pantry area, is probably the biggest help.  We keep our dishes and silverware in the cabinets and drawers next to the microwave and trashcan too which also helps cut down on traffic through the kitchen while I’m cooking and cleaning.

Built-in storage for microwave, toaster oven, cookbooks and trash nook.
Built-in storage for microwave, toaster oven, cookbooks and trash nook.














Need some more ideas on saving money on your renovation?  Check out my 6 Ways to Save at Least $1,000 on Your Renovation .

*8Tip** use the IKEA kitchen planner to experiment with different kitchen layouts.

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