Kitchen Renovations on a Budget with Sophie Donelson


Making decisions about our home upgrades can be daunting — but kitchen renovations can be done thoughtfully (and on a […]

Making decisions about our home upgrades can be daunting — but kitchen renovations can be done thoughtfully (and on a budget)!

What do you like to do after a long and stressful day? Relax with a glass of wine? Enjoy a nice dinner? Sounds amazing. And where do we usually embrace all this must-deserved chill out time? It all starts in the kitchen. And because we want our homes to be our sanctuary, we want to do it in the most beautiful kitchen possible…But there’s a catch: renovating a kitchen is an incredibly stressful — and expensive! — decision. Do you want quartz countertops? Painted cabinets or bare wood? Induction cooktop or gas burners? The list of questions goes on and on, and perhaps at the top of it is the biggest one: How do I do kitchen renovations on a budget? 

Thankfully, we have a bit of welcome news…Sophie Donelson says you don’t have to do everything in order to create the perfect kitchen for you. (And the same goes for the bathroom,  the bedroom or any other part of the house you’re working on!) Sophie says that small budget-friendly kitchen renovations can go a long way toward making us feel like we have the home of our dreams. Her book, “Uncommon Kitchens: A Revolutionary Approach to the Most Popular Room in the House” dives into the little changes that stand to make the biggest difference in our homes  — and she shares them with us. (Hint: Expensive new countertops might not be the answer!) 

Of course, what makes kitchen renovations so difficult to do on a budget is that each appliance or piece of marble can come with a hefty price tag. According to a 2022 report from Remodeling Magazine, a midrange major kitchen remodel costs an average of $80,000.  That means that mistakes (or even just bad ideas) can be incredibly costly. 

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But Sophie tells us how to insulate ourselves from mistakes: For starters, don’t design your dream kitchen with the next buyer in mind. “You’re living more in this room than any other room in the house,” Sophie says. “Kitchens offer a lot of ways to appeal to people, which are beyond food, beyond dining. They’re so universal. Everyone knows how to be in a kitchen.”

Because of this, she wants us to think outside the box when it comes to doing kitchen renovations on a budget and tells us about some of the small changes that can go a long way. “Bringing in flowers or plants, putting a lamp on the countertop, none of this is permanent, right? If you want to hang a piece of art that’s covered in glass, so it’s wipe-downable, go ahead and maybe you change it up for a mirror at another time of year,” she says. 

Listen to the episode to hear more of her budget-friendly hacks to make your kitchen (or any room in the house) feel more cozy. In Mailbag, we talk ESOP basics  – what they are and what happens if you want to leave the company and answer a question about whether or not you should pay down a mortgage or keep that money in an emergency fund. In our money tip of the week, the best bang for your buck at the grocery store in the fruit and vegetable aisles. 


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