gold line svg


7 Affordable Kitchen Designs


I want to go back in time, knowing what I know now and redesign every disgusting rental kitchen that I ever endured. Sure, there are limitations with a rental, but I’m more and more convinced that had I just invested a little bit of dough and did a lot of the labor ourselves, we could have had a really good kitchen for $1200 (as seen below) instead of living in 1990’s contractor grade depressing garbage.

So I enlisted and (art directed) our new contributor, Kelsey Smith, to design some unique kitchen looks, for as inexpensive as possible and she killed it. KILLED IT.

A few notes: all these prices include 20 pieces of hardware, 20 square feet of backsplash, and an 8′ counter. Prices do not include paint, as that’s hard to calculate but most kitchens don’t need more than two gallons which is $50, so add that into the total.

There is a look for everyone, now go get to it: Classic Cafe Moodboard Affordable Kitchen Roundup French Bistro Budget Friendly Emily Henderson Design

Counter Top | Backsplash | Wall Paint | Cabinet Paint | Pendant Light | Cabinet Pull | Sink | Faucet | Chairs | Table

It’s modern but classic, and with way more personality than you’d think a $1200 kitchen would bring. Clean and Classic Moodboard Affordable Kitchen Roundup marble brass blue white Budget Friendly Emily Henderson Design

Counter Top | Backsplash | Wall Paint | Cabinet Paint | Pendant Light | Cabinet Pull | Sink | Faucet | Bar Stools

It’s a slightly more feminine and glam sister – but equally as handsome and classic. Contemporary Glam Moodboard Affordable Kitchen Roundup pink black mable chrome Budget Friendly Emily Henderson Design

Counter Top | Backsplash | Wall Paint | Cabinet Paint | Pendant Light | Cabinet Pull | Sink | Faucet | Chairs | Table

We went dark and modern for this one, which isn’t for everyone and, yet, it’s still a visual crowd pleaser. Mid-Century Masculine Moodboard Affordable Kitchen Roundup Brown Black Green Natural Wood Budget Friendly Emily Henderson Design

Counter Top | Backsplash | Wall Paint | Cabinet Paint | Pendant Light | Cabinet Pull | Sink | Faucet | Dining Set

Contemporary mid-century and under $1k which is just insane. Minty Mod Moodboard Affordable Kitchen Roundup gold brass tuquoise mint Budget Friendly Emily Henderson Design

Counter Top | Backsplash | Wall Paint | Cabinet Paint | Bar CartChandelier | Cabinet Pull | Sink | Faucet | Chairs | Table

This might be my favorite as I am a sucker for anything “tulip, mint, or gold.” That tile is expensive and, yet, it’s still worth it. Modern Farmhouse Moodboard Affordable Kitchen Roundup rustic dark masculine Budget Friendly Emily Henderson Design

Counter Top | Backsplash | Wall Paint | Cabinet Paint | Pendant Light | Cabinet Pull | Sink | Faucet | Chairs | Table

I love that kitchen, but I’m more struck by how amazing those chairs are for $234 for four of them!! WHAT??? I’m buying those now for our new outdoor patio (stay tuned). Modern Zen Moodboard Affordable Kitchen Roundup boho blue bamboo Budget Friendly Emily Henderson Design

Counter Top | Backsplash | Wall Paint | Cabinet Paint | Pendant Light | Cabinet Pull | Sink | Faucet | Chairs | Table

It’s happy, friendly and modern, yet organic. I’d drink wine and lean while pretending to cook so hard in this kitchen.

Nail gun to your head – WHICH ONE DO YOU CHOOSE???

Ugh. I’m tied between “Clean and Classic, ” ‘”Minty-Mod, ” and “Modern Zen.” Wait and “Classic Cafe”. GAH. I think “Classic Cafe, ” but it’s really close.


Thanks to Kelsey Smith of Golden Vibes for working with us to round up these budget friendly kitchen ideas. I think we are on to bathrooms next …

Need more kitchen inspiration? Check out these babies: 13 New Kitchen Trends and My Feelings About Them, 48 Budget Friendly Kitchen Hardware Knobs & Pulls, How To Add Personality To A White Kitchen.

Fin Mark


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

Comments are closed.
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I cannot even tell you how much I freaking love these posts. I too am adding those chairs a la Modern Farmhouse, but I think Classic Cafe is… everything. It is everything.



Sorry for the all-caps. That’s just how I feel right now.



Agree. They are awesome! So many different options and finely nuanced colours on such reasonable budgets. I guess that’s what you get when you hire a pro. 😉

I cannot believe the budgets on these gorgeous kitchens – ill take a a Minty Mod with a side of Modern Zen and just a splash of Contemporary Glam ; )


Wow – these are really really good.

Sarah D.

Clean & classic all day long. Makes me wonder how I spent $50k on our kitchen…she could have built a custom home with that money! Nice job – even if it fills me with regret;)


Did you have someone else do the work? That probably costs way more than the actual materials.


We have gutted our kitchen and replaced everything floor to ceiling including building our cabinets from scratch. We are at 25k. We would have spent 50k easily if we’d paid someone to do it. I still can’t believe kitchens can cost that much.

Clean and classic all the way! Except weirdly something is drawing me to contemporary glam. I think If I replaced the sink with a white sink that kitchen would be BOMB.

Love love love these roundups!!


This is a really good post. Very impressive. 🙂


These are great, and the prices are doable… but it’s more about the time and life-upheaval needed to paint and put in new counter tops/back splashes. Sigh.


This could not have come at a better time. I am sweating the remaining expenses for our kitchen remodel RIGHT NOW and will be clicking “buy” on at least three of Kelsey’s magical products here. Big fat kisses to Kelsey!

XO Kristen! All done with Emily’s amazing team!


Great post. I’ll also working on a kitchen and I’m having trouble finding a contractor. Can you please write about how and where you would find contractors?


Hey Billy – I keep asking about this too and hope they blog about it soon.

I’m trying to do a kitchen reno and the design is complete, the materials are picked out and/or purchased – it’s just finding a contractor!

I was able to finally find a few sites that match you up with a contractor for your job: handy, thumbtack, homeadvisor, and pro.
I’m getting bids at the moment from a couple places on homeadvisor.
If you’re on the east coast there is a site called Sweeten.

Hope this helps!


Hey! You guys don’t have the link to the bar cart in the “Minty Mod” kitchen – where is that from? I love it!!

Suzanne Baumann

My frugal nature wants to embrace laminate but I think ultimately I would be disappointed and want a change. Though, I’m talking about our house not a shorter-term living situation.


Mid-Century Masculine – the $400 is only for the table, chairs not included.

Wowwwww, wow wow. This is crazy impressive! I’m not a fan of laminate and particleboard, etc, but with the goal of being affordable? Mad props, team. Accomplishing SO much with so little.


This is probably one favorite posts from your blog thus far!


This is so great! putting together all of the pieces for a cohesive kitchen can be hard. I think I like clean and classic the best, but maybe subbing the light blue for the darker blue in classic cafe. But it is such a hard choice!


Where’s the cart from in Minty Mod? I don’t see a link 🙂


Love it! Thank you thank you thank you!


Love the Minty Mod- the bar cart and that light fixture!

Laura D.

These designs are sooooooo good! I especially love all the table/chair combinations. Do you have any suggestions on how to pitch changes like this to your landlord? Is it common for the renter to pay for all the materials or do landlords sometimes chip-in or make a deal for lowered rent? Any persuasion techniques welcomed!

Classic Cafe can seal the deal!


I can’t tell you how much I love this new series of low-budget options for décor! It seems like every great designer’s blog has stuff that is so over-the-moon expensive. It is SO wonderful to see beautiful options at more “real world” prices. So thank you! (and my vote is Modern Farmhouse…)

Ahhh, these are AMAZING – and such a timely article, as I have yet to choose what I want for our 1930 bungalow remodel. We’re almost done installing cabinets, so now it’s DECISION TIME. I’ve been dreading it for oh-so-long, but Kelsey’s picks are fabulous! My favorites are “Classic Cafe” & “Clean and Classic.”

Question on the sources: can you vouch for these? I ask because I’m obsessing over the sink linked under “Clean and Classic” – it’s just what we’ve been looking for – but I’ve never heard of, and it doesn’t exactly look trustworthy (I mean, you can only order by fax….what is this, the ’90s?) so I am a bit hesitant. 🙁

Your thoughts?

They are all so pretty. I’m in love with Modern Zen.


Here’s my dilemma: My 70s kitchen has a low ceiling + soffits above the cabinets + track lighting. It’s basically galley-style with a garage door on one end and dining area on the other, with a small peninsula on the dining side. The kitchen still has the original cabinets with recent counter/backsplash updates.

I don’t like the track lighting but what’s another option for such a low ceiling? I can’t seem to find any flush mount fixtures that fit the bill. Ideally I could just swap the track for something else, but I’m starting to think that there aren’t any other options besides putting in recessed lighting. Any ideas folks?


After much deliberation, I’ve decided that modern Zen it is. I’m not ready to redecorate yet but some of these items are so good, I seriously considered buying them now and putting in storage until I’m ready.


I would take a nail gun to the head for you right now, that’s how much you are KILLING IT with blog content lately. We just bought our first house, basically have free/cheap ugly stuff and are starting from scratch with a small budget, plus I’m totally overwhelmed by it all and your blog is helping SO MUCH. Now how to decide?!


Love love love all the budget posts! Keep ’em coming. I do have to point out an error I noticed on one of the prices and links though. The mid century masculine table caught my eye because we just recently ordered a table that looks very very similar to it on Amazon. When I clicked the link, though, I noticed the $400 price is actually just for the table, and does not include the dining chairs. It’s misleading in the photo on the website, but if you click the full description it does state that the chairs are not included. So that’s a bummer because $400 would be a steal for such a killer table with 4 chairs. But for anyone out there who wants a super similar looking table for $130, here is the link for the table we got recently on Amazon: It’s not as big as the $400 table you linked to, but we love the smaller size because our apartment kitchen is tiny and this table fits perfectly in the space we needed it to be. We’ve been very impressed with the quality of the table and we love the look of it. Thanks again… Read more »

Good catch and thanks for including a link to what you got. Looks like an awesome option.


Has anyone had experience with Seems too good to be true…I’m guessing most faucets, etc. are made in China these days, but wondering if having the US brand stamp guarantees some additional level of okayness (i.e. no lead present, etc.)

Emily, any thoughts?

I’ll take Mid-Century Masculine, but with the Minty Mod backsplash, please. Love it.


i looooove this! I hope you do a bathroom version soon!


YES to a bathroom post please! I’d like a Mid-Century Masculine (with the Contemporary Glam sink) version of a bathroom 🙂

Love classic cafe – it is similar to what we did for our kitchen renovation in our 500 sq ft apartment. You can get butcher block look with easier install and less maintenance with the Saljan counter (which is what we used): We tore down a wall, changed from a galley to an L shape, and bought/installed a new sink, flooring, cabinets, counters, and open shelving for less than $1500! It’s not perfect but it IS much better than before, and we love it.


Awesome post! Wow, such amazing options at such amazing prices! I think I’d have to go with Minty Mod but they’re all so great1


This post got pinned. In a couple years we’re moving to a senior living apt and I will need this then. Classic Cafe and Clean Classic are speaking to me.


They’re gorgeous and this is the best version of this blog theme so far! I’d go with the first one. I wondered if you could put the retailer on the list of sources so I don’t have to click through to the link – I’m in the UK so can’t get most of these overseas and it’s frustrating to have to click through to see if there’s any chance the beautiful things are from IKEA.
Also, I started a DIY kitchen install 3 years ago and it’s still not finished – as soon as it was functional again we got tired of DIY! I could see landlords being very wary of the commitment (and skills) of tenants.


So good. I don’t want to close this tab!!!!! Please do a bathroom one, CANT WAIT!!


My gosh, your site is the best thing on the Internet.
Keeps getting better and better! Thank you!!


i adore these posts!! i’m helping my mom redo her kitchen & bathroom and it has been a huge help to show her you can get great design at an affordable cost! i can’t wait to see the bathroom post! please, pretty please, include a modern farmhouse bathroom <3


I LOVE these round ups! Amazing!! This post killed it – I love love it 🙂


PS. We ‘down under’ need an Australian Emily! Pretty much exactly you, Em – but can source everything from Australian stores!!
*sigh* but I can look and love and be inspired – even if I can’t buy 😉


I feel ya! I am also in Australia and looking for counter height stools like the ones in Modern Farmhouse so I clicked through. Sure enough to they do have something like that, even better, in a stool, sure enough they do post to Australia, great excitement building… Until checkout…. Postage to Australia $480!! I could almost fly to LA and get them myself.


Seriously – this is nuts! In a great way. You’re really killing the “make good design more accessible” deal. Fantastic!

Classic Cafe for me, please, as I love dark blue. Those pretty, very graceful Frenchie chairs rule! As does the subway tile.


That’s really hard! But I do love classic cafe. It’s gorgeous!

THIS IS JUST THE POST I NEEDED!!! I have been talking kitchen reno ever since we moved into our house, three years ago, but my partner has a lot of sticker shock on the price. I have since drawn up so many various plans, on my iPad, and just this morning developed a floor plan that doesn’t require knocking down a wall! With focus on simple reconfiguration and hardware, cabinet, appliance, paint updates. These mood boards are definitely gonna help seal the deal- heres hoping!!! thx


Awesome job on this round up! I vote for Classic Cafe or Contemporary Glam (but with a white or stainless sink). 🙂

Kate Lim

Thanks Emily, I’m buying the Contemporary Glam chairs x2 for my upcoming new home reno dining area. Originally wanted wishbone chairs replica but I think this one look real sleek. My home is Contemporary Modern. 🙂

Good golly! I’m a huuuuge fan of everything Emily Henderson and was doing my “before bed blog reading” and there’s my minty fresh loa chandelier! Thank you so much!

Cheers from Nola,

Love love love these round ups – BEAUTIFUL. Guest rooms, too, please?!

That copper faucet is ah-mazing!


I LOVE these posts! Such great ideas for a renter like me. I have been table shopping for a while and was stuck but the Modern Farmhouse has given me great ideas 🙂 THANK YOU!


Please…bathroom round-up like this great kitchen one would be great!!!!

Love the green tile mock up!!!!

Go To Top