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Polished bronze pulls, terrazzo knobs, a touchless faucet—these are the kinds of details designer Young Huh calls the jewelry of a kitchen, and it’s exactly where she would put her money if she only had $1,000 to spend on a renovation. When you introduce fresh fixtures or even a hint of wallpaper to a space, suddenly dated cabinets or worn-down wood floors don’t look so bad. In fact, they shine. 

If you’re sticking to what seems to be an impossibly tight budget, don’t rule anything out. There are plenty of ways to stretch your dollar beyond paint. We gathered a few of our favorite ideas in the $500 to $1,000 range.

Opt for a patterned backsplash by applying wallpaper to MDF boards, then covering them with sheets of glass to protect them from moisture. Total average cost: $440 for 50 square feet.

The basin and labor combined will likely total around $450, and the job will typically take about four hours.

Budget Living photo
Apron-Front Sink, Amazon ($235)

Spice things up with a touch of brass (the pull-down option from Kraus, above, is a solid pick—it’s less than $300). Then be your own plumber. A basin wrench will help you get to those hard-to-reach fasteners.

On average, you can expect to shell out $1,000 for labor and 40 square feet of ceramic tile. Scaling down the height to 6 inches will spare your budget, while still saving you from spills.

With a budget wood like pine or plywood, you can construct an L-shaped bench with cabinets and an upholstered cushion for $750 to $2,000. Ward off stains with high-performance fabric.

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.