How To Get a High End Kitchen Look on a Budget: Tips for Using Affordable Building Materials Wisely

published Aug 15, 2017
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(Image credit: Alicia Macias)

Flirting with the idea of using affordable building materials for a kitchen remodel? Smart move for your budget. But, that doesn’t mean you want your home to look like you built it out of materials from the bargain bin. So, take notes from this minimal and modern kitchen in this Spanish hand-built home. We’ve got a breakdown of why this space doesn’t look like it was done on the cheap, despite being primarily made up of very affordable materials.

This home was built by Fer, a skilled craftsman and talented furniture designer, so, yes, he had an advantage. But whether you’re thinking about DIYing a kitchen remodel like he did, or just looking for affordable ideas for your inspiration file, take note of all the ways in which this space looks high-end even though the materials — like plywood lower cabinets and a tall OSB display cabinet — are made out of low-priced materials.

Don’t try to pretend the materials are something else

While there are plenty of times when trying to camouflage something you don’t like in your house is a good idea, sometimes it’s best to let things be what they are. I think one of the main reasons why this kitchen is an elegant solution is that Fer didn’t try to take attention away from the humble materials, or try and make them look like something other than what they are.

(Image credit: Alicia Macias)

Work with the natural pattern

I think Fer also did a fantastic job of making the “cheap” plywood’s pattern work for his kitchen. I’ve seen other kitchens where higher-grade plywood has been used, the kind that doesn’t have as much visible grain. Here, there’s lots of grain and, it becomes a design feature rather than a detraction because he lined up the grain across drawers and doors, making the composition look and feel intentional.

(Image credit: Viv Yapp)

(Image credit: Alicia Macias)

Choose delicate details

Another factor contributing to this kitchen’s visual success is that Fer paired the “clunkier” materials like plywood and OSB with more delicate details. The countertop, for instance, has a very thin profile. The drawer and door pulls are a simple, streamlined metal handles. The hardware holding the wooden wall shelf has a low profile. The fixtures like the faucet and the vent hood were chosen carefully for their fine features. Together, all these things balance out the bolder, rougher materials, creating a more high-end kitchen look.

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

More affordable material inspiration → 10 Rooms With Affordable Materials Looking Awesome

Add height

An important thing to note in this kitchen is that both the plywood lower cabinets and the OSB tall display cabinet are on legs — lifting them off the ground. This subtracts visual weight from the space, making the more affordable elements feel lighter and more elegant than they might actually be.

(Image credit: Alicia Macias)

Buy basics with a bit extra

Choosing a white subway tile with a white grout for the wall is a simple move that surely saved money and fits right in with the use of basic materials like plywood and OSB. But Fer chose beveled subway tiles, the slightly more interesting cousin to plain, flat subway tiles. A small detail to be sure, but the beveled tile edges create a pattern, adding texture to the wall and complementing the textured pattern of the plywood.

→ Look We Love: Beveled Subway Tile