28 Ways to Customize Your Kitchen for Less


1. Zinc-top prep table: Use a potting bench to stand in for an island; its shelf can hold pots for cooking just as easily as ones for planting. Finish it to match your cabinets, or use an accent color to make it a focal point. One we like: Living Accents bench, about $240; Ace Hardware

2. Warm wood counters: Gentle on knives and simple to install yourself, butcher block is one of the most popular—and affordable—countertop materials. Choose long, edge-grain strips or blocky end grain. A ½-inch-thick-by-26-inch-square beech slab, about $29; Ikea

3. Skirted sink: A curtain on a $7 rod handily hides cleaning supplies and plumbing and adds a welcome hit of color and pattern. Buy a fabric remnant and stitch it yourself or have a tailor sew it to your specs. Find designer prints for under $10 per yard; Joyce Fabrics

4. Pendants with patina: Repro lights can cost more than the real deals. You pay for new wiring and the ease of not having to troll salvage yards. But these days many dealers refurbish their old lights, and the search is half the fun. Find ready-to-install vintage industrial pendants like these, about $100 to $225; Portland Architectural Salvage

5. Metal backsplash: A nod to commercial kitchen backsplashes, galvanized-steel roofing forms a fire-safe barrier between the range and the wall. Make yours using Galvalume Ribbed Steel Roof Panels, about $32 per 38-by-144-inch piece; Lowes

6. Stylish score: A hanging plate rack doubles as a dramatic window treatment. Get a similar one, about $130; Plow & Hearth

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