Having your dream kitchen is as much about finance as fantasy. So we asked a well-known New York City-based kitchen designer to take a room and update it for $15,000, $45,000 and $100,000 plus, including labor costs. She began with a 16-by-12-foot Seventies holdout with one window, surface-mounted fluorescent lights, a banged-up linoleum floor, dark wood cabinets, tangerine laminate countertops and backsplash, and an ordinary 32-inch refrigerator and 30-inch slide-in range with a hood.
The key to this relatively inexpensive makeover is avoiding structural work and keeping the appliances and cabinets you already own. Focus on touching up surfaces, changing hardware, improving the lighting.