How to Remodel an Old Galley Kitchen on a Dime

Turn your old galley kitchen into a spot for family fun.
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Your long narrow kitchen lined with appliances on one side and a sink and cabinets on the other, looks like it belongs in the Titanic instead of your house. Galley kitchens are designed for efficiency. After all, it got its name from the ship's galley. Remodel your kitchen without blowing a year's worth of grocery money.

Face Reality

You are on a budget, so it's not feasible to rip out everything and start from scratch. Moving plumbing, for example, is expensive and requires a plumber. Changing the position of the stove and oven requires an electrician. Keep the appliances and sink where they are and work around them in your design.


For less than a dinner out you can paint the kitchen. Paint gives a sparkling new look to a tired galley kitchen for pennies per square foot. Forget the timid beiges and off-whites. Go for a bright color that wakes you up in the morning. Galley kitchens are small, so the color won't be overwhelming. Scrub down the walls to remove grease. Consider painting the ceiling a lighter shade than the walls.


If you haven't got a lot of dough for the kitchen -- and we're talking the kind in your wallet rather than the kind in your oven -- replacing the cabinets is not in the budget. Galley kitchens are narrow by definition. Widen the area visually by painting the cabinets white and replacing the door handles. Take the old door handles with you so the replacements fit the already drilled holes. Select two of the cabinets, carve out the wood from the center and replace it with glass inserts. If you don't have the equipment to do that yourself, a home improvement store should be able to do it for you. Another option is to remove the upper cabinets completely and install shelves for open storage. This opens up the kitchen as well.


New flooring changes the entire look of a kitchen. Shop for leftover, returns or discontinued tiles for the best deals. Sausalito tile gives a rustic look to the kitchen and is inexpensive. Measure the flooring and add in 10 percent. Lay out all the tile on the floor with the tile spacers in between for the grout lines. Trace the tiles that must be cut and take them back to the home improvement store for alterations. That way you won't have to rent a tile saw.

Counter Tops

It's possible to place tile on top of existing tile as long as the surface is plumb and the grout lines aren't on top of each other. Old laminate counter tops will need to be plumb and the surface roughed up before the tile is applied. Investigate commercial products that seal old counter tops, apply a finish or change the look of the counters.


Choose the appliance that is the oldest, or that you use the most, if your checkbook won't cover replacing all the appliances. A galley kitchen has a narrow walkway. Measure carefully. For example, make sure the refrigerator door can open all the way without hitting the counter on the other side. Consider spray paint made expressly for appliances if you can't afford to replace any of the appliances.

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