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Kitchen Renovation It's A Numbers Game

By Susan D. Ferrell

Second Installment - Budget

In this installment of "Kitchen Renovation It's A Numbers Game," we could talk about how important it is to have a constituency plan for renovation hiccups, the pros, and cons of financing options, or even factoring the cost of take-out food into your renovation budget. All valid, but instead, we are going to talk about compromise.

I once designed a kitchen for a customer who had been dreaming about it for a while. She did her homework and knew exactly how she wanted it to look and function. Together we brought her dream kitchen to fruition; it had all the bells and whistles you could imagine. When it came time for the quote, she didn't bat an eye and purchased it without any changes. It was the easiest and most expensive kitchen I sold. Typically, this isn't the case.

When I first started designing, it didn't take me long to realize that most customers have no idea what a new kitchen costs, especially one with all the bells and whistles. I was okay with that because until I started designing, I had no idea either. After seeing the quote, most customers chose to have the design reworked until it fit into their budget. I know eliminating items from your dream kitchen will be difficult; I get it, but knowing that you might have to compromise from the outset will alleviate some stress. Here are some suggestions to help keep your budget on target.

1. The first step in knowing what to keep in your budget is to pick one item you have to have, e.g., granite countertop, cork flooring, mosaic backsplash, cherrywood cabinets, etc. This choice will also be your starting point to coordinate everything else around. The item doesn't have to be the most expensive one on your wish list; it's just the one you want the most.

2. If you have been shopping around, you already know that not all door styles, materials, and finishes cost the same. If the cabinets are not your starting point, I suggest choosing a colour first that coordinates with the starting point item. Then, pick two or three door styles in various price points. This way, you have wiggle room if your first door choice doesn't fit into the budget. Some designers may disagree with me, but I think the colour of the cabinets is more important than the door style for the overall finished look of the kitchen.

3. If you have picked a high-end countertop (not your starting point) and it doesn't fit into your budget, pick a laminate countertop that will work in its place. A granite countertop, for example, can always be purchased and installed at a later date. Afterward, the laminate countertop can be sold or turned into desktops or used in the garage for a worktable or extra shelving.

4. Everyone wants the cabinets in their dream kitchen fully loaded with drawers, pantry pullouts, space-saving organizers, etc. I prefer a bank of drawers over a base cabinet any day. And there is something about pantries; I have to have them. But the additional bells and whistles will jump the price up considerably. If you are struggling to stay within your budget, some items like pullouts and two-tier silverware drawers can be purchased off the shelf and installed later. The important thing is to decide on what cabinets fit your family's immediate needs while staying within your budget.

5. If your renovation includes purchasing new appliances, make sure you know the sizes before sitting down with a designer, especially if they are your starting point. Ranges (gas or electric), Over the Range microwaves (OTR), and dishwashers are usually purchased in a standard size - 30 inches for a range and OTR and 24 inches for a dishwasher. However, a standard-size fridge has more options. They range in width from 30 inches to 36 inches and have varying heights and depths. It is essential to know what size fridge your family needs. Like cabinets, appliances have all the bells and whistle you can imagine. If you are struggling to stay within your budget, it might help to pick a basic appliance package in the sizes and finish you want and upgrade later.

More Budget Saving Tips

TIP 1: Do you like the layout of your kitchen, and your cabinets are in good condition, but want to update the door style? Did you know that you can purchase just doors? Some companies will make doors to your specification, which they can install or you can. They also have edge-trim and end panels for the section of the cabinets that are exposed. This option is considerably less expensive than buying all new cabinets.

TIP 2: Do you like everything about your kitchen cabinets but want to update the colour and door handles and maybe add some bells and whistles? Here are a couple of cost-saving options.

A. Most home improvement retailers sell furniture and cabinet paint that doesn't require you to sand the cabinets down to bare wood. This paint typically has a melamine finish to it. If you are changing the location of cabinet handles, fill the existing holes with wood filler first, sand, and then paint. After the paint has dried and cured, install the new pulls and knobs.

B. Did you know that oil-based paint will cover over any finish, but latex paint won't? If the artist in you sees your cabinets as a blank canvas, I suggest using a primer first. I use Zinsser 1-2-3 Bulls Eyes primer for all my interior and exterior projects. It will cover over existing paint or stain so that you can start fresh with whatever paint finish you desire. If you, however, want to stain your cabinets a new colour, I'm afraid you will have to sand down to bare wood and start again.

C. As I mentioned before, cabinet organizers like pullout shelves, a Lazy Susan (Or as I call them ingenious Susan), and two-tiered utensil organizers can be purchased afterward. But before you make a purchase, do you know if you have framed or frameless cabinets? An easy way to tell is to open a cabinet with two doors; if a piece of wood runs vertically down the center of the opening, you have framed cabinets. One style of cabinet is neither better or worse than the other. The style, however, will affect what size of inserts you need to purchase.

Thank you for joining me for this installment of "Kitchen Renovation "It's A Numbers Game," I hope you found the content helpful. Please join me for the last installment, where we will talk about "Time."

Susan D. Ferrell was a kitchen designer and Home Improvement sales specialist for fifteen years. She has experience assisting customers with their renovation and interior decorating projects in various home improvement environments. Presently, she is transitioning from sales to writing content about the industry, related products, and services. Susan specializes in kitchen designing, colour coordination, and visual merchandising.


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