Ultimately, your kitchen will reflect how you live. Because there are no hard-fast rules on where the budget must be spent in the kitchen, how you splurge and save your money will depend on what’s most important to you.
The gourmet cook can justify an inflated budget for appliances and the splurge on a professional range. The entertainer sees a warming drawer and wine cooler as necessities. The busy family needs storage, storage ... and more storage in those cabinets. And then there’s the question of resale: How important is it for you to get a nice return-on-investment for your project? Or, are you designing a kitchen for the home you plan to live in forever?
“Think about how you use the kitchen, and put your money there,” says Ellen Rady, Ellen Rady Designs, Cleveland, Ohio.
If you’re planning a kitchen you’ll live in for the next decade and you can’t afford certain materials you want today, consider placeholders. For example, rather than installing a granite countertop today, choose a laminate look-alike for at least half the cost that can stand in as your work surface until your budget allows for the upgrade.
What do you value in the kitchen? Refer to your completed Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire and Kitchen Goals Worksheet. Then get a sense of how expenses are distributed with the Kitchen Budget Worksheet.
Here is some general advice on where to save and splurge:
Appliances. Be practical and look for energy-efficient appliances with warrantiesarguably, you’ll use appliances more than other features in your kitchen. But be sure to maintain a balance between what you spend on appliances and cabinets. If you choose appliances first without considering cabinets/hardware, countertops or other features, you can box yourself into a floor plan and end up without enough money to spend on other features.
But be careful which appliances you spend on. For example, a refrigerator may need replaced in 15 years or sooner, but a cooktop will last longer. Spend there. If you have children and dirty dishes are a way of life, invest in a quality dishwasher or dishwasher drawers that make your life easier.
Across the board, stainless steel is the most popular choice and what buyers look for in a home.
Countertops. If the countertop will be the focal point of your kitchen, you might spend more. “A stone countertop costs many times more than a laminate one, but will add beauty and value to your renovation,” Bauer-Kravette says.
In fact, a showpiece countertop could dictate the design in a kitchenyou may base decisions about cabinetry, color scheme and furniture like stools on the surface you choose. But remember, beauty is subjective. A buyer might not be that impressed.
There are shortcuts if you want the beautiful surface on a budget. For instance, there are assorted grades of granite (rated 1-5 or on various scales depending on the manufacturer). Rather than going for a grade 5, consider a grade 2, where you’ll get a better return-on-investment.
Also, some laminate products cost half the price of granite and mimic the design. You can’t put a hot pan on that surface, but you’ll get the appeal you want. You can even install an undermount sink with laminate countertops today.
If you want to splurge a little, choose a statement surface for the islanda remnant piece of granite with a beautiful pattern, for example.
Expect nearly a third of your budget to go for cabinets and hardware; 14 percent for appliances