When budget is a concern, where do you cut?

chrissyb2411April 21, 2013

Ok just looking for some opinions. We are doing a pretty much top to bottom renovation on a foreclosure we bought. We are only a couple weeks in, and it will all be diy so we are looking at probably a 4-6 month renovation. We discovered mold in the finished basement when ripping out the old heating system. We don't plan on refinishing for now as it would eat up our whole renovation budget. But it's not a huge deal, just a bummer. And it means a lot of time spent cleaning and re-sealing the basement which throws everything back a bit time wise.

So, my kitchen budget is a little tight for what I need. Do able but tight. I have already compromised by removing wall ovens and cooktop from my design to go with a less expensive range. I have been to hd, lowes, a local store and ikea. Ikea would be great, but the color choices for doors are lacking. The local kitchen store was less than overwhelming and priced out their builder grade line (armstrong). The quote came in about $1000 less than lowes/hd but didn't include any of the internal components that are important to me (pull out trays for pantry, lazy Susan in corner, pull out trash, tray dividers) and they didn't have any options for 2 areas roughly 7 inches each (ie spice rack) and could only offer filler pieces. I'm leaning toward kraftmaid, Devron full panel shaker style in maple with a light to medium stain.

Countertops are driving me nuts. I like the look of solid surface, and lg hi macs would fit budget wise easily. I like quartz but the lowest end quartz is slightly over budget. I don't particularly like granite, but could live with the right color, and it would fit budget wise. DH is steadfastly against laminate, and wood and concrete are out.

I planned on doing a tile backsplash, probably subway or glass mosaic, the kitchen will be very casual. Do I need the countertop backsplash if I'm going to add tile, or skip the tile and save money?

Resale value is not an issue as we plan on staying in this home until our now 4 year old finishes high school lol.

So where did you personally compromise to fit your budget? Should I consider the builder grade cabinets, which look fine but don't have the function I want? Should I pass on upgrades Like plywood furniture ends if we go kraftmaid? Did you change or skimp on something you now wish you hadn't?

In short (or long) what are you living without that you though you couldn't (and its no big deal). What did you cut that you wish you had not?

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I would put in laminate now, with the idea that you will replace it with something else when you have the resources. FOr the thousands of dollars you save, you may be able to get the more functional items you really want, that would be much harder to retrofit later.

Your DH might go along with it if it's only temprorary.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:37AM
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Live without the things you can easily upgrade later. One thing that sticks out in my mind is countertops. Another is appliances but it looks like you already are planning that. I lived without a tile backsplash for 24 years so it can be left out until you replace the countertops. Some people buy Ikea cabinets and then purchase doors from Barker's or Scherr's so you could compare costs there. Look at third party pullout trays and lazy susan's. Get a quote from a custom cabinetmaker too. You might be surprised at their affordability.

This post was edited by corgimum on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 10:40

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:38AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We purchased a short sale, pre forclosure, and the reno is in process.

I'm living with the existing whitish tile floor. I wouldn't have chosen it, but it's in great shape and would be a big expense to replace it.

Look for an appliance outlet like Sears that offers dings and scratches on completely new appliances. After it's in your kitchen for a while, it will surely get a ding or scratch, and they cost much less and are still covered with full warranty.

I am living without granite. The tile had to go! We have chosen large porcelain floor tiles (so hard and tough you can dance on them, and put blazing hot pans on them). We chose those with a rectified edge (which means square cut) so they can be placed closer together for less grout. The grout will be sealed.

Painting cabinets is cheapest, and overstock.com has really nice hardware and faucets for a lot less. We chose brand new builder's grade cabinets, and will reuse the old cabinets for garage storage. We are using revashelf accessories, and our contractor is installing them.

Our reno is waay over budget due to the size of the house and property and the neglected shape it was in, so we are cutting where we can.

Good luck to you!


    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Sixteen years ago I went with a light colored formica countertop since I couldn't afford what I really wanted. I DID opt to put a bullnose edge on it. For years friends thought my countertops were Corian. With the exception of 2 recent spots, those countertops are still in near mint condition. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Holly- Kay

There are some lovely laminates out there and a laminate counter will look good for years. I would say go with the best cabinets that you can afford because they will be used hard. You can find quite nice knobs and pulls for such a small amount of money and they can be easily changed when you tire of them. You could also consider looking on Craig's list or a local restoration shop. My custom cabinets are in absolute pristine condition but are a totally dated golden oak. If my lay out was a good one for my kitchen I would have had someone paint them for me and I would have kept them. I am going to use what I can it my laundry room but the rest will go on cl.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:15AM
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I'd look at Ikea, doors and all, and plan on ordering new doors from one of the above door makers down the road. You can get hardware very cheap in bulk for the IKEA doors and get something you love when you update later. Same with laminate, or even Ikea butcherblock counters.

Recessed lights are hard to save on and can be a pain to retrofit sometimes, so get what you want. But if needed, you can get very inexpensive fans and pendants as placeholders. If you want undcabinet lights, stick up a few pucks or cheap plug in bars for now.

If you want to protect your walls, instead of a tile backsplash, maybe a few stainless panels, tin ceiling tiles, or scrub able wallpaper will do until you update later.

There are plenty of places to save now. Just figure out what you want and see what you can change out easily later.

I'd not skimp on things hard to change. Get a good layout now and good boxes (yes, the Ikea ones are considered pretty good). Plan for good venting, even if you get a cheap hood for now.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Husbands can sometimes change their minds about things like laminate. If possible, that would be a big savings. Tile backsplashes are not absolutely necessary. a 3 or 4" strip of your counter material works just fine with paint above. Built in tray dividers aren't a must do. We installed those vinyl covered wire dividers. You can see one just to the left of the orange cake carrier:

I would put the corner Super Susan high on my list of must-haves. We had a horrible blind corner for 37 years and I'd never do it again. Pull-outs in the pantry also are high on my list. We have them and our pantry makes our kitchen so much better; my daughter doesn't in her rental and digging through the shelves is the pits.

Since you're not in a huge hurry, check out the various RTA cabinetry like Scherrs and Cliq and ? There are threads with recommendations on these. Also, all the cabinetry lines at HD and Lowe's, maybe elsewhere too, have sales which can save you big bucks. The best sales are the ones where the line has a sale at the same time the store does. For example HD was offering X% off the total at the same time a particular line was also offering incentives. The salesman may not know exactly when this promotion is coming up, but it will definitely be withing the next 6 months. More likely within the next 3.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:24AM
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So in response: we looked at ikea, there was a door style we liked, but DH couldn't live with the color choices. In answer to the countertops/color and DH. He is a bit (or more than a bit) OCD, and asking him to deal with something that bothers him is difficult at best. Lucky for us I'm really flexible and don't have strong opinions about much.

We considered reusing the cabinets that were there. But they were 20 year old, poor quality and would have required way more money and effort than what it would have been worth.

We really like the look and feel of solid surface. The mostly negative postings here have scared me. People seem to really look down on the man madesurfaces. I shouldnt let that bother me since we like it, but it does. But lowes has hg hi macs on special, 34-41 per square foot, with free sink. We are leaning towards the lighter colors, which I hear show scratches a little less.

Floors are hardwood throughout, and only néed some light refinishing so that helps. We were going to do a full bath remodel with freestanding tub etc that would have required moving walls and lots of work. At this point we canned that, and are keeping the existing tub/shower combo and have found a box of the current ok tiles in the basement so will just keep and replace the cracked ones. So we have made lots of compromises, and the kitchen right now is at (with hg counters) or slightly above (with quartz) budget if I cut things like furniture ends, integrated counter backsplash, and choose less expensive lighting (plain frosted pendant lamps via ikea or hd). But will I regret cutting these thing? Are there finishes I really shouldn't overlook or I will regret it?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Yes, you will regret cutting all of those things out of your kitchen if you are staying here long term. The BEST solution is to do Ikea, and don't even put doors on them if your hubby doesn't like the doors. You can live without doors. It's the interiors that are the important part and it's where Ikea shines. Get custom doors made for Ikea and do DIY laminate counters and that should be about half of any big box store quote for basic cabinets and solid surface counters.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Don't skimp on function.Don't skimp on layout(which is sort of function, so I guess I am being repetitive).
Nothing wrong with a solid surface countertop. I don't know anything about the brand you mentioned but Cambria, Silestone, I have friends with them and they love them.
If you are tiling, you don't need the countertop material on the wall.
Inexpensive pendant lights are a great place to save, they are easily replaced later if you want and long as you get the box in the right place.
Have you looked for cabinets or a sink or even appliances at the habitat for humanity restore? You can find amazing things there. You could leave a space for a DW and buy one later. I would rather wait for a good DW then settle for one that I didn't want.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:51PM
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#1, If you like the hi macs (Had to google that, cuz I had never heard of it before), go for it. This is your kitchen, and you want DH to be happy, if it fits in your budget, and you're both satisfied, it's a win/win.

#2, Save the money, do NOT do the integrated backsplash. Mainly, because that is a dated look from laminate days, and even if you did laminate, I wouldn't do an integrated backsplash.

#3 Give an extra coat of a good quality scrubbable paint and wait and add your tile backsplash a few years down the road. As my DH says...it's just stretching out the enjoyment! When you do put up a nice backsplash you'll have something pretty and new to be excited about!

#4 Look into RTA cabinets, find out how any cabinet you may buy is made. You'd be surprised that some lines don't put full depth shelves in base cabinets for instance. Put the money into well-designed function. ie DO have drawer bases instead of cupboards even though they are more expensive. Full-extension drawers will make everyday use of the kitchen easier and more pleasant.

#5 Definitely save on lighting. Not sure what you are planning on, but that is one area where the big box stores do really really well on pricing, and often have fixtures on sale. When we built our first home, we just put in lo-end budget fixtures, and replaced each one as we could afford it. Bonus of that is that our tastes changed over the years, and we could accommodate that change.

#6 Don;t know where you live, but Craigslist Kijijii can be lifesavers! I even saw a complete set of display cabinets being sold off from a kitchen cabinet place, and really wished I had a kitchen to do! We have been waiting 17 years to finish off our patio and just yesterday we bought 1200 sq ft of brand new pavers from a landscape co closing down, at about 1/4 of the regular price! We are in the middle of renovating 2 bathrooms, but I couldn't pass up that deal.

#7 As mentioned, Sears scratch & Dent clearance stores, etc. can be a good place to pick up deals on appliances. Also look for used. Just as we listed our last house, the fridge went kaput, our real estate agent suggested buying a second-hand fridge. We scored an amazing fridge WAY nicer than the one that had died for $75!

#8 Research the cost of after-market components. We had a base cabinet made into a trash pull-out by a carpenter, same with the pantry pull-outs. (These weren't options with our cabinet line- but sometimes even if offered are so expensive, that you may want to out-source them)

Enjoy the process! Do your research, and don't assume that the big box stores are the best/least expensive way to go for everything.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Since you mentioned Lowes have you looked at Shenandoah cabinets? or Homedepot American woodmark?

Sometimes pullouts can be more costly than drawers. Bells and whistles really add to the cost, choose wisely.

Think about the corner(s) cabinets. What do you need to put there and do you need a lazy susan? I skipped it and save $400 as it wasn't needed for what it was going to be used for.

Has your DH actually seen the new laminates? Get want you want/need without being concerned with what others think. Our tile BS is from HD only available online. We saved alot.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:59PM
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This may seem easier said than done, but take your time. You need time to research and search for options. Take time to form different ideas about how to approach things, and take time to resolve one problem and let your head clear before you try to make a thousand decisions on another one that can get overwhelming even under the best of circumstances. If you are doing a whole house reno and it's more than paint and flooring, your timing is ambitious and then some. Many folks doing things DIY are in for 4-6 years, not months. Giving yourself more time can be stressful, but it eliminates other stresses, can spread out the finances and give you time to make decisions that might avoid hasty mistakes.

Clean the place and make it functional, but I'd wait until you can get the right foundation for any reno before starting, whether you plan to save up and do it all at once or work a plan to phase in changes. This house wasn't a whole house reno, but we knew the kitchen needed new appliances and counters when we bought it. We planned to take 6 months to make sure everything else was good, life happened and it was at least 4 years before we got to doing the kitchen. In that time, our plans evolved and I am so much happier with the result.

I haven't looked at IKEA cabinets for some time, but they did have some wood doors -- those can be painted. Also do some searching for threads here and elsewhere (isn't there an IKEA kitchen forum somewhere?) to see what others have done to use IKEA boxes and other doors. Scherr (possibly a wrong spelling?) is one I know folks have talked about being able to order drilled to fit IKEA boxes. That opens a host of other options -- styles and colors that are still a good quality, budget option.

If that doesn't work for you, you can shop for recycled cabinets, for furniture pieces that might allow you to make even part of the kitchen unfitted -- whether you go for the look as a style choice or as a transition so you can phase in the kitchen you really want. An armoire can be a pantry, storage for dishes, pots and pans -- lots of things. Cabinets, desks, dressers or tables can become islands. IKEA butcher block, salvaged counter remnants, preformed granite and laminate are all budget choices for counters -- and some folks have used a sheet of plywood (you buy the better furniture grade -- not the rough stuff that goes under a roof, etc.).

Second, don't get penny wise only to be pound foolish. Get your layout right and keep the choices that effect the layout. If you are going to be in the house a while and if you would really use them, the double ovens and cooktop are not choices you can change later without some pretty significant changes or another reno. How you cook is one of the most fundamental choices going into a kitchen. If that's what you really want and need, that's not the first thing you cross off your list. Fight for it. If it were my kitchen, I know I'd always regret that decision. So would all the family that come for holidays, etc.

If you put in a counter that you plan to change, plan for the removal so you make it easier. Also, if you do that, don't tile a splash. Use paint - one less thing to take out or get damaged later.

This post was edited by lascatx on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 13:10

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:07PM
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Thank you so so much raehelen and localeater. I thought I had it all figured out, ha! Learning so much! There will really only be 2 larger base cabinets, I do want the largest to be drawers, but was going to settle for cabinets to save. Won't do that! What are some RTA lines you would reccomended?

I'm only talking big box stores as that is where I have so far gotten the most bang for my buck. There is a large lumber lot locally that carries kraftmaid, so I'm going to try them this week.

I am pretty set on my appliances. It was one area I made a few concessions on, but in the end picked out a middle of the road line. I'm comfortable with that.

So far: keep the lighting simple and inexpensive. ( I don't think I mentioned that the ceilings are cathedral/ vaulted so pendants are really the only choice. And under cabinet to fill in)

Skip the integrated backsplash. Wait on the tile. If the money is there when the rest of the house is done I will do it, otherwise next years tax return!

Look into aftermarket pull outs. Any special brands or companies people like? Will ikeas components work in other cabinets?

And rethink ikea, talk the husband into it ;)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:12PM
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First and foremost, get the layout down for the kitchen. I'll echo what many have mentioned - IKEA can be your friend even if you don't like their color choices for doors...many here have had custom doors made for IKEA boxes and seem absolutely delighted. For the money, IKEA seems pretty well constructed.

Think in terms of what you can easily and/or inexpensively change out in the future to keep within budget.

Get your lighting right - invest in lighting/wiring where you need it. Always easier to put it in at the start rather than trying to do it later. If you need pendants, those can add up - look to inexpensive sources...Lowes, HD, IKEA have options that are reasonable.

Get drawers for everything that you can - it may be a little more expense at first, but in the long run, you'll be much happier. Also, keep in mind if you're planing on having roll outs behind regular doors, that you'll save money on that since you'll have the drawer unit.

Look on Craigslist. Check out Sears Outlet. Those can be excellent sources for appliances. Also, don't overlook that Sears often runs 0% financing for a year or 18 months...gives you the ability to pay for appliances over time...just make certain you have them paid off before the 0% financing is over. I would try pretty hard to get the configuration that you want (cooktop and separate oven) from the start because changing that around later probably will lead to needing to change cabinetry as well.

Countertops - sometimes you can find a granite for not much more than what it would cost for laminate. Uba Tuba comes to mind - it's pretty "common", but it can look quite nice. Just don't let your head get turned by the others you see when you're looking around! Quartz is going to be tougher to keep in budget for you as you mentioned.

Skip the backsplash for now. It can come later.

Even something as simple as a faucet can save you money - you can spend a small fortune on those - check out Craigslist, ebay, overstock.com, etc. to see what you can find there.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:26PM
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Same as the others. As said, don't skimp on function. That actually means making moving plumbing, doorways, etc., as needed to create the best function your first priority (and the one with the biggest payoff by far), then to invest in the rest of the permanent installations. Then wait for later to upgrade or add on what can be. Having lived with almost all drawers, BTW, I would never consider for a second doing a kitchen that was not based on them. Function!

Please, definitely get what YOU like. You know you're wrongly influenced, so transform that knowledge into smart decisions. So what if something's not "hot" with a bunch of screen-names? Just go over to the design forum and see how many people insist on choosing from a small range of paint colors currently "in" there, regardless of different climates, window types, colors, etc. Designing a kitchen should NOT be mistaken for a bonding opportunity with people you'll never meet. Save that for choosing an old dresser from Craig's List.

Regarding Ikea, I've seen probably four or five TV design shows use Ikea doors but drop them off at a professional shop for painting in a custom color before installing them.

Of course, finishing a kitchen over time does have its own cautionary tales. Some end up deciding they'd prefer touring Greece to upgrading their counters (horrors!). Holly-Kay's experience is far from uncommon. Many (most?) people end up discovering that yesterday's must-haves were nothing of the sort,

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:51PM
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I could have written your post! Our situations are VERY similar. We are closing on a 60's era re-po this week and will do a whole-house reno. We have 2 kids in elementary school and plan to live here many years.

We are not talented at all, so DIY is out of the question for us. Fortunately we have an excellent contractor.

We are using IKEA cabs. I made fun of a friend who did it a couple of years ago, but the joke was on me! I've researched them and they are the best bet for a value kitchen. The boxes are strong, hardware is amazing, and doors can always be changed later. Don't let the IKEA showroom distract you. I **hate** going to IKEA. It's completely overwhelming to me and I really dislike all of their showroom stuff. I fell in love with IKEA cabs on Houzz. If you don't know that website, check it out NOW! You can search for IKEA kitchens and see examples of where the cabs have been used in beautiful and very customized ways. There are many great websites/blogs for more info. Google "ikea hacks." One blog I love is this: http://aubreyandlindsay.blogspot.com/2012/10/ikea-hack-trash-pullout.html

--We are saving money by getting the cheapest CD fridge instead of the built-in one I wanted.
--No under-cab ice maker like I (desperately!) wished for.
--I shopped and shopped to find online deals on the faucet, sink, and appliances. Not driving around a lot saved gas $$ and enabled my kids to play happily at home instead of me dragging them along in the car.
--Ikea pulls
--Ikea bathroom vanity
--Ikea & big box store lighting
--Read a LOT here. You can learn so much and save $$$ by learning from others mistakes, advice, and research.

Good luck! Post some "before" pictures so we can follow your progress and share in your excitement!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 2:32PM
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Thank you so so much raehelen and localeater. I thought I had it all figured out, ha! Learning so much! There will really only be 2 larger base cabinets, I do want the largest to be drawers, but was going to settle for cabinets to save. Won't do that! What are some RTA lines you would reccomended?

I'm only talking big box stores as that is where I have so far gotten the most bang for my buck. There is a large lumber lot locally that carries kraftmaid, so I'm going to try them this week.

I am pretty set on my appliances. It was one area I made a few concessions on, but in the end picked out a middle of the road line. I'm comfortable with that.

So far: keep the lighting simple and inexpensive. ( I don't think I mentioned that the ceilings are cathedral/ vaulted so pendants are really the only choice. And under cabinet to fill in)

Skip the integrated backsplash. Wait on the tile. If the money is there when the rest of the house is done I will do it, otherwise next years tax return!

Look into aftermarket pull outs. Any special brands or companies people like? Will ikeas components work in other cabinets?

And rethink ikea, talk the husband into it ;)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 3:42PM
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We were just about to begin getting bids from contractos when both our air conditioning units died. As a result of replacing those (just as we hit 100* temps for 2+ weeks), we lost 1/5 of our kitchen remodel budget last year. However, by making a few changes we ended up with a lovely kitchen that perfectly suited our wishes and here we are 8 months later and we still love it!

We opted for basic open wood shelving in our 6'x8' walk-in pantry instead of built-ins with cabinetry.

We opted for very common granite (new venetian gold) rather than a more expensive variety we were contemplating.

We kept all our appliances save the wall ovens, which were on their last legs and needed to be replaced even if we didn't do the kitchen remodel.

We kept the plumbing and gas lines in the same place as they were in the original kitchen.

We did a backsplash ONLY behind the stove area rather than throughout the whole space.

We had solid doors on the upper cabinets rather than the glass we originally wanted.

We did 36" cabinets rather than 42". We hardly notice the loss of height because our contractor did a LOVELY deep crown around the room.

We ended up coming just under our new budget with careful shopping online and the above-listed changes.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:05PM
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