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What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Posted by marvelousmarvin (My Page) on
Tue, May 28, 13 at 2:35

I was watching this interview with Barbara Corcoran, the famous real estate businesswoman and expert, and she said the two most important things when renovating a kitchen with an eye towards resale were:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6RyJ_QCpUU

1) make the kitchen airy and bright, even if that means adding a window

2) that the kitchen looked expensive to the eye which doesn't mean it has to be expensive

But, she never clarifies what exactly an expensive kitchen looks like other than talking about the importance of premium appliances that signal status and expensive.

What else do you think makes a kitchen look expensive?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Attention to detail, careful planning.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

She said these other thing as well:
Inexpensive neutral backsplash
Expensive counters
Spend 10% of house value.

You can't really get into more specific things without zeroing in on a particular price range/house.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

expensive is a loose word-probably "well done" is just as effective to apply the sense that a coordinated effort in terms of some detail/yet efficient/appropriate for the setting/some personalization/some area of surprise or "wow". I don't think her two parameters really are a help to anyone. Can't afford more windows?-white gloss surfaces in the right area can do a lot for light and bright....She leaves out budget/sizeof kitchen/size and value of home/efficiency of the space. Does she think prospective buyers won't notice a poor floorplan or look inside a pantry or notice cabinet insides and storage capacity or amt of counter sq footage??.About the last thing I would feel important is the "eye candy".Maybe she didn't use the correct words.Around where I am people are going seriously for sustainable/recycled materials which don't always look 'expensive' [but Are].... rather, durable and "for the future".


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Expensive doesn't mean functional kitchen.

Friends of ours put in a huge expensive looking kitchen. I have zero idea how they function - it has 3 sinks, all within 4 feet of each other.

None of their base cabinets are drawers OR pullouts.

Its just large.

Yes they have beautiful granite and an enormous subzero fridge/freezer so it looks "impressive" but I would take my functional half the size kitchen over theirs any day of the week.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I think a lot of these realtors are still aiming for the lowest common denominator, regardless of the price range of the property. A friend currently has her house listed at over $1million. Her realtor INSISTED they replace all their kitchen appliances with matching SS Kitchen Aid (???) ones. My friend dug in her heels at the advice to install an OTR microwave, and put in a real vent hood.

I don't know if folks shopping in that price range are as blandly blind as the HGTV-addicted ones looking at more affordable homes, but for me, an OTR micro would be a deal breaker at any price. I have another friend who walks out immediately if the kitchen cannot support a gas range or cooktop. Realtors just don't seem to get TKO types who know what they want, especially when it doesn't meet their "formula".


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I never quite understand Barbara Corcoran's comments, particularly when her area of expertise is Manhattan and to some extent Long Island, I think. These are markets that are contextually different than practically any other in the US.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

An OTR microwave would never be a deal-breaker for me. I don't like them and would eventually take it out as budget allowed. But I consider it one of the least things to consider when buying a house. In the big scheme, it's nothing.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

"Expensive" in the kitchen world probably equates to non builder basic for sure but also chosen to impress rather than to cook in. It's the bling that's important, even if it's faux.

No natural toned wood, be it even a pretty cherry. You want people to know you've spent money on making it unnatural. Thus the popularity of "expresso" maple and fire engine "cherry" colored cabinets. No oak of any kind, even if it's the beautifully figured quartersawn that any TKOer would appreciate.

Painted cabinets have a strong possibility of impressing your neighbors. Probably white, because we all know that the Peacock white sheep on white sheep kitchen look is the OTK that is the standard to which all kitchen renovations must be judged and found lacking. If it's a real Peacock, so much the better! Nothing better than having the snob appeal of a 250K kitchen!

And of course, you MUST stack the cabinets to that 14' ceiling. Who cares if you never access that space. You pay someone to clean it anyway, so let's make sure that there's some job security by having something to be cleaned up high when you don't even own a tall enough ladder to get to it. Getting up there is the help's problem, not yours.

Hard and cold counters. They can be natural stone, or faux stone like the quartz, but they need to be break your dishes hard. Corian, butcher block, stainless, or laminate just don't have the impress your neighbors expensive look, even though they actually may be more costly than the cheap granite that someone chooses. If you can work in a Lavastone island, so much the better. Or at least one section of Lavastone on the barrier continent that all expensive kitchens MUST have as a matter of course.

And of course, you simply MUST have a fire breathing stainless dragon beast, regardless if you have no actual external ventilation or even know how to turn it on to make your boxed orange powder mac and cheese. Isn't it simply awful how the plebes only have 30" ranges that probably came from Sears or Wally World? What IS this world coming to?

Every dressed to impress kitchen needs a giant entryway chandelier over the continent. Or two. If you can find a klieg light used to bring in business to the local used car dealers, then you get the bragging rights of "re-purposing a found object".

For the floors, plain tile or wood just doesn't have that expensive look that is required. You've got to search for reclaimed teak planks from a battleship that went down in the war of 1812 and has recently been salvaged. Or possibly some rare stone tile that's quarried in Mongolia under a full moon by a sect of monks that's never left their valley. But you only want that tile if it's soft enough to scratch when a brushed by a butterfly's wings and etch in the presence of plain tap water. It's a luxury material after all. It's not meant to endure a party for your brother where everyone wears stillettos and spills wine.

I'm really surprised that with all of the luxury kitchens done here that y'all couldn't pinpoint that "expensive" look. But then, most everyone here usually worries more about how the kitchen will cook than how it will look for the neighbors.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

ROTFLOL!!!!!
This makes my day, Hollysprings!


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

The advice she gives is not all that different than what you would hear from other Realtors. It may vary by region and price point, but if you were to ask for gross generalizations, you would probably hear something similar. I think if you asked her to clarify, she would still expect major floorplan deficiencies to be addressed. I think she assumes that is a given. For example, a refrigerator located in an adjoining room or foyer, not in the main kitchen, is a deficiency in anyone's mind. Likewise, I would expect her to reply that adequate storage and work space is also a given.

We are here because we are all TKO or in search of the OTK, at least to some extent. A typical homebuyer may not nearly obsess over certain details, like the depth of certain upper cabinets beyond what is necessary to fit a dinner plate, that we may obsess over.

To summarize the above it seems like she said (not defending her, just expounding):

1) make the kitchen airy and bright, even if that means adding a window --> I interpret this to mean to stay to light colors, get good lighting, and add a window if needed

2) that the kitchen looked expensive to the eye which doesn't mean it has to be expensive --> I interpret this to mean: for design details, spend on things that people perceive as being upgrades

3) Inexpensive neutral backsplash --> I think she is saying, people may not appreciate $100/sq foot tile that is highly personal, so spend your money elsewhere.

4) Expensive counters --> combined with the earlier statements, this is another way of saying, avoid materials that people perceive as cheap, such as laminate. People perceive stone to be an upgrade, even if it may cost less than other materials. This is probably the most controversial part of her advice.

5) Spend up to 10% of house value, and no more. --> In other words, don't overspend and target the low end of the range the KD or GC is recommending. (edited after original post)

6) She also mentioned: use professionals, unless your title is "handyman"; prestige appliances lend prestige to the whole home; reface, refinish or reuse your cabinets if they are good quality wood bases;

In viewing real estate and going to open homes in my area, I've noticed people tend to notice counters first, appliances second, and then maybe cabinets and flooring (especially in new build or flipper homes).

Another corollary of "look expensive" may apply to cabinet construction -- while some people will notice the lack of cabinet pullouts and soft close drawers, they will rarely be able to see if you chose that pricey plywood upgrade or the $2K faucet vs. the $500 faucet (but probably the $50 faucet).

This post was edited by gooster on Wed, May 29, 13 at 0:35


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Corcoran's bailiwick is Manhattan and she's one of the biggest in that market. When she says "expensive" it doesn't relate to function, or even to cost. She's talking about what multi-million dollar property buyers expect -- the sales appeal of a built-in Miele espresso machine or a built in La Cornue rotisserie, or the style of the space that helps sell the apartment. That buyer isn't focused on the tile or the cabinets and certainly not on a microwave. That's much too low end. And it's not about showing off either. It's about judgments on having the best and most stylish. These days, the desired style for high end Manhattan residences is far more more modern than most here like or ever would like.

Pal has it exactly right. It's a market that is much more like a country of its own. It's extremely international as many buyers are from overseas. Building there is 20 stories and up. The current multi million "builder grade" appliances are Cornue Fe ranges. Sub Zero is the least of it.

It's a closed system, entirely its own thing and not easy to understand.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I also interpret the term "look expensive" as meaning the room should look like the owner received some design help. In other words, that the counter, backsplash, floor, etc. look put together-- as if the choices in material belong together rather than clashing and/or fighting with each other. Beyond the many kitchens we saw while house hunting that were actually cheap, we did notice quite a few kitchens that looked cheap just because of the plain bad taste that went into the decision making. All the fancy appliances in the world could not elevate the look.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

"Spend 10% of house value. " This is stupid, particularly in an area where house prices are high because of high lot prices. Are you seriously supposed to spend 95K on a 950K house, which is so expensive because the lot alone is worth 800K?

Here is a link that might be useful: a 95K kitchen???


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Manhattan has lots of different properties: ultra ultra kitchen doesn't define a property or ability to sell.The overall is probably more important than the kitchen ...for the hi end buyer chances are they will redo the kitchen anyway.... I think she is off especially in the current time period......whatever exists as far as a kitchen will be worked into a price and anyone with a brain can figure that out..... just a factor in pricing.Most property that is sitting ,not selling especially well ,is hi end property.....prices are getting knocked down substantially.Whether that kitchen was a 38,000 or110,000 kitchen is probably irrelevant on a 3 mil property and it's movement through the market..


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I am just now finishing an investment property (flip) with Ikea Adele White, black pearl granite, a used KA SS fridge, a $200 SS dishwasher I got as a store model, a SS KA convection oven, also store model at a great price. I could NOT do the cheap SS package with the Micro wave hood, so I did a SS chimney hood that vents outside. No backsplash.

What is interesting is that in my area, in the price range of the house ( will go for 180K tops) in a middle class neighborhood, the kitchen does look bright and expensive compared to what is available for this price and neighborhood with this amount of SF. And these appliances are an upgrade from what is available with the competition. I spent under 10K for the entire renovation. Everyone who's seen it so far loves it. Its all a matter of what demographic you are in.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

The key for me is craftsmanship and design, the two things money cannot guarantee when building. What makes it expensive is the time it takes to perfect all the layers of a kitchen, from the basic layout to the trim details and how it all flows together and how lighting and textures and colors relate to each other. This cannot be bought and the budget means nothing. It must be created slowly and methodically with many failures along the way, and that's what makes it expensive. It's a labor of love and we all know it when we see it.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

IMO the better the kitchen functions and integrates with the rest of the house's architecture the more expensive it looks - it takes a lot of planning and detail to accomplish that, and I think that pleases a discerning eye.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Well see, the difference in interpretation is those that knew her. I had no idea, and don't watch the show if she's a regular. I took her little interview as broader than NYC. More generic in nature. IMO, like I said above, unless you get into specifics of area and or price range that's not a lot you can say that works for everyone watching.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

DO you spend 10% of what you wish it was worth or what you paid for it? Or what you expect it to be worth after you do the kitchen?


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

A NYC apartment with a well renovated kitchen with prestige appliances and a washer/dryer sells for a premium. Why? Because in many buildings kitchens are the size of broom closets elsewhere and renovation is a nightmare with more restrictions than the State of California -- only permitted during certain hours and certain months of the year. Construction debris leaves apartments in black plastic garbage bags.

And these days a good apartment will often go higher than the asking price due to a bidding war. It's not like the rest of the country here, the same assumptions don't apply.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Don't even go there with the 10%, because here in CA you will find an absolute shack for $1.5M and believe me, even if you spent $150,000 on the kitchen, it wouldn't fix the house!

I have seen some pretty beautiful kitchens on this website that didn't touch half that cost and I would say it brought up the house price by a huge amount. Each area is different!!

I really got to post the kitchen here at the home we are renting which was recently sold for $2.8M and the kitchen looks like (and functions like) something that costs pennies. It's super quirky and weird! After we leave this house (and our house is done!), the owners are going to tear the house down.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

"For the floors, plain tile or wood just doesn't have that expensive look that is required. You've got to search for reclaimed teak planks from a battleship that went down in the war of 1812 and has recently been salvaged. Or possibly some rare stone tile that's quarried in Mongolia under a full moon by a sect of monks that's never left their valley. But you only want that tile if it's soft enough to scratch when a brushed by a butterfly's wings and etch in the presence of plain tap water."

OMG this was the funniest thing I read all day! Thanks for the giggle :)


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I've linked Christopher Peacock slide show. Most pics are of white kitchens as Hollysprings mentioned. There are a few wood ones, where the craftmanship is exquisite (c'mon guys, you gotta admit it). Note the Christopher Peacock cabinet handles. So, on the one hand, I want to sneer at the excess. On the other hand, I sigh in pleasure and longing at each photo.

Here is a link that might be useful: Christopher Peacock Slide Show


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Thanks Shannon, that was so fun and amazing! I overdosed on Habersham kitchens yesterday. A lot to ohhh and ahhhh over.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

What looks expensive to me is a kitchen that suits the house style and is made of upper quality cabinetry. I can overlook appliance choices, flooring and builder grade granite countertop materials. Those I can replace. As I am now actively searching for a new home it’s the houses with the 2006 type flip kitchens that are a huge turn-off to me. The cabinets often do not match the house style and are very cheap quality. Sellers so far have expected a huge premium with that sort of kitchen. I will not pay a big premium for cheap cabinetry. I would rather buy a cheaper house where I could put in my own kitchen.


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me again

Question: What is that wood on the very first wood kitchen picture in the Peacock slideshow above?


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

The colour, shade variation and lack of veining look like thermo-treated oak but I am not sure.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Thanks bathelemy! I made a mistake, it was not the first wood kitchen, it's this one. What is this wood? Love!

 photo woodkitchenIlove_zps235140fa.jpg

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Fri, May 31, 13 at 16:21


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

That's walnut.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Thanks GreenDesigns, well I guess that would be EXPENSIVE. I really love that kitchen.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Walnut is one of my top species choice for cabinets.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Also, is Barbara Corcoran totally wrong in this interview when she says, "you'll always get your money back on a kitchen- you usually get between one to two dollars for every dollar you spend."

When I look at the numbers, that doesn't seem true. Kitchen remodels tend to generate the greatest returns on investment compared to other home improvements, but it still won't recoup the money you spent to remodel the kitchen.

According to Remodeling Magazine, a major kitchen remodel, which is what you'd probably need to do to make the kitchen seem expensive, only gets you a 68.9% return. And, a minor kitchen remodel would give you a 75.4% return.

I noticed she gave this interview in 2007 before the real estate market crashed, but was that even true at the height of the real estate boom? Or, was that just true in Manhattan?

I had been reading some of her stuff, and it seemed to make sense. But, if she's that off about return on remodeling a kitchen, she makes me question whether or not I should just ignore her advice.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

At the risk of stating the obvious, an "expensive" kitchen is not the same as a "wonderful" kitchen, (and we all have different ideas about wonderful)

An "expensive" kitchen is big and has the de rigeur must have high end appliances including specialty things like wine refrigerators.

A wonderful kitchen (at least to me ) has -- great light, beautiful windows, a feeling of authenticity and appropriateness for the house, good materials and workmanship, a functional layout with plenty of counterspace.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Oh my some of that Christopher Peacock hardware is glorious. I think I could sell my house and not have enough money for one of his kitchens. I will say though, that I am happy when someone can afford to do a kitchen like that. It keeps the economy moving and expenditure on a kitchen is all relative anyway.

When I started to plan my kitchen the last thing on my brain was impressing anyone. The only people that see my kitchen are friends and family and they could give a flying fig how little or how much I spend. In the end the only thing that matters to me is how much I love my kitchen, though I must admit that I get jittery worrying if all the things I loved when I chose them will all pull together and look good!


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I'd define "expensive looking" with the details.

Basics
-everything is completed, no unfinished edges, trim, etc
-trim, even if simple, is properly installed
-finished end panels (even IKEA offers them)
-no obvious patches (like caulking over a 1/2 inch gap at the wall or random trim added to hide something)
-adequate lighting (of any kind)

"Upgrades" that might add some cost
-deeper cabinet over fridge and side panels
-paint on the walls that isn't white or very light "builder beige"
-matching appliances (of any brand)
-flooring that's not beige tile or sheet vinyl
-most consider granite expensive, or quartz, but if you pick one of the new laminates make sure you don't have those lines where sheets meet at the edges. There are plenty of edge options now, and even squared off edges can almost disappear
-undermount sink
-faucet and pulls in whatever finish is big where you are (probably not 3 inch brass look)
-if you have an outlet under the sink for the GD, an air switch for the GD. They are like $50 plus a hole in the counter if you are getting a new counter. Getting the hole might cost a lot if someone has to come out just for that.
-colors/materials that look cohesive
-lots of clear counter space
-window treatments that fit in with the design

Now, someone interested in more than how it looks might want more. But basically I think you'd want anyone passing through the get the impression that the room is cohesive, bright, not small, and not have anything that stands out as out of place or slapped together.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Williamsen, I have to respectfully disagree with your inclusion of "matching appliances (any brand)". The matchy-matchy look in appliances is associated with huge builders' developments where they bought mid-to-low-level appliances by the ton, all matching. An expensive kitchen is more carefully thought-out with each appliance chosen for "best in show", not for matching. So a high-end kitchen might have a Subzero fridge, Gaggenau wall ovens, Bluestar rangetop, Modernaire hood, and Miele DW. To up the ante even more, add speed oven, built-in coffee maker, induction hobs (along with gas rangetop), salamander oven, etc.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Oh, I completely agree about the appliances functionally. But the question was about "expensive looking" for resale. For a good number of people matching SS appliances are "it" and a mix of brands might read more as clearance specials even if the reality is they are much better.

I've seen plenty of pics of kitchens that look expensive and glamourous at first, which I think is what the question alludes to. But then looking at those same kitchens with functionality and actual cooking in mind, they are horrible.

Many buyers wouldn't necessarily appreciate a better workflow, or drawers, or half the stuff we talk about on GW that would read "expensive", or at least well planned, to us.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Williamsem, that's not a description of an expensive kitchen at all. Yes, those elements are above a some area's builder grade kitchens, but even here in the sticks, builder grade kitchens have granite and the "builder deal" of matching inexpensive appliances and real wood floors. Mobile homes here have granite and no vinyl floors.

It's probably a description of a pretty basic, not at all upgraded, lower mid grade kitchen when you average in all of the US. In Manhatten, that list wouldn't even make entry level for a kitchen.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I liked this thread, and thought Willimasem's list was pretty accurate for my area. And I like Sayde's contribution, too. It is easy to do an expensive kitchen that is NOT wonderful, I saw one today in a model house and realize how much I've learned in a short time here on GW.


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

Hollysprings, I know those are not expensive things. I thought the goal was to remodel on a budget for an expensive look? Where I live many homes are 20-60 or so years old, so many have had some "updates" along the way. Or a styling 80's renovation.

If someone was -remodeling- for resale and wanted it to -look- expensive what I posted is what I'd start with around here. You wouldn't want it to scream "misguided DIY disaster" or "lipstick on a pig", it needs to look like there's nothing that needs to be done, have updated fixtures, on trend finishes, and give the right vibe. At least around here, the things that are actually expensive, like very good cabinets with full extension/soft close everything, adding windows, moving utilities for better function, expensive granite (or marble or soapstone vs level 1 granite) etc aren't the kind of thing that's appreciated by most buyers.

I'm actually quite sure when we eventually sell this place my very solid, well built frameless cabinets with drawers everywhere will be an issue. As will the cork floor. They just aren't seen around here.

I'm sure what's looked down upon as an empty level kitchen in Manhatten would leave any average kitchen around here in the dust!


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

OK - I've been trolling this site for a while, plotting and planning my kitchen reno which starts in three-ish weeks and my kitchen is breaking all of these rules. No reclaimed wood, no fancy, handmade cabinet pulls and I'm not NOT painting the wooden cabinets that (I think) I've chosen. I'm not out, of course, to do an 'expensive' kitchen, just something nice, functional and that I won't want to throw my wine glass at in about 5 years (unless it is because my DH or DSs or DD did something totally inappropriate). I'd love some critiques of my choices, however. Soapstone counters (the insanely hard variety because my kids WILL for sure take knives and forks to it), cherry wood or oak cabinets with a warm stain (was thinking about painting the island a lighter colour, but am on the fence), slate floors because I have an old cat with gastrointestinal problems and a young German Shepherd who has 'issues' and a neutral cream backsplash. OK, so we got the backsplash from artisan types in BC, but that is because there are no Celtic tiles in Canada that are mass-produced. Believe me, I would have done Home Depot if I could have. So, do my choice(s) pass or fail?

Here is a link that might be useful: Earth Song Tiles, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada


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RE: What does an expensive kitchen look like?

I'm sorry I didn't hunt for that reclaimed teak from the war of 1812! Thanks for the laughs holly!

3monsters--those celtic tiles are beautiful!


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