Kitchen Budget Busters

I know that I’m not telling you anything new when I say that kitchen remodels can be very expensive. I’ve designed kitchens that were $6,000 and I’ve done kitchens for $60,000. {I haven’t personally done anything over $60,000; but they’re out there. In abundance.}

How is there such a range in price? There are so many things that factor into the cost. Cabinet door style, cabinet construction, finish, storage features, accessories, fancy moldings and accent pieces, countertop material, flooring, backsplash, ceiling, etc., etc.

This week, I got to talk to a woman who was in despair because the quote she got on her kitchen – from Home Depot – ended up being six thousand dollars over her budget. This was just the cabinet price alone.. It didn’t include countertops or installation.


Their kitchen is completely torn apart and they pulled the brakes. They are trying to regroup, because they don’t want to take out a loan for the project. Kudos to them!

My advice?


The Home Depot Design

Naturally, as a cabinet sales person, you will fill every inch of space you can with cabinets.

But what’s really needed?

Is is a necessity to have glass cabinets which are, essentially, worthless for anything but display? For that matter, do you really need many wall cabinets? I believe most people would survive with just a few. If you’re on a budget, CUT THEM.

For this reason, I also suggested getting rid of the wall cabinets to the right of the fridge, and going with a straight cabinet instead of angled cabinet on the bottom. Angles are more expensive and don’t help with storage. I only use them in very tight spaces. The angled base cabinet would have also added to the countertop cost.

Smith Kitchen Design2.jpg


My next suggestion was for the sink wall. Ditch the tiny cabinet above and the expensive raised panel valance. Replace those with a cute wall sconce – like this one below – and a piece of art.


OR – just keep the valance and raise it so it’s aligned with the other wall cabinets.

They didn’t want white cabinets, and everything she likes on Pinterest is a Tuscan style. The cabinet doors they chose were pretty fancy, plus they’re painted a cream color with a glaze. “{Up charge”} She wants to keep the color, so I’d suggest opting for a simpler door style. More elaborate doors = more money.

We also removed the molding on the bottom of the cabinets. It’s pretty, but doesn’t have a function except to hide under-cabinet lighting {which they aren’t going to have}. Every small sacrifice lowers the price.

From her Pinterest board

She wants to keep cabinets on the long narrow back wall. The wall space is just under 18″ deep, but stock/semi-custom cabinets don’t come in the 15″ depth they put in the design; so this modification was adding a lot to her cost. I removed the two tall pantry cabinets and suggested they use bookcases instead. I found these on Wayfair:

This would be my first choice, but is a little more money.
An open bookcase like this would be the most affordable option to replace tall cabinets.

I changed the remaining base cabinets on that wall to 12″ depth and suggested pulling the center cabinet forward 3″ to give her the furniture look she wanted.

My suggested design:


They would like to have granite countertops. They could always go with a laminate or something different, but the durability is not the same. Using a more common granite color like Santa Cecelia or Giallo Ornamental would keep the price down. I suggested using butcher block or concrete for their island. A large island top in granite could cost you a minimum of $1,000.

One thing I actually added? I enlarged the island for more counter space. This could be achieved by extending the countertop and using brackets for support instead of adding more cabinetry.

Extra features in the kitchen – like her favored subway tile backsplash – can be added in time. Shelves instead of wall cabinets are always an option, but I still prefer to keep some things behind doors so you’re not spending all your time cleaning dishes.

Everyone’s budget is different. Investments in your home usually do pay off if they’re done right. I do not recommend EVER spending more than 20% of the value of your home on the kitchen. A better proportion {for ROI} is to have 10-15% of your home’s value in the kitchen.

In our last home, we purchased unfinished stock cabinets from Lowe’s and stained them ourselves. It cost us about $2,000 for the cabinets and laminate countertops and kept the existing vinyl floor. The silverware drawer fell apart after two years because it couldn’t hold the weight. The kitchen was TINY and the cabinets were really cheap quality. Our house was worth about $50,000.

Our current kitchen cost us about $16,000 total {DISCOUNTS included!}.. Otherwise, we would have been pushing $20,000. We have quartz and granite countertops, custom cabinets, and porcelain tile floors. Features include roll-out trays in most of the cabinets, vertical dividers for trays and pans, silverware dividers, and a spice rack. This house is worth over $200,000.

What do you think? Are there any other things you would suggest cutting to save some money in a kitchen remodel?

If you ever have any kitchen questions or want to share how you saved money {or items you had to have}, please comment and let me know!

Published by CDH Designs

I am a Mom and self-employed Interior Designer. I own a small design studio & home decor shop in downtown Emporium, PA. It’s a small town in the PA Wilds of north-central Pennsylvania. We have some of the most beautiful scenery, and Fall (my favorite season) is breathtaking. I blog for fun to keep my friends and clients informed of what's going on in the design and decorating world, to share my designs, and to show what we're working on in our own home.

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