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Cabinetry is costly—no way around it. In fact, it’s the most expensive item by a wide margin in any new or remodeled kitchen, and most homeowners have to balance what they want with what they can realistically afford. Here are ten ways to make the most of your cabinet budget—and preserve your kitchen wishes without breaking the bank.
Budget Tip #1: Stick With Basic Finishes
Specialty finishes can add as much as 40 percent to the cost of your cabinetry, and glazing, hand distressing, or polishing are all expensive extras. Simple stains or standard traditional paint keep costs under control.
Budget Tip #2: Use Fewer, But Larger, Cabinets
You might sacrifice some convenience features in doing so, but one large cabinet in a given space costs less than two smaller more specialized cabinets.
Budget Tip #3: Use a Worktable as an Island
Custom-built or ready-made, open counter-height worktables can function as islands at a lower cost than closed cabinetry. Some even have shelves or baskets near the floor for frequently used large items or produce.
Budget Tip #4: Think Simple
Avoid curves, angles, changes in depth, and height, or anything that requires more components or custom fabrication for your cabinets.
Budget Tip #5: Choose Cabinets That Look Good Without Moldings
This is usually best accomplished with clean, contemporary styles. Moldings—and the labor to cut, fit, and install them— are expensive.
Budget Tip #6: Go Light On Internal Accessories
Rollout shelves, drawer dividers, and spice racks are convenient, but they add to the cost of your basic storage system.
Budget Tip #7: Designate One Focal Area
A room full of plain and relatively inexpensive cabinets with one elevation that is more detailed or elaborate can make a strong statement on a budget.
Budget Tip #8: Decide On a Budget and Stick To It
You’ll have to do a little research to be realistic about the categories of cost and how much cabinetry you’ll need, but decide what your budget is and let your contractor or kitchen designer know that you’re serious about it.
Budget Tip #9: Buy Used
Try scouring the classifieds, perhaps placing an ad, and see if there is a used cabinet supplier that serves your locale. There are plenty of companies out there that buy good used cabinetry from homeowners who are doing complete remodels. Some even offer limited design services.
Budget Tip #10: Hire a Competent Designer
You have to pay design fees, but a really experienced and resourceful designer can provide you with a wonderful, budget-minded solution while saving you the headaches associated with doing a complicated project as a novice. You’ll want to find someone who is not only creative, but who also has a broad understanding of fabrication, available products, and all aspects of contracting.
Don’t take on a “do it yourself” strategy to save money unless you are completely clear on what you’re getting into. For most homeowners, working with the right professional is really the best way to get what you want, as long as you’re up front about your budget and other requirements. With these suggestions in mind, you can keep the cost of cabinetry within your budget while still creating a kitchen that will suit your lifestyle and needs.