Spend & Splurge – How to Renovate a Kitchen Without Going Overboard


renovate a kitchen


So you want to renovate a kitchen? These renovations are undoubtedly one of the most expensive renovations we can undertake. They’re filled with high ticket items and when we add all of those expensive items together it’s a big dent in our wallets. I’m not suggesting that we can design a kitchen on a dime but there are ways that we can prioritize the dollars we have to get the biggest bang for your buck. That’s where your designer comes in. We have seen it all and can help you decide which items are going to be a splurge and where you can save a bit. Here are my recommendations for creating a priority list of spend vs splurge



I always recommend that clients spend their money on items that are more difficult to replace later. You don’t want to have to rip out an entire kitchen just to upgrade something a few years down the line.


1/ SPEND – Cabinetry

renovate a kitchen


There are a few reasons for spending on cabinetry. It’s true that cabinetry will take a big chunk out of your budget but having that foundation piece is very important. It’s the building block of your design. 

It’s also incredibly difficult to replace cabinetry in the future without damaging other aspects of the kitchen. You would need to rip out your countertops, sink and faucet in order to replace lower cabinets. The labour costs on that would be a significant deterrent down the line. 

PRO TIP – If you really need to be cautious with spending, select cabinet doors rather than drawers. These are typically less expensive and can save a considerable amount in a large kitchen. 


2/ SPEND – Flooring

renovate a kitchen


Replacing flooring down the road is such a hassle that most people avoid it. It means major disruption to your life. You will have no access to your kitchen while you’re replacing it. You may also undergo damage to other parts of your kitchen. It’s not uncommon for appliances and cabinetry to be scratched and dented while flooring is being replaced.

I always encourage my clients to replace as much flooring as possible while your home is either vacant or undergoing renovations. 


3/ SPEND – Countertops

renovate a kitchen

SOURCE: Cambria


Most people are excited about countertop selections when they plan to renovate a kitchen. Although it’s technically possible to replace countertops without too much impact to your kitchen it’s still a hassle. If you use a designer for your renovation you’ll want to take advantage of his/her knowledge and sources. Trying to do it on your own at a later date may feel overwhelming.

Part of the important role a designer plays in a kitchen renovation is guiding you through technical choices. While you may do just fine selecting a slab of marble or quartz, there are questions regarding edges, polish and thickness that you’ll want your designer to help with. 

If it’s absolutely necessary to install countertops that will be replaced down the line you can also consider a mix of materials. Maybe the perimeter can be the stone of your choice and the island is temporarily laminate. This will make the process of replacing less tedious and costly down the road.


4/ SPEND – Appliances

renovate a kitchen


I personally feel this is a gray area. If you really need to save some money while you renovate a kitchen you may have no choice but to settle for appliances, knowing you’ll upgrade down the line. 

The biggest consideration is that you may decide to upgrade to appliances that are more luxurious and come in different sizes than your temporary appliances. You’ll end up doing a lot more work to accommodate the larger gas range down the road and the savings will be lost.

If you have your heart set on a 48” Wolf range down the line but you install a standard 30” range, think of the adjustments that will have to be made to accommodate that change. If you can afford it, install the Wolf range now and replace the less problematic appliances down the road. 



The items above are going to take a massive bite out of your budget. Now is the time to apply the brakes and start reeling in the spending. These are my favourite ways to get a high end look on a budget.


1/ SAVE – Decorative Lighting

renovate a kitchen


Most clients are shocked to learn about the price of decorative lighting. There are differences in quality for sure but if you’re on a tight budget you can buy the less expensive option and replace it easily in the future. 

You’ll want to start with a good plan in place for the replacement. Be sure that your dream pendants are equal in size and quantity to the temporary pendants. If you install 3 smaller pendants but have your heart sent on a single, oversized pendant down the line you’ll require both electrical and drywall work to make that happen. If you plan well, you can minimize the labour later down the road.


2/ SAVE – Hardware

renovate a kitchen

SOURCE: The House of Silver Lining


Another surprise is the cost of hardware. It’s not unheard of for a single drawer pull to be more than $100. When you multiply that across your entire kitchen the cost can be overwhelming. Save your kitchen renovation dollars and buy something with a similar look. You can upgrade in the future if you still have your heart set on the more expensive item. 

Again, you’ll want to have a plan for the future. Be sure the installation of the upgraded knobs and pulls is considered ahead of time. The centre to centre points of how a pull gets installed should match exactly otherwise you’ll have holes in your drawers. 


3/ SAVE – Backsplash

renovate a kitchen

SOURCE: Emma Courtney Home


I only recommend this when it’s absolutely necessary. If you’re facing unforeseen circumstances that have eaten into your budget, this is an option for later. You can either leave your backsplash bare for a while or you can add an inexpensive tile and replace it later. This is going to require budget outlay for a tile setter but it’s not a difficult task so it won’t feel overwhelming.

A coat of paint to match the cabinetry can be a great short term solution for a bare backsplash.



4/ SAVE – Pantry

renovate a kitchen

SOURCE: Organizing Spaces by Kim


Although you want to include your pantry you may not be able to include all the custom shelving you want. The most important thing to consider is the design. Be sure to spend the time getting the layout of the structure exactly as you’d like.

Go for the cheaper, wire shelves until you have the money to upgrade. Aside from having to empty out your pantry the upgrade will be a minimal disruption and the cost will not be significant.

My final pro tip when planning to renovate a kitchen is to avoid moving plumbing or appliances in the design. These are both very pricey outlays for labour and will noticeably impact your budget.


If you’re planning to renovate a kitchen and need some design assistance, reach out and let’s talk. 



If you know your design style but you struggle with which paint to use, take a look at my Made-For-You paint palettes. They take the guesswork out and give you the confidence to get started.


Colour Paint Palettes for home

Unlock your unique design style

Take the design style quiz



Success! Please check your inbox for your 3 Easy Steps.

Pin It on Pinterest