Are You “Pinning” Yourself into a Very Expensive Corner?

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I was just talking to a designer friend this morning, and I have to share our discussion. We feel like there’s a HUGE issue that needs to be addressed. As designers, we already know this.. but as a consumer, you should be aware.

As much fun as Pinterest and Houzz are, you need to know the truth: Most of the projects you see online, even small, “budget” remodels, are thousands of dollars more than you think they are. If you see a beautiful kitchen that you would LOVE to have, with cabinets stretching to a 10′ ceiling with huge beautiful lights, lots of glass, stone and marble, and even a really cool rolling ladder; OF COURSE it’s going to make you wishful. Just be careful! You should know that the kitchen you’re lusting after would probably cost you a whopping $50,000-$75,000.. easily. That’s why they’re showing it off!

Although I’m not a huge fan of HGTV, shows like “Bang for your Buck” offer a real glimpse into the cost of these luxury makeovers. You may scoff at the TV when they’re giving their 6-figure renovation total, but, that’s reality. If you have to have that commercial oven, curved ceiling, hammered copper hood, or any other “cool” thing you see, they’re going to cost you.

One of the questions people ask me all the time is, “What does an average kitchen cost?” Sometimes, the answer blows them away.. even in our central Pennsylvania rural market. So how much DOES it cost? The average kitchen I sell is about $12,000. That is generally cabinets, countertops, hardware, moldings, and installation. I’m not including appliances, flooring, furniture, or new walls. I rarely see a new kitchen completed for less than $8,000, and often the price is closer to double that. A painted finish, such as the ever-popular white, costs you about 20% more than a stain.


If you add granite or quartz to that must-have list, be aware that the average price for a stone surface in our area is around $3,000. Most people have about 30 square feet of counter space in their kitchen, and I have done jobs that cost $8,000 for countertops alone.

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel and you’re pinning pictures to your home board or adding things to an ideabook on Houzz, your price ticket is going to be higher. It just IS. The shocking truth: Those sites are advertising! When you’re online, someone is trying to sell you something.. be it a product or a service. Working with a designer can help you adjust your expectations, or your budget, so that you can still have the perfect kitchen for you and your home.

I have helped many clients achieve their dream kitchens, and kept them within their budget. The key is communication, and knowing when to save and when to splurge. Aligning expectations with your budget will keep you on track. Here’s a kitchen I was able to help with. By not wasting money on all new appliances and flooring when the existing ones were in good condition, they were able to achieve these beautiful results:

Please don’t get me wrong. I post a lot about budgets and expectations because I am speaking from personal experience. There ARE budget makeovers. You just aren’t going to see as many of them on the internet or on tv. So set reasonable expectations.  If your budget is really $3,000 and you want a new kitchen, consider going with stock cabinets from Lowe’s or Home Depot, and installing laminate countertops. Plan to DIY or have a friend help you, because there won’t be extra money to pay for installation.

To refresh a kitchen that already has a workable layout, paint your existing cabinets and add some convenient storage options to them. Replacing old countertops and hardware, and adding a tile backsplash can change the look of your entire room without having to borrow from your retirement or emergency fund.

Adding pull-outs to your existing cabinets can make them more accessible without having to completely remodel.

Don’t be nervous about starting a kitchen remodel. It can be intimidating, but having the right expectations and professional help makes all the difference.  

Have you already been through a kitchen remodeling experience? Were your expectations met, or did you have to make adjustments to your wishlist or budget along the way? Please, share your thoughts and experience with us!!



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