Kitchen Renovation Saves & Splurges

Making generalizations when it comes to where to spend money on a kitchen renovation can be tricky. What’s important to one person may not be important to another – particularly when it comes to those who love to cook and those who don’t. But when it comes to ROI there are certain elements that are more important than others. Here are my recommendations on where you can save money, and where you should splurge.


Save – Tile

Some people disagree with this because they want the tile to be a feature, but good-looking, good-quality tile can be found for cheap so I say save on the tile and use the savings to invest in the counter. That said, if you’ve fallen in love with a really expensive tile use it as a feature in a small area and surround it with a less expensive tile. If you try to use an expensive tile all over you’ll see how quickly the cost of your kitchen renovation goes up.

Splurge – Countertops

If you have the budget nothing beats a quality stone countertop. They’re durable, they offer a great ROI, and they look great. Since countertops take a lot of beatings (dishes clanging, spills, knives scraping, etc.) making the investment in something that won’t get damaged is well worth the price. If you’re unsure of which is the best for you check out my countertop pros and cons.

Save – Cabinets

Custom cabinets are great if you have the budget, but if you’re looking for a place to save money there’s no reason not to go with flat-pack or (my personal favourite) semi-custom cabinetry. These standard-size cabinets have come a long way and now you can get great-looking, well-made cabinets for a fraction of the cost of custom. You can even give them a custom look by trimming them out and adding high-end hardware. Or consider open shelving instead of upper cabinets. If you’re comfortable with having your dishes exposed it’s a great money-saving option.

Splurge – Hardware

Since cabinet knobs, pulls and handles are used all the time it’s worth it to invest in ones that feel good and are top quality. I always say that whatever you touch regularly in a house should feel good. Also, when your hardware looks dated and damaged it can make your whole kitchen feel that way. Given that the investment is relatively small, splurge on the best looking and best quality hardware you can find.

Save – Sink

Sure, sinks see a lot of action, but it’s not necessary to spend a big chunk of change, especially if it’s an undermount. There are plenty of perfectly good stainless steel options that are durable and look just fine that can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. No need to spend a fortune on something you can’t afford.

Splurge – Faucet

Just like with cabinet hardware, you can literally feel the difference between good quality faucets and bad. Something sturdy that works well is a must. I also highly recommend a pull-down model because it will make washing dishes much easier.

Save – Lighting

Kitchen lighting is very important for safety, functionality and decorative purposes, but the good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot to achieve any of these things. As long as you have the appropriate ambient and task lighting focused in the right places you can increase your ROI. Check out my kitchen lighting tips for more info.

Splurge – Appliances

Since appliances are something you use every day you want something you can count on. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy top-of-the-line models full of features you’ll never use, but it does mean it’s worth it to buy quality appliances with good warranties. And yes, I recommend splurging on stainless steel. It’s versatile enough to fit in with different styles of kitchens and it’s unlikely it will go out of style any time soon.

Save – Flooring

The great thing about kitchen flooring is that you don’t have to go high end in order to get a decent return. Tile and hardwood floors are considered the most desirable, but vinyl, linoleum, cork and laminate are all fine choices that won’t compromise your ROI. No matter what you choose they key is to make sure it ties in with everything else in the room (cabinets, countertops, tile, etc) and if your floor plan is open concept make sure it flows with the rest of the space.


Kitchen renovations can be very expensive and it doesn’t take much to go over-budget. But if you know where it’s safe to save and where it’s a good idea to splurge you can still create a stylish and efficient kitchen without compromising your ROI.

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