Budget Series Part 3: Investing in Cabinetry


As I have mentioned before, one of the most important parts of a remodel is the cabinetry; especially in kitchens and baths. Cabinet construction could be the single largest expense of your entire renovation, and the results are the most obvious visual proof of your investment, so this can feel like a heavy decision. In my opinion, custom quality cabinetry is a must if you plan to stay in your home for multiple years and get lots of use out of your kitchen. Let’s face it, kitchens are a high traffic area and if you have kids or a large family, you’ll likely be doing a lot of cooking and entertaining in this space!

Quality is key! I often have clients who compare stock cabinetry (for example - cabinets from Ikea or HomeDepot) prices to the semi-custom or custom cabinetry we offer at Troo Designs KBI. The truth is they are not comparable! Yes, custom cabinetry is often a higher cost, but there is a reason. Semi-custom and custom cabinets offer higher quality materials in sturdier thicknesses that last longer. Custom cabinets typically use sturdier construction methods lending to better quality. A few examples:

Cabinet Box Materials: Particle board and MDF; two common materials for stock cabinets. These materials tend to have a shorter life span than plywood and wood. 1/2” particle board will not last as long as 3/4” furniture-grade plywood cabinet base. Solid wood doors and drawers will endure more usage over the years.

Drawer Boxes: On most custom cabinetry lines, you will see wooden drawer boxes with dovetail joints that interlock to distribute weight and stress more evenly, whereas stock cabinetry may use nut, bolt, and nail methods. These methods tend to wear quickly. 

Hardware: Custom cabinets offer options for tougher and more durable hardware like soft close hinges and drawer glides. 

Storage Options: Custom cabinetry provide built-in storage options designed to reclaim wasted space and optimize the space you already have. These storage solutions are built with high-quality materials.

Overall custom cabinetry is simply made to fit your space and lifestyle. You can never go wrong with this investment!

Budget Series Part 2: Designing for a Short-Term Investment

Whether you’re renovating an older home or simply making a few cosmetic changes, it’s important to make cost effective decisions. In this post, I am discussing some tips to add the most value to your investment.

I recommend starting by understanding and researching your neighborhood. Focus on the house style first, not your style. It is important to gain insight into what homebuyers are looking for in that area. For example, are the homes contemporary or traditional? What is the standard quality of flooring, countertops, appliances, etc.? Your neighborhood comps will help you choose the right style, color, and materials for your home. It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of expectations. This will ultimately help you manage your budget and choose appropriate and affordable materials that will help add value to your home.

An experienced designer will be able to design by celebrating the original style of the home and neighborhood while adding in new elements with an upgraded, high-end feel. Focus on open floor concepts and minimalist designs which tend to be favorable for new buyers. This may mean you spend your money removing walls to open up spaces or refurbishing old hardwood floors. One important area to focus on that can make or break your home sale is your kitchen and bathrooms! Most home buyers are in search of homes with quality upgrades on cabinetry, appliances and plumbing fixtures. 

Don’t go overboard! A few accent pieces can impress home buyers and complete the look. Homebuyers want something unique. They want architectural details and pieces that look and feel one-of-a-kind. You can infuse pops of color through artwork, photography, accessories, window treatments, and even greenery. I love adding plants and flowers to any home because they bring warmth! Accent walls with tile, stone, wall paper or reclaimed wood are a fun way to add visual appeal to a home. A few unique lighting fixtures are a wise investment and placement can create a focal point for the eye. Maintaining a neutral and light color palette and avoiding trends will make the home feel warm and inviting and create a timeless look. A good designer will help differentiate this.

The home pictured below was purchased as a short-term investment. I worked with the homeowners to re-design the exterior of this home for curb appeal and the interior space for functionality and visual appeal. The homeowners were very wise and understanding when it came to investing in the right items. A few changes on the exterior including a new front door and garage door, helped to update the homes look while maintaining uniformity within the neighborhood. Because shiplap is what I would consider a classical trend, the homeowners invested in a beautiful accent wall that that will help the resale value for years to come. We resourcefully saved money by reusing old flooring to build a sliding barn door; a unique architectural element. Money was well spent on quality plumbing fixtures and ceiling fans (one thing I always suggest spending the extra dollar on since they are used regularly and can get costly to replace). We carefully selected affordable yet beautiful light fixtures in order to avoid standard options. Complete upgrades were made to the kitchen and bathrooms (take a look at those walnut vanities from Troo Designs!) adding major value to the home. All said and done, this renovation cost around $150 per square foot. Check out the before and after photos below!

If this is your first renovation then I highly suggest you work with a designer! We understand home trends and have resources that can help you see a higher return on your investment. With an eye for detail, small items are not overlooked, ultimately lending to perfection for the homebuyer.

Budget Series Part 1: Expectations vs. Budget

In this budget series we’re discussing the topic that everyone dreads: your decorating budget. Whether you recently moved into a new home, are flipping a home or maybe just want a fresh look, there is one inevitable question: How much is this going to cost? Renovating, redecorating, or even just staging a home to sell it can be an expensive undertaking. Whether you have $10,000 or $100,000 to spend, you can create a beautiful space – the key is setting a realistic budget that fulfills your needs and expectations.

If you’re starting to explore a renovation, you may be asking yourself the following questions: Where do I start? What is worth splurging on? What even is my style? How do I attain what I envision my place looking like while staying within a reasonable budget? The reality is designing your home, finding your style, and building an eclectic collection that fits you is tough. It is time-consuming. You may have been inspired by images found on Houzz or other social media outlets, but the reality is, it’s way over your budget. Here is where I recommend starting:

1. Understand your space. 

For example, are you designing your forever home or simply flipping a home to gain profit? Before you can start looking at the potential cost of your project, you’ll need to figure out exactly what you want your space to look like. Create a list of items you like and dislike about your current design. It is important to carefully align your needs with your budget. Make a list of items that are absolutely must-haves, and ensure that their costs are covered first and foremost. This is a great time to put a story board together to help with your must-have list!

2. Determine the costs in comparison with your budget. 

It’s important to be realistic with your budget expectations – you don’t want to get halfway through your project and realize that you just can’t afford to keep going. Determine an amount you would feel comfortable spending even if you don’t know the exact costs. Most likely you have a figure in mind to get started. As you continue to develop your final budget, refer back to this number to make sure you’re staying on track. This could also be a collaborative process between you and your designer. Almost everyone tends to go over their budget so it’s important to create a breakdown that provides a contingency of about 15 to 20 percent. I recommend having this to cover unforeseen issues that may arise during a project.

3. Show your cards. 

From firsthand experience, it becomes tough to give you what you want without knowing what you want to pay for it. By showing your designer your budget, they’ll be able to tell you if the amount is reasonable and help maximize your funds. A professional designer will also be able to tell you what is cost worthy and ensure you’re spending wisely! 

Stay tuned for future posts in this series where I will explore tips and costs associated with designing a lifelong ‘dream home’ and also costs associated with a short-term investment property. I will discuss where best to spend money in both situations without skimping on quality, along with ways to prioritize. For more help getting started on your design project, contact us. We’d love to work with you and make sure that your investment pays off with a functional, aesthetically pleasing space!