kitchen design

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!

Black is the New Neutral

This kitchen is one of my most recent East Austin projects and demands to be noticed. Its dramatic black cabinetry, proper lighting, unique accents and lighter surfaces were the secrets to its success. Most home owners tend to worry that black cabinetry will make a space feel smaller, which nobody wants, but I’ll explain how I made it all work…


But first I have to mention how this client actually loved color and patterns, blue being her favorite color! If you can’t tell from my work, I personally love color too so this neutral and minimalist design was quite the balance needed in the home. We decided to save the fun patterns and bold colors for the four bathrooms (see photos below!) and designed the kitchen to be the grounding center with one major piece as a focal point…the stunning royal blue La Cornue oven.


Choosing the right flooring and counters to keep the space neutral and airy was a must! Not only was the countertop material important on this project but the design of the material. I quickly fell in love with the vision of a marble like quartz counter wrapping both ends of the island, tucking black cabinetry underneath. The same quartz was also used as a backsplash. This sleek effect lightened the center of the space and created a comfortable seating area. The engineered white oak wide plank flooring was light enough to stay subtle but unique enough to complete the room by creating balance.

Lighting played a huge roll in allowing the space to feel open and who doesn’t love a well lit kitchen? Natural light flooded this space and with the use of a few stunning light fixtures there was little to no concern of feeling dark. The two acrylic and gold pendants over the island quickly became a conversation piece and some of my favorites.

With the La Cornue range as the focal point in the kitchen, I was mindful in keeping decorative elements at a minimum. Brass hardware and elegant plumbing fixtures were beautiful accents to the black cabinetry. Large vases filled with a touch of spring brought comfort to the space as finishing touches. Happy Spring!


Pictured below are a few of the bathroom tile designs I did, bringing color and personality to the space.