One of my first questions for all my clients is: “What is your budget?” The most common answer is: “We don’t know!”
So what does it cost and how do you know? My first piece of advice is that it costs way more than you think! I counsel many clients through their sticker shock after watching too much HGTV. Online remodel budgeting calculators are also brutally low. They do not consider where you live, your taste, or the age of our home. Are you moving walls or needing a total plumbing or electrical upgrade? Do you live in a major metropolitan area? Any of these will up your price tag.
My next piece of advice is to share your real budget with your designer. We want to get you the most bang for your buck. An accurate plan helps create dream rooms that hit your budget and helps us introduce you to the right contractor and products. Talk with us early about what you can realistically spend. Then, we can determine whether it is a “paint the cabinets” refresh, a total gut, or somewhere in-between. Sometimes it could mean you should save for another year to get the remodel you want—which is our ultimate goal at the end of a project.
For a kitchen remodel, the biggest budget busters are the contractor, cabinetry, and appliances. These are also where you have the most opportunity to control your costs. Let’s tackle each to better understand these big-ticket budget contributors!
Contractor bids vary wildly. I have seen bids for the same kitchen design vary by $40,000! I would love to say that this is uncommon, but contractor prices are quite an enigma—see my blog post here on how to choose a contractor. Work with a designer to get a good set of detailed design drawings and bid them out with two to three contractors. This will help you compare apples to apples. Then work with us to decipher your bids. Sometimes the lowest bid has left out costs that will be end up being charged later.
On to cabinetry! There is so much to choose from—big box stores, custom shops, design centers, the Amish shop your neighbor used—it is overwhelming! I have designed stunning IKEA kitchens up through custom kitchens with a six-figure cabinet tab—and all were gorgeous. Your designer can navigate what level of cabinetry is a fit for you, your design, and budget. Knowing your budget early helps us design to the level of cabinetry you can afford. Look out for our next blog on how to choose your cabinetry!
Appliances—the techie’s dream area of their remodel! If you even utter the word Sub-Zero expect a hefty appliance budget, with their refrigerators coming in at $8-10K, but it will last forever (in appliance years)! Your whole appliance package can run five figures for a large luxury kitchen. The good news? Many lower end lines now offer very design savvy models. The top brands can’t be beat when it comes to integration into your cabinetry, but the lower-end brands are gorgeous, and often perform just as well if not better. A luxury kitchen can be achieved with either!
For a bath remodel the contractor and tile play the biggest roles, as well as plumbing fixtures. Tile can vary from a $3 per square foot subway to over $100 a square foot mosaic. Price does not always equal luxury when it comes to tile. I have done stunning luxury bathrooms with budget tiles. However, if you are looking for subtle colors, exotic natural stones, or unique patterns expect to pay more.
Plumbing fixtures also run the gamut from $100 to over $1000 for a faucet and everywhere in-between. Work with your designer and local plumbing showroom to find out what their tried and trusted models are. Fixture finish also influences pricing, with chrome being the most budget friendly and moving up from there to polished nickel, brass, etc. As with appliances, price does not always equal quality. Sometimes you are paying more for branding rather than the guts of the fixture. Trust your designer and plumbing showroom to assist in choosing quality brands.
The most common bathroom budget buster is the bathtub. Many clients have started our process with a basic tub budget and then visited the showroom and fell in love with the freestanding, air jet beauty coming in over $5000. I will do my best to guide you, but some love affairs cannot be undone.
As mentioned before, be wary of online calculators and internet averages. There is no replacement for your designer’s assistance in getting the most out of your budget. With contractor bids as varied as snowflakes, the danger of falling in love with that dreamy bathtub, and navigating all the products available, we are ready to get you into your dream room within your dream budget.
Amber Golob Interiors harnesses timeless aesthetics, structure and beauty amid elegance as one of Chicago's premier luxury interior designers. An expert on kitchens and bathrooms, her work embodies modern trends, allowing your life to be rediscovered through intimate definitions of your style.
Live in Chicago or the North Shore?
Schedule a consultation with luxury interior designer, Amber Golob, by contacting her at Amber@AmberGolob.com or calling 773-960-0498.
Live your luxury! Written by Amber Golob and Edited by Kyle Thomas.