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Craving a new kitchen counter? Read about the five freshest materials for your cooking space. 

Your Kitchen Renovation Budget: What to Spend On, What to Skip

If your renovation wish list is supersized and your budget isn’t, take a look at the best ways to allocate those bucks.

The first rule of renovation: Prioritize. If you’re a serious cook, put your money where your frying pan is and invest in professional-style appliances. Or if you crave a designer look, install something with wow factor, like an exotic stone countertop, suggests Angie Gardeck, owner of New Perspective Design, a Chicago-area interior design firm. Base the rest of your choices around your priority item.

Spend: Cabinets

It’s an open-and-shut case: The household rummages in them multiple times a day looking for dishes, glasses, the bag of Oreos you hid way in the back. Since cabinets add a major visual impact to the room, they’re a worthy investment, Gardeck says. You can drop the cost by purchasing stock cabinetry and adding finishes and moldings to dress them up, or by painting existing cabinets that are in good condition.

Spend: Faucet

“Like a lamp in a living room, a kitchen faucet draws your eye in to the space. Especially if it’s near a window,” Gardeck says.

But your faucet needs to be more than just eye candy. It also needs to make your life easier and make cleaning up a snap. And it needs to be there for you through thick and thin, good casseroles and bad. And hey, if it turns on with just the tap of your wrist or forearm, even better! Need proof that such faucets exist? Look no further than Delta’s Trinsic™ collection, which comes equipped with Touch2O® technology.

Skip: Designer Knobs and Pulls

You won’t recoup the cost when you resell your house, and you can find excellent design for just a few dollars at home improvement stores.

Spend: Appliances

An efficient new kitchen’s BFFs are electrical feats of wonder. But no need to go top-of-the-line: Buy standard appliances in a rich finish such as stainless steel for a high-end look.

Spend: Countertops

They give a kitchen style and personality and are a beautiful way to add color to the room. To stretch your dollars and still get a high-end look, choose a simple, affordable material for the perimeter countertops and a flashier remnant piece of granite for the island.

Skip: A Warming Drawer

When you don’t have one, you think you need one,” Gardeck says. “Then once you get one, unless you entertain a lot, you’ll never use it—like me!”

Spend: Lighting

Giving you a lot of bang for your buck, lighting creates the room’s mood. Besides the main fixtures, don’t forget about undercabinet lights, which brighten up dark spaces and add ambience.

Spend: Open Floor Plan

Knocking down the wall between your kitchen and dining room will make the space feel and look bigger without changing either room’s footprint.

Skip: Radiant Floor Heating

If you’re worried that your porcelain floor tiles will freeze your tootsies in the morning, install wood flooring—or buy a pair of cozy slippers instead.