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New House Update: Kitchen on a budget

Kitchen cabinet, floor, counter and backsplash choices: Building or remodeling a kitchen on a budget

This is an update in a series about building our house on a budget. You can find the first post of the series here.

So now that the contracts are all signed, the next step to building our new home was to go to the design center. WOW! You can easily turn a $150,000 home into a million dollars within the confines of this showroom. Everything you can imagine is there: 20 colors of brick, 70 types of carpet, 100 kinds of tile. It seems endless.

Really, this new house business is stressful in the extreme. Just the entry price on the house is more than what we were looking to spend, now adding all the little details is going to make that monthly payment hurt a little. We’re approved for it, but being approved is not the same as being comfortable. So, in this design center, we have a strategy to keep our spending in check: We’re only upgrading the details of the house that we can’t do on our own later. In simpler terms, we’re only upgrading with structural changes. No extra paint. No upgraded faucets or light fixtures. No laundry room cabinets. Absolutely no upgraded appliances. So you would think that our time at the design center would be a breeze, right? No way. Figuring out the best color combinations while being extremely mindful of the cost is a huge stress. Here’s how we decided on the kitchen.

Our house comes with granite countertops. There are three color selections without upgrading: a dark black with brown spots, a brownish speckled pattern, and this white and black one that reminds me of chocolate chip ice cream. We went with the chocolate chip ice cream granite and pulled everything together from there. The colors we chose are in the picture below:

Kitchen building or remodel budget busters. Avoid them!

Problem number one: Those sweet espresso cabinets are about $2,000. Yes, we can get a fugly brownish color at no cost, but it wouldn’t go with what we picked. Solution: We’re getting the included brown cabinets and gel staining them to be the espresso color. By cutting this $2,000 expense, we were able to splurge $235 on cabinet moulding and another $275 for a cabinet above the refrigerator.

Problem number two: That lovely color of tile in the picture (it was supposed to be ordered that color, but long tiles) was going to run us over $7,000. Mind you, were going to run it through the entire downstairs, but still, we didn’t *love* the choice of tile. It was just the cheapest long tile we could get. When we thought about it, $7,000 for a tile we didn’t love seemed silly. So we looked at another option. Enter: Vinyl.

Vinyl flooring can be a lifesaver over tile

Yes, vinyl. You know it. You probably hate it. Me, I love it! I know it’s excessively cheap, but, it cleans up so well. In our old house, we had the vinyl replaced by tile and I hated the tile. I hated the stress of “what if we break a tile?” and I hated the sound the tile made. Most of all, I hated the grout. I have a thing about grout. Not just that it stains, but that it catches so much dirt and dust and God knows what else. It’s gross. I don’t think a lot of people get that. Grout is gross. And here I was about to spend $7,000 to have the privilege of dealing with grout everywhere in my home.

As it turns out, vinyl is not only groutless and super easy to take care of, but when building a home, can actually deduct cost from your baseline price. Seriously, it’s a negative number. It’s the only item in our 60-page options packet that does that. By changing from the tile we had picked to the vinyl, we shaved over $8,000 off of what we were initially going to spend on our kitchen. That allowed us to upgrade our backsplash!

Dark gray kitchen backsplash

For backsplash options, you can get the large tile like on the floors for no additional cost. Personally, I hate that look. I think it looks like floor tiles on a wall. In what other situation would you ever put your flooring onto your wall? Seriously. What I do love are those teeny-tiny tiles and glass mosaics with various colors. It’s so gorgeous. Sadly, those little tiles would cost over $2,000 in our new house. The solution was a mid-range upgrade. We went with subway tile. All the subway tiles in the design center were priced identically. So to do our kitchen in subway tile, the cost is $590. It’s a bit steep (and again, I’m not in love), but by not doing the flooring or the cupboards, a concession can be made on the backsplash. And really, with the colors we were going with, there were a few nice choices in the subway tile.

Light gray kitchen backsplash

Now, since we said we’re only upgrading structural items, why then would we upgrade the tile backsplash? Personally, I consider it structural just based on the amount of work that would have to go in to having old tile removed and new tile laid. The same way I consider a door upgrade a structural upgrade: It’s something that we can’t reasonably do on our own.

It’s really exciting to know that with our small budget, we can make choices that are going to allow us to afford a brand new house. I hope you all enjoy this journey with me and follow along as we make budgeting choices, build our home and then complete it with a near never-ending, ever-growing list of DIY projects.

Welcome to everyone visiting from the following awesome link parties:

The Dedicated House 

Live Randomly Simple

Texas Women Bloggers

Our Three Peas
Two Little Cavaliers

City Of Creative Dreams



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11 thoughts on “New House Update: Kitchen on a budget

  1. This is INCREDIBLE. It gives me so many ideas as to how we can remodel our kitchen and not spend so much. Thanks so much for linking this up to Totally Terrific Tuesday last week. We hope to see you again! It will be LIVE tonight at 9pm CST. Hope to see you there!


    1. Christine says:

      Oh my gosh! Thanks so much for stopping by Sharon! I can’t wait to see what comes up at Totally Terrific Tuesday this week!

  2. Hello cute lady! This looks so amazing.Pinned and tweeted. We appreciate you taking the time to stop by and party with us. It wouldn’t be a party without you! I hope to see you tonight at 7 pm. Lou Lou Girls

    1. Christine says:

      Eek! Oh my gosh! Thank you so much! I’m completely in love with LouLouGirls

  3. Thanks for sharing these great tips for reducing the cost when building! Love the practical ideas. Thanks for linking up at Motivational Monday. Hope to see you again next week!

    1. Christine says:

      Thanks Becky! You will definitely see me next week. 🙂 Thanks for the link up!

  4. These are some great renovation ideas. I love finding ways to save money and being able to use that money on something else that I wouldn’t normally buy. Great job with decorating by the way.

    Thanks for linking up at Motivational Monday Link Party
    Bethany from The Southern Couture

    1. Christine says:

      Hi Bethany! Thanks for the link up and for stopping by!! I’ll be posting lots of these tips as we go along. Hope you’ll come back again 🙂

  5. I love house stuff. I would love granite! We have faux granite. Our budget is super duper tiny. I wish you well with your house plans! Found you today via Totally Terrific Tuesday

    1. Christine says:

      Glad you found me! Thanks for the comment!

      Our budget is pretty small as well. We’re very lucky to live in a competitive area for homebuilders. But a lot of the pretty things in this house will be DIY for sure.

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