If budget doesn't allow you to create your dream kitchen in one shot, don't compromise. If you must, do it in phases.
WHERE TO INVEST NOW:
Layout: This is the time to open the floor plan, tear out walls, add an island, and rearrange the flow. Having an open plan kitchen that can adjoin itself with another great room makes homes more sellable and attractive in today's market.
Infrastructure: Get the framing, subfloor, windows, plumbing, and electrical right or all those new finishes and appliances won't perform as expected. You never want to cut yourself short in the areas that will bite you in the butt later on. It is always easy to update or change the aesthetics of things, but never easy if the infrastructure needs work. For instance, if you are hoping to install a prep sink in your island sometime in the future, plumb for it right away because it requires running pipes through the floor.
Cabinets: Go for quality construction, premium glides and hinges, and as many cabinets as you can afford. Most quality custom cabinet lines promise a lifetime warranty on the finish and hardware. This is important to look for because no one wants to have to replace cabinets after just a few years. They should last a lifetime, especially when the cost of the cabinets is almost 50% of the entire remodel.
Countertops: Conventional wisdom may say to phase-in upscale countertops, but demolishing the old and installing new can damage your cabinets and plumbing. Solid surface countertops like granite and quartz don't come cheap either. Countertops are usually the next priority behind cabinets.
WHAT CAN WAIT FOR LATER
New appliances: Unless you're changing their size or configuration, your old range and refrigerator will work just fine until you get your next tax return. Most appliances are easy to replace, and if you know you will be making that change in the future, make sure to allow for the needed space for the appliances, i.e. refrigerator, range, ovens.
Pricey light fixtures:Throw in cheap placeholders while you've got the electrician on hand. You can easily replace lights yourself once the wiring is complete.
Splurge-worthy faucet:You can get a decent faucet for less than $75.00 that'll tide you over for months or even years. Just make sure the drill-outs in your countertop match the configuration of your future faucet. This isn't always the best recommendation, but as long as the faucet is temporary it will work just fine.
Backsplash:Paint the walls above the counter with a scrubbable semigloss paint to protect them while you save up for that glass mosaic. Holding off also gives new cabinets time to settle, thus preventing grout and caulk problems at the seam where the backsplash meets the counter.
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