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Save Money on Materials

Marble and granite countertops; state-of-the-art imported fixtures and appliances; hand-crafted, hand-painted wall and floor tiles; custom cabinetry in high-end, furniture-grade woods…the list of luxury materials is endless. If you can’t afford them all, choose the ones that matter most to you — and find artful substitutes for the rest. A few examples:

  • Marble and granite countertops. If you make pastry, you’ll want a marble inset in your countertop, but you don’t need to be rolling in dough to have it. Compare the cost of real marble and granite to look-alike laminates, and you may decide on the synthetic for the rest of your countertops. Specify a rolled edge to eliminate the back wall seam. If you must have the real thing, specify marble or granite tiles: Nine-inch or 12-inch squares are easier to fabricate and install than running-foot slabs and, therefore, are much less costly.If famous-name solid-surfacing material is way out of your price range, look for similar solid-surfacing brands that are less expensive. Or choose a plain, matte-finish ivory laminate, and use a rolled edge. 
  • Handmade, custom-colored, imported ceramic wall tiles. Beautiful, artistic, and costly, hand-colored tiles may be too expensive to use throughout but just right as borders and accents. Choose a compatible plain tile for most of the installation, and save the custom pieces for eye-level areas such as the backsplash or a border around a breakfast nook window. 
  • Luxury flooring. Ceramic tile, oak planking with contrasting wood insets and butterfly ties, and marble or granite flooring may be out of reach, but today’s handsome vinyl flooring isn’t. All these looks and more are available at several price points. You probably know how easy no-wax vinyl is to keep looking new, but you may be surprised by how close to the natural materials these floors look. Choose sheet vinyl for seamless easy care, or, if your pattern includes smaller faux-tile designs, you may opt for tile squares you can install yourself.If you want the look of wood flooring, parquet is less costly than planking. The most practical alternative at a price? Wood-look laminates that get their realistic appearance from a photographic process that captures the graining and variations of genuine wood. For a cutting-edge look, consider concrete with color added during installation. It’s an easy way to bring commercial kitchen chic home. 
  • Custom cabinetry. Many cabinetscome in such a wide array of stock sizes and shapes, they assure a virtually custom fit. Use stock cabinets wherever you can, and have matching, custom pieces fabricated to fill in odd spaces. If your budget says pine or oak but your heart says cherry or maple, you may prefer painted rather than stained cabinets to disguise the more prominent grains of the lower-cost woods.The look of freestanding furniture in the kitchen is hot right now, so you may want to use mostly painted cabinets and splurge on a breakfront or other freestanding unit in the wood of your choice. To finish off the custom look, replace ho-hum hardware with novelty pulls and handles on cabinets and drawers. From pewter forks to verdigris brass leaves, a wealth of style-setting hardware options are available. 

Ryan, Mary Wynn.  “How to Design a Kitchen”  29 September 2006.  HowStuffWorks.com.

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