Warm-toned patchwork tile backsplash in a modern Manhattan kitchen.

Where To Splurge And Where To Save When Creating A Dream Kitchen

Originally contributed by Trent Weston • last updated 2/11/2021

When it comes to interior design, budget-balancing is a necessary requirement for any DIY project, renovation, or remodel. 

Knowing when to splurge and when to save is a must to achieve the dream design you’ve always wanted. The goal is to fill your space with the style and decor that matches your vision without completely emptying your wallet in the process. 

This is precisely what Veda founder Lyndsey Butler did when she overhauled her congested, dysfunctional, eye-sore of a kitchen in her New York City apartment. 

Vincent Dilio
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Architectural Digest

With a kitchen featuring an unwanted aggregation of limited storage and counter space, a misplaced, low, back-pain provoking sink, broken dishwasher, and tired, unrefined furnishings and decor, something had to be done. 

Lyndsey, soon expecting her first child, thought enough is enough. It was finally time to upgrade the kitchen that didn’t match the rest of the design-forward space she calls home.

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Michelle Zacks Designs

The kitchen, covering an area of roughly 80 square feet, needed to epitomize the notion that small spaces can be functional and fabulous. So Lyndsey teamed up with her friend and interior designer, Michelle Zacks

What the duo was able to accomplish was nothing short of spectacular. While the final budget came in at $30,000, much of this was spent on high-end, top of the line appliances. A splurge deemed necessary by this culinarily-inclined young family.

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Michelle Zacks Design

However, the real star is the unique patchwork tile backsplash, infusing warmth and luxury into the tiny space. A beautiful mixture of cream, copper, and terracotta-colored stone took the kitchen to the next level.

Clé Tile

A clé tile strata linea backsplash was the expensive element in the decor scheme. And while a focal point for sure, the other more budget-friendly components didn’t pale in comparison. Rather, they expertly complemented the space as a whole.

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Michelle Zacks Design

Where the cost savings started was a practical, yet equally gorgeous, white oak natural wood butcher block countertop.

Not only do they look high-end without high-end prices, but they essentially turn your kitchen surfaces into one big prep and cutting area. 

They’re easy to install, wash, and if you want to replace them down the line to freshen things up, it won’t break the bank.

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Michelle Zacks Design

The upper cabinets are courtesy of everyone’s favorite Swedish, ready-to-assemble furniture conglomerate, Ikea. 

Using Ikea Ringhult High Gloss White Fronts, the kitchen boasts clean lines and spaciousness in an area that could otherwise feel cramped. 

Opting to forego hardware on the cabinet uppers enhances this sense of cleanliness.

Semihandmade

The lowers are these beautiful navy-blue Semihandmade Sarah Sherman Samuel Night Sky Beaded Fronts cabinets.

Sarah Sherman Samuel

And to complete them, stunning brass Sarah Sherman Samuel The Mackinaw Pulls for handles. 

The cabinet door pulls, milled from solid brass, while not exactly on the cheap side, really highlight the rich color palette, and give the space a magazine-worthy appeal. 

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Michelle Zacks Design

The floating shelf above the tile is Semihandmade Oak, providing equal parts feature and function. It looks stunning, adds warmth, and offers extra storage.

Floating shelves above tile backsplashes are a definitive winner in our books and an easy DIY project that can be tackled in a weekend. 

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Michelle Zacks Design

For flooring, Lyndsey wanted something that “felt clean and modern.” The building itself, with wooden beams and exposed brick reminiscent of the early 20th-century building’s industrial heritage, produced the ideal juxtaposition to this modern kitchen.

White oak hardwood floors reflect the apartment’s abundance of natural light, opening up the kitchen and establishing a more spacious vibe.

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Michelle Zacks Design

When asked for some insights on the remodel, Lyndsey exclaimed that the appliances and backsplash were the most expensive purchases, stating, “We could have done the backsplash for a lot less, but we wanted that design element to make it feel a little more high-end.”

The big saves came from the Ikea cabinets and butcher block countertops. And while they were the cost-savers, we think they look equally impressive and certainly don’t draw focus from the high-end mentality that went into this remodel. 

Vincent Dilio
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Michelle Zacks Designs

When re-examining what she would have done differently, it only came down to timing. The world was suddenly facing a pandemic right as Lyndsey was in the middle of the remodel. This, understandably, slowed construction, delayed deliveries, and complicated the process. 

Lindsey’s friend and interior designer, Michelle, joked, “Don’t start a gut renovation project with a heavily pregnant client three weeks before quarantine.”

Now that the kitchen’s completed, Lyndsey’s happy she’s not washing dishes in the bathtub anymore. 

Her brand new kitchen exemplifies the impact that can be created through the combination of higher- and lower-priced interior design ingredients. And the notion that you can save even more when you do it yourself really adds to the allure.

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