Monday, April 27, 2015

the B word....

The word "Budget" is a very important word in my world.
It can be limiting, but very empowering, depending on how you look at it.
We'll get to the B word when building a new house later, but would you ever guess that about 90% of my clients NEVER tell me what their budget is for their projects??
 It's totally true.
How does a designer work without a budget?
I just assume my clients are like me.
Should be a safe assumption when someone hires you based on your work, right?
I spend where I need to for quality and longevity, and spend less where I can be creative.
I admit, I have run into problems when clients do not share the same obsession with throw pillows and overly expensive objects made of acrylic or lucite.
For example:
Ice buckets... with clear legs...



Clear knobs and handles.....

I have, and will, spend way too much money on throw pillows and shiny, clear objects.
I have a problem. I'm working on that.
Not really.
After all, a great looking home is a mix of highs and lows.
When EVERYTHING looks like a million isn't very interesting.
It gets boring. Really fast.
Do you ever look over the pages of Veranda or Elle Décor and think, "WOW! I'm so impressed with what they could pull together with such little money!!"
You don't.
It doesn't leave a lasting impression on people when you can pull together a million dollar look with a million dollars. Duh. With the budget sizes for the projects that get into those magazines, it better look freaking perfect and interesting or else someone has some splainin to do.
More people tear out pages from magazines and pin images on Pinterest where creativity and desperation drove someone to create something beautiful and unique due to budget constraints.
BUT what if you have the taste of someone with a billion dollars and your budget is not even in the same solar system as the people who actually have a billion dollars?
You get creative.
You do things yourself.
You sweat and work hard for what you really want.
Since deciding to build a house, and subsequently going through two home plans, we have come to some clear budget realities. 
One of them being, I clearly can't have all the clear things that I love.
Or can I??
Sometimes a compromise is all it takes.
We will use my first selection for cabinet knobs as an example:
My price was going to be something like $11 each.
Let's say I need at least 12 of them. That's $132.
Not terrible, but once things start adding up, it IS terrible.
I surprisingly found something that I like even more, for less $$:
$6 each
That's half the price of my first pick!
Did you think I would just give up?!?
My first choice in drawer pulls:
Restoration Hardware $18 each.
I need about 25 of them
That is $450!!
Then, I found these....
$8 each.
That is a $250 savings!
The savings for these little compromises in hardware selections add up to about $300.
If a small compromise on a small thing like hardware can easily add up to $300 imagine what other compromises can add up to! Especially when it comes to larger things like cabinets, counters, windows, doors, flooring, and tile.
If kitchens and bathrooms suck up the largest chunks of the budget, then
each seemingly small upgrade on each layer, will easily add up to big dollars.
We will use my kitchen design as an example.
At first, I was drooling over these cabinets...
.....who wouldn't???
There are not one, but TWO, upgrades you are seeing here.
1. An edge that costs more to make because it requires an extra step.
2. Inset fronts.
Each of these upgrades can drive up the cost of the cabinets by 10%.
That means each of these two layers was adding 10%.
This look is very similar:
 It is an overlay cabinet front with very little reveal between each front, which gives the appearance of inset cabinets.
Let's say my "upgraded" kitchen cabinets came in at $17,000.
Then, add the 10%** for each upgrade and these cabinets really cost $20,570!!
**remember you can't just add percentages.
So, if you can compromise and still achieve the look and save $3570......and add that to the $300 savings on hardware, you already have $3870 off the ever increasing total for the kitchen.
We haven't even gotten to the really big things yet.
This was our previous kitchen layout:
LOTS of cabinets! LOTS of counters!
BUT what if you don't want to spend tons of money on cabinets??
How do you fill the space?
My first solution was to spread things out and add a desk area.
Then, I realized that with my office about 4 feet away, I wouldn't even use it, or love the fact that in reality, it would just be an expensive place for the mail.
The estimated cost for the desk area and cabinets surrounding the refrigerator was $4315.
Then I saw this beautiful piece of cabinetry:
And I was like, "who needs a refrigerator anyway?!?!"
Just kidding.
I did think to myself, "welllll, we have that old fridge in the garage...."
I decided to keep the fridge and played around with the layout and moved it to the other wall by the stove. Then, I ditched the desk idea.
It just so happened that the Restoration Hardware Outlet was having a 40% off sale and this cabinet, which is about $4800 online, was marked down to $1450!!
I had to punch a few customers, but it was all mine in the end! 
So, that area by the fridge and the desk that was going to cost $4310 plus the cost of the countertop (at least $300) for the desk, is now down to $1450 AND moving the fridge to the other side removed even more cabinets and counter!
Now, my cabinet quote that was about $17k has now gone down to about $13k by making this change.
The best part is that this beautiful cabinet is way better than my original plan!
No compromise necessary!
Had I not been open to that change, and if my husband did not push me to see the potential, I would have glanced right over that opportunity. In my mind, my kitchen design was done and I had no place for that big thing.
A previous blog post came to mind where I had talked about leaving space in your kitchen for furniture pieces.....way to listen to your own design advice, genius!
To further reduce my cabinet budget, I took out about three and a half feet of cabinets and counters to the left of the sink area.....just enough room for another furniture piece!
Maybe I will incorporate a found plate rack.....
....and put paper plates in it!
Or my squirrel collection!
The opportunities are endless!!
It may take me awhile to find the perfect piece ..or for it to find me, but if a unique kitchen, that IS within budget, is the final result, then it's totally worth the wait!
Just know that you don't really have to settle for things that you don't want. You may have to compromise or look at different options but you never have to invest in things that you don't need or love.
You just have to be creative and give it time to work out.
I will reread that last sentence as a reminder to myself a few hundred times before the days end because although beautiful things are happening, this house building thing is just taking waaaaay tooooo long!
Till next time...

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