Would Have if I Could Have

Let’s talk “would have if I could have.” Shane and I went into our kitchen renovation with a budget in mind. The truth is we are dangerously close  we have probably capped out on what our little 2 bedroom house is worth. Putting too much more money into it just isn’t a sound financial investment. That being said, Shane and I want to make this house last as long as we can, because the cost of living here is so cheap. We knew if we didn’t make some major improvements we’d be ready to jump ship. It doesn’t make sense for us to live in our dream house right now with Shane traveling so much for work. We lived in our house less than 6 months in 2013. So we set out to create a kitchen that was beautiful, functional, but not outrageously expensive. Let’s talk the ins and outs of what we splurged on and what I would have splurged on if this was our dream home.







Originally, we had planned on buying the stock white cabinets at Lowe’s

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I kind of had my heart set on an all white kitchen, but the stock cabinets just didn’t feel right. You could tell the quality just wasn’t the same, and I’ve been told that the finish that’s on them tends to yellow over time. I know I didn’t want that. So instead, we went with special order cabinets. The dark brown (nearly black) was the best and cheapest option within the special order cabinets. The white cabinets in the special order section are more expensive, because they are a better quality wood that has been painted white. At first, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the dark cabinets, but then I started to put some things together in my mind and knew we could pull it off. I’m extremely happy with the outcome for a few reasons. The number one reason I’m happy we went this direction is that, with stock cabinets you have to make the sizes they carry work for your space.


Our biggest issue was that the bar/desk area we wanted in our dinning room required base cabinets more shallow then the standard base cabinet. It would have been a nightmare (although, probably not impossible) to custom fit a standard base cabinet. The other benefit is that you can make sure you have wall to wall cabinet storage. When cabinets are built to fit your space, there is virtually no dead space. Beyond the functionality, they just plain look better. You get what you pay for. I’m incredibly happy we went the direction we did with the special order cabinets, and the people at Lowe’s were so helpful planning it all out. It was a bit of a splurge that I’m happy we made.

Now, if price wasn’t an issue, I think I still would have preferred a kitchen with beautiful white cabinets like this…

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Of course, that insanely beautiful window doesn’t hurt. Will I do white cabinets in my next house? Possibly…Probably, but in our current house (where resale is such a big factor) it just didn’t make sense to splurge that much.




I had such a hard time finding lighting for our house. I spent so much time on Pinterest trying to find the perfect lights for our kitchen. I needed two pendant lights for over our sink. I looked, and looked, and looked, and then I fell in love with these…

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The only problem…They were all WAY too expensive. Maybe it’s been a while since you have looked around at lighting, let me tell you…it’s painful! Although I’m trying to get away from using Ikea more and more, sometimes you just can’t deny that they have a cheaper alternative. So, I went for it and got these for $24.99 a pop. Maybe it isn’t love, but it’s definitely strong like, and the bank account is happy too.


In my next kitchen I would definitely spring for a bit more of a high end light fixture.




Next up, let’s talk countertops.  We went with Formica Solid Surface countertops. It’s a manmade solid surface with the look and feel of stone, but with a lower price point.


From far away they just read white, but they have a slight speckle. The speckle is important to me because a solid color surface tends to show everything, every crumb and every dust particle. There were other options and brands that had a bit more of a real stone look, but they also had higher price points to go with it. If this were a forever home those other looks might have been a better option. There are a few really great things about solid surface countertops. They are less porous than natural stone, so they don’t stain, and you never have to seal them like natural stone. It’s a toss up on what I would do in my next house. You can’t beat the look of natural stone, but durability is huge factor for me. I’m not certain my search for the perfect countertop is over. I’m just not sure what I would put in my forever home. I’m a huge sucker for the timeless look of marble. So if I had to make the decision today, I would probably choose that for my next house.

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One place Shane and I decided to splurge a bit was the sink.


This is an Ikea sink, which certainly helps with the price, but at $312 there are certainly cheaper sink options. We knew that in a small kitchen the sink would really be a focal point so it was important to me to have a statement sink. Let me tell you, I’m in love with the sink, and I’d probably choose it again for my next house.





The sink is fantastic, but if this was our forever home, I would have probably chosen a different faucet. I am currently in love with faucets that are not a finish you typically see. If this were my forever home I would have went for a brass or an oil rubbed bronze faucet. Maybe something like this one…

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Or this since it literally makes my heart skip beats…

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Again, since this isn’t our forever home, I went with a safer and cheaper option and have opted to try and get additional finishes in less permanent ways. Like utensils….

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I don’t have these utensils from West Elm but they are a great way to add additional finishes to your kitchen. Instead, of theses utensils I have brass measuring cups and spoons. There is also brass incorporated into pendant lights, and our cabinet hardware is brass. It’s a good compromise, but If this was our forever home the faucet would have a fancy finish.





Appliances…We basically went with the cheapest modern appliances we could find. We wanted stainless so these Frigidaire Gallery Series appliances did the trick…




If resale wasn’t an issue I would much rather have the hidden built in appliance look and an island cooktop.

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I’d love nothing more than to be able to play a good game of “where’s the refrigerator?” in my kitchen. We knew we would be leaving behind the appliances in the next few years, so the investment of hidden appliances just didn’t seem worth it. The new appliances are still a huge improvement.





Lastly, Let’s talk backsplash…

I’m not sure I’d do anything different. I ADORE the backsplash. The beveled edge subway tile is one of the cheapest options, but I still love it. It’s so clean. It’s very possible I’d still choose to use it in my forever home.





Ultimately, I think my decisions for next the next kitchen renovation would be determined by the style of the house.

It’s fun for me to think about the “would have If I could have” options. I do truly love how this kitchen turned out for our house, but I’m so excited to get to make some higher end choices in our next kitchen!


One thought on “Would Have if I Could Have

  1. Pingback: Budget Kitchen Renovation Plan | Our Home Notebook

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