Less up Top: In this kitchen, Michalowski used open shelves instead of upper cabinets to create an open feel and to lower costs, as well as allowing more space for lighting.
Custom Kitchens & Design Less up Top: In this kitchen, Michalowski used open shelves instead of upper cabinets to create an open feel and to lower costs, as well as allowing more space for lighting.

In a tight economy, saving money on cabinets could mean the difference between a client signing a contract or not. But simply accepting a lower-quality cabinet will not likely excite many clients. Instead, they may respond better to clever strategies for getting a high-end look for a deal of a price. In the projects shown here, remodeling industry pros share their tactics for putting so much extra value into a kitchen remodel that otherwise reluctant clients could find themselves swayed.


Money-Saving Tips

  • Specify shorter upper cabinets. They cost less, allow space for can lights, and make the ceiling look taller.
  • Buy and design with the largest boxes available. A 42-inch cabinet costs less than combining a 15-inch and a 27-inch cabinet, says Jodi Swartz, a designer at Encore Construction Co., in Sudbury, Mass.
  • Mix several finishes in one kitchen. If a client loves the look of a painted or special finish, use the special finish on the island, but keep the perimeter cabinets natural wood. Wood cabinets cost 10% to 25% less than painted cabinets, according to Swartz.
  • Use patterned or obscure glass on glass-front doors so cabinet interiors need not be finished, which can save money.
  • Sometimes wider drawers can throw off proportions in a kitchen. Rather than using two drawer cabinets (with the additional costs of drawer boxes and glides), use two drawer fronts attached to one box.
  • Use overlay doors and drawers, which are less expensive than inset cabinetry.
  • Opt to reface cabinets if they are solid and in good condition.
  • Recycle old cabinetry by using it in another part of the home.
Economical Wood: Knotty alder cabinetry enhances the cabin-like relaxed look and is very cost-effective, designer Sarah Michalowski of Sawhill Custom Kitchens & Design, in Minneapolis, says.

Brighter White: White melamine interiors are less expensive than wood and provide better contrast for aging-in-place clients or those with vision problems.
Sawhill Custom Kitchens & Design Economical Wood: Knotty alder cabinetry enhances the cabin-like relaxed look and is very cost-effective, designer Sarah Michalowski of Sawhill Custom Kitchens & Design, in Minneapolis, says. Brighter White: White melamine interiors are less expensive than wood and provide better contrast for aging-in-place clients or those with vision problems.