fbpx Balancing The Save & The Splurge

Balancing The Save & The Splurge

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Posted on Nov 3, 2017

Being a first time homeowner comes with a special set of challenges - one of the biggest being updating a less than stellar kitchen on a tight budget. I'm here to show you that breathing new life into a kitchen doesn't necessarily translate into a full renovation that breaks the bank. This quaint eat-in kitchen was designed with a future move and bottom line in mind; while we did a little splurging on key elements that would help the resale, we saved on decorative choices that helped keep our costs down. Keep reading for all the tips you'll need to navigate your own mini kitchen reno!
Eat-in Kitchen designed by Lindsey Levy

The Save

There's nothing in the rule book that says you have to splurge on every element of a redesign. Here are a few of my favourite balancing tricks when keeping your spending in check.


Repaint, don't Replace! 

Rather than spending money on replacing the plain Jane door, we added a welcome pop of colour by painting it a saturated grey. Plus, dark paint helps hide little flaws like dents and scratches.

The Magic of Distraction 

When renovating, your budget doesn’t always allow for replacing every outdated element - and the floor tile found in this kitchen and dining area is no exception! To create a little distraction magic, we added a colourful vintage kilim runner. The effects are threefold: it breaks up the starkness of the white walls, gives a little extra warmth underfoot, and makes for a simple style switcheroo when the mood strikes. The eat-in dining area was accented with another splash of colour, this time in the form of a stain forgiving, vintage Persian rug.  

Cabinet Conversion: Hardware Edition

Since we were only replacing one wall of cabinetry, we had to keep the same Ikea door profile as the existing side. To add a little drama, we incorporated these amazing matte black knobs from Top Knob. They fit the existing holes, matched the new Brizo faucet and I love the hit of black against all of the white. It may be a bold choice, but it makes for an easy swap if the new homeowner doesn’t like it.

Light up your life with practical pendants!  

I’ve always loved the simplicity of this Muuto pendant: the rubber composition gives it an industrial look, yet it adds a playful, soft element to the hard surfaces in the kitchen. Bonus points for the dark charcoal colour referencing back to the freshly painted grey door. This Ikea pendant light found in the dinette is further proof that you don’t need to break the bank to add stylish lighting to your space. Under $100, the scale gives the pendant light presence while the woven bamboo material adds warmth and references the other natural materials in the room.

Bye bye, closed cabinets - hello open shelving! 

The upper cabinet at the end of the kitchen was a huge eye sore. To create a better sightline, we removed both the cabinets and bulkhead above and replaced it with bright open shelving. To keep the choice economical, we used bent plywood brackets to break up the white and showcase a collection of pretty white bowls and vases. 

Eat-in kitchen designed by Lindsey Levy
Eat-in Kitchen designed by Lindsey Levy

The Splurge

Since resale value was an important consideration in this renovation, there were a handful of elements that needed a redo in order to maximize resale potential. 


Subway Tile: The Eternal Style Staple 

Subway tile doesn’t have to be boring. By using this beveled white subway, we kept the backsplash classic but with a bit of an updated look. The light hits it just right to add a bit of depth, plus the easy-to-clean ceramic is super practical!

Go Double to Avoid Trouble

With any young family, there's the inevitable pile of pots and pans that need hand washing. A single sink meant that valuable counter space was housing dirty dishes. We selected a sink that had a full bowl large enough to wash even the largest pots while still offering a smaller bowl to dry as needed. Family tag-teaming post-dinner clean up did not come included. 

Gimme More Storage 

For most of us, kitchen storage is an ongoing battle that is never truly tackled - I’ll always be looking for new ways to upgrade and add extra space! Open shelving provides the opportunity to showcase special pieces and collections, while the storage above the sink ensures favourite cookbooks are always within reach. We also added a pullout trash drawer and spice drawer to ensure the kitchen was as organized on the inside as it is on the outside. 

Countertop Confidential 

One of the best ways to add resale value to any kitchen is investing in high quality countertops, and this reno was no exception! Caesarstone quartz is my go-to choice when clients want a surface that is durable and easy to maintain. It also comes in a variety of colours ready to match any design aesthetic. 

Opt for Original

In my opinion, you can never go wrong investing in original art. Whether you purchase from a gallery, an antique shop, or online, original art makes a real difference. It's a great way to add personality to a space and really makes every room unique. I love the playfulness of this large pear print from local Toronto artist Alanna Cavanagh. 

Timeless Tables 

Maximizing seating in this small space was crucial. We quickly determined that a square or rectangular shape would be too large for this particular space with its sharp, straight corners. This well constructed oval alternative is both long and sleek and saves space with its rounded corners. The marble is surprisingly durable enough for the wear and tear of daily life without sacrificing the elegance it adds to the overall design.

Eat-in Kitchen designed by Lindsey Levy
Eat-in Kitchen designed by Lindsey Levy

Source Guide:

Rockview Homes: contracting | Ikea: Haggeby cabinetry, Sinnerlig pendant light in dining area | Caesarstone: countertops in ‘pure white’ | Taps/Blanco: sink, Taps/Brizo: faucet | Creekside Tile: backsplash 3x6 beveled subway tile | Top Knobs: hardware | Muuto: Unfold Pendant light | Rove Concepts: dining table | Alanna Cavanagh: pear print | Woven Treasures: kilim runner in kitchen, vintage Persian rug in dining area | Sarah Richardson Design: napkins and tea towels in dining area | Vintage Fine Objects: bar cart, framed etchings on counter and open shelving | Saudade: Casa Cubista black & white pitcher on open shelving | Benjamin Moore: wall colour (Chantilly Lace OC-65) | Farrow & Ball: door colour (Down Pipe No. 26)