This is a special guest post from Jamie Gold, a San Diego, Calif.-based kitchen and bath designer.
While you may want to upgrade everything in your new home, budget limitations can sometimes prevent that from happening. It’s important to consider your needs and lifestyle and choose your new home upgrades accordingly.
The good news is, you don’t have to forgo all of them entirely; some can be made with relative ease (and affordability) after you’ve settled in. Here are things to consider when choosing upgrades for your kitchen (we’ll cover bathroom upgrades in a post next week):
You may have opted for recessed lights above your peninsula or island that you can have an electrician replace later with style-coordinated pendants. Recessed lights installed over your breakfast nook can be swapped out for a matching chandelier. Both can have a tremendous impact on the room’s look.
If you’re planning to add a designer backsplash — which I’ll cover in the next section — you can also have your electrician wire for and install energy-efficient, LED under-cabinet lighting.
If possible, opt for no backsplash and add one later that will go from your wall cabinets right down to your countertops. This delivers the best look and gives you a terrific opportunity to personalize your space.
You can also add functionality to your backsplash with a modular storage or power rail. There are even models on the market today that will hold and charge your smart phone and tablet.
Door and Window Upgrades
If your doors and windows are standard heights, it’s also fairly easy to cover them on your own after you move in.
If you’re doing drapes, you’ll want fabric that’s easy to clean. Outdoor-rated materials are ideal for that. If you’re doing blinds, you’ll want a wood-look synthetic that will handle sink splashes.
Some cabinets don’t need knobs or pulls. Some do. Either way, you can upgrade those with relative ease after you move in.
If you’re planning on doing decorative pulls, you can have your builder drill just one hole for an affordable catalog knob and later have a carpenter or handyman drill a second hole for the spread required by your fabulous new handles.
Be strategic in where you have your builder drill, based on what you want to install later, as you are not going to want extra holes in your new cabinet fronts! (Three to four inches is a fairly common hole spread, if you are starting out with pulls, rather than knobs.)
It’s fairly easy to replace a top-mounted sink, but definitely not so adding or replacing an undermounted one. If you’re getting stone tops from your builder with an undermounted stainless sink, you’ll want to get 18- or 16-gauge during the construction process. If you’re getting Corian, that’s the time to choose an integral sink. It’s impractical and expensive to add one later.
If, however, you’re content with a top-mount sink and it’s appropriate for your home and community (for resale later), you can easily change out a basic model with an upgraded version later. New offerings include a sleeker edge, seamless drain and better materials or accessories. Consult with a plumber before buying a non-returnable special order, so that you know that the new model will fit with your plumbing and existing cut-out, (especially for stone countertops).
This is also a good time to consider an upgraded faucet. Kitchen faucets are fairly simple to replace and if your new designer model with different spray modes happens to need one less hole, you can fill that with a coordinating soap dispenser.
When you decide which upgrades and additions make the most sense to do after you move in, be sure to factor in all related costs for having the work done. These can include a licensed electrician, plumber, carpenter, handyman, painter, materials and clean-up.
Knowing what’s involved in your desired upgrades helps you make the best decisions for your schedule, budget and building allowances.
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS is a Certified Kitchen Designer in San Diego and the author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work.