Budget Balancing Act

Published: November 22, 2023
View Gallery

Moving into a new phase of their lives, a couple was ready to bring their spacious mountain home in Colorado forward, too. Although they had a significant budget in mind, the scope of the project was also extensive, including a kitchen, mudroom, primary bath and powder room. To provide her clients with updates to all the spaces included in the project, designer Gina D’Amore Bauerle, partner of Denver-based D’Amore Interiors, devised a budget balancing strategy, that required her to choose which areas to prioritize and where she could lower costs without diminishing the design.

Before even getting started, there was one expensive structural change she knew she would have to incorporate, which quickly started chipping away at the budget. Bauerle was tasked with adding a sliding glass door to connect the kitchen to a recently renovated patio to meet the homeowners’ request for better entertaining space. The change to what had been a wall of cabinets required the addition of a steel beam.

“That was a huge change to the floor plan,” said the designer. “I explained to the clients it would take more than 10% of their total budget, but the glass door was going to make or break the space and give them the indoor/outdoor living they wanted, so I had to start planning around it.”

Kitchen Comes First

Additional goals in the kitchen were to brighten the look of the dark countertops and floor tile, as well as create the entertaining space the homeowners wanted by converting a breakfast nook into a bar. Because her clients were not interested in compromising with their kitchen, Bauerle put more emphasis there.

Get the latest kitchen and bath products, trends and news delivered to your inbox.

“I tried to really be modest in the bathroom designs, so we could allow as much as possible with the kitchen,” she said.

Despite her willingness to maximize the kitchen design, Bauerle found several opportunities for smart saves in that space. The homeowners had recently upgraded their refrigeration with Sub-Zero columns, including wine storage, and she was able to reuse these existing appliances. She sourced a custom hood from a local fabricator by elaborating on a basic design to make it fit perfectly over the island.

By using cherry wood cabinets instead of the walnut she had initially specified, Bauerle saved $10,000. The wood has a nice grain that was stained to look like walnut. When selecting the countertop material, she chose a per-square-foot quartz available from the fabricator rather than buying whole slabs, which also helped in the budget balancing.

“Anything that is stocked is usually simple or does not have a significant veining pattern you have to worry about matching,” she explained. “With the stocked options, the fabricator keeps several on hand and cuts only what you need.”

Despite these savings, Bauerle splurged in several aspects of the kitchen in addition to adding the glass door. Although reusing the refrigeration was a practical choice, pairing the columns with Wolf cooking appliances was a luxury detail. And while the locally crafted hood saved money, going the route of the striking custom piece with cantilevered shelves was a splurge in itself.

“I don’t feel like anyone would walk in and consider this a budget-based project,” said Bauerle. “We retained the original design and layout we wanted. Tweaking finishes to select less-expensive options requires research to make sure you are not choosing an inferior finish.”

Budget Balancing in the Primary Bath

After the kitchen, Bauerle knew she needed to be extra cost-conscious in the primary bathroom, and her first save came from a decision to keep the footprint. The new tub, toilet and shower are in the same location as the previous fixtures, and the two-sided vanity is less bulky but otherwise consistent with the previous one.

For the vanity, she chose stock cabinetry with textured laminate panels that boast a wood-like look. Here too, the per-square-foot quartz countertops were less expensive than sourcing quartz slabs. When choosing plumbing fixtures, Bauerle opted for a moderately priced line that still offered the industrial flair she wanted.

The original tub alcove had bump-outs on the wall, and rather than putting money toward removing them, Bauerle added floor tile between them and wrapped them in vinyl wallpaper, so the area looks like an intentional design feature without necessitating any structural changes. While the shower kept its triangular shape, it got new tile and fixtures, including a matte-glass mosaic on the floor.

“Honestly, there weren’t really any splurges here,” said the designer. “If budget weren’t at the forefront, I would have explored some different selections, but I am very happy with the result.”

Perhaps the real splurge in this bathroom was one of the designer’s time. In the previous layout, there was an unnecessary tile bench just outside the shower. Bauerle removed it and wanted to add a cabinet to hold her client’s jewelry. When she was unable to find anything suitable, she selected a cost-effective bar cabinet, found special hooks online and installed them herself, creating an ideal method for hanging necklaces.

This project resulted in a change to Bauerle’s business, and it also relates more to saving time than budget. In the past, she had handled cabinet drawings but ordered cabinets from a vendor. During this project, there were errors that occurred between the shop and the vendor, a process on which she was not included. The result was cabinets that could not be installed and had to be reordered. Without the cabinets, countertops could not be measured, pushing the whole timeline back. Now Bauerle carries two lines of cabinets in her company’s showroom.

“Cabinetry is a huge learning curve for people,” she said. “Being a cabinetry dealer gives me a new profit line and allows me to sign off on my own orders, which eliminates so many issues. I made a huge shift because of this project.”

—By Carrie Whitney, KBB newsletter editor

Source List

Designer: Gina D'Amore Bauerle, D'Amore Interiors Photographer: Timothy Gormley Kitchen Backsplash: Ann Sacks Cabinet Hardware: Buster + Punch Cabinets: Homestead Cabinet & Furniture Chairs: Adriana Hoyos Cooktop, Microwave & Ovens: Wolf Countertop: Cambria Dishwashers: Viking Faucets: Brizo Flooring: Apavisa Glass Door: Marvin Hood: Twenty1five Lighting: Tech Lighting Freezer & Refrigerator & Wine Columns: Sub-Zero Sinks: Blanco & Native Trails Primary Bath Cabinet Hardware: Amerock Countertop: MSI Faucets & Fixtures: Phylrich Flooring: Apavisa Jewelry Cabinet: BDI Furniture Lighting: Currey & Co. & Troy Lighting Mirrors & Shelves: Twenty1five Paint: Sherwin-Williams Shower Tile: Lunada Bay Sinks: Native Trails Toilet: Kohler Tub: Luxart Vanity: Superior Cabinets  

Posted in: Projects

Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
B2B Marketing Exchange
B2B Marketing Exchange East
Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series
Campaign Optimization Series