I think we’ve got it. We’ve got a rectangle, roughly 90 inches by 216 inches. Along the 90 inch wall, there’s a tall pantry and the refrigerator, with cabinets above. Along the 216 inch wall, there’s the stove, sink, and dishwasher, divided by low cabinets. There’s also an island with a prep sink and a peninsula, so the kitchen looks like a wide shallow U with an island across part of the open U. Armed with this and the $5,000 estimate from Home Depot, which I’m using for comparison even though the design has changed, we go shopping.
At Lowe’s we get an estimate of $7,700 for Kitchen Aid cabinets, which are a little nicer than either Lowe’s or Home Depot’s cheapest. There are more choices, but we’re still not thrilled.
At Friedman’s, we get an estimate of $11,000 – ouch. They are nicer (we’re now playing with two contrasting paint colors) but we can’t afford that.
At Cabinets to Go, the price is cheaper, about $3,500. But there aren’t many options – no 24” deep wall cabinets, for example, so there’s more carpentry involved – and the finish choices are very limited. I did learn, though, that just as certain people tend to buy certain cars, you can peg people coming in the door and guess what cabinets they’ll buy. According to my informant, the only people choosing maple cabinets are over 60. Couples 35-45 choose Cherry (but middle-aged women shopping on their own choose white). African American families choose walnut.
Quality Discount Cabinets in Santa Rosa sounds promising, but when we get there it’s a lot like Cabinets to Go – limited choices. I begin to suspect “quality discount” is an oxymoron.
I try Home Depot again. This time, using the “real” plan and white painted cabinets, which I’ve gravitated to after spending too many hours looking at photographs on houzz.com (almost everything I like is in the “eclectic” category), the estimate is close to $9,000. I’m shocked. Sam, my sales person, says, hurt, “But you’re the one who chose the expensive cabinets!” Thus do I learn that painted cabinets always cost more.
Our next stop is ecohome in Berkeley. We go there to look at countertops (we think we want Caesarstone, and they have a lot of samples on view) but end up looking at cabinets too. They are super nice, and very helpful, and amazingly enough the ballpark estimate is within range of Home Depot (actually, they give us a range from $6,000 to $10,000, but of course, we focus on the $6,000). When I go back to meet with the designer the estimate comes in between $9,000 and $10,000. Ouch. Maybe for our next kitchen.
We end up at Ikea. We know we don’t want Ikea cabinets in this kitchen (we did use them for the Library), but I want to see what it would cost. We find a sink we like, and some stainless steel shelves, but we’re not ready to buy a sink and I’m not quite sure how to use the shelves. We leave.