Back to my KITCHEN SAGA. If this can save anyone even a few minutes or a few dollars, I will feel a lot better, since I over-researched the whole process.
How to keep it frugal. For many of the non-frugal, this is easy. You have the boundary of your budget. Then you can say to the sympathetic designer (aka cabinet salesperson
ON COMMISSION in many cases): Oh, I WISH I could afford the WHATEVER, but must alas settle for the WHATEVER MINUS.
Thanks to my frugal ways, I, of course, have to set my own boundaries. I could have spent pretty much whatever I wanted. The first of my two boundary-creators is common to us all; the second is peculiar to my situation. You may have to find your own way to stick to the frugal path.
Boundary 1: If you cruise the discussions of kitchens that are all over the internet, what is most desired is a timeless kitchen. Some people justify their extravagance with excuses like This is my forever kitchen. I can't fool myself like that. I know that whatever I like now, will be nothing special in 5 years and seriously dated in 10.
Once something gets really old--like my friend's 1940s bathrooms, which I swoon over--it does indeed become timeless. But kitchens and bathrooms don't usually get to that point, because people tear out almost new kitchens all the time. Even in this post-housing meltdown age, the curbs are littered with torn-out kitchens when a house changes hands.
So my first boundary-creator is the knowledge that whatever I do will be trashed when my house changes hands.
Boundary 2: I have a bonafide French friend. The french, of course, are noted for their frugality, though French frugality and American frugality are quite different. My French friend, let us call her Brigitte, redid her kitchen a few year before I did mine. Her kitchen was in worse shape than any of the slumlike kitchens in my graduate student apartments, by the way. Brigitte is the epitome of French frugality and also a quick decision-maker (the opposite of me). She planned her kitchen, saved up the cost, and did her kitchen with extreme rapidity. On a budget.
Whenever I told her I was pining for some expensive thing or other--like a French stove or a Wolf stove or stainless counter tops--she would roll her eyes in a French way and say, But that is ridiculous. And she was right. So every time I contemplated an indulgence--like the $8000.00 French stove--I pictured her discovering the cost and rolling her eyes in shock. If even a French person thinks the cost of a French stove is ridiculous...well, you get the picture.
I highly recommend a French person as a boundary-creator.
How do you keep it frugal?