High-End Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations on Any Budget

April 23, 2021

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Text by Danna Lorch

With the right strategy, style, and team, you can achieve that high-end, custom look for your kitchen or bathroom renovation project, regardless of your budget. You don’t need to compromise on quality, either. Over the years, Pam Forman, principal of PBF Homes, a woman-led project management and interior design firm in Wellesley, Massachusetts, has focused on smart ways to incorporate functional, timeless luxury into all of her New England projects. Here, she shares her favorite tips for financially savvy homeowners planning a major renovation project on any budget:

The Custom Creative Budget

When working with customized, creative designs for kitchens and baths, top-level craftsmanship is key. Forman says that in particular, “It’s critical to work with master carpenters who have completed many other high-end projects and know how to keep both the budget and schedule on course.” A PBF Homes full renovation project in the coastal community of New Seabury on Cape Cod features a kitchen and primary bathroom in which high-end finishes were the highlight. Various tile sizes and textures, including a striking grey porcelain plank accent wall behind the soaking tub, make for a spa-like oasis. In the chef’s kitchen, well-appointed stone selections for both the backsplash and countertop reflect the seaside environment and create a truly bespoke space where the family cooks, share meals, and make priceless memories.

The Balanced Budget

Forman believes that a bathroom transformation doesn’t need to cost an excessive amount of money—although the final result should look like it did. She says, “I often recommend a shower with a classic subway tile surround. For flooring, large tile planks are a winning choice, especially as they give the well-appointed appearance of wood or stone, yet are more affordable.” For a complete down-to-the-studs renovation of a 1930’s colonial home in Wellesley, Massachusetts, PBF Homes created a wellness retreat for the primary bath, setting the tone with barn doors that slide open to reveal a soothing beige and white palette.

Here the porcelain-tile plank flooring leads to a double vanity in birchwood, positioned beside a shower with coordinating off-the-shelf wall and ceiling tiles. The updated Marvin black oversized window frames, towel warmer, generous use of tile, and high-end shower faucet add opulent details without breaking the budget.

Downstairs, a powder room positioned off the renovated chef’s kitchen acts as a calling card for the rest of the house, presenting a theme of easy-going elegance to the tune of grey, taupe, black, and white with hints of industrial decor. The geometric floor adds a punch of wow, but because the square footage is minimal, the price point remains accessible. The floor-to-ceiling accent wall in high-gloss small-scale tile makes a memorable artistic statement. “An accent tile wall can really elevate the entire look,” suggests Forman.

The Moderate Budget

Pointing to a recent single-story ranch-house gut renovation in Weston, Massachusetts, Forman explains that when it comes to the kitchen, there is a place for pre-fabricated carpentry. “You can achieve a custom look with affordable IKEA cabinetry,” she says. “You’ll make an impact with oversized hardware and an economic-yet-stylish chef’s faucet.”

On the other hand, Forman would never advise taking the frugal route on anything structural—such as bringing a space up to code with a new HVAC system or updating a claustrophobic floorplan with larger, energy-efficient windows. “You always want the construction to be sound, safe, and comfortable,” she says. These are solid investments that will stand the test of time and absolutely add to a property’s rental or resale value.

For an up-to-the-minute take, consider adding a painted accent wall. And if you fall for the Pantone Color of the Year in the future, it’s just a few hundred dollars to update the look. But Forman urges avoiding anything that is trending at discount stores—because once a fad like distressed wood hits the mass market, it’s going out of style soon.

The Right Team Will Save You Money in the Long Run

It might sound counter-intuitive, but if you’re on a budget, it can ultimately save you thousands of dollars to hire professional help. A seasoned project manager and interior designer can shoulder the stress of the process from demo to completion and match homeowners with best-in-class contractors, tradespeople, and vendors—all while overseeing your budget. They will also receive trade discounts of fifteen to forty percent and pass these along to you, easily justifying the cost of the firm. “You can have gorgeous lighting purchased from a large lighting warehouse in the same finished look as you would find at a much higher price point at a boutique lighting store,” says Forman. “At PBF Homes, we bring that expertise to the client—we know exactly what is out there at different price points and how to source it.”

PBF Homes
Boston | Metrowest | Cape Cod & Islands
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