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High-end designer tips for a budget-friendly kitchen makeover

Kitchen designer Michael Rosenberg, a partner in the

Kitchen designer Michael Rosenberg, a partner in the Massapequa-based Showcase Kitchens South, reconfigured the entire layout of this Massapequa home's kitchen. Credit: Tim Cree of Creepwalk Media Inc.

The ground floor of this Massapequa home was small, dark and segmented, with an awkward kitchen — none of which suited the homeowners’ fondness for cooking and entertaining on a grand scale, says kitchen designer Michael Rosenberg, a partner in the Massapequa-based Showcase Kitchens South.

With the help of Old World Custom Construction in Massapequa, he reconfigured the entire layout, and incorporated custom cabinetry, top-tier appliances, fine finishes and other dazzling details, to create a space that is warm, spacious and conducive to hosting large gatherings.

What it takes: This kitchen was built from scratch and budgeted as part of a larger remodeling project with multiple rooms and substantial architectural work. To remodel a pre-existing kitchen of this size with customization, materials and appliances of similar caliber, Rosenberg says he would recommend a starting budget of $100,000.


Here are five fabulous features, plus designer tips for creating your own luxe look for less.

Island countertop ($200 per square foot)

Why it’s worth it: This custom poured-concrete countertop with an integrated prep sink offers the warm look of wood, with the durability and lower maintenance of concrete. Award-winning manufacturer JM Lifestyles used real wood to create the forms, then hand-colored the concrete in Reclaimed Plank with faux knotting to complete the effect.

Do it for less: If you can’t afford both the high-end material and the wood look, pick one or the other, says Rosenberg. He estimates that a poured concrete countertop without the custom wood coloring could be had for $50 per square foot; a real wood countertop might run $80 per square foot.

Appliances ($60,000)

Why they’re worth it: This kitchen is tricked out with a suite of top-of-the-line Wolf and SubZero products, favored by serious culinary enthusiasts for their exceptional quality, scale and beauty. Elaborate extras include a wine cooler for the adults, a separate beverage station for the kids, a four-foot range and a steam oven.

Do it for less: Be a smart shopper: If you can live without the exalted brands, you can find a similar appliance package for about a third of the cost.


Perimeter granite ($90 per square foot)

Why it’s worth it: The unusual texture of leathered granite is created by applying a flame to the surface, also known as a fired finish. Rosenberg engaged an interior designer for expert color selection; the effect of the Black Magna leathered granite against the white cabinetry is “a dramatic contrast that looks alive,” he says.

Do it for less: Keep the dynamic palette but forgo the fancy finish to shave off about $15 per square foot.

Cabinetry knobs ($38 each) and drawer pulls ($180 each)

Why it’s worth it: Weighty 18-inch antique pewter handles and globe-style knobs of cut crystal are luxurious finishing touches befitting the elegance of the kitchen. “That’s the jewelry of the kitchen, the icing on the cake,” says Rosenberg. “It’s the wow factor.”

Do it for less: Hardware of lesser quality would have looked and felt chintzy against this lavish custom cabinetry. But in a more modest space with stock cabinets, you could get away with fun, inexpensive substitutes, such as crystal-look acrylic.

Dress up stock cabinets with budget-friendly bling. Try the Liberty Hardware Victorian Acrylic Round Faceted Knob with Chrome Base ($4.54), available at Hicksville-based

Flooring ($8 per square foot)

Why it’s worth it: Italian porcelain tile was chosen for the radiant-heated floor because it offers the warm beauty of a wood floor, but it’s more durable and transmits heat better. “When you’re doing radiant heat, it’s important to use a material that does not shrink and expand,” Rosenberg says.

Do it for less: While these won’t fool anyone into thinking you have Italian tile, there are laminate flooring options with a similar look for as little as $1 square foot — and they’re even suitable for radiant heating.


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