9 Splurge-Worthy Kitchens

Even in a challenging economy, kitchen renovations top the list of value-adding home projects. Update wisely by splurging on the right updates so you can save money on the rest.

Add Character With Vintage Lights

Designer Joel Snayd gave this newly-built beach house old-house charm by swapping the ubiquitous pendants over the peninsula for flush-mounted milk glass orbs — killer antique finds worth every penny. Over the dining table, a large lantern is a stylish focal point while a trio of salvaged copper marine lights, one above each window, illuminate the sink. Reevaluate your kitchen budget to spend less on the generic and more on what will give your kitchen the personality it needs.

Vintage Revamp

For designer Rob Stuart, inspiration for this kitchen's period-perfect design struck at the sight of the Art Deco range. The rare find was worth the splurge to anchor the kitchen's Deco feel. Rob then added period-appropriate custom cabinets in a modern color palette to create a kitchen that is both timeless and of the moment. Photo by Neil A. Landino, Jr.

Out With the Old, In With the (Less) Old

Traditional kitchens don't have to ring historic to have character. Designer Joel Snayd brought this kitchen up to date with charcoal-gray painted cabinets and hip, mid-century furnishings for a look to last generations. The massive custom island acts more as a piece of furniture than an extension of the kitchen's cabinets. Although a splurge, it was worth the added expense to provide a convenient spot for kids to do homework or grab a quick bite.

Fine-Tune the Focus

Gone are the days when a kitchen range hood stood out like a sore thumb. Designer Rebekah Zaveloff incorporated it into the design by covering the custom-made range hood with the same porcelain subway tile as the walls, causing it to virtually disappear, allowing the kitchen's architectural elements to take center stage.

Upgrade for Entertaining

You have that special place in your closet for shoes, but what about your next favorite collection — wine? Designer Lori Dennis added a built-in wine chiller and surrounding bar area as an extension of this high-end kitchen, allowing guests to relax with a Chardonnay or Merlot only feet away from where the hostess is cooking.

Marble: More is More

Designer Joel Snayd relied on the sophisticated look of marble to create a kitchen that's classic, grounded and beautiful. White traditional-style cabinets, a full-wall marble backsplash and matching marble countertops contrast perfectly with the kitchen's dark-stained floor.

Focus on the Floor

Are you debating whether to choose a hardwood or tile floor for your kitchen? Why not use both — designer Rebekah Zaveloff chose the best of both worlds with oversized marble tiles criss-crossed by dark-stained hardwood to create a kitchen floor that's bold and dramatic.

Coastal and Country

Sometimes one key element is all you need to change the look of a kitchen. Designer Anissa Swanzy knew the long lead-time on this stunning Vapor Green farm sink would be well worth the wait. The vibrant pop of color creates an eye-catching focal point while the happy hue may make doing dishes less of a chore. Anissa pairs this unique sink with marble countertops for a kitchen with a sophisticated yet laid-back coastal style.

From: Anissa Swanzy

One-Wall Show

Upper cabinets weren't necessary in this galley kitchen so rather than leave the wall plain, designer Rebekah Zaveloff decided to jazz it up with glowing tile in the same warm, neutral tones as the rest of the open-concept space.