Houzz Dreams on an IKEA Budget

I could be exposing one of the most frequent and challenging tasks for any designer… Clients that have Houzz dreams on an IKEA budget.  This is neither the fault of the client or the designer, it’s simply the manifestation of being inspired by projects with multiple six figure budgets and not knowing what the true cost of items are.

Houzz Dreams on an IKEA Budget | Superior Cabinets Blog


So let’s break this down.  I LOVE Houzz.  It is by far the best database of home décor inspired photos.  If you are planning a renovation or new build, signing up a Houzz account should be your first step.  I also love Ikea… need I say more?


I wanted to uncover a few myths to help those of you who have been down this road.

1. CUSTOM:  Clients, if your designer uses the word “custom”…. this is probably a code word for “expensive.”  It’s a good idea to just auto replace that word every time you hear it.  Here’s an example:

Designer:         “We can absolutely do that piece, it will be CUSTOM, but we can do it!”
Translation:     “We can absolutely do that piece, it will be EXPENSIVE, but we can do it!”

Custom upcharges can be a manageable percentage increase or sometimes 5x the cost or more of the standard offering.  It’s always a good idea to clarify what the custom upcharge is in advance.  This might help you prioritize what you want vs. need.

  I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t true.  This is because of 4 major factors:

  • Budget
  • Capability of the Contractor, Designer and Sub-Trades
  • Material Limitations
  • Building Code

Houzz often features the “best of the best” of jobs with endless budgets.  They also feature jobs in other markets where there are major building code differences.

Example:  This beautiful kitchen would not meet building code in Alberta or Saskatchewan, due to the lack of clearance between the cooktop and the wood cabinetry column that extends down to the countertop.  In Alberta or Saskatchewan you must have 18” of clearance between the range or cooktop and anything combustible.

Photo by IRONCREST HOMES – Browse rustic kitchen ideas

Example:  Those nifty cabinets with charging station drawers you always see on Houzz and Pinterest….I hate to tell you but those also may not meet with your local building code.  In some regions you can’t have an electoral plugin behind a cabinet door unless it has a kill switch which eliminates power upon closure of the cabinet drawer.

Photo by Harry Braswell Inc. – Look for traditional home design pictures

It’s always best to consult with your Interior Designer, Sub-Trades and Contractor to see what is actually possible.

  It’s good to know that pricing varies from market to market.
Example:  Something in the United States may cost more or less than in Canada.  So if you have seen a price online on a similar item, know that it could go up or down in price depending on where you are and where it’s coming from.


1. DON’T FALL IN LOVE:  Collect your ideas, but don’t fall in love with anything until you’ve asked a professional for a rough estimate, quote or even guesstimate.  This is often difficult for the designer to explain to a client that the must have “custom” (see, I just did it!) vent hood will be close to $5,000.  It may be worth it for some, but not for all.

Photo by Superior Cabinets – Look for traditional kitchen design inspiration

2. PICK 3:  If your budget permits, then pick everything you’ve ever wanted.  If not, I suggest picking 2 or 3 “must have” things that you must have.  This way your designer can prioritize around your must have items and show you where to save cash in other areas.  This collaborative approach will hopefully get you one step closer to your dream kitchen.

  Collaborate with your designer on a Houzz Ideabook.  This way you can add pictures that inspire you and your designer can give you feedback on them.  Your designer can also spot trends of common things you have selected, which is helpful for both budget and style.  This is all done within the Houzz platform and is a great tool for both the designer and the client.


Remember, prepare your budget ahead of time and know what funds you are working with.  This will help your Designer, Sub-Trades and Contractor show what is possible within your budget, style preference and space.  I hope this article helps you on your renovation journey!


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