All the Details on our Kitchen Cabinetry, Hardware & Countertops (yes, even a cost breakdown)

When we started this kitchen renovation journey back at the end of March (yes, MARCH) the contractor had said it was going to be a five-week-long process. I was excited at the prospect of handing over a project in its entirety to a contractor for the first time ever. I think I felt that way mostly because I was still emotionally recovering from our last kitchen renovation, which was an even larger project and took us 5.5 months to entirely DIY. Well, that DIY project was pre-pandemic and this one is, obviously, post-pandemic and those worlds are very, very different (shitty supply chains, I’m looking at you!). But, also, working with a contractor isn’t exactly straightforward either.

We are now more than four months into our project and have the cabinets, hardware and counters fully installed. Within a week, we could have a nearly completed kitchen, but will likely be awaiting some deliveries until mid-to-late September to really finish everything off. In the meantime, I am going to let you in on all the details regarding our cabinetry, hardware and counters.


In our last kitchen renovation, we used IKEA cabinetry. I am mentioning this to explain why we didn’t use IKEA cabinetry again. I’d like to preface this by saying the IKEA cabinets did impress me. They were easily 1/4 the cost of any other option and I’d say the quality even surpassed some of the more expensive options out there. That said, we only lived with that kitchen for 2.5 years and the cabinet fronts had started to peel a bit. Still, one of my favorite anecdotes from that kitchen renovation was when the flooring guy came to stain the floors and said, “I was just doing the floors in a home that had some really nice high-end cabinetry, just like yours.” So, IKEA is doing a pretty damn good job at fooling plenty of people.

Still, this time around I wanted something a bit more sturdy that would really stand the test of time. We needed something highly customizable because of the design for this new kitchen, and IKEA really didn’t offer enough in the way of customization for it to be even be an option for this renovation. And though we quickly took IKEA off the table as an option, primarily for that reason, we still didn’t have an endless budget for cabinetry. The goal was to find a mid-price range, highly customizable and quality cabinet company to work with for this project.

We discovered Cabinet Joint through @probablythis on Instagram. I absolutely LOVED their kitchen renovation from 2022 and got some great references regarding Cabinet Joint. I also loved that they gave us a dedicated salesperson to work with on our design (they even offer designers if designing isn’t your thing). Please note, our cabinets were NOT sponsored. Bob Long (our salesperson) was really incredibly helpful with all the back-and-forth to make sure everything was ordered correctly. I loved, too, that once everything was ordered, Cabinet Joint immediately provided an estimated ship date (it did all ship on exactly that date), and they even sent weekly emails to update us. We had a lot of cabinets that were very customized, and it took a total of five weeks from order date to ship date (and an additional 2-3 days for delivery).

Cabinet Joint’s offerings are quite vast. You can choose pretty much any cabinet style, any parts, any color/stain or wood for them to construct your cabinets. You can customize the size of every piece you order, and have help doing so along the way. It is also important to note that Cabinet Joint does not make the cabinets, they are just a third-party that assists you in ordering Conestoga cabinetry.

At first, I wanted white oak cabinets. But, after choosing white oak floors, that just felt like way too much white oak. Our initial quote for the white oak cabinets was $26,000, and assumed that by deciding to go with a color instead of white oak/stain we would be saving money (because they use a different product, and not real wood, for their colored cabinet fronts. The cabinets themselves are still wood, though). I asked if they could do the same setup with a Farrow & Ball color in the MDF, in lieu of the white oak, PLUS I decided to eliminate the island cabinetry (more on that later). The estimate came back at $35,800! I’m still not quite sure what it is about a custom color that would drive the price up more than $10,000 (I say more than 10k because, remember, I eliminated a good amount of cabinets). All I can say is that I decided to go with one of their preset colors (Regent Blue – a near-match of Sherwin Williams’ “Naval”) which was extremely close to the F&B color I had been contemplating and that brought the total down to around $26,500 again.

So, are we happy with our experience working with Cabinet Joint? And are we happy with the final product? Largely, yes. There were a few hiccups along the way. For example, two cabinets arrived with the wrong dimensions, but Cabinet Joint quickly ordered expedited replacements. Still, overall we found the customer service to be about a 7/10 and the final products to be 10/10 (especially considering price point). They really are absolutely stunning, quality custom cabinets. The quality compared to our IKEA cabinetry from our last kitchen is quite noticeable though, admittedly, the price-point increase was noticeable, too. $26,000 might sound like a really high number, but I think it’s also important to point out that we have a lot of cabinetry in this kitchen.


I’m definitely not new to Emtek hardware as we used a lot of it in our last house, so I can confidently say they make some of the most beautiful hardware out there. I knew early on that I was going to use Emtek, but the style of hardware was something I decided on down the line, only after the cabinetry and counters were picked out.

Because we went with a deep, rich blue with applied moulding and boldly veined counters, I wanted to hardware to be beautiful, but subtle. The French Antique finish fit so beautifully with the Paonazzo Rose marble and Regent Blue cabinetry, so I fairly quickly decided on that finish and narrowed my selections based on what was offered in the French Antique finish. It wasn’t long before I settled on a combination of the French Antique Providence Cabinet Knobs (in 1-inch) and Cup Cabinet Pulls (in 3″ size) for their elegance, subtlety and classic silhouettes.

I am beyond happy with both products. The finish is stunning and the quality superior. I must divulge that the hardware was sponsored, but if it hadn’t been the total cost would have come in around $1600 (including an Egg Knob with a #8 Rosette that is being used on the door to the porch).


If you aren’t aware yet, I do a lot of design consultations (and not too many full-service design jobs). When people hire me to help them plan out their kitchens, the first piece of advice I offer is to choose your counters first. Why? Mostly because they are one of your most expensive costs when it comes to a kitchen renovation, but also because I find it easier to design a kitchen around your stone, rather than choosing your stone around your kitchen. Cabinetry is much more customizable than stone, particularly if you want to go with a natural stone, like quartzite or marble (which can vary greatly from batch-to-batch, even from the same quarry).

My personal biggest regret from our last kitchen renovation was going with quartz, a manmade, highly durable stone that is often manufactured to mimic natural stone. I listened to all the naysayers who told me to not buy marble, despite knowing deep down that quartz (or any manmade stone) was the wrong decision for us. I would like to emphasize that this is a highly personal choice. Personally, I am perfectly ok (even sometimes love) imperfections in stone. Some stains or etches only add to the character, in my humble opinion. In short, the pros outweighed the cons (for us).

As a natural stone, marble appears much more organic and natural than any manmade stone out there. For our last kitchen renovation, I chose Calacatta quartz because what I really wanted was Calacatta marble. Well, guess what? It REALLY didn’t look like the real thing. The veining was too regular and predictable and the finish lacked that organic honed quality that marble is so famous for. What I’m trying to say here is, like many things in life, you can’t have it all. If maximizing beauty and naturalness is what you prioritize, then you’re going to have to accept the imperfections that come with marble.

If durability is your priority, you’re going to have to accept that manmade stones are just not as beautiful as marble. There are many products that can assist with making your marble more durable, but it is also undeniably higher maintenance. Another tip is to go with a bold, strongly veined marble if you do go that route. The veining will go a long way to disguise stains and etching. If you’d prefer a stone like Carrara marble, you might want to seriously think about how OK you would be with red wine stains on an otherwise pristinely white surface.

I thought from the beginning that I was definitely going to go with Calacatta Viola marble. I have long been in love with the deep maroons and strong veins of the Calacatta Viola. I’m sure I would have been very happy with Calcatta Viola counters, too. But herein lies the reason why I urge all my clients to get themselves to a marble yard. You just never know what is going to speak to you. Plus, there are so many different stones out there, and there is no better way to get inspired than to find a great marble supplier and peruse their offerings. I used Terrazzo & Marble Supply Co. in Wheeling, IL and quickly fell in love with the Paonazzo Rose marble (and also fell hard for T&S customer service and offerings). If you live in the Chicagoland area, I would very highly recommend Terrazzo & Marble Supply Co.

I later on also decided to add a Virginia Mist granite slab in a honed finish to our antique work counter, too. My original vision was to leave the work counter without a top as to appreciate it as an aesthetic standalone, including its lovely aged top. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how impractical that was. By adding a slab to it, I would not only add to the total amount of counter space (despite our kitchen being fairly large, we didn’t have a ton of it), PLUS I would be able to add four barstools to the space (seating, too, wasn’t bountiful before the addition of the barstools). I know a lot of designers are claiming that islands are going out of style, but I can’t help but come back to them time and again because, while I’ll admit there are better aesthetic alternatives, the island is just SO DAMN PRACTICAL.

So, why granite? I think granite gets a bad rep. It evokes visions of tacky 90s and early aughts polished stone, but it really doesn’t have to be like that. I was originally thinking soapstone, before realizing how porous soapstone is. Of course, I sprung for my porous marble counters around the perimeter of the kitchen, so I really wanted something highly durable on the island to create a safe space for sipping red wine and cooking with lemons. Besides, the Paonazzo Rose (as lovely as it is) needed something much more subtle to complement it.

I also want to give a shoutout to our marble fabricators, Luxury Marble & Granite Design Co, who did an absolutely remarkable job fabricating our counters. We had a lot of big asks with this install, including a 5-inch marble shelf, a mitered edge, and an integrated sink on the coffee bar. Not to mention the unevenness of all the walls and floors in our 120 year-old home making a smooth installation all the more challenging. Not only did they absolutely nail every detail, they arrived when they said they would, worked in a very timely way and the communication was A++. I will DEFINITELY be using them for all of our future fabrication needs!

I am also going to share the total cost of the counters (including installation costs) with you. I always feel weird talking money/costs (as I think many people do), but I also think it’s important and helpful. Of course, pricing can be drastically different depending on what area of the country you live in, but hopefully I can at least be a helpful point of reference for readers living in the Chicago area. The total, all in, for the counters was $26,242.

Well, friends, that about wraps up the kitchen updates for this blog! I will be publishing one more blog before the final reveal blog (slated for early October). Next up will be a discussion of lighting, appliances, fixtures, paint and vintage!

02 comments on “All the Details on our Kitchen Cabinetry, Hardware & Countertops (yes, even a cost breakdown)

  • Stephanie , Direct link to comment

    So a person needs a place to get stone and then someone to fabricate the stone? I still have laminate counters so I have a lot to learn.

    • Kate Pearce , Direct link to comment

      So I actually meant to cover this in the blog because when I lived in New York, my supplier and fabricator were the same person. In Chicago it seems that they’re always different people, so I guess it depends on where you live.

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