We chose not to box in the refrigerator with a side panel. Besides functioning as the showcase magnet board for the kids artwork, it would have create problems moving our over-sized fridge for cleaning or replacement. We also put off adding a pantry cupboard in a unused built-in grill. This would cost about $1500.00 and can be done another year.
We choose granite counter tops on the advice of our experienced designer. Due to the promotions that month, it only cost a couple of hundred more than a high-end laminate. Most of my neighbors had remodeled their kitchens in the last decade and the complaint I heard the most from them was they wish they had sprung for the granite. So my husband and I decided to do it right the first time. I brought my husband into the design area and he chose the same granite style I did. How cool is that! We put our order in the first week of April with expected delivery in 6 to 8 weeks.