It seems everyone wants granite these days – I've even noticed that renters are asking for these high-end countertops, too. But while there's no doubt granite looks great, there are a ton of other options on the market that won't put such a massive hole in your budget. Butcher block, for example, is great for people who want a more rustic look, and it comes at a fraction of the price. Or, if you're after more industrial appeal, check out poured concrete countertops – you'll pay a bit more for the labour, but the materials are a whole lot cheaper. If your heart is set on granite, be smart about buying it, and research some companies that may have deals on precut pieces or find a company that does big restaurant jobs and you might get lucky piggy-backing on someone else's good deal.
You can save a ton of cash with budget-friendly tiles used in a creative way. Consider a herring-bone design, for example, rather than a traditional brick pattern. Or use the expensive tiles you want sparingly to create a trim detail or a feature area behind the cooktop rather than being forced to tile the entire expanse of a backsplash. When I work with designers I always challenge them to use more affordable products in a high-end application. Believe me, ingenuity can definitely pay off.