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June 29, 2010 / A Surviving Father

Old Kitchen Remodel

We recently moved into a new home. There is a lot to be said for new construction. Sure it may lack character in some ways, but it is nice not having to worry as much about things breaking down and the ‘look’ is not dated… at least not yet.

As we have been discussing what to do with the place, my wife and I looked back at a kitchen remodel we undertook on our home during residency. The home was small, but was sufficient for our needs at the time; however the kitchen was a dreary place. Given that you tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it was one of our top priorities to remodel. Being on a tight budget, I opted to do pretty much everything myself. This is what we started with- dirty dishes and all (click on image to enlarge):

And after 3 months of work (nights and weekends), this is what we ended up with:

Not too bad, in fact we loved it considering that the whole remodel only cost around $700, including a couple new appliances! Not only that, but when we moved, we were able to sell our house in 5 days, and the people who bought it said it was in large part due to the kitchen. So here is a run down of the details…

Cabinets: We kept the original builder basic oak cabinets. They were in good shape but dated. We priced out new cabinets, but decided it wasn’t worth it since we would only be in the house a few years, so I painted them a crisp white with a water-based paint/enamel called Cabinet Coat. It runs about $30/gallon. I found it at Ace Hardware and it came recommended in online forums. It was a laborious process as I removed all the doors and hinges, hand scrubbed all the cabinets with a cleanser called TSP (available at Lowe’s or Home Depot), primed the doors and frames with Kilz, and then put three coats of the enamel on them. The finish was very smooth and professional looking. The paint is thinner than latex, which allows it to level smoothly providing a nice finish- so don’t put it on too thick or you’ll get runs.

Hardware: The original cabinets did not have pulls, so we decided to add some to dress them up. My wife wanted these French twists or ‘bird nests’, but they were like $4 each at the local home center. We found them on ebay for only 25 cents each. Even with shipping it was a bargain.

Appliances: When we moved in we had a white stove and refrigerator, but the existing dishwasher was black. It bugged us, but once we decided to remodel the kitchen I hunted around for a white dishwasher. Fortunately we had a Sears Outlet Center nearby and found a late model dishwasher. We also purchased a matching over the stove microwave with built-in vent. This freed up some much needed counter space. The dishwasher and over-the-range microwave cost $250 total and were fairly straight forward to install.

Flooring: The previous owners had already put in laminate flooring. Unfortunately they had also put in a short row of cabinets on another wall that stuck out into the bay window area. Base cabinets are 24″ deep but the wall they put them on wasn’t. So I took out the base cabinets and put in a 12″ deep set of cabinets to make it look right and to free up some space in the nook. Unfortunately this meant that there was now an area of exposed plywood without flooring. I went to practically every flooring store in the region to find a precise match for the existing laminate and finally found something close, but it was not an exact match. So what did I do? I practically removed the entire kitchen floor using boards from other parts of the kitchen to fill-in the space. Then I used the new floor boards in areas that were not as noticeable (such as behind the refrigerator and stove). A lot of work, but it would have driven me crazy seeing the slight color mismatch.

Countertops: We would have loved to put in granite, and it wouldn’t have been that expensive given that we didn’t have much counter space, but it wasn’t really appropriate for our neighborhood. So we replaced laminate with laminate. I picked up the faux-granite countertops from Lowe’s and installed them. Since these were prefabricated, I had to use a miter in the corner where the “L” shape is formed. That was the trickiest part. I could have had them custom made, but it would have been twice as much.

Backsplash: We originally wanted to do a subway tile backsplash, but after we settled on laminate countertops, a tile backsplash didn’t seem appropriate. Instead I purchased some beadboard panels- the waterproof plastic or vinyl kind- and installed it as a backsplash. It fit perfectly with the decor of the kitchen and was easy to install. I ended up painting it the same as the cabinets as the enamel is very durable and was easy to clean.

Sink and Faucet: The sink was purchased from Home Depot. We wanted something deeper that could also hold a frying pan. We could have gone with stainless steel, but this composite sink was on sale. It held up for us without staining, but after awhile the white just bugged me. We purchased the Moen pull-out faucet on ebay. It was $370 at Lowe’s but we only paid $115.

Wall Paint: Oddly enough, we had bought some Ralph Lauren paint called “Plantation” before we even started the kitchen remodel. It is a nice muted green and we had planned on using it somewhere else in the house, but didn’t. We decided to use it in the kitchen and really liked it.

Island: With a large family, a small eat-in-kitchen was not functional. What we really needed was more counter space and storage. We found an unfinished island at a furniture supply store that was going out of business for $50. It was well-built and was just the right size for our space. The top was treated with mineral oil while the base was painted with the same white enamel as the cabinets. Matching hardware was also attached. Storage baskets were from Target.

Curtains: My wife found a remnant piece of fabric at Jo-Ann’s and was able to make faux roman shades for over the sink and the kitchen bay window. I was skeptical at first, but once they were up on the wall they looked great! Moral of the story- trust your wife!

Lighting: We found some basic lights at Home Depot. A single pendant for over the sink and a new overhead light. These were not on sale, but matched some lights we had installed in other areas of the house.

Details: Not that you would notice from the pictures, but I did install a small crown molding along the tops of the cabinets. I also created a simple light rail which was installed along the bottom of the upper cabinets. Yes they are small details, but they make a difference- at least to me.

And there you have it! A lot more goes into a kitchen remodel than you initially anticipate- even a very basic one. But it was well worth it and I learned a ton along the way. Now if we can just figure out what we want to do with our new kitchen…

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One Comment

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  1. Dixie Redmond / Nov 22 2010 8:36 pm

    Great kitchen! It’s beautiful.

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