Kitchen Reno: From the Beginning

Written by Renovation

Over the past year and a half we’ve been living in this house, we’ve been saving our pennies to remodel the kitchen. This whole time, we’ve been dreaming, thinking and planning. Finally, we are about to start! BAH!!! You have no idea how excited we are about this. I got the projected start date from our contractor and I almost danced around my office desk with all my coworkers watching.

It’s taken A LOT to get to this point though, and I want to get you guys up to speed with our thoughts and plan before I start diving into the renovation full steam ahead.

I suppose we should take a look at what we are starting with. Our kitchen is currently a dark, small room at the back corner of the house. The only doorway to walk into the kitchen is through the dining room, and you are met with the side of the fridge. Of course, this is where all the traffic jams occur, especially when we have guests over.

The counters also don’t seem like they were fully thought out for how they would be used. The smallest amount of counter space is next to the stove, which I can barely fit a cutting board on. The other corner section of counter feels really cramped, and it seems like you’re always in someone’s way. I’ve found myself floating down the full length of cabinets every time I’m doing anything in here to get to something that’s just too far away because of the layout of the drawers.

This photo really does these cabinets and counters justice – they aren’t really that nice looking in person. It’s all original 1960’s fabulous! The wall oven… don’t be fooled. I can’t even fit a standard 9×13″ pan in there. And don’t even get me started on how there is only one outlet in the entire kitchen! So yeah, it just seems like there were so many other options that could have utilized the space better for how it would actually be used.

So why did we buy this house if the kitchen is this non-functional? Because we could see immediately what we could do to make it better and increase the value of the home in the first couple years of living here.

Which brings me to our ideas – see that wall to the right in the photo above? The one that just seems like a waste of space? Well that’s the wall adjacent to the dining room. The same wall to the right in the photo below.

This wall is not load bearing. So we’re taking it out! We’re gonna join these two rooms as one and really open things up. Do you also see that wall in the living room photo below? The one with the sofa on it that opens up to the dining room? We’re gonna knock an eight foot pass through window in that! It is load bearing, so we can’t take it out unless we pay out the nose for it. We don’t feel a fully open concept space at that cost would add enough value to the home to make it worth it.

But we will still be able to open up enough for all that natural light from the bay window to come into our little, dark kitchen! It’s enough to make me giddy 😀 We’re gonna add a small counter ledge there as a socializing spot.

When it came to the floor plan, I was really doubting myself. I kept going back and forth, worrying about this or that, or is there a better way or better place to put this. I was making myself crazy. So we decided to ask for pro help here since this is so new to us. A friend of mine from high school is an awesome interior designer. We hired her for emotional support during the planning process.

She came out for an initial meeting to chat with us about what we wanted to do. There were a lot of questions about how we would use the space, what was important to us, and of course budget. She went through to take measurements and a few photos to help her remember the space while she was working up some drawings.

From there, she created a couple floor plans for us which we went over at another meeting. There was a low and high budget version. More like “reach for the stars” budget version I should say. That was the one with a fully knocked out load bearing wall and moving windows on the exterior walls…. gulp! In the end, we felt the lower budget version got us everything we really wanted in the kitchen, even better than the fancy version was able to. Not to mention saving a ton of money! With a couple tweaks we were totally happy with our new floor plan! It creates a much longer stretch of uninterrupted counter space, a cook space, a casual dining area, and a heck of a lot more storage!

At this point, we started getting estimates for the actual labor. We got a few quotes all together and they all came in around the same range. So we ended up going with who we felt the best connection with and who was responding the fastest! I feel like chemistry is really part of the deal since they are gonna be in our home for almost a month with us.

While we were interviewing and getting estimates together for the labor, I was playing with the IKEA Kitchen Planner tool. I took the measurements we received on the floor plan and went to town building out what it could look like in 3D. I had decided that even if we didn’t go with IKEA cabinets in the end, I could get a better feel for space and colors in a 3D rendering.

This would be the back end of the island. In real life, the range will have a black cover panel over it, and the counter will extend out a bit more for some seating. We determined we are able to get rid of the bulk head in our existing kitchen, allowing us to utilize the space all the way to the ceiling. What is not shown in this render is the open shelf we are going to put below the cabinets on the left side of the window. I’m dreaming of having a pretty and functional shelf with easy to reach dishes.

This angle is looking out into the dining room. We will still have plenty of space for our dining room table, but will now also include a wall of cabinets! The hole in the far right cabinet will be for our microwave. I decided to put it over there because I don’t want to sacrifice any counter space or any precious cabinet space in the cooking zone. We are not heavy microwave users anyway, so it won’t be too bad to walk across the room to use it every once in awhile.

There are a few gaps in the cabinets along the wall since we are using standard size cabinets. Since we ended up going with IKEA cabinets (surprise!!!) we are able to get filler pieces to space everything nicely in real life and look totally seamless. We ended up choosing IKEA cabinets because we talked to a lot of people living with them that love them, the price was very nice, and that price includes soft close hinges, integrated lighting and all the bells and whistles. Also, I really wanted black cabinets… which is surprisingly tricky to find how I wanted them within the price point we wanted. But let’s move on for now. I’ll do another post with a deep dive into the cabinets themselves. I could talk for hours about this stuff now!

I had to organize all this information for myself. For something this big, I created a big ole’ spreadsheet! It includes the item or labor, where we are purchasing from, who is installing or doing the work, the link to the item if applicable, the estimate cost and finally, the actual cost once we purchase it. I went through and thought of everything that needed to be purchased or done and tried to itemize it out as much as possible, adding all the estimates we had received and estimating out what I could as well. With everything entered in, and with my overly conservative estimates, our grand total is looking like $32,500.

However… we’ve been getting EVERYTHING on sale. That’s the power of planning! I knew what color I wanted for everything, I knew what lights we wanted, what hardware, and what appliances we wanted. On all the stuff we were able to buy up front and horde, we have. I purchased all the lighting already. My one statement piece which will go over the dining room table, was $540. But the light going above the window over the sink was only $25! We bought all our appliances during Labor Day weekend, saving us $1,300 in one fell swoop. That ain’t chump change! We just purchased our cabinets and counter tops at IKEA this past weekend. They have a sale starting October 4th, and we are able to take our receipt back to retroactively add the 15% off, saving us almost another $2,000. I even ordered our hardware with a 15% off coupon code almost saving another $100! I’m on a roll here!

There are just a few things we held off on since we need the contractor to tell us what they need. Or we need to see under the hood before we can make any real decision. We negotiated to buy all the materials ourselves, so we are planning on having good communication with our guys and flying off to the store almost every night to go buy this or that and have it for them the next day. We will also be doing all the painting and backsplash tiling work ourselves. So a big paint party is floating around my mind to finish this all up! Have some friends and family over to help paint, then host a fun dinner party once it’s all put back together for them to enjoy the space they helped finish up.

We will see what happens. No matter what, this is gonna be an interesting ride! We are preparing to “camp” in our basement while all this is going on, and spending the next weekend moving out of a quarter of our house while also receiving over 200 packages of cabinets! Oh my! Time to just go with the flow. See you in November friends!

I’ll leave you with some of our inspiration kitchens since you just made it through that large text block with no photos. I’m sorry. But can you see what we’re going for?!


Chris Loves Julia

House Tweaking

Last modified: October 2, 2017