Category: Renovations

From drab to fab…a kitchen renovation.

January 12, 2011

So, here’s our kitchen renovation that Lily mentioned yesterday!  I love before and afters, don’t you?  Especially when you happen to be the beneficiary!  I still pinch myself…I can’t believe it’s mine.

After living in our home for about 4 years, we decided we could no longer put up with our kitchen.  It was original to the house and deteriorating quickly.  The counters were tile, not my favourite option for a countertop especially when they are about 35 years old.  They were chipped, cracked and the grout came out when I wiped them down.  I never felt like they got clean enough to put anything worth eating directly on them.  The cupboard doors would spontaneously fall apart and come crashing to the floor.  The particle board shelves were disintegrating and smelled a little funky.  And the sink leaked.  We went back and forth with our options.  Do we just paint the cupboards and put in new countertops and backsplash?  Were the cupboards worth painting?  Would the drywall survive the backsplash removal?  What about the floor?  A cosmetic makeover just seemed like we were settling and kind of  a”mickey mouse” way to go, you know.  So, we decided it was all or nothing.

My husband graciously spent his hard earned sabbatical tearing down and then building back up a new kitchen for our first family home.  Now, he will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t the easiest project but it certainly went without any major issues.  Besides the initial planning and prep work, I think it took about 8 weeks to complete.  The kitchen was stripped right down from the floor to the ceiling so that we could start fresh.  We upgraded all the wiring and lighting and tore down 2 walls.  The bulkheads above the old cabinets were ripped out for more cabinets space and to make the ceilings feel a bit taller.  With the space now opened up, we decided to replace all the flooring.  With no differences in flooring, which draw the eye, the seamless look lends itself well to open plan spaces giving the illusion of an expansive space.  And I’ll do anything to give the illusion of space.  We are so glad we went ahead and tore down those walls, it feels like a brand new house.

Now, I would highly suggest that you do your research before gutting your kitchen.  There’s a lot of planning that needs to take place and if you are on a budget like we were, you don’t want to make any costly mistakes.  We had a lot of help from friends and family who also happen to be in the business and who know other people in the business.  Drawing from this experience saved us a lot of money.  My husband is an electrician.  My dad is in the concrete business. My brother is a builder.  My uncle is a plumber.  Our friend installs flooring.  So, our Rolodex is full of resources and I’m not sure we would have embarked on this journey if we didn’t have this kind of support.  To stay within our budget, I shopped around…a lot.  Our cabinets are lovely but we didn’t go with all the luxury options that are nice, but they add up quickly and you can always add some of those extras later on.  My open shelves are from Ikea but I found them on Craigslist.  I lucked out on a great sale at Restoration Hardware for my lighting.  I bought all our cabinet hardware at Lee Valley, where if you buy bulk amounts, you will a discount.  I bought our apron sink and faucet at Ikea for a fraction of what they usually cost.  We waited a long time for hardwood flooring that we loved and happened to be in our price range.  We researched, formed and poured our own concrete countertops.  And some things are still on the to-do list, like the backsplash and a new set of appliances.

As Lily mentioned, she helped me with the design and layout and that part was a lot of fun.  Up until almost last minute, we had the stove situated on the end wall where the bank of drawers and glass cabinet is.  The stove wall would have been all pantry.  Lily and Trish came up with the idea because they realized that my corner cabinet would be made inaccessible by the stove.  So, the plan changed and I’m so very glad it did.   After the cabinet installers had left, I had to take a moment to take it all in.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  Was this really my kitchen?

The feel of the kitchen is so much different now.  Before it was so dark and gloomy.  I did my cooking and got out as quickly as possible.  Now, it’s so bright and spacious, I linger.  I can now have a people help me whereas before we would be in each other’s way.  I have plenty of counter space to cook and bake with my girls right along side of me.  And when we entertain, I can set up meals buffet style and still have leftover counter space for cleanup.

Something on my wish list is a new table and chairs.  I dream of a parsons table made from reclaimed barnwood with a set of white vintage Eames shell chairs with the eiffel style base.  But I’m open to suggestions…please.  Another idea I have is to replace our coat closet bi-fold doors with a reclaimed barn door or maybe something more modern on a sliding track from floor to ceiling.  And of course, the front door has to go too.  There are always more ideas but ideas cost money, so sometimes the ideas must wait and I’m willing.  I think that’s just the fun part of creating a home, just happening upon that little (or big) something that fits perfectly in your space, especially if it’s at a great price.

Would I ever do it again?  Absolutely!  I’m not too sure my husband would say the same.