More House Like: Kitchen

So, it was so much fun blogging about the outside of my house, I’ve to keep at it while exiled for the Dreaded Home Inspection (really hoping all my wiring is up to code…)

First stop: the kitchen. The previous owners were under the impression that they had “done the kitchen.” Well, not to get into that trailer thing again, but…

Trailer kitchen. (Text added by my husband when he sent me photos of the house.)

…this kitchen was so NOT done. Those are the original cabinets. Now, in a turn-of-the-century Victorian or a Sears cottage, that might be a good thing. In a 1968 rambler it is decidedly not. They were cheap particle board with one coat of flat white paint slapped on them. The microwave is sitting on a piece of plywood. The inside shelves were sagging and so nasty I immediately decided that I wouldn’t even be using them temporarily. They had to go. This minute.

The brown and pink granite was clearly purchased at a Home Depot clearance. The ceiling is actually flesh-colored, it’s not just the camera. In fact all the ceilings were flesh-colored. I can think of no explanation for this!

The floor was Pergo. I hate Pergo.

Barbie kitchen.

To top it all off, the walls were bubblegum pink. And there were six HUGE pot lights in the ceiling. The really cheap, industrial kind. When they were turned on, the temperature in the kitchen immediately went up 10 degrees. When the totally un-vented stove was on at the same time, it was a sauna in there. A Barbie sauna.

Anyway, we got an estimate on a complete refit of the kitchen, and it was a little too rich for our blood. So, we decided to renovate it ourselves. While I wouldn’t want to take that on again, I have to say, as far as saving money goes, it was worth it. The estimate we got for a basic refit was 22 to 26K. We did the whole thing, with upgraded appliances, for about 12K. So, we saved at least 10K, probably more like 16K.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the photos of the gutted kitchen. But we ripped absolutely everything out. This was hard work, but because everything was so flimsy, not as bad as you might think. The cabinets were not very heavy. The dishwasher and fridge were trailer-quality and went on Freecycle, along with the Pergo and the hideous granite counter (which weighed a ton, but two big guys came and spirited it away–I love Freecycle!) The cabinets were not even worth Freecycling, so they went in the dumpster. The stove was actually OK, but we really wanted gas, so we gave it to my parents, who are still using it.

Under the Pergo was some horrible old vinyl, so we put heavy plywood down over that. A lot of work to do right (meaning, a ton of screws) but not rocket science. Then I repaired all the beat-up walls, and we started installing Ikea cabinets. They were just like Ikea furniture. A gazillion parts and diagrams with little bubble-headed people showing you what to do. There’s a bit of tedious work and cussing involved in getting everything level and hung on the walls, but they are good and solid once it’s done. We have not had a single problem with them.

I had an electrician install lots of outlets (there had been only two). I should have had him remove those pot lights and install the ceiling fan, but instead I ended up doing it myself. Now that was a nasty job. Also, I should have planned ahead and had him install under-cabinet lighting. We have plug-in lights that are OK, but hardwired lights would be a lot tidier.

Lowe’s installed a Corian countertop. A plumber installed the gas stove and a vent to the roof.

We laid down a plain vinyl tile floor which I actually regret, but it only cost $60 and has lasted really well. Not one little corner has come up. If I could do it over, I would have just had the flooring guys run the wood floor into the kitchen.

The finishing touch, about a year later when I felt sufficiently recovered, was to install a tile backsplash. We got enough tumbled marble for the backsplashes and then some for $300 on sale at Home Depot Expo.  That was kind of fun, actually. I wouldn’t mind doing another backsplash some day. I have a thing for recycled glass tile…

And here’s the finished product. Pretty nice for 12K.

So not a trailer kitchen.
Cabinets designed especially for my Polish pottery. And pot drawers.  I loves my pot drawers.
Big pantry closet on the right, for the Costco family. I use it as an appliance garage as well.

And that is the first and last complete kitchen renovation we will ever do on our own! I will sure know what I am talking about when I hire people to do the work next time, though. If I renovate another kitchen, I probably would not hire a designer beyond talking to the guys at the hardware store. I would feel confident cutting out the middleman and do the planning, measuring, and contracting myself for the various different jobs involved. I kind of hope I get a chance to put that into practice, actually. It’s really very nice to have a kitchen designed just the way you want it!


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