Our Two Week ~$7K Kitchen Remodel

As I mentioned in our catch-up list, we renovated our kitchen this summer in about 2 weeks for about $7K ( I originally said 6, I was forgetting the sink my mental math, oops). It was extra extra of me.

If moving 10 days before your baby is born twice isn’t insane enough, on baby #2 we also decided to tackle an overhaul of our kitchen in a 2-3 week window before we had a little get together to introduce Charlie to friends and family. Nothing like piling on the pressure to ensure sh*t gets done!

When we bought our house, it was clear that it needed some serious updating. It had been immaculately maintained and did a good job of meeting our must-haves (4+ bedrooms, 2.5+ baths, nice backyard, play space, semi-open concept, decent master suite) but it was very dated in terms of decor and the kitchen was lacking in both form and function.

We knew the kitchen would need to be renovated, but we didn’t plan to tackle it right away. We thought we’d need to save up both money and energy. But then we just went ahead and did it anyway. Why? Because in a surge of postpartum hormones I flipped out about it. It’s not flattering, but it is true.

Months of uncertainty and a difficult pregnancy meant that I had no ability to nest. And we house-hunted in a terrible seller’s market, so this house was FULL of compromises for me. It’s a nice house but far more suburban and cookie-cutter than I’d ever expected to purchase.  My first house hunt had been focused all on character, and while my old house had issues it was LONG on character and charm. This house was seriously lacking in the character department and once we’d stripped out all the 90s florals, no where was the lack of character more apparent than in the kitchen

We had planned to invite people over to celebrate Charlie’s arrival, and the thought of bringing people into that kitchen was just killing me. I knew we couldn’t tackle everything I wanted to do, but I took an inventory of the must-dos and hatched a plan. Then I calmly presented it to Aaron. Or I cried about how my ugly house was killing my soul… You decide. Either way in a fit of mercy, he agreed.

So the kitchen… it had:

  • 80/90s heavy grain oak cabinetry
  • scalloped, squatty upper cabinets
  • an island too small to be functional
  • a general lack of storage
  • an electric range
  • mismatched appliances
  • a gross old fridge
  • florescent tube box lights
  • some of the ugliest laminate counter tops I’ve ever seen
  • and it stopped several feet short to leave room for a breakfast table we didn’t need

On the plus side, it has:

  • nice neutral porcelain tile (that admittedly wouldn’t be my first choice but is very high quality and quite functional) so we didn’t need to undertake the expense or effort of new flooring
  • a lack of sofits, so we didn’t need to do demo to install full height cabinets
  • lower cabinets with a classic raised-panel door made of solid wood which we would spruce and keep
  • the too small island cabinet was floating, so we were able to reuse it by moving to the adjacent wall of cabinets to extend the kitchen space

Here are before shots I took while house-hunting:

We were/are contemplating a large addition to the house in the 3-5 year time frame if we stay put, and if we do it, it’ll change the floor plan and expand the kitchen. With this in mind, we didn’t want to invest a lot of money in materials that would be ripped out if we want to add on.  And since we’d recently had baby and bought a new house in a seller’s market, we weren’t necessarily in a financial position for a super splurgey kitchen reno anyway. So we moved forward on a plan for a relatively quick, relatively inexpensive (in terms of kitchen remodel average costs, not actual dollars) kitchen reno. We decided to splurge on the items that would work in this kitchen and/or a future expanded kitchen and save anywhere else we could.

Our projects and costs:

  1. Swap out florescent light boxes for new pendant lanterns ($275)
  2.  Remove original Upper Cabinets (these are going eventually be hung in our garage for workshop cabinets) and replace with pre-assembled 42″ cabinets with a door panel to match lowers (~$1200)
  3. Install original mini-island as a contiguous lower cabinet
  4. Build a new island out of two stock lower cabinets and trim out (~$500)
  5. Remove ugly laminate counter tops and replace with butcher block stained with Walnut danish oil  (~$650)
  6. Retrofit existing sink cabinet to accommodate fancy farmhouse sink and install new brass faucet (~$900)
  7. Paint all lower cabinets navy to update dated orangey oak finish (~$100)
  8. Install new brass pulls to all cabinets (~$185)
  9. Install Subway Tile back-splash (~$150)
  10. Trade out mismatched appliances for matching stainless steel appliances and have gas line run to stove (~$3000)
  11. Install crown molding on upper cabinets (~$300)

The Durings:

Now tbh, I say it was a two week kitchen reno, but that’s not the whole story. We got 90+% of the way done in our two week window, and then let the last 10% languish for the rest of the summer still undone. We need some tips on getting those clean-up, finish type tasks over the line. Any ideas?

Anyway, here’s the good stuff – the afters!

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