Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blood, Sweat and Tears: Our Attempt at a Low-Budget Kitchen Redo

Nate and I LOVE our new house, but we knew when we bought it that it would need a bit of fixing up. The layout is fabulous (big, open ranch with a family room addition), the structure was great (new roof, heater, AC), but cosmetically....well, I know you've heard me mention wallpaper, valances....

The kitchen was something we knew we would want to do some work on. We didn't like the colors (peachy beige, iridescent fruit wallpaper), and there was a display cupboard with frosted glass doors that completely closed the kitchen off from the dining room, and made about half the couter space virtually useless.

However, we are attempting to fix things up on a budget, and are hoping to do (almost) everything ourselves. This kitchen redo would not include new cupboards, major construction work, flooring or appliances. This is NOT Extreme Makeover Kitchen Edition.

But, with a scraper, a sledgehammer, paint, primer, screwdrivers, drills and a TON of elbow grease, we're pretty happy with where we've ended up (and I'm pretty proud of my burgeoning handiness).

Here's where we started (that's our Realtor, Brenda, on the day we looked at and bought the house):

Here's a similar shot on the day we moved in. I prefer to list pictures of the house since we've owned it, but included the one above because you can see the interesting display cupboard that I mentioned.

One more to highlight the placement of the evil glass-front cupboard. And yes, that is a pink valance handing over the doorway. I have no idea. (Hi again, Brenda!)

We hadn't lived in the house for more than a few days when I walked into the kitchen and found Nate with a crowbar and hammer, tearing down the cupboard. We had no idea what we were going to do in it's place, but it had to go. We could only stand a few days of being at the cave-like kitchen and not being able to see someone sitting at the table.

It didn't take too long to get the thing down, and we both breathed a huge sigh of relief.

However, we did spend the next three months living with that ripped up section of the wall and ceiling. It had giant nails sticking out of it, and big slivers of wood where Nate had literally ripped pieces off. Classy, huh?

Next came the painting of the kitchen cupboards. I've always been partial to white kitchens, and while these cupboards aren't exactly my dream, they're in good shape, and we can't afford new ones.

I would like to point out at this point that from here on out, I did almost all of the work entirely on my own. With Nate having a crazy busy work schedule, he was nice enough to bust out the drill and take all the doors and hardware off, but after that, I was on my own. Yes, I am a teeny, tiny bit proud of my accomplishments.

If you're ever considering painting your cabinets, it's well worth it, but let me warn you. It is the WORST JOB EVER.

The doors needed three coats of paint on each side to evenly cover, and then the paint had to cure for three days before I could flip them over and do the other sides. We took off all the hardware (I purchased new handles and knobs for everything), and took off the hinges (which I spray painted a brushed nickel to match the new hardware - new hinges cost a fortune, so we revamped the old ones).

Painting the actual cupboard (which I did while the doors were drying) was also tedious, because it's almost entirely all trim work.

Yes, those are fan blades in the top right of the picture. To stay true to our cheapskated-ness, I painted the blades and got new globes for the ugly old fan. Semi-new looking fan. Total cost: $15.

Since it took the better part of a week to paint the doors (which I actually did in two shifts, so it took TWO weeks), we lived with this crazy mess for far too long. There is a VERY valid reason why cupboards have doors. And yes, my cupboards are usually this messy.

The doors were finished quite awhile ago, but we still had the lovely mess where the cupboard had been, and no idea what to do with it. We finally broke down and hired a contractor to come out and deal with that space. We knew the ceiling would need some type of drywall work, and that is beyond our expertise at this point. We decided to leave the soffit (that way we wouldn't have to redo the entire ceiling), and had an electrician come and put some lights in as this part of the kitchen was abnormally dark (I had placed a lamp on the counter, but it was always in the way).

My friend Ashley had the genius idea of building a small shelf on the wall to cover up the damage, which turned out to be perfect. We didn't have to do any wall repair, the contractor just cut a piece of wood to cover the damage, and put a coordinating piece of trim on the edge of the cabinet, where the wood had been damaged when we ripped the two cupboards apart (next time we'll plan ahead a little better before we jump into demolition).

So, here's the kitchen again on the day we saw the house:

And (drumroll), here it is today!!!!!!

It's hard to do it justice with my photography skills, but the difference is remarkable. It's bright and airy and open (there are actually no windows, so we wanted to brighten it up), and the cupboards actually almost look new.

Here's the cupboard tear-out during the process:

And here it is after:

We also did some work to the dining room, scraping wallpaper, painting trim, texturing walls (which are actually primed wood paneling, but now can pass fairly well for drywall).

The part I hate about any kind of project around the house? Things always have to get worse before they get better. It's so discouraging when you put in hours of back-breaking work, and take a break and your house looks like this:

One of the things we did decided to save up and spend a little $$ on was a new dining room table. We got a little dinette set from K-Mart as a wedding gift, and while the chairs bit the dust a few years ago, we were still using the little 4 person table (which is now a game table in our family room).

Before we moved, I found this beautiful table at Homemakers in DM. We had to wait a few months for it to be delivered (they don't make frequent trips to our corner of the state), but it's finally here, and we love it!!

It has two leaves, and can seat up to twelve people, so feel free to drop by for dinner any time!

Here's another view of the dining room on the day we moved in:

And here it is after the redo, with the new table:

Our kitchen has a great little corner with a desk, and a bunch of storage, which is great. Our computer is here, and it's nice to have it right in the middle of the house (it's where I'm sitting right now). This corner got a little makeover as well.

I toyed with the idea of painting the couters in the kitchen, but was warned that it wasn't a very good long-term solution (thanks Nealy!). However, the desk had a different formica than the kitchen (a dark, ugly faux-wood grain), so I decided to give the paint a try on the desk.

I love how it looks, and while I agree it probably wouldn't be great for a kitchen space that takes a lot of abuse, it worked great for this little spot.

The very last thing we did was update the back entry a bit. The door got a coat of chalkboard paint (I love that stuff!) and is where I keep our dinner menu for the week. We have a big pantry in the kitchen, which had sliding double doors. They were big and heavy and it bugged me that you couldn't open it up all the way, so we finally just took them off and decided to leave it that way. Now I just have to make sure I always keep the pantry organized!

So that's pretty much it! While it won't win any design awards, we love what you can do with a little bit of paint and a whole lot of patience. We're working our way through the house room by room (the living room is almost done, too!), and are loving the house more and more as it slowly starts to feel like "us."

There are a few more changes I'd love to make in the kitchen...the off-white fridge is out of place with the white cupboards (anyone have any opinions about appliance paint?), and the floors are kind of grungy (you can paint tile floors, too!), but for now, I think this is good enough :)


Mindy322 said...

So cool Linds! I just love your remodeling updates. LOVE the white cupboards and LOVE your little desk nook. So neat...great job!! ;)

Lindsay said...

Linds, I just love it! Everything! Way to go!!!!!!!!!!

Karen said...

It's amazing! Great work and GREAT PATIENCE! I think it should win an award!

Katie Rose said...

looks amazing! great job!

Joanna said...

Love it!!

Kravtsovs said...

I love it!!! That is so amazing what you can do with so little!!! Keep going!!!

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