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Kitchen Remodeling 101

Hi Friend,

I have been wanting to sit down and put together a blog about my own kitchen remodel for a while. Finding the time, well, that is always the challenge! But here we are... I finally did!

There are so many different cogs of the wheel that go into a remodel, but I will just put together a brief summary of the roadmap I created in putting together my own personal kitchen.  Although I have helped others in their own home, having someone come in and demo my own is a lot more personal.

A bit of Background: We downsized into quite a small home last year (our second downsize).  Letting go of all the "junk" really makes you laser focus on what you really want. Therefore, I knew that in going into this remodel, I wanted to thoroughly enjoy this kitchen and I wanted to go into my happy place when I wake up every morning and go into it every single day.  The kitchen is small and narrow, but it did allow room for an island.  The other two challenges were - half of the home was over 100 years old, part of the kitchen floor was not level, and the only water heater we had was about ⅓ of the size of a regular water heater, and it was taking away precious “real estate" under the kitchen counter.  Those things had to be addressed first.

Here's a picture of the original kitchen with the countertop that sort of zig zagged over the short water heater and dishwasher. The rest of the kitchen countertop was looow and kind of weird for my height. Doing dishes made me have to reach down for the first time ever. Funny thing is, the microwave on the other side of the kitchen was so high up I couldn't reach to put things in! Was there one short person and one tall person that lived there? Who knows!

Being that I wanted this home's style to be vintage french country cottage, I poked around to find an inspiration pic:


Of course, the cabinets I chose were slightly different, and there were a lot of things that were different, but this was a creative start. I like to save pics over time of things I like, and that's just the "creative" in me. Does anyone else do that?

As I set out to manage my own home project, having good trades who knew what they were doing and were efficient was critical. Between taking the time to research, asking a lot of questions, and being fully prepared, well, that's the time factor (and why Designers charge what they do).

So, the first expense was to get a full size water heater, and find another place for it. That was an expense, but it was well worth it. Again, I needed that space for storage! My first hot bath with the new water heater was the most expensive bath I ever had, but SO worth it. The new water heater got it's own home outdoors, just outside the outer kitchen walls.

Ugly previous floors - below

Then, the cabinetry and floors had to be ripped out. The floors in the dining room (builder grade tile that I haaated) were also removed, and then the floor leveler specialist had to jack up the house where needed and insert posts, raising up the floor to at least be able to have primarily straight and level cabinets (another expense). On a good note, we were told the floor joists were some of the most solid wood under the house. Too bad I couldn't show that off when people came over! haha

With the inspirational pic, I had considered butcher block countertops, but between the farmhouse sink I had purchased and factors with the butcher block not working well with that type of sink along with the maintenance, I bit the bullet and purchased gorgeous quartz countertops.  I paid about $1,000 more than I had thought I would, but I decided to go with something that mimicked marble, and it was a higher grade quartz, hence, more money.

After the kitchen demo, my team, as part of their service, put in a temporary sink (not shown) plus a temporary countertop (shown below) so I would have one to rely on in between the processes.  The old fridge went into the living room (a man’s dream) until the new one was installed, and things started rolling along.

Below is the old fridge that got moved into the living room until the new one arrived - a man's dream, right? You can also see the builder grade tile in the dining room that was replaced. Ignore the random furniture and weird arrangement due to the temporary home upheaval.

Where I decided to spend, and where to save:

*I went with a more expensive grade quartz (Statuario Favo)

*I wanted the window pane look with the bubble glass  in the upper cabinets, but in this case, with our cabinet company I chose, it was included in the price. I spent more on the cabinetry than just a lower grade type, so that cost a little bit more. The mid-grade cabinets in 20 years would still hold up well, with the dovetailed drawers and the sturdiness of the cabinet components.

*I chose for the tall cabinet by the fridge to be the “pantry” so the bottom sections had the pull outs for easy access.  We also purchased a new appliance bundle that included a stackable washer and dryer right off the kitchen back hallway to allow for more storage for pantry items in the laundry closet. So we kept the original dishwasher and purchased a new slightly larger fridge and standard size stove. Getting an appliance bundle was great but was also stressful, as all items had to come from the same brand line - washer /dryer HAD to be GE.

Backsplash Tile Selections

I had first narrowed down to 3 backsplashes. That took a while in itself! The far left and far right were my favorite two, as the one in the middle was gorgeous, but had a more "earthy" feel (less sheen). I decided these tiles were like the pearl necklace of my kitchen. The window treatments brought in my love for Monet colors, plus love for blue (shown later).

The backsplash was the hardest choice for me as I had already picked out the quartz. I did not want anything too trendy, nor did I want it to compete with the luscious countertop, and eventually I had it narrowed down between a blue hex tile and a white hex (both had a little bit of iridescence in them).  I eventually went with the white as I really wanted everything to have a super timeless look to it.

Below you can see the up close of the countertop, and you can also see the handles for the drawers. All doors had the dark pewter colored knobs in same finish.

The hardware I chose for the curtain rods and for the faucet were a bronzish black color and I chose antique pewter pulls and knobs for the cabinetry drawers and doors.  I did pick something different for the island with some antique roses on them.

Island Pulls - below

The flooring we chose was a warm acacia looking LVF that went well with this older home’s “bones.” We chose a thicker plank due to getting a much longer wear record and warranty.

Last, I had an island custom made and I chose to have it be a lighter blondish pickled wood with the same countertops as the rest.  I did give up a little storage space by not having doors, but it really opened up the kitchen and gave me a chance to showcase my grandmother’s original Pyrex. Funny thing, my mom had the same set, and when she would talk to others at church when planning a fellowship supper, they would tell each other which color bowl they were bringing which food in. I always remember potato salad being in the yellow bowl!

Paint Color: SW 6371 Vanillin - nice, soft yellow

(Doesn't look like it if on the SW online page)

Anyway, the end result made me so happy, and I brought my love for vintage, Monet, and my love for blue from the whole house palette to the kitchen by choosing a soft yellow for the walls and a lovely blue fabric for the simple window treatments to frame it all.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and I just wanted to let you know that whether you choose to manage your own remodel, have me oversee the process, or hire a turn key company, you need to always account for a margin more than your original estimate, so add in probably at the very least 10% to your budget. Hiring a designer to help you coordinate things in the end can save you from making very expensive mistakes. My granite guy just told me about one of his customers who made a countertop mistake and just weeks after the install, went with a lighter color, due to the lighting in that room. Yep, surprise, surprise, a designer can actually save you money and help you make good choices!

Here is a rough break down of the cost of my own kitchen (of course, the floor leveling added more to the price, and I did not include the new hot water heater). I will also be adding some extra lighting in the future under the countertops and above the sink where I display my "pretties." Also, keep in mind, this is a small kitchen. I think my installers included electric connections in their price, but I left a blank line item there.

On a final note, here are some things to consider:

Reach out to a few companies - faster may not be better depending on subcontractors, trades, reputation, etc. You can always start by calling me in for a consultation.

Ask a lot of questions.

Know your flow in your kitchen and your work “zones."

Know what you may want to add in later if the budget gets too tight.

Know what you can and cannot live without (sort of).

Be sure you really make good choices. For me, I don't want to have to re-do something in 5 years. I hate throwing things into the landfill, and I hate throwing money away!

I'd love your feedback on this blog, please shoot me a message if you can!

Thanks for reading!



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