Thursday, August 25, 2011

How I Remodeled My Kitchen

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my new kitchen (you can see that here).  Since then, I have received a few emails asking for some details about the process - what did we do ourselves, what color granite did we use, how long did it take, etc.  So I gathered more old pictures in hopes that I could answer some of those questions.  First, let's take a look at the old kitchen (from the day we got the keys) -

The kitchen had been remodeled in 1989.  And it looked like it.  But I was convinced I could remodel it on a budget.  I was planning to just paint the cabinets and make a few other minor changes.  And then we moved in.  We quickly realized that the kitchen was very poorly planned.  Here's a list of the problems:

     - There was very little space between the stove and sink.  It was difficult to get any work done there.

     - The sink was a two bowl old yucky ceramic nightmare.  No matter how hard I tried, it was never going to be white again.  And the two bowls were too small to wash any pot or pan without splashing water all over everything.

     - The trash compactor...well I don't even need to finish that sentence really.  Of course it no longer worked.  And I didn't want it anyway.  So we were just putting white tall kitchen garbage bags in there like a regular garbage can.  Not great.

    -  The dishwasher leaked therefore we were not using it.  And it had a funky smell to it.  Yuck.

     - The pantry, next to the double ovens, was too small for a family of six.  And it had slide out shelves with space on the sides where all most of the food would fall into and get stuck.

     - Although I loved the idea of double ovens when we looked at this house, I realized that I didn't really need them.  And I'd rather use the space in a more practical-for-me way.

     - The cut-out for the fridge was too small to fit any of the new refrigerator's in it.  This one was dying, and I wanted something bigger (again - family of six).  We even thought about buying two refrigerators and putting one in the garage.  It was a thought.

     - The granite was pink and gray.  Yup.

     - There was a huge overhang/counter/table thing which was made from the same pink/gray granite which made it impossible for us to fit any table in the eating area.  It was strange - although not the strangest thing in this house (Here is the strangest thing we found).

     - The old huge intercom/radio in the wall didn't work anymore.

     - The expansive view of white 12x12 tile on the floor was not attractive.  At all.  And there was no way it would stay clean for 5 minutes in my house.  Four kids + ugly house that needs a complete renovation = not going to wash the kitchen floor everyday.

     - There was a wall of mirrors.  Kinda like a fun house.  And it didn't make the room look bigger.  It made the room look awful.  And dated.  Like it was remodeled in 1989.

     - The ceiling in the cabinet/appliances area had been dropped about a foot.  It was drywalled and not a drop ceiling but it still felt cave-like in there.  I guess people were shorter in the 80's.

So that was the short list of problems we faced.  A minor face-lift - no matter how many times we tried to plan it - would not solve all of the glaring problems.  A few months in, we started tearing it apart.  Craig and I did all of the demo.  Here's how it went down -

Craig popped up all of the old tile (that was a long process.  He used a power chisel to pry the tiles up.  I have a couple pics of this process but he wasn't wearing a shirt so...).  Then I spent about 7 months pulling all of the nails out of the sub floor.  :-)  The room might have been ugly, but it was built to last.  Next, we removed the upper cabinets.  A friend helped us - and reused those cabinets in his own house!  Then it was time to take down the dropped ceiling.  Craig used a hammer, crowbar, pretty much any tool that was close to bring that drywall down.  And it looked like this -

A little explanation - this is the view towards the family room (which is behind the pink door.  Did I mention the trim was painted pink?).  To the left was the fridge and double ovens.  To the right was the longer counter space, stove and sink.  In the pic, some of the ceiling has been removed.  Can you see how low the ceiling was on the right side?  That's coming out next -

By this point, even through the mess, we knew we had made the right decision in renovating the kitchen.  We cleaned this up and took out the bottom cabinets -

At this point we also widened the doorway into the family room and had the ceiling dry walled.  We had added recessed lighting up there too.  And speakers (because my husband likes electronics).  And I was still trying to make meals in here (ok maybe just sandwiches and cereal - the only things in here that worked were the sink and fridge.).  Another small point - the wall on the right of that doorway had previously been on an angle.  We chose to square that off.  It gave us much more counter space.

This was sort of tiring.  We had done most of this work by ourselves.  We were well on our way to our dream kitchen.  And we were very ready.  But there is a lot more to the process, so I'll show you how we put it all back together in a post tomorrow.  The pictures are much prettier.  I promise.  But if you need a sneak peek -

Do you recognize those white planters?  I wrote about those here.  They really look great in the new kitchen!

Update - To see the the second part of this post, check out How I Remodeled My Kitchen - The Fun Part!