A Remodel of Our Itty-Bitty Kitchen

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Dec 6, 2009
Mid-Atlantic, USA
Over 30 years ago, I bought this house. It had the most ugly laminate in the kitchen but had the most gorgeous stove from the 1940s. It also had original metal cabinets. My thought at that time was to get the stove refurbished and add more metal cabinets, and tile the floor with some tile with a 1940s look. For years, I looked for someone to refurbish the stove. By years, I mean decades. I found people that were out of state that would take on the job. By the time I had someone remove the stove, pack it up, ship it, refurbish it, return it, unpack it, and return it to the kitchen, I was not far off from a significant cost of a total remodel.

Regardless, I still lingered wishing for a miracle for the stove. Since I've been here, we have worked with it. It had a burner that was completely frozen so we could not use it, but hey, three worked! Then the oven was red-tagged by the fire department. A repairman who advertised that he worked on antiques walked into the kitchen, glanced at it and said, "Nope." We fixed with with a machine screw and a little prayer. It was not level nor were we able to level it. Then two other burners started to have troubles. It was time. If refurbishing the stove was off the table, we decided that we would strip it down to the itty-bitty bare walls and floor.

We called multiple contractors. Now, I have never done a remodel like this. I could not find anyone to give me a price. Like give me a range! I honestly felt like people wanted me to give them a blank check. One was able to give me a cost of 53K. That is not a typo. It did not include walls, floors, hardware on cabinets or appliances. It also did not include the cost of plumbing.....or electric.

Another wanted to "start" at 23K. This included a 4K cabinet budget. Yet one more wanted me to tear out walls between the dining room and kitchen. The fact I did not want an eat in kitchen did not seem to matter. It was going to happen whether I wanted it or not. And he was intending to charge 34K with no appliances and "bottom line of our quality cabinets" to start. Laminate would have been floors. No electric or plumbing.

I went to Lowes when I first started to explore possibilities. Now, typically, I go to Lowes and such, and get people who can read boxes. Giving advice was not really there if it is not on the box. Luck was with us though. We had a kitchen consultant that was a retired contractor, and he gave us lots of good advice (including when we may wish to look elsewhere.) I was planning to install is pot filler, but he quickly noted that my sink was only a few inches from my stove now. He told me to go home and see if my kitchen sink nozzle reached. (It did. Easily. Who knew?)

He guided us through a ton of cabinets offered by Lowes. I originally selected one that was pretty spendy, but he shared that the finish was not as durable as the finishes on another cabinet made by the same manufacturer. Also, the other cabinet was a bit less expensive and has a solid wood frame. Additionally, he advised when certain things went on-sale. In the end, we selected some really nice cabinets that were 30% on-sale and the paint was free as part of the sale. Appliances went on-sale as part of the big Labor Day sale, and there was additional money off if we purchased a package. If I purchased a warranty on the refrigerator, he shared that it was cheaper if I bought a warranty on two appliances. (Only 5 dollars less, but the dishwasher is now under warranty too.)

The downside in going through Lowes was that we had to do a lot of our own legwork and are our own project managers. (Remember, we have never done anything like this before.) But with our kitchen consultant, he would point us in directions and work with our choices.

I told the kitchen consultant that I needed a contractor. He said that he would ensure that a really quality guy installed our cabinets. And then he added, it is who I would want if I were having cabinets installed....and he does other things too. I had the recommended guy come in and he does everything. While I am technically paying Lowes to install my cabinets, I hired the contractor with a real contract to complete other things like plumbing, electric, floor, etc. etc. etc.

In planning the kitchen, I fell in love with quartz countertops. Our consultant advised when there was a sale, and the sink came with the sale of the countertop AND the company does the installation at a pretty low price.

We wanted a "touchless sink." There were several we were considering, and found one on Costco for pennies on the pound. It was made by Kohler.

So...the best part, by being our own project managers, we had much more left in our budget to purchase appliances. The refrigerator is my splurge item. It makes artesian ice, including perfectly spherical ice cubes. When the floor tile did not arrive as expected, we made tons of calls, etc. In the end, the tile was delivered on Sunday and we had to pick up one of the boxes of tile to be ready for Monday. Frustrating, but...Artesian ICE! :w00t2:

Here are some photos of the kitchen prior to making any changes.


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Days 1-3

To prepare for the remodel, we packed everything out of the kitchen. It's an itty-bitty kitchen, but I was floored how much stuff was in it! We took a week to pack it all out so we did not feel overly rushed.

One thing I knew I wanted was light. As we get older, we find ourselves struggling to see things in the kitchen. There is a small pantry through the door to the basement that had no light what-so-ever. While cleaning out everything for the remodel, we were constantly saying, "Oh...hey! We DO have pineapple rings. Look! Didn't you want some Thousand Island dressing?" With light, we hope we will be able to see it.

So here are some pictures of the completely empty kitchen and the past three days.

Day 1, all of the laminate was removed. Day 2, electric was roughed in and the recessed lights in the kitchen were added. Day 3, lighting was added in the pantry. The ventilation for the new stove was also roughed in and a socket was moved so that the refrigerator can plug into the back. Also, some wood strips were added so that they can hang cabinets. Tomorrow is Day 4.


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Sounds like you got a really good kitchen consultant. It really gives confidence when a sales person is willing to tell you to go with the slightly cheaper item, because it's actually better. I'll bet that it's good business to give good info.
Kathleen! So very excited for you! and congrats on finding the right guy.

I've lived through remodeling parts of 2 houses and building 2 houses. My ex worked part time for a contractor (high school buddy).

It's amazing what you learn thru those. You're going to be good to go for the next job! :LOL:
How wonderful that you are sharing this adventure with us.

Equally wonderful is that you found this particular consultant.

Looking forward to you posting through finish. :)

Day 4

The crew hammered and drilled all day. I see the new exhaust vents have been put in. Also some upper cabinets have been hung on one side. The color of the cabinets is called Surfside and they are made by KraftMaid. For those that were hung, under cabinet lights were installed.



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Day 5

What kind of under-cabinet lights did you get? I need some.

The lights are hardwired LEDs and were purchased at Lowe's. The brand was called "Good Earth Lighting." We had plug in lights for many years though. They were also LEDs and it was pretty easy to hide the wires without drilling as the cords were very flexible and so we ran them beneath the back of the underside of the cabinets. With under-cabinet lights, the big thing for me is that I can turn them on and off individually. I did not want them on a switch. There are few in my kitchen so it was not a big deal to not have them on a switch. If I had many, I may have wanted something else where I could kick them on all at once. LEDs can be very "office-like" lighting, but there are many options of soft white or warm glow. I went with soft white so that the colors of items look more true to what they are.

Today, our contractor completed the outside vent ductwork and electrical outlet for the hood/microwave. They put down the floor over the subfloor and started to lay tile. Also, they hung more upper cabinets. It's exciting to see it starting to look like a room again.

After looking at the back of the schematic for the stove, the gas line needed moved. Not far, but it did take some time to complete.

Appliances are supposed to be delivered Wednesday, November 18. The quartz countertop is suppose to be measured on Monday, November 23. It will take about two weeks for the countertop to be cut and installed.

We had a small setback in that they put the under-cabinet lighting in without remembering that there will be a shelf under the middle cabinets. I think it is a fairly small thing.

Here is the photo for today!


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OOOOOOO!!! What an exciting time! Kitchen remodels are wonderful. Yours is coming along nicely.
Thanks to all for the kind comments. Fun.....erm......yes, it would be if we were not covered in dust. :LOL: It's definitely exciting....like when you hear, "Well....sure didn't expect that" from those working in the kitchen. :ROFLMAO:

Kathleen, what color, etc. are the floor tiles?

The tile has two tones of grey in it along with a soft white. It's called matte Avalon Gray Encaustic Porcelain floor tile and is made by Della Torre. I originally selected a different tile, but decided to go to Lowes to hold the tile up to the cabinet color and countertop before buying. In doing so, we changed to this tile choice and also selected a slightly different counter top. :)

Wow! Hope all goes well with this remodel. Can't wait to see the whole thing. Love it!

Me too! I can't wait to see whether I can fit the stuff we took out of the old one back into the new. :wacko:


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Day 6

The contractor is right on schedule. One hears such horror stories, so I am thankful. We ordered everything back in September. I requested delivery of my appliances for this Wednesday, and I had been told that they were in. Then today, I am told that Lowe's has the stove and dishwasher, but not the microwave/hood vent or my refrigerator. :glare: I don't get artesian ice without the refrigerator. I'm especially unhappy because the countertops are scheduled to be measured next Monday. I was planning for the countertops to be installed the first week of December, then painting and done.

Today, the contractor (who is spot on schedule) laid most of the tile with only two small spots left. He intends to complete the tile and start grouting tomorrow.

I love the floor.....but am a bit stressed over the fridge. I mean....I ordered it in September....


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