Monday, February 11, 2013

Renovating a Kitchen on a Budget

This is a long time in coming, but I'm finally posting pictures of our kitchen renovation. We spent the first two years in our house complaining about our kitchen and now finally we have one we love!

It had looked fine at first glance when we were house hunting, but once we settled in we found plenty not to like. I hated the beige cabinetry that had been refaced so many times and was so old that it was actually slanted, which in turn made things like the dishwasher not fit in snugly. It didn't come with cabinetry on one wall or a built in island, so we had kept the previous owners' not very attractive rolling island and our very ugly but functional storage cart.  Instead of backsplash, it boasted unfortunate wainscotting. And forget any modern amenities like under cabinet lighting or soft close drawers. It overall had too much of a country vibe for our otherwise contemporary house, and it was pretty run down.

Before: Our old kitchen
I'd always been afraid to tackle a major renovation because you hear horror stories of $30,000 kitchen redos, and our time horizon in this house isn't long enough to justify blowing so much on it. We got some bids from local renovation companies, but they were all bananas ($20K+ on average). We were aiming to spend something closer to $10,000, with the knowledge that you always go over budget.

My father is a real estate developer, so we were lucky to have him volunteer to play a contractor role, which saved us quite a bit of money. That said, we still found some great ways to keep things reasonable. We were gutting everything other than appliances, so we had lots to do!

I did a ton of research into kitchen design before I landed on a plan. You can see my pinterest inspiration board here. You'll quickly notice I was attracted to all white kitchens. They are oh so on-trend at the moment, and I felt like they were classic enough that it would be reasonably easy to sell even after trendsetters move on to the next big thing.

After: Our new kitchen!
New cabinetry was going to be our biggest single expenditure, and we found a great source - J&K Bath and Kitchen. It's a Chinese company with a local (Norcross) showroom. Note, they only sell to contractors, so you need to have someone place the order for you. These cabinets are all real wood, unlike the composite cabinets you find at places like Ikea or even expensive vendors. It's crazy that people are actually charging more for something that isn't 100% wood. J&K's cabinets also come with the soft close, and we've found them to be very high quality in the 6 or so months we've been using them now.

J&K sent out a cabinet installer sub-contractor who worked with us to design the perfect layout. We definitely wanted a built-in island to maximize on prep space, and we wanted to make use of all of the walls since the overall footprint of the kitchen isn't huge.

On the island, we opted for an overhang where we could set up two stools, a built in microwave and bookcase for cookbooks. We also included add-ons like a a spice drawer on the island and an appliance garage next to the sink. I love how functional it is now!

I was shocked at how expensive built in microwaves are - we're talking $500-1000. My deal hunting honey kept an eye out online and eventually found a Jenn Air that would have retailed for ~$1200 on close out at a retailer called Carlson's for about $400.

Granite was our second biggest expenditure. We used Art Stone, which also had a local showroom in Smyrna. There we were able to look at actual slabs and pick the style we liked best and ultimately even the exact piece of granite we wanted to use. Here we spent more than originally intended, but Glacier White was so darn pretty with it's streaks of light and dark gray and flecks of purple that we couldn't resist.

I had always wanted backsplash instead of that hideous wainscotting. White subway tile seemed an obvious fit for an all white kitchen, but I wanted to keep things interesting, so we had them install it in a herringbone pattern. So glad we did - there isn't that much tile on our walls, so the interesting pattern makes it look pretty darn cool.

Herringbone pattern white subway tile
Last up were paint and accessories. I didn't want things too white, so we chose a dark gray paint, Antique Tin from Behr, which I think really makes the white cabinets and greyish counters pop. For the rug, we chose dark purple Flor tiles so we could easily replace anything that got stained. They are of course not making the one we bought any more, but here are some other purple options. We also found a great le creuset ceramic crock to corral our kitchen utensils and purple dish towels. We also went with modern feeling cabinet hardware from (amazing that url goes to actual cabinet knobs, right?!)

Our last big decision was counter stools. We wanted something comfortable but classic with a vintage feel. We found marais style stools at a variety of retailers, but Industry West proved to be the best deal with low backed Marais stools in gunmetal ringing in at $145 each.

Other less expensive but pricey details were needing to refinish the floors and pay for our handyman to do the wiring for under-counter lighting and new can lights. OPnce you counted in things we weren't originally planning for, like refinishing the floors and splurging on a built in microwave, we ended up at about $13K, which was notably over budget, but way cheaper than the national average of $15-20K.

The renovation took a couple of weeks, and we've been loving it since this summer. I feel happy every time we are in it, and it's so much more useful now. It wasn't cheap, but I feel like we'll more than make our money back in enjoyment and the extra value it's added to the house.

Kitchen Renovation Sources:

Cabinets - J&K
Granite - Art Stone in Glacier White
Paint - Antique Tin from Behr
Counter Stools - Industry West
Rug - Flor
Tile backsplash - Daltile
Cabinet hardware -

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