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These days I’m spending a lot of time in my kitchen. My old, disgusting, literally falling apart kitchen. It wasn’t in great shape when we moved in, and I had to admit that we haven’t really helped the situation over the last year (by ripping out random cabinets, cutting the power on one side of the kitchen, and closing up the entrance to the kitchen from the master bedroom, but never plastering and painting the wall).

When we first bought the house I had naive dreams of renovating the kitchen right after finishing round one of renovations (which I thought would only take two months). Well, here we are more than a year in, and we still don’t have a master bathroom or closet system, let alone a renovated kitchen.

please note that the house had TWO fridges when we toured it…

But recently we featured a home tour where the owners really focused on “making it work.” They didn’t renovate their home, opting to just updated it using paint, wallpaper, and a lot of hard work. I was IMPRESSED and decided that if they could implement that concept on their entire house, I could implement it in my kitchen.

Needless to say, I think my kitchen will need a little more than paint and elbow grease. But there certainly have to be budget ways I can update my kitchen to make it an enjoyable space to spend time in while we save up money – and emotional energy – to tackle a full-on kitchen renovation in 2-20 years.

THE BUDGET

First, I need to decide what “breaking the bank” meant to me (and Mac). My kitchen really needs some TLC to even be sanitary – The grout in the counters is falling apart making it a hotbed for stuck food and bacteria, and there are more than a few holes in the walls that need to be properly sealed in order to keep “things” out. So, I’m not just focusing on aesthetics. I need to tackle functionality as well.

After doing some soul searching and research, I’ve decided that for this kitchen update I’m setting a budget of $3000 for myself.

Sure, $3k doesn’t sound as budget as, say, $300. But versus a full-on renovation, $3k is budget. A full gut and renovation of a kitchen can easily cost upwards of $20k (That was Velinda’s Kitchen Budget and she DIY’d almost all of it). So I feel like $3k is a tight enough budget that it will force me to get creative, while also allowing me to make big enough changes to actually improve not only the appearance of the kitchen, but the functionality. But how am I going to stay within that $3k budget (give or take)?

  • Keep the cabinets I already have – I can not summon the emotional energy or budget to figure out a complete cabinet plan right now. It sounds like an impossible puzzle and even using only pre-made Ikea cabinets, the cost is just a little out of reach.
  • No new appliances – The ones we have (that came with the house!) work fine for now. When we get new cabinets maybe we’ll be able to think about adding a dishwasher or getting a pretty fridge or stove.
  • DIY – No hiring out for this project, it all needs my dad and I can do together. And yes, the free labor will definitely bring down the cost.
  • Using Leftover Material – I’ll get to this later . . . .

THE PLAN

If you know me, then you know I’m impulsive, pull triggers quickly, and change my mind equally as fast. It’s like design whiplash, and Mac should honestly be canonized for putting up with me. One day last week I impulsively texted my dad (who, along with my brother, did most of the renovation work on the rest of our house – neither of them are contractors by the way, both just handy and adept at figuring things out) all my big ideas for this kitchen “update” in one mega long text, to which he simply responded, “I’ll come over tomorrow and we’ll talk.”

The next day he showed up with a tape measure, three deli sandwiches, and more optimism than I’m used to from him. I think he’s excited to have a project to work on. And over one lunch break we brainstormed and came up with a solid plan of attack (and have been texting back and forth non-stop about it ever since).

THE FLOORS

I do not like the tile on the floor of the kitchen. But if you like it, you’re not alone! Both Jess, Julie, and Mac’s mom really like the flooring. It’s not bad tile, it’s just not my style. So I’ve got three options when it comes to flooring:

  • Design around the existing flooring – This would be the most difficult, but most interesting road to go down.
  • Rip out the existing tile and put down new tile – This sounds like the most expensive option because it would involve purchasing tile.
  • Rip out the existing tile and use extra leftover hardwood flooring – I really overbought on the hardwood almost a year ago and still have a hefty amount just chilling in the garage.

Well, I don’t think it’s hard for everyone to guess which option I’m going with. BUT IT’S THE HARDWOOD ONE. We’re going down this route for two reasons – 1.) It will cost us lots of time and labor BUT zero extra monies – I’ve already spent the money and at this point I can’t return the extra flooring (but it would have cost me about $400, which would still keep me in budget), and 2.) I think I could be really happy with hardwood floors in the kitchen permanently, so laying the majority of it now means this is huge step we’re removing from the full kitchen renovation down the road.

THE COUNTERS

The next big hurdle was deciding what to do with the counters. Not only is the tile ooogly, but the grout is disintegrating and disgusting. So, something needs to change. I came up with two ideas:

  • Repair the grout and epoxy paint the tile – I’ve watched a ton of videos of this being done and it looks successful.
  • Rip out the tile counters and replace with readymade wood counters, and epoxy paint the backsplash.

Both of these options sound somewhat labor-intensive and time-consuming, but we’re leaning towards the wood counter/painted backsplash option. Again, this is a project I would need my dad’s help with, but I think it’s going to be a more functional and aesthetically pleasing outcome.

anyone else have 4 appliances they use daily on their counter?

My dad actually built custom wood counters for my parent’s kitchen, and Jess installed a DIY wood counter in her apartment kitchen. But I found these really nice looking, pre-made butcher block counters that my dad thinks will work nicely. Dad approved!

I am REALLY excited to have all wood counters, guys. I do a lot of bread baking, noodle making, and veggie chopping, so these counters will be a very welcome addition to the kitchen.

THE CABINETS

Finally a project I can conquer on my own! The plan for the cabinets is simple – deep clean, sand, repaint, and replace hardware. My dad even came up with the plan of beveling the edges to give them a fresher look. The only question is WHAT COLOR PAINT? Do I go light? Do I got dark? Do I go dark on the bottom, light on the top and the walls? I am in true agony over this decision.

ALL THE OTHER DETAILS

There are several other changes that we’ll be making as well:

  • The biggest one is removing the door from the back wall, refurbishing the window (which is original to the house), and centering the window to the room. This won’t cost us much (just some plaster and dry wall), but will take our time and labor.
  • Swap out the overhead light fixtures, light switches, and electrical plates – Easy and affordable.
  • Add a proper standing pantry to replace the Ikea wood shelves – I’ve already found the perfect piece.
  • Install floating shelves on some empty walls space – I’d love having somewhere to put a few of my most used cooking books.
  • Get a new sink (and install a garbage disposal!) – I actually already found a gently used version of this cast iron sink on Craigslist that I’m so excited to install.
  • Find a permanent home for the cat’s litter box that isn’t right underneath the kitchen pantry.

“So if you’re doing all of this, what would a full kitchen renovation down the road constitute?,” a few of you may be asking. Well, all new cabinets for a start. In my dreams I’m able to design the custom cabinet layout of my dreams with a broom closet, all sorts of organizing solutions, and built-in pantry. I’d love to possibly move the sink to the back wall, under a window. And reconfigure a lot of the electrical. I’m sure the layout of the kitchen could be improved. And I’d like new appliances (an oven with a proofing drawer please). And a pretty tile backsplash! ANYWAYS, there are many, many things I’d like to do in a full on renovation. But this will certainly get us going, and help us down the road! Getting the window centered and the majority of the hard wood flooring laid now will be huge.

That’s the plan! I’m really excited to get moving on this, and I think my dad is too. So what is this all going to look like? Stay tuned next week, because I’ve put together way too many design mood boards and I’m ready for your input. Until then, who else is getting themselves into what they thought was going to be a small “quarantine” project that’s already started snowballing out of control?

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