My Home Tour – Kitchen
Raise your hand if you want to see my greatest home improvement masterpiece.
When we bought our home we knew it was dated and ugly. While doing our final walk-through, a friend of mine happened to be driving by. I asked her if she wanted to see the home we were thinking about purchasing. As she walked through the house she cringed. From room to room it just got worse and worse. It was disgusting! She pleaded with me, “Please do not buy this house.”
I knew that the house had good bones, and had potential to be beautiful. It just needed that classic TLC. My only question was, did I have enough patience to give it? This would be our third home. The previous two we had fixed up as well. Each time the remodels had increased in complexity and time consumption. I remember my husband looking at me, and then back at the kitchen. We were in the last stages of deciding on whether to buy it or not. “Are you sure that you can make this kitchen beautiful?” he asked. I nodded with confidence outwardly, even though I was somewhat unsure on the inside. He then replied, “If you can do this, if you can pull this off, it will be your GREATEST MASTERPIECE!” Now I was scared, but up for the challenge.
As you can see, in the before pictures, the kitchen had a very 80’s feel to it. There definitely was a need for updating. So let the fun begin.
REMOVING THE SOFFIT
One of the first things we had to take care of was the large soffit that extended out over the cabinets. They made the kitchen feel small and, at times, even claustrophobic. The soffit did have lights in it, but they could only be turned on with a switch by the sink. There was only one light that turned on in the middle of the kitchen when you walked in and flipped the switch, making it still very dark, so we started there. We removed the soffit and reconfigured the lights, by adding and updating the lights to recessed lights in the kitchen, instantly making a huge difference.
NEW COUNTER TOPs
Next, were the counters. We decided that we would remove the counters and backsplash and replace the counters with granite. The counters come with a stainless steel sink, but we opted to upgrade the sink to a granite sink instead. This is one of the areas where I had professional help. Totally worth it, in my opinion.
MAKING A COUNTER OVERHANG AND THE BOTTOM CABINETS
The layout of the kitchen, at the time, had a small eating nook in front of the patio door. I knew that, for our families needs, we would rather extend out our counters and allow for an overhang with bar stools. I would take out the eating nook area all together. I also knew that I did not want to have corbels under the counter to support the weight of the granite, so instead I built columns to resemble a desk. It was quite fun to have friends and neighbors walk in, during construction, and see beautiful new counters on top of the hideous cabinets that most people would consider to be garbage. Im sure their thoughts were, “what are you doing, you idiot? You just threw your money away.”……. Patience Daniel-Son!
For the base cabinets. I decided that I would reuse the old cabinets, but give them a complete overhaul. I covered all sides of the cabinets with 1/4 inch plywood, which is exactly the thickness needed to fill in the sides from the the front face to make it flush. On the back side of the cabinets, where the overhang would be, I completely removed the existing cabinet and draw since I knew with an overhang it would not be easily accessed, and it wouldn’t work with my new look anyway. That said, I reinforced the back side with 3/4 inch sanded plywood to add strength since I knew that that side would be kicked and abused.
THE CABINET INSIDES
This brings me to the inside of my cabinets. They are made of pressed wood and were very abused from dishes, and water damage, making them still fine structurally, but cosmetically, unattractive. Now I could have just painted them, but the ripples from the water would be near impossible to hide. So I decided to completely cover them with 1/4 inch plywood. Making it easy to paint and better protected from future wear. I did however leave the inside sides, as they were, since they had little damage. This saved me time from having to drill all new holes for the adjusting cabinet shelves. To ensure a good bond with the paint, since it remained a melamine surface, I sanded it and primed it with spray paint primer. I sanded between coats, applying two or three before painting. I caulked the seems of the new wood to make it seamless and I added bead-board to the back surface to make it even more attractive. This step is not necessary, but very pretty. I replaced all the shelves inside, since the old ones were warped and damaged. For the new shelves, I bought white melamine shelves and just cut them to fit.
EXTENDING THE HEIGHT OF THE CABINETS
I wanted the top cabinets to have the look of being extended to the ceiling. I could go out and spend thousands on new ones that actually went up to the ceiling, but Im on a budget here folks. I decided to build new soffit that would appear to be an extension of the cabinets, rather than overhanging and cutting the cabinets off in appearance.
BUILDING IN THE MICROWAVE
I wanted to build in a spot for my microwave. Up to that point it had been sitting on the counter top. I had to raise the cabinet up to leave sufficient space for the microwave since it was an oven hood before hand. After moving the cabinet, I had a friend help me install the microwave. Thanks Larry. I also realized, after tearing out the old soffit, that the duct for the oven ran through it and vented outside. The cabinets would rise vertically and serve to disguise the duct work.
BOXING IN THE FRIDGE
Building around the fridge is a look that I love. I decided that I would build an enclosure around the fridge. That said, the top cabinet needs to be pulled out to complete this look. In my case, I detached the existing cabinet that sat shallow and above the fridge. I separated the face of the cabinet from the cabinet box and saved the face. I built a whole new box that was the size that I wanted and then reattached the old face to it and voila, new cabinet. Now I have more space for junk (just kidding). You can also notice in the before pics the AC vent above the fridge, in the soffit. I simply extended it out a little farther, but I didn’t like the idea of it being in line of sight, so turned it 45 degrees and had it come out the side of the soffit instead. To finish out the look I built up the side next to the fridge with the same cabinet style. This gave the fridge the feel that it belonged.
Another Task that we hired out was all new solid maple dove tailed drawers with full extend, soft closing, drawer slides. This was totally worth it. I salvaged the existing faces from the old drawers since they were in good shape and already matched the cabinet doors. I found a local guy that charged me about $800 to build the drawers and install them. I had 11 drawers in total. I should point out that I had this done in the dead of winter when his business was slower, hence the better price. (higher demand time of year equals higher price. Lower demand time of year equals lower price). I shopped around, on line, and found a company that would charge about $100 per drawer and I had to install them myself. I was thrilled that I got a better deal local. They turned out beautiful. Also the old drawers were only 18 in. deep, with unused space behind them. I asked him to build them full depth which was 22″ and I gained 4″ in depth per drawer. Thats a lot of added kitchen space!!!! I am so in LOVE!
LIGHTS AND BACKSPLASH
My husband and I converted the two light switches that were by the sink, that controlled the old soffit lights and had one control the new under cabinet lighting we installed, and the other control the pendant light above the sink. The under cabinet lighting gives it that touch of ambiance. The other 2 pendant lights over the peninsula would now be controlled with the rest of the recessed lights in the kitchen. I also added in a diamond back splash around the entire kitchen. Its awesome!
REPLACED THE BACKDOOR
Our slidding back door was on its last leg. It only opened enough to turn sideways and squeeze out LOL. It was time! I called around and got estimates. In the end Pella gave us the best price. Instead of a new sliding glass door. I opted for full, out swinging, French doors. We have a covered porch and I knew that it would be so nice to be able to open up both doors and bring the outside in with dinner parties. Such a good decision. When they are both open, it feels like a car could drive in. It is so big and so awesome!
Lastly, we put in new wood floors. This was a chore that I really don’t wish to repeat. We did unfinished instead of pre-finished. NEVER AGAIN. As it was our first time finishing wood floors we made mistakes and even had to refinish and re-stain the kitchen twice. They caused me way too much anxiety with rooms being out of commission for long periods of time. Kids couldn’t walk, spill or breath on them until they were complete. Just not a fun place to be! At least, not while we were living in the house. Just saying!!!! In the end, the change had to be made and they turned out beautiful. They completed the look of my new Kitchen.
As you can see by my post, I love my Kitchen. If you end up doing something similar in your home, make sure you aim to please yourself. You have to live with it in the end. Hope you love the transformation as much as I do.