Monday, June 18, 2012

Remodeling the Kitchen

Recently Money Saving Mom published my article "How We Paid Cash for Our Kitchen".  There were a lot of comments asking for before pictures as well as questions about utilizing the space in our small kitchen.

I decided to follow up with a post showing a few more pictures as well as some tips that we did to make our small kitchen more user friendly.

To give you the short version, about 15 years before we actually re-did the kitchen we built the house.  Our budget was minimal and needless to say top quality products weren't used.  15 years after the fact the trendy hunter green counter tops I put in didn't help the appearance of the budget cabinets.

Through the grace of God, we won $4,000 in counter tops from a local kitchen store.  We saved up the cash and ended up re-doing our whole kitchen.  I do a much more eloquent job explaining the full story here.

Once we made the decision we upgrade our kitchen, getting it right was our next priority.  Knowing this was the only kitchen remodel I was going to get, maximizing the space and getting right was a necessity.

In case you're new here, I'm an analyzer.  I like to figure out what the problem is and then find a solution.  The first step in my process is documenting what was the root problem and any issues I wanted to address.

Here is the list we came up with of wants and watch-outs:

  • We did not want to over upgrade the kitchen 
  • Our budget was relatively limited
  • I really wanted a garbage disposal
  • The cabinet layout didn't maximize the space of our relatively small kitchen
  • The microwave HAD to come off the counter
Since we were going through an actual kitchen specialty store they assigned us a designer.  The kitchen designer was a HUGE help in getting us exactly what we wanted.  I didn't find him to be pushy, he seemed to understand all of our issues and was willing to work within our budget.  Out total out of pocket (including appliances) was about $9,000.

Here is what we started with.  Please remember this is a judgement free zone and I've already told you that I'm far from perfect.  We must not take many pictures in our kitchen so you are getting one circa 1995.  Judging by the look on my face I wasn't very appreciative of my husband snapping the picture.  Even though they weren't up when this picture was taken, I did have green checked valances on the window.  Mike also custom cut a stencil for me (checkerboard with apples) that I absolutely loved.  However, all good things must come to an end :)

As a reminder, here is our after picture (sans me!)

I was specifically asked where our dishwasher fit in so here is a picture 'inside' the kitchen.  As you can see the current dishwasher doesn't match.  The dishwasher has since stopped working so the plan is to replace it with stainless steel.  Since no one really sees it, having a non-matching dishwasher was a non-issue.

See the cabinet to the left of the stove?  The opening was originally pretty small.  When the carpenter did the installation work he suggested we let him cut the opening a little bigger so that it was more usable (the cabinet is wide and goes all the way to the window).  This has made access to the cabinet much easier.

To maximize space and make the kitchen more user friendly we had some items built in.  Previously the garbage was in our pantry.  We had this pull-out unit added.  The area above the garbage is a tip out tray where I can store stuff.

Here's another space saver I added.  With the addition of the garbage disposal and the garbage unit, our under the sink space was limited.  This allowed us additional space to keep our dish-washing detergents and helps keep the area clean.

 This had to be my favorite addition to the kitchen, the corner cupboard.  The builder previously had the craziest layout with one teeny tiny cupboard and one cupboard that we could only access half of in this same space.  This is the upper cabinet that is to the right of the sink.

We also added a pot and pan drawer underneath the breakfast bar.  I don't have a picture because the pictures have been giving me fits and I just didn't want to deal with any more!.  Previously the cabinet just had shelves and was very impracticable.  It's still not the best layout but having pull out drawers has made it much more functional.

The designer recommended that we have grooves cut onto the counter to the left of the sink.  This has worked out really well as a drying station, especially since we're washing dishes nightly with the dishwasher being out of commission!  Because we hadn't spent the full $4,000 that we were allocated this was a freebie :)

The other little nifty thing that we did was add a divider in our cookie pan cabinet.  To the left of the dishwasher is a small cabinet that I store cookie sheets, cutting boards, etc.  Previously it was one cabinet making it somewhat difficult to get items in and out.  The kitchen designer suggested putting a couple of "space holders" in there.  This allows a little better access (i.e. you pull out one thing and ten more don't come with it.) to the space.

I think that's about all of the little things I did to maximize our small kitchen.  Hope you've enjoyed the tour!

Does anyone else have ideas for maximizing kitchen space?

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  2. I think you did great. IF we ever can get the kitchen redone and that is a big IF I super need to have the cabinets made more functional. In some weird way it appears to have much more room than it does. I have re-arranged items until I am weary and nothing fixes it.

    1. Thanks, I'm pretty pleased with it and it's much more functional than it was. My husband has also admitted how much better it looks even though it thought we didn't need it :)

      Have you priced cabinets at Home Depot or Lowes? Sometimes we get an idea in our head that something is going to be so much more expensive than it really is. Sometimes I'll price something just to see if it's a dream I need to put away or if it's doable (albeit in a couple of years) if I really focus on it.

      Hang in there. I too kept trying all different kinds of thing and spent many years dissatisfied. At the end of the day it is just cosmetic (I know - easier said than done)and no matter how bad it is at least you have running water and a place to cook food for your family without worrying about sanitation. I told myself that a lot :)

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Looks super and I know it's fun to have a new kitchen! Bless you, Gail

  4. I love seeing renovations that are done under realistic budgets. There are so many major "kitchen makeovers" where I think I would go broke (or into debt) if it was my house. I love what you did, and I love that you paid cash. Nice job!