Thomas Edison is credited with saying, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I happen to agree wholeheartedly with this statement.
Over the last 15 years my husband and I have taken on some pretty hard-core projects to live within our means and here’s one that I want to share with you now- the transformation of our kitchen.
Our real estate broker must’ve thought we were out of our minds when we “discovered” our house, a foreclosed property that had been ransacked by every Tom, Dick and Harry in the County.
Everything that could easily be stolen and lugged away had been, including the kitchen sink. Yes folks, they literally even stole the kitchen sink, all that was left was a gaping hole where it once sat. All the light fixtures and outlets had literally been ripped out of the walls and wiring hung menacingly from holes.
The sink had bordered a short wall, which- to me, made the kitchen feel very small and claustrophobic, so I happily smashed that wall to pieces with a sledge hammer, removing it completely and opening up the kitchen and living room, where we planned to eventually install a bar style counter top.
We stripped the cheap torn linoleum off the floor. This was no easy task, particularly in the triple digit August heat with no power in the house yet. The tiles, although definitely not my first choice for color, were in the discount bin for only .59¢ a square foot and since we were working with very limited funds, it would have to do! After all, we could always change the color or style down the road.
We pulled all the tacky strips off the walls to expose the drywall seams, removed the existing (ugly) wallpaper, then proceeded to spackle the seams with drywall mud. Once dried, we sanded and repeated the process on any rough spots, then painted the walls. The paint wasn’t a color we particularly chose, it happened to be various leftover colors we had from past projects that we mixed together in a 5 gallon bucket and that’s what we ended up with.
The doors to several of the rooms had been ripped off the hinges and were lying in various places and since the counter tops had also been stolen we really needed something to set a sink into, so we set up a couple sawhorses placed a closet door on top and cut out a hole for the sink and then plumbed it in. This was our kitchen sink setup for about 2 months (hey, when you’re broke, you use what you have available and I wasn’t about to go in debt just to have shiny new things!)
Initially we installed only a handful of honey oak cabinets from Lowes. The regular, no frills, stock cabinets that range from $200-$300 each depending on the size and style. As we could afford them, we added additional cabinets, one at a time.
I was getting antsy about only having old doors with dollar store tablecloths on them for kitchen “counters” and conned my husband into “building” me counters out of plywood. Since the kitchen space was rather short, we created an island in the center for the sink and eventual dishwasher. At this point we still didn’t have a “dining room” of any sort, so at the end of the island we created an extended piece to use as a breakfast bar, where we could all sit together, comfortable.
I put up with these ugly plain plywood counters for about 3 years before I could stand it no longer.
That is when we did the counter top transformation project and “remodeled” our counters for about $500.
While the painted counter tops were lovely compared with the wretched plain plywood, I spend a considerably amount of time in the kitchen cooking this, that and everything. So after several years, my husband convinced me that we needed to ditch the tile floor and put in some laminate “maple”, again, due to a fantastic deal at Lowes.
(No, I don’t work for them and No, unfortunately they don’t compensate me when I mention their name, but dammit, they SHOULD!). So we installed it.. and I Liked it, except that now I had too much “wood” color in my kitchen and they didn’t match well and it drove me crazy whenever I looked at it.
About a year later, I couldn’t stand it any longer.
So when my dh headed off to work one day and I knew I had some time where I wouldn’t be interrupted, I took all the cabinet doors off and all the drawers out and proceeded to refinish all the kitchen cabinetry. You can view that project in detail here. Let’s just say my other half was a little surprised when he got home, albeit happy that he didn’t have to help. At certain times of the year material prices drop, particularly if a brand or color is going out of “style”.
We’d been watching the prices of countertop materials and biding our time and when a local company was offering a sale on their Corian, we decided to take advantage of the low price and go for it! We measured the existing cabinetry to configure our counter measurements and had them made to fit our unique design. Since the boys are half grown and we no longer needed the “breakfast” bar at the end of the kitchen island, we decided to shorten it a bit and make the island a tad smaller, opening up the floor space a bit more.
Once that was completed, I came across some pretty tile that was marked down in the discount bin to $1.50 a square foot, and decided that it would look lovely as a back-splash along the wall to accent the the colors in the wall and counters and tie everything together.
So, Without Further ado, here are the photographs of how it all came together:
Here is Part 2 of our Kitchen Transformation:
Please note that we had to divide these pictures up so the pages would actually load for you!
Here is Part 3 of our Kitchen Transformation:
Here are my plywood counter tops, amusingly, after we painted them & shared them online people assumed they were REAL Granite!
In the bottom right hand side of the photograph you can see where we still have our small chest freezer and beverage fridge in the middle of our kitchen. It wasn’t the best set up, but you work with what you have, right!?
Here is Part 4 of our Kitchen Transformation:
Finally, all of our hard work and efforts have paid off! It’s been an ongoing project over several years and each part was done as it could be afforded, without using credit cards or store credit or taking out loans, etc. It’s not about instant gratification, it’s about doing what you can, when you can and getting it all done, even if it takes time.