I hate cleaning dishes in the bathtub, but that's life when you are renovating your kitchen.
My wife and I bought our first home two years ago. We knew we couldn't afford a perfect brand-new designer home, so we were looking for something that had great bones, offered a little bit of character, and could be improved with a little TLC. Our 1970s-era ranch home fit the bill.
There was only one major problem -- the kitchen. It was bad. From the green-and-white-checkered linoleum floor to the original stove that heated up the entire house when turned on, it needed a makeover. Initially, we had thought about doing minor upgrades and keeping the project within $10,000. As we got working, we realized that our vision and our budget were not in line. So we did what any young American family does -- we doubled the budget. In all, we spent just over $20,000.
The kitchen was cramped and dark. There was a small hallway that separated the laundry from the kitchen. It served little to no purpose and had to go. By knocking down that wall, the kitchen opened up. This allowed for us to have a small breakfast bar, where I imagine my son, once he is old enough, eating a bowl of cereal each morning.
Next we ripped everything out: cabinets, appliances, flooring. Only one thing stayed -- the dishwasher.
Since we were on a tight budget, we had to be careful when it came to picking materials. We got the cheapest granite countertops possible -- buying the exotic patterns just wasn't worth the cost. Also, we found that we could play the different stores off each other. They would all either match or beat a competitor's cost. The local shops were much cheaper than the big-box stores with better customer service.
With that said, we bought a lot of items at big-box stores. The gray tile for the floor and subway tile backsplash came from a large flooring wholesale store. The appliances were from a large electronic store. We got a great deal on a matching refrigerator, double oven, and microwave by shopping around and then asking to buy the display unit. We saved about $1,000 by doing that.
New cabinets were the largest expense by far. We shopped around a little bit, but our insistence on real wood cabinets -- not laminate -- forced us to spend about half our budget on cabinets. But it was worthwhile, since they are a more efficient use of space and look beautiful.
Lastly, we upgraded the lighting. We added pendant lights over the breakfast bar and doubled the number of recess lights. The fan is gone from the kitchen, since the new convection oven doesn't heat up the entire house.
Most of the work was done by contractors. I did a little bit, but my lack of knowledge for DIY projects was glaringly apparent when we got started. I was able to remove the appliances, do a little demo, and install the new appliances. Other than that, I let the professionals handle the heavy lifting.
We had multiple contractors doing the work. Through referrals, we found a commercial tile company who did a little work on the side for us at a great price. Another contractor, who is a former engineer, took down the wall and did the small structural jobs we needed.
Although it was a major headache, the project was over in two weeks. I wish I could take credit for everything running on time, but my wife was the task master. She kept the contracts on schedule and the project running on time.
I love the new kitchen and the best part -- I don't have to do dishes in a bathtub anymore.