The building that houses our 1,100-square-foot condo on the north shore of Chicago dates from the 1960s. In fact, when we moved in each electrical outlet had a strange four-pinhole connection that turned out to be a predecessor to the phone jack, yes, from the same era. That's a dead giveaway of how stuck in a time warp the place was.
Although we remodeled the entire condo, here I'll focus on the kitchen. Poor neglected kitchen. And tiny, tiny, tiny; the listed dimensions of 11 feet by 9 feet included space occupied by cabinets and appliances. We budgeted $11,000 for the kitchen, but ended up spending a bit more.
Cabinets and countertop
With the limited space, every inch counted. While the budget had no room for removing the soffit and buying cabinets that would reach to the ceiling, it did cover the cost of upper and lower cabinets with enough drawers and a new sink (not the price of the faucet or the disposal but the installation of both) as well as a cabinet for the island. To save money, a small butcher block table I already owned would lose its base and top this island cabinet on the north wall. It could not be attached and obstruct the heating vent so it had to have a back and move on sliders. Since I couldn't afford an upper cabinet for this third wall, I bought two floating shelves that the contractor installed. Another money saver was not finishing the two sides of the cabinet that enclosed the stove. Fillers would hide the open space.
The countertops, little as they are, did go granite; the least expensive ($1,100 plus $200 for sink cutout) happened to be my favorite. The space was too small to handle dark colors so the cabinets chosen were natural maple and the granite a light grey. One more out-of-pocket: hardware for the cabinets.
The combo gas stove and microwave originally in the unit were also relics of the '60s. Late arrival of the cabinets delayed installation of the new appliances -- our fridge, stove, dishwasher, and microwave. This new stainless steel bundle buy totaled $2,500 (we didn't include this in our $11,000 budget). The delay in hooking up the gas stove meant weeks of eating only tasteless microwave dishes.
The flooring varied from room to room so it made sense to have the same flooring installed throughout (total cost was a whopping $12,000; the portion of that covering the kitchen's less than 100 square feet was minimal) and eliminate thresholds. Bamboo, cheaper than oak, replaced the worn-out living room parquet and continued into the kitchen, replacing the previous laminate. Because the bamboo extended under the appliances and cabinets, the kitchen flooring couldn't be completed until the cabinets were demoed and that couldn't happen before the arrival of our new cabinets.
The $11,000 does not include the cost of paint or the labor I put in. It was a grueling job to remove the wallpaper and then, before painting, I had to hire an expert to patch the drywall and an electrician to install GFCI plugs and lights. A round can light replaced a square recessed light over the sink (squares are no longer made; more drywall patching here). A new flush-mounted ceiling light replaced the multi-bulb old one.
Interestingly, I had the kitchen in my previous house renovated about six years ago. It was a small kitchen but not as tiny as this one, with three walls of cabinets including a pantry. Not counting the flooring, the upgrade came to around $15,000, complete with soft closing drawers that would have cost extra this time. If you add the dollars spent for the condo kitchen, the total price probably comes closer to $15,000, delivering a lot less bang for the buck. Since space is a premium, the cabinets are short on functionality. For instance, dividers for flatware usually measure 12 inches wide. I had to search for one that fit a 10-inch drawer. But the drawer could have been wider since it adjoins a filler that's about 3 inches. Something to watch for when the measurements happen.
My additional advice: Count the number of drawers you need, smaller and bigger. I have to fit towels, oven mitts, and foil and other wraps in one big drawer; two shallow would have worked better.