After making some smaller, manageable repairs and updates upon first moving in, Allie and her husband decided to tackle as full of a kitchen reno as their budget would allow. By mixing in DIY projects along with hiring out a contractor and prioritizing major functional and cosmetic fixes over new appliances, they were able to keep to their budget and walk away with a bright new kitchen.
From Allie: When we moved into the house, the kitchen had brick-colored tile on the backsplash, orange and black speckled granite on the counters, and medium-toned wood colored cabinets. I knew immediately that we would need to renovate this if we planned to stay here for a while, but with our budget we couldn’t do everything right away. The first thing I did before we even unpacked our boxes was rip off the backsplash, patch any holes, and paint the walls white. About a year after this, I repainted all the cabinets white as well, which was a big undertaking as our small row home only has limited space to spread out.
Then about three years after moving in, we were finally able to take care of the major parts of the renovation — the counters, flooring, lighting and backsplash tile. We were partially prompted by some unfortunate water damage behind one of the walls, but this was a good reason to get things started sooner than we might have without the damage.
The process seemed long at the time, but looking back was very quick. It took about 1-2 months to finish and we had the work completed by a contractor. They removed everything from the room, but kept most of the cabinets intact as they went back in. We also have not yet replaced appliances, but plan to over time if we stay there longer. The process: dust, dust, and more dust. Just when you feel like there’s no way your home will ever look the same again, things turn around, everything starts to come together, and the end is in sight.
Aside from needing to make renovations due to the water damage, we also decided to renovate the kitchen because it is one of the most used rooms in the house. My husband loves to cook, so we knew that if we planned to live there for several more years, we had to take the step to make it our own, a place we could enjoy to spend time together and eventually bring kids into. It was worth every penny that we barely had!
I love my new, bright kitchen! The white counters (quartz, which I highly recommend) and tile feel so fresh! I love that we chose to use open shelving. A lot of people questioned it, saying things would get dusty, but I have not found this to be true at all as we use the dishes up there daily. I like that it is modern but I was able to incorporate some of my antiques to keep it “me”. The one thing I might do differently is the slate floors, I really wanted a rectangular shaped slate versus square but this is the only option the manufacturer had and I am learning to live with it! This slate also shows a lot more than I thought it would, so keeping it clean takes a bit more effort.
Allie’s words of wisdom: I think the biggest, and probably most common, advice when taking on a project like this is to always plan to spend more money than you originally estimated or think you will spend. Things always pop up when walls are ripped down or flooring taken up and additional costs and repairs can pile up. Never max out your budget before you start, especially when working with an old house like mine!
Also I am really glad we were able to keep this project to a low budget by reusing our cabinets and not replacing appliances right away. Even though I would have loved to make everything brand new, it is usually unrealistic for most people, so figuring out ways to reuse old things or find a good deal is key, and adding in a few DIYS between what the contractor is doing helps, too! For example, in our kitchen, we picked out the open-shelving wood from a local sawmill and my Dad helped us sand it down and stain it to get all ready for the contractor to handle.
Last advice: plan to eat a lot of take out or cereal and possibly have your refrigerator in your living room (it was right next to our couch, arms reach to grab a drink, not too bad!).
Thank you, Allie! You can see more on Allie’s blog Home With You Living.