Do you ever get totally hung up on all of the home projects on your to-do list?
I know I sure do. It can make me all sorts of crazy, but the other day I stumbled on photos of what our house looked like when we bought it, and I've got to say that this home has come a really long way, and the DIY kitchen remodel we did awhile back definitely made the biggest difference in the way we live in our home.
From the minute I walked into this house I had a solid vision of what I wanted the kitchen to look and feel like and although this project has been complete for awhile, I have absolutely no regrets about any of the decisions we made during the kitchen remodel.
Kitchen remodels can be really crazy. There's a ton of second guessing and planning that go into a total kitchen overhaul, which is why I thought I'd share the major changes that added the most value to our home during the process, and more importantly made for a kitchen that functions well and looks beautiful!
The Kitchen Pre-Remodel
Can you even believe that the kitchen below is the same space?!
Like I said, I had a vision for this kitchen from day one, but we actually lived with it like this for about 8 months before taking on this project. Taking the time to live in this space before making any big changes really allowed us to get a feel for how we wanted the kitchen to function and know exactly what changes we wanted to make - besides getting rid of the obvious ugly.
11 Changes that Added Value and Function to Our Kitchen
1 | Upper cabinet height
The cabinets that the builder installed in these track homes are ridiculous. Here we have high ceilings with standard height upper cabinets, which is a huge problem because having that horizontal line of the top of the cabinets is a huge visual distraction, not to mention it's a waste of storage space.
Modern homes typically have higher ceilings and the cabinets should be proportionate to the ceiling height so that it draws your eye up.
2 | The cabinet color
This oak color cabinetry is very dated. Going with white cabinets or a darker cabinet color, like walnut, are 2 choices that are timeless. We could've painted these, but since we wanted to change the style and the height of the upper cabinets, it was better to replace them all together in our case.
We decided to use 2 different color cabinets: White for the perimeter cabinets and a dark brown for the island cabinets. This added to the custom feel of the kitchen and added interest by breaking things up a bit - not to mention it gave us the opportunity to use 2 different color counter tops too (see #6 below.)
We tied the look together by using the same cabinet pulls on all of the cabinets and used a handy method to install the cabinet hardware.
And if you've been around awhile you'll probably recognize the white cabinets as the same ones we used to create a built-in in our family room, which the kitchen opens up to.
3 | Built-in oven and range
This kitchen has a large footprint and having a built-in oven creates a more seamless look, which definitely goes along with our decor plan. I personally prefer the look of a built-in oven and stovetop, and it's a way to give your kitchen a bit more custom feel, which always adds value.
Because we entertain a lot, I wanted a double oven, but installing an oven in the same location as the slide in range didn't allow for that. But you'll see…I still got 2 ovens!
4 | Adding a range hood
Again, if you look at large, high end kitchens the microwave isn't over the range. Nope, high end kitchens usually have range hoods, because high end homes are all about focal points, and drawing your eye all the way up.
Adding a range hood required us to find a new location for the microwave which ended up being awesome because we also added that second oven I wanted! We ended up taking away a small piece of counter space next to the refrigerator and adding a wall cabinet to house both the microwave and the second oven - see #11 below.
5 | Adding a kitchen island
Why this kitchen wasn't originally built with a true island is beyond me. It definitely has the space for it, so we made it happen, and it had a huge impact on our kitchen in more ways than one.
Adding a large island provides a ton of prep space, and even more storage. Plus it made that large empty space in the middle of the kitchen make sense. - Let's be honest, that way too small cart there was not cutting it.
The back side of the island is all drawers where we keep our trash cans, everyday serving plates and bowls, Tupperware, and utensils.
And the front side, under the breakfast bar wasn't wasted either. I put 12 inch deep cabinets there where I keep some of the things I don't use very often, like small appliances, serving dishes, and the kids even have an art cabinet there on the left!
6 | Quartz counter tops
Our style is definitely on the modern side so we knew we wanted clean lines and not a lot of pattern on our counter tops. Quartz was the perfect option because unlike granite, you can get almost solid colors without all of the flex and color variation.
We used a dark grey (Ceasarstone, Raven) on the perimeter of the kitchen to contrast the white cabinets, and we used a white quartz that mimics marble (Ceasarstone, Misty Carrera) on the island to contrast the dark cabinets.
7 | Pendant lighting
Our kitchen was one of the only places in the house that had recessed lights, which we loved, but adding some pendant lights over the island not only created a focal point and added some style, but also added light right where we do the most prep.
We did hire an electrician for this part because the spots for these lights didn't already exist. While he was here we also had him make sure that our house was ready for a double oven, electricity wise.
8 | Glass tile backsplash
Deciding on a backsplash tile was probably the hardest decision to make. I toyed with the idea of doing a white backsplash tile, but I was really craving just a little bit of color in this space.
But going with a colored tile meant that I'd be stuck with it - eek! In the end we decided to go with a subtle light blue glass tile and I have to say I'm so happy we did. I'm a fan of all white kitchens, for sure, but for me a little variation and color adds to the welcoming feel I wanted in our kitchen.
9 | Adding a second oven
Like I mentioned before, having a true double oven wasn't an option with the configuration of our kitchen - but that doesn't usually stop this lady from figuring out a way to get things just how I want them. We ended up creating a space for the second oven and a new location for our microwave by adding a tall wall cabinet to house the two.
We did have to give up a little bit of counter space to do this, but since we added so much counter space with the island, it was a no brainer. Plus, the little corner this configuration created next to the oven is the perfect spot to hide the toaster and the kid's lunch boxes when they aren't in use.
10 | Laminate flooring
The flooring on the main floor of our house was something we did before we even moved in. We ripped up the berber carpet and tile entry and replaced it with a wide planked dark laminate wood floor. But knowing we were going to be remodeling the kitchen, we left the (really ugly and dirty) linoleum floor in here.
So to complete the look of the kitchen and to carry the flooring on the main floor throughout the entire space for a really seamless look, we installed the same dark wide planked laminate floor in the kitchen too.
11 | A solution for an awkward space
Ok. Take a second and scroll back up to the before photo and check out number 11 there. What is that?
The previous owners had actually put up vertical blinds there to block the hallway on the other side - not cool, and placed a large wall shelf in that little nook - whaaaat!?! But we had other plans. Plans that included an adult beverage fridge - what can I say? We've got priorities!
How We Tackled A Large Kitchen Renovation
Our kitchen reno definitely took a lot of planning.
But once the planning was done and it was time to do the work, we scheduled work days and got to work!
The hardest part of any kitchen remodel is the fact that you have to go without a kitchen!
In order to be without a kitchen for as little time as possible we purchased all of the cabinets from Ikea and built them in our living room before starting demo. We were pretty much building cabinets every evening after work for about a week, but we got really good at it.
We also ordered our appliances and had them waiting in the garage and scheduled both the counter top guys and the electrician for the pendant lights - the only 2 things we hired out for for this remodel.
Once we had everything ready to go, we rented a dumpster, got a babysitter, and got to gutting the kitchen. It was really exciting - and tiring.
When everything was cleared out and a little bit of wall damage was fixed, we started installing the cabinets.
Ikea cabinets are much easier to install than you might think! They hang on a rail system, so once you have the rail on the wall, it's a matter of hanging the cabinets and securing them.
The counter top guys installed the sink so we just had to figure out the plumbing and install the new garbage disposal once they were done.
Our kitchen remodel was a huge undertaking, and to be honest we really weren't sure we could pull it off when we started - it really IS amazing what you can learn by just jumping in and doing it.
Some of our friends thought we were nuts for taking on a project this big, but we couldn't afford to hire someone to do it. I love how it turned out and even after years of living with this kitchen, there isn't anything I would do differently. It's the main hub of our home, where our friends and family gather, and where I cook so many meals (and have many-o-glasses-of-wine.)
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