Kitchen progress, with lots of photos

It’s been a while since I’ve updated on our kitchen renovation. As it turns out, when you’re paying cash as you go and don’t have much money, remodeling takes forever: our project has been a series of furious bursts of activity followed by long dry spells where I try to pretend like I don’t notice all the things that haven’t gotten done.

Still, we have made a few bits of progress since I last posted. I thought I’d share some photos of how the kitchen has changed over the nearly two years since we first moved in.

Here’s a picture of what the kitchen looked like on the day we closed. It was completely bizarre. Between the mint-green walls, the dishwasher cord that came up through a hole in the counter top and plugged into an outlet by the sink, and those strange, low cabinets, we didn’t know where to begin.

Since we had no money for renovations when we moved in, we knew we had to start with small, inexpensive short-term fixes. The very first thing that had to go were the bizarro upper cabinets, followed by the wallpaper border. Then the room needed a dose of new color. We chose Sherwin Williams’ Cottage Cream, which is also in our dining room because we loved it so much. A coat of white paint on the lower cabs plus some new pulls and handles equaled a big improvement. Finally Jon sanded and varnished a single, long shelf to hold our dishes until we could figure out a more permanent solution.

And that version of the kitchen did last us quite a bit longer than we’d anticipated: well over a year and a half. But this fall it became apparent that we were going to have to start making more major changes. The sink was leaking, the dishwasher got a funky smell and started to show signs of molding in the pipes, and the refrigerator stopped refrigerating. There were about a dozen electric code violations to boot. So we decided to take action in October. “There isn’t that much to be done,” we told ourselves. “It can’t possibly take more than $5,000 and a few weeks.”

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

More like twice that much and going on four months now. But it’s gratifying to look back at the photos and see just how much we’ve accomplished.

The first step: widening the doorway between the kitchen and dining room. It was pretty straightforward and made a huge difference.

Of course, there was that old chimney from the original kitchen (which must have been where the dining room is now) to contend with. We had intended to put the fridge in that little nook, but decided that taking down the chimney would be a bigger project than we could take on. So the corner (which had been a small closet off of the dining room) was drywalled off and will eventually be a pantry.

The floors turned out to be a problem. We’d hoped to refinish the original oak, but as it turned out, the wood – which was hiding under three layers of vinyl glued and stapled to more vinyl – was not salvageable. Marmoleum was my next choice, but we just didn’t have the budget for it. Finally, we decided on cork (more about our thought process on choosing floors here). Still, we walked on subfloor for over a month before we finally got the cork down.

Though we waited quite a while to get it in, I couldn’t be happier with the cork. It’s soft and warm and looks amazing with the cream and white in the kitchen. I like that it warms up the room a bit – we ended up with stainless appliances, which I think can look a little cold and imposing.

About those appliances – they’re Jenn-Air, and we got them at a local showroom that sells gently used, scratch/dent, and floor models. We got a fantastic deal on a complete, 2-year-old high-end set we never could have otherwise afforded. We did the price comparisons and the four-piece set cost us less than a much lower-end set would have cost new.

Well, that’s our kitchen for now. There is still a lot to do:

  • Add transitions between the cork and the floors on either side
  • Hang open shelving on either side of the microwave
  • Build in the pantry
  • Trim around window over sink

And I haven’t written at all about the sink, counter tops, lighting, or electrical yet! I will soon, and hopefully will have more updates and progress to share before spring comes. For the first time, I’m starting to think this kitchen might actually get done.

In the meantime, I’m trying not to let it’s “not-quite-finished” status keep me from enjoying plenty of moments like this one.

Stay tuned! Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting lots more about our reno, with details on budget and all the choices we made – from lighting to counters to cabinets.

 

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