Weekend greetings! I heard yesterday my brother and his wife bought a house so I’m off to tour it, they want my help remodeling the kitchen (yes!) so I’ll be photographing that soon and sharing its progress. This weekend I have plans with friends to get a massage, it’s been years since I’ve had one, aaahhh can’t wait! And we’re off to do a little wine tasting out in Sonoma on this beautiful September weekend.
We bought this fixer house as an investment because it’s what we love to do, take old dated spaces and modernize them. We chose Vegas because I have a ton of family there including my parents who live down the street and you can buy a fixer upper home for a decent price unlike real estate in the Bay Area where everything is $500+ a square foot, housing prices are crazy ridiculous here.
Fixer uppers don’t scare me, in fact the uglier the better I say. (Just today we wrote up an offer to purchase a home down the street in even worse condition than this one and I can’t wait to get my hands on it, more to come.) So when we walked through this home’s kitchen this was the first impression.
I’m not judging the mess, the sellers were in the process of moving out so it was a disaster zone and everything dated back to 1989 but I could see the potential of a major renovation.
I liked everything about this house when we bought it except the kitchen. The layout was not my favorite and I cringed when I first saw it. I prefer the classic L shape, U shape, or galley kitchen, and always with a window. This one had an awkward angled peninsula with a raised counter I found bizarre but I welcomed the challenge and knew it could be so good with a remodel.
Lesson #1: Any kitchen can be beautiful with vision and quality materials.
See this post for the full kitchen tour. This kitchen remodel includes Shaker style cabinets and quartz countertops, also white appliances since they’re clean looking, complement the white cabinetry, also won’t scratch as easily with renters living in the home. The hardware is polished chrome, the floors are porcelain wood plank tile (see all sources below.)
#2: Prepare Yourself for Inconvenience.
For several months the kitchen had only cabinets and a refrigerator, no sink, no oven, no microwave, and makeshift plywood counters that we sat all our stuff on which I cleaned off solely to take this picture.
We ordered a lot of takeout. We ate a lot of raw food. We stored dry goods on a fold out table. We hit up Mom and Dad down the street for hot meals. With any major kitchen renovation prepare yourself for weeks if not months of having no appliances – you can do it you’ll just have to get creative. Use your BBQ. Buy a toaster oven, etc. Lots of people I know set up makeshift kitchens elsewhere in the garage to get through the process.
#3: Always Over Budget by 15-20%
We had a specific budget with this kitchen, it included the savings for partnering with Cliq Studios for discounted cabinets and buying a used refrigerator, I splurged elsewhere (see #7 below). Know there are things that will happen along the way will be unexpected and cost money to fix.
Example: by working with semi-custom cabinets in fixed widths, once they were installed I was left with a wider open space on the right of the cabinets where the old pantry used to be on an angled wall. Despite the precise measurements I sent to my kitchen cabinet designer, this was a complication.
The arched entry to the kitchen on the other side next to the refrigerator is thicker so I hired the same sub who retextured the walls smooth to reframe the wall and make the wall meet the lower cabinet to solve the problem.
Reframing it resulted in additional labor costs and also required paying for patching the tile floor that we cut into by widening the wall and recessing it a few inches. However the result was a a clean edge that met the cabinets so I didn’t have to add side trim and now it looks more like a custom fit.
#4: Know When to Hire Professionals.
We’re not afraid to DIY but when it comes to big jobs like cabinet installation we hired a professional finish carpenter to do it for us since precision was key, read about the installation here. We unboxed the cabinets and moved them into place, but paid the extra money to guarantee a perfect fit by a finish carpenter. This space we learned had the wonkiest uneven floors and walls, and a professional made sure with shims and precise measurements all the cabinets were flush and level.
We also hired professionals to install the hood liner and the tile backsplash, we’ve done a lot of tile backsplashes in our lives but since he was on site to cut and install tile in the master bathroom, we paid to have him do the same in the kitchen too.
Note the awkwardness of the venting situation above. When we ripped into the kitchen soffit and had to rebuild it (see #3 above on over budgeting for unexpected things) we discovered a main water pipe ran right through that space directly above the range. Because I had made the cabinets on the left of the range 6 inches wider now my hood liner was forced to move over 6 inches too so we had to install an elbow in the ceiling and use flexible ducting to allow for venting around the pipe. The new hood liner hides it but this was another unexpected situation where we turned to professional help.
But then there were all the little things that we opted to do ourselves, like buying glass from a local merchant and securing it with silicone on our own, also installing light fixtures and hardware, etc.