Kitchen – our biggest DIY to date…

The Before pictures are on the left (hopefully that is obvious) – the After pictures on the right…

Kitchen Before 2     DSCN1879

DSCN1385      DSCN1976

DSCN0944  DSCN1929

Dining Room Before  DSCN1964

Why did we do this project?

  1. We wanted to remove the wall between the kitchen and the rest of the house – we love the open concept thing.
  2. We wanted a dishwasher after 15 years of washing dishes the old fashioned way – this required expanding about 2 feet into the new addition.
  3. The old kitchen wasn’t our style – country and cute with teal countertops.
  4. The old kitchen looked really shabby compared to the shiny new addition.

What we wanted to end up with:

  1. Functional.
  2. Minimal and unobtrusive – we didn’t want it to scream “Kitchen Here” – we wanted to be able to look past/through the kitchen all the way to the back of the house.
  3. Unique but not trendy.

Our inspiration:

  1. A local restaurant in town has baltic birch plywood as the woodwork.  We loved the striped edge of the plywood and the pale quality of the wood itself.
  2. The same restaurant has lots of concrete and metal – concrete countertops were agreed upon and we figured stainless steel appliances would be perfect (thank goodness because I am not sure I even considered any other kind of finish for the appliances).
  3. The old kitchen had open shelving – we liked it for the day to day dishes so wanted to keep some open shelving in the new kitchen.

Timeline:   It was supposed to take 8 weeks from start to finish – it actually took us over 5 months.

How we saved money (about $10,000!!!) – Things we did ourselves :

  1. We got a homeowners permit and successfully passed inspections without any problems.
  2. Demolition – very, very messy.  The cabinets, countertop and sink all came out easily.  All the old plaster and lath came down.  The wall between the dining room and kitchen came down.  The ceiling and inadequate fiberglass insulation came down.  The old floor (clay tile, vinyl tile, and old damaged hardwood) came out.
  3. Subfloor was replaced (and the radiant floor tubing was re-installed underneath).
  4. Framing (with the help of a guy who knew what he was doing) – The old sagging ceiling joists were replaced.  The exterior wall was framed so we could add insulation.  The interior wall was reframed so we could add soundproofing and in an attempt to square up the room.  The dining room wing walls went up.  The decorative beam structure went in.
  5. Electrical – New recessed lights, all new outlets (including GFIs and a new 220 for the stove), and a 2 way switch (this required the help of an electrician friend).
  6. Insulation – New cotton/denim batt insulation in the ceiling and spray foam insulation on the exterior wall.
  7. Drywall (again with the help of the guy who knew what he was doing) – ceiling, all walls.
  8. Painting – the ceiling got bright white and everything else got a gray green color.
  9. Tile underlayment and floor tile install – probably one of our proudest moments.
  10. Wall tile and decorative relief tile install – Tad cut, I installed.
  11. Finishing woodwork – the single biggest transformation of the entire project in my opinion.  It provided the detail and element that made the kitchen finally feel finished.
  12. Stainless steel toe kick installation – this was the final detail – the project was complete!

Stuff we hired out:

  1. Plumbing – we needed to correct the pitch on the drain line, install a new vent for the sink (out the roof), install a water line for the ice maker, and re-route the gas line for the stove.
  2. Ventilation – we needed ductwork for the new vent hood – through the roof.
  3. Custom cabinets and installation – Initially, we thought we could do the cabinet installation, but in the end there was a fair amount of onsite fabrication that was beyond our tool collection, time, and expertise.  Oh – and surprisingly, we did save money by using a custom cabinet maker rather than going with pre made – and I think we got a better product.
  4. Countertops and sink install (the sink install came with the countertop install).
  5. Faucet and disposal installation (it came with the plumbing bid).
  6. Refrigerator and dishwasher installation (it came with the appliance delivery).
  7. Vent hood installation (also part of the appliance delivery).
  8. Woodwork installation – this was the last item on the list and after 5 months of work, Tad just wanted the project done.

 The hardest part of the project:  

The old flooring was clay tile installed with wire mesh on top of 2 layers of vinyl – we had to rent a mini jackhammer to get through that stuff!  The new flooring is large format porcelain tile that needed to be level with existing hardwood flooring in the adjoining room and stay level throughout the kitchen – we got it done, but it took 8 hours to lay the last 15 tiles.

What do we like best:

  1. The missing wall between the kitchen and dining/living room – the house seems huge with that wall gone.
  2. The layout is now perfect – roomy and functional.
  3. The dishwasher – after 15 years of washing the dishes by hand.
  4. The striped edge of our baltic birch plywood cabinets and shelving – totally cool detail.
  5. Our concrete countertops – very modern industrial.
  6. The tall, skinny, counter depth refrigerator – it is the best.
  7. The woodwork – it pulls together the design of the kitchen with the rest of the house.
  8. The floor – this is the most commented on item in the room.
  9. The decorative relief tiles – these babies were made special just for our kitchen.









Still need to do:

  1. Add a light above the open shelving – it was in the initial plans, but I scrapped it because we were one fixture short when we were installing and I didn’t feel like going to the store.
  2. Table/seating area off the peninsula in the sunroom.
  3. Replace dining room/living room plaster with drywall.  You may or may not have noticed the white strip of unpainted plaster along the beam/opening to the kitchen.  It is one of those things – now that the kitchen and sunroom look so great, the dining room/living room looks a bit shabby. Oh – it just never ends…