Cozy Kitchen Series: Reveal & Tour

As promised, today is the day we present you with our completed kitchen. You’ve already read enough in the other three posts so we won’t bore you with trivial chatter here but we just wanted to let you know that we will be doing a few more posts covering some of the DIY details of our kitchen from the rustic open shelving to the LED lighting so keep an eye out for that. And now for our humble gallery. We hope you enjoy the transformation as much as we did 🙂

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And the details…

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Thank you for following along! If you missed our journey please check out Part 1, 2 & 3 of our kitchen renovation project.

 

 

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Cozy Kitchen Series Part 3: Installation

Welcome to the third and final post (kind of) of our kitchen renovation series. For those who followed us through Cozy Kitchen Series Part 1: Planning and Cozy Kitchen Series Part 2: Demolition, we are excited to share a visual diary of how we installed the flooring, cabinetry, drywall, and backsplash before the final cleanup and reveal. We hope that our journey has inspired you to hold off on calling a contractor (for some things) and tap into your inner-handyman/woman and your inner-interior designer 🙂

Flooring
When starting a home renovation project, you want to make sure that the base of the space (aka the floor) is completely flat and level. If it is not, everything installed on top of it will be crooked, which will distort the look of the space. On top of that, you will create more work for yourself because your cabinets will need extra shimming and so on. For a more detailed how-to on tiling please refer to my basement tile post  Don’t Fear the Tile to help you with this step.

Although I had tiled before, I had never dealt with the removal of laminate tile. I’m not sure if it was the way it was installed but it was a pain! So much so that I had to remove the entire plywood subfloor beneath it. At first, I thought I could remove the laminate and salvage the plywood subfloor so that I could install the cement boards and tile on top of it. Things, however, didn’t go according to plan. The subfloor was so damaged that I had to purchase a circular saw in order to cut out the laminate and plywood subfloor to replace it completely. It was a messy and time-consuming task that I was not prepared for. This is why I think it’s very important that you are aware of and flexible enough to deal with the unexpected.

Cabinetry
Because we purchased our cabinets from IKEA, assembly was a big part of this project. You do have the option of choosing an IKEA-approved contractor to handle the installation if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, but the instructions are pretty self-explanatory and the cabinets aren’t difficult to assemble at all. It took me between 3-4 hours to assemble all 7 of the cabinets and once I had assembled one, the rest were a breeze. One thing to note here is that if you are not installing them right away, you will need sufficient space to assemble and store them until you are ready. Lucky for us we had the basement to do this in, which helped us keep the kitchen clutter free. If you have a clean attached garage that would work great too. After I assembled the cabinets and installed them in the correct order on our freshly tiled floors, the countertop people from Home Depot came out to measure for the countertop and later installed it when it was cut and ready (it was a two week wait in case you’re wondering). Some things you just leave to the professionals!

Drywall
I didn’t have too much to drywall for this kitchen except for some patches behind the sink, the hideous hole in the ceiling “vent” that needed covering, and around the supporting beams and walls that were torn down. Drywalling is quick and easy until you get to the mudding and sanding part. The awesome thing is you can pretty much drywall an entire room in a few hours and be done with it. The rough part of drywalling is needing to apply mud to the seams and sanding them 3 times until all the separate pieces look like one big seamless wall. Other than the fact that you need some strong arms to get you through the sanding, there isn’t much required of you to be able to put up drywall. But if you don’t feel confident and you have no experience drywalling then YouTube can be your best friend 😉

Below is a graphic that sums up the steps of drywalling courtesy of This Old House.

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Backsplash
This would have been my favorite step if it wasn’t for the self-imposed due date. I worked around the clock for 2 weekends to finish this part of the project. Again, you can refer to our tile post Don’t Fear the Tile if you aren’t familiar with tiling. The only difference when tiling a kitchen backsplash wall is that you need to be careful with your application of tile adhesive/mastic. Because gravity will be working against you, you will have to score the surface with a blade before applying a light amount of adhesive and laying down the tiles. For me the hardest part of backsplash tiling was our indecisiveness. Yes, indecisiveness. We seriously went back and forth for weeks trying to settle on a backsplash tile. There were just too many beautiful ones to choose from! After considering our countertop design and the look we were going for, we finally settled on white subway tile for under $3/sq. ft with a strip of bluish/grayish accent tile. We didn’t originally plan to tile an entire wall but as we got closer to installing the backsplash, we realized it would look really nice to have a feature wall where our window and open shelving would be.

Well, there you have it! A detailed overview of our kitchen renovation and all the planning and work that went into it. Of course, as a homeowner, there is no such thing as being completely done with work around the house. We are still figuring out some things like how to organize all our stuff and what to replace our main light fixture with but we are so happy with the results and we really mean it when we say, you can totally do something like this if you wanted to. I know we promised a full kitchen reveal but I decided to put that in a separate post so that you aren’t overloaded with images. Check back tomorrow for the final reveal and in the meantime, feel free to ask for clarification, support, budgeting advice; basically anything kitchen-renovation related and we will be happy to answer you to the best of our ability.

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Cozy Kitchen Series Part 1: Planning

This is the first post in a series we will be doing covering our DIY kitchen renovation project that took us around 3 months to complete (working the weekends and some evenings). In this post we will discuss everything planning-related from brainstorming and design to calculating the cost of the finished project. We will also cover the timeline we envisioned for the duration of this renovation and how to realistically plan.

Just to give you an idea of the disaster we were working with, I’ve included some pictures below. My wife had taken some with her DSLR but can’t seem to find them so these fisheye view iPhone photos will have to do.

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As you can see, there is not a lot of counter-space or any space for storage/keeping the kitchen organized. We also did not have a dishwasher which was fine until we had a baby and time became a luxury. The “hood” for the stove (if you can even call it that) was this disgusting hole in the ceiling that looked awful and was completely useless in circulating air. Aside from all that, it was just dimly lit, cramped, and uninspiring. But that was soon to change…

Brainstorming

This step is one I’m sure many of you are familiar with.  If you’ve ever walked through IKEA thinking to yourself, “this would look great in my house!” then you have partaken in the process of brainstorming. This is pretty much what we did for about six months before we began the serious design stage. We looked everywhere for style and layout inspiration including Houzz, Home Depot, Lowes, Pinterest, Instagram, IKEA, etc… The key is to save your ideas somewhere so that when you begin the designing process you have a better idea of what you want and don’t want. Throughout this process, we made sure to pay attention to four things: aesthetics, organization, functionality, and layout. As  I mentioned earlier we had barely any counter-space or storage space. For us, this was a major priority so we knew right away that to achieve the results we wanted, we would need to tear down the wall between the kitchen and dinning room.

Aside from that, we looked to other kitchens and blogs and dissected every minute detail. Here are some kitchens that we shared with each other throughout the brainstorming process. We made sure to tell each other what we liked about each kitchen so that we could begin to narrow things down.

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Open shelving was something that kept coming up over and over again in all the kitchens we shared with each other.  We just really loved how it opened up a space and made for easy access to everyday kitchenware. Image credit: House updated

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We also picked up on the fact that most of the kitchens we liked were white with wooden accents. We rarely chose a kitchen that had dark cabinets so we knew right away that wasn’t our style. We wanted clean and bright and cheery. Image credits: IKEA

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A few months earlier we had stumbled on a kitchen in one of IKEA’s showrooms that we found practical based on our dimensions and layout so we captured some pictures just in case we wanted to make it a reality (hint: we did). We also realized here we liked the idea of grayish flooring with white cabinetry.

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We really went back and forth on countertops because both light and dark work really nicely with white cabinets. To pull all the elements together including the stainless steel appliances and gray floors, we decided on a light countertop with splashes of gray and black. Image credit: Artszipper

Design

After the brainstorming stage, and once we were ready to put our imaginations onto paper, I measured our kitchen to get a sense of the dimensions we would be working with. I did this as thoroughly as I possibly could to ensure the correct fit for cabinets, shelving, and fixtures. Even if you feel like you’re just getting started and playing around, remember that accurate measurement makes for accurate budgeting.

There are many planning softwares to choose from but I settled on using IKEA’s online Kitchen Planner software which is pretty user-friendly. Once I inputted the measurements for the walls, the windows, doors, ceiling, etc (see Figure 1) I began tinkering with the layout of the kitchen and adding cabinets like a madman. I managed to come up with my first design draft (see Figure 2) in no time and was pretty pumped to print it and review with my wife. Here is where the fun begins! Why, you ask? Because you will most likely change your first draft…many, many times.

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Figure 1

 

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Figure 2

After many revisions we settled on a design similar to the model kitchen we liked in IKEA’s showroom. We then took our design to IKEA where we talked to one of their kitchen specialists who helped us remove unnecessary items and add cool little features like dampers so the cabinets don’t slam when you shut them. In the end, the final design we purchased was quite different from our initial draft and that’s completely okay. With a bit of number crunching, which I’ll talk about below, I realized it was cheaper to buy certain things externally so our Ikea purchase did not include a countertop, appliances, or flooring. For those looking for detailed information on what IKEA offers, follow this link to their informational PDF.

Budget Breakdown:

As a finance guy, I enjoy crunching numbers and shopping around to get the best possible deal. To be successful in that regard, however, it’s important to start with a clear maximum budget and have a 10% buffer for unexpected expenses that may arise. So for example, if you’re planning on spending 10k, set aside 1,000 for miscellaneous costs. We ended up going slightly over budget because of structural issues our engineer did not account for early on but I saved a lot by doing most of the labor. To give you an idea of where our money went, I’ve included a breakdown below.

1. Kitchen cabinets from IKEA (7 cabinets): $2,700
2. Appliances bundled from Lowes and Sears: $3,800
3. Granite countertop custom ordered from Home Depot with an undermount sink: $2,200
4. Flooring, drywall, paint, and misc. tools from Home Depot: $1,000
5. Outside labor for taking down a wall: $2,500
6. Permits: $900
Approximate Total: $13,100

Timeline

Finally, let’s talk about time. It can be very easy (unless it’s just me) to underestimate how long work takes. Sure, I can tile a kitchen in a day or two but not when I have a day job, a baby, and other endless responsibilities. This doesn’t even include the time for the ordering and delivery of cabinets, appliances, and countertops. On top of that you have to account for any hiccups you may face and be flexible so that you don’t get discouraged or burnt out easily. I know it’s laughable but I’m sharing this unrealistic timeline I had created so you don’t make the same mistake I did. Whether you’re planning on doing the labor yourself or hiring someone, make sure you are clear about your expectations and then ask yourself if you are being realistic. Many contractors don’t just take one job at a time so don’t expect a full kitchen to be up in a week. HGTV is not real life. In my case, I got stuck waiting a week to resolve the structural issues that came up and then another week to replace the subflooring when I attempted to remove the vinyl tile. It also didn’t help that my wife was going through terrible morning sickness so I couldn’t leave the baby with her to work on the kitchen when I got home.

Project Purchase Dates (Home Depot and IKEA): 3/19/2016
Project Start Date: 04/04/2016
Wall Removal: 4/9/2016
Wall Plaster and Cleanup: 4/9 – 4/10/2016
Floor Installation : 4/10-4/11/2016
Base Cabinet Installation: 4/12/2016
Countertop re-measurement: 4/12/2016
Backsplash tiling:4/15-4/16/2016
Shelf installation:4/18-4/20/2016
Appliance delivery: 4/23/2016
Countertop Installation: 4/26/2016
Project End Date: 5/01/2016

In the end, the month I had envisioned became three and I can confidently say it would not have been so stressful if I didn’t start out with ridiculously unrealistic expectations. So take it from me and go easy on yourself. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t finish within your time frame and if you don’t chances are your time frame was the problem, not you.

If you enjoyed this post then stay tuned for more in the Cozy Kitchen Series which will cover the order of operations and the big reveal 🙂 As always, if you liked this post please follow us and shareAnd if you have any questions or comments we would love to hear from you.

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Sneak Peek: Kitchen Tiling

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Install a kitchenette in less than 4 hours

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Back to some exciting DIY for this week’s blog post.

From the minute we decided our house was “the one,” we knew that we would be finishing our basement. Creating a space where we could host family and friends was something super important to us, so it was a no brainer that we would need a small kitchen to warm up food and stock our ice cold Izzes and Dr. Betters for those game nights and birthdays. In just 4 hours on a Memorial Day Weekend, my wife and I put together a little kitchenette for the basement. So if you’re looking for tips or inspiration on how to install a kitchenette or replace a small-sized kitchen, follow along as we go through all the details of how we purchased, prepared, and put it all together in record time.

Total Cost (Cabinets, Countertop, and Sink)= $1,037.94
Prep Time: 3-4 hours
Dry Time: 8-24 hours

Cost Breakdown
Counter-top (8ft) = $95
Counter-top Endcaps = $12.98
Base Cabinet (36in) = $195
Base Sink Cabinet (36in) = $136
Base Cabinet (12in) $99
All-in-one Double Sink = $119
Top Cabinet (36in) = $209
Top Cabinet (30in) = $83.30
Top Cabinet (12in) = $73
Cabinet Screws = $8.26
Painter’s Tape = $3.93
Liquid Nails = $3.47

Tools you will need
Jigsaw (Ryobi)
Power Drill
Tape Measure
Light Hammer
Marking Pencil
Shims
Builder’s Level

Plans and Preparations
Before we get into the installation process there is one super important step to pulling this off successfully: PLANNING. The planning step involves three parts:

  1. Measuring your space
  2. Designing your kitchen
  3. Picking out cabinets and appliances

When it comes to designing the space you have to remember that things can spiral out of control if you don’t measure accurately and purchase standard cabinets that can be installed against the studs in the walls. If you don’t have a stud-finder, invest in one. They last forever and cost only around $20. We used the Ikea kitchen designer tool (it’s free) to input the measurements of the space (ceiling height, walls, door, etc) and figure out how many cabinets we would need. For our design we opted for a simple, straight clean line with a rustic farm table across.

After we settled on the design, we picked out our countertop and wood cabinets (in medium oak) from the Home Depot in-store selection. They had a 10ft and a 8ft long countertop but we opted for the 8ft because we did not want our kitchenette to be bigger than 7ft.  Home Depot has a really nice selection of laminate countertops with a faux marble look and 1) if you’re working on a tight budget or 2) you don’t care because it’s just a basement kitchen, this is the route to go! We did call a contractor for an estimate on granite countertops and it would have cost us a pretty penny so we decided we would save that for when we remodel the main floor kitchen. Plus for the cost of the granite alone, we were able to do a decent sized kitchen.

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For the base cabinets we purchased (2) 36 inch and (1) 12 inch cabinet which put us at 84 inches (7ft). Below is the order in which we aligned them per our design. Note that one of the 36 inch base cabinets is a sink base cabinet, which means that it is intended for use with a sink installed on top and thus lacks a drawer.

For the top wall cabinets we purchased a 12 inch, a 30 inch and a 36 inch cabinet.

Once you have your measurements, the final design, and cabinets & countertop, you can begin the simple installation process.

Installation

1. This first step is ESSENTIAL. You will  need to make sure all the cabinets are LEVEL as you place and fasten them. I cannot emphasize the importance of this.

2. Find the studs in the wall and fasten the cabinets against the wall using two cabinet wood screws for each cabinet (one on top and one the bottom). After fastening them to the wall, you will have to secure them together using the wood screws (see picture below courtesy of Home Depot)  join cabinets

3. Once all of the cabinets are secured in place, you can begin to 1) cut the counter-top to the desired length and 2) cut out the area for the sink.IMG_20140803_140939Before you cut the counter-top, make sure you have it fastened to a solid surface and completely stable.

  • Measure the counter-top at least twice to make sure you are going to cut it at the right place and mark very clearly on the unfinished side where you will cut it. WARNING: If this step gets ignored you will have to buy another counter-top, there is no way around it.
  • You will also need to measure the finished side and lay painter’s tape over your marks. This is necessary so that the jigsaw does not damage the finished surface when you are making the cuts (see pictures below).
  • To cut out the area for the sink, I drilled a small hole in one corner of the markings so I would be able to use the jigsaw from that starting position. If you don’t do this, it will be really hard to cut through in the middle of the countertop.

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4. Once all your cuts are made, you can go ahead and glue the countertop to the base cabinets using a generous application of Liquid Nails. (Note: make sure you don’t scratch the countertop when flipping it or when placing it on a different surface.)

5. If you’ve chosen to include a sink in your plans as we have, you can install this after the glued countertop has dried (minimum 8 hours). 99% of all-in-one sinks come with directions so follow them closely as each sink may be different. Our sink came with fasteners at the bottom that you twist and adjust easily against the countertop. It was super easy and didn’t take us more than 10 minutes to put in. To get the sink running we hired a professional plumber to connect things at a later time.IMG_20140803_144230IMG_20140803_212644

6. Finish up the space with your choice of appliances and an awesome Ikea table and you are all set to start planning your next dinner party or movie night 🙂

Reflections and Tips

  • Can’t decide on a design? A Sunday stroll through Ikea’s kitchen showroom with some hot sticky Kanelbullar is the perfect way to get inspired.
  • Plan your project ahead of time to coincide with big savings offered by major retailers. As I mentioned earlier, we did our kitchen on Memorial Day Weekend so we got a great deal on our cabinets(15-25 % off the listing price) and appliances. Labor Day and Black Friday are also great times to plan around.
  • When designing your kitchen, choose a layout that takes advantage of pre-existing plumbing (and electrical outlets) so you are not stuck hiring a plumber to do costly rerouting.
  • Installing a kitchen sink is a little tricky and you can either do it before or after you finalize the countertop. I did this step after I had glued the countertop to the base cabinets which meant I had to work in a tight, cramped space. If I had the chance to do this installation again, I would install the sink before mounting it and gluing it to the base cabinets.

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