Kitchen Remodel: Getting Started

I’m way behind on blogging because all of our spare time has been spent working on our kitchen.  The kitchen has been an issue with our house from the beginning. It’s small and has a very awkward layout due to an over-sized 1/2 bathroom taking up a quarter of the space. It wasn’t any worse than kitchens in other houses we looked at though, so the new paint and updated counters and flooring added by the previous owners made it seem appealing. However, we quickly realized it just wasn’t very functional for a family — especially a family that likes to cook together. We were constantly stepping on one another.

We’ve discussed lots of options from an extreme design that moved the bathroom and gutted the whole space to simply rearranging some cabinets.  For months I played around with layouts using the computer and even graph paper with paper cutouts of our appliances. After talking with a couple of contractors, we found we were looking at a $30-50,000 price tag even with less extreme options. So, we decided to leave all the walls intact and tackle the work on our own.

The trigger to our DIY approach was back in early March when we decided to see what was behind the plywood panel above the sink. Nervous about what disaster we would find behind it, my husband pried it off and we found — cabinets! An additional 2 feet of cabinets with nothing wrong other than dust and peeling paint.  They are high, but we can always use a little  more storage even if it requires a step stool to access it.


These upper cabinets were hidden behind a a sheet of plywood. They aren’t terribly accessible, but I won’t complain about having extra storage.

Feeling a little braver, we removed the floor-to-ceiling mystery box by the chimney. We knew there would be ductwork running up to the bathroom vent, but it truly was a mess. Cracked plaster and shoddy construction around it to box it in. After pulling out the plaster and tiles on that wall, and clearing the rubble we converted the old ductwork into flexible tubing that fits between the wall studs. We’ll gain an additional foot of counter and cabinet space, and will expose another side of the chimney.


Once we move this ductwork behind the wall, we’ll gain some extra space.

Meanwhile, I focused on cleaning and painting.  After lots of scrubbing and three coats of white paint, I’m starting to get a glimpse of what our kitchen could become. For now we’re going to leave the doors off to try open cabinets, but we can always add doors later if we change our minds.


Before (left cabinets) and after (right cabinets). I’m in love with the white cabinets already.

So that’s how we started our kitchen remodel. We certainly didn’t expect to jump right into demolition, but I’m really glad we finally quit talking about remodeling the kitchen and just got started.  We’ll work through it one project at a time and will hopefully have a more functional and attractive kitchen in the not too distant future.

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