Vintage Wedgewood (fully operational), lighted potrack, wall tiling, and beloved Griswold yellow frying pan

It occurred to me tonight that I never got around to posting the final pics of the kitchen. I still have some painting to do and some art to hang, but it’s 99.9% done. I couldn’t have done the work without my friend Neal who was so incredibly awesome – updating a few outlets, tiling the wall behind the stove and teaching me how to tile the backsplash and chalkboard wall. I really couldn’t have done it without him.

I wrote a post back in January, outlining what I what I wanted to do in the kitchen and proposed a budget of approximately $5,000. A few friends tracking the progress on FB have commented that it seemed like one day I just decided to remodel my kitchen or that started with a backsplash and it snowballed from there. Truth is, I had planned for a much larger renovation but then I left my fancy job. My budget went from $25,000 to $5,000. I needed to plan carefully, gave great consideration to each material selection and subsequent purchase.

Guided by my Wedgewood stove, I used Pinterest to find other kitchens and aspects I liked. I then set out to locate specific materials and pinned those, keeping a record of what I wanted to purchase (kitchen sink, tile, pot rack, hardware, etc.). Once I got into the work,  some aspects went fast and were quick rewards and some days were better than others. From start to true finish, it took five months and I’m quite pleased with the end result. The goal of the remodel was to improve the functionality of the kitchen and use more timeless finishes.

10 cubic feet with abundant freezer space, low operational costs, and pretty functional given the small cf.
10 cubic feet with abundant freezer space, low operational costs, and pretty functional given the small cf.

The biggest expense was the new fridge – standard height but with a 24″ x 24″ footprint which dramatically opened up the kitchen. I love the fridge and think it was worth every penny ($950.00 special order through Sears). Next, marble countertops (installed) and the tile (which Neal and I installed) each came cost just under $800.00.  Due to the odd-sized cabinet below, the kitchen sink was a special order through Home Depot and cost $400.00. Had it been standard sized, it would have been $150.00 less.  The new lightening (pot rack and pod lights) were approximately $1,200 installed. The lighted pot rack retailed for $350.00, but I found it at LampsPlus in their an open-box section online and paid $125.00.

I could not locate a true cabinet maker to construct new doors for the shortened upper cabinets. This bummed me out at first, but for now, the open cabinets are JUST FINE. Besides, the money I saved on new cabinet doors went to fund the new fridge, pull-out cabinet materials, and the pot rack. Turns out, the upper cabinets are NOT boxes screwed to the wall. Instead, the trim and shelves were toe-nailed into the plaster walls. How they stayed up on the walls all these years is a bit of a mystery. I anchored everything to studs, ensuring my glassware stays in place. The espresso maker can now fit UNDER the cabinets as can just about anything else. Previously, even an ‘undermount’ apartment coffee maker wouldn’t fit.

Pull-out cabinet anchored to wall and on casters

I’m VERY proud of the upper cabinets, but am most amazed at the lower cabinets’ transformation.  The black milk paint (with several coats of poly on top) looks stunning with the new hardware. Upon first look, most folks think I had new lower cabinets installed. I built the pull-out cabinet between the wall and fridge after seeing a few versions on DIY pages. None included plans, so I designed it to fit my needs (dog/cat food cans, mason jars, vitamins, first aid stuff).  I have one more pull-out cabinet to make for the slot between the stove and the fridge. I’m waiting on a narrow piece of chopping block (left over from a friend’s remodel) before I construct it. While I removed all the overhanging shelves (above the stove/doorway and on either side of the nook opening), I actually gained useable storage space via the pull-out cabinet, reconstruction the wall cabinet (now with doors below), and making some adjustments to the nook bench seating to improve access to the storage spaces below. I also got rid of items I didn’t use.

Old folding table, sanded down, milk paint/poly lower and exposed old pine top (mineral oil sealer)
Old folding table, sanded down, milk paint/poly lower and exposed old pine top (mineral oil sealer)

How did I stay on budget? Careful selection of materials, sticking to my choices, and doing most of the work myself. I hired out the electric and plumbing work and of course, had the marble countertop and sink installed.

Neal helped with a few light switches and ultimately, he gave me the confidence that I could do the work. He also loaned me a microwave which enabled me to have warm meals after long days plugging away in the kitchen.

My mom made me new black/white ticking bench seat covers. How she was able to make them in Ohio and have them fit like a charm is another great mystery. The little red folding table was taken apart, sanded, repainted (milkpaint and poly) and I made new supports for it. I sanded the top down and discovered beautiful old pine beneath. To preserve that, I rubbed in a few coats of mineral oil.

Where did the time go? Plaster repair, painting, getting the guts up to shorten the upper cabinets, refinishing the lower cabinets, nook rehab, and nook table refinishing. More time than I’d care to admit went into the pull-out cabinet and the reconfiguration of the wall cabinet.

I built the nook seating 9 years ago and while there was storage room beneath the seats, it wasn't accessible for a variety of reasons. I made a few adjustments to the lids and now have access to a six-plug outlet AND the storage space.
I built the nook seating 9 years ago and while there was storage room beneath the seats, it wasn’t accessible for a variety of reasons. I made a few adjustments to the lids and now have access to a six-plug outlet AND the storage space.

What do I really love about the new kitchen? The lighting – flexibility to have A LOT of light or more ambient (stove light, dimmable pot and pot rack lighting), USEABLE storage (pull-out cabinets, nook, and wall cabinet), and the new sink/counter. Folks told me NOT to get marble and I’m very glad I did not listen to them. I recently visited a house in the neigborhood whose kitchen hasn’t been remodeled and it has 1930s marble. Ha! I knew it was the right choice for the age of the house. The lower cabinets are now one of my FAVORITE components of the kitchen. Their surface is smooth; all that sanding between coats REALLY paid off. What don’t I like? Well, I really wish I had doors for the upper cabinets (I have to DUST my dishes and glassware. UGH) and the floor. BOTH of these, however, can be added down the road.

Maybe I should stop chattering and say, HEY! Look at the before and after pics! The complete photo set from the remodel (the good, the bad, the ugly) can be seen here.

kitchen  1_1.28.13_before
Very dark, even in the middle of the day
kitchen 1_091513
Dimmer pod lights and pot rack make the kitchen as bright as I need, even at night
kitchen 2 _1.28.13_before
The shelf above the stove and door way made the kitchen seem like a cave. It was also useless storage space. The old fridge stuck out nearly to the door frame and within inches of the stove.
kitchen 2_091513
Now, someone could get something out of the fridge and NOT block the doorway! The room seems more open with the shelf gone.
kitchen 3_1.28.13 before
The shelf above the nook doorway and stove just drove me bonkers. The nook now has ample storage to replace the shelf space.
kitchen 3_091513
I expanded the chalkboard size a bit and love the tiled wall. Really helps keep the wall clean.
kitchen 4_1.31.13_tile off
Ah, those 1980s oak cabinets with their rounded edges really grated on me. The short distance between the counter and the upper cabinets was a constant source of frustration. The wide door beneath the sink sagged and often fell off (too heavy for the hinges)
Most possibly the low point of the renovation. I worried I was in over my head and while most major purchases had been made, I didn’t have a lot to show for it. Months later, looking at this image I smile and am very proud of myself and thankful to Neal for helping me transform the kitchen.
kitchen 4_091513
Much better. I need to put up shelves on the far left cabinet. I took me awhile to know what to use that space for – travel mugs and cocktail mixing tools. Using a table saw, I ripped the wide door beneath the sink in half, rounded the edges with a sander and tada! Matches the other doors and no one is the wiser!