Friday, October 30, 2015

My Best Kitchen Renovation Advice

So I've done a lot of renovations in our home -- at least done a lot of work on our renovations. Usually I get help on the big projects but the kitchen is the biggest for me because I've done most of it myself. If we hire out help I finish up at the end with trim, painting and some electrical -- this time I'm doing way more than that.

I don't know what it is about a kitchen renovation but it's been the hardest yet! I have no doubt most will tell you the same. Maybe because we use our kitchen so much and we notice it more? When we couldn't use our family room for a few weeks last year it wasn't a big deal, we just watched TV in other spaces. Finishing our basement was a piece of cake -- we didn't use the space every day anyway so it wasn't a big deal. There is a point at the end of every project when you just want it done. :)

But the kitchen, especially when you are spacing it over a long time like me -- that takes more patience. There are a few bits of advice I can give that have probably been said a million times, but all are so true.

1. It will take longer than you think. You can plan with the best of them but that flies out the window when stuff happens. For example, the granite installers broke our countertops and it took another week to finish them up. Because we couldn't make final drywall touch ups that put us back about two weeks. There were a few other things I could do in the meantime but I had a very specific timeline for projects so it slowed me down.

I was really hoping to have the whole space done by Halloween and that's obviously not happening. Goals are good though. :) I am estimating it will be another two weeks, which makes me want to rock in a corner a little bit. But I want to do it right!
The (in between) before after the new island

2. Give up on cleaning. You know what Einstein said about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? That's what happens when you clean during a renovation. Ha! You do it one day and do it again the next, and again. And again. And then you decide that spacing that out to every few days saves your sanity a little bit.

If you're like me you kind of give up on the whole house. Our house is never clean during a major project anyway -- I can only focus on the task at hand so the rest of the house goes to crap a little bit. I don't think I'm alone in that one!
3. You'll have a love/hate relationship with the space. Some days I can barely stand it, I love how the kitchen is coming together SO MUCH. Other days I don't even want to walk in there because it means more work. ;) I shouldn't say I ever hate the space, I don't. I love the transformation. But this part of the reno is the worst -- I can see the final result finally coming together and it's so close…yet so far away. Patience! I don't have it! Of course if you are hiring out the work you may not feel this way quite as much, but you'll still get to a point when you just want it done.

I think doing a reno this time of year adds to that feeling. I felt this way last year during the family room redo -- I want to just focus on the upcoming holidays and nest a bit. Next time I do this I'm determined to start in March. ;) (Our bathrooms will be the next two big renovations, but those will be another year or two.)
The first time I could see my vision

4. It will cost more than you think. Yeah, duh. I've heard this a million times and it's so true. I had a number in mind a year ago, and up till about a week ago I was pretty confident I was going to stay under that. There are a lot of things at the end of a kitchen reno (at least ours) that add to that cost -- hardware and finishing touches for sure. The really fun stuff! I still don't think I'll go over my self-imposed budget by much.

Along the way you make decisions that add to the cost too -- I was originally planning to do a non-ducted vent hood like we had before (it was in our microwave). But after some research I found it's better to do vented if you can. Since it's an exterior wall and a fairly easy thing to do, we ended up spending more on that project. It's a fairly easy project but it involves cutting a hole in my house, so I'm hiring that out. :) Hopefully this will be the only major redo of our kitchen, so there's definitely a feeling of, "If we're doing this we're going to do it right."

It goes without saying but I'm gonna say it -- doing most of this myself is WAY less than I would have paid to have it done. So there's that. :)

5. Things will go wrong. Count on it. Literally days after we finished our basement a few years ago, my son started yelling that water was spilling everywhere. We ran down and water was quite literally shooting full force across the room from a pipe for our future kitchenette. The plumbing hadn't been capped off well enough and our newly finished basement had water everywhere. At one point we also had a leak that ruined the baseboards (that I had just installed) in my husband's office.

This time the issues have been minimal. The new range couldn't be fully installed because the gas line had be to moved down. We almost lost the food in our fridge because a breaker was turned off and we didn't realize it. And just last night the sump pump was starting to overflow and we thought the worst…and then realized the breaker had been turned off yesterday while some work was being done. We avoided a HUGE disaster because of these small alarms -- I placed one down there years ago after the basement was done and it worked GREAT:

Whew. I'm so thankful I heard that going off! Seriously! They aren't loud enough that I'd hear it two floors up but I was in the kitchen and heard it going off in a far corner of the basement. I also keep one under the fridge after we had one break down and cause a huge leak years ago.

There you go! My bits of advice if you are tackling a renovation, especially in a kitchen or bathroom. All that being said, I'm SO thrilled with everything and I think it's going to be gorgeous! It's like labor -- all the pain will be forgotten in the end and I'll have a beautiful kitchen to cuddle. OK…not quite the same. But I will hug it.

Have you done a big renovation? DIY or not, these tips will probably resonate with a lot of you. Any mishaps or stories to share and do you laugh at them now? ;)

Have a happy and safe Halloween my friends!!


  1. I love that you do so much of the work yourself. I know you have inspired my daughter and myself to do more projects on our own. Thanks for your inspiration!

  2. I can relate. Ours is taking a long time too. Time is the biggest factor. My husband is doing 95% of it.. I'm doing painting, etc., but he is the main person. And he does this for a living so, if he's not feeling it or has actual paying work to do on the weekends then nothing gets done. We have primed the doors and cabinets on the bottom, so I am hoping we get them painted tomorrow! (fingers crossed!!) We are still waiting on two new doors for the uppers he built and we'll have to prime and paint THEM.. arg does it ever end?? haha! I wish I had these tips back in March ;)

  3. Those flood buzz alarms are a great idea! Adding it to my list of things I need since our water heater is in the basement and I'd hate to have water everywhere down there - what a mess!

    Kitchen renovations are a pain, but such a big reward when they're done. Yours will be fantastic as well - can't wait to see it. :-)

  4. Good advice! We keep laughing/being irritated with my hubby because he'll do something in the kitchen, then want us to clean the kitchen. The kids just look at me with frustration, because THERE IS NOWHERE TO PUT THE STUFF YET. I'm still working on the wall behind the hutch we store a lot of our things in, as well as redoing some of the hutch itself. We're getting there, we think he finally understands, but I am really tired of the room (mess). Ugh. I will love it when it is done, but WHY ISN'T IT DONE NOW??? But, seriously, I'm loving that room, which after 12 years of hating it, is wonderful!

  5. I've been working on our master bath remodel myslef. As a mom to 4, it's taking way longer than I had hoped. But I'm learning a TON, and am saving us major cash. (And I'm thankful for 2 more bathrooms in the house.) But it IS a love~hate thing. It makes me feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one to feel that way!

  6. I've been working on our master bath remodel myslef. As a mom to 4, it's taking way longer than I had hoped. But I'm learning a TON, and am saving us major cash. (And I'm thankful for 2 more bathrooms in the house.) But it IS a love~hate thing. It makes me feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one to feel that way!

  7. So many good points! I have loved following along in your renovation, and strangely, i never thought about the LIVING during a renovation aspect. especially a kitchen! you and your family are troopers! I think you are right though -- it will all be worth it in the end and after a while the memories of the frustrations will fade! also... those flood detectors -- GENIUS! i will have to go pick some of those babies up!

  8. Love your inspirational projects and their end results. Keeps me motivated. You have such perfect insight and vision and always seem to accomplish what you set out to do. We just downsized into a condo that needs far more than just a facelift. We found a contractor (well known and good at renos). Well he was here for 2 weeks and walked out with his things yesterday, stating that he hates renos and has no desire to finish our job. That's right ... WALKED RIGHT OUT OF HERE. We have torn out walls, bare wires, concrete floors (where laminate used to be), half mudded walls ... you name, its here in our disaster zone. So is that a good enough story to share about renovating??

    1. That is awful Bonnie! I've heard some stories that make me shake my head. I don't get it!

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  10. Saving in diy file ... still in planning stage for kitchen and have 2 bathrooms to do!

  11. Checking in again - Could you mention what those floors are? I have the same cabinets (which I am not allowed to paint white!) and I need floors that don't bring out the orange! thanks! :)

    1. Hey Melissa, they are hardwoods finished in Jacobean stain from Minwax. :)


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