The $1821 Kitchen

It seems appropriate to re-post my very first blog article that I published almost a year ago.  I still love my “new” kitchen.  I hope you enjoy the transformation and find some inspiration for the new year.





More. Free. Labor.

I’m in love with my cottage.  However, the kitchen left much to be desired.  I have lived in the house for almost nine years, and only done minor painting to the cabinets and had the floor professionally done a couple of years ago.  In October,  hankering for a change, I wanted to re do the kitchen in a really impactful way under two important conditions: a budget of $1500 and cosmetic changes only.  I had to work with the existing flaws of the kitchen.  No ripping down sheet rock, no moving electrical junction boxes, etc and nothing structural.

I just longed for something simpler.  For a while, I wanted everything on display.  Scouring antique stores, ebay and flea markets…everything had to have a great container so it could be on display.  But too much of having everything on display starts to feel cluttered and the kitchen never felt clean…even though I clean on a regular basis.  Plus it was kinda exhausting making sure everything was always looking perfect because it was all out in the open.  Some closed door storage and major editing was in order.

Truth be told, I met only one of those two goals.  I went over budget by $321 because of taxes, delivery fees and unforeseen product substitutions that were more costly.

Still, it is a darn good kitchen for the money.  It is a very personal kitchen, not just because I did the work but because it navigates the way I do.  Having lived in the house for almost nine years prior to this undertaking, I inherently knew and understood what I wanted and needed out of the kitchen.  I am not sure I would have the same harmony with a kitchen that I designed and built without having lived in the house first.

I did all the work myself in 14 days, but I have to share that my wonderful neighbor, Darlene Kirksey, spent a day helping me install the counter tops which were too heavy for me to lift on my own and my ever helpful yard man, David Keel helped me with demolition on Day One.  Props to my lovely friend/neighbor Kathy Burt for bringing me a sweet surprise of dinner from my favorite burger joint since my kitchen was torn up and I was way too tired to fix even a sandwich.  Lastly, I need to thank Gus Tinajero, the GM at IKEA and his assistant.  He worked, in good faith to get me the countertops I wanted and offered GREAT customer service.  Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting several individual projects within the renovation:

  • Beautiful spice storage using lab bottles (click here)
  • DIY Pendant Lamps (click here)
  • Re-purposing an upper cabinet as a lower cabinet
  • Re-engineering a four drawer cabinet for the better
  • New life for old cabinet doors (click here)
  • DIY roman blinds (easy peasy for anyone, even a beginner)
  • Pantry Pride (click here)
  • Organizing recipes with a deconstructed book

Here are the before and after pictures.  It’s a little hard to tell in some of them, but the after pics are shown directly to the right of the same spot in the before pics. For additional kitchen and home tour pics, click here. Let me know what you think!

Remember to click twice to bigify!

Love Always,Cindy

As a post script, I am submitting this article for consideration for a feature in Cottages & Bungalos.  Stop by the blog when you have some time, there are some terrific entries already:

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  1. I love it! It’s just perfect! Do you like the curtains under the sink? That’s something I’ve really been thinking about doing, but I’m not sure how my hubby would go for it.

    • Loribeth,

      I really love the curtains under the sink. The curtains are washable so easy to clean up when neccesary but also it adds a little texture and interest so it isn’t just a blank sea of cabinet doors. There were doors there before, but a leak under the sink warped the cabinet and the door frame, so this seemed like a natural (and easy) choice. I don’t think you will be sorry if you decide to go that route. I used a simple and inexpensive natural ticking from walmart, the same fabric that I used for the roman blinds. Thanks for stopping by the blog…keep me posted on what you decide to do!


  2. Wow! Kudos to you, you little powerhouse, you! I, too, have tile countertops and want to scream about how hard they are to keep clean (God only knows what ecology of crap lives in the grout). Those are hardwood counters? They look terrific! Would you share a ballpark figure of the cost of them (it looks like you have about the same amount of counterspace I do, save my massive, obnoxious peninsula/breakfast bar that could be trimmed down a bit in depth to make room for a more usable space as a breakfast nook)? Lastly, how did you go about demolishing and removing the old countertops? Did you break up the tile, first, and then remove, or remove with the tile intact? Thanks for the ideas (and the answers?)!

    • I have to say, it was hard work…but worth every bit of sweat. Yes…I thought my old countertops were deplorable. Once the grout was dirty, that was it. And in an old house, the grout cracked all the time and wiping crumbs off the counter often meant the just fell into the open grout lines. For reference, this kitchen is 11 feet by 15 feet. I needed four 8′ lengths of countertops. I got them from IKEA. The ones I wanted were $69 each, but there was a supplier issue and the next upgrade were $169 each. Needless to say, that was a budget buster. But the GM at IKEA worked with me and sold me the more expensive countertops for $89 each. More than I budgeted for, but still reasonable. My guess is that IKEA has worked out the supplier issue by now…so $69 each is VERY reasonable and you can see the impact they had on the project. As far as removing the tiles…there is no way around it; it is messy. We just sledgehammered the tiles, which broke the grout and tiles into bits and I bagged them in small quantities for disposal. There was plywood under the tiles (I think you can see the plywood in the demolition picture) so I removed and discarded that as well. If you do the install yourself, you will need help because the wood countertops are VERY heavy. Thanks for looking, I hope I have help you with some answers. xoxo. C.

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