Monday, August 24, 2009

Kitchen Remodel: The Background

Since so many people responded with interest to my kitchen remodeling project, I thought I'd share my experiences. I know that many times I won't take on a big project if I've never done anything like it before, because there are too many unknowns. I worry that I will get in over my head. However, if I write about my experiences, that may help clear up some of the unknowns for others who may be thinking of remodeling a room or rooms in their home.

Our kitchen is very small. It's about the size of some walk-in closets you might find in nice homes. Personally, I've seen larger kitchens in studio apartments. We have two goals: One is to maximize our kitchen space and design it intelligently, and the other is to get our home into sellable condition.

Currently, our kitchen counter top is tile, and many of the tiles are cracked. We have a built-in wooden cutting board, which is getting moldy from years of moisture, so we always have to scrub it down with bleach, and there is a big black pot ring on it where the bottom of a hot pot burned the wood.

The cabinets were painted white when we moved in 16 years ago. However, over the years so many fingerprints and and grease marks piled up that I took a wet soapy sponge to them. However, I couldn't not wipe off those stains. I tried a bleach abrasive with a rough sponge and degreasers, but still couldn't put a dent in the gunk. I decided to repaint the cabinets instead. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any help at the time I was shopping for paint, so I just picked out an interior cabinet paint in off-white. The repainting project was done many years ago when I was between jobs. I put in full time hours on the project and it took several days to complete it, because I repainted the bathroom cabinets as well.

It wasn't until months later when the first few stains started showing up that I took a sponge to those, hoping I could have better luck scrubbing them off when they were fresh. Much to my horror, I scrubbed the layer of paint right off along with the stains. All that work down the drain in one scrub of a sponge. It turned out that the paint I picked out was enamel, so it peels right off like fingernail polish. Now we have places all over our kitchen where an old bright white paint shows through a newer off-while paint. It looks like our kitchen cabinets are shedding.

We also have tile floors, and many of the tiles are cracked and or loose. We've searched the garage for extra tiles to replace the broken ones, but there are none and no one sells that same style of tiles anymore.

Because there isn't enough cabinet space, we store food in boxes and cans on the floor next to our dining table. We also don't have enough counter space for more than one person to be working in the kitchen at the same time.

We basically have two small spots of counter space. Dirty dishes waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher usually occupy one of those spaces, and we leave the other space open for preparing food.

That's just the problems we have with the kitchen. I won't even mention the rest of the house, but that desperately needs work too. We've got one daughter in college, and our son will be entering college in another two years, so we have to be cautious about how we manage our money.

We began our attempt at a kitchen remodel by visiting The Home Depot. We looked at their displays and set up an appointment for a contractor to come out and take measurements and pictures of our kitchen. That same week our well pipe sprung a leak and we lost our water. We had to fork out an unexpected $2,000 to replace the pipes and well pump. That put a big crimp in our kitchen remodeling budget. However, we decided to go ahead and follow through with an appointment with a designer. Our local Home Depot has a special deal right now in which the initial consultations with a contractor and designer are free and there is no obligation.

The designer spent three hours with us, pouring over floor plans, catalogs, and showing us examples of different types of cabinets we can put in some of the tough spots.

In my next post, I will go into detail about how the design session progressed and regressed until we finally came up with an agreeable solution. Stay tuned.


fernvalley01 said...

That is a small kitchen ! I hear you on the worried about costs thing , I have had the design for my reno for 9 years .Never did it cause I was nervous about the money . Finally going to happen ! I will get you some before and afters .

Paint Girl said...

I can't wait to hear what you have decided to do!
We had to do an unexpected bathroom remodel to 2 or our bathrooms a year ago. A pipe broke in the master shower, which we didn't know until months later. Lots of water damage, had to rip everything out of 2 bathrooms and re-do everything. I always wanted to update our house, just not in those circumstances, with the water damage. Thank goodness for homeowners insurance! Now I have 2 bathrooms I just love!! I will have to post about it someday.
Sorry to hear about the pain in the butt customer. I worked in customer service/management for 18 years, so I know all to well how customers can be!! NOT fun!

lytha said...

oh, i bet you guys LOVE HGTV! my man and i watch it whenever we are in the states. i mean, first thing when we arrive! we just love watching people's homes turn around, and we get new ideas too.

talking about paint in a kitchen..aren't you supposed to use that enamel paint? otherwise your flat paint will absorb food spray and you cannot clean it? our last kitchen had flat paint, which absorbed every drop of oil and there was nothing you could do to clean it off. our new kitchen has an even worse situation...this awful white textured wallpaper that almost every home in germany has, and they continue to install when they redo a house. i don't get it! wallpaper is a home owner's nightmare, and they just keep applying it to walls here. they say it is to give the walls a nice texture, cuz you paint over it. hm. all i know is, it rips when you bang a laptop edge into it, and then you have to repaint the hole or tear. if i were to kill a bug on the wall, i could not scrub it, i would have to repaint it. nutty. cuz again, it's a flat paint on paper that falls apart when scrubbed.

our kitchen is the same size as yours, there is only room for one person to work, but since we do not have kids, it's ok. and since every grocery item only comes in smurf size here, even flour and sugar, cupboard space is not an issue.

i really like white tile in a kitchen. when i remodeled a kitchen years ago, i painted it a light grey with white trim, and all white tile backsplash. i was so proud of that kitchen! it said goodbye to wallpaper forever when i was there.

we just had to put in a new floor on our kitchen, and funnily, linoleum was the cheapest and easiest solution for us. i know, it isn't classy at all, but we only spent 150 for the linoleum, and 75 for the installation. small kitchens don't need much floor!

keep us posted, this is exciting!


Leah Fry said...

A VERY small kitchen — no work space at all. That remodel should really help the resale value of the home.

We used to have the same storage problem you described in our previous home. We designed and built our home 9 years ago. I am grateful for a huge kitchen with a walk-in pantry. There are actually cabinets in my kitchen whose top shelves remain empty.

Mrs Mom said...

Oh wow- painting.... man that is a PIA!!

Looking forward to hearing how you handled the rude woman at Home Depot too. People-- they either amaze me with their kindness/ generosity, or they freaking blow me away with how rude/ selfish/ etc they can be.

BTW- your son!! What a cool kid!!

Breathe said...

"Plastic on your person.." LOL

Kitchen remodeling can be very stressful - Take your time with it!

Anonymous said...

After you get a design printed out take it to Ikea and look at there complete kitchens. They seem much cheaper than others. Look on there web site.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'll be interested to see what the designer came up with after the obnoxious woman let him come back. How rude.

Anyway, if you're looking to sell, why don't you just have the cabinet doors replaced or resurfaced and where the tile is cracked in the counter tops put in some different flower tiles and some on the back splash wall along with putting design tiles where the cutting board is and paint the kitchen and clean it up. The floor probably needs to be replaced unless you can find tiles close to matching. This way you can probably save money with a few minor repairs. Just a thought.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I second wha GHM said. Why spend the down payment on your next house on a huge kitchen splurge when you are just going to move anyway.
You'd be shocked and dismayed with how many people move into a house where the previous home owners just spent thousands of dollar replacing and remodeling for a sale...and they just go in and tear it all out because it's not their style. Keep it simple and just do the bare minimum to spruce it all up...or else you may be living in that house for many more years to come.

Oh, and by the way, my kitchen is probably smaller than yours. The floor space is less than 7' square, but it feels bigger because it is wide open to the breakfast nook and dining room and lots of windows on all 3 sides. And even though I have tiles (which are oddly enough southwestern pink and santa fe blue) the counter space was planned out really well. Of course, I keep just about all my appliances except my toaster and Kitchen Aid mixer, put away in the lower cabinets.

Speaking of appliances...why do you have a microwave on your countertop when you have a built-in microwave, too? Removing that smaller one off your countertop would free up a lot of space, I think.


ps You made me smile when I saw your piggy spoon rest, too! Wheek! Wheek!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - Just wanted to respond to a couple of your comments. Yes, I put that pig there just for you. Before we bought this house, it was on the market for over a year. The real estate agent said no one would buy it because the kitchen was too small. So, we figure we probably can't sell this house until we do something about the kitchen. There's always a Catch 22 for the Catch 22.

Also, if it weren't for that second microwave oven, my family would never eat meals together. There's usually something I have to cook or warm up in a microwave, and as is I can only get two plates on the table at a time since each microwave only holds one plate or one item. Two of us usually start eating several minutes after the other two start eating, because we don't want the food to get cold. If I warmed up each plate in one microwave, we'd be eating in shifts.