Tag Archives: remodel

The $700 Kitchen Remodel

23 Feb

A little while ago I documented the remodeling of an entire kitchen for just under $5000, an undertaking that, while done on a budget, was also completed with a small nest egg of money that had been set aside for the sole purpose of putting towards a new kitchen.  But what if your budget for remodeling an entire house fell into the $5000 range?  It is in that type of situation that, once again, the fortitude to commit to hard work (and the temporary loss of your evening and weekend leisure time) will reward you.

This was the kitchen that came with David’s 1926 bungalow.  The kitchen was not original to the house, and, like many other parts of the home, seemed to have undergone a remodel sometime during the 1970s.  The cabinets were heavily lacquered and sticky with years of grease and neglect.  The laminate countertops were peeling up at the corners, and the sharp metal seams that connected the laminate backsplash were viciously rusty.  In addition to featuring several different types of both wallpaper and wood paneling, the kitchen also had a very strange, and very inconvenient, layout.  The refrigerator blocked one half of a large window on the south side of the room, and the stove sat alone along an interior wall.

The first thing David did was swap the locations of the stove and the refrigerator.  The second thing he did was purchase a new refrigerator, on account of the fact that moving the old refrigerator unearthed the long-ago decomposed body of a mouse that was hidden in the refrigerator’s drip pan.  After the appliance swap, attention was focused on the kitchen’s layers of paneling, wallpaper, and acoustic ceiling tiles (the tiles were not dropped down, they were just glued to the plaster ceiling).  It took months of work, but after endless sessions of late-night scraping, peeling, sanding, and patching, the walls and ceiling were ready to be repainted.  Along with the walls being painted, new wainscoting was installed on their lower halves, then painted a crisp white.  The upper cabinets were removed and replaced, and the lower cabinets were then sanded, primed, and painted.  After the kitchen was completed, there wasn’t a single surface in it that hadn’t been replaced or refinished.

The upper cabinets were found at the ReBuilding Center, and all they required was a light coat of paint to brighten them up.  David also added a small perimeter of crown moulding to the tops of the cabinets, just to made them look more finished.  The stove and portable dishwasher were given to him for free by friends who were upgrading to newer appliances.  The sink and faucet were replaced for around $75, and the curtains were handmade from old tablecloths.

The granite tiles for the countertop were found on sale at Home Depot for around $1.50 a square foot.  The slate backsplash tiles were another Home Depot sale find.  David bought three boxes of mixed tiles for under $1 a square foot.

The kitchen’s old eating nook was a sea of wallpaper, faux wood paneling, cheap trim, and one very questionable light fixture.

Once the space was gutted and refreshed, the nook was reborn as a bright and welcoming corner in an equally friendly new kitchen.

The most shocking thing about this entire kitchen remodel (aside from the incredible brightness that was achieved without adding windows or additional lighting), was the fact that the purchase of the new refrigerator accounted for nearly 45% of the total cost.  If you subtract the $300 for the fridge, everything else that was done in the kitchen priced out at around $400.  While it’s true that a great deal of money was saved by not having to pay for the replacement stove and new dishwasher, it must also be noted that by not hiring contractors, painters, and tilers, this kitchen remodel was achieved for 1/10th of what it might have otherwise cost.  Many weekends may have been sacrificed, but I don’t imagine David–or his wallet–ever mourned the loss of those days.

How to Remodel Your Entire Kitchen for Under $5000

14 Feb

In 2003 my husband and I bought an old 1910 bungalow.  The house still had its original kitchen, which included counters that were four inches shorter than standard and cabinet doors that, when opened, hung crooked as their hinges strained to rip out of the cabinet boxes.  The subcounter under the laminate countertop was rotting, and three months before this picture was taken we had to replace the kitchen faucet when it very suddenly, and very surprisingly, simply fell over.  After buying a new faucet, we discovered that it did not fit on the sink (the base of the faucet was wider than the lip of the sink), so we found a free sink to replace the old one, only to discover the aforementioned rotting of the countertop (which made the installation of the new sink rather challenging).  In short, we knew that a complete kitchen overhaul was looming closely in our future.

The good news was that we had been planning on redoing our kitchen for some time, so in the preceding months we had been visiting building supply warehouses and collecting whatever supplies we thought might be useful.  We found a vintage double-drainboard sink for $25 at the ReBuilding Center, and for $300 we bought three huge slabs of cast-off granite from a stone supplier.  We had to haul the granite slabs home ourselves (with the help of two other people), but it was well worth it, considering the incredible deal we got.

This may sound obvious, but the most effective way to save money on a kitchen remodel—or any remodel, for that matter—is to commit to doing the work yourself.  Savvy purchasing habits are also important, but when you realize that you could easily shell out over $1000 just to have someone demo your small kitchen and haul away the debris, a personal dedication to hard work becomes a real asset.

We encountered an unexpected big break when we purchased ready-made cabinets from a cabinet warehouse.  We could never afford custom cabinetry, but once we meticulously measured our kitchen’s dimensions to the nearest centimeter and then scoured the cabinet warehouse for cabinets of the exact right size, we discovered that we could mix and match quite a few sizes of drawer and cabinet combinations to come up with a set up that would fit perfectly in our kitchen.  As an added bonus, since we were loading and unloading all of the cabinetry ourselves and wielding a tape measure with a certain level of authority, we apparently looked convincing enough in our paint-splattered and permanently worn-out clothing to warrant a professional builders discount.  For just under $3000 we bought brand new kitchen cabinetry with solid maple doors and high quality, full extension drawer slides.

I built a backsplash out of custom-cut lengths of copper sheeting that I ordered from a sheet metal manufacturer.  I adhered the copper sheets to plywood panels, then glued them to the wall using an industrial-strength adhesive.

Through friends we located a granite fabricator who was willing to cut and install our countertops for a few hundred dollars.  Since we already owned the granite slabs and had recently installed all of our new cabinetry, the fabricator was able to complete the job in record time: from the day he came over to measure the counters to the day he installed the granite, under two weeks had passed.

Through a combination of manufacturer discounts, annual store sales, and Energy Star refunds, we bought a dishwasher for 45% off the regular price.  In fact, we saved $80 by choosing to pick up the dishwasher ourselves and install it ourselves, and we’re no wizards when it comes to plumbing and electricity. Neither my husband nor I had even owned a dishwasher before, but spending 20 minutes with our new dishwasher’s instruction manual supplied us with all the installation information we would need.

For less than .75¢ a square foot, we found vinyl composition tiles that were durable, easy to install, and, aesthetically, a good fit for our house’s age and character.  Installing the tiles took only one day.

We kept our existing refrigerator, in no small part because it was the only fridge known to all of humankind that could fit in the small little fridge cubby wedged neatly under the stairs.  The stove was a wedding present from my parents, and I still often miss its built in griddle that could convert to a fifth burner.  We sold this house in 2006, and I’ve probably thought about that stove at least once a week ever since.

When you add in the cost of paint, cabinet hardware, and building supplies, the entire overhaul came in at just under $5000.  Additionally, because we weren’t waiting on a contractor to line up subs and make appointments, we completed the entire remodel ourselves in six weeks (with a break for Thanksgiving and a break for Christmas thrown in).  Not bad for two people armed with little more than basic power tools and a 25 year-old Toyota pick up truck.

What about you?  What’s your greatest do-it-yourself accomplishment, kitchen related or not?

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