Kitchen Before & After

We have a lovely house: hardwood floors, arched opening between the living room and dining room, classic styling, original gumwood trim.  But the kitchen and bathroom are severely lacking.  They look like they belong in an icky summer camp, not a lovely 1930 house.

chaos; crowded cabinets (cat)

more crowded cabinets

dark walls, dingy cabinets

Beyond being icky, the kitchen is extremely inefficient.  It’s a U-shaped kitchen, and the corners are all blind.  For both the upper and lower cabinets by the sink, the previous owners installed long cabinets with tiny openings.  I can’t even reach the back of all of the corner cabinets—they’re 27” cabinets with 9” openings!  Here is a crude, not-to-scale illustration of the upper cabinets:

As you can see below, you can really only use the part of the cabinet that’s right behind the opening—the rest is wasted:

opening/blind corner

It’s even worse on the bottom:

Shortly after we moved in, I designed an Ikea kitchen on their website.  It’s amazing: carousels in all the corners, pull out drawers in the lower cabinets, a floor-to-ceiling pantry next to the fridge (I’d switch the fridge and the oven)!  And it’s fairly affordable, especially since I prefer butcher block countertops.  We’ve been planning on doing a full renovation: tear down the plaster & lathe, put up drywall, replace the uneven vinyl floor, move appliances, install the Ikea kitchen.  But we’re looking at the end of graduate school, and the likelihood of moving, and well, it just didn’t look like it was going to happen.

Nevertheless, I hate the kitchen.  I love to cook, which makes the icky inefficiency all the more frustrating.  When we were flying back from Utah two weeks ago, I told Alan that I wanted to redo the kitchen, and that I would be in charge of the project and do most of it myself.  We agreed on a budget of $1000 and two weeks, so it would be done before I started classes again.

My plans were:

-Tear out the upper cabinets, replace with open shelving

-Sell the portable dishwasher (we’ve never used it) and replace with a kitchen cart

-Paint the walls green and the cabinets white

I ended up:

-Tearing out the cabinets and putting up shelving on one side, reinstalling one on the other for closed storage

-Hanging slim rails (wanted this, got this)

-Planning on buying a sideboard, but ended up with a kitchen cart (the sideboard was out of stock)

-Tearing out the old hood and Installing an over-the-range microwave

-Painting the upper walls white, upper cabinets white, lower walls green, lower cabinets gray

I took the lead on this project, and did all of the painting, removal of cabinet doors, hanging shelves and rails, and reorganization myself.  My mom drove to Ikea with me (the Toronto Ikea is closest to us), which was super helpful.  My dad installed boards on the wall—screwed into studs—on which I hung the metal shelves and rails.  Alan took down the old hood and installed the microwave, including running a new outlet into the cabinet.  Alan also helped me reinstall the cabinet doors, which is a two person job.

Without further ado, some before-and-afters!

open metal shelves

rails for organization

clean color palate

more efficient use of space

We had so little storage before that I had to keep a lot of things on the counter.  One of my main priorities was to get things up off the counter.  That’s why I installed the spice shelves (repurposed bathroom shelves) and the rails around the sink.

spice shelves

I especially love the bamboo dish rack.  Here it is after cooking breakfast this morning:

And when I put the dishes away, I can just hang it back up!

As you could probably tell from the photos, we’re not quite done.

Yet to do:

-Trim the window by the pots & pans: about a year ago Alan took out a full sized window, and replaced it with a shorter one so that I could run a countertop along that wall.  We need to cut down the old trim, and it’s a project that always seems to be on the bottom of the list (below residing the house, which we’re still working on).

-Make doors for the last cabinet: when we took the doors off the old cabinets, I decided to throw them away, certain we’d never reuse the cabinets.  Famous last words, eh?  I also need to cut some slim slices of wood to fill in the gaps around that cabinet.

-Touch up all the paint: wall and cabinet

-Sand down and repaint the Ikea island.  I thought sanding would be enough, but I need to put a coat of bonding primer on.  The paint that’s on is currently peeling off—oops.

But for now, it’s good—good enough for me to focus on school, which starts tomorrow (!).  I’ll work on the last few jobs in evenings and on weekends.  I am so, so happy with my new kitchen!

Did you find a typo in the post?  Let me know here.