Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lessons Learned in DIY Kitchen Remodeling—Part One

I introduced you to our “new” kitchen a while back. 


Before we remodeled the kitchen, I did a LOT of research.  I googled, read blogs, checked out books from the library, and asked people questions.  I’m definitely not trying to give the impression that I know it all about this subject, but I did want to pass on to others what we did and how it worked for us. 

We knew we wanted to completely overhaul the kitchen soon after we moved in.  It was obviously extremely dated and that carpet on the floor was a no-go.  We didn’t have the time and money then to tackle the whole project, so we ripped out the carpet and installed ceramic tile.  We also painted the paneling after filling the grooves with drywall compound.  It was lighter and brighter and we were so happy to have tile on the floor.  Fast forward a couple years, and we decided that it was time to go in and do a more thorough job. 

My husband’s parents were doing their own kitchen remodel and asked if we would like their old cabinets.  Now, these cabinets are a good 25-30 years old themselves, but they were solid wood and in good shape.  Our existing cabinets were thin wood and the drawers themselves were plastic with a wood look.  The drawer slides were also plastic and had broken before we owned the home.  Knowing that new cabinets are a huge chunk of change, we jumped on this offer.  Solid wood cabinets for free, yes please!  We knew that we would have to modify the cabinets to fit our space but that was pretty minimal in the end and my carpenter brother was able to make it look seamless. 

One drawback to the cabinets was that they would have to be re-finished.  My in-laws had tested re-staining the cabinets already and it had not worked well.  This was actually a positive for me because I already was in love with white cabinets and this meant painting them was virtually our only choice.  Yay!!


One of the tutorials I read/watched for painting cabinets was by Miss Mustard Seed.  She painted her cabinets a while back and used Benjamin Moore’s Impervo paint and highly recommended it.  I believe she used the oil-based version but I didn’t want to deal with the clean-up and I used the water-based version.  I have to say I agree with her.  It takes a while to cure but it is super tough and after 6 months is looking as good as new.  I used that paint on all the cabinets and trim in the kitchen and it has held up great.  It is very washable too which is a must in a white kitchen with kids.  Sure, it is a more expensive paint (and I always buy the $25/gallon or cheaper paints so to me it seemed really expensive!) but I wanted something that was a very high quality since it was going to have to take a lot of abuse.  In my opinion it was well worth it. 

Painting kitchen cabinets is a lot of work.  Cleaning, sanding, priming, sanding, and painting a few coats takes a very long time.  Especially the doors!  I don’t have the luxury of painting for hours at a time (hello, I had 2 small children and was 8 mos pregnant!) so I just did a little at a time.  I painted outdoors for the most part so that meant the weather further limited the amount of time I could paint.  Let’s just say it took for-ev-er and leave it at that!!

Another tip:  check ebay for cabinet knobs and pulls!  I really liked these from Amerock:

Amerock Mulholland 3 in. Satin Nickel Finish Rectangular Pull


(In case you are wondering, they are Amerock Mulholland pulls in satin nickel.)

They are $3.97 each at Home Depot.  I found them on ebay for $1.99 a piece.  A substantial savings when you have lots of cabinet doors!!  They came in the original bags marked Amerock too.  I have only good things to say about them. 

We would have loved to re-organize the kitchen by moving walls and cabinets to make a work triangle, but in our case that just wasn’t practical or within the budget.  We have a powder room right off the kitchen and one of the walls contains the main plumbing line from the upstairs bathroom (cast iron, no less!)  so it would have been way more than we could have handled to change the layout significantly.  It was one of those situations in which we had to work with what we had.  Ideally, would we have done it this way?  No.  But within the parameters we had to work with, we are happy with how it turned out.  So we still have a galley-style kitchen although it is much more workable now that we moved the refrigerator out of its corner to a much more usable location near the sink. 


I have more to share but that will have to be another post!


  1. The transformation is incredible! You guys did an awesome job. I love how bright and cheery it looks. Have you read Sheena's blog Bean in Love? It reminds me of yours- she does a lot of great money-saving DIYs too. :)

    1. No, I have never heard of her site!! Thanks for letting me know, I love finding new blogs to read.


I look forward to hearing from you!