Kitchen Renovation (Part 2)

This is the second half of our kitchen renovation. If you missed all the fun of part one you can find it here.

I left off the last blog with assembling the cabinet boxes so I’ll touch on the installation, some of the smaller side projects and of course, the final reveal.

After assembling the boxes we needed to do some kitchen prep work. We had to patch some drywall (there was a big hole behind one of the old cabinets that I just did not understand.) do some painting, repair and sanding. We decided to get rid of the breakfast bar in favor of a storage heavy peninsula so we had to drop down the breakfast bar wall.

Taking down the wall was no small task. The wall was not load bearing but it did have plenty of electric running through it that needed to be routed elsewhere. We had to knock off the extra drywall, saw down the studs, level and refinish the wall to the appropriate height.

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This is a photo of the wall in question before we cut down the studs. You can see how much we had to take it down, I think it was just under a foot, maybe 11 inches total. This was probably the scariest part of the kitchen remodel. Anytime we have to deal with the actual structure of the home and electric we get cautious.

Long story short we took our time and finished cutting down the wall. If you are wondering why we didn’t take it down altogether there are a few reasons. We wanted to preserve the electric. One of the things we heard over and over from people who added islands was that there weren’t enough outlets. We wanted to make sure we had the ability to plug in a ton of appliances. The second reason is because we decided to hang the bottom cabinets as well as the top. IKEA comes with several sets of instructions with different ways to install. We wanted to hang cabinets and to do that we needed some wall to hang from.

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photo: a photo of the wall dropped down and some of the cabinets being arranged near their final positions.

The next step was to literally draw level lines on the wall indicating where the cabinets will hang. This step took a long time. In order for the cabinets to be level it takes a pretty good deal of perfection and in the end, even after trying really hard, we didn’t get it perfect. But we got pretty close.

This is a photo of the rails we installed after measuring multiple times.

Next was the hanging of the cabinets. IKEA said to start with the upper corner cabinet, so we did. They had pretty sound reasoning behind doing the top cabinets first, you don’t want to have to be crawling over the lower cabinets to install the uppers.

 We had a few hiccups as we installed the cabinet boxes. We broke a cabinet, had to fuss around to get them as level as possible and I’m not going to lie, IKEA if you read this -while in theory the legs you made make sense, they are also a nightmare to install. Even with two people, in a small kitchen it’s very difficult to ensure you’re cabinets are being lowered completely level which meant we were constantly reinstalling the legs that kept popping off. We followed the digital map we got from ikea that indicated where our filler pieces would go and exactly which cabinets were going where.

Next came the pretty part. Soft close, lots of drawers and end panels. Ikea makes most of this pretty straight forward and very consistent. Once you get the hang of the first door or drawer you’ve basically got it down for all of them. Watching these thing go up really made the room start to feel like our kitchen.

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This is a photo of the first doors we installed. They were actually the most “complicated” as they were doors to our lazy Susan cabinets. For anyone who has ever had good reason to complain about not having kitchen storage, I’m sure you’ll appreciate it. On the bottom left is a photo of the kitchen before we installed the last cabinet door. I call this one “victory.”

Once we installed all the doors and drawers, filler pieces and other odd bits and ends it was time for countertops. This process turned out to be similar to shopping for cabinets -we started at Home Depot. The average price for the stones we were looking at with installation at Home Depot ranged from 50-60$ a square foot and while that may seem fair, we knew we wanted the best possible product for the least cost.
We ended up going to UCI a stone source in Norcross that actually does a great deal of the work for Home Depot locations in Atlanta. We were able to get a better product, instead of your average granite we were able to purchase what they call an “exotic,”granite for a steal. $31.00 per square foot with installation which we selected on site. Choosing purchasing and whatnot took under 30 minutes and we were excited about our choice (pictured right). We had these gleaming counters measured and installed in 16 days. Home Depot told use it would take 4-6 weeks for their product delivery, measurement and installation.

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photos: installation day. Due to our kitchen arrangement we were going to have a short seam in our counters, apparently this is something many care deeply about. I’m not one of them, in fact once the seam was filled they made it nearly
impossible to find unless you are looking for it they used bits of the actual stone mixed into the seam so that the darker and lighter parts blended perfectly. (Yay UCI for all your good work!)

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This is a photo of our counters after basic installation. It’s a lot easier to understand the breakfast bar to island or I guess… Peninsula in this photo. And those sticks of wood? Remember how I said we weren’t perfectly level? Yeah. We wound up having to readjust these cabinets accordingly.

After installing our admittedly giant sink (and as a frequent cook/cleaner of this kitchen I will tell you all if you have a standard sink it’s well worth it to upgrade. Every sheet pan, cast iron skillet, every appliance fits in this giant with ease. This sink is absolutely my favorite thing in the entire home. Also fairly inexpensive, wonderful, incredible, useful…)

So we did the plumbing to get the disposal and water running properly, waterproofed the sink accordingly and got ready to pick out some backsplash. I’ll remind you we are on a crazy tight budget. No money to go crazy with but we still wanted clean and somewhat modern without being alien with a spaceshipey. We stopped by our other favorite place, Floor & Decor. This is the same place we bought our laminate flooring for the house, the same place we bought all the tile for the bathrooms and fireplace and naturally we knew we’d find something great for a great price. Which of course we did. White subway tile was by far the least expensive but I don’t love the generic look of the normal size so we went with a slightly more expensive larger and longer version. We kept to white not just because of cost but also because we have a very real obsession with keeping our kitchen as bright as possible. At the end of this blog you’ll see the before and after -the amount of light is a very real change.

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Photo: the tiles by themselves.

As usual we did the tile installation ourselves. I guess I should note Parker did the tile installation. The tile saw we borrowed is both old and slightly dangerous. As such, he refuses to let me near the thing. Because we went for the larger tiles we had some complications working around outlets, which Parker figured out after a pretty good deal of wasted material.

The photo on the left is our kitchen with grouted but not sealed tile.
We still have some work to do. Our ceiling needs a final coat of paint and we are installing crown molding on the top of the wall to match the living/dining room and also crown molding on the cabinets. So, while this is now arguably the most complete room of our home, I guess I can’t “officially,” say it’s done.

And now for your viewing pleasure- the before & after photos of our kitchen.

Before: Below are two photos… the first is from the realtor ad, the second was the way the kitchen actually looked like on move in day. notice it’s way smaller and darker in real life then with that wide angled lense 🙂

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After:cabinets are 10 inches taller, between the light gray cabinets, the light white and gray stone, the white backsplash, the recessed lighting and the dropped breakfast bar we’ve allowed significantly more light into the space.The peninsula allows more prep and serving space and creates an open area to the dining room and living room, making the entire

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area open concept. The selections make the appliances look like they belong. The tradition shaker cabinet paired with modern fixtures keeps the space clean but classic.

Have you done any kitchen upgrades or renovations?! We’d love to see them! We’d also live to hear about them. Did you have any big obstacles during your DIY? Share your story with us in Facebook and we may feature you on our hunnedo blog! #hunnedoeskitchens #hunnedo #hunnedone