I've been writing this post in my head since sometime in September, two months after we took down our first wall, before I realized that we wouldn't even have countertops until mid-October, and hadn't imagined it would take until January to get the walls painted. These, I recognize, are good problems to have. We borrowed a bunch of money, bought a bunch of stuff, and my smart, handy husband (with the help of a few contractors) got the job mostly done. There's still some trim to finish and the matter of painting the stupid ceiling, which, ugh.
I didn't totally hate my old kitchen, but we'd lived with it for ten years and the original 1950s cabinets weren't tall enough or deep enough for real-people dishes. We couldn't sit comfortably at the breakfast bar, and the white woodwork was always filthy. My pots lived in a hole that used to house a wall oven, and my range was rammed into a space that rendered one drawer and half a cabinet unusable. I also had corner storage so dark and deep I'd have to go spelunking after the crock pot. Also, everyone driving down the street could see what we had on TV. Here are some befores:
|Kitchen and dining area from front door|
|That faux brick attracted so much grease and dust and pasta sauce|
|Shitty wall oven and broken cooktop we eventually replaced with a used range|
- Buy during Ikea's kitchen sale (there's one now!) We got 15% back on a gift card, which bought us $900 worth of other stuff for the house, like the credenza and bookcases, and so many Swedish meatballs.
- Measure, then do it again, and one more time. We had no major mistakes, but were off by an inch or two here or there that would have saved us trips to Ikea. Keep in mind that measurements feel different in real life than they look on the kitchen planning tool.
- Go to an Ikea to check out the wares and cool storage ideas, and have someone in kitchens review your plans, but then
- Order your Ikea kitchen online. Delivery cost $200 for our entire kitchen, and I used the list generated by the design tool to check every item (the emailed receipt doesn't group parts by cabinet). Not a single box was missing.
- Expect to make a few trips to Ikea despite all your planning.
- Watch YouTube videos for recent installation experiences, or to troubleshoot.
- READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. I had to re-assemble a bunch of drawers because I got cocky.
- Know when to hire out. We needed a crew to slice a door-sized hole in our brick house and to reinforce the load-bearing wall we removed. We also had a plumber install kickspace heaters and take out old baseboard radiators. I'm sleeping with the electrician so at least his work was free. Also, don't live in a brick house, because masons are hella pricey.
- Invest in or borrow a laser level.
- Choose your splurge(s). I thought our countertops were my big spend until I met our backsplash. No regrets, but maybe don't accidentally wander into a high-end tile store you found on Google.
- Everyone who's ever renovated will tell you to anticipate the unexpected. We didn't run into anything terribly budget-busting, but there definitely were a few surprises.
Here are the after photos I took yesterday. For reference, the fridge and table didn't move. P.S. it's never actually this clean but those are real fruits.
|Kitchen and dining area|
|There used to be a wall blocking this angle|
|The wood trim on that left wall will eventually be stained to match the cabinets|
|View from the kitchen. Yes, it's a disco ball|
|Sorry neighbors, watch your own damn TV|
|I got this smooth-drain sink and I love it|
|Trash and dog food, 100% worth the space it used|
|Chalk wall for family notes and kid lists|
|This drawer changed my entire life|
|I added a $150 piece of glass over the new table because someone is still unclear about how Sharpies work|
|I offered my electrician a quickie and he wired up the island for me|
|This recycled glass, shell and resin countertop requires no maintenance|