My husband, Ben, and I bought our home in December 2012, back before the market started to really soar. We got it for a great price and it fit our needs well enough. For the first three years, we didn't do much too it; but with growing kids, things started to feel tight. We had a decision to make: sell or start to make changes to accommodate our new needs.
We decided to stay and dive into the projects. It was (and is!) a long list! But I decided to share my experiences with you, because it’s important to consider how the house you purchase can transform into the home you need and love. There are many of these personal stories I could share, but we’ve recently been working on the kitchen, which is always a bigger ticket item; so I decided to start there.
If you’re remodeling a kitchen and doing it right, it’s just going to be a heft expense—sometimes up to $30,000. Neither Ben nor I wanted to spend such a high amount; but at the same time, with kids and work and traveling, it can be hard to save for a kitchen remodel. With that in mind, we made a bold decision. It’s not right for everyone’s lifestyle, but it seemed like the best solution to get us the kitchen we really wanted. We decided to build-out our new kitchen in phases!
There are pros and cons, of course. On the positive side, it made room for our budget and we can accomplish the work at our own pace. But it’s not a plan for everyone, having to live in transition and construction for awhile.
We’re moving through these phases:
1. Move the entry, add a window, and add room for a large pantry.
2. Install cabinets under the new window, demo the half island, paint, replace floors, and move the fridge.
3. Open door to the pantry space, then fully finish to a walk-in pantry.
4. Hang second wall of cabinets.
5. Create a new island.
6. Install granite or quartz counter tops and add the finishing touches.
We’ve just begun phase two, and it was at this point that we chose to do most of the work ourselves.
We had hired a contractor to begin installing the floors. I was on a schedule because of a party I had planned, so he was supposed to do the first portion of the floors, which he said could be finished in the time before the event. As they often do, things did not go as planned, and the floors weren’t done until just two days before the party was scheduled. I was upset, but I let it go because, in the end, everything worked out. And besides, I was heading out to Italy for a few weeks with my family, and expected phase two to be complete by the time I returned.
I didn’t hear from the contractor much while we were on vacation, and, admittedly, I didn’t stay on top of it either. It was vacation! Ben returned to the States that I did, and got home to find nothing done. He was worried that it wouldn’t be finished by the end of the week when I returned. Sure enough, I got back and no progress had been made. That was when I fired the contractor and decided to take matters into my own hands.
I had decided to purchase Ikea cabinets for this project (which is something that really merits a post of its own), and thankfully, they were very easy to install. It was so easy, I got enthusiastic and Ben and I decided to tear out the floors and the islands ourselves. We worked on some install, too, and we learned some things along the way. Suddenly, doing more on our own seemed entirely possible.
We did ask for some outside help—from our neighbor! Our new kitchen sink was not purchased with the Ikea cabinets. It’s large and a unique size. I’d had a plumber move the water line and an electrician rewire, and then my neighbor helped set the sink. Toward the end of this phase, we did hire some extra hands to do some tile work, also. But by doing most of the work ourselves, or with friends, we saved so much money, and I felt so proud of us! It is a great feeling not just to have the new part of the kitchen, but to know we did it ourselves.
I’m posting some progress photos below that I hope you enjoy. If you have questions or want to know more about this project, call me! I’d love to tell you our vision and how we’re making it happen. And remember, I can help you visualize, too. We’ll look at houses and figure out how we can turn them into your dream space.
Stay tuned for more progress updates—I think next time I’ll even try to do the tiles myself!
Please visit as well my Facebook Page:
Be sure to check it out for weekly articles on the Denver Market, home improvements tips, and fun activities. If you would like to give a pick to it, please click here.