We completely overhauled our dated home with fabulous results! You’ll especially love the before and after photos of the small kitchen renovation. As we are on a budget, we did most of the work ourselves which saved tens of thousands of dollars. I had never attempted something as massive as this before, but Beau assured me that we could do it and he’s never led me astray. And so, we rolled up our sleeves, got out the saws and got started.
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Let’s start at the beginning
Do you love the house you’re in or are you looking for a new house? Ours was a new house project. We searched literally for many, many months before finding a home that we thought had potential. I am not talking about doing a flip. This was going to be our home for the foreseeable future. We purchased a home that was in great shape but needed updating and renovating to this decade at least.
The problem is…our home was built in 2003 and hasn’t had a speck of update since. Unless, of course, you count the mauve paint. Remember the mauve from the 80s? So it was already outdated before the painting even began way back then. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the paint was lazily slapped onto everything that didn’t move. And I mean EVERYTHING. Including the outlet covers and switches. And parts of the baseboards. Not all of the baseboards, mind you. Just parts here and there.
Yeah, I know. That photo kinda hurt your eyes. But hang with me, the pretty comes later.
With any project that needs a total makeover, one of the hardest parts is “Where do I even start?” It can be so overwhelming.
We began with fresh paint.
Most folks will paint as a final touch, but I’m a very messy painter. I do a good job and it looks great when finished, but I end up wearing a good bit of the paint myself. Certainly didn’t want to get it all over brand new cabinets, countertops or floors. I figured I could just paint now and touch up later, which is exactly how we did it and it worked great for us. Also, I just couldn’t look at the mauve any longer and this was going to be a very long project.
Since we only painted a bit at a time (remember, we both still have full-time jobs,) we opened and closed the paint cans OFTEN. These lid covers were a life saver. They kept the paint fresh no matter how long it took for us to reopen the can. Much better than my old way of pounding the original lid back on, all while spurting stray paint everywhere. We also loved these paint stirrers. Just attach it to a drill and it stirs your paint silky smooth!
We picked one room (the master bedroom, of course) and began our journey there.
The carpet was original builders grade, installed (most likely) in 2003. The bathrooms even had the same carpet in them. No, that was not a typo. The. Baths. Had. Carpet. I had never seen this but apparently, it is a look some people love. We will tackle the bathrooms later. Remember, we just bought this house so money is at a premium, like most all households. We painted the master bedroom and installed crown molding. This start catapulted us into the house redo.
We went room by room, first painting, then putting up crown molding. To save money, we scraped the mauve paint from the light switches and outlets (please no metal in the outlets). This was our home so we took our time. We put money in the coffer each month and refused to go over budget. If we didn’t have the money, that particular project simply waited. The house was already looking great, just with some paint and work.
Next, we tackled the master bathroom.
Beau’s knee was recently replaced, so he was unable to get on his knees to do tile work. But, y’all, that carpeted bathroom couldn’t wait! So, with lots of my help, our first job was to rip out the carpet and check the sub-floor below it. Great news – the sub-floor looked great. This part of the project would end up costing more than we hoped because, while Beau might have been able to walk me through it, we decided to bring professionals to help redo this bathroom. We had them rip out the old tub and install a more modern shower with tile floor to ceiling. Then had them redo both bathroom floors in tile. To save some money, we kept the same vanities and painted them. Wow – what a difference! One of my favorite change in both baths was installing two towel racks, one directly above the other. This made excellent use of the limited wall space in a small bath!
Two projects finished. Now on to removing that poor carpet in the rest of the house that had seen its better days. We just spent a ton of money on the bathrooms, so it would be a little while before we could start on flooring. We talked about hardwood throughout, but that simply wasn’t happening on our budget. So we went with a floating floor.
I had never installed a floating floor before, but Beau assured me that I could do it with some guidance and some help cutting on a miter saw. Incentive here… a contractor gave us a price of over $2000, not counting material. I can do a LOT of miter-sawing (is that a word?) for $2000! Again, starting in the master bedroom, we removed the old carpet, purchased the new floor and underlayment. Beau started me out, showed me what to do, and I went to town! Bring on the next section!
We went room by room and then the hallway. We stopped at the living room. The previous owners installed new carpet in this area and it still has a lot of life in it.
The next step in our remodel was the laundry room and kitchen.
The kitchen was this great open space that seriously needed help. The laundry room was just a small room with an old sink. Talk to any remodel store or big box store and have them give you prices on a new kitchen or just the cabinets. WOW! Beau was not happy! After all, cabinets are just boxes with a fancy door, right? So we decided to install our own. And to save money and stick to budget, we decided to do the remodel in several stages to minimize the mess and disruption in our daily lives. After all, we still have to cook, clean, and prepare for work while this is ongoing.
Additionally, we were getting married right smack in the middle of all this construction. Yes, our guests came to our home with only half the kitchen completed. And you know what…no one cared! All that really mattered was the friendship and laughter we shared over the plywood makeshift countertop island (I’ll get to that later).
The Laundry Room
The laundry room abuts the kitchen so they are almost one unit (with a wall in-between). This was the perfect place to start. It was a smaller area, so if we decided we truly weren’t in love with the cabinets we picked out, it wasn’t such a bad move. We could then do something different, but coordinating, for the kitchen.
As it turns out, we LOVED the cabinets! We got them from Knotty Alder online. Their representative walked us through every step from design to installation. We gave him our measurements and a quite detailed plan. He took it from there and drew up several 3-D renderings for us. This is not an affiliate link, but please do tell Dave we sent you 🙂 We did a LOT or research on cabinets for many months and we are completely satisfied with the quality of their cabinets. Beau has installed cabinets before, but I have not. In fact, I’m a bit klutzy in that arena. However, their cabinets were a breeze to install – even for ME! If I can do it, you certainly can, too!
The laundry room went from absolutely no countertops, no cabinets for storage, and and an ugly sink that had seen its last days to….
A fresh, beautiful, functional room. Plenty of cabinets for storage, and a drying rod. We decided on quartz countertops, however, we waited until ALL cabinets (laundry and kitchen) were installed, and only then did we order the quartz. In the meantime, you still need counters, right? So Beau made some out of plywood to tide us over. He stained them and even added a backsplash, They looked great while we waited for the real thing. And now we can reuse the wood for other projects. Here’s a photo of the plywood counters.
First, we removed the overhead lighting.
It was a single, dim, dated fixture. We hired an electrician for this part, but the cost was reasonable. He removed the old fixture, repaired the drywall mess it created, and installed 7 LED fixtures. Hooray, we can finally SEE!
Next, we planned the cabinet layout.
We decided to keep the dishwasher, stove and sink in their original locations to save money. But as we looked at the refrigerator, we noticed that there was an awful lot of dead space around it. We shoved it to the left so it would be adjacent to the wall. That’s when we realized why it had been sitting in such an odd space before. Now that’s it’s moved, we discovered you cannot have the laundry room door open at the same time the refrigerator door is open. They bang up against each other.
After much measuring and trying to fit the fridge in another spot, we finally decided to just remove the laundry room door entirely. Beau replaced it with a beautiful sliding barn door that solves the problem AND looks great!
We measured off the kitchen and got out the graph paper to figure out how to place the cabinets. We also needed to decide what size island to install. There was a LOT of dead space in the original floor plan. And very little counter space. I do tons of cookie baking and I need lots and lots of counter space for them. We measured the largest island we could install while still having enough room to open dishwasher and cabinet doors and walk past them comfortably.
This house didn’t have a pantry so this would be the first wall we would install. We did the same thing as the laundry room… ordered only what we need to finish one side: A pantry, above the refrigerator cabinet, and about 5 feet of cabinets to the side of the pantry. Wow actual kitchen space that wasn’t there before. Yes, Beau made more makeshift countertops while awaiting the next stage.
Next was an island!
I need an island! My design was very simplistic – about three cabinets put together, with pull out drawer section in the middle, a standard cabinet on one side, the other side… I made sure to place a roll-out trash bin. This side is closest to the sink, dishwasher and stove. What a breeze it is now to clear the table! It also allows me to chop veggies and just sorta s-l-i-d-e the undesirable parts right into the trash.
We then replaced the upper cabinets with brand new ones.
There are plenty of videos showing how to replace cabinets. Beau made it look easy. Just make sure you hit the studs. Oh, and a big level helps keep everything straight. Beau said we were lucky these walls were pretty plumb with not much need for shims.
The final stage was the base cabinets.
I had boxes everywhere in my living room but Beau assured me this was only temporary.
We removed the old cabinets, disconnected the dishwasher, and installed the new cabinets. Not so lucky here. We had to shim to even things out. However for a 16 year old house, it was not really that bad. Again, we put plywood on top of the counters so we could live in this kitchen.
Next month we replaced the dishwasher.
It was on its last legs. On life support, really.
Unfortunately, there was no way around this next major expense. Why Quartz? We did research, then more research (thank you internet) and decided that’s what would work best for us. Yes it was a big expense, but Beau said this was another job for the professionals.
After ripping out the old backsplash, we were left with an unsightly, damaged drywall. To repair it would’ve been quite the pain to say the least. Lots of sanding, etc.
My lazy solution was to simply install a 5-inch backsplash rather than the standard 4-inch. What a great idea!!! It covered all the damage just like that! No sanding, no drywall repair, no painting. If necessity is the mother of invention, then laziness must be the mother of genius.
We changed out the small 2-sink fixture to a single basin. A total game-changer! We LOVE this sink style! Pots and pans have plenty of room to soak.
After everything was installed, we had the premium vinyl tile flooring put down. Although we installed all the wood flooring in the rest of the house ourselves, we finally caved and had someone do this step for us. Another great decision in the end!
We are just thrilled with the whole house renovation! We stayed in our budget. Lots of counter space. There’s plenty of room for us both to be busy in there at the same time. And I’m quite proud to have helped with as much of it as I did. Yes, Beau did the great majority of the work, but I certainly did more than I ever thought I could. That’s a great feeling. Oh yeah, saving TONS by doing it ourselves feels pretty good, too 😉 We spent almost two years completing the remodel, but the enormous savings (over $20,000) was well worth it.
And now I need YOUR help.
We just bought a lake home and love everything about it…except this.
Oh, the blueness of it all!
We can’t afford to simply rip out everything, so we’re stuck with them for awhile. I would LOVE to hear your suggestions for a paint color that would hopefully tone it a bit.
It may not show well in the photos, but the tile is pink. I don’t really know what color the counter is, some sort of pink as well.
I’m considering actually painting the counters and tile. I think Rustoleum has a kit for that?
What are your thoughts?
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