Thursday, March 3, 2011

What can you do with $1,400???

Remodel your kitchen of course!

When we moved into our little cottage, the hubby was working a very unstable job and I was balancing three small part-time jobs so that we could buy a house and get out of our tiiiiiiiny apartment.  When we moved in the living room was the first room I tackled (under strict budgetary guidelines you understand!) and secondly, it was inevitable...came the kitchen.

Now, it should be pointed out that right after I began tearing the kitchen apart, hubs (very unexpectedly!) lost his job.  Since the kitchen was already decimated, we had to tighten the budget even more.  At times I wasn't sure it could be done, but waddaiknow!

I'm one of those people that gets an idea and runs with it...pretty much no matter what.  My friends refer to it as "rottweilerism."  So one day, Allen leaves for work and when he comes home, he finds the entire kitchen laid out in the living room...because that day I had woken up and thought, "Hey, let's redo the kitchen today!"  Enter Deidre.  Deidre is one of my oldest friends, we go back to kindergarten and she happens to live one neighborhood away from me (so less than a mile).  She's always up for something, so when I called her she came over and we spent that day dismantling the cabinetry.  We didn't have any power tools, just a hand screw driver and the determination of two tiny women in a kitchen!

So when Allen came home and was surprised to see a black hole where our kitchen used to be I quickly outlined my "plan" for getting it back...thank goodness he's such a patient man!

Without any further ado, here's my kitchen redo.
The day we moved in.
It was an incredibly small (even for me!) galley kitchen, cut off by the fridge with no light and no counter space to speak of.  The counters there were were old "faux marbled" laminate, the sink was about 4" deep with a broken garbage disposal and all old brass hardware.

One month, $1,400, a borrowed power driver and one bent jigsaw blade later, this is what our kitchen looked like.
A little better, no?  Some of the cabinets stayed put, others moved around, turned over, or went away.  The only new cabinet purchased for this whole project was the one that holds the sink because farmhouse sinks need extra support.  I didn't want to spend money on the doors so I made a skirt out of burlap, I love the texture, and it doesn't show water spots.  One of the upper cabinets on the left hand side I just turned from vertical to horizontal and the other is the tiny one that used to be over the refrigerator.  The corbels are not supportive but I wanted them to make that side of the kitchen look more like a freestanding piece.  The backsplash is beadboard painted white with an oil-based finish (glossy, for cleanup).  We chose butcher block countertops partially for their $ but also just for their charm.  I was very skeptical about their durability but they surprise me time and time again, eventually we may replace with either thicker of the same material or maybe add some stone, but for the time being they are wonderful...especially if you bake!

Across from it was a pantry area, in what was also the dining room.

So I moved the fridge over there, and voila!
The cubbies on the left side are made by yours truly with the help of my friend Abby, we've also been friends forever...thank goodness for your girlfriends, right?  The pantry on the right is the original that was there.  I took the top of the left pantry cabinet, and turned it on its side to go over the fridge.  I used some wood beadboard to fill in the gaps between cabinets and CAREFULLY cut out the center panel to install some radiator grate.  I think it helps to break up the black a little bit.  The drawer/door pulls are a beautiful matte black with a wrought iron look to them and a hammered detail, it might seem strange to put black hardware on black cabinets but I think it smoothes out the look of the kitchen nicely, besides, I loved them!

That area right next to it was the dining room.
It was SO small no one could move their chairs out from the table!  This room is also a pass-through from our living room to our sunroom so it was very inconvenient.  We decided to move the dining room into the adjoining sunroom so that we could expand the kitchen into the whole space and make it a more comfortable "eat in."

A kitchen cart that my mom found at a garage sale, I love how cute it is!  We painted it yellow and topped it with the same countertop material as the rest of the kitchen.  We felt we needed another surface over by the fridge to put stuff on, it's worked like a charm!

Our new breakfast nook, we love greeting the day here, our bird feeder is just outside the window.

Here is the basic layout of what I ended up doing, hopefully it will help clarify the space-plan.

Before                                                               After

I chose black for our cabinets because of its durability but I also feel it's something you hardly ever see, I was extremely nervous about it but it was during this reno that I was first introduced to "The Lettered Cottage" blog.  I really wanted my cabinets black and everyone was horrified at the idea, so someone on Gardenweb (love it!) directed me to Layls'a beautiful blog and her dark cabinets gave me the pluck to go for glad that I did!  Layla has since redone their kitchen in beautiful greys, but if you look in her archives you can find her black kitchen.

We call this super-budget reno "Phase 1," because the light fixtures obviously need addressing, the curtains, appliances and whoknowswhatotherknickknacks generally styling it a little nicer.  We have been thrilled with the result and for a cheapo kitchen it works like a dream!  Don't feel you have to settle for a layout that's not working for you or fixtures you don't like, anything can be changed and if you do your research it doesn't have to cost a fortune either!  

  And there you have it!  This post is getting into the 'very long' category so I will post sources and inspirations as well as the budget breakdown very soon so if you're planning a remodel like this one, should be easy as pie!  Well...

Have a diy kitchen?  I'd love to see it!  Please send pics to!

P.S. A few months later Allen did get a new job, it's at the not-for-profit he's working for now and he's just as happy as a clam!


  1. Hi Christyn,
    Love the new kitchen/dining area. You are one amaaazing woman! Love not only your energy but also your ability to make the vision you have of a better room come to fruition. Since I can hardly hammer a nail in the wall straight to hold a picture hook, you have my total admiration. Plus to accomplish what you do on such a small amount of money--you go, girl!

  2. It looks amazing! I love your deep farmhouse sink and the burlap skirt.

  3. This is amazing!! What an wonderful renovation!! I am soooo impressed! I adore the black, and how you re-worked cabinets to make the room flow. Great job! You should be so very proud of yourself- and what sweet friends you have! Lucky girl.
    Let me know what kind of light fixture you have in mind and I'll keep and eye out for you!!


  4. Hi Christyn,

    Joan from 'for the love of a house' sent me a link to your kitchen after I posted about plans to paint mine -- your old one and my current one have a lot in common! Hopefully my new one will look as good as yours! My absolute favorite part of yours is the off center light above your beautiful farmhouse sink! Anyway, I'd sure love to have your input!

  5. That is ASTOUNDING! Love the apron sink and burlap underneath. And that whole area where the fridge use to be...gorgeous. The black was an excellent choice!

    ♥Linsey @ Farmhouse Porch

  6. wow...stunning! Looks so much more functional and spacious! Love your choice of black handles on black cabinets too. Streamlines the overall look yet you have the beauty & character of wrought iron up close!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!