…about the kitchen. Now the kitchen is deemed as “done”, we owe you guys a final post with details, budget  and resources all bundled up into one big post. I don’t know why we haven’t done this before–I think part of it has something to do with the fact that we still can’t believe it’s actually finished. It’s been a loooong process. Nevertheless, here we are with the post that includes all of the resources, links to more detailed posts, and the much-asked-about budget breakdown. We get a lot of emails asking for things like extra details, where we got the sink, the size of the subway tile, etc and thought it would be a good idea to have all this information in one post to have a one stop shop reference. So, here we go…

Kitchen Before & After / 7th House on the Left

RESOURCES // Let’s jump right in with a list of where we got what…

DIY Kitchen Demo / 7th House on the Left

DIY vs HIRING A PRO // We walked into this renovation planning on DIY-ing a lot of the projects. After all, we’d already gutted the entire kitchen and patched up the drywall ourselves and that went pretty well. Ash’s dad helped us out with the electrical work and we were learning some of the ropes as we went along. So why not take the DIY-ness a step further, right? Our plan was to order the cabinets from Lowe’s and install them ourselves (with the help and know-how of Ashley’s dad – he knows how to do pretty much anything). Plans changed about a week or two before the cabinets were scheduled to be delivered when we found out Ashley was going to have to have major emergency surgery. The doctors told us she wouldn’t be ready for any house projects until after Christmas, so needless to say, that put a kink in our plans. The date of Ashley’s surgery ended up being the day before the cabinets were delivered. In that case, we decided to pay the extra money to have a trusted Lowe’s subcontractor install the cabinets. We also decided to have the tile installed by a pro rather than DIY-ing. When it was all said and done, even though Ashley was chomping at the bit to get some grout under her nails, we’re glad we decided to hire pros for such a big project.

When to Hire A Pro / 7th House on the Left

While we’re on the subject, here’s our two cents about hiring a pro vs DIY-ing: If it’s something major like electrical work or plumping and you don’t have previous experience or know-how, it’s a good idea to consult or hire a Pro. Yeah, it’s nice to have a since of accomplishment and say “I did that!”. However, when it comes down to it, Pros have much, much more experience and after all, they’re professionals. Even though hiring a Pro is most likely going to cost you extra, it might end up saving you money in the long run because you’ll be getting good quality work, done right the first time and most likely not have to have any repairs for a longer period of time. Bottom line: Sometimes, it pays off to pay a little extra.

When hiring our pros, we started out with a good ‘ole Google search, but personal referrals really are the best way to go. First of all, you can’t always believe what you read online and secondly, advice from people you know and trust is always more valuable than a stranger’s opinion.

Kitchen Reno 411 / 7th House on the Left

Once in a while, we get an email asking for info on our assorted “guys” (as in “tile guy” or “flooring guy”). So, if you’re in the Richmond area and in the market for some “guys” for your project, here’s who we used in our kitchen renovation and who we recommend:

  • Flooring Guy: Frank’s Flooring, 804.332.0046, Ask for Frank
  • Tile Guy: MB Tile, 804.426.9732, Ask for Melvin
  • Cabinet Ordering Guy: Lowes, 804.417.8000, Ask for Gaylord
  • Cabinet Instillation Guy: MET Services Inc, 804.400.9430, Ask for Larry
  • Countertop Guys: AlphaStone, 804.622.2068, Ask for Greg

WHERE’S THE MICROWAVE? // Aside from resource questions, “Where is the microwave?” is easily the number one question that comes across our inboxes. We rarely use the microwave, so we decided not to give it prime real estate. We were lucky enough to inherit a large closet in the utility room, and when we widened the door and moved the water heater to the attached shed, that gave us even more room to work with. So, along with our cleaning supplies and extra paper towels, we also keep a rolling microwave cart in the utility closet. Whenever we use the microwave, which is maybe once a month (if that), we just roll it into the kitchen, use it, and roll it back. It’s easy and convenient, and it keeps the microwave from taking up valuable counter space.

Kitchen Reno 411 / 7th House on the Left

THE BUDGET BREAKDOWN // After researching a bunch of kitchen design magazines, we were thinking that we would end up in the ballpark of $40k-$50k. Ouch. However, we and our wallets are happy to say we didn’t quite hit that threshold. The entire kitchen renovation totaled to approximately $28-$30k – much lower than what we read in the magazines and lower than the average kitchen gut-job renovation in our area. This price includes everything from outlet covers and flooring to appliances and cabinets. The cabinets themselves (including installation) took up around $17,000 of that final number, the countertops came in at $3,985, and all of the tile (including labor) came in at $1,000 even. As for the prices of the other details in the kitchen, you can get an idea of the pricing from the links in the item list above.

One thing to note: Be sure to shop around for prices. For instance, while we were shopping around for kitchen sinks, we found the one we loved at Lowe’s, but it was listed for around $1,600. After a few Google searches, we found it online for a little over $900. Much better! Better still, Lowe’s did what Lowe’s does and matched the price. Score!

Kitchen Reno 411 / 7th House on the Left

WHAT WE WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY // Since the entire process took a bit on the long side, we had a good long time to think through every step of the process. Overall, we’re very pleased with how everything turned out, but there are a few small details we would change if we had to do it all over again. First off, the electrical outlet placement isn’t the best – we wish we would have moved most of them closer to the corners, where our counter appliances sit. We’d also like to have taken pan and cookie sheet storage into consideration. Right now, they are stored in a drawer under the coffee maker, but that’s really not the best place for them. Though, this snafu might be fixable with a little organization and rearranging.

POST BY POST // We couldn’t have a Mac Daddy kitchen post without having a list of the posts that include the nitty gritty details. This will hopefully come in handy if anyone is looking for a post about something – like why we decided to go with KraftMaid as opposed to Ikea (another question that comes across our inboxes pretty often). So, here you go…

Overall, the kitchen renovation process was very satisfying because we knew we were getting exactly what we’d envisioned – even though it took a little on the long side. Before, there was no “working triangle” to be had – it was more like a trapezoid. Now, we have what seems to be a much larger kitchen with a thought-out layout that works really well. From doing the demolition, electrical and drywall work ourselves, to designing, planning and picking out the finishes; our kitchen reno was a huge learning experience. To close out the post, here are a few things we learned along the way:

  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. A few short hours of DIY demo can save you hundreds of dollars. It saved us $1,200!
  • Make sure you do your pricing homework. Like we mentioned earlier, we were getting ready to purchase the kitchen sink but with a quick Google search (while standing in the store!), we were able to find it at another store for $700 less. Lowe’s ended up matching the price we found online, no questions asked.
  • Don’t rush through the process, take your time and make sure every detail is right before you move on to the next one. Spending a little extra time (and money on take out) during the process will make living with your kitchen in the long run much easier and more enjoyable.
  • Learning to stick with what WE wanted and not what other people thought would look best was a big “learning point” for us. For instance, the cabinet salesman thought our floating shelves next to the sink idea was crazy and tried to talk us out of it, but now, it’s one of our favorite features in the kitchen.
  • Like my 3rd grade teacher used to say, there’s no such thing as a stupid question – it might end up saving you money. Same thing goes for buying appliances. You’re not going to know unless you ask. When we bought our refrigerator, we asked if it was going on sale anytime soon. That little question ended up saving us over $500.

We know this was a pretty long post for us, but hopefully this will answer some of your questions and maybe someone will find this post handy if they’re in the midst of renovating their kitchen.

Oh! Speaking of the kitchen… we (and our kitchen) are going to be featured in a certain national magazine coming up next month. We’re not allowed to spill the beans just yet, but when we can, we’ll be sure to share!