kitchen update


with our upper cabinets down and gone on to a new home, i was left with an open and airy kitchen (it takes a little imagination to see it). we want to replace the countertops, sink and faucet; redo all the trim; add a hood vent and an obnoxiously large piece of art in here, but baby steps — in the meantime the stained and pockmarked walls and 1992 appliances were not very appetizing. (looks like they missed the stud about five times with every cabinet.)

before we get into the meat of this post (food puns will run rampant), i wanted to recap: all we’ve done in the kitchen thus far is replace the hardware on the doors and drawers (about $150), remove the bank of upper cabinets (passed on to another homeowner for free) and remove all the trim (tossed in our roofing dumpster for free).


in early november, i had steve, our electrician, coming over to install a 220v plug behind our stove (more on that below) and to move some plugs to make room for our door casings, so i also had him remove our two florescent light fixtures and change all of our plugs and switches to white while he was here.

i patched, primed and painted the ceiling (sherwin williams extra white) and pierre installed yet another alabax large fixture. luckily the hole for the octagon box was in the centre of the room. we weren’t so lucky over the sink; steve had to cut a new hole so that the sconce would be centred above the window, but i was able to cover the old hole with a blank plate. i can live with that. the sconce over the sink is the alabax small sconce. pierre also replaced our under-cabinet lighting on our one remaining upper cabinet, which gives us just enough light by which to wash up dishes.

at this point, i primed and painted the window frame and the grilles extra white, spray painted the screen and the window operator matte black and replaced the window crank with the same type of ceramic propeller crank that i’ve been using throughout the house.

next, i patched, sanded, primed and painted the walls in the kitchen (sherwin williams navajo white). the wall on the far side of the kitchen is an eggshell finish, but i bought a semi-gloss to coat the wall above the counter. semi-gloss is not a great choice for walls (too much glare), but we don’t have a backsplash and we’re not planning on adding one (in favour of a giant piece of art). semi-gloss is the wipeable choice. i’ll take glare over constant touch-ups or food splatter everywhere.


on the far wall, i painted the doors and inside of this weird wall cubby and changed the hardware and turned it into an art cupboard for frankie. it’s too shallow to hold much; i think it might have been built as a spice cupboard (?), but it’s working great as an art cupboard for us. frankie can open it herself and ask for “drawing.” i set her up at her little white table, which belonged to me as a toddler. this sometimes results in ten minutes of peace.


i also primed and painted the back door and basement access door and replaced the hardware and hinges. we’re using this black schlage hardware throughout the house and everbilt hinges. the back door is painted sherwin williams reclining green (same as our living room and frankie’s dresser) and it’s the perfect retro shade of green. i don’t love the back door or the basement access door, but i love the price and headache of replacing doors less, so paint and hardware for the win. painting the back door reclining green is my compromise for not sourcing retro or getting smeg kitchen appliances — key components of my dream kitchen. it’s okay though, our bathroom is going to contain the sweetest retro piece in the form of a 1950s turquoise toilet — can’t wait to revisit the bathroom in the spring. our kitchen does contain retro floors — well, that’s one way to look at it, at least. our linoleum tile is in perfect condition and i was able to bring it back to life with 90 minutes and three magic erasers. and once our baseboards and casings are installed i think it will all look pretty intentional.

if you’re following along, we’ve now added $315 for the electrician, $300 for light fixtures and about $200 for more hardware (new deadbolts, levers and hinges). paint, primer and spray paint aren’t free, but technically i had all but the $45 semi-gloss gallon in the basement already. so we’re at a total spend of a little over $1000.

IMG_2484IMG_2476now for the expensive bit, which also happens to be the bit that made me want to scream in frustration (in fact, i might have done just that). we went with all LG appliances in the kitchen as my preference is for white (harder to find) and a glass cooktop / electric stove. not the most popular choice, but i wanted to cap our gas line in the kitchen (our previous stove being gas) and reroute it outside to accommodate our bbq, which we haven’t been able to use since we moved.


the gas fitter was scheduled to come on dec 11, a few hours before our electrician and one day before our appliances were due to be delivered. the gas fitter arrived and promptly cut into one of our electrical wires, meaning he couldn’t finish his job until our electrician arrived to fix the problem the gas fitter created. he also felt our new on-demand hot water heater — glanced at in passing — had been hooked up incorrectly and suggested we call back the company who had done it. great start to the week.

steve (electrician) arrived and fixed the wire and installed a big plug for our new stove. gas fitter came back and finished his job. and then we found out our appliances were on backorder and wouldn’t be arriving the next day after all. with our stove/oven now unusable, this was a giant pain, but luckily we didn’t have to wait too long and they were delivered on dec 15, just a few days late. (we would have loved to hook our bbq up and cook on it while we were without a stove, but our eavestroughs and soffits were all being replaced at this time, too, of course, so we couldn’t take the bbq out of it’s hiding spot just yet.)

the new stove went in without issue, but the new fridge doesn’t fit the existing cubby. we bought it off the spec sheet, which clearly lists the height of the fridge as 68″, when, irl it’s 70″ tall. the freezer door also has a big dimple in it, so that has been reordered by the delivery company and will represent another day of my life waiting for people to deliver and install things. i called our kitchen cabinet makers (still in business thankfully), but i imagine resizing one cabinet for a kitchen they installed in 1993 is going to be low on their list of priorities. it will get fixed eventually, but for now our fridge sticks out about a foot further than it should and we had to remove the doors on the cabinet above the fridge in order to be able to access its contents.

our dishwasher installation was booked separately via home depot and the installers came today, dec 18. (they so wisely recommended we allow a buffer between our delivery and installation dates since home depot “is never on time.”)

(ps. turned out their was nothing wrong with how our hot water heater had been installed, another day wasted. it’s seriously a good thing i work from home because it’s basically a full-time job letting people in and out of my house.)

we’re very happy with the appliances (the inside of the oven is unexpectedly bright purple!), but feel like we’ve been taking a lot of one steps forward, two steps back here at the house lately. (our brand new washing machine has already had to be replaced — under warranty thankfully — and we also have to revisit the venting of our roof, which i’ll explain in another post.)

all of this — three appliances, gas fitter, electrician, dishwasher install — added another $4500 to our kitchen bill, but it’s my opinion that it’s been a good investment; the kitchen looks significantly better than it did $5500 ago (fridge cubby notwithstanding). with full-gut kitchen renovations costing (ballpark) $50,000, my goal is to end up with a kitchen that we’re really happy with for under $12,000. our big ticket item will definitely be our countertop as there’s so much of it.

speaking of steps forward, our immediate next ones are:

  • replace damaged freezer drawer (free)
  • resize cabinet over fridge
  • buy and install hood vent (we’re waiting on a price for this one)
  • source a huge piece of art (for where uppers used to be)
  • install and paint baseboards, door and window casings (hoping our carpenters will return in february)

what budget-friendly kitchen updates have you completed (or are you planning to complete)? am i alone in getting so much satisfaction out of improving spaces on a shoestring budget? merry christmas friends!