Cost-Saving Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

Places to save

Kitchens, Restoration Diary

We faced the unexpected cost of rewiring the entire downstairs of our house, blowing our remodeling budget out of the water. We needed to make some drastic cuts to our kitchen remodel to have any chance of the project cost coming in anywhere near our original budget.

One major place to save is on the cost of cabinetry. We are replacing the upper cabinet portion of one of the built-ins (pictured here) with shelves similar to what you see above. The shelves cost less than $100 dollars. When compared to the cost of custom, built-in cabinetry there is no contest. The space is still there if we are able to afford a built-in at a later date.

Another way we cut costs was to forego cabinetry around the vent hood or the refrigerator. Eventually, we will be able to afford a cute little SMEG or retro Big Chill fridge. I prefer the vintage looking fridges freestanding rather than built-in anyway.

One major place we saved is on lighting. I found these economical pendants at IKEA for under $25. You can’t beat spending $50 for kitchen lighting. And, we can always change out the lights later with no regrets.

Comments { 6 } January 9, 2013

Countertop Selection

What did we choose?

Kitchens, Restoration Diary,

I LOVE marble countertops. Based on looks alone marble is my first choice. The sad truth is we aren’t marble people. I know marble countertops have lasted hundreds of years in European kitchens, but I don’t think they would last 6 weeks with us! Maybe we are just more messy or careless than all those European chefs?

We have a knockoff Saarinen table with a Carrara marble top. With daily use we have scratched the marble and there is a water ring from where I left a vase of flowers for a week. David accidentally spilled beat juice on the table top that he didn’t immediately clean up, sending me into panic mode and a sputtered explanation about beet acid etching the marble. At which point David looked me straight in the eye and said, “There is no way we can have marble countertops in our kitchen! We are not those type of people.” I’m sure he means careful, non-beat juice spilling type of people.

My next choice is wood. I think it is absolutely lovely. David’s reasoning is if we aren’t capable of taking care of stone than we aren’t good candidates for wood. We really are looking for something with no maintenance.

We have been asked if we are doing a tile countertop. Many bungalows in our area have tile counters. I think it comes down to preference and I don’t care for the look. Like I said, we can be messy and dirty grout never looks nice. I am not even considering tile.

What I have decided on is engineered stone. We need something that will stand up to carelessness and moderate abuse. I have selected Caesarstone Misty Carrera…and not because I think it looks like marble, because it doesn’t. I find Caesarstone beautiful in it’s own right. I really want something that I don’t have to be ultra careful to maintain. Now, if only we were making some progress on our kitchen cabinets…

photo resources: 1 // 2 // 3

Comments { 13 } January 7, 2013

Searching For The Blame

Who’s to blame when things go wrong?

Restoration Diary, ,

Who is to blame when things go wrong on a construction project and how do you resolve the issue? We have spent years restoring our house and done many projects during that time. The kitchen is really our last frontier, our last major project to complete before we call the house (almost) finished. Up until now we have had amazing luck with contractors, subs and tradespeople. I too have heard the horror stories, but never experienced them firsthand…until now.

The electrical company we hired has been an absolute nightmare. They are bonded, licensed and insured. I checked online reviews on several sites and with the Better Business Bureau before hiring them. We used them on a small job in our home a few weeks prior to even talking to them about the kitchen to see if we liked their work and how it was having them in our home.

We got several quotes on our project. Their quote was not the cheapest, they were actually one of the more expensive quotes we received. What I liked was that the owner of the company spent close to two hours going over every detail of our kitchen project. He was the only company that suggested pulling permits. Based on our prior experiences with this company, and the amount of detail we went over when meeting about the kitchen, I felt like we had made a good choice in selecting this electrical company. I guess even when taking precautions things can still go wrong. Very wrong.

The first, smaller project at our house was done by the owner. All the following work was done by two employees. The first few days the owner checked in on them, but he rarely showed up to the job site after that unless there was a problem or he wanted to be paid.

When the electricians discovered illegal splices into 100 year old knob and tube wiring, and many other dangerous or questionable electrical updates that had been made to the house over the years, we hired them to update the entire first floor with new wiring. And, this is where all the trouble began.


Comments { 13 } December 21, 2012

Grey Kitchens

My new love?

Inspiration, Kitchens


I love a white kitchen, really love a white kitchen, just as much as the next girl who fell in love at first site with the dream kitchen in the movie Something’s Gotta Give. You had me at the kitchen, seriously!


But, lately I feel like I am cheating on my true love. I’m falling hard for grey. And like anything else, the more you are aware of something, the more you start noticing it. Ever notice how once you buy a new car that you start seeing “your” car everywhere?

Taupey greys…

Kitchen designed by Windsor Smith. Cabinet color: Benjamin Moore’s Galveston Gray.

Dark, inky charcoal greys…


Smokey greys…


Grey cabinets with brass hardware…a winning combination.


So, am I swayed by grey? My fickle heart says YES, historical accuracy be damned!

Thanks to Sharon for pointing out Robert Schweitzer’s article on 1900-1925 Kitchen Colors. I do see a grey kitchen! I also see that he has a link to 1912 Bungalow…nice.

Comments { 6 } December 18, 2012

What I Hate Most About Home Restoration

Can you guess?

Restoration Diary

I HATE all the dust that comes along with any restoration project. No matter how much plastic or how many zip doors you use, the dust just gets everywhere. It coats every surface…and drives me absolutely crazy!

What do you dislike most about home restoration?

Comments { 13 } December 13, 2012

Bad House Juju?

Venting, venting, venting...

Restoration Diary,

We must have some really bad house karma…or maybe just the Laurel and Hardy of electricians? The electricians covered the dining room in plastic. In the process they taped the plastic to very expensive, hand painted Farrow & Ball wallpaper. When the painters tape was pulled off the wall it pulled off little patches of wallpaper underneath all around the room. I’m just sick over it.

They have broken a chandelier, drilled a hole through our bedroom floor and messed up the dining room wallpaper. We have done a lot of house projects and had our fair share of things go wrong, but these issues really bother me because they are the result of carelessness. I may have reached my breaking point and work on the kitchen has barely begun.

I don’t even know how the issue with the wallpaper is going to be resolved with the electrical company? David had a conversation with the owner who had the gall to suggest trying to get the company who manufactors the painters tape to pay for the damage! It is just beyond absurd.

Comments { 15 } December 9, 2012


Little slice of life

Restoration Diary,

We covered the hole in the floor with good old duct tape to prevent getting splinters until we can replace the floor board.

I am sitting upstairs in my bedroom, trying to catch a moment of quiet from all the work happening below. I can hear the electricians working in the room below me. Suddenly a drill bit comes up through the bedroom floor. The electricians have just drilled a hole through our original Douglas fir wood floors.

This kind of sums up my day so far…

Comments { 5 } December 6, 2012

Updating Electrical

Fire hazards to broken chandeliers

Restoration Diary,


Doing a gut kitchen remodel in the third trimester of pregnancy is insane…the kind of over confident insanity that allows you to buy a house in the hood to restore with no prior restoration experience. You don’t know what you don’t know. I had no idea how tired I would be. I’m not doing any of the work, but managing the project is exhausting.

Refrigerator and non-working stove in the dining room.

Having no stove and washing the dishes in the bathtub is already getting old. Our fridge is downstairs and the make-shift kitchen is upstairs. I am running up and down the stairs multiple times a day, especially when I forget something I need from the fridge. At least I’m getting my exercise!

Make-shift kitchen in upstairs bedroom.

Even if I wasn’t pregnant, this is the toughest project we have tackled so far.

Here is where our story begins…
When the electricians got to work they found live knob and tube wiring in the kitchen. I wasn’t surprised. We asked them to replace it. Once they pulled the knob and tube out I lost power in our new home office.

Home office. Patching has begun.

The light fixture, switches and plugs in the home office all have new wiring, so at first glance it appeared that the entire room had updated wiring. The electricians quickly discovered that the knob and tube wire had been the power feed for the entire office.


Comments { 10 } December 3, 2012

It’s Crazy

Kitchen Remodel, day 3

Restoration Diary

Three electricians, two plumbers, and an alarm installer walk into a kitchen…it’s not the beginning of a joke, it’s our reality this morning! Then there’s the HVAC happening this afternoon. Kitchen remodel in full effect.


Comments { 3 } November 29, 2012

Life Changes in a Little Bungalow

Lets talk...

Life Update

I’m sorry I have been out of touch. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send me emails and links to your blogs. I really try to personally answer each one but sometimes life gets in the way. I’m sorry for not responding, but I have read and enjoyed each email.

I have a lot to update you on. Big changes are happening at our little bungalow. I am 6 months pregnant with our first child. We couldn’t be happier!

We are in the process of turning our den and tv room into a home office. It is important to get it right because we both work from home. Our current office will become the nursery. In the past year I have wallpapered and updated the dining room and repainted our living. I have so much to catch you up on.

And…we are going to remodel our kitchen! It has taken us 10 years, sadly that isn’t a typo, to get here. I won’t be able to do the dream version of our kitchen. We won’t be opening any walls or annexing part of the back porch. This will be a kitchen done on a shoestring budget.

I don’t know if I will be able to pull this off. I want to end up with something that we both love, that is also respectful to the period of our home. Well, I guess it can only get better…and we have a deadline. This kitchen must be done before the baby comes.

Break out the sledge hammers. Our kitchen is a complete gut job, right down to the studs.

This photo doesn’t do our kitchen justice. In person, our kitchen is actually much worse.

I have lived with our kitchen for the past 10 years! Imagine me off in the distance with my hands to my head, repeatedly screaming, “10 YEARS!”

For those who have asked, the situation with the prostitution has gotten much better. I am not sure that I trust it will remain this way, but right now things are greatly improved. It is so nice not to constantly have all that negativity happening in our community.

Comments { 14 } November 5, 2012