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 { 14 } January 7, 2013

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


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

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

Untold LA on KickStarter

The amazing homes and stories of the West Adams District

This Los Angeles Life,

Untold LA is a project seeking funding on KickStarter. Jett Loe is proposing to create a Photo iBook and website showcasing the amazing homes and stories of the West Adams District of Los Angeles.

As Loe said on KickStarter:
“Many people think they know LA, but there is one extraordinary district that seems forgotten to all but a few: West Adams.

Home to the greatest architectural treasure West of the Mississippi of Victorian, Queen Anne, Beaux Arts, Egyptian Revival, Mission and Craftsman homes, the stories of West Adams are just as wild as the houses.

Which is why I need to do Untold LA.”

Click over to KickStarter to see the beautiful homes, all located in West Adams, featured in Loe’s video.

After the recent tragedy and negative stories in the news about South LA, I am happy to see someone focusing on the positive aspects of our neighborhood.

Comments { 0 } May 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Bungalow

You made it, baby!

Nothing Important

Our little house is now a grand old dame! A little bit worse for the wear, but looking forward to riding out the next 100 years in style.

Since it is our house’s birthday I am going to be nice, but there are worse photos I could have used here and here. Our house “before” looking every inch her age.

Our house now…{the same rooms as in the before photos} I hope when I am almost one hundred years old that someone will come along and restore me!

p.s. Our house is a little sad because she wanted a new kitchen for her birthday. Maybe for Christmas?

Comments { 11 } April 25, 2012

My Inspiration Kitchen


Inspiration, Kitchens

Photo: Lincoln Barbour. Professional photographer Lincoln Barbour has many amazing homes featured on his site. Please be sure to take a look!

A blog commenter recently left the following message, “I look so forward to your kitchen reno. Now 8 years later, has your vision for your kitchen changed?

Great question! The answer is YES, about a hundred times. But, I have kind-of ended up back where I started. After seeing the kitchen in Lincoln Barbour’s photo (above), I had this feeling of that’s it. This kitchen is everything I love; simplicity and that homey, comfortable vibe that just feels “right”. I appreciate the contemporary light fixture and chairs mixed in with the vintage kitchen. This kitchen is definitely my inspiration kitchen.

Here are some other ideas that I love…

Photo: Pinterest

The vintage sink sitting on the marble countertop is so beautifully done. I love it!

Photo: Pinterest

If I was in the market for a new stove I would get something fun like this blue stove.

Photo: Pinterest

Look at that wall of built-in floor to ceiling storage. I don’t have quite that much room in my small bungalow kitchen, but I dream of storage.

Photo: Neptune

My heart still beats quickly for freestanding English kitchens. I recently discovered the beautiful kitchens handcrafted by Neptune. I really want an island with work space and seating.

Photo: Neptune

Did I happen to mention that I really want an island? The English do kitchen islands so well…

Comments { 3 } March 30, 2012