We started by tearing out the half wall and colonial columns that divided the kitchen from the living room and entryway. Luckily, the wall was not loadbearing. Cutting back the wall separating the kitchen from the entryway increased the open feeling. We paid someone to install hardwood flooring in the kitchen so that it would connect with the adjoining spaces.
I painted the cabinets glossy white myself. The antique pewter knobs came from Ebay. Don’t ever buy hardware in the store! You can find any style of knob or pull from Ebay for around $1 apiece, new, with no tax. The exact same knobs were at Expo Design Center for $4.50 apiece. I re-used the existing hinges by spraying them with a silver paint.
We decided to try tiling the countertops over the existing Formica form. We have always chosen do-it-yourself laminate, since I hate cleaning grout. Luckily, I discovered that granite tiles have a thin bevel on each edge and are designed to be “butt-jointed” or installed tightly together with little or no grout space. We stumbled upon a shipment of Mystique granite tiles at Home Depot, which are grey and white with rivers of flecked quartz and peach. After we bought them at $2.50 a square foot, the price was eventually dropped by $1. I just brought my receipt back in for a refund on the difference. For convenience, we used a wooden edge finished with antique pewter glaze to tie in the granite and stainless appliances. We were able to borrow a tile saw and float. The cost for the entire countertop was under $125.
Since this home will be sold in another year, I wanted to try the stainless look for appliances. Our local Sears Outlet had a super sale on refrigerators, and we found a GE Profile Arctica (scratched and dented) twice marked down with another percent off. This is the only brand that is designed to be cabinet-depth and not stick out into the room (see “before” picture). I rationalized the $1000 price because the kitchen usually “sells” the home, and it was important that it look its biggest. Plus, it had all the features we were dreaming of, and more!
This splurge left us with the original almond-colored range and no money left in the appliance budget to replace it. The very day we were about to break down and buy a new stainless range, we stopped at a yard sale. Our hearts raced as we noticed the built-in Kenmore stainless steel/black glass range in the garage. We couldn’t believe it when the owners told us the price: $25. We would have paid at least twice that. Another lesson in letting God provide…and in making the other person name the first price!
Yard sales are great sources for lighting, too. We replaced the bare bulb over the sink with a halogen track fixture ($5) and the clunky ceiling fan with a brass and porcelain chandelier ($15), which I painted ultra-flat black to mimic wrought iron.
All in all, the kitchen has cost us about $800, not including the refrigerator, which we plan to take with us when we sell. It’s the most we’ve ever spent renovating a kitchen. Usually I can keep it under $500, but every space has its own challenges.