Kitchen Renovation – Part 1: Before

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Kitchen Renovation - Part 1: The Before by TwoPlusCute

This was the kitchen when we bought our house. Light and sweet but if you could do a closer inspection, you would see things aren’t as good as they seem. I will take you to a small ride to our kitchen’s before and point out the things we had to change and fix. 

We saw most problems so, we had no unpleasant surprises (except with the refrigerator). The budget for the kitchen remodel and renovation was taken into account (optimistically) and had to stay low.
This is our kitchen renovation Part I, the “before” – with all the costs I could remember.

Warning: this post contains at least one scary image and several bad ones.

The Before Kitchen, had very plain builder grade cabinets, handpainted white (not very successfully), against a light blue wall. A lot of light in this well loved kitchen but the cabinets had lived their long life and had to change.
All of them. (Note: the kitchen during the open house was as clean as it could possibly be – cudos to whoever cleaned it).

Kitchen Renovation - Part 1: The Before by TwoPlusCute
Let’s see what was wrong with this kitchen:

– There was not a single cabinet door that closed fully.

– Not a single hinge right. Zero alignment.

– Out of total five drawers, only two were opening and all of them were in bad condition.

– The countertop which comprised of 3 separating parts, was broken and chipped in several areas, including smack dub on the sink (covered with patty that kept getting wet and moldy).

– Whoever painted the rooms, had thought it a great upgrade to paint over the outlets. Big electrical code no-no that. We had to change every single one.

– The range was probably something the estate agent found in a scrap yard just for the sale. Said range was put in a corner, and if the oven was open, it blocked the side door.

– The fridge was at the wrong position, blocking the kitchen. It was bulky for the spot and we had to take turns to walk by.

– The refrigerator was also leaky (it actually damaged a wall post and the floor).

Inside the cabinets, the situation was this:

Kitchen Renovation - Part 1: The Before by TwoPlusCute
Extensive water damage.

No sides, no backs, moldy, broken, swelling, sagging. Water marks (and – impossible to clean-  filth) on the walls, too. The overall condition was so bad, the kitchen had to completely go. All of it. I will spare you of more images like the one above but, all the cabinets were pretty much like that.

Literally and figuratively: Gutted.

We removed everything: all the cabinets, the sink and even the floor. We deeply cleaned both walls and floor. That took some a lot of elbow grease (and chemicals) with a lot of scrubbing, scraping, washing and drying, before I felt safe enough to proceed with sealing, painting and re-installing floors. We replaced the subfloor to make sure there was no water damage underneath the old one. 

The previous owners had left several boxes of the laminate planks and the underlay sheets (thank you guys) they used for the rest of the house so, we simply used those and installed them ourselves. As our kitchen is part of an open room it made sense to keep the same flooring throughout.

Kitchen Renovation - Part 1: The Before by TwoPlusCute
Unhappy husband during the kitchen renovation. Notice the level on his left. He had to use that a lot because my eyes can detect the most minuscule lopsidedness (I say it’s a gift; everybody else says it’s a curse).

The refrigerator was working but leaking which caused more mold and actually damaged a wall post (!) and the floor within a couple of weeks. The range was a broken piece of ancient history, however its burners still worked so we lived with it for months. We never used the oven which was full with rust, collapsing, broken, with a semi detached and hanging grill resistance and possibly a couple nests of vermin. I kept it locked at all times until we discarded it. So, the only appliance we kept was the old, noisy but energy efficient (win) and working dishwasher. I kept it in order to use it as a…cabinet and save money.

The things that were impractical or downright ugly and had to go:

– The sink. I wash large pans and double sinks aren’t helpful to me.

– This horribly ugly light that served no purpose whatsoever and wasn’t even centered.

Kitchen Renovation - Part 1: The Before by TwoPlusCute

– The light blue color that clashed oh-so-much with the khaki-brown color of the rest of the room.

– Fixing the layout: I wanted to move the oven and place the refrigerator where the oven was, opening up the whole kitchen. It possibly was the best thing we did. Huge difference.

– We had to put new walls where the old range was.

Costs so far:

We demolished, removed and gutted everything ourselves, saving some money. Lots of elbow grease = $zero.

There was a cost to dispose of the debris that ranged between $40 and $100 (sorry, husband doesn’t remember the exact cost).

Electrical outlets and switches -including two gfcis – cable, box and receptacle (for the oven move) were approximately $120. Installation was free because hubby is an electrician.

Drywall and plywood for the floor another $40-$50.

A few coats of primer and white paint  (that didn’t manage to cover the old blue color). Low cost as we used them in other rooms as well.

New laminate floor & installation (including underlayments)= $zero

We recycled the fridge so we actually made money by that and the range was taken away for free when we bought our new one.

Most difficult thing to do:

Patching the popcorn ceiling when we removed the ugly light fixture. Those pop corn sprays? They didn’t work. We bought two different ones and all they did was a splattered mess. So, I took a synthetic bath sponge, drywall putty and tried to mimic the rest of the pop corn ceiling. It turned out ok and it is hardly visible. With the correct sponge roler, it would have been perfect.

This was before I found out we could remove pop corn ceilings easily. I was a sad puppy when I found out we can easily remove pop corn without damaging our ceilings. Which was after I had painted 5 room ceilings with 35 coats of primer and paint each.

Progress so far:

Clean slate, new floors, some new walls, corrected layout. Electrical connections checked and improved. Cleaned and primed. A coat of paint as well. Ceiling patched, primed and painted with a satin white (so it reflects more light in order to counter the pop corn effect).

Was time to buy the cabinets (on a budget). Truth is, my mother (from Greece) wired all the money I needed for the cabinets with the sole command “don’t be cheap and pick something you like”. Well, I picked something I liked and I’d like to think I was not cheap but I certainly was frugal. And I have enough left to go after a soapstone countertop. Maybe. Hopefully. We’ll see. 😀


Next post, I will show you the progress with installed maple cabinets and the new appliances (and the sink and the faucet). Plus our high end…plywood countertops with – the even higher end – duct tape trim. I can tell you are getting shivers from all the excitement…
Read the 2nd part of our kitchen renovation here!




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27 thoughts on “Kitchen Renovation – Part 1: Before

  • Pingback: Kitchen Renovation – Part 2: The Cabinets - Two plus Cute

  • May 29, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    You certainly have you work cut out, I did the same and gutted my kitchen we like you, tore out all the cabinets, but I had the a cabinet company install them as my husband knew nothing about that part. However, he did install the new sink and plumbing. At that time, vinyl wall covering was in and I did that myself, that was fun. With the way I scheduled things I had it complete in 1 week.Cant wait to see the finished project.

    Thanks for sharing on Friday Features this week.
    Hope you enjoy the weekend!
    Karren xx
    Karren Haller ♥ Oh My Heartsie Girl posted…Friday Features Linky Party

    • May 31, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      In 1 week?! I am counting months going to over a year, now.
      Come over, we need help! 😀

  • May 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I can’t wait to see your after! I had a similar situation with the area under my sink and had it replaced a few days after Christmas….that’s when all heck broke loose under there but thankfully it did because we realized there was a bigger problem and got it taken care of, for now, but hopefully soon I’ll have a new kitchen.
    Mary Beth|Cupcakes and Crinoline posted…Baked Apple Pancake ~ Cast Iron Baking

    • May 11, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Bummer about the hell braking loose just as you replaced the cabinet. :/
      I hope you post your new kitchen, I’d love to see what you’ll do. 🙂

  • May 10, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Wow! I know the difference is going is be unbelievable! I am on pins and needles to see how you fixed it all. That light fixture is hilarious. There must be a story behind it somehow. Thankfully, when we did our kitchen renovation, we didn’t have to replace the cabinets. It was a godsend they somehow survived the previous owners. However, we did rewire a whole wall and the gas lines. Still waiting to redo the floor so I completely understand how much work it takes. Hubby just asked me today to do a before and after collage for each room we get done. Haha, moved in not quite a year ago and not a single room is completely done yet.

    • May 11, 2015 at 10:37 am

      We are on the same page. Not a single room completely done. 🙂

      If you add subfloors, I have one piece of advice: use a LOT of nails/screws.Or it is going to creak every time you walk on it.

  • May 8, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Oh goodness! I can SO relate to your kitchen woes. We’ve been living without functional appliances (oven and dishwasher) for two years. Our 1955 cabinets and countertops are begging to retire. Thankfully, the kitchen is one of the reno projects we will be tackling this summer. So awesome that your hubby is an electrician! I look forward to following along. 🙂
    Carol @ CAD INTERIORS posted…Lesson in Bookcase Styling

    • May 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      Two years is a long time. I don’t envy you, I still remember carrying the pots to the bathtub.
      I can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with for your kitchen! 🙂

    • May 5, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Yes, it was awfully bad! The estate agent actually argued that “a lot of people have kitchens like this”.
      It has gotten a lot better now, with the clean new floor and the cabinets.
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

    • May 4, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      It’s a skill girl, it’s a skill. =]

      Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  • May 4, 2015 at 1:10 am

    Lol. I can’t wait to see the duct tape trim.

    Seriously though, wow! I’m just floored at all your planning. It seems like such an overwhelming job, but you’ve got great ideas and a great command of it. I can’t wait to see the rest of the updates.
    Christine posted…April Construction Wrap Up

    • May 4, 2015 at 1:51 am

      Hi Christine!
      It was mostly overwhelming for the men (my husband and my father in law) that had to do all the work. Hehe.

  • April 30, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    It is coming along great, can’t wait for the reveal. Always is a plus when hubby’s are handy, keeps the costs down. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get it the way you want, plus the budget takes hits along the way. You will get there. Ours has been a work in progress since October.

    • May 1, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Ah the budget. It’s probably the most hindering thing in any renovation.

  • April 30, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Can’t wait for the reveal! I have a textured ceiling and despise it. It is interesting that the spray for removing popcorn ceilings didn’t work. Not sure what brand you used, but people always say how easy it is to remove the popcorn ceiling. Now we know the truth. 🙂
    Stephanie @ Casa Watkins posted…3 Things To Repurpose for a Spring Table

    • April 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      I still have a few rooms I haven’t painted their ceilings so, I’ll test how easy it is to remove a pop corn ceiling there.

      I sure hope it is as easy as other bloggers say. 🙂

  • April 29, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Whew! That is a lot of work! Too bad you had to gut the kitchen, but there is a point when something just needs to have a complete do over. And, your mom is correct about getting something that is not cheap. Not only are you increasing the value of your home, but you will have peace of mind knowing that it’s something well made.

    It’s so nice to see the progress of your kitchen and I was cracking up about you being able to detect minuscule lopsidedness. Ha! I am the same way! It kind of drives H crazy, but more often than not, I am correct. 😉 H is also an electrician. Isn’t great NOT to have to hire that out?!

    Looking forward to your next kitchen update. 🙂

    • April 30, 2015 at 11:40 am

      It definitely helps a lot. If I had to hire an electrician, the costs would soar and I’d probably never move the oven.

      The cabinets looked like MDF – which never does well on the long term and damages very easily with excessive humidity. And once it gets water, it is done. Those white marks in the pic of the interior? Mold.
      I kept smelling it all the time until we finally gutted the kitchen.

  • April 29, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Mama’s are the best! That was really sweet of her. I cannot wait to see the next post. It’s pretty amazing what cabinets can do for a kitchen! Plus, you are pretty lucky, having an electrician for a hubby must be pretty nice. Send him down here for a couple of days, I need some lights put in to my dining room, haha!

    • April 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

      It is very helpful indeed – at least at the rare occasion I persuade him to get working. He can be very grouchy!

  • April 29, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    You’ve been working so hard! I love your mother’s instructions. I can’t wait to see more pictures!

    • April 29, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      We have been doing our half-done kitchen a year and a half now.
      It’s not that hard a work when it takes us so long.
      (ps. Loved your strawberries).


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