Kitchen Renovation – Part 2: The Cabinets

By TwoPlusCute: Kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.

Cabinets and appliances. This is the progress we have managed so far, in our kitchen renovation on a budget. Remember we had to gut everything, fix some walls, add support for upper cabinets, move some electrical and ended up with a whole new kitchen. (I include comparison photos to demonstrate the difference.) After visiting a few home improvement stores and leaving disappointed, we finally found the kitchen style, color and quality we wanted, online. And for less than half the price asked by the megastores.

It’s been a long time since I posted the first part of our kitchen renovation. Honestly, the photos were pretty bad and no matter how many I took with my point and shoot camera, things didn’t improve. I finally found the courage to tackle the task and proudly present you our kitchen renovation part 2: The Cabinets. Installing said cabinets, was a massive diplomatic success on my behalf (took quite some effort to persuade hubby to install them).

Kitchen renovation part 2; view from the kitchen by

Let’s remember that the old kitchen had a refrigerator blocking half of it, it had moldy and broken MDF cabinets, a very ugly random light fixture, the oven at the wrong spot (it’s in the corner behind the refrigerator in the following photo), doors that didn’t close, drawers that didn’t open and even floor damage.

After quite some elbow grease, we went from this:

Our kitchen before the renovation, click to see the new kitchen.


To this:

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.


And from this:

The sink cabinet before the renovation, click to see the update!


To this:

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.


My mother in law, also helped by applying her own diplomatic skills to my father in law, who is a master carpenter and who made sure our cabinets were “true and plumb”. He taught us all sorts of tricks about installing a kitchen.

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.

Once we persuaded the males to do the deed, the kitchen cabinets were installed quickly. I have zero one photo of that, because it happened before I started the blog. I do have a tip though! When you take measurements for your cabinets, measure your walls in different heights and at least at the bottom and top of the cabinets’ height, for both upper and lower cabinets. Especially if you add wall-to-wall cabinets.

If your walls are not perfectly vertical and you aim your measurements for no wall gaps, a mere inch can be detrimental. I innocently assumed our walls were perfect and we (<- this is a royal “we”; I mean the guys) had to shave off a cabinet side. Luckily, it’s not visible because the difference was only 1/4 of an inch but, it was a very close call.

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.

Moving on, I got maple. Why maple you might ask, when all the rage is white kitchens. Well, there are reasons:

– I have had painted kitchens in the past but, never just natural wood. Maple has a gentle sheen that reminds me of mother of pearl.

– I believe white kitchens look stunning but, a friend had recently made a beautiful all white kitchen. I didn’t want to be a huge copy cat (just a small one).

– I love dark and sleek modern cabinetry but, our kitchen felt too small for dark cabinets.

In my mind, we will enjoy the warm but light wood until we get bored. From there, we can stain dark and/or paint. Will be easy with the light stain we chose. Versatility.

For appliances I was planning to go all black, to contrast the maple and match the dishwasher (this and the fan were the only things that stayed from the old kitchen). Then we found our oven in a fantastic bargain price thanks to a mega-promo of the company. We bought it within hours of seeing the flyer. Zap!

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.

The cabinets arrived in flat packs and hubby put them together easily. Simple instructions and well done connectors, made the whole thing a breeze.
I am very glad we managed to find decent quality for a little over two thousand American dollars.

Thick plywood (the backs and sides) and solid real wood (fronts, doors, faces). SureGreen finish by Sherwin-Williams, solid hinges. I am hopeful this kitchen will last for many years.

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.
Excuse the dust, it was the day we installed them.

I was impressed by the drawers. They were truly all solid wood (even behind the front face panel), with dovetail joints and opening all the way out – and I do mean all the way (though it doesn’t show in the only good photo – below). All drawers are slow closing (the doors will be too when hubby decides to install the hardware). Overall I was doing my happy dance when we received them!

Kitchen renovation Part 2. Details of the drawers by
Look at these beauties!


The baby’s station where I prepare her food, is on the “island” across the sink,
to avoid accidental splashing and contamination.

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.


Moving the refrigerator where the old rusty range was,
opened up the view towards the kitchen
and from the kitchen to the dining area:

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.


The compromises:

– no white kitchen with glass upper doors.

– we had to work around the window to make sure the sink and its cabinet were centered. Because of that, I had to forego getting two sliding spice cabinets to flank the oven (as the sizes didn’t fit any longer).

– I wanted all glass on the top cabinet doors but they didn’t come in that size. (We may DIY that part one day).

– My tilting front tops of the sink cabinet will probably never happen. It is an exchange for getting the largest sink we could fit in.

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.
Sleek !

The tweaks:

– All the wall cabinets were raised higher, to be comfortable for my height. Decades ago my very short grandma had the same done to her home.  Let’s just say working in her kitchen is pretty hard on my waist. And my head.

– In the narrow wall of the kitchen, we went with a completely straight line of cabinets – instead of adding a corner one – in order to give the illusion of extra width (like horizontal stripes). It worked!

– Moving the electrics for the range, placing it at a cosy spot. Now, the cook does not feel isolated, the whole space opened and no doors are blocked. In addition, we can install an oven hood venting outside, much easier.

– Anything that could be drawers on the bottom cabinets, was ordered so. (Mind you plain cabinets are cheaper than drawer ones and they have a few inches more space).

– The sink is the largest that cabinet could fit. And it’s extra deep. If you have the room to get an extra deep sink, go for it. It is extremely helpful and fits so many dishes and pots. Plus, you can easily bath babies in it (without bending over a bathtub).

– The range is a slide-in because dials in the front were a must for me. I want to personally slap the utterly silly design engineer who thought it – if we can call it thinking – smart to put the dials (in other electric ranges) right above burners, heating pots with scalding, boiling food & liquids. Grr!

– We managed to make space for a single spice/cans pull out. We got the hardware for free and now we only need to make an enclosure for it.

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2 the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos.


What’s still missing:

– The countertop. I really want natural stone and in particular soapstone (not very budget friendly that). I am in love with soapstone countertops. We haven’t found anybody selling soapstone in our area yet so, we placed some floor grade plywood on top of the cabinets – pure class – and we wait. I use cutting boards for all food prep and we applied duct tape all around the edges to avoid splinters. I am told the back of my neck is turning red…

If we don’t find soapstone, I’ll be a very sad puppy. I designed the whole kitchen having in mind the soapstone.

– The backsplash. Which will heavily depend on what countertop we settle with.

– The exhaust hood above the oven.

– Possibly one or two open shelves above the “island”.

– An updated light above the sink and, of course, the right paint.

What’s NOT missing:

– A microwave oven. I don’t have a use for one.

The funny:

– The cute going around the duct tape and pushing it back in place meticulously where it starts pealing. For a two years old this is quite the attention to neatness.

Not a white kitchen: kitchen renovation on a budget. Part 2, the Cabinets, the challenges, the tweaks and bargains. Before and after photos. By

The bargains include:

– The kitchen cabinets.

– The sink.

– The sink faucet.

– The electrician (almost free – I have to cook for him).

– The pulls and knobs.

– The slide-in ceramic range.

Stay tuned for the part 3. I have hubby digging through our receipts for the costs and the final prices!

You might want to check out the transformation of an old and tired green kitchen into a happy, spicy yellow one.

I’ve been featured!

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42 thoughts on “Kitchen Renovation – Part 2: The Cabinets

    • July 13, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      Thank you! There is unobstructed flow now (even if my photos don’t depict clearly how much the old fridge was blocking the space). 🙂

  • July 10, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Woo-Hoo! I am so happy for you guys! The kitchen looks great! I love the range you got and could not agree more about having the knobs in the front. lol We have a microwave, but very rarely use it. The maple cabinets are beautiful and seem like they are of good quality construction. I am sure you will enjoy them for many years. We have maple wood cabinets too and have been pleased with ours.

    I hope you will be able to find the counter tops of your dreams. Hey, print our some picture of the ones you like and place them above the current counter. I am all for visualization and positive thinking. 🙂

    • July 10, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      Hehe, I am sending positive vibes for months! Let’s hope they work and we find someone selling soapstone slabs around here. 🙂

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    • July 6, 2015 at 2:17 am

      I love those chairs too! The table is a kind loan until we budget for one to match our style.
      You are right the kitchen looks bigger as it became more open and visible. 🙂

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  • July 4, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Wow, what a great transformation! I’m currently in the process of renovating my kitchen myself and boy, is it tough work. Love what you did though. Especially moving the fridge. It really opened up the space! Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday! This is going to be one of my features this week. Hope to see you again tomorrow night!
    Chelc | Inside the Fox Den posted…1 Year Blogiversary + Future Blog Plans & Giveaway!

    • July 5, 2015 at 1:00 am

      Oh thank you Chelc!
      By the way, I read your “about me” and it’s nice to meet you. 🙂

    • July 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Thank you. 😀
      It does feel great now it’s open and we don’t have to take turns to use the kitchen.

    • July 1, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Thank you Sherry, we are going slowly but it is coming along nicely. 🙂

  • June 28, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Wow, that’s quite a kitchen transformation. That’s so impressive that you DIY’d it. We have medium dark “wood” in our kitchen and I’m keeping them. I really don’t like the white look, I’m not that modern. And we don’t have stainless steel either.

    Visiting from Create w/Joy
    Linda Blatchford posted…Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015

    • June 29, 2015 at 12:27 am

      Thank you. 🙂
      Medium wood can be very warm and unique. What matters is a kitchen that invites its owners to enjoy it, whether it’s modern, vintage, old or new.:)

  • June 28, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Love your after. You did a wonderful transformation on your kitchen and can’t wait to see how you proceed. Thank you for sharing at Share It One More Time. Cathy

  • June 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    It looks GREAT!! I love the maple cabinets and it looks like you found an incredible deal. Dovetail construction and solid wood – it doesn’t get much better than that! I can’t believe how much you’ve managed to get done on a small budget, I am very impressed!! It’s pretty handy having a master craftsman for a dad-in-law and a royal one at that, teehee!
    Soapstone counters would look really good, I hope you find some in your area soon 🙂

    • June 28, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      I did find a good deal but it’s something every one can get. Will write more about it in the costs and sources post.
      I am lucky to have that father in law, yes (and the MIL that persuaded him to help). 😀

  • June 28, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Your kitchen turned out lovely. You made the right choice with the maple cabinets. Thanks for sharing at the This Is How We Roll Link Party on Organized 31.

  • June 27, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I am LOVING the difference those new cabinets made! You guys did such a great job! I agree the maple finish was the right choice for your kitchen. The white was almost too much white and the maple adds warmth to the kitchen!
    Carrie This Home posted…10 Minute DIY Stuffed Animal Holder

    • June 27, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Carrie, thank you. 🙂
      It was indeed “too” white before. I knew something was off with it “hey this is a white kitchen why doesn’t it look pinterest perfect?”

    • June 27, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Aww. thank you Mary Beth, you are very sweet!
      I am sure you made a beautiful upgrade of your cabinets (and I tried to find a post about it in your blog but I couldn’t). Paint can go a long way if the cabinets aren’t too damaged. 🙂

  • June 27, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Your kitchen looks great! Tweaking the original layout to this one did wonders for opening up the room, and allowing the light to filter in. I like that you addressed the practical and functional layout in your new kitchen. 🙂

    We used to have a similar mid-tone maple cabinet color in our last house. It’s great and very warm! Love the profile of your cabinet doors too! So awesome that you found solid cabinetry to fit your budget. I’m amazed by the cost of everything related to doing a kitchen, including the “smaller” stuff like sinks and fixtures. By the way, I love your faucet. Where did you get it? Can’t wait to see the kitchen with the countertop and backsplash installed. I hear you on the cost of the stone! 🙂
    Carol @ CAD INTERIORS posted…“Mini” E-Design Boards

    • June 27, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      Thank you Carol!
      I will try to find the receipts and will let you know where we bought it, the model and its cost (iirc, around $100). 🙂

  • June 26, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Hi Friend! I read this yesterday but was pulled away by my little bean! It is beautiful! Everything you have done is crisp and warm! All of your details make it a really modern space as well! Great work! Wishing you many wonderful meals cooked here my friend!!! Nicole xoxo
    nicole posted…June

    • June 27, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Thank you Nicole!
      Glad you see it as modern, this is the vibe I want our kitchen to have (once finished).
      I was a little concerned because maple is very traditional here in USA and I wondered if it would look a tad too oldie. 🙂

  • June 26, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    It looks great! You should be proud. I really like the color you’ve chosen, I have the same color to my cabinets except mine are more of a rustic style. I had to pay to have it installed thought, no way I could persuade my hubby to do that. (hey, you should be proud of that too!)

    • June 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks Ntina! I am indeed proud of hubby. 😀

      Your husband would do it too if someone like my father in law showed him. 🙂

  • June 25, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    It is absolutely gorgeous. What great choices…and you did a really good job.
    I can see why you are proud of it. It’s beautiful

  • June 25, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    You did a beautiful job !!!
    We redid the kitchen in our fixer upper last year ( and there’s still touches we have to fix ) but I know about original kitchens from hell LOL
    But look at what your hard work did – you have a gorgeous kitchen !!!
    Suzan posted…ARMOIRE AS BAR

    • June 25, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      Suzan thank you!
      Reading about your kitchen, I noticed an essential component mine is missing: character. Your kitchen has a lot of it.
      Now, besides countertops, my list is topped by “adding character”. 🙂

    • June 25, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      I am thrilled indeed. 🙂
      I aim for a long lasting kitchen and I hope the quality we found (for our budget) will last for a good many years.


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