Kitchen Before and After

Our old kitchen was the worst. It made me super sad when we walked in and saw it. It was old, ugly, and worst of all, inefficiently laid out. The tile, ugh, the tile was hideous! It had only one side of cabinets that could be used along the left side (with the ugliest appliances and handles/pulls), and then on the right side, well, it made no sense.

the old kitchen from the listing photos

the view of the left side

the old kitchen (right side view) from the listing photos

the view on the right side

the back right side of the kitchen

the back right corner

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another view of the left side

You can see on the right side the accordion doors which led to…wire shelving and a stackable washer/dryer! It was awful. No room for storage, yet this monstrosity of a closet took up nearly half of the right side of the kitchen.

And the back corner…omg, the back corner made no sense. The only thing we thought it was used for was a breakfast nook. However, if you sat on one side, if you stood, you’d knock yourself out on the cabinets above. If you sat on the other side, you were basically in the oven. And that light fixture was just a beaut.

I could not wait to tear this motha out.

The first thing I wanted gone was the stupid closet. The original idea was to get rid of the entire right side to make room for nearly wall-to-fridge cabinets. But when we tore out the back wall of the closet, looky what we found.

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This random wall in the kitchen had all our electrical wiring, so we couldn’t get rid of it. Yay!

Yeah, read that caption again. ALL THE ELECTRICAL WIRING. WHO DOES THIS??!?!?! This was the very first thing we demo-ed in the house, and boom, immediate huge problem. And you can see in the very back, the amazing wallpaper we uncovered when we took down the upper cabinets. Soooooo pretty…

This kitchen was just awful. But we obviously couldn’t replace everything in it because we’re not millionares. So the first decision was to keep the existing cabinets on the left side. They are in decent shape, and with some new paint and hardware, they would look amazing. We also had to keep the closet for the most part. We had to pay our contractors to put that wall back up, but we did get to demo the wall between the washer/dryer and fridge.

The open space above the closet also had to stay. This townhouse design is so odd. But we did get to get rid of most of the upper part to give us more room for larger cabinetry.

Word of advice: if you’re going to demo, make sure you have all the right tools.

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This is after we ripped everything out, including the backsplash that literally dissolved the sheetrock behind it (which in this picture, was repaired). There were gaping holes everywhere, and when we tried to remove the countertop, we found we couldn’t remove it from around the outlets without a saw (and when I tried, I got myself a little shock that reminded me why getting electrocuted is frowned upon).

Another word of advice: if you’re going to paint cabinetry yourself, do it while you live in the house. Or just hire someone.

Using Rustoleum DIY paint kits for the upper and lower cabinets, I thought this would be an easy enough project. Take the doors down, clean them, remove the gloss coating, paint, and finish. Easy, right?

It wasn’t.

IT TOOK FOREVER AND MY SANITY.

You have to wait at least 3 hours between coats. The upper cabinets required 6 coats (and even then they looked like shit). We didn’t live in the house at the time, so I had to go during lunch breaks and after work to apply coats. The lower cabinets only needed the recommended 2 coats so that worked out great. But those uppers killed me.

I tried to be green and got an environmentally-friendly paint stripper to remove the gloss off the old cabinets. It didn’t work. Just use the super corrosive stuff and it’ll be fine (but your lungs won’t be).

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I finally had to ask my designer for another paint brand because I just couldn’t use the kit paint for yet a 7th coat on the uppers. She recommended Valspar and dammit, it was the winner from the start. Only one coat and it was beautifully hiding all the stuff the 6 coats of the other paint couldn’t do. And don’t forget, you have to do not only the front of the doors, but the backs. And in between the doors. And around the cabinets. And the toe kicks. Which required more time.

All in all, painting these cabinets took almost 2 weeks. Never. Again.

Obviously, we had the contractors do a new backsplash, countertops, and flooring. After living in my old apartment for 3 years, I had come to hate granite countertops. It stained like whoa, and once it got a wet spot, forget it, it’s never coming out. I have no time or patience for high maintenance stuff, so when we found quartz, I was done. Yes, it’s more expensive, but not having to reseal it every year, the durability, and how pretty it is…MORE than worth it.

The right side of the kitchen is the biggest transformation. After patching up the hole we made, we decided to use the space next to the fridge for actual, useable cabinetry.

 

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redoing the wall we tore down and new flooring

Home Depot actually still had the same stock cabinets that matched our cabinets from 1994 so we were able to fill out that previously oddly used back right corner with more storage and a space for a wine fridge we received as a wedding gift.

More storage, more countertop, pantry space, and a completely hidden new, stackable washer and dryer? The right side of the kitchen, which used to be horrible, was now a dream.

 

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new cabinets in the back corner

We did have to get the new cabinets custom made (and I of course had to paint them again in order to save money) but the result below is just too gorgeous.

We unfortunately couldn’t move any of the electrical stuff into the garage (like the washer and dryer, water heater, and AC unit) because of flood zone requirements, so that does take up space I’d like to see freed up on the main living floor. But all in all, for our first home and first renovations, we are in love with our space.

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custom cabinets installed with new fridge

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All of the appliances we got from a Sears scratch and dent outlet for a killer price. I have always wanted a gas range, and have only been able to use one in my first townhouse with my roomie Lyndsay in grad school. We were ready to price out how much it was going to be to convert the old electric stove to gas when lo and behold, behind the old oven, A GAS HOOKUP!

Culinary dreams do come true y’all.

The only real design decision we made here for the kitchen was the two-toned cabinets in white and gray and the countertop. Everything else stemmed from that. Our designer picked out the backsplash tiles and cabinet pulls. There are literally millions of choices out there, and by this point, my brain couldn’t handle any more decisions. She picked, we liked, end of story.

So here it is, the final kitchen reveal. A space that can fit people to mingle, space for EVERYTHING, and yet, clean, modern, and up to date.

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walls painted, towels hung, liveable kitchen

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insert behind the sink

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this backsplash and countertop!

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back right corner

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custom cabinets

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pantry custom cabinet! SO MUCH SPACE

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Totally hidden washer and dryer

Just for recollection sake, before and afters.

So that’s the kitchen, a space that has seen us sweat, bleed, receive a light shock therapy, cry, and love. It’s a space that’s so us and it makes me happy to cook there every time I walk in. That’s exactly what kitchens should be like, right?

Next up, the rest of the house, and no more renovations to come.

♥, VB

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