top of page
  • Writer's pictureRita Winthrop

kitchen renovations: the real love story [part 2]

See how I left you guys hanging there a little bit? Had to. I waited so much longer for our kitchen to be done, lets be real. If there's ever been a test of patience, it's been this, and for those of you that know me, I am not a patient person.

If there's one question I think I'm asked the most is how we did all of it on a pretty small budget. We were realistic, kitchens are the selling point of a house, but more importantly, the place where families gather, and that's what we wanted ours to be. Our house is little just under 1000 square feet, but you wouldn't know it by the ceiling high, amazing natural sunlight and open floor plan. We got lucky for a house that was not only structurally sound, but had room to change. We saved a lot on labor costs - mostly paying Frank's friends in lunch and beer, knowing that there were other areas that we could spend our money on.

To start, we made our budget - we researched the items we'd need, and if we bought them all brand new at the highest price we'd feel comfortable at spending, and that was our starting point. If we estimated that new kitchen cabinets could be about $5,000, we'd shoot for lower, without lowering our expectations or the quality of what we wanted. Where we saved, we later splurged. And aside from labor, we, as in just Frank and I, did almost everything ourselves. I painted every room in this house. We built our cabinets, redid framing, ripped up floors, relocated stairwells, and re-purposed as much of the original home that we could. We had an obscene amount of doors and door frames that we were able to relocate saving us a few hundred dollars on new doors and materials. We used all of the original trim, sanding and repainting. We loved the age of this home, and you cant pieces like what we had - it just took some time and elbow grease to bring them back to life. We found some of our appliances at a ding-and-dent place to save us money, knowing that the spots that were scratched weren't visible once installed.

There were also areas in which paying someone to do the work was worth it. Electrical and plumbing are not something that either of us wanted to mess with - and lucky for us, we had a few good contacts to help do that. The roof was another one. Given the age of our home, and our disclosures had no information about our roof's age, we had to have it redone in 90 days of closing to maintain insurance. Sure, we could have done it ourselves, but the time and money saved wouldn't have been that much in the grand scheme of things. Paying someone meant it was ripped off, redone and mess was taken away all in one day. We also paid someone to finish the floors. While we installed the planks ourselves, trying to match 100 year old hardwood stain was not something we wanted to risk trying - and while its not a perfect match, which we knew it wouldn't be, the transition is seamless.

We aggressively utilized Amazon, Wayfair and Overstock - from rugs, to light fixtures, to chairs, there's a lot you can find online if you do your research and take your time. I read countless reviews before buying something, and was incredibly confident in return policies so if in the circumstance it wasn't quite what we needed, it could be sent back. We found all 4 of our kitchen stools for just around $120. That's total, not each - and they fit the feel of our home.

The one area we splurged a bit was the counter tops. While we had gone with traditional IKEA cabinets (which I built all by myself, thank you very much) we did not like what they had to offer for counter top materials. In addition, we had a weird corner to deal with in wanting to leave out the brick that we discovered after demoing a few walls. Spending more on a quartz, makes our IKEA cabinets feel so much more glamorous.

We're both pretty simple in our style; shaker cabinets, accentuate the details, and not over the top of anything. A pop of color on a wall, art made by those close to us, and something that I can happily cook in. Keep the charm of the home, blend antique with new. Some days we both still just stand in the kitchen at the end of the night and laugh at how great it turned out, and how so much more we have to go. And while the house may not be complete yet, its been an amazing transformation and journey so far.



49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page