January 31, 2012

Of Kitchen Cabinets & Countertops

I read in a kitchen design book that a typical kitchen remodel can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000. I was shocked.  I assume that the $60,000 price tag includes solid gold faucets for the sink? I'd rather pay off our mortgage. I reckon though, that if one hires a kitchen designer, architect, contractor, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters; plus buys all new cabinetry, appliances, lighting, windows, and flooring, one could rack up quite a bill.

We're replacing quite a few things in our kitchen too, including the windows, door, cabinets, countertop, exterior walls, and light fixtures, plus putting down a new floor. However, we're doing the planning, designing, and installation ourselves. Even so, I'm conscientious about the cost of all these things, because they represent hours that Dan has to be away from the homestead. I consider too, that every dollar saved on one thing, can be invested in something else we need. For the base cabinets, I scoured Craigslist for weeks, looking for bargains. I finally found someone selling a truckload of 2nd hand cabinets. Everything was pretty much picked over by the time we got there, but we were able to buy two pieces. The other two I needed, we got new from the same builders surplus warehouse where I bought the two new windows and the kitchen back door. We spent a total of $270 for almost 9 feet of base cabinets plus an over-fridge wall cabinet.

I thought we did great until we laid them out. What the gentleman sold us as a 54 inch blind corner cabinet, turned out to be 57 inches. That was 3 inches too many to fit on that wall!

Shortening one of the base cabinets.

Super Dan to the rescue. He managed to shorten that cabinet so that everything will fit across that wall. Fortunately that blind corner will butt up against 12 inch deep wall shelves rather than another 24 inch cabinet, so the lost inches don't matter quite so much. (To see proposed floor plan, click here.)

Though all the cabinets are oak, the trade-off for mixing and matching is slight variations in size, different finishes (or unfinishes), and different styles of door framings and drawer faces. I can live with that though, considering the price we paid. My "fix" for this will be paint. While I personally think it's approaching sacrilegious to paint oak, there's no way I could match the stain color. I'm hoping that being the same color and having matching hinges, knobs, and pulls will visually tie them together and minimize their differences.

The laminate colors match my dining nook
wallpaper border quite well
We also have the countertops, which we bought sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While Dan loves granite, we bought laminate because of budget. That doesn't hurt my feelings though, because I'm not too crazy about granite anyway. I found ours in stock at Lowes. Stock pieces offer less selection, but are much more economical than special order (these were $10 less per linear foot). We bought a standard 10 foot countertop with a molded in backsplash for the cabinets I showed you above, and a 4 by 8 foot sheet of laminate in the same color pattern. We'll use this to make a matching DIY countertop for the peninsula. Well, Dan will. ;)

What we bought wasn't my first pick. The one I actually liked best was the least expensive, which pleased me. Not that price is always a top consideration; I also thought it was the prettiest. It was lighter in color (which is why I liked it) but unfortunately, didn't work with my color samples; it was too yellowish. I might not be fussy about my cabinet styles matching perfectly, but I am fussy about matching colors! Dan liked these best anyway, because they have that granite look. I liked them because they were the second least expensive. Best of all, it coordinates with the colors in my dining nook wallpaper border.

We still have to get the kitchen sink, but that's a ways down the road yet considering we have to install the floor before the cabinets, and we're still waiting on that. It's just nice to finally get glimpses of it all coming together.


  1. Everything but the kitchen sink, love it. Admiration to you & your guy.

  2. I love the consideration that you are giving to remodeling your kitchen while saving money! I like the way you think. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

  3. Looking good, and some great deals! I always hear that kitchen renos can cost that much... I agree with you, I would rather pay off my mortgage.

  4. A little paint fixes *anything*! And I think you're wise to coordinate your colors to tie the look together. It's going to be great :)

  5. Looks like y'all are doing a great job,and saving money too! Can't beat that. Blessings Jane

  6. This looks eerily close to 'our' renovation. Poor Dan.

  7. I like your counters. I think they work well.

    We've renovated one kitchen entirely, pretty much as you are doing now, and "facelifted" another kitchen. This one needs a facelift, but we're not in a rush. My husband and I do all the work ourselves. He does the electrical and plumbing, and I do...everything else. :O

    It's good to work with your hands and do it yourself. You get a real sense of accomplishment, as I'm sure you feel now. Congratulations on all you've accomplished so far! I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

  8. Risa, LOL, I hadn't thought of it that way. :)

    Poppy, it's the only way. Our poor kitchen was not a good work area and had structural problems to boot!

    Cat, thanks! I wish I'd kept track of what we've spent, but I doubt it will actually total more than a couple thousand dollars in the end.

    Jaime, so true! And it makes things fresh and pretty!

    Jane, I'm fortunate Dan is so knowledgeable. Plus willing!

    Stay @ Home-Gardener, LOL. Do you have photos on your blog? I'll have to come take a look.

    Jocelyn, you are so right. It's very rewarding to do it. Sounds like you and your DH make a good team too. :)

  9. I think using paint to bring the two different types of cabinets together is a great idea! Love the countertop, and it will stand up to lots of spills...I have white in my rental and hate it!

  10. It seems to be all coming together now..how exciting! About the different cabinets, I have seen some designers on shows pull that off very well and happen to really like that look. It is good that you can 'see' in your mind how it will all work out..some people can not visualize like that. It's so fun to see your progress, thanks for including us. xo

  11. I get a kick out of those $60,000 show kitchens. It seems that those that have them, never cook a thing in them:)

  12. Good for you saving all that money. :) I'm sure you won't be able to tell the difference between old and new once you are done. :)

  13. Ok, I'll confess, we spent quite a bundle on our kitchen when we did the remodel last year. We did buy custom counters (our space is an odd size and we wanted a matching island) and all new cabinets. But we saved a ton by doing all the designing ourselves as well as all the demolition and installation, including the tile floors. I may have spent a bunch, it is the kitchen of my dreams, designed exactly to my specs. And I USE it!!
    We knew when we bought the house that the kitchen was a disaster, as were many things. We saved for the kitchen reno for a year and a half plus using some of our 'remodeling money' saved from the sale of our old house. But don't fear- we were definitely on the low end of your range of expenditures, even with all new cabinets and counters.
    I'm excited to see your kitchen come together. You guys are doing great work.


  14. Stephanie, the old countertop in this house was white. What a nuisance! So hard to keep looking clean.

    Sherri, it's a good thing I like the eclectic look! So far what I picture in my mind is working out well. It isn't always like that.

    Jane, that is so true. In fact, most kitchens are about useless. I reckon that's why kitchens rank the #1 remodeling project!

    Aleise, hopefully that's the case!

    Judy, sounds like you did your homework and approached it the right way. The important thing is that you use it and like it! If it's a space that gets occupied a lot, it ought to be set up for the user, with an atmosphere and ambiance that that makes it welcoming. I think that's important. Kitchens are important.

  15. Have you considered adding drawers to the base cabinets rather than re-using the doors? Ikea and other companies sell drawers you can retrofit into cabinet boxes, and they are much more functional than cabinets. It adds a bit more expense, but since you are DIYing it it might be worth considering.

    I love painted cabinets. We have oak now and I wish I could paint them, but Dan feels like you about the oak.

    E-bay Overstock.com and and craigslist can be a good sources for sinks. Galaxy Tool is also a good source for reasonable stainless Ticor sinks. We splurged and bought a granite composite sink and I LOVE it. Roomy, quiet, stays warm in the cold kitchen....

    I think your kitchen is going to be a huge improvement

  16. Like seeing how things progress! And I've seen programs at my Mom's house on remodeling where they have an absurd (at least to me) budget of like $40,000 or something and then after the finish they say they went a "little" over budget and it cost something like $60K. Amazing. Guess we're just the poor folk & just can't grasp the idea of spending that much money. Oh well.

  17. Your going to have some comfy "Home"...You will never even think of selling or leaving it :o) Everything is working out so nicely for you two..and Dan is a good DIY and that's half the battle..and your a good Designer and that's the other half :o)

  18. Ali, no I hadn't thought about that. I do think drawers are more practical than the way modern cabinets are made! I'll have to look into it.

    Thanks for mentioning the sink sources. I've been keeping an eye on craigslist. Also, we recently had a Habitat For Humanity ReStore open about 45 minutes from here. I can't wait to see what they've got!

    Carolyn, that is absurd. I'd scrounge the junk yards before spending that much, even if I had that much :)

    Ginny, I hope so. We figure we've got to live here, so it may as well be what we like. And we have no plans to sell, so unless something unforeseen happens, this is it!

  19. $15,000 to $60,000 for a kitchen remodel?? HAHAHAHAHA! Not only did we not have that to spend on our kitchen, I can't imagine doing so.

    It looks to me as if your counter tops are very, very close to the same as mine! You have good taste . . . even if it was your second choice!

  20. I think those high end kitchen remodels are the ones where they tear out everything and replace it all with a new floor plan and restaurant grade appliances.
    I was chatting with some folks at Church about doing our kitchens...they were both trying to sell their homes and right now the realtors are convincing buyers that they want granite counter tops in the kitchens. To sell my MIL's house we had to put in granite.
    I need new counter tops because the dishwasher is tearing apart my Formica top...but I don't want granite...I want solid surface. I am going to have a very hard time convincing hubby to put in solid surface because of re-sale...but why does he want to sell my house? ;o)

  21. Mama Pea, well of course I had to go see and they look almost identical! Same manufacturer maybe?

    Renee, it would be interesting to ask buyers how important those granite countertops really are to them. I admit I question realtors' motives after our experience. Could be their brother-in-law is in the granite countertop business(?)

  22. You must be counting the days when you finally have a working kitchen again - and probably just in time for spring planting. Ahhh... The work of a homesteader is never done.

  23. I love hearing of your progress, and each step puts you closer to finishing. And I agree with you, each time I make a spending decision, I think about how much work has to be done outside the home to pay for it and will the benefits outweigh the output of time and money in the long run. Every project involves sacrifice, such as the granite, but in the end you both will be happy.

  24. it's going to look great leigh. the kitchen has personality. i was touring model homes last weekend and every kitchen was boring, and they all had granite counters! dull dull dull, very dissapointing.
    the painted cabinets will be great. i have painted oak and love it. mine are white and they really open up my small kitchen. you will get over the painted oak thing, i did when i saw how great it looked.

  25. So if you kitchen is underconstruction where are you cooking?

  26. Oh Benita, you know that I am. I certainly hope it's done in time for spring planting. Then there's the growing list of other needs....

    Candace, I'm getting used to the granite look and if Dan is happy with it, that's fine. We really do labor over each thing we need to buy. In the end, we never seem to have any regrets. :)

    Chris, thanks! We've just begun the cabinet painting and you're right, it's turning out really well. I like that I can still see the wood grain, but the color is pulling everything together. :)

    Foy Update, we had the forethought to do the back porch first, which doubles as a laundry room and summer / canning kitchen! The worst part is that nothing seems to have a home. I dig something out and put it back somewhere else because I think I may need it again. Consequently I can rarely find anything.

  27. You're right, by the time the cabinets are painted with matching hinges and knobs, not one soul except us blog-fans will notice the difference between the cabinet styles. Such fun to watch this happening from such a distance.

  28. $60k? Insanity! I can assure you our brand new kitchen didn't cost that much and it is super nice and huge! This looks amazing. Can't wait to see the final product!

  29. Kitchens are so expensives! We've recentley put in a new laminate counter top and sink. At the cost of granite there wasn't any way we wanted to put that much into this house. Your kitchen cabinets look great.

  30. Janice, it's amazing what paint can do, isn't it. :)

    Kathleen, it is insane. I think it's entirely possible for almost anyone to re-do their kitchen , and nicely, for a fraction of that cost. It just take patience!

    Barb, it's true. I agree about the cost of granite. I'm glad Dan was happy with a granite pattered laminate. :)

  31. Leigh,
    I have a question for you, Well maybe for Dan!?
    I have asked for permission to salvage the planking covering an old Tobacco Barn and if I get it, I want to use it as wall covering in my Kitchen and Dinning room.
    The kitchen has oak laminet cabinets and I was wondering if there is a way to cover them with the Barn Wood?
    I have watched Dan do some things in your remodel that just BLEW-ME-AWAY!
    Could you ask him? PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE?

  32. $60K, LOL that is more than I paid for my 1st and 2nd house combined. But your right ... restaurant grade appliances, double dishwashers, and those kitchens are huge. Problem with replacing countertops with granite to sell a house, maybe granite color is not choice of the buyers, some would rather pay less and decide on their own color.

  33. Tom, I asked him about it and have responded on your blog. The old planking sounds like a treasure and perfect for a kitchen / dining room project. I hope it works out!

    TL, hard to imagine, isn't it? They must be hiring some pretty high price folks to rack up that bill! Good point about granite. Personally I'd rather pay less and purchase laminate! I just can't see the expense as being worth it. I doubt any seller recoups their cost anyway. Might as well just remodel for yourself.

  34. If you know someone who works at say Lowes, ask them when they put things out marked down. If they have any type schedule for dint and scratch or last one in stock type things? I have found some incredible deals. Like a washer for $50. New just a tiny scratch on the side I will put next to a wall. They have different things in different departments. Ask ahead where each puts the mark downs. Keep a watch out. Also check out Habitat for Humanity outlet stores. They have new and used things of tons of types for the home. Their stock is constantly changing. Hope this helps. Sarah

  35. Sarah, I've found some good bargains at Lowes, but never thought to ask about that! Good idea, thanks! I recently discovered a new Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in our area, so as soon as we're ready for the kitchen sink, that's where we're going! You're right that they have tons of stuff for remodelers. :)

  36. A little paint fixes *anything*! And I think you're wise to coordinate your colors to tie the look together. It's going to be great :)


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