Disclaimer-Captain DIY and DIYtoFI.blog highly recommend exercising extreme caution when attempting DIY projects. Not everybody can do everything, and some things should only be done by professionals. Keep your digits attached, and keep the insurance company off of your back. Do it right or call the right people!
Welcome back! When we left off, I had two houses but only one kitchen. I had fully gutted everything, pulled all of the old cabinets out, ripped out an unnecessary radiator, and had a blank canvas on which to build the perfect kitchen.
Fortunately, Mrs. DIY is excellent at figuring out the best way to lay out a room, and with her eye and Guest Expert Tom-the-guy-who-knows-how-to-do-lots-of-stuff (I’m seriously going to have to come up with a shorter name for him) making measurements and scoping out the stock cabinet sizes available, we soon had a plan drawn out.
Since the house was built 70 or so years ago, not much about it was straight or level. We found the highest spot along the wall and determined that to be our base cabinet height. All other cabinets would have to be shimmed up to that height, because we couldn’t make the floor any lower. Tip: Buy a crapload of shims.
We found these beautiful hickory cabinets on sale at one of the big box stores, which helped keep the semi-rustic look of the house along with the new Yellow Pine floors I put in (that will come soon, don’t worry!) and helped keep our expenses at a minimum.
I won’t bore you too much with the endless details involved with installing cabinets, as I could probably fill the internet with Haynes Repair Manual language that would put the most stalwart insomniac straight to sleep. Suffice it to say we fought the swayed floors and slightly off-kilter walls, shimmed the shit out of the cabinets, and measured several times over to confirm our miscalculations. After a couple of days’ sweat and swearing, the cabinets were in and we almost had a kitchen again!
We hadn’t made a solid budget for this project, we just knew we had to do it as cheap as possible without it looking or feeling too cheap. With the savings on the cabinets, we decided to splurge on the countertop. It is, after all, the focal point of the kitchen, and the first thing people see when we show it off. Mrs. DIY found an incredible piece of marbleized granite that had great swirls of grey tones all through it, and we signed off on the stone company contract.
While we waited the three or so weeks (!) for the stone company to fabricate our countertop, I temporarily hooked up the old sink and balanced it on a couple of pieces of scrap wood on top of the cabinets. Not the best setup, but it beat having nothing! Also, by this point we fully moved out of the old house in order to have any hope of keeping it clean and sale-worthy. Attempting to make a house that has two small children in it not look like it has two small children in it is a monumental task in and of itself, and it was not one we wanted to undertake whilst building a kitchen, let alone the other projects we had going on at the time.
Finally, the counter came in! Installing this giant slab was something I did not want to tackle myself, so I followed my own advice and called in the pros. Unfortunately I wasn’t around to see the installation process as I was busy making other people’s homes nicer so I could make money to pay for all of this. But I did get to come home to a beautiful new counter with a proper sink!
Once we had the countertop in place, we could work on installing our glass-tiled backsplash, which is definitely a story unto itself. I also added some under cabinet LED lighting strips to provide some nice task lighting and put in new receptacles and switches.
We found a stove on Craigslist for $200, but one of the control dials emits an electrical arcing sound when it’s being used. Two years later and I still haven’t gotten around to fixing it, but that day will come soon! Naturally, the repair process (or at least the attempted repair) will be well documented and recounted for your reading pleasure.
And there you have it! Our kitchen went from outdated 1950s handyman special to pretty darn nice rustic charm! I don’t have all of the numbers perfectly, as Captain DIY had not yet become the studly bastion of knowledge and wisdom you know and love today, but in general terms we built the kitchen for about $3000, with another $3000 for the countertop. Yep, the countertop cost as much as the rest of the kitchen. It really pulls together the whole room though, and we feel it we spent the money in the right place.
The kitchen isn’t perfect, and the imperfections stare me in the face everyday because I know exactly where they are. But they are my imperfections, and they make me proud. Perhaps you have a story similar to mine, and you are gazing beyond your screen at the imperfections staring you in the face. Those imperfections are the scars of a battle well fought, and your home wears them with great pride and dignity.
Did you miss the link to part 1 at the top? No problem, here’s another one!