Let me tell ya, a kitchen remodeling is not a fun experience to go through. It has been painful dealing with construction conflicts, cooking on the grill everyday (not as awesome as it sounds), washing dishes in the bath tub, and eating our meals in bed. It was like camping for seven weeks while scrambling to find your stuff because you're unable to unpack with the construction overtaking both your kitchen and living room. Sounds awful, right? It really was. I wish someone would have warned me that all those kitchen photos I've been admiring on Houzz and Pinterest comes with a great deal of stress.
Patrick and I moved in to our new home twelve weeks ago and made it our first priority to get our kitchen remodeled. The kitchen is the most important part of our house because we spend a lot of time together cooking and eating, so we invested a lot of cash and energy into it. I'm not talking about just replacing cabinets and new appliances, we had to tear all of it down and rewire the electrical, add in new plumbing, structural foundation, walls and floors. The house we purchased was built in 1937, so the kitchen that came with the house wasn't practical for modern day cooking.
When I first saw the kitchen during open house, I thought it was adorable. Patrick and I were super excited to cook on the cast-iron vintage stove that came with our house, but it was more painful to maintain and I had bigger dreams for our kitchen space.
Here are a few before photos of our staged kitchen before the remodel.
You don't even know how much joy and relief I get from telling people that our kitchen construction is over, mostly because we hated dealing with our contractor. I was a bit nervous during the construction due to multiple design errors he made, but our kitchen turned out to be really awesome. It really does feel like a dream come true and we are absolutely in love with it.
The process of the remodel involved a lot of decisions. For both of us, the functionality of the kitchen was just as important as the design. After countless hours of research, we knew that we wanted a classic shaker-style kitchen, but with a modern industrial twist. You'll notice in the photos that we play off of the stainless steel and satin nickel touches from the appliances, lighting, cabinet handles, and gun metal bar stools. It was difficult to pick a kitchen style because we didn't want it to clash with the existing style of our house and we wanted it to match with our personal style, too.
We eliminated the kitchen/living room wall divider to open up the space and added in a counter bar with cabinets underneath. It did wonders to give the kitchen some more usable counter space for both prepping and eating, in addition to storage.
The idea of an all-white kitchen seemed like overkill, so we had the walls painted with Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl. For our counter tops, we selected a speckled-sparkly white quartz with minerals that shimmer in light. The white subway tile back splash with pewter sanded grout was a great complement to the counters, along with the gray porcelain ceramic floor tiles. The white-gray contrast allows the kitchen to stand out just the perfect amount.
Here's a list of the products in our kitchen.
- Cabinets: Milzen Cabinetry
- Oven: GE Cafe Duel Fuel Range with Convection Oven C2S985SETSS
- Dishwasher: Miele G4975SCVISF
- Hood Range: Zephyr AK2100BS
- Refrigerator: 36" GE French Door CFE28TSHSS
- Lighting: Hudson Valley Lighting Haverhill Transitional Pendant, Satin Nickel
- Bar Stools: Crate and Barrel Gunmetal Stools
- Knobs and Handles: Liberty Satin Nickel Knob / Handle
- Paint: Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl
Choose Your Contractor Wisely - Remodeling Tips
The results of our kitchen turned out to be beautiful, but I should have known better than to choose a contractor who was pushy from the start even before signing the contract. The biggest lesson we learned from our first remodeling project is to not select a contractor based on who can turn around a project quickly. The contractors we talked to gave us four to six month completion estimates, whereas ours was estimated at four weeks.
Of the ten contractors we interviewed, the one we decided to move forward with was a huge pain the ass to deal with. He made multiple design and measurement mistakes, which resulted in him in having to go back and redo the work.
If you ever consider a remodeling project, here are some tips you should consider:
- Look up all the permits your contractor has been involved in and request to speak to validated references. You can find this information on BuildZoom.
- Select a contractor who will explain every step and process along the way without being emotional or defensive every time a question is asked.
- If you cannot see yourself enjoying a cup of coffee with your contractor, then think wisely about if you'd want to see this person every single day for several weeks to months.
- Shop for your appliances before a kitchen remodel to get an idea of what you want so your designer/contractor can fit them into the design using product dimension specs.
- If you have furniture or household items you care about near the construction site, cover it up well or temporarily move it. Our contractor didn't warn us about the amount of dust our stuff would be exposed to. If we had known, we would have been able to save our dry foods from possibly being contaminated.
- Request to add in a section into the contract that speaks to who is responsible for damage of your property, like cabinet damage or scratched wooden floors. We really wish we did this because our contractor scratched up our newly refinished wooden floors by dragging things across instead of carrying them.
- Do not select your contractor based on unverified reviews online. I am convinced that the reviews for our contractor are fake.
- If you have doubts about your contractors work, get a second and third opinion while things are still in progress.
- Take progress photos at every stage so it is documented.
- It is always a good idea to understand what kind of legal recourse you have if things go wrong. Be sure to select a contractor who is licensed and that he has insurance to cover any issues you may encounter. I would highly recommend chatting with someone from Avvo.com if you need any legal advice as a first step.