Kitchen Revival: Piece by Piece

Aww, the kitchen. The heart of the home. The space that makes the home. The room that brings a family together. It’s filled with the items you use most, the meals your kids love, the snacks that make a no-good day better, and the feel of a kitchen can make or break your satisfaction with your house. And when we moved into this house, the kitchen couldn’t have been more depressing. Dark, dark, so so dark. Our house is on the smaller side, and the kitchen is of the largest rooms. The space was so poorly utilized, the cabinets were so dark and dreary, and the icky tile backsplash screamed HELP ME!

It was advertised as a “remodeled kitchen.” The previous owners had kept about half of the old, handmade solid wood cabinetry from when the home was constructed back in the late ’70s. These cabinets had been built in place, piece by piece, and were kind of cool in a lot of ways. I wish I could have figured out a way to keep them, but because I wanted the soffets out, the cabinets can to come out too. They added on cheap newer cabinetry. Then, they refaced all of them and added a terrible, sad “rustic” finish. After that they added tile counters (which is rarely a good idea) and used the same tile for the backsplash (which is also rarely a good idea). As much as my husband begged and pleaded that we keep the current cabinets and work with the footprint, it just didn’t make sense. The kitchen was such a large space, yet the way it was laid out felt cramped, dark and claustrophobic. It truly made me feel depressed whenever I had to be in that kitchen, and I couldn’t stand the thought of my putting my clean white dishes in the cabinets.

Dramatic much? Maybe. But as much as I’m a total supporter of improving upon what’s already there, I felt like the only way this kitchen would see a better, brighter day was one way, and one way only.

A total gut.

Take a look, see for yourself.

This kitchen is a work in progress. Follow my journey into new cabinets, flooring, tile, granite, windows–the makings for a new, beautiful, revived kitchen !

It begins. We had a budget set at $12,000. Unfortunately we did go over by about $5000 for things that we chose to do and some we had to do. I’ll tell you more later.

The kitchen reno began with a total tear down. Fortunately the flooring was click lock laminate, so it came up easily. We sold this stuff on Craigslist. Always salvage what you can in a reno and try to reuse or sell it!

After the electrician took down the light fixtures, we began ripping out the soffets , built in cabinets and pantry. Fortunately my in laws helped with this. We used a crow bar to remove studs, as well as saws all.


The tile and backsplash was the hardest part to remove. I chipped away at it little by little. Unfortunately when you remove a backsplash, there is little to no hope of saving the drywall behind. Plan on having it replaced or replacing it yourself.

We removed the cabinets by unscrewing as much as we could, then lifting them out. Because many of them were built in place, we had to use tools and hammers to pry the boards apart.

After 3 hard days of work, it was a disastrous, beautiful, horrible, cleared out mess. We were planning on moving the refrigerator over just slightly from where it originally was.

Removing drywall means it’s time for surprises. The hidden costs you didn’t prepare for will come once everything is ripped out, and that drywall isn’t hiding it’s skeletons anymore.

When we moved in, we couldn’t locate the water valve for our refrigerator. Once everything was out, we found out it was on the back wall, next to the dishwasher. We needed this moved to behind the new spot for the fridge. During this time, we also found out that that pipe has a small leak and needed to be repaired. Fortunately the plumber fixed the pipe and moved the valve for $200. I had originally received a quote for $900.

Another thing I didn’t consider was the condition of our insulation. Our house was built back in the late 70’s. When the drywall was taken off, the insulation started falling apart. We had to have new insulation installed before anything more could be done.

Next, the contractor who built our cabinets put in reinforcements for the cabinet tracks. We chose Ikea cabinets for our kitchen, and they come with long metal tracks that your cabinets screw into. When the drywall was out, he added reinforcements between the studs to ensure that the cabinets were hung securely.


Reinforcements were drilled into the studs running horizontally

Once all your drywall is out,

Next came the drywall. We hired someone for this portion as well. We knew the ceiling drywall would need extension patchwork, so he did that too. This was the third surprise cost. When the drywall person came by to give a quote, he misunderstood what I wanted (read my post about 20 Questions you should ask before hiring a contractor) and quoted us $500. Once everything was out, he said it was more than he was expecting and ended up charging us $800 for everything.


Use Moisture Resistance Drywall in a Kitchen

The drywall was then taped and textured


To save money, I didn’t have them texture the back wall (with the window) because I knew half would be covered in cabinets and the other half covered in tile. And, I don’t like tiling over texture that much anyway. Win win.

Time to paint. I knew I wanted a peaceful, pretty color that would show contrast against the white. I loved the gray/blue tones of Sherwin Williams Silver Strand that we painted in our guest room makeover, but wanted something with a little more depth. So I went one shade darker, Magnetic Gray by Sherwin Williams.


When I first painted it onto the green drywall, I kind of freaked out. It looked awful. This paint palette is HEAVILY influence by colors and light around it. I persevered.


This color is interesting and beautiful because it’s not gray. It’s not green. It’s not blue. It’s something balanced in the middle. And up against white? Magnifique!


Ready for the results? Checkout Kitchen Revival: The Reveal

Read Next: Ikea Kitchen Review: Why We Chose an Ikea Kitchen (and why we’d chose it again)

Read Next: Kitchen Revival – Installing a Backsplash & Tiled Wall I

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