Kitchen Refresh: Updates Where They Count

We had been house hunting for about a year when we finally found ‘our’ house. We really loved our little townhouse with it’s quirky layout of two bedrooms, a loft, and garage in the back. The house was too small but we still loved it and we needed a pull out of the house since it wasn’t quite pushing us out. Our real estate agent had us set up with an automatic email update of new properties on the market before they hit the main listings. I saw our house and fell in love with the red brick front and window seat in the kitchen. I emailed the listing to my sister-in-law and she texted back, “Buy it for me.” Laughingly I wrote back that we will set up a viewing and see how it goes.

It turned out that the house was just one street over from our old house, on a quiet, treelined street. We loved the curb appeal when we walked up to it and the fact that the garage was at the back. When we walked in we saw that the carpet had seen better days and it needed a fresh paint job throughout, but when I walked through the living room to the kitchen, I knew that we had found our new house. We hadn’t even been upstairs yet, but I knew it didn’t matter. I don’t care much about huge bedrooms and luxurious en suites. I care about the size of the kitchen, the kitchen layout, and most importantly, the light in the kitchen.

Kitchen reno 'before' photo

Before: Mint walls, tired plastic looking hardware on the doors, ugly peachy yellow counter, and a breakfast bar/clutter collector would all be things of the past.

Before: Our dining area in the process of choosing the paint colour for the kitchen.

Before: Our dining area in the process of choosing the paint colour for the kitchen.

I could see the potential of the kitchen and it was already halfway to where I wanted it to be with white kitchen cupboards. We briefly entertained the idea of updating the cupboard doors with higher quality doors but that would have been about $8000. Just obscene for only doors and a couple new cabinets.

The things that absolutely had to go were: the ugly pale peach counter, the breakfast bar, the doorknobs, the old white range hood, and the open shelving. The two items that irritated me the most were the breakfast bar and the open shelves. Unless you need the breakfast bar to separate a kitchen from a main living space all they do is close off the kitchen and become a dumping ground for clutter.

Open shelving is very popular and I like the look of it but it is completely impractical for me. The shelves in my kitchen were made of cheap MDF, so they were pretty scruffy up close but what really annoys me is that anything that you take down from the shelf to use has to be washed. Before we added the cupboard, ever time I would take down a large bowl, or pitcher to use, it would have a film of greasy dust because of its proximity to the stove in a working kitchen. I really don’t know how people with lots of open shelves get used to that unless the items on the open shelves are on a very heavy rotation and are constantly being used and washed.

We hunted around for a while to find a countertop and we finally settled on a Corian countertop that we bought through Costco. It was by far the best deal because they were running concurrent sales. The square footage that we needed gave us a discount and included a fully integrated Corian sink. I wanted a white counter top and many people tried to dissuade me from this because I also have white cupboards. If you have a vision in your mind of what you want in a renovation, don’t let someone talk you out of it. 

There was space next to the dishwasher that would allow for a skinny cabinet and there was quite a bit of space between the end of the counter and the wall next to the pantry that was just dead space begging to be filled. When we were looking into getting custom door replacements we also wanted those cupboards added. Once we recovered from sticker shock we went to Home Depot and saw that we could get cupboards that would work nearly perfectly with our existing cupboards.

We went with just flat fronts on the drawer and cupboard next to the dishwasher since the other drawers had flat fronts already. For the large cupboard next to the pantry we found door fronts that were the closest to the other cupboards. Since they were not right next to the others, we figured that people wouldn’t notice that the profile is ever so slightly different.

New cupboards have been put together by my handy husband and he is getting the old counter off in preparation for the installation of the new counter

New cupboards have been put together by my handy husband and he is getting the old counter off in preparation for the installation of the new counter.

Simon was not best pleased that I booked the installation of the new counter the same week as deer hunting week, but dammit, I wanted my new kitchen! I was not best pleased that he used a week of vacation to go hunting, so I think we were even.

The counter was installed and it would be another six months before I could call the kitchen reno complete. We had yet to choose a backsplash and we hadn’t figured out what we were going to do where the open shelving was. To get a cupboard with glass doors the same height as the other cupboards (we have 9 foot ceilings) would cost about $800. I had an idea that if we just bought off an off the rack cupboard from Home Depot again, we could put a wine rack underneath to make up for the height discrepancy. We toyed with the idea of just closing off the gap between the cupboard and the wall but we decided to put skinny shelves there instead.

Bright White Kitchen Renovation

After: Kitchen renovation was complete once my red wall phone arrived. By keeping existing cupboards and buying off the rack cupboards to fill in where there was space, we saved a considerable amount of money that we were able to put where it really mattered to us – towards the counter.

Kitchen dining room and Window seat

We have a dining table that can expand to seat 12 and a sunny window seat that sold the house to us.

I can’t quite remember what all the exact costs were for all the items for the reno but here is a list of the costs to the best of my memory:

  • cupboard hardware $60
  • backsplash (tiles and materials from Home Depot) $350
  • additional cupboards (Home Depot) $592
  • 2 wine racks (Ikea) $26
  • Corian counter with integrated sink $4500

Total renovation cost: $5528 (approximately)

I’m not including the cost of the fridge and stove because they aren’t really part of the renovation. The house came with a scruffy old stove and dishwasher, but not the fridge. We brought our Kitchenaid dishwasher with us from our old house and bought a new stove (gas – hurray!!) and a new fridge the same time we bought a new washer and dryer. I’m pretty sure we got some sort of bundle price because we were buying so many big ticket items at once.

kitchen glass cupboard sink & partial stove kitchen View of window seat from main kitchen Kitchen reno

The faucet was part of the swag from the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference 2013, so that is also not included in the cost listing. It is a Delta Touch2O® faucet, Cassidy model. I think they retail for around $400.

I think the one of the biggest cost savings for us, was that my husband is quite handy. He may not be an expert but he is willing to figure out how to do things and I know to stay well away from him while he is working on anything to do with plumbing.

I’m sure that I missed some details on how we did our renovation, so please pepper me with questions and I will be sure to answer them in the comments. If you really want to know how much the appliances cost, then I’m happy to dig up the receipt. I’m sure it is around here somewhere.

If you head over to my Facebook page, I will be posting a few more pictures of some of the little details I added to the kitchen. If you feel like giving my page a ‘Like’ while you are there I’d appreciate it. Let me know if you want any other detailed photos and I will post them on the Facebook page too (ie. a closer look at the backsplash, or something like that).


    • says

      Thanks :) - and I love the faucet. It is so funny when people come over that haven't seen one before and can't quite get the hang of it, or see you use it and are so confused about how I turned the tap on. People sit on the stools in front of the sink and keep hitting the faucet by accident and that is funny too.
  1. Elisabeth Martin says

    Christina and Simon, you did a beautiful job! It is a stunning kitchen and dining area! I love the red accents with the white!
  2. Laurie Ann says

    I love this kitchen! I want the window seat!!! I miss our Canadian neighbors so much. I am so happy to hear the news of a new baby! :) What is Simon's favorite Gluten-free recipe? I have a co-worker that I owe some goodies too that has a gluten allergy.
    • says

      We miss you guys too!! I just love the recent photos of you and your little one! Simon loves cheesecake which is gluten free aside from the crust so I just make it with gluten free graham cracker crumbs or you could use ground nuts instead. From my recipe collection, I recommend the Carrot Cake or the Gluten Free Coffee Cake. The coffee cake is super easy to make and works really well with gluten free all purpose flour, as does the Carrot Cake. The carrot cake is a little healthier and goes a bit further because you can make it into cupcakes which are easy to share at the office.
  3. Pat Elliott says

    Great pictures and commentary of the wonderful Reno. I particularly love the dog accessory in your pictures. George is just lying in wait thinking of his next mischievous act.
  4. says

    I know exactly what you mean by the greasy dust on stuff put on open shelves in the kitchen!! Open shelves can be really cute, but that grime! And, anything I can do to not have to wash MORE damn dishes.... I also like that you got rid of the high breakfast bar. Having the counter all one height makes the space look and feel bigger and cleaner, like you said. The reworked cabinets with the wine rack look like it's just supposed to be that way. Very cute kitchen! I really dislike mine, but have zero budget essentially. Thanks for this post!
  5. Carolyn says

    Hi, I'm in the process of developing our kitchen reno and really love what you did with yours. I love your stove, would you be able to tell me the brand and the cost? Thanks! - Carolyn
    • says

      The stove is a KitchenAid Dual Fuel Double Oven Range. I was just hunted around the house for the receipt and I found it! The stove retails for $2600 Canadian but I got it for $1750 (plus tax). This is likely because we also bought a washer and dryer and the fridge at the same time. If you live in the US, then you may get an even better deal than I did but going in knowing there is that much wiggle room on the price is nice to have. Good luck with your reno!
  6. Ms. 3F says

    This looks great! What is the wall color name and brand? Thinking of a similar shade for my living and dining room.
  7. Beryl says

    Love your Reno. Great ideas and you really brought it all together. It looks very warm and inviting but functional. I love red accents in just about any room. Good stuff.

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