Tips & Lessons from My Recent Kitchen Renovation

Dated: 12/02/2019

Views: 172

I did a gut renovation of my kitchen earlier this year and I've never been more excited about anything in my life! But there were many lessons to learn and I'm sharing them here.

That kitchen was not only ugly and outdated, it did not function properly. You couldn't stand at the sink if you had the dishwasher open. And if you put in a standard-sized refrigerator, you could only open the door on the right because the door on the left was too close to a wall that had a wet bar on the other side of it. 

We ended up doing a complete overhaul and it turned out amazing. Here's the outcome and few things I learned from the process.


One option we drew up barely changed the layout and only offered up options to update the kitchen, not modernize it. The other brought it into today's standards and added so much value to the home itself. There was only $4,000 difference in the two estimates. Why? Several reasons:

  • We had to move the water line because the sink needed to be moved. That was the main problem we were trying to fix and there was no way around it. Originally, the sink was in an L and we just wanted to remove the L and put the sink next to the dishwasher along the same wall. But even that small distance would cost about the same as moving it across the room.

  • The next problem we needed to fix was removing the wall to the wet bar so we had more space for the refigerator. Doing that would give us additional counter space and would require additional cabinets above those countertops. And, of course, we didn't want to match the existing, outdated cabinets. So we had to get new countertops and cabinetry regardless of which design we chose.
  • The biggest difference in the two designs - on paper - is removing the wall between the kitchen and living room. Aesthetically and functionally, removing the wall would make a huge difference but didn't add that much to the bottom line. It's a little extra labor, additional cost for the beam and a some addiitonal countertop and flooring. It was a no-brainer. 

The next lesson we learned is how beneficial it is to have a true architectural drawing of your design -- to scale and labeled -- for the contractors to refer to. Even if you're serving as your own contractor, or maybe especially if you are. If we didn't have that taped to the wall I have no doubt the end result would have been different than our original vision. There are so many different trades coming in and doing work and you may have never talked to them in person. The drawing helps everyone get on the same page with your vision.

  • You can plan out your space in detail. We were able to get everything symmetrical as well as the stove centered to our sink in the island and the island centered with our fireplace across the living room. It's like the space was designed that way from the beginning. But we had to get creative with the cabinet layout because we wanted to use standard size cabinet boxes to save money. A contractor is not going to take the time to space plan to that level but with a drawing giving him all the info and measurements he needs, it doesn't take him additional time to give you the layout that really adds value to the home.

  • The contractor can't tell you "it can't be done" or "it doesn't fit" if you have an accurate drawing that's to scale. Even with our drawing in hand, we heard that a few times. But you have a legitmate argument to get what you want if you have everything layed out in black and white.

  • It makes shopping for cabinetry and finishes a super-accurate exercise. You have exact dimensions you can use for pricing countertops and flooring as well as fitting standard size cabinet boxes together to form the layout you want.

Here are some before & after images from different angles showing the room go from dysfunctional to blank slate to dream kitchen. What started out as a small, cramped kitchen with very little counter space and storage turned into a place where all four of my family members can help prepare meals at the same time. We have a 9 ft. island that can sit up to six, but we have 4 bar stools with plenty of elbow room. We extended the bottom perimeter cabinets all the way through the breakfast room creating a buffet area. And one of my favorite parts of the transformation is how the 1970s built-in cabinet in the breakfast room turned into a beautiful area for rustic wood shelving to display serving pieces. 

Here's a closer look at the breakfast room transformation and the wet bar that turned into the refrigerator nook. I can think of many ideas for the breakfast room buffet / shelving area. I've thought about making it a bar with wine glasses hanging from the bottom shelf. It could also be a really cool coffee bar. So many possibilities.

If you need help with your space planning and drawing up your plans, The Flemons Group offers services to help you with this. Contact me at 214-673-3438 or dflemons67@gmail.com for more info or to get a quote. 

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Danna Flemons

After graduating college, Danna worked for over 15 years in the advertising and marketing industry helping companies brand themselves and stand out from their competition. Danna's professional backgro....

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