Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Kitchen Chronicles: Prologue

Two and a half years later, I don't think it has quite sunk in that we will be getting this kitchen finished by Summer's end. I've talked about kitchens and cabinets and appliances for so long that I think it has just become surreal to actually picture them in our house! This is our first kitchen renovation and we truly have no experience with pulling together a project of this size. So if you have one on the horizon maybe you can learn from some of our mistakes because as people who have been there tell me, there are plenty. And it always feels good to have your friends by your side so you will be getting the full virtual kitchen renovation experience.

Let's start with the key component: CASH. Funny how that one little thing dictates everything...

We purchased our first home during the beginning of the housing boom, 2 years later we wanted to upgrade to this house and were lucky enough to have doubled our investment. Surprisingly, here in Edmonton home sales have somewhat softened but prices still continue to rise. And based on a bank assessment we have been paying a mortgage that was less than 50% of our home's value. As much as we had our heart set on paying for this entire house's renovations in cash and sweat equity, we were just taking forever to get enough to do this kitchen. Unexpected car repairs, vacations, and life always seem to pop up just when you are on the brink! But Sean took the initiative this month and called our fabulous account manager at the bank to see what she suggested. I think we both just kind of feel DONE with the renos at this point. We need to see some major progress and finished rooms so that we can get back to focusing on life!

So in the end we settled on a home equity line of credit that gives us the flexibility to get it done and pay it back whenever and however we choose. Interest rates are so low right now that the cost to borrow is REALLY worth it to us based on how fast we plan to repay it. The bank cleared us to use up to 50% of our equity, but we won't come close to that. Plus, the renovation will only increase the property value, hence our equity so we win on that end as well. Turns out debt isn't as scary as we made it out to be!

Despite the fact that we just recently gained access to the funds to finish this thing, we have been doing our homework for close to a year. We have talked with dozens of cabinet manufacturers and had several create 3-D mock ups of what we wanted along with pricing. We know exactly what we want and where we want it. Many of the manufacturers tried to talk us out of things or tried to sell us on others. For instance we want solid wood cabinets in a white finish, but almost all of them tried to talk us down to laminate before we even discussed budget. I have nothing against laminate cabinets, but I honestly have done enough research to know what I want and I don't think laminate ever looks the same as wood. Of course it costs more, but it just wasn't a compromise I wanted to make.

So we sat at a cross roads for quite some time. Do we bite the bullet and pay the $250-$350 per foot cost of white wood cabinets or do we just go ahead with laminate, in which case we will go with Ikea because their prices were still half of what the showrooms quoted? We agonized with this for a LONG time, had many heated discussions over it.

And then, like a bolt of lightening came my hero: Martha Stewart.

Just recently available here in Canada, we knew immediately after seeing them in person that they were precisely what we wanted. And the price? INSANE. Every style is under $200/foot. And with a little luck we waited until the 15% off event this past weekend and got them for even less. They take 8 weeks to order, but that gives us time to get everything ready.

Thankfully we had made a little headway last year when we bought our appliances (check out the adventure here) which made it a lot easier when getting quotes and talking with kitchen designers. And we have decided on a sink as well, so the actual time working with a designer is much more productive.

So here we go! The adventure is really about to begin. Our check list of things to do before the cabinets arrive is going to go down like this:
* pick out and order sink faucet and pot filler for stove
* have new, larger windows ordered and hopefully installed. They definitely need to be installed before counters.
* pick out a counter top and cabinet hardware
* have old cabinets ripped out and pantry walls torn down, chip up tile floor
* have new electrical for recessed lighting done
* move water lines to new sink location and add gas line for stove
* have beadboard ceilings installed in family room and kitchen, new recessed lighting.
* lay new wood floors and repair dry wall.

The mission? To do it ALL, including cabinets, counters and appliances (which we've already dropped $3000 on) for less than $15,000. Sounds crazy to me, so it's a plan.
I just need to find someone to do it all!


Sara said...

Soo excited for you! We are in contract for a house that needs a kitchen renovation, and I am already dreaming and planning!

Our plan is actually pretty similiar -get appliances, sink, faucets, etc. first, and then do the big stuff all at once! (And it will probably be 2 years before we can actually do it all as well!)

Love the Martha Stewart Collection - cannot wait to see how this turns out!

Teresa said...

Love the cabinets! I have been following your blog for a few years and can't wait to see the final results. Everything I have seen yall do has been very thoughtful and well-done.

WhiteWhispers2u said...

Good thing you waited! Don't ya just love Martha, she has been my fav since the late 90's. That woman knows her stuff.Best of Luck~Cheers Kim

robin said...

Where in Canada are you located?? Manitoba by any chance? My hubby's a good carpenter with lots of kitchen experience. ;)

Shauna said...

I have been following your blog since the days of - D&R board. I have to admit, I am so not into the shabby chic, distressed painted furniture look, but I love all the renovations you did on your last house and you are doing on your current house, which is what keeps me coming back to your blog (long sentence!!). I can.not.wait. to watch as your kitchen renovation unfolds so please don't be sparing with your posts!!! I'm also dying to see your stairs when/if they are ever completed. Congrats on the success of your blog!

Holly and Sean said...

Ahhh Robin, does he want to move to Edmonton for the summer?? He sounds like a good catch!

Nancy said...

we have just about finished a whole house reno and we laid flooring this past weekend. I love my white wood cabinets that came from Lowe's...
You can see it here...

Robyn said...

I have survived a kitchen renovation and I got faucets and beautiful copper sinks on e-bay, high quality and beautiful! We no longer live in that home and I do miss the warming oven we put in! Best wishes with your kitchen renovation looking forward to the adventure! Best advice have all supplies on site before you start back orders are brutal!

Alana in Canada said...

Good for you! Those cabinets look so bespoke--so English! I'm sure your kitchen will be fabulous. Do you have some pictures of the way things are now?

Thanks for the review on the MS cabinets. I've been wondering about them.

Samantha2818 said...

Have faith - it can be done. We had our kitchen units made to my design (similar to the ones in these pictures), had oak worktops (which I probably wouldn't have again), a couple of feet of honed granite worktop, slate floors (which I wouldn't have again), a Belfast sink and all brushed steel appliances. It cost us around £10,500 which is not far off your budget. It did require lots of work and research on my part as I had to get different people for various jobs but it was worth it and I have a kitchen which says me (or us!). The only thing I couldn't get here was cabinetry like the things you have in Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware but whenever I can afford to get the states they'll be coming back with me in my suitcase and my kitchen will be having a little facelift!
Good luck with yours - I'm sure it will be lovely.
PS - there were lots of oohs and aahs over the furniture makeover photos of yours I showed at Grand Designs Live so many thanks.

Marsha said...

I love the Martha Stewart line of cabinetry. Can't wait to see your new kitchen. We literally just finished our kitchen reno 3 weeks ago. I am still in awe that I have a place for everything1

Mrs. Plank said...

Yay for you!!! Get it done girl! Keep the enthusiasm high and you will breeze right through. Once you do your kitchen you can do anything. And I can't wait to see the final product. Love your blog by the way :)

Calmly Chaotic said...

I've seen the ads for the martha stewart cabinets and they look great. Great choice. I will be very interested to see how you guys pull off the $15K budget, good luck!

laxsupermom said...

So excited that your kitchen is moving forward. Don't forget to check out the GardenWeb Kitchen Forum. The expertise over there is invaluable during a kitchen reno, even if your set on a layout and cabs, it's nice to be able to ask about the little things like hardware and faucets, or vent frustrations about your GC. Can't wait to see all the kitchen progress.

Rhonda said... fun! You can do it but I know how old some projects get and you just have to GET IT DONE or you may jump off a bridge! Been there and done that....actually doing that on a few projects of my own....and alas here I sit looking at projects instead of DOING my own! LOL

Jillian said...

We just started demo this past weekend on our kitchen reno, and went with the Martha cabinets too! They've been in our dining room just waiting to be installed for a few weeks now, and are a pretty good lookin', even when they are just stacked in pile! Good luck with everything!

MMM said...

My husband and I have been renovating our old farmhouse for the past 9 years and it still is NOT done!!! We're getting close though! Like you, we've kind of left the kitchen for last and now it is time to tackle it. We (I) thought we knew what we wanted but now that it is time to really make the decisions, well, now I'm questioning everything!?! :-\ I want to do it 'right' but since I've never done this before, I guess I'm not even sure what 'right' is!?!

Did you order the Martha Stewart cabinets through Home Depot? I'd LOOOOOVE for you to share with us your selection {hint, hint!}!! ;) We are going with white as well but I haven't settled on a style yet. I'd really like to see what direction you are going-- maybe that'll help me decide since I truly enjoy your style!!! =) Thanks for sharing your blog with us!

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