Thursday, January 10, 2013

A kitchen saga : the beginning

I’m back with the part one of what’s looking like it’s going to be a very long kitchen saga. 
When we first bought our house, we thought we would be able get away with just giving the kitchen a little facelift – fresh paint, new countertops, a farmhouse sink and a new floor. Nothing too major.
But, after living in this kitchen for a few weeks and even getting partway into the process of reviving it, we’ve come to the conclusion that salvaging our kitchen just isn’t going to work. It’s looking like we’re gonna have to do a complete kitchen renovation.
Here’s the rundown:
From a distance, this side of the kitchen doesn’t seem too bad.  I mean, it’s not pretty, but the basic layout is workable. 

And if you use your imagination a little (or a lot), it could even look like this one day.
butcher block counters

But then, it you look a little bit closer, and peek into the inside of the cabinets, you will see the old, stained, water damaged cabinet bottoms.…. not good.  Kinda gross!  (I’m not even going to mention those nasty linoleum floors yet…that’s for another day.)

And if you looked closely at the outside of the cabinets, you would also notice that some of the side-by-side cabinet doors aren’t quite the same size and that the drawers are a bit crooked.
But just for fun, let’s assume we can either replace the gross cabinet bottoms or cover them somehow and let’s optimistically think of the drawers and doors as having lots of character and let’s continue on with trying to save this kitchen.  Cause that’s what we did.  For a while anyway.
So you may remember that I already tore the wallpaper down.  And then the other day, I removed the four middle cabinet doors to get an idea of what it would look like with open shelves.  

So the next issue I faced was that all the top shelves were lined with very old, very stuck on shelf liner.  And since I wanted to leave those cabinet doors off and I planned to paint the inside of them, the liner had to be removed.

So here’s a quick tip for anyone that may find themselves in a similar situation of trying to remove old contact paper.
Don’t try to scrape it all off with a razor blade.  It takes fooooreeeever, it’s a major pain, and it doesn’t work.

I eventually got frustrated that all my efforts were basically getting me fast to nowheresville, so I finally googled “how to remove contact paper.”   Should have done that first.
And I found out that a much much much simpler and faster way to remove it is to get a hair dryer and heat up the shelf liner (which heats up the adhesive and loosens it) and then it pulls right up in one big piece.  Like so. 
Work smarter, not harder.
After getting all the cabinets free of shelf liner, I cleaned them up (Goo be Gone gets rid of any leftover stickiness) and then started removing all the doors so we could sand and paint them.  Tyson likes to unscrew things, so he helped a lot.

Kitchen disaster.

Now here’s the other side of the kitchen.  This was the main problem area; the part that defeated us.

The first problem is that teeny tiny built-in wall oven.  We quickly realized that that oven is not going to work for our family. (My cookie sheets don’t even fit in it.)  I could get by for a little while, but it’s just way too small to cook family sized meals in, especially one with growing boys.  I foresee lots of big meals in my future and we definitely want this kitchen to last.  But we can’t replace the wall oven with anything larger because of the size of the cabinet it has to fit inside. So that’s a major problem.  We thought about removing the wall oven, adding shelves, and then trying to somehow cover the leftover gaping hole with cabinet doors.  (Another issue with our kitchen is that there is no pantry and really not much cabinet space either, so the extra storage would be helpful.)  We also considered cutting the cabinet into a top and bottom cabinet, which would then give us more counter space.  But we never figured out exactly how we could do either of those things (with our knowledge and skill level) and do them in a way that would look good and that we would be happy with in the long run.
And if we did remove that built-in wall oven, then of course I would need an oven to replace it.
We actually bought this one from Ikea because I loved it so much and want it in my kitchen.
PRAKTFULL PRO A51 S Gas range with convection oven IKEA 5-year Limited Warranty. Read about the terms in the Limited Warranty brochure.

But in order for this oven (or any oven for that matter), to fit into our kitchen we would have to somehow cut out and remove the part of the cabinets where the gas range top currently sits and then slide this one in there instead. Our little kitchen facelift all of a sudden started to seem more like major reconstructive surgery.  So many problems and no real solutions (at least none that our brains could come up with). And by trying to solve one problem we were just creating another problem to be solved.  As we sat there staring at our torn apart kitchen one night, we started realizing that it was pretty much beyond saving.  And we knew that even if we could figure out a way to cut and slice and rearrange all the kitchen cabinets to fit, there was a good chance that in the end, it would look completely wonky and still not meet our needs.  And so we decided we didn’t want to waste any money trying to save an inadequate and inefficient kitchen that would never be what we wanted and needed it to be.
So this entire kitchen must go (except the fridge) and we are going to start completely from scratch.  I never planned on a complete kitchen renovation.  It’s overwhelming to say the least, but a tad exciting too.  We’ve been doing lots of online research and also setting up appointments with kitchen renovation companies to get initial estimates.  So far, we’ve gotten one estimate back from a custom cabinet maker at $19,000-$20,000!!  Wo-ah!  Waaay above our budget.
That number practically sent us running straight into the arms of Ikea. And the more I’ve researched kitchen renovations and cabinets, people really seem to love their Ikea kitchens.  And even kitchen designers love to use them in their clients’ homes too.  Do any of you know anything about Ikea kitchens?  Ever had one?  Ever designed one?  Any suggestions or advice for someone beginning the process of designing an Ikea kitchen?  Help me!
I’ve been using Ikea’s online kitchen planner, but I’m not real confident in my designing abilities at this point.  I feel like I could easily be overlooking something major and not even realize it until it’s too late.
This morning, we went to Ikea to really look at their cabinets and get some help from a sales rep in the designing process and I feel a little more at ease about the whole thing.  A little, but not a lot.  It’s still overwhelming.

So here we go into our first real house renovating adventure!   I hope you’ll come along for the ride!


  1. We remodeled a super old inefficient kitchen and house a couple years ago! And boy is it an adventure for sure! U just have to make one decision at a time and go from there. I don't know anything about ikea so I can't help there. Some things I love about my remodel are...the pot filler, soap stone counters (husband cut and installed them so we only paid for the stone!), large drawers, pull out trash... You r going to have so much fun!

  2. Also funny u bought your range first thing cuz we did that too! Lol. Then then the farmhouse sink and worked things around those 2 things!

  3. We plan on using Ikea for our kitchen remodel. They have kitchen sales at least twice a year it seems like, so hold out for that if you can. I'm guessing later this spring?
    I took our tangerine orange doors off our top cabinets and love it! Didn't bother with pulling up all the layers of shelf liner and goo, just added another layer on top. The little I did pull up found 1976 written on it!
    Looking forward to following your remodel!

  4. My extroverted opinion is to knock on a few neighbors doors to get ideas first. Especially ones w kids. Also the city has an interest free loan, look on the city website.