Remodeling Our Kitchen

by Frugal Babe on February 11, 2008

We bought a new dishwasher today!    New to us anyway – we found it on Craig’s List and drove to the other end of town today to pick it up.   We paid $100.   It currently retails for $645, although the lady who sold it to us said that it’s about 7 -8 years old.   It’s fully digital, white with a stainless steel interior.   It has a few dings around the door, but it works perfectly, and is a HUGE improvement over the one we have, which we’re pretty sure is original to the house (1980s).   The one we’re replacing is black, missing several spikes inside (and where they fell off, the rack has some lovely rust on it), and has a knob to start it.   No buttons or LED lights anywhere.  

The people who sold us the dishwasher were getting rid of it because they wanted to switch to stainless steel.   Works for me – now we don’t have to spend $600 to get a new dishwasher.

I’ve written before about our desire to upgrade our kitchen.   We’ve lived here for five years, and have always talked about it, but didn’t think we could afford a remodel.   Then a few weeks ago I was talking with my parents about it, and they said that they thought we could do the whole thing for about $3000, if we were careful with our budget and did the work ourselves (with a lot of help from them, which they kindly offered).   They also suggested that it might be far easier to get it done now, while I’m still pregnant, than to wait until we have the baby.   I suppose a sleeping baby and power saws don’t go well together…

So my husband and I decided to go for it.   My biggest complaint with our kitchen has always been space – it’s very small – although the 20+ year old appliances and “butcher block” laminate counters don’t add much to the appeal.   I love to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so I’d love to have more space and more storage for all the food we like to buy in bulk.   So our plan is to annex the current dining room into the kitchen, and build in counters around it.   Then we can make our downstairs living room into a dining room, since we really don’t use it as a living room.   It’s more of a decoration and a spot for the cat to sun herself.   And she can sun herself just as easily in a dining room.

So here’s the budget so far:

  • laminate counters that look like granite.   Sounds tacky, but I swear they’re awesome.   My mother convinced me to go to Home Depot and check them out, and we were very impressed.   Granite started at $50/sq ft, and these counters are $16/sq ft.   We need about $70 sq feet of counter top, so about $1120 for counters. (compared with at least $3500 for granite or Corian)
  • Floor.   We have laminate tiles now.   Don’t particularly care for them.   Considering tile, but we found a sweet  click-together laminate floating wood floor material yesterday, that would only cost $200 including the backing that we would need to put down.   Another option we looked at would cost about $400.   Still deciding on the floor…
  • Dishwasher – $100.   Done and done.  
  • Stove – looking on Craig’s List for glass top stoves.   Found several for under $200 but they were already sold.   We’ll keep looking and I’m sure we’ll get one for under $200 – there seem to be lots available.
  • Sink/faucets – We’re going to try to get these used as well, although I have some specifics in mind.   I’d like a high faucet and a deep sink…. Hoping to get both used for under $150.
  • Cabinets/shelving.   We will have an 8 foot section of new  counter top  in what is currently the dining room that will need storage underneath.   We’re looking at used cabinets, and we’re also considering open shelving.   Not sure what this is going to cost because we haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet.

So that’s the rough budget.   We’re very confident that we can do it for under $3000.   And we can afford that amount.   We can pay for it as we go (which would involve putting a little less into our IRAs for the next few months) or we can get a Home Depot credit card and use that to pay for counters, wood for shelving, flooring, and whatever misc. supplies we need.   The reason I’m considering the HD card is that they would give us 10% off of the first purchase, up to $2000.   So if we put $2000 on the card, we would save $200 right off the bat.   Then there’s no interest for 6 months.   We’ve used this sort of credit in the past (my husband’s teeth, the computer that we bought through our business account last summer) and been very pleased with it.   We’ve always paid everything off before the promotion expiration, and have never paid any interest on this sort of offer.   So I’m thinking we’ll do the same thing for the kitchen supplies.  

We’re very excited about this kitchen remodel.   We’ll keep it as frugal as possible and I’ll write about it along the way.   I’d say we’re off to a good start with the $100 dishwasher.

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  • http://smallcents.blogspot.com/ Kelly

    If you live anywhere near an Ikea, their clearance store is a great place to buy kitchen cabinet doors. You just have to keep going back frequently to snatch up the doors you want in the model and color you want. But yesterday I saw a door that normally retails for 20€ marked down to 3€, and it was in perfect shape.

    And no, power saws and sleeping babies don’t go together well!

  • DivaJean

    A timely article for our family! My partner and I are in the beginning stages of planning our kitchen remodeling. Our kitchen hadn’t been touched since the 70′s- and the stove is literally falling apart on us. The former owners had it encased somehow into the lower cupboards and its been slipping down- the stovetop is being pulled off by kitchen countertop as the bottom of the stove slips down. The floors are 70′s gold linoleum- etc etc. We are likely only replacing the stove and sink as our dishwasher and refrigerator are new (within the past 4 years). Our cupboards are all in good shape- just dark, dark stain on them. We are debating whether to paint or sand and restain lighter. We are debating a built in booth for a table versus bigger kitchen table (our family has increased 3 fold in the past 9 years- from two to 6!) or a combination of benches and chairs. We see the biggest expense as likely being the flooring. We would like to go to tile. Our changes and plans will mostly be done ourselves- we renovated a kitchen in our first house and aren’t scared. Its odd to me the thousands of dollars that people throw towards having the kitchen redone rather than taking it on themselves. Its not that hard.

    Once we get our tax return, we will be ready to roll.

  • Bellen

    Love your ideas for redoing your kitchen.

    One comment on glass top stove – I, too, love to cook and particularly like cast iron. But, cast iron is a NO NO for glass top – it scratches. Also, copper bottomed pots & aluminum pots are not to be used. Stainless steel and flat bottomed pots are required. You should probably read the instruction booklet first, then decide.

    Granite countertops require more work than most people think. Need to be sealed every two years and they can chip which requires professional repair.

    Good wishes for a swift completion.

  • http://neatokimmo.blogspot.com/ kim

    Good call on the laminate flooring. I have tile and I really dislike it. I go back and forth about a kitchen remodel too, mine priced out at 7K for everything.

  • Tamara

    My husband and I have been looking to buy our first home, and a lot of the places we have seen will need some kind of improvements on the kitchen. But if you’re handy and creative (and it looks like you guys are!) then a kitchen remodel can be done nicely but at low cost. See if you have a “Restore” anywhere in your local area. We have one in our town that’s run by Habitat for Humanity. I’ve seen some great cabinets that, with some paint and a new counter, could be really great. Light fixtures and lots of other items can be found there too. They also had loads of great tile you could use, and laying tile is not that hard. Though I have to say, with all the great laminate floors out there, I would probably go for that. I think the wood laminates can really add a warmth and richness that tile wouldn’t. Though a tile backsplash could look great.

    And plan for the things that will really set your kitchen off. New lighting? Paint colors? How about a great pot rack? I love searching our local secondhand stores for out of the ordinary items that, with a bit of clean up, become amazing pieces in the home.

    Just my 2cents! Good luck, and I really hope you document the process — with pics too if you can. I’d love to see it all unfold!

  • SC

    I think you guys can accomplish it. I’d go for the HD card for that 10% or look for coupons. Amex briefly was offering coupons for HD–I think 15% off but it was extremely limited to first come first serve. Also sometimes in the address change/moving packets at the post office they have HD or Lowe’s coupons inside of them.

  • FrugalBabe

    Tamara – My absolute favorite store is a Habitat for Humanity Thrift store about a 15 mintue walk from our house. I got there first for just about everything. They have a good size home remodel section, and that’s where we’ll be getting the window we’re going to need to replace in our kitchen. We’re also hoping to get a sink and faucets at another Habitat thrift store, and we’ve been browsing their cabinets for weeks now. Love that place!!!

  • harper

    Just my 2-cents worth, but I don’t think glass-top stoves are a good purchase for the avid cook. My father put one in when he remodeled his kitchen, and he has spent more time cleaning it than cooking on it. Even the steam that gets moved around by the hood stains it. And if you don’t clean it right, it gets scratched.

    They sure look great in the store, but I think they are impractical in the home.

    Otherwise, I think your remodel sounds great!

  • http://www.blogsmonroe.com/budget Monroe on a Budget

    This idea may still be a bit pricey — but you can go to your home and kitchen store dealers and see if they are, or will sell, their outdated store displays at a discount.
    One contractor in my area has that information on his web site!

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