Lessons from my first kitchen remodel


In 2007 I purchase my first home. I loved the location (the #1 thing you should be looking for) but the kitchen was another story. The house was about 90% ‘flipped’ but, they had made grossly neglected the kitchen. Since I knew this was the place you could really add value, I made the offer. Then the market crashed and my 100% commission paychecks got a little harder to stretch.

In 2009, I finally had saved enough to remodel the kitchen. I desperately wish I had a before picture but, since I had no idea I’d pass my experience along to the masses, I didn’t have the foresight to keep them. Let me paint you the picture, the home was built in 1976 and nothing had been touched since. Let’s start with the size; When they built this house kitchens weren’t the gathering space they soon became. There was an informal dining room to the left and a large formal room to the right and the kitchen was entirely too small for the 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2400 sqft home. It had pink linoleum countertops, pink vinyl flooring and cabinets that had been rode hard and put up wet.

Since I previously worked in interior design, I knew what I wanted. I have the ability to see a vision, rather than the pink nightmare this kitchen currently was. So, I made a plan, we would knock out a wall to create an appropriate sized kitchen (while keeping a formal dining room), and I decided that to fill the space, we needed an island. From there we got to work!

I like to learn, I’m hands on to any task I can complete so, contractors hate me. I’m always in their business asking questions and pushing them harder. In this particular remodel, I decided that I’d save a buck and demo everything. We knocked out the wall, removed the countertops and cabinets and tore up the flooring. Above is the finished product.

During this process, I learned a few lessons that have held true throughout the years. Since this project, I’ve taken on almost a dozen other face lifts and I hope you can read this BEFORE signing on the dotted line. Over the next few weeks, I’ll add links to blogs about each rule with pictures of other projects where these rules held true. I hope you’ll follow along and enjoy!

1) The Bernie Mac renovation triangle

2) Always add 40-50% more time than they say it’s going to take

3) Always add 10% more money to your budget

4) Always start with the second cheapest option, make design decisions from there

Written by Sarah Whitely, Forever Home Colorado 303.246.1667

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