Getting What You Want Out of a Renovation: Tour a Before and After Kitchen Remodel

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

As told by Kat

Please tell us about the before state of your kitchen.

Oh goodness. When we moved in, there were two brass ceiling fans in the kitchen! Now imagine greenish-brown linoleum floors, yellowish cabinets, and brown-and-yellow-speckled Formica countertops. Combine all of those things with really bad lighting and you’ll have an idea of what our kitchen looked like.

Read more: How to save money with a cheap home warranty.

I tried to make things look a little better several years ago, so I tried (keyword: tried) to install peel-and-stick flooring on top of the terrible linoleum. I ended up doing more damage, and the quarter-round molding that I tore off never would go back up, so we didn’t have any for a few years and it looked ridiculous.

I should also mention that I painted the entire kitchen a light brown to complement the brown and yellow kitchen tones. I still haven’t figured out if that did anything to improve the look of the kitchen or if I just made it worse. Regardless, we were in desperate need of a remodel, and we finally got around to it last fall.

Easy contrasts The gentle contrast of stainless steel and white makes for a cool, clean atmosphere

DIY or Hire? For the kitchen renovation Kat and her husband decided to hire out the work based on the scope of the project

Updates Updates to appliances and countertops bring the kitchen up to date with the rest of the home

Affordable updates Kat and Josh chose Corian, an affordable alternative to marble or other stone types

Color Updating the kitchen's color scheme from monochromatic yellow to monochromatic white gives the space room to breathe

Flooring Updating from tile to hardwoods imparts a timeless air to the galley kitchen and breakfast nook

Cuppa The couple chose to create a coffee station in their breakfast nook for nothing more than the price of chalkboard paint and rolling cart

Transition Using white throughout the home means that spaces seamlessly blend, making each space feel wider and more fluid

Dining A second dining area opens onto the couple's newly renovated back porch

Pop of Color Pops of color go further when tastefully incorporated into monochrome white and gray

What did your kitchen renovation entail?

We had our cabinets painted white, the hardwood floors from the foyer matched and carried into the kitchen and dining room area (where carpet had been since we moved in,) new appliances installed, and new countertops installed (Bye, formica!) After all of that was complete, we had a white subway tile backsplash installed, and I am obsessed!

How long did this take to complete?

I believe the whole renovation process took about two to three months.

Before Monochromatic yellows made for a dim, uninviting breakfast nook

After Updating with new hardwoods and bright whites allows the room to breathe, even expand

Did you do all the work yourselves or hire a contractor?

After the peel-and-stick flooring fiasco, we decided to go ahead and hire the work out. We ended up not hiring a contractor, and instead shopped around ourselves. We went through Home Depot for the countertops, appliances, plumbing, and subway tile backsplash, and we were so pleased with the work!

We hired an incredible husband/wife painting team to repaint our cabinets, and found an awesome local flooring company to do the floors. We had a wonderful experience with each and every person and company we worked with! Our cabinets look like brand new white cabinets, it’s amazing! The [painting team] ended up spraying them instead of hand-rolling, and it really looks (and feels) like we installed new cabinets (for so much less!).

I’ve painted all of the walls of our home, and I’ve painted our kitchen six times. Only three colors, but two coats each!

Read more: Choice Home Warranty reviews.

Before Original yellow cabinetry and brown Formica countertops were due for modern updates

After Kat and Josh decided to keep the original cabinetry but update with color, Corian countertops, and new appliances

Any horror stories?

The businesses and companies we worked with made it smooth and efficient. The only frustration was having to repaint the kitchen again, so make sure you test an area and really look at it under different lighting before you go painting the entire space! Also, always go a few shades lighter than you think you want.

What do you love most about your new space?

Our pre-existing breakfast nook that I never used until the renovation. I never wanted to sit there before, because I would just look around me and then over at the kitchen and feel overwhelmed by all that needed to be done.

Now, the breakfast nook is my little happy place, and I love to sit there on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and look around at the kitchen that I dreamed of but never thought would happen. Josh and I also love having dinner there, and we typically have either Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald serenading us while we eat.

Before White appliances make yellow cabinetry look dingy and soured

After New stainless steel appliances compliment the otherwise white renovation

Any advice for others considering a kitchen renovation?

We ended up getting a solid surface countertop, and we absolutely love it! We couldn’t afford any type of stone, so I was actually looking at doing some sort of white Formica situation (I know, we were supposed to have said goodbye to Formica!)  

Josh (a.k.a Mr. Stick-to-the-budget,) had even gone so far as to buy a countertop painting kit that was supposed to make our countertops have the look of stone. I was pretty stressed about it. We were out to dinner right before the reno started, and Josh said, “Katherine, I’ve been thinking, and I think we should go ahead and stretch the budget for some new countertops.” I had been having nightmares about badly-painted countertops, so this news was music to my ears!

We went straight to Home Depot, and a wonderful woman introduced us to Corian. It was honestly not much more than Formica, but the texture and feel of it make it feel much more expensive. We went with Arctic White, and it is honestly one of my favorite parts of the kitchen!

Read more: America’s First Choice Home Club reviews.

Easy mornings A breakfast nook complete with coffee station was a must-have for Kat and Josh

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