Don’t go look at Custom Kitchens

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Don’t go look at Custom Kitchens

We made the mistake of going to look at a fantastic high-end custom kitchen store called DOM which sells Valcucine kitchens imported from Italy.  The sample kitchens are all beautifully put together and everything fits perfectly. In fact, the way the Valcucine product goes together reminds me of an airplane: everything has a machined quality and uses just enough (not excessive) amounts of material to get a cohesive look.

We ended up in the store by accident; we were down in a certain area of town that has funky cafes and galleries and wandered into the store just to quickly take a look. Well once you’re in, its hard to leave because its like being at the premier of a Hollywood movie. You can see the stars and it looks like you could reach out and shake their hand but you know that you’ll get in really big trouble if you do. Which means in this case that it seems perfectly logical to spend that amount on a kitchen, but if we do, we’ll end up having to do a whole bunch of other stuff to make sure that it all goes together properly.

Things like making sure all the walls are square (yeah, right) or the floor is level (ha!) or that all the appliances match the design (how much is that integrated double oven?) Because the way I see it, something this nice requires total committment to making it look as good as it does in the showroom. They even have one show kitchen in the store with a tempered acid-etched glass countertop!

But after getting home (and back to reality) we realized that in our pretty small house a kitchen this good would require us to upgrade everything else in the house, including furniture and other fixtures. (Just look at some of the pictures on the site to see what it looks like.) So really you have to commit to the whole package before you plunk down the chequebook.

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Kitchen’s done, at least this project

Well, I finished the $100 kitchen reno and as you can see in this earlier post, we managed to stay under $100 even including some other items, like the mirror I put up and the ‘blackboard’ I created by painting the end of one of the cabinets (just out of view in the foreground).

The new counters and floors make the kitchen feel more included in the rest of the house.

Lets start with the floor: it took a lot longer than I thought (but of course you knew that by now!) I put the tiles on the diagonal for more interest and it also seems to make the space bigger. Even though it is way more graphic than the original, it seems less busy since the pattern is more simple.

It took a lot longer because of the diagonal the number of cuts required on the tiles sometimes 3 cuts per tile to get around all of the various angles in the room. Even though I included some waste in my calculations, I ended up with just one black and 7 white tiles left! (These tiles by the way, were really hard to come by. In fact I had to go to 4 Home Depots (no luck there) and 3 Ronas to finally find them and I think I got the last package of white tiles in the city.) There was a lot of selection for $2-3 per square foot, but I couldn’t do it for this budget.

Knobs were from Lee Valley, a package of 20 for $5.95 on close out sale! They are actually metal (not plastic) so hope they hold up better than the plastic that were originally on the door.

I think the countertop makes the most difference in the feel as it really brightens the room up and makes it appear less busy, although we have started to clean up the kitchen more!

The mirror came from IKEA and had a really thin frame which I built up with chair rail trim from the Depot which I cut on the mitre saw and glued up, before painting the whole frame to match the rest of the trim in the house.

So there we are and I hope it ties us over for the next few years as we save money and ideas for what we really want to do. It may end up being longer than that if past experience is any indication!

Just for a laugh, I dug up a picture of the original kitchen

The orignal color has the space looking like a hospital waiting room.

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Progress on the Kitchen Makeover

Here are the latest numbers as I am getting into actually doing the work on
the kitchen makeover.

Knobs (bulk Pack of 20!, Lee
Backsplash embossed wallpaper (roll, HomeDepot)  $19.99
Silver paint (1 can, HomeDepot)
Sandpaper (leftover from another
Primer (leftover from another
Floor Tiles (Black and White,
Vinyl, Rona)
Melamine Paint (leftover from
another job)
PaintBrushes, tape etc.  $8.99
Blackboard Paint (1 can,
Benjamin Moore Store)
Mirror (IKEA)  $7.99
Trim for Mirror (Home Depot)  $8.00
Trim for Blackboard section
(leftover from another job)
Total $123.88   

OK, so I was over 100, but we added in a couple of things to spruce it up on top
of the things that we were originally planning. Like for instance the Blackboard
and the mirror. The blackboard paint is really thin and has a strange
consistency so it was hard to apply smoothly. The melamine paint on the counter
in contrast was like painting with glue; very thick, but hard to apply even
though I sanded the counter to rough it up. Definitely requires two coats to
cover well.

Now the good news is that we are back under $100 (even with the other items) as
we have decided to get rid of the backsplash wallpaper and paint, so when I
brought all that stuff back, it saved us like $40!

Its taken a fair bit more time because we were travelling 2 weeks ago and I have
waited until we got some nice days where we could have the windows open to do
the counter paint. It really brightens things up and streamlines the look of the
small (10′ x 9′) kitchen.

The paint brightens up the space. (The cake is courtesy of our good friend JS).

I have also taken some extra time to go back and fish some wire up from the
basement for the eventual under counter lighting which took a bit more time, but
fortunately I could use the holes that the original electrician put in the wall
to feed up the rewire of the kitchen. I decided to do this now as I am going to
patch up the holes as its been over 2 years since they put them in and we are
starting to get tired of them!

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The $100 Kitchen Reno (taxes not included)

What do you think it takes to make a kitchen more livable? That’s what we’re trying to find out as the cost for really doing it right is quickly spiralling out of control.

By ‘right’ I mean that in addition to new cabinets, countertop, backsplash in the kitchen itself the floor needs to be leveled. Since this will make the rest of the floor look funny (and we can’t match the old worn out floors in the rest of the house) we want to carry new flooring front to back.

Now it is open concept, but a very small space as you can see in other pictures here, so it isn’t out of consideration, but kinda out of reach for now.

The current state of the kitchen. I have taken off the old plastic handles and started patching the holes, ready for paint touch ups.

So we are planning a bit of paint, some new knobs, maybe some cheap and cheerful tile and patching up some, ummm, holes left over from some wiring done at the same time as the basement. We’ll see how close we get to $100, but as always, I will be providing the “free” labour.