On to the Next Project

Now that the bathroom is wrapped up, we’re moving on to our next big project: the kitchen. Literally anything we do in this room will be an improvement, not that I want to set the bar low, or anything. But, we will be on a tight budget – probably even tighter than before, because we had a major blow to our “house budget” this past week with an epic fail of our 17 year old HVAC system. Our lovely gas pack (contains a gas furnace and AC all in one unit) was spewing gas and high carbon monoxide into our yard due to a very perforated heat exchanger, and based on the age, we’re deciding to replace. It’ll be about $5000, and with our plans to not sink more than $15,000 into fixing up this house based on what we believe we can sell it for in our neighborhood, that’s a big chunk of the budget.

But, it makes it kind of fun to have to cut our budget and see what an amazing transformation we know we can make with even LESS money. So, kitchen. This is what it looked like when we moved in:

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Obviously, since then we’ve sunk $2000 into upgrading the appliances and we’ve painted the ceiling, but that’s about all we’ve done in here. We’ve also stuck makeshift metal shelving into the middle of the room to serve as an island to increase the almost-non-existant counter space. As ugly as this shelving is, it’s proved to us that an island is critical to make this kitchen functional.

Our plan for the rest of the improvements will be adding cabinets or storage shelving above the fridge, adding a base cabinet and wall cabinets on the far wall (to the left of the garage door which is seen in the above picture), adding a small banquette seating area with bench storage to the rest of that wall, painting all the existing cabinets and moving them ~1-2″ up on the wall and adding top molding, adding a mounted microwave, upgrading to granite counters and a new undermount sink and faucet, adding a backsplash, adding an island, painting the whole room, and adding our hardwood floors (same floors, already purchased) to this room.

What’s a reasonable budget for this project? We’ve priced out some of the additional cabinets we’ll need and estimate this will be ~$300, plus another $100 for cabinet top molding and new floor shoe trim. Paint for cabinets and walls and trim ~$100. Microwave $250 and electrician to move outlet $200. Granite and sink priced out around $1900. Backsplash ~$100. Floors (~$400) and appliances ($2000) are already purchased. Wood/hardware for banquette and island $100. Faucet/drain system $150. Cabinet hardware $100?

That brings us to about $5600, minus the $2400 we’ve already purchased in appliances and flooring means we have about another $3200 we need to spend on this room. I’d be happy if we keep it under $3000 so we’ll see what money-saving ideas we come up with as we go along.

So for some fun pictures to show you, we spent this rainy weekend looking at paint and granite options. We decided to go with a light light gray cabinet paint, and when Lowes was having a 1 day 30% off sale on Valspar Reserve paint on Saturday, we made a snap decision and got one called Polar Star (I say “snap decision” even though I’ve been stressing about minutely-different shades of light gray for over a week now, including multiple trips to Lowes and a trip to Ace Hardware with some sample colors I brought home, but when we showed up at Lowes on Saturday, we hadn’t known about the paint sale until we walked in the store, and we couldn’t pass it up so I had to finally make a decision under pressure!).

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We ordered a cool air compressor paint sprayer which came in the mail last week, so I quickly sanded a door from our old bathroom vanity in the garage (same cabinets as the kitchen), and Nik gave the sprayer a test drive. We primed first, then got a single coat of gray paint on before the rain started. The gun worked nicely. We had to strain the paint first, then thin it with some water and Floetrol (latex paint additive for smoother paint). I’m definitely still seeing some oak grain on the cabinets, so we might also experiment with priming with a hand brush to put it on thick, then spraying just the color paint on. The cabinet frames may all have to be done by hand inside, especially the base cabinets which aren’t moving, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it.

And here’s one of the granite options we like (our final paint ended up being right in-between those two options on the board, so I think it will match! The white is our trim color).

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I’m excited to see how this project evolves over the next couple months. This is the last major upgrade downstairs, so once it’s done we can really start enjoying our living space.

In the rain on Sunday, we also installed a new ceiling fan in the living room. Nik discovered that we had some very questionable and unsafe wiring going to the old fan- basically whoever installed it (cough*awful previous landlord*cough) wanted a separate switch for the fan and the light, and didn’t have enough proper wires to do this, and decided to use the uninsulated grounding wire as the hot wire, which could definitely cause a fire. Luckily, Nik picked up on this problem after we tried to install the new fan with the properly colored wires and it didn’t work, and he then consulted with his dad and they figured out what was going on. To make it safe we’ll have to put the fan and light on one switch, and use the pull cords to operate the fan, which is less convenient but if it’s safe I’ll take it. Thankfully Nik knows things about electricity to keep our house from being on fire =)

Here’s Nik dismantling the old fan:

And here’s the new one – best $69 I’ve spent in a while! Also, please don’t judge the general state of chaos in our living room. I wish I could say it doesn’t normally look like that, but Nik and I have determined, with application of our geeky science minds, that this room has abnormally high levels of entropy. For non-scientists, entropy is a measurement of the level of disorder in an isolated system, and in our living room’s defense, nature tends towards maximum entropy. So there you have it!

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2 thoughts on “On to the Next Project

  1. Lorraine giffin

    I think you should look at the cost of the new heat pack as something you couldn’t sell the house without and as something that increases your house value accordingly and then make a point of that new system when you sell it. I wouldn’t try to deduct the cost from your kitchen project expenses. Do a nice kitchen- it’s a big selling point, right? And also- this house is for you to enjoy- it’s not just for you to sell!

    Reply
    1. Dad

      Invoking entropy is a cleaver guise for cleaning up and putting things where they should be. That said, the fan looks great and happy that it is safe. Now , clean the room and move on. Then again, do what you want to do. All the projects are going well and you are still talking to each other so it is a happy day!

      Reply

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