This story starts the same way that many good stories do: she said YES.
No, not to that question. But another one equally as close to my paint-splattered heart. Yes to the kitchen renovation.
In June, I’d moved into my new apartment, but in August, Nikki and I started talking about moving in together when my lease ends this upcoming June. Since we’re two aesthetically-motivated people, one of the first things we did was to create shared Pinterest boards to narrow down a vision of home we could agree on (I know, even writing that sentence made me roll my own eyes a little, but it was really helpful). She owns her two bedroom condo, which opens up a new level of design potential I have yet to experience as a renter (although I’ve taken a fair amount of leeway with my current studio apartment).
The kitchen was the room in most obvious need of an overhaul, but it was also the most intimidating. There were some things that needed to be done that I thought I could handle, like flooring and a fresh coat of paint on the cabinets. But there were things beyond my scope of DIY, namely replacing the drop ceiling and fluorescent lights with sheetrock and new fixtures.
When Nik bought the place in 2008, it looked like this:
She immediately painted the walls and the cabinets and bought all new appliances, which went a long way to freshening up the space:
But after six years, it needs a lot more TLC. The cabinets hadn’t been sealed, and the white quickly dirtied. The black laminate counters just never get clean. Although it’s a decently sized room, the dark green walls and lack of lights are doing it no favors. We talked about other small budget improvements we could do to improve the space, but after one such conversation, I went to take a shower and couldn’t get the thought out of my head: we will never have two kitchens again. Once we move in together, we will never have two kitchens again.
I hurriedly rinsed off and rushed out to tell her, “We will never have two kitchens again.”
And she said YES. All in. Down to the walls, full renovation.
So we started budgeting, started planning, and most importantly, started researching. I think I’ve read every blog post on the internet that references any material we’ve considered including. I spent a whole night watching floor installation YouTube videos. I have read excrutiatingly detailed painting and staining tutorials. I am intimately familiar with the slow and glitchy Ikea 3D kitchen planning software. We decided to go with Ikea’s Lidingo line of cabinets in the brand new gray color, and I’m in love. I took a few farewell pictures today. So the sink walls look like this:
and according to plans, it will look like this:
(Except not with the translucent sink? That wasn’t in the budget.)
And the stove wall looks like this:
But soon it will look like this:
Hellllllooooo, sexy! My favorite part is where we eliminated the corner cabinets and counter extension on the right. I love the clean lines.
And now it is Kitchen Eve! We spent the whole day preparing, emptying out the few things left in the kitchen, organizing the materials we’ve purchased. Although our timeline for the project’s start has been rapidly accelerated, we’ve been preparing, squirreling away building materials for months. With the long lead time, we were able to purchase almost everything at a discount.
We decided to keep the existing appliances, since they’re only a few years old and in good condition. The biggest savings came from taking advantage of the Ikea kitchen sale. It happened in November, which was way too early in the process for us, but with 20% off at stake, we went in on the last day in November to see if there were any loopholes.
“There are absolutely no loopholes,” the end-of-sales-event-overworked-ikea-kitchen-man proclaimed. “Except…”
Except if you book a measurement service for a refundable $85. You then have an extra 30 days from the date of that service to purchase your kitchen at the sale price. So we booked the measurement as far out as possible, which was two weeks (and I’m pleased to say that the professional’s measurements were on par with mine), and then went in to purchase the cabinets 29 days from then, which effectively bought us an extra 6 weeks to secure the funding for the project.
So we’ve had a third kitchen in boxes in Nikki’s bedroom for the last few weeks. Nik is a serials librarian, which means that she manages the print journal collections at her library, but I think it also means that she is a compulsive librarian everywhere. There are few things she loves more than organizing and categorizing a mess, so after we cleared out the dining room to make extra work space, she rearranged all the Ikea boxes like this:
Each blue tag labels the cabinet number and each white tag is the list of parts needed to assemble the cabinet. #swoon
And if I ever doubt that hiring a contractor to do the bulk of the heavy lifting for this project was a good investment, I will refer to this inexplicably blurry picture of Nik pushing me pushing the Domsjo double sink down the hallway:
That thing was HEAVY. Abel the dog was no help at all.