Before & After: The "We Had NO Idea" Kitchen Makeover

Renovation Project

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Renovation by: Sarah
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

I'll admit this up front: We had NO. IDEA. what we were getting into when we started demolishing our dining room wall back in November 2012.

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We thought we knew. We came up with plan and a budget. Everybody said, "Everything's gonna take you twice as long as you think," and "Add at least 10% to what you want to spend." So to be on the safe side, I doubled both to a whopping $6,000 and 6 months. Ha!

We knew that we would have to DIY everything, and that our previous DIY experience of painting walls and refinishing floors was going to be woefully inadequate to the task of building an entire kitchen and bathroom. But, feeling like we had Google and YouTube on our side, we plowed ahead.

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We tore the room down to the studs, and then removed some of the studs. We learned plumbing and electrical and HVAC and drywall, and somehow managed to pass inspections. We tiled, painted, and built counter tops from scratch. We bought appliances on Craigslist and doors from a salvage yard and windows from the "oops" bin at a building materials outlet.

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Over the course of 18 months, we replaced a bathtub with a back entry, a back entry with a whole wall of cabinets, and a whole wall of cabinets with a long-coveted doorway between the kitchen and dining room. The only thing that didn't move was the stove.

I did everything I could to make sure that the new kitchen felt like a natural part of the old house. I scoured a local salvage shop for doors that matched the others in our house, then spent countless hours stripping and re-painting them. Over the course of five months, I re-created 600 linear feet of moldings to match the house's original millwork, so that the new room would fit in as seamlessly as possible.

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When the dust finally settled, we had spent nearly double our budget and triple our time...but we had managed to do the entire renovation — both the kitchen and an adjoining bathroom — without hiring a professional.

Future buyers, beware.

See more of Sarah's style on her blog: Sarah's Big Idea

Thanks, Sarah!

• Are you interested in sharing a renovation project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Renovation or Decoration Project Submission Form.

(Image credits: Submitted by Sarah)