Lee's Multiple Stage Kitchen Makeover

The Before-Before (2004 Pre-Remodel)

Project by: Lee
Location: Mequon, Wisconsin

We moved into our house in 2004. At that time, the house was like a time capsule of early-70s design, so we promptly gutted the kitchen and family room. Eleven years later, I decided it was time for another update ... but with the big money we sank into it a decade ago, I wanted to do it all myself this time, as inexpensively as possible.

Before (After 2004 remodel)

In 2004, we spent around $20,000 on our gut re-do. This included moving a doorway, walling up an exterior door, replacing a bay window with sliders, creating a pass-through to the family room, relocating the peninsula and several appliances, and of course new flooring, cabinets, appliances, countertops, windows, and lighting.

By 2015, I was still happy with the majority of the changes we had made over a decade ago (especially the layout changes), but there were two main things I had come to dislike about our kitchen. One was the golden maple finish of the cabinets. The other was the fact that the cabinets did not extend all the way to ceiling.

The ceilings in this home are relatively low, so I wanted to do whatever we could to make them look higher. Extending the cabinets to the ceiling was a key part of that plan. I built extensions onto the top of our existing upper cabinet boxes (effectively adding another shelf to the top of each cabinet). I then ordered new custom upper doors that fit the cabinets' taller dimensions once the boxes were finished. With this change, I think the cabinets went from looking builder-grade (which they WEREN'T!), to looking more expensive and custom.

The next step was painting all the cabinets, both upper and lower, a nice fresh white, matching the color of our existing trim and millwork (Sherwin Williams Snowbound). I also painted the walls, changing it from a yellow-ish ivory to a warm gray (Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige). Other changes: I took down the dated window treatments, swapped out the cabinet hardware and light fixtures, and installed new crown molding all the way around.


The end result was a lighter, brighter kitchen, for only around $2,000, 1/10th of what we spent the first time around.

Thanks, Lee!

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(Image credits: Submitted by Lee)