Bradley and I had been house shopping for over a year, but in the Denver market, it was nearly impossibly to nail something down in our budget with all of the crazy investor offers constantly swooping in with full-cash offers. We had just lost another bid on a house and the next day, I got a call from our realtor that he had just gotten a listing and that we should come take a look.
We headed over to the Overland Park neighborhood and at first glance - it was going to be a lot of work - but the optimist in both of us thought it would be a great chance to really make it our own - so we made an offer before it went on the market, and spent the summer putting things in place to ensure we could get the upstairs fully finished before we moved in.
The main task was the kitchen. We had about $20,000 to work with specifically for the kitchen remodel (though I will say a good chunk of that went to wood floors on our main level. The contractor had to completely install new floors in the hallway and kitchen as the old floor had about 4 layers of tile).
While we could definitely DIY most things in the house, we weren't about to wing it on the heart of the house. A friend of ours knew a contractor who was available for the time frame we needed in September, so once we had his time scheduled, we spent the month of August on meetings to prepare for his work, and basically made sure everything was organized and ready to go so we didn't have any hiccups or surprises. And it paid off.
We lucked out huge as there was an appliance sale in July before we even owned the house, so we ordered our stove, dishwasher and refrigerator early at about a 30% discount, and then put off delivery until the work was ready. We had a pretty clear vision of what we wanted, but did opt to bring in an IKEA consultant to help us figure out how to rearrange the awkward layout of the original kitchen (who puts a fridge, dishwasher and stove all in a row?).
We saved money by making a few small changes that actually improved the look, I think. One, was installing the overhead beam above the peninsula rather than building support in the attic. And two - we had actually planned for quartz countertops, but when we saw how expensive they were, we went with the butcher block tops, which were 1/10th the price. I think it suits the cottage / farmhouse feel we were going for better anyway - and ultimately, one of the things we get the most compliments on.
I had heard so many horror stories about working with contractors, and all of the unexpected snags and expenses that popped up, but our contractor was a gem and completely followed-through on the deadline he set for the project, which was firm, as we scheduled everything to finish while we were still living at our old place. Our contractor actually finished the day of our move-in, and the only thing I remember is him stopping over the next morning was to finish was the custom shelving he built for our cookbooks.
As of now, we're still making little changes here and there as we finally settle into the house after a complete whirlwind of the remodel, but we're so happy with how things turned out! It's super functional and so much brighter than it used to be. I have a hard time even remembering what it used to be until I see pictures. The best part of it all? We came in only $2.39 over budget. :)