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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to complete a kitchen reno in only 8 weeks? Sharing all of the details from the planning process and what was completed each week of the renovation.
Participating as a guest in the One Room Challenge was the reason we took on this project. The One Room Challenge is a challenge where you have 8 weeks to completely transform a space in your home, for fun.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
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Why did we decide to renovate?
The kitchen was the space I was least excited about when we purchased out home in November 2020. It was my least favourite room with the most potential to be my favourite room. The room had really great bones and space but the previous owners had more modern taste than we do and the renovation they completed was over 15 years ago. The last few months I spent dreaming about different ways to fix it, from little facelifts to big ones. When it ultimately came down to it, we decided we wanted to rip it all out and start from scratch, but keeping it a budget kitchen reno!
A few issues that we didn’t like from the beginning:
- the angled peninsula
- the flooring
- the modern cabinets
- the wasted space above cabinets to ceiling
- the sink and rotten sink cabinet
- the fridge
Through winter we also discovered the poor insulation. Not to be dramatic here, but you could feel a cool breeze at your feet in winter! Initially, I thought that the drywall didn’t go to all the way to the ground, causing cold air to escape. Also, our kitchen is on a concrete slab. There isn’t a basement under it, which isn’t really typical for where we live. This in combination with the slate flooring makes it incredibly cold on the feet all winter! It is May and I still find it cold!
Benefits of a Kitchen Reno:
When deciding to renovate the full kitchen and start from scratch its important to consider the issues with the existing kitchen. While insulation was an issue in this kitchen, renovating allowed us to remove all cabinetry and address some insulation issues. It was also easier to replace all of the flooring and add insulation to ensure it was warmer for us in the winter.
Week One, Kitchen Plans
When planning this budget kitchen, the goal was to create a space that will function well for us in the future as we grow as a family. Due to the steps down into the kitchen, it feels very separated from the rest of the house. I wanted to ensure that it could also be a nice hangout space when there are little ones and until then we can enjoy a cozy breakfast nook with a space opening into our backyard! Having the option to watch tv while I cook, or enjoy my morning tea from the armchairs was something I was excited about.
Week Two, Budget Kitchen reno demolition
The first week of the kitchen renovation was demo and things always look worse before they start to look better. At this stage we took the cabinets and appliances out. This was something my dad and a friend helped with!
When the cabinets we removed we found some issues this was part of the reason we decided to rip everything out and start from scratch. Turns out the bigger issue was behind the oven. The drywall was completely open behind the oven, plugs and gas line were not to code. I had to have a gasfitter to fix the gas line as add a valve to make it to code. Also, there was a big cold breeze coming in from one of the areas, so we cut the drywall floor to ceiling to determine that there was no insulation where the old house met the kitchen. At some point the kitchen was added onto the original house as an addition, the way to fix this was adding spray foam and drywalling over top.
Changing the Stairs for the new kitchen
Another issue that we had to address this week was with regards to the fridge location. The old fridge was 30″ and I ordered a 36″ fridge. In order to make space for the new fridge, we had to cut the stairs. Luckily the stairs were 10″ wider than the opening into the kitchen, so there was no impact on the entrance to the kitchen by doing this. The stairs were removed to make the flooring installation easier, but this also meant it would be more accurate when the cabinets were installed.
We planned to donate all cabinets and appliances (minus oven and range hood) to Habitat for Humanity, but one of the people helping me really wanted them for a Tiny Container home they are doing on a budget, so I let them take those. Though Habitat for Humanity would be a great option for anyone doing a project like this and it was super easy to schedule.
Week Three, New floors
The second week was dedicated to the removal of the old flooring and installation of the new flooring. The flooring that was chosen was a herringbone engineered hardwood, which took a lot longer to install than I expected. Initially, I was told 1 day for removal of the old floor and installation of the new floor.
The first day they removed the tile and then added a levelling cement (I think it was cement?), day two they added the cork underlay, plus the flooring apparently needs time to acclimatize! Then day three they installed it and day four they came back to install baseboard. I realized that the baseboard didn’t match the rest of our house so I told them not to install it.
This week I also finalized the cabinets. I designed an IKEA kitchen but decided to get custom fronts. The way this works is you use the Ikea kitchen planner to plan your ideal kitchen and then on the Allstyle site you upload your design, the doors style you want and you pick any Benjamin Moore colour!
Within a few days you get back the item list and price for the doors, drawer fronts, panels, and kick plates for the cabinets. Plus, you are able to customize the doors if there is anything you want to change from the Ikea design such as making a 60″ door instead of a 40″ door, which is something I did in my design! You also have the option to pick wood or MDF for the shaker part of the door fronts. I am honestly so excited about this and the price came in much lower than other kitchen cabinet companies I looked into.
Week Four, Kitchen Cabinets
This week of the kitchen reno involved a lot of deliveries including the IKEA cabinets and appliances. The appliances were not a great experience. A reminder that you should unwrap and review your appliances before the delivery people leave. Mine were all dented! I started building the base cabinets for the kitchen. If you are nervous about installing an IKEA kitchen yourself, it really is not that bad. Building the cabinets is very easy. If you don’t want to hang them yourself, you can call a handyman for help at that point.
I removed all of the old backsplash glue and added spackling over it, sanded and painted with primer.
At this point I also had some electrical work done. The microwave outlet was installed, another outlet moved over to accommodate the upper cabinet that comes down to the counters. I also had a few USB electrical outlets installed. This stage is also important to consider for under cabinet lighting, you can read more about what I chose here.
Week Five, Countertop Templating
This week I finished installing the base cabinets and levelling them. This was essential in order to have the countertops templated. Building the cabinets wasn’t very hard, and installing them wasn’t challenging either since IKEA works with a rail system, that all of the cabinets hang on. This was a big cost savings to keep it a budget friendly kitchen reno.
This week of the project was slow because we were waiting on the countertop installation. Even though I built all of the upper cabinets for the kitchen we couldn’t install them before the countertops. Why? One of my upper cabinets “sits” on top of the counter and it was essential to have the counters installed to know for sure where that cabinet would end and ensure the other upper cabinets lined up. Also, tiling couldn’t happen under countertops went in.
I also had a local millworker make the banquette for my breakfast nook. If I could go back, I’d love to make it myself but I was on a time crunch to get this kitchen completed in 8 weeks.
This was the final week of the one room challenge and the week that the most work happened. At the beginning of the week the counters were installed and cabinet doors and panels were delivered. Upper cabinet hung, doors and panels installed, water hooked up, tiles installed. Installing the upper cabinets was a little more challenging because it requires two people. From that countertop cabinet onwards it was easy to line it up. To complete all of these steps I did most of the work myself, with some help from my parents to ensure we were keeping this kitchen reno budget-friendly.
It was a lot easier than I thought to install the doors and the panels. The challenging part was leveling the doors with the IKEA hinges. It’s one of those finicky things, you’d think everything would line up perfectly but they never do! At this point I could also install the under cabinet smart lighting.
This week the crown moulding was installed, shiplap installed behind the breakfast nook, and the cabinet hardware installed. I was able to learn how to cut and install the crown moulding myself, which was a big accomplishment!
After these steps, it was mostly decor, styling, and smaller things – the fun stuff!
Remaining Kitchen DIY
One of the remaining projects in the kitchen was covering the range hood, which was a DIY project I took on in the fall. It was always part of the plan but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I wanted to reused the range hood we had, and ended up framing around it, and covering the old range hood.