The great kitchen remodel (with all the juicy details)

The kitchen is FINALLY complete! I started writing this post a YEAR ago but have waited to share it until now, because renovation delays are very real. Since everyone likes a good before and after shot, here you go:

BEFORE: The kitchen was dirty, dated, closed off (with a pass-through to the dining room) and cramped with the fridge, sink, and stove all in a row along the wall.

A narrow galley kitchen (with a pass through window to the dining room) made the space feel small and cut off from the rest of the house
Fridge, stove, sink, and dishwasher all lined up along one wall…not ideal for cooking

AFTER: The huge island is open to the dining room and living room, with blue cabinets and brass accents. The sink is across from the fridge and stove, and the cooktop is gigantic.



Read on for all the juicy details about our kitchen, including the cost at the very end.


After months of demolishing, prepping, planning, ordering, and waiting, we can finally cook in our home! This kitchen is HUGE, open to the rest of the house, and so fun to cook in.

Preparing the space:

To prepare the space before we planned out the new kitchen, we had to rip out the old kitchen. An engineer drew up our plans and a contractor removed the load bearing wall and installed some support beams.

October 2018: The empty space where the kitchen used to be

Then we hired electricians to rewire the electric to where the appliances and lighting  would be. After the electricians finished roughing in our electric work, we were ready to “close in the walls” with drywall. After doing the two bedrooms upstairs, we were easily able to cut and install drywall around the new column, support beams in the ceiling, and the kitchen wall behind the cabinets and appliances.

Installing drywall on the new support column by the kitchen


Installing drywall above the wall cabinets

We had to install new flooring BEFORE the kitchen was installed. Sadly, the existing floor was in such bad shape that it could not be refinished. We picked a reasonably priced solid birch floor to flow throughout the entire first floor, including the kitchen. Before it could be installed, we had to install a new plywood subfloor to create an even, flat surface for the hardwood to sit on. We decided to screw down the plywood ourselves to avoid spending $$$ for someone else to do it. Home Depot delivered 35 sheets of plywood to our curb and my awesome aunt and uncle helped us haul it inside (FYI this all happened in November of 2018).

My aunt and uncle are stronger than you!!

Then Jeremy and I had the joyful task of cutting each piece to fit the entire main floor of our house, and screwing it to the floor with 24 screws per sheet. My knees were aching by the time we were done, but it was worth it when our new hardwood was installed.

Measuring and cutting plywood before the floors were installed
November 2018: It’s hard to believe our kitchen now stands where that orange cone is. You can see the blue tape on the floor for where the island should be

Installing the kitchen cabinets:

IKEA delivered about 40 boxes of our kitchen cabinets in November, and the installers started putting together the cabinets in December–it took about a week for them to finish and we are SO GLAD we hired them to do it. We had enough on our plate. We designed our kitchen at IKEA with the help of a kitchen planner, who visited our house and took measurements to ensure the design would fit.

Going with IKEA for our cabinets was truly a budget-driven decision, but we wanted the kitchen to be a showstopping centerpiece of the home. After all, we spent a lot of effort and money removing the walls to create an open concept, so the kitchen would be visible from all vantage points on the main floor. To achieve a more luxurious look, we decided to purchase real wood door fronts for the cabinets from a higher-end company called Semihandmade. I like to think our kitchen is the perfect combo of high-end and low-end finishes.


Read all about the incredible effort that went into painting these beauties here. Just know that using a paint sprayer to paint your kitchen cabinets is not for the faint of heart. You need TONS of outdoor space for painting, tons of indoor space for drying, and lots of patience to repeatedly carry the doors inside and outside as it requires six rounds of spraying with ample drying time in between–I’m talking weeks of work, not hours. These doors have been in every room of our house to dry, and spent lot of quality time in our back yard as well.


The cabinets are a bold blue color called Champion Cobalt by Benjamin Moore, paired with a white herringbone tile backsplash. White subway tile is inexpensive and classic, and the herringbone pattern elevates it to a higher level (but damn, was it hard to install!)


After the cabinets were installed, a countertop company came to measure the tops, then returned a few days later to install it. We selected a marble-looking quartz countertop called Statuary Classique by MSI. We decided to have “waterfall” sides to our countertop, which  means the quartz flows down the side of the island and hits the floor. This added significant cost to the project given the size of the island, but it was something we could justify from saving a lot of money doing most of the work ourselves (a breakdown of all the costs is at the end of this post).

The handles and knobs are from Pottery Barn. I knew I wanted brushed brass fixtures (I am a millennial, after all) but didn’t want anything overly trendy or modern, given the age of the house. These handles are really gorgeous against the blue cabinets and I love how uniquely they’re shaped.



The faucet is by Delta in champagne bronze color, with a matching soap dispenser. We looked for a kitchen sink that could fit into a 30” cabinet with only one bowl. Luckily we both agreed that we didn’t want a two-bowl sink, which some people like but we don’t care for. Our kitchen sink is a 28” steel undermount by Elky. I was much more attracted to the look of a quartz sink but was scared away by horror stories of quartz sinks cracking after people poured boiling hot pasta water down the drain, which was enough to dissuade me. This is probably my biggest regret (or “what if”) about our kitchen design, because I’ll never know if those fears were founded. Either way, our steel sink will NEVER crack and that’s good enough for us.


Over the island, we hung 3 gorgeous Structural Glass Geo pendants by West Elm. Figuring out the correct number and size of the pendants was a real struggle but I think we got it right (our island is HUGE by the way–committing to a 10-foot island was a little scary but it’s really the central cooking, eating, and gathering point of the home). I wanted simple, clear glass pendants with a brass finish. I scooped up these bad boys on sale during Black Friday (last year!!).


One of the first pieces of furniture I bought for this house was the set of three bar stools. They are so comfortable and pretty and I love looking at them!



Deciding on appliances is hard. There are SO many options and SO many conflicting opinions and reviews on the internet about brands and models. We have been using our appliances since December of 2018 and so far we love all of them.

Our fridge is by LG. It is so huge and I feel like I’m walking into a spaceship when I open the French doors. It has a secret smaller door for you to grab a quick snack or drink, and it even beeps (in a soft pleasant way) if you accidentally leave the door open. Our microwave is by Ikea and is built into the tall pantry/cabinet. At $700, this thing was NOT cheap so hopefully it will last a very long time. We learned that larger, built-in microwaves are unfortunately very expensive but we didn’t have a lot of counter space along the wall so we knew it had to sit in the cabinet.


Our range is our favorite appliance. We opted for a larger, 6-burner range because we love to cook and knew we wanted it to be the center of the kitchen. It’s 6 inches wider than a standard oven, and man those six inches cost a LOT of money. Most 36-inch ovens were in the $4-6K range, which was WAY over our budget. We opted to go with Zline, a brand that makes range hoods. There weren’t hundreds of reviews on their range, giving the impression that it’s a relatively new product. But it was way more affordable so we took the risk and ordered it anyways. Our hood is also by Zline. You can read about how Jeremy installed it himself here.


We cooked our first thanksgiving meal for our parents in this kitchen last month, and I’m happy to report that the stove worked perfectly, the turkey was fully cooked, and the space functioned exactly as we had envisioned!


For those interested in costs, here’s a breakdown. We had budgeted a max of $30,000 for the kitchen, and we were extremely happy to come in below that number. We hired tradesmen to do the electric and plumbing work, and a team to install the kitchen cabinets. Besides that, we did all the rest of the labor ourselves (including demo, drywalling and painting the walls before the kitchen was installed, painting the cabinets, and tiling the backsplash), easily saving at least $10,000 in additional labor costs. I didn’t include the cost of floors because they were installed throughout the first floor of the house, nor the cost of removing the load bearing wall.

Labor Cost
Plumber to move the water and gas lines $1,600
Electrician to move the wiring in the kitchen, living room, and dining room $3,200
Installation of cabinets $3,480
Materials Cost Vendor
Cabinet boxes + microwave $2,174 IKEA (during their kitchen sale)
Door fronts $2,642 Semihandmade
Paint for door fronts $300 Ace Hardware- Benjamin Moore
Countertop $5,615 Granite outlet of maryland
Refrigerator $2,898 Home Depot
Gas range/oven $2,549 Zline from Lowes
Hood + accessories $487 Wayfair
dish washer $500 Home Depot
Knobs/pulls $244 pottery barn
Sink $312 Elky
Faucet + soap dispenser $443 Wayfair
Garbage disposal $313 Wayfair
Air switch cover $18 Lowes
Pendant lights + bulbs $446 West Elm
Backsplash tile $280 Floor and decor
Grand Total $27,501





3 thoughts on “The great kitchen remodel (with all the juicy details)

  1. Your new kitchen is spectacular! Please, don’t feel bad about having a stainless steel sink instead of a quartz one. I spent big bucks on a spiffy white quartz sink in 2010, and have regretted it ever since. It is a bit porous, so any thing and every thing stains it. I am spraying it with bleach solution at least every other day. It never looks sparkling clean except the first hour after I bleach it. People who have darker quartz sinks don’t have this complaint but maybe it’s because they can’t see the staining? IDK…I’d never have another quartz sink. Give me slick porcelain or impervious stainless — at least you can count on their cleanliness.


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