MY QUARANTINE PROJECT: MY KITCHEN

I’ve been really wanting to renovate our kitchen for many years. As an architect and designer, I know exactly what I would do and I also know how expensive it would all be. As a result, over the past few years I decided to put the kitchen on the back burner and instead focus my time and resources on renovating more affordable areas of our home. It was a good plan. But now that I’ve transformed a lot of spaces in our home into what I want, the kitchen is really starting to bother me even more! It’s a totally different style, color palette and feel than the rest of the house now. It honestly feels like you’re in a totally different home when you’re standing in the kitchen. 

So back in February, I decided I’d had enough… it was time to turn my focus to the kitchen. I decided that I would either go ahead and renovate it and turn it into my dream kitchen, or I would update it enough that I could at least feel okay with the room until I could afford my dream kitchen. After running some specific numbers, I realized that it was going to be very expensive to turn my kitchen into my dream kitchen, and we currently have college tuition for our children to think about so it could end up being maybe 5 years before we can afford to renovate the kitchen. There was no way I could live with the kitchen we have now for the next 5 years so I needed to do something to make it acceptable until then.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. There may be someone else out there looking for a low-cost update to a space until you can finally afford your dream renovation. Well, if you are, here is my tip: Identify your focus and limits before you start. This is something I do on every project anyway, but it was particularly important on this one! 

The first thing I did was take a little time before I started to set my max budget. It’s never wise to put a lot of money into a room only to tear it all out a few years later. So the budget had to be low enough that I was okay tearing it all out at some point. I decided $1500 was my max. This budget became a limit that helped me make decisions along the way in terms of what I should replace now and what I should wait to address when we do our full dream kitchen renovation. 

The second thing I did was identify what I really hated about the room. Basically, what was driving this particular renovation to begin with? What would I need in order to be able to endure this room for awhile? (This is a different list than I would have made if I were designing my dream kitchen.)

Here’s my focus:

  1. The room needed to have a look and feel that fit with the rest of the areas in my home that I’ve already updated
  2. I wanted to improve some areas that weren’t very functional
  3. I needed to fix/remove a few things that were eyesores/damaged (including water stains on the ceiling and a nonfunctional old intercom system)

Every time I wondered whether it was worth updating something in my kitchen, I referred to this list and my budget. It helped me to focus on what was important and what wasn’t.

So my plan was to start my “limited makeover” of my kitchen in March having no idea that COVID-19 would hit then. Right before COVID, my schedule was crazy busy. The firm I work for was swamped and I was upping my hours, plus my kids had many activities and events planned for the spring, and I was also interviewing contractors to start a big project in our back yard which I would be managing during the spring. Add to that my kitchen reno that I was working on by myself, and looking back, I’m not sure how I was planning to fit it all in. Once COVID-19 came to the US my schedule was completely turned upside down. My kids activities were cancelled, events were cancelled, and the work at my firm came to a grinding halt. We put the back yard project on hold and then quarantine started in our state. With plenty of time stuck at home, I knew I wanted to focus on getting my kitchen done. And so this is what I did…

Here is what my kitchen used to look like:

After:

No, this is not my dream kitchen… at all! I was hesitant to even share this project on the blog because there’s still a lot I don’t like about the final result. But it works for now until I can afford my dream kitchen. It’s certainly better than what I had before. And I kept the total cost to $1500! I did all the work myself, but I think it was worth all of the time and hard work.

REVEAL: MY GREAT ROOM BECOMES GREAT

I am so excited to share my new Great Room reveal!!! This makeover has taken longer than usual because my schedule has been very limited this year with my kids’ activities and my job working in a firm demanding a lot of my time, but I tried to squeeze out every minute of free time I could to slowly work on this room… and every minute I spent was well worth it!

Let’s begin with the before photos…

Our great room is very important in our home because it’s physically and figuratively the center of the whole house. We spend a lot of time in this room hanging out or watching tv, and whenever we have guests over we usually congregate in here and the adjacent kitchen. Because of the amount of use this room gets it was important for me to make it a space people really want to be in. And after years of waiting to get to transform this room, I’m grateful that it has turned into what I originally envisioned—a bright and comfortable room I don’t want to leave!

Take a look at the photos…

1 BATHROOM, $300, 5 DAYS: FINAL REVEAL

I recently took on a new project: our guest bathroom. This was more than a project though, it was a challenge. It ended up being a kind of case study on what impact you can have with very little time and money (since I have little of both these days).

I challenged myself to give my guest bathroom a new look with only $300 and 5 days of work. I’m happy to say the challenge is complete and I like this bathroom so much more than I used to!

Take a look at what the bathroom originally looked like…

And here is what it looks like after 5 days and $300 invested…

1 BATHROOM, $300, 5 DAYS

I hope everyone had a great holiday! We had a busy but nice time that included a family road trip to Florida. Nothing like the four of us crammed in an SUV for what ended up being a 13-hour drive! Fun!!

I had a new makeover I was going to work on in December, but then a friend of mine who owns an Etsy shop asked me to help her out with some seasonal work so I ended up pushing this project back until the holidays were over. Now that my schedule has settled down, I’ve jumped right into this project—a project I actually started planning about a year.

It was about a year ago that I was cleaning our downstairs guest bathroom in preparation for some guests who were arriving later that day and not surprisingly, my mind began to wander to all the things I could do to change the look of the bathroom…. new colors, new molding, a new mirror, new tile, and so on. I hadn’t done much to this bathroom since we moved in 12 years ago. Before I knew it, I had prepared a complete design overhaul plan in my head! And then I stopped myself because my time and budget have been so limited these days that I wasn’t sure I could pull off yet another total room makeover. But then I decided instead of surrendering to my limitations, I could take them as a challenge! I asked myself, Could I give this room a new look on a small budget with limited time invested?

Hmmmm… Challenge accepted!!!

So I gave myself some parameters:

  • one bathroom
  • three hundred dollars
  • five days

I would need to complete all the work in five days and all with a max budget of $300!

I can do that (…I think)!! To make this happen I would need to focus on good preparation which all begins with a good design plan. With a limited budget I would not be able to turn this into my dream bathroom, but I was determined to change the overall look and feel of the room while addressing the problems.

Let’s start by taking a look at how the bathroom used to look:

Pretty blah, huh? So here are my goals for this makeover:

  • update the outdated look
  • try to conceal the unattractive bathtub since I can’t afford to replace it
  • add some interest and character to a very boring room

And here’s a look at my design board: