Friday, February 6, 2015

Kitchen Update: Changes, Counters, Backsplash, Budget, and Timeline

Phase two, in progress. 
Every time I have started this update, I've been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of this project and what has been happening with it. Not a day goes by but we have to make changes, redo work that we'd thought was finished or reevaluate priorities and budget.

In other words, it's just like every other project on the planet: no matter how much you plan ahead (and we really thought we had it covered), there will be surprises.

The biggest one, so far, has been the issue with the blind corner. To be fair, we knew all along that it might need to be revisited. I'd even cautioned Steve that he needed to build the corner unit before he moved any of the electrical or plumbing, just in case.

As I mentioned in our previous post, we decided not to do the fancy Lee Valley corner pull-out because it wasted so much space. Instead, we opted for a 24-inch-wide drawer unit and just sacrifice the dead space.

We knew we would have to include an extra three-inch filler in order for the drawers and oven doors to open without bonking into each other. No problem -- we had just enough space to do it.


The oven needed a full six inches of extra clearance, because it sticks out much farther than the drawers do.

That empty box will eventually be a drawer unit for pots and pans.
We simply did not have an extra three inches to do that.

We actually considered recessing the range into the wall slightly, enough to accommodate the protrusions on the back of the ovens, so that it would sit right flush and only needed a three-inch clearance.

We could gain about two inches by recessing the electrical and that box that sticks out.
But that just seemed funky. Like one of those weird renovations you discover when you're updating a house. Can you imagine moving into a house and finding weird divots in the wall? And it seems highly unlikely that the next range would have its protrusions in precisely the same place.

So we scrapped that idea.

As a result, we've had to swap the drawer unit and the range -- I had originally wanted the unit to be to the left of the range.

I don't want the oven to be hanging out in the middle of the room like that with no surface to its left, so Stephen is going to custom-build a shelf unit. It's not ideal, as it means the entrance to the kitchen will be narrower than we would like.

That gap is roughly 30 inches wide.
We call this little area The Intersection. It connects the front hall, the kitchen, the sun room, and the basement. Ideally, it should remain 30 inches wide. To minimize the encroachment of the shelf unit, I'm going to angle the corner. Stay tuned.

The change in placement of the oven incurred a whole bunch of electrical changes and cost us a day of progress.

We also went without a functional sink for a couple of days, but it was well worth the pain.

Temporary installation of the sink.
This sink was relatively inexpensive and is big enough to comfortably soak my largest roasting pan. You'll notice a small draining basket sitting on the right side of it. This provides a draining or straining place when the sink is full of soapy water. Our plan is to have draining ridges cut into the counter top over the dishwasher.

I should note that Stephen and Brian have done a stupendous job of ensuring that the kitchen and dining room are (mostly) usable by dinnertime each day. There have been only two days where I felt that I really could not cook a meal. On one of those days, we ordered in Chinese food; the next day, I bought frozen cabbage rolls.


Meanwhile, the discussion of countertop and backsplash options continues. Last week, I shared four options we were considering.

Remember these?
A couple of people questioned whether we had considered these surfaces relative to our flooring and backsplash options. Well, no, we hadn't, though we always intended to.

I could show you the many other countertop options we considered, but, frankly, I'm a little tired of editing pictures right now. So here is what we've selected.

Our floor tile is being held by Emily with her beautifully manicured nails.
Isn't it pretty?

In the end, we decided to stick with granite, rather than quartz or a man-made surface. I've really enjoyed the resilience of the granite we've had till now. (By the way, we were able to remove our existing counters mostly intact. The only breakage was where the sink-hole was cut. Depending on cost, we're planning to use the salvaged granite in our bathrooms.)

The vanilla cream is probably lighter than many people would have chosen, but it very nicely blends the grey-ish tile and the orange-brown wood of the cupboards.


The samples are shown lying on our kitchen floor.
Forgive the glare on the $9.97 tile. Had it been a serious contender, I would have taken it out of its plastic.
I gathered samples from Home Depot and from Centura Tile, which happens to be near our house. After we got them home, and looked at them in various lighting situations, we narrowed the selection down to three four options.

I love the classic look of subway tile, and I really love the price. However (and I can't tell you how many times I tried to get a good picture with accurate colour!), the bright white of tile made the floor look dingy.
I know. They don't look bad in this picture, but you'll have to trust me on this one.
Next up was the wood-grain mosaic.

I thought this was an interesting option, but it ended up looking quite yellow next to the wood. It also had a matte finish and I prefer to put some gloss on the walls to help the light bounce around more.

This glass tile mosaic was another appealing option. I love the depth of glass tile. If the beige tiles in this had had a slightly more orange cast, I think it might have been a winner.

But this is the one that both Emily and I fell in love with.

I don't think it's actually called "snakeskin," but that's how Steve refers to it, so that's what we're going with.

Can you see how beautifully it goes with the floor? If I could have found subway tile in this exact colour and finish, I probably would have chosen those, but I do like the "squashed hexagon." It's not something you see every day, and it's not so trendy that it will date the kitchen, but it's classic enough that I think I'll be happy with it for a couple of decades, at least.


In one of my first posts about the kitchen, I provided the following:

As of January 6, we had spent:
IKEA          $1,097.20
Lee Valley       299.45
     I had budgeted the following:
Countertops (granite)  estimate: $2,000
Small microwave   estimate: $200
Vent hood   estimate $200
Faucet     estimate $150

Here's where we're at as of February 4:
IKEA (cabinets, sink) $1330
Lee Valley $0
Home Depot (plumbing, electrical, faucet, vent hood) $1,153
Best Buy (countertop microwave) $115
     What's left:
Countertops         estimate $2,700
Backsplash         estimate $500
Paint and drywall         estimate $150
Lighting         estimate $200
 So we've gone over in a few things.
  • I had not included any budget for backsplash or lighting. Ooops.
  • Electrical proved to be significantly more expensive than I'd planned as we ended up needing to add quite a few breakers to the electrical panel.
  • I chose a (much) more expensive vent hood in order to get one that is really, really quiet. (I have tinnitus and hate turning on a noisy kitchen fan, which means I end up not using it except as a very expensive under-cabinet light.)
The current forecast is that we will spend approximately $6,250 -- about 25% over budget. It's still manageable and, as kitchen renovations go, well on the budget-conscious side.


Because we have the luxury of being retired, we had not put a time constraint on the kitchen, except that IKEA would not guarantee compatible cabinets after February first. In fact, we were exceptionally lucky to find an extra 24-inch drawer base, even before that date.

We've also learned that the granite contractor has a special in February (it's a slow period), which could save us $400 (without that discount, the estimate would be over $3,000). So our current goal is to complete most of the work -- at least to countertop installation -- by the end of this month.

Other tweaks, like painting, moving the heating duct, and repairing the floor, can wait.

So that's the current state of affairs. Stephen and Brian are taking a well-deserved break from kitchen work today.


  1. Looking at the second photo: Is there enough room for the set of drawers to pull out without hitting the drawer handles of the drawers at right angle to them?
    Good call on not recessing into the wall to accommodate the oven...might affect the air circulation for the oven.
    I absolutely LOVE the choice for countertop and backsplash...they go so well with the floor tiles and wood! Can't wait to see it all.

    1. I wondered if someone would mention that! Yes, there is enough room -- the cabinet is only placed there temporarily and doesn't show its proper alignment. Next update will show you how it works.

      Hadn't thought about circulation for the oven, but that is a good point. It probably would not have met code.

      I'm eager to see it all come together too, but there is still so much to be done . . .

  2. I am so happy to be living my renovation dreams through you... and not taking the hit to my bank account! Ha
    I LOVE the Vanilla Cream!! that will look so good. can't wait to see it all pulled together.

    1. Ah, a little vicarious joy. Glad I could help you out. ;)

  3. That's a really wise breakdown of the entire process and the costs. Glad that you're approaching the renovation from such angle, so you'd know from where to start with and how. Anyway, I hope that you'll get everything dealt with smoothly, most especially the functional aspects including the plumbing. All the best!

    Lovella Cushman @ Perfection Plumbing

  4. Wow! It seems that you're really making huge changes on your kitchen. All the new things you're planning to place in there are gorgeous and presentable, from the tiles, to the cabinets, to the drawers. It also seems that the drains and pipes are good to go. Thanks for sharing that! Kudos and all the best!

    Levi Eslinger @ Capital Plumbing


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