Saturday, February 27, 2016

Apartment Kitchen Upgrade

When we last saw the kitchen, I had done significant upgrades by taking down the drop ceiling, installing paneling, and painting everything.  Lipstick on a pig type stuff, as the bathroom got the full gut job last time. This time it was the kitchen's turn, mainly because when I did a first few showings people didn't like the kitchen.  I think a large part was that the tenants were dirty so it did not show well. Nor did they clean it up upon move out.  How does one get food on the ceiling? I can only imagine a blender without a top... 

So on top of scrubbing the life out of the entire place, I decided that something had to be done about the cabinets, which had not faired so great in the past two years.  Earlier in the year, I had removed the radiator that had been blocking the cabinets as part of the heating system upgrade, and with winter coming I needed to get heat back in the room as well, so it was good timing to get it done.

The level of grim and stickiness cannot be accurately captured in a photo.
The radiator had been on the right, in front of the blank panel.
Last year I bought a new stove and microwave hood, but only installed the stove as I didn't want to do any construction while tenants were living there. Also I had no upper cabinet to hang it off of, so it spent a year in my basement just chillin.  They are from GE's Artistry line, which has a retro flare and no bells and whistles to break, so I thought it was perfect.  This was the only thing that had been cleaned before the tenants moved out, but my mother, who helped me tremendously, looked at it and sniffed "that is not a clean I recognize" before attacking it with Bon Ami.  In case you were wondering where the crazy clean/organized part of me comes from...

Hey Beth maybe next time turn on the lights when you're taking pictures.
So next to be inspected was the refrigerator. I like to be proactive about replacing stuff before it breaks because I hate doing anything in Emergency Mode. It was 20 years old so even if it hadn't been sprouting mildew and mold on every surface ("THEY PUT FOOD IN THIS?!?!?! - Mother) it was on the replacement list.  And because I care about all four of you that read this, I will refrain from showing pictures. I myself just got over the nightmares.

So once I got all the garbage and random furniture and dog hair out of the place, I headed down to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. This place is great - full of donated building materials and furnishings and all proceeds go to a good cause.  I went "just to look" on my lunch break and spotted some cabinets that seemed to be perfect, because they were mostly lowers. And they had been marked down, score!  I whipped out my measuring tape and took down all the sizes of the cabinets so I could compare them to one of the many options I had laid out for the kitchen, because, architect.

I love a sale!

I came back later that day after ascertaining they would work to find they had been marked down again to $1800! At this point I figured they wanted them gone and asked if they could do better. I got another hundred off, which made this cabinets a super steal - solid wood, full inlay, with the hardware 80% replaced already.  Getting them home was an ordeal that lasted two days and four SUVs and required the calling in of some favors. But it was worth it for these:

Ok, so I know they look a little rough around the edges, but I saw potential, even if they did have cathedral style upper cabinets and some weird reddish stain/filler/nonsense by the handles.  Steel wool and Murphy's Oil Soap got this crud/improvement off easily.

Who did this and said, yes, this looks better!

Fast forward a couple days and the kitchen looked like this:

Being frugal, I did not want to replace the counters because Stage 3 is removing the pantry/laundry to open the kitchen up like I did upstairs. I did not want to buy something that would have to be replaced in just a couple years, so I removed the old cabs and slid the new ones under the counter, which worked way better than I thought it would.  So the problem was now I had to devise some counters for around the stove. I bought the cheapest laminate top I could find at Home Depot and cut it down to size for the left side. For the right side, I used a slate tile to match the black paint. Mother and I also made our own built-up wood back splash piece to tie it all together.

I painted it all with regular Rustoleum in Satin Black and gave the existing counters a refresh coat.

Not bad for winging it

Lastly, I installed black vinyl base in the kickspace to match the counters and visually separate the different woods. After that, the new radiator and fridge came to round out the renovation.  

The kitchen now has so much more storage that is actually functional, with two giant lazy susans and drawers galore.  It also looks about a thousand times better and is something I can be proud to show to prospective tenants. This went from a liability to an asset for $3,000 in only two weeks. Buying used instead of new saved natural resources and these cabinets from ending up in the landfill.  I salvaged the gray upper cabinets and gave them to a friend for storage in his garage; the lowers fell apart and had to be thrown away, but not before I saved the cool handles.

Before and After:

New Runtal radiator. So skinny!
Great for renovations of tight spaces.
Old radiator location. So nice.

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