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Need help with kitchen remodel


We are new to the world of kitchen remodeling and need help!! We've read a lot on this and have learned much but still have some unanswered questions. Any info you can give will be appreciated. We have a 1920's bungalow and want to keep the aura of that. Walking into a "new kitchen store" or checking out web sites is kind of distressing as they are all so modern and sleek and big (not to mention costly) and not at all what we want. We want a simple, light, cottage look, reminiscent of the past.

Our kitchen is small, we will be keeping the stove and refrigeration (only 6 years old), there will be no expansions or tearing down of walls and for the most part the set up will be the same. We need new flooring, backsplash, sink, cosmetics and hopefully we can fit a dishwasher somewhere in there. Both counter space and cabinitry are minimal (no islands in this kitchen, ours is hardly bigger than an island now) but they need replacing. We have a closet which we plan to turn into an "old fashioned pantry" in fact, it may have been a pantry back when our house was first built. This is where the majority of our storage will be (food, pots and pans, mixer, etc.) All we want in here are sturdy shelves and beadboard backing. It's a good size but not big enough for counter or working.) We have been unable to find any pictures of an old fashioned pantry on the web that we can show to potential remodelers, can anyone direct us to a site that might have a good picture or two?

We are new to the area and therefore don't know who is good and who isn't. How does one go about finding an honest, reputable person to do this work (DIY'ers we are not, sorry to say.) And do we leave the workers in the house all day, alone? For a small job one of is always home, but it is unrealistic and also impossible for someone to be home all day long while the work is going on. We don't want them stealing us blind or getting too comfy. Angie's list - haven't had much luck in finding someone through this.

Were does the designer fit into all of this? Do we pay extra for a designer or is it part of the deal (assuming the designer and remodelers come from the same company)? And do we really need a designer (yeah, we probably do, lol.)?

About how long does it take for this kind of job? Haven't a clue if is a week, a month or 6 months.

And lastly, how much does something like this cost? Again, haven't a clue if it is $1,000, $10,000 or $100,000. Our wallets are running the show and they aren't real full. I know there is a lot of this and that involved in this but we don't know if what we want is at all within our budget.

So many questions!! Like I said we are new to this and really need to know where to start. Thanks!

Re: Need help with kitchen remodel

I think that unknowingly, you stepped into a mine field and now you are trying to navigate your way without getting blown away.

1. Finding trustworthy pros: get names from those who satifactorly used them before, such as neighbors, friends, co-workers, colleagues, family, other contractors, etc. Poor choices are: BBB, flyers and yellow pages.
2. You don't need a designer/architect for such a small job, just a reliable general manager, who by the way will have many of the contacts you need.
3. Budget: get estimates from multiple contractors before you make your decisions. Many times folks like you go over budget. Try not to let this happen to you. Also, make sure you have all the funds on hand (cash or improvement loan).
4. Supervision is essential, but that doesn't mean breathing down workers' necks. You mentioned theft - remove all valuable items and put them away, don't give workers the opportunity to be tempted to steal.
5. Length of work - depends on what you want done, how busy the contractors are, scheduling and them actually showing up to work. Don't let the kitchen sit idle, have workers there everyday, by proper scheduling.
6. Cost - we don't know, as costs of labor, materials, transportation and others do vary, so get estimates.
7. Paperwork: signed contracts, contractors' license info, insurance binders, lien releases and others should be kept on file at all times.

Being your first project, you'll make mistakes. Hopefully, you'll get it done, without too many scratches.

Re: Need help with kitchen remodel

I would suggest signing up for some woodworking classes and learn to DYI - it's not rocket science.

Anyone can use a router table, saw, etc.

Re: Need help with kitchen remodel

For the style you describe (1920's bungalow) you'll probably want to look at "craftsman" style trim and finishes. Typically this is represented by straight lines and squared-off corners, with little embellishment. Trim and cabinets will probably be painted rather than stained.

You may be able to reuse some of the existing cabinets IF the carcases (the cabinet boxes) are in good shape. Refinishing the face frames is pretty easy, and you can install new doors of an appropriate style. You may need to special order the doors if they aren't standard size, but it will still be a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire cabinet. If the cabinets are NOT in good shape or won't match up with new cabinets, don't even bother trying to fix or remodel them; it's not worth it. (I've done that and regretted it.)

For this period of home, the typical countertop materials would have been soapstone, marble, or linoleum (yes, linoleum!) with metal edging. High-pressure laminate (aka Formica) is a more durable alternative to linoleum, and not inappropriate to the style. A tile or washable wallpaper backsplash goes well.

Make sure you install good task lighting. Working in your shadow is unpleasant. If anyone using the kitchen is about 5' tall or shorter, build a section of counter 3"-6" lower than standard. (Note that dishwashers require standard height countertops.) If space permits, provide some workspace with no upper cabinets.

For the pantry, let the styling in the kitchen drive the styling in the pantry. Once you know what you want the kitchen to look like, just make the furnishings and finishes in the pantry match.

Consider the style of the faucet very carefully. Even more important than appearance is function; you want one that will be easy to use or you will absolutely hate it. Pull-out and pull-down spouts can be nicer than separate sprayers. Choosing between pull-out and pull-down depends both on personal style and how well the individual faucet is designed. It should be made of solid brass, not plastic and not cast zinc. It will be expensive, but it doesn't need to be an overpriced designer brand that you can't pronounce.

Actual commercial ranges are cheaper than "commercial style" ranges, but they may not be as pretty. They may not have safety features required by your local residential building codes.

Don't be tempted to use ceramic or stone tile flooring. Anything dropped on that surface will break or dent, and your feet and back will hate it after you've spent a couple hours baking or canning or cooking. Hardwood or laminate flooring requires attention to wipe up spills immediately. Vinyl or linoleum are probably the best choices if you are a messy cook.

Lastly, remember that this advice is worth every penny you paid for it. :cool:

Re: Need help with kitchen remodel

I think you will find that he kitchen probably had a big stand alone sink and even less counter space than you have now, but it likely didn't have a refrigerator, more likely an under counter ice box. The stove was probably bigger too, probably gas or electric. This type kitchen would have been upgraded in the 40's or 50's, sometime after WWII.

At this time, a tile countertop would have been appropriate. The sink would have been an under-mount porcelain single bowl sink, double bowl if the remodel came in the later 50's. The remodel would have been necessary to accommodate things like the refrigerator, hot water and a new stove.

If you don't need new cabinets, you can just refinish them or replace the doors and drawer fronts. If you do want new cabinets, I would recommend using as many drawers as possible instead of cabinet doors. Its a lot easier to get stuff out of drawers than under counter cabinets with doors. Not exactly period appropriate but not unheard of either. You will appreciate the drawers more as you get older.

Above the cabinets, open shelves may be more period appropriate than enclosed cabinets, but cabinets are a lot more convenient so I would go ahead and use them.

For the floor, linoleum would have been common in the 20"s. Asphalt tile would be more common for the remodel. Today the asphalt tiles would be replaced by vinyl tiles. This is not the vinyl sheet flooring but the individual 12" square tiles that are solid vinyl through and are about 1/8" thick. Different color tiles in a pattern of some sort would also be common, especially in the more upscale houses.

Expect to budget somewhere between $6 to 12K on a project like this, depending on your choices and how much that you DIY.

Measure your kitchen and draw out a floor plan showing the current locations of doors, windows, cabinets, and appliances. Measure the size of your cabinets. Then head to the home center (Lowes, Home Depot, Ace etc.). Look at stock cabinets and see if they are the same size as what you currently have and if you would be happy with the styles available. If you can live with the stock cabinets, that will really help the budget.

If you need custom cabinets, most home centers have a help area where advisors (no cost to you) can help you with your design, select cabinets and even arrange installation. If you have a porcelain sink in good condition, I would keep it. Otherwise I'd stick to a new porcelain/cast iron sink. A farmers sink (expensive) in porcelain/cast iron would kinda give a more 20"s feeling. If budget is absolutely driving choices, a stainless steel sink would work, but I think that in the long run, you won't like it.

Then arrange for a tile contractor to put in a tile countertop and backsplash. This is potentially a DIY project, there is a tile forum that a lot of members here recommend, someone here will pipe in and give you a link if you ask.

Vinyl tiles for the floor are a definite DIY. No grouting, just glue down in a pattern that you like. Most of the time, a single color tile was used, but the tiles are turned 90° to each other. They always have a grain pattern so you will figure out what I mean. Tiles used to be stuck down with either tar or contact cement. Most tiles today are peal and stick.

Period tiles are not permanently finished. They would get waxed about once a week. The house wife used to get down on her hands and knees and rub in a carnauba paste wax. In the 50's, a liquid wax came out so women would just pour a little on the floor and spread it with an applicator, the run a buffer over it. The waxes today are self polishing, just pour and spread. Much easier. The housewife would typically lay down new tiles when needed, although it was usually the husband that took up the old tiles. They don't come up easily.

Be sure to paint the walls and ceiling before you start anything else. A tin tile ceiling would not be out of place either, but not necessary.

Re: Need help with kitchen remodel

Oh, thank you so much for all the helpful responses!!! Really appreciate it. I'm getting excited about doing this and yes, probably in over my head. DH is being the sensible one, saying one thing at a time. I tend to get a little overwhelmed thinking of everything that needs to be done.

I love the idea of linoleum or vinyl for the floors, love the idea of lots of drawers (though not sure we will have room for them, it may be that or a dishwasher), love the metal edging on the countertops, that is what I was thinking but unfortunately haven't seen it out and about, love the porcelain sink, would really love to have a soapstone sink but it's probably not in the budget, not real crazy about the housewife getting down on hands and knees once a week to wax.

The 6K-12K is within our range and what we are hoping for. Neither of is is DIYer and no chance we will be so I think we will be spending in the higher range of this. Hoping there will be enough left over for a bathroom remodel.

Unique Design R...
Re: Need help with kitchen remodel

You might also consider Brazilian slate for the countertops, not as pricey as soapstone and fabricators can also build a sink. Brazilian slate comes in black, grey, green and purple and is honed. There are lots of craftsman style tiles to choose from. Wish I knew where you were, could recommend a few places to go for something that's not Lowe's or Home Depot style. For counter ideas or tile layouts there are lots of photos on my Pinterest page, www.pinterest.com/wendyeclarke.

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