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From Pinterest to Presence: Bringing a Renovation Project to Life

July 12, 2018

From Pinterest to Presence: Bringing a Renovation Project to Life


Back in January, I proudly outlined a detailed plan and budget for our kitchen renovation. I priced every item we intended to use, down to the grout for the tiles. It was a cool-toned midcentury inspired chef’s kitchen, with a (used) professional range I had already sourced. Gleaming stainless hardware, black countertops and cabinets, mosaic midcentury modern inspired tile backsplash, classic bright aqua blue Marmoleum floors. I’m sure it would have been fabulous.

Then over the course of the next few months we found out:
– You need a professional grade exhaust system (loud!) to go with a professional range, because of the higher gas output.
– The cabinets we intended to refinish could not accommodate a dishwasher, and they were built and mortared in place, so there was no way to reconfigure or reuse them. – The countertops we liked had a history of melting when they made contact with hot items.
– When we saw the mosaic tile in person, the design looked cheap, like stickers on the back of glass.
– Our current floor tile not only was cemented in place instead of grouted, but it was cemented over asbestos tile that would require professional abatement if disturbed.
We didn’t find this all out at once, but over the months our plans slowly shifted. As we started work, we decided to downsize our fridge, which was massively oversized for the space. In the original plans we were going to keep the fridge, since it was perfectly good, but the space is so much better off without it. As the months progressed, I spent literally hundreds of hours pouring over range reviews, images of cabinet hardware, countertop reviews and wild DIY options. We had a friend drop off cabinets he had pulled out of an old rental, only to discover that stock unfinished cabinets from the local home improvement store were much less expensive than we thought. I tested seven different white paints to coordinate with the counters & backsplash. I scrutinized cabinet hardware options until just over a month ago, nearly six months after I first thought I had my plan all set. Now here we are, with our organic modern white marble and limed oak kitchen with matte black hardware, and I couldn’t love it more. Pinterest is magical, spreadsheets are a godsend, but when you are renovating a room in real life, there are so many considerations that don’t come across on screen, or at least aren’t immediately apparent in the planning stage.

The only aspects the room I thought I wanted and the room I have now have in common, is that they both feel more spacious than my old kitchen, they’re lighter, brighter, and more organized. Like I said in my article about what I learned from watching The Great Interior Design Challenge, the most important consideration is how you want the room to feel when you’re using it. When we first outlined what we wanted out of a kitchen renovation, we had a few goals: -Open up the space so it felt less cramped -Create more organized storage
-Increase counter-space
-Add a dishwasher
-Increase the height of the faucet and the depth of the sink – Make sure the kitchen feels like it belongs in the house
Even though our kitchen went through several complete redesigns over the course of the last few months, we never lost sight of these goals, and that’s how we ended up with a kitchen we love despite all the changes. The other place we did not waiver was our budget, $3,000, and that was a defining factor in this project as much as the architecture of our house. Each time we considered a change, it was added to my spreadsheet with approximate cost, and if we decided we needed to spend more in one area, we figured out how to save in another. For example, part of the reason we didn’t pursue covering the floors was because we know that’s something we can address down the road if we want to, and we decided to save that money for a high end faucet, since that’s a part of the kitchen that sees a lot of heavy use and is worth investing in. In the end we went about $200 over budget because of an unforeseen issue with the dishwasher power supply, and the subsequent electrician bill. No matter how hard you try, you can never plan for everything, even when that plan is dynamic and responsive to your situation.
With other projects I’ve tackled, I’ve taken a bit more of an off the cuff approach, as I was generally just changing paint colors, lighting, and maybe moving some furniture around. With this complete redo of the most complex room in our house, I couldn’t take that kind of lax attitude, or it could end up costing me big time when I hated a cabinet color next year, or found out the countertops I’d chosen weren’t durable enough to stand up to our constant cooking.
Taking a renovation project from Pinterest to real life presence is a huge undertaking, and while it’s important to be flexible and roll with the punches, make sure you know what your goals and budget are for the project, and never lose sight of those, no matter how the other elements may change. I am so in love with the (nearly) final product of my kitchen that I literally stand and stare at it smiling before I turn the light off before bed; I’m actually that happy with it. So while back in March when my mom and husband were both definitely concerned about me and the amount of time I was spending researching gas ranges and cabinet knobs, I one-hundred-percent believe all the considering and reconsidering were worth the effort. I’ll share a full profile of the finished product soon, but here’s a preview of the real life finishes and choices we made.

Have you planned a renovation? What did you learn in the process? What major changes did you have to adjust to? I’d love to hear about it! Love this? Pin it!

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