Kitchen Remodel: What Would You Do?

I know this kitchen has been remodeled once, because we actually have the very cool original blueprints framed and hanging in our living room and the paperwork on the cabinet refacing that was done 15 years ago.
Kitchen renovation before
Galley Style
Here’s my problem.  My husband and I are super frugal people.  We weren’t always this way, but by making very frugal choices over the years, we’ve been able to enjoy some really great things, like peace of mind, and career changes without fear. So now, when we’ve been blessed to move to a great house in a fabulous location, we’ve decided to make some changes to our dated kitchen.  It’s not a horrible, completely ugly kitchen.  It’s just a little dated.  It has its problems.
  • We butchered the laminate counter when we replaced the stove a few years ago.
  • The eat in area is just big enough for our table, but not big enough for more than two people.
  • The walk-in pantry is just steps outside the kitchen, in the dining room.
  • There is a ton of wasted space above the laundry, which is in the kitchen behind the fridge, in this picture.
  • The galley style is not my favorite layout.
  • The laminate cabinets are a bit dated, but not completely ugly, and could be improved, perhaps, by Cabinet Transformations.
  • Our “mudroom” is 6 coat hooks and a shoe-bench at the end of our counter.
  • Crumbling walls behind the cabinets and a direct vent to the outside behind the microwave create a constant draft.
  • But the biggest problem is the wall that separates the back staircase from the kitchen.  I can envision this wall GONE< GONE< GONE, and visually expanding the kitchen by about 8 feet.

kitchen renovation before

But there is a lot of good about our kitchen, too:
The durable vinyl flooring was installed immediately before we bought the house four years ago, and wears great.
The layout is adequate, and all the cabinets are sturdy.
There is plenty of cabinet and counter space.
The taxes on our old home appear to be very low compared to newer construction in the area. A remodel would jack up the taxes. Yuck.
The Choice for Our Kitchen Remodel
So I am currently faced with some options.  A minor kitchen remodel would include the following:
New Cambria engineered stone counters.  Maybe I’ll do a post later on why granite is not the best choice for a kitchen remodel.
Stylish new backsplash
Side panel on the dishwasher, providing support for the new counter and separation from the stove
Patch behind the microwave, closing up the vent flap, and stuff insulation behind the cabinets before the new counter top goes on
New sink, disposal, and faucet
New electrical outlets and new under cabinet LED lighting.
This option would take about a week to complete, but I’d only be out of service for the day they install the new counter.

The major kitchen remodel would be a total gut.  Here’s one version of the new floor plan.  See the big mass in the middle?  That is a big honking 12′ island with no wall in the middle, that allows me to keep my laundry in the kitchen and even add cabinetry.

Kitchen renovation plan 4

  • The major change would be removal of the wall behind the washer/dryer, opening up the kitchen for a humongous island.
  • We’ll either need to live with a bar height island or purchase a smaller washer/dryer to accommodate a standard height island.
  • We will need to relocate the current powder room to the current pantry, which will allow us to have a more traditional commode AND sink.  (Woohoo!  A sink in the bathroom?  Apparently an option one hundred years ago.)
  • We will have to get all new flooring, which means we may as well remove the 3 cast iron radiators and install radiant heat flooring, which means we have more room for cabinets.
  • We will gain visual access to the two windows, now currently in the powder room and rear hallway.
  • We will gain insulation!!!!!
  • We would definitely gain the WOW factor.
We would be out of service completely for 6-8 weeks.  With toddlers.  Who eat 6 times a day.  And access to our basement is through the kitchen, which means we’ll be limited to accessing that space (where I store many of my work supplies) sparingly.
Did I mention we’ll be down a kitchen for 6-8 weeks?  With toddlers.
But, we’d end up with a dream kitchen.  Here’s my inspiration.  This kitchen is on the website of one of my favorite builders, .
Kitchen renovation inspiration
What would you do?  Obviously, there is also a major price difference, but the frugal choices we’ve made up to now mean we’re not especially pressured financially.  I just have to find somewhere else to hang out for 6-8 weeks besides the kitchen.  With two tiny eating machines in the house. OK, I’ll admit, I eat constantly, too.
Do I just shelve the whole idea of a kitchen remodel for 4 more years until they are in school and out of the house much of the day?  Has anyone else lived through this?  Want to talk me into a position?  Come to the Dump and Run class on February 11, make your case, and leave with your dinner.
Do nothing for 4 years, then dream kitchen?
Minor kitchen remodel now and dream kitchen later?
Major kitchen remodel now?
Move?  (Do not give my hubby one more reason to hang out on!)
What would you do?  I’d love to hear.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. HeartWork Organizing

    I received this today from a reader to share: . Loved the plans! In your situation, I would go for the major remodel but wait till the summer and send your kids to live with the Grandma(s) for a couple weeks if they are close by. Either that or send them to day camp during the day and eat out every night. I have a friend who recently started to a new job across the country and stayed 6 weeks in “short term housing” before she found a permanent place to live. Short term housing could be an option for you if you really couldn’t stay in your house for 6 to 8 weeks. I think universities rent out dorm space for the summer, but that probably is very pricey. (I couldn’t believe how nice, and BIG, my nephew’s college room with kitchen is!) Perhaps students who vacate apartments off campus during the summer sublet at that time. Actually, you might be able to find a family who vacates their house in the summer to live in another location, who wouldn’t mind having a house sitter. Of course, that kind of arrangement needs connections and referrals, but I think you wouldn’t have much trouble finding that situation. There are also little old ladies who live in enormous houses by themselves who would enjoy having your company for a few weeks.

    Good luck! It will be an adventure no matter what you do. But I think you’d always think about the “what if” if you did the minor reno. Big dreams need to be followed. If I had a big dream like that for my kitchen I would do it.

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