The Kitchen Cabinets Go Up

The kitchen cabinets go up! Here are the pictures. This is just the first iteration of this work. The second iteration will involve the final installation of all the cabinets followed by the hooking up of appliances, replacing the kitchen light with a track light, painting of the cabinets and the ceiling.

Here is the list of value-adds I am adding to the kitchen:

  1. Replace the old 1980 cabinets with newer, modern looking cabinets. I got a good deal on Criagslist and got all of the maple colored cabinets that you see in these pictures, for $300. The remaining cabinets and hardware that needed to be bought from Ikea (for the same style)  cost around another $450- bringing the overall cost of the materials to ~$800. All of them are high cabinets(39″) and reach almost upto the ceiling, which is a great space utilization method, makes the kitchen appear more spacious and also does the trick of adding more elegance to the cabinets. When I got a quote for getting all these cabinets new from Ikea, the cost of just the cabinets and the hardware alone was exceeding $1900; so this is a savings of at least 50%.
  2. Add glass to the kitchen. My love for glass has been elaborated in this post. So the kitchen too had to follow this theme. I got some beautiful looking translucent-ish glass cabinet doors from Ikea’s “as-is” section for 50% the price, that were perfect. They worked perfect for the kitchen-adding elegance, but will not reveal exactly what will be stored behind the doors.
  3. Over the range Microwave- As the counter space is limited as it is, I did not want a huge microwave oven to occupy a large portion of it and further reduce the counter space. From my research watching shows on HGTV (yes, that is my stressbuster!), I knew that some home buyers can be finicky about having built in microwaves- so much so that the absence or presence of one, can make or break the home purchase deal for them! Naturally, I wanted an over-the-range Microwave for both these reasons.  Over- the-range Microwave ovens differ from regular Microwaves in that they have an exhaust option built into it. The bottom of these Microwaves usually suck in the exhaust air generated from the cooling occurring on the range and then transmit it via the hood to the outside of the home. To see how it is actually done, I saw a informative youtube video that explained it all and even though it wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to research to this extent,  being the curious cat I am, I saw it so that I could understand: (a) the complexity of the work involved and hence a fair price for the labor involved (b) the part and additional hardware that may be required to install it. Again, I got a really good LG over-the-range Microwave (ranked highly on Amazon reviews) thru an ad on Craigslist. A sweet looking American-Japanese couple who had purchased a 1920 home in Seattle were letting go of this Microwave, that was installed as part of the renovation work the past owner had done a couple of years ago. Since the new owners wanted a range with a hood, they wanted to dispose off this Microwave.. so I bought it from them for $100. That’s a savings of $250 right there.
  4. Installation of a pull out trash bin. Since years I have been training myself and (trying to train!)  my husband to throw the trash in a timely and a clean manner. While technology has tried to be as helpful as possible, us lazy humans have given it more challenges to solve. So my “trash” problem was that: I/we (all residents of the home become lazy by induction :)) found it too much work to use a step-on Trash bin-one that opens up its top door when you step on a lever that connects it the door opening.  The door opens and closes slowly and makes a clanging sound which is not fun to hear again and again. So I decided to experiment with a trash bin that is attached to the inside of a  door which can be opened and closed by a horizontal pull/push of the door. It seemed to be  a great idea (in fact this idea is quite the fad these days) and naturally I wanted the ease of it. The next best idea would be a voice controlled trash-door opening mechanism where one could just yell “trash open” and the trash door would open on its own. But we are willing to patiently wait for technology to catch up and deliver us this next big thing 😉
  5. Double kitchen sink, cast iron based. Cast Iron sinks last long, look good are sturdy and very durable. And double sinks are better because then you have two separate spaces- one for dirty dishes in and the other for cleaning them. And they are expensive (new one can cost upwards of $800). But I got one second hand for $45 at Seconduse.com-the awesome recycling store. It has a small scratch in the inside and that is its only problem. But I can live with it very happily, so in it came to my home 🙂
  6. Pantry cabinet: Believe it or not, having a pantry in your kitchen is considered a great luxury, as opposed to having just a bottom and a top cabinet, maybe the “real value” lies in the empty space between them.. hmmm. And with a 15″ wide pantry that I got as part of the cabinets I got off Craigslist, I got really lucky. It fits so perfectly and looks so pretty.. AND it has pull out shelves! What more could a working-woman-too-busy-to-use-her-kitchen-pantry want? 😛
  7. Painting the ceiling white to give the illusion of more space and installing track lights to give it a nice and bright, modern look.
  8. Painting the cabinets all the same color, because right now they are a mix of four different colors: white, maple, birch and dark chocolate. I have been warned that it may not be possible to paint the Ikea laminate cabinets at all. But this video gives me hope. This is really the biggest flag in this whole project.
  9. Adding backsplash- I have decided on a cool brick backsplash. Check it out here: http://www.installbrickweb.com/

With all of the above changes, I believe the kitchen will look very attractive. Real Estate 101 says that kitchens sell homes. I obviously learnt my classes well and maximized the feature-richness of my small kitchen! 🙂

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Lights, lights, lights

Having lived three years in Seattle and dragging floor lamps from one habitat to another, because of such morose weather (especially during winter),  I thought buying my own place will give me a respite from the tall lamps always standing in the corners of every room, using up useful space and confusing poor little Roomba 🙂
Seizing this opportunity, I went for the installation of recessed can lights which will ensure there is optimal light at the click of a single button in every room. Not only are can lights energy efficient, they increase the value of the home and make it look very attractive. I had the contractor put in LED lights so that I never have to change them (yes, I am an odd mix of smart and lazy!) Also got sensor controlled dimmers, which means that the lights will be shut off automatically if the sensor senses no presence in a room. This was an awesome feature for the forgetful lazybones that I am as that means there won’t be any need for me to keep shutting off lights. Finally technology is catching up with my needs 😉

[Edit: Actually had the sensor controlled dimmers removed shortly afterward because the lights kept shutting off after a specific period of inactivity which was a rather painful feature]

Very happy with the way the work progressed. The contractor did a good and clean job of installing the recessed can lights.

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