Like most homeowners, I’m always looking to improve my home. Upgrade to the latest and greatest to make my home the best it can be. Plus, it’s also fun buying new things. Now, those of you who know me well, may have a confused look on your face. In fact, my wife is likely screaming at her phone “If that were true, why do you always fix old broken things instead of getting me a brand new…[insert expensive item here]?” There are a couple of reasons. I love figuring out how to fix things, and I’m not swimming in a pool of money.
Show Me The Money
When talking about home improvements, the kitchen and bathroom always seem to be at the top of the list. Both of which also come with a high price tag attached. This makes it difficult for many who are on a tight budget. The good news is that home improvements are achievable without a total renovation and the empty wallet that usually follows it. Consider doing a kitchen and bathroom makeover that will save you money and still be very appealing to the eye.
The first step in any home improvement is the idea and vision of what you want to achieve. That is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out what the limitations of the room are and how much money you’re willing to spend. Maybe you want a completely different layout, but do you have the space to do it? Want to open the room up a little? Make sure you’re not planning to take down a wall that is load-bearing. Make a plan that works with the room and fits your budget. A brand new counter-top and cabinets are great if you can afford them, but you might be surprised what a little paint can do.
What a beautiful, fully functional kitchen! Not really, it’s pretty boring and a little small. No worries though, we can make some simple changes that will make it look brand new. Where do we start? Well, follow your plan. We decided to keep the layout the same, but we wanted to open up the room a little. Unfortunately the wall we wanted to take down behind the sink turned out to be load-bearing, so we had to leave it as is. That altered the plan slightly, but we were still able to change the flooring, get some nice backsplash and re-finish the cupboards.
I started by taking the old backsplash off. This method is time-consuming and frustrating at times, but I didn’t want to tear down the cupboards. Demo the backsplash. Drywall the room. Then figure out where to hang the cupboards again. Besides, the more you take apart, the more problems you find from the previous owners/builders handy work. I will admit, the next owners will probably curse me a few times too.
Once the backsplash was removed and the stove plug unwedged from behind the gas line… dummies. It was time to rip out the floor. Of course this was also quite the frustrating task because it was two layers of glued vinyl. The flooring flowed through the hallway and into be main floor bathroom. We wanted the new flooring throughout, so it all had to go. We also made some changes to the bathroom, which I will write about at a later time.
I decided the next course of action was to paint the walls and the cupboards. This step was by far my least favorite of the job. Each cupboard door was removed, sanded and repainted. We stuck with white because the new flooring was going to be dark, and we already have a dark counter-top. White cabinets would pop nicely against these darker colours and brighten up the room a little.
Once the cupboards were put back together it was time for the new floor. Since we have dogs we wanted something waterproof. Originally we were going to do tile, but in the end we decided that vinyl click was the better option. The one thing I didn’t want was the floor looking like wood planks though. Since the floor was going in the kitchen, bathroom and hallway I wanted a look close to Tile or stone. It took us a little while, but we ended up finding some 1′ x 2′ planks with a nice stone look.
Pro Tip: If you have a squeaky floor, a couple well placed screws should do the trick. Don’t do what these owners did and blindly use hundreds of screws without finding any joists. It’ll only make things worse. Once the screws were removed along with any squeaks, the floor went rather smoothly. With the size of the planks and the way the house is laid out, it did take a lot more cutting than expected. The finished product however, looks pretty good. Which is what I care about. Ruby on the other hand only cares about photo bombing.
The End is Near
This was the point where I finished up the bathroom so I could move on to everyone’s favorite job. The trim. Usually trim is the last step, but I was a little hesitant in starting the backsplash that I have never done before. For most people, trim takes years to do. Not because it’s hard to do, but because no one really wants to do it. I had to trim the entire main floor because I replaced some ugly green carpeting with laminate flooring years ago, but never actually got started on trim. Now that the rest of the main floor was replaced, I had no more excuses.
Like trim, no one really notices when you don’t have backsplash. When you do however, it catches people’s eye. Being it was my first time attempting backsplash, I needed a little help from a friend. We had a couple of set backs while cutting the large tiles. We also got a little ahead of ourselves with the mortar once or twice, but all in all it went up fairly quickly. I let the tiles settle for a couple of days then started the messy job of grouting. The worse part about grouting is the cleanup afterwards. There was a lot of scrubbing and a lot of swearing trying to remove all the grout dust.
The makeover took about two full weeks and was done over my holidays. Plus a couple of days after work to fiddle with the finishing touches. What did it cost me you ask? Well, not as much as you may think. I was able to floor the kitchen, hallway and bathroom. Backsplash the kitchen, and paint the cupboards and walls. Plus trim the entire main floor. All for under $800… plus a couple of cases of beer. I did save a lot of money by doing this all myself, and some of you may not be comfortable doing that. However, the end result turned out looking like a brand new kitchen.
I thing I love most about doing these home improvement projects is the feeling of accomplishment when it’s done. The joy of being able to look at your work and being proud of what you’ve done. It also makes me excited to start the next project…