Homeowner Allison Macdonald spent more than a decade being frustrated with her kitchen. For example, she couldn’t open the dishwasher and the cabinet containing the garbage can at the same time.
“You couldn’t scrape off plates while doing dishes,” she says. “Little things like that get to you after a while.”
Once her kids were grown, she decided to do something about it. She spent the better part of a year remodeling the room herself, ripping out cabinets and replacing them in phases, and laying down a cherry floor. She even relocated the dishwasher and installed a rollout trash can next to the sink.
In addition to looking dated, the kitchen didn’t functional very well.
Macdonald gathered ideas from Houzz and taught herself how to do most of the construction and installation work by doing research online and calling up her builder friends.
“They started to not pick up my calls because I have a lot of questions,” she says.
As a trails coordinator, Macdonald builds trails, commuter paths and walkways. Since she spends most of her days outside with a chain saw and big drills, she wasn’t afraid of electric tools.
“I felt more confident than I probably should have,” she says.
The project took much longer than standard kitchen remodels, and there were a few mishaps along the way. For example, she cut the laminate countertop so poorly the first time that she had to buy a second one, which she cut very slowly and carefully.
She ripped up the linoleum and installed unfinished solid cherry hardwood, which she bought inexpensively from a contractor she knew who had some left over after a job. She kept the existing tile because she liked the cobalt blue color and it was in good shape.
To tackle the layout issues, she relocated the dishwasher, and removed a broom closet and an unused pantry closet to get more clearance around the peninsula. To make up for the reduced storage, she put in open shelves with a cabinet beneath that she recessed into the wall.
To save money, she bought most of the appliances used off Craigslist but splurged on the refrigerator and sink.
Macdonald did the work herself in phases, installing the cabinets one section at a time. She and her family made do without an oven for a while.
“We had a lot of barbecues,” she says. “Even in the middle of January in the snow. I baked a pie on the barbecue.”
The appliance garage on the peninsula holds a mixer, slow cooker, blender and other gadgets.
Macdonald installed a new sink and range, and rerouted ventilation through the attic for the hood fan.
“I did enjoy doing it myself,” she says. “There was quite a bit of bad language, but I just took things very slowly.”
Walls moved: No
Plumbing moved: Yes, when Macdonald relocated the dishwasher
Other professionals hired: None
Duration of project: About a year
Lived in during remodel: Yes
Savings: Macdonald did the designing, construction and installation herself, and bought materials and appliances on sale whenever she could.
Cost: $4,500, including appliances, cabinets and materials