Before & After: Our DIY Eco-Kitchen Remodel

BEFORE: Our kitchen just a couple of months ago!

AFTER! Our kitchen is done and functioning like a champ! This last week was a bit of hell on earth as our GC up and left while I’d stepped out to run an errand, claiming later he’d finished the work, when he’d actually totally fucked up the drain/plumbing under the sink, leaving a cracked pipe and a fitting that he must have thought would magically fight gravity and send the water uphill to drain. So we had what I fondly called an “Ikea kitchen” all week – done with exception of actual water – until I could get a plumber in to fix things. I was SO glad to have done that though as he did an ace job and when the water came out of the faucet, we literally cheered! Anyhow, here’s the finished product, with our pride and joy being the work table-style base cabinet we sourced, sawed, stained, and built from scratch, then wrapped around a gorgeous new sink.

And while the cabinet was the biggie, a few new and existing accessories highlighted the new color scheme, floor and such. My longtime favorite clock – made from recycled bike parts – got a primo spot on the arch going into the breakfast nook, our All-Clad and cast iron pots & pans got displayed on Ikea racks and shelves, and I moved the old trash & recycle bins to the garage and replaced them with these SimpleHuman bins that fit perfectly in the corner. Yay for matching stuff!

The Inspiration

After taking off the doors of one of my upper cabinets to create semi-open shelving four or five years ago, I knew that it was right for me. I hated hiding stuff away, the fingerprints on cabinet doors, and how it discouraged minimalism. I’d always appreciated “unfitted” kitchens as they’re called outside the US, and loved the work table style approach of both homesteader and commercial kitchens, so I Pinterested like crazy and found these kitchen cabinets on Homemade Modern that had the shape I loved – and some basic DIY directions to boot. And after a thousand different ideas about countertops, from pouring concrete to buying PaperStone and more, I ran across these gorgeous plank countertops on Simply Maggie and fell madly in love with the concept (and my husband adored it as he’d been pushing for butcher block the whole time, heh). So we used these as inspirations, and took it in our own direction from there.

And while we spent more than we expected to due to the GC’s multiple errors, it overall was still insanely cheaper than paying someone else to do it. Plus it feels pretty rad knowing We Built It. Our grand total came in at ~ $2,000, with half of that being spent on the GC & Plumber, 2/3 we now know could have been done ourselves.

Here’s “Proof that a Kitchen DIY Doesn’t Have to Cost Tens of Thousands of Dollars”:

  • Demo: 100% DIY, donating usable bits to The Rebuilding Center, recycling the rest
  • General Contractor: Complete wall repair/drywall, electrical outlet move, dedicated d/w circuit, DIY consult, plumbing, hauling away demo materials to recycler – $730
  • Plumber: Fix GC’s massive under-sink plumbing/drain errors – $330
  • Walls: Low VOC Miller paint in Iron Gray $30
  • Base Cabinet:
    • Frame – Repurposed old growth douglas fir (Salvage Works) – $150
    • Shelving – existing scrap wood from past projects – free!
    • Screws (for entire remodel) – 3 boxes – $25
    • Eco-friendly sealer (Green Depot) – $9
  • Countertops:
  • Sink:
    • Sink – 30″ Vigo farmhouse stainless steel with strainer & grid – $340
    • Faucet – existing, Delta faucet, installed during our repiping last year
  • Open Shelving:
    • Shelves – 3 Ikea LACK floating shelves – $45
    • Dishes/Glassware – existing, wine glasses by Crate & Barrel, everything else made in USA by Anchor Hocking
    • D & A initials – existing, from Garden Fever
  • Floors
    • Stain – see Countertops
    • Stain Applicator & Wood Foam sealer applicator (lifesavers!) – $30
    • Sealer – low VOC water-based by Zar – $60
  • Tools & Misc
    • Hole saw for faucet & soap dispenser holes in countertop – $10
    • Rasp drill bit (make a hole too small? this solves it FAST!) – $7
    • 2 Simple Human bins for trash & recycling – Fred Meyer $30/ea.

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