Design and Style Tips, DIY Projects

Kitchen Reno Series #2….Sourcing Materials, Choosing Finishes and SAVING MONEY!

I left off in the last post after we had nailed down a design plan/layout.  I briefly mentioned the consultant we hired to help us out with the logistics.  He was a huge help in the contractors team department as well as setting up a preliminary budget and schedule.  Those were things I just didn’t know how to do or go about doing, but the biggest benefit in there was the contractor team.

When we had decided to do this ourselves, as much as possible, hiring and inviting in good people you can trust was my biggest concern.  This is our home. Our 4 kids and myself would be in the house throughout 97% of the reno (since we homeschool). I needed to feel comfortable with these people here with us, with the work they would do and that I could comfortably talk with and work with them on the project.  A big part of our consultants business is good work, everyone he recommends has to be good or he’s out of a job.

His business model of the al a carte services worked perfectly with what we were trying to do.  We wanted to learn as much as possible and have good people to work with and be able to help where we could (DIY).

Our design/layout

 So we have a design plan/layout, a team of contractors, a budget and a schedule all lined up.  I had already spent some time looking at different kitchen styles; cabinets, colors, materials, finishes, etc.  I knew that this being a Colorado style house a white kitchen wouldn’t work, it would look out of place. (plus I read that white cabinets are a nightmare with kids little fingers getting everything dirty ALL the time)  I didn’t want  stained brown cabinets, we had lots of those and, quite frankly so does EVERYONE else.  Not that brown stained cabinets aren’t great for some people, if that’s what you like rock it!  But for me, I just have been living with too much brown.  I came up with the idea of gray cabinets.  I love gray, a great neutral color that’s crisp and refreshing and lightens up a space instead of feeling heavy.  I considered gray painted cabinets (along with various shades of blue for drama on the island), but I stumbled on this beautiful pic of a gray stained cabinet kitchen.  I loved it, everything about it, you still got the wood grain showing through (in keeping with our house’s style) while combining the more modern cooler version of the gray color in the stain.  I was sold.  I also knew I wanted a classic simple door style, shaker was always my choice.

 Left and right pieces are soapstone (one unoiled, one oiled), center piece is our parana white island countertop and bottom is our cabinet sample

  Another thing I always knew would be a definite was soapstone countertops.  I had been wanting soapstone countertops for years and knew if I ever did a kitchen it would have them.  So that was easy, I just had to decide if I wanted them everywhere, just the island or just the perimeter. I opted for the perimeter so I could have something white on the island and to give me some contrast.  I’m also a big natural stone fan, so the island top was a matter of choices at the stone yard.  We settled on a parana white honed “granite”.  It’s really a dolomite, it’s harder than marble (like granite) but acts like a marble in etching and staining (staining has been avoided with a good sealer).  I was willing to take the good with the bad though!

The day after arrival, before cleaning it up

 I took some other unconventional methods in sourcing out my other materials.  I wanted a big statement hood and went to a local shop that’s known for their metal work.  We picked out a simple style in the metal we wanted and it priced out at $5000!!  Whoa!  Way out of our price range, so we left and I was broken hearted.  I knew I could make something work, so I considered everything from building a wood one, purchasing a wood or cheaper style hood, building a wood one and giving it a metallic finish.  You name it I probably considered it.  I still kept up hope and would check out craigslist and ebay regularly, when one day BAM!  There was a gorgeous reclaimed solid copper hood, a little larger than I was originally looking for, that had been pulled out of a New York pub.  And it was only $405!!  People I bought that thing so fast you couldn’t even say “Holy cow”.  I set up a uship for it and it was on the truck to me within 36 hours.  It is still tarnished with green and blue splotches and not the shiny new copper but I love it that way (despite undergoing pressure from certain peeps, you know who you are, to strip it of it’s life and make it shiny and new again).  It has a story to tell.  Never say never though, maybe some day I will but right now I think it would bring me to the brink of death to do so.

I fell in love with Perrin and Rowe faucets, amazing quality from England but super spendy, as in over a thousand dollars easy for a faucet and sprayer!  We had gone to a couple of local showrooms to check out other options but they too were expensive.  Trusty ebay came to my rescue and I found a seller that had a new Perrin and Rowe faucet and sprayer (showroom display set) in polished nickel, I negotiated her down to $375!  (I looked up the retail price on this set and it’s well over $1000). Score!  or is it touchdown!

My lovely soapstone sink, I got for FREE!  Yes FREE! An $1800 sink!! FREEEEEE!! I researched stone yards and specialized soapstone dealers and found M. Teixeira soapstone.  (Remember I already knew I wanted soapstone so just a matter of the best selection and best deal) Reviews on them were good (they operate nationally with showrooms in select major cities).  I checked out the specials section of the website and discovered different stores carry different specials.  I called our local Denver showroom and specifically asked about specials, she said they had just had a special on a free sink of any size with countertop purchase and if I came down within the next couple of days she would honor it for me.  I hightailed my booty down there the next day!  We picked out the soapstone we wanted (which was like heaven by the way, I didn’t want to leave but set up a cot and pillow and live with it all) and then told her about the sink I wanted, single bowl and an entire cabinet size, as big as I could fit.  She said ok put it all in the paperwork and we left our deposit on the slabs.  (Once our cabinet maker had our exact dimensions I sent her those and they made our sink out of the same batch as our slabs!)

On the subject of sinks, our bar sink was a find I picked up off of Ebay as well.  It’s an antique copper oval sink and was a steal at $99.  The faucet for this sink I picked up at Signature Hardware in polished nickel (to match the stunning perrin and rowe faucet) for $170.

Our bar and pantry countertops I had originally wanted in either soapstone or the parana white stone but the cost was too much and I had to find an alternative solution.  I scoured craigslist and pinterest and houzz and hgtv.  I got a bright idea when I came across a local mom and pop wood shop that carried old trailer boards, they are solid oak and reclaimed from old semi trailer beds.  This shop showed some pictures of them cleaned up and used as a table top.  The lightbulb went on and I called the guy.  We set up a time for us to come out and see these and pick out what we wanted.  We were able to get enough material to do the bar and pantry tops for $500. (I have noticed these have become quite popular and more expensive, if you want this look do all the fabrication yourself i.e. cleaning, sanding, cutting fitting and finishing)

Fridge with the before paneling (sorry for the somewhat fuzzy pics, I had a crappy camera then)

 The subzero fridge was another find.  I had wanted a built in fridge but the cost is high.  A new fridge, forget it you’re talking $10,000 easily.  I looked at refurbished and all other variations when I stumbled across a guy on craigslist that was selling one!  We went down there and took a look at it, turns out he was a general contractor and this subzero came from a multimillion dollar home that was getting a new kitchen (old one was only a few years old) complete with all new appliances.  So the lady didn’t want this one and gave it to him.  He had it sitting in his garage as a beer fridge!  lol.  Anyway, it worked great and looked awesome and the price was only $2000.  For this exact same model and year, this fridge was selling for $6000 on ebay (refurbished appliance sales).  We rented a uhaul trailer to get it home, it was HEAVY.  I mean he had to call a couple of his guys to come help him, my husband and myself get it out of the garage, down the small driveway and into the trailer.  Ahh the memories.

The previous fall when we decided we were going to do this I started shopping for deals.  The first things I bought for the kitchen were the new dishwasher (our old one was terrible and didn’t really wash the dishes) and a microwave drawer.  I picked those up on super sales from lowes at their black friday sale! (close to 50% off)  I stored them in the garage until we were ready to install.  That’s probably my biggest piece of advice, if you know you want to do a big project start sourcing out your materials right away.  You give yourself way more time to find what you want and at a better price than you would if you are on a tight time frame.

The hardwood floor.  I knew I wanted a reclaimed wood look but real reclaimed wood floors start at $6/sq ft and up from there.  With 1600 sq feet to do, well that was out of the question.  I managed to find a factory in NC called Hardwoods 4 Less, that sells flooring some of it they prefinish right there on site.  I called the guy up to get some samples of a few I was looking at online, he asked me what I was looking for exactly and when I told him about a reclaimed wood “look” he said they had just gotten a small batch of wormy oak flooring in and it was just coming off of the prefinishing process.  Best part it was only $2.89/sq ft! He sent me a video of the boards coming down the conveyor belt along with several pics in different lighting.  It was exactly what I wanted without the price!  Lots of interest, color variations and it was oak.  Done deal.

Backsplash on top, soapstones (oiled and unoiled) below, phone shows slab of island (on top of island samples) and cabinet sample

 The backsplash was another good deal I got just doing some research.  I wanted something white, not a big fan of subway tile, and had some veining or interest to it. That would tie into the island countertop.  I found this gorgeous arabesque marble tile on a website called builder depot.  I ordered a couple samples and that was it.  It was $16.95/sq ft which sounds like a lot, but I found the same thing at a tile design store, it was $35/sq ft.  Poor UPS guy had to pull the pallet up our long steep driveway… a blizzard.

Those are my awesome deals/finds that made this all possible.  Cabinets came in at $10,000 for everything.  Fridge panels, custom cabinets for the kitchen (uppers and lowers) as well as bar and pantry (lowers).  I was really happy with that cost considering; it was below the budgeted price, they were from a local shop and there was no additional charge for the better cabinet boxes. (some other companies charge more for those and here it was standard)  They also had the exact stain we wanted that wasn’t considered a custom color.

I spent the most time debating the range.  I cook a lot so it had to be very reliable with a gas cooktop and double ovens.  I debated Wolf,  Thermador (with their new steam oven), la cornue and several others.  I read an infinite amount of kitchen blogs, houzz pages, appliance review sites and on and on.  I had originally decided on a Wolf.  We put down a deposit on a floor model at a local showroom for a big discount.  We just had to wait until they got a new one in and then they would deliver that one.  But after debating about it for awhile I decided that it not only had to function incredibly well but it had to be pretty to look at too.  Wolf is an amazing brand and I definitely don’t have anything against them I just knew I wanted something with color.  What I really wanted was what I call a “mac daddy” la cornue, those things are built like tanks and last forever but they also have a high price tag, we’re talking $15-$20,000.  No way could I afford that.  I decided to check out the more americanized (and cheaper) version of the La Cornue called the Cornufe 110 (double oven version) and was available to be purchased or seen at Williams Sonoma.  We went to see it in person and tried various size pans in it, (that is the only issue I should mention, some people don’t like the smaller ovens).  And the size didn’t bother me, it had the gas cooktop and the ovens were said to be incredibly functional.  It was also very beautiful and came in a variety of colors and trim options.  I trusted the brand and reputation for quality that is La Cornue and made the call to the appliance store that had my deposit on the wolf.  I asked if we could switch that over and apply it to ordering a Cornufe.  He said sure.  I chose a light blue color with the copper trim.  Wouldn’t you know it, there wasn’t a single one in the US.  As in, didn’t exist.  So they had to special order it from France.  I ordered it in March and it didn’t arrive for install until August.  That’s right, after it was built it literally missed the boat to the US and had to wait for another.  Worth the wait in time, gold and diamonds.  I adore it!

A real live “mac daddy” La Cornue

Door Frame with inner doors, after removal of doors with iron for pantry

 Another very unique feature in this reno was the door for the pantry.  I knew I wanted to make a statement here and use something incredible, think antique reclaimed doors.  So I started the search, oddly enough I was walking through Arhaus (a store I go in rarely, cause it’s spendy, just to walk through cause it’s pretty) and they had this amazing set of doors out of an old building in India.  Double doors, one set with iron bars and amazing hardware and an inner set all wood with peeling blue/gray paint, amazing wood carved details and an arch on top.  It was also on clearance marked down over a $1000.  Now it was still spendy but worth it.  We were not able to use the entire set as the frame for the doors would need to be inset into the floor and ceiling enough that we would have to take off some of the detail.  I decided it wasn’t worth it so we removed the set with the iron bars and used them as sliding barn doors instead!  Just a note, if we ever move I’m replacing these with barn doors, cause they are coming with me.  The barn door hardware I ordered from Rustica Hardware (look for coupons on their Facebook page, I snagged a 15%  coupon just doing a quick google search before purchase)

The chandeliers in the kitchen are the Camilla 3 arm from Pottery Barn. I waited for a 20% off sale before purchasing them.  Any discount you can get is worth it when you are undertaking a big project like this!  They have pretty crystals with sparkle and give a bit of glam.

All my kitchen knobs are from Anthropologie,  they are the mother of pearl knobs.   I had been drooling over these for quite some time and knew they would be perfect for the kitchen!  A little vintage, a little brass and a whole lot of purdy!  You may have noticed I chose to mix metals, I personally like the look better than everything matching.  I have copper, polished nickel, brass and bronze (from the chandeliers)

Then there were random things like a bar sink drain, disposal air button switch (both I got from amazon).  A vent for the hood.  The hood came with the old guts in it (which were nasty and inefficient) so we cut those out and bought a range hood insert.  (btw, these are pricey and no matter how much research I did you can’t really get around it) The sealer we bought to do the bar and pantry counters.  Some open shelving for the upper pantry area.  The wallpaper for the pantry.  And all those other little things you don’t really think about until you’re in the midst of it (like screws, nails, shims, etc)

Copper hood with all the samples

 So I think that about covers it!  How I got everything, why I chose it and how I saved a boatload of money doing it.  It’s worth reiterating, if you know have a big project coming up, kitchen, bathroom, etc.  Start sourcing out your materials right away!  It saves you money and gives you plenty of time to make decisions on what you really want instead of being in a time crunch and paying top dollar.  Our side garage was pretty darn full of stuff by the time it was even needed in the reno.

Which brings me to the next post!  Next up is all about demo day, busting through walls and what do you do with your old kitchen? I’ll share all the awesome deets, trust me you  are really gonna want to read this one!





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2 thoughts on “Kitchen Reno Series #2….Sourcing Materials, Choosing Finishes and SAVING MONEY!

  1. Love this! How are you still like the soapstone counters? We are about 5 years out from doing our kitchen but have always known I wanted a soapstone island. Jason has not been as committed to this dream as me bc he is worried about wear and tear.

    1. Thanks! We love them and I would do them again and again. They do get dings or scratches depending on if dishes or heavy pots fall on them at an angle (or knives scrape, etc) but it’s easily fixed if you don’t like those. I like stuff with character so I think it adds to the charm but completely fixable. You can sand soapstone with any regular sandpaper, I would recommend a higher grit. (Our stove actually didn’t fit into the opening so we just took our hand sanders and sanded down the soapstone until the stove squeaked in, can’t do that with granite!) If it’s a big divet or dent you can take the dust from a light sanding on the stone and make a paste to fill it in. (I can’t remember what you mix it with but you can find it online). Also most people prefer the oiled look, I would recommend a wax instead of using mineral oil. The mineral oil leaves an oily feel/residue since the stone itself doesn’t absorb anything (no sealer needed and naturally antimicrobial!!) it just sits on top until it wears off. It will need to be regularly oiled until it eventually changes naturally. Wax gives you the same look but without the greasy feel, you will probably need to do this regularly for awhile as well. (not a difficult process) Those are the only caveats to it, which I personally don’t mind in the least, but you can’t beat the softness and natural beauty it brings. These are not for the perfectionist, just depends on what you are ok with. I would recommend picking up a soapstone sample or samples (many online places or check out your local stoneyards) and beat them up. Different varieties have different levels of softness, and this will help you both decide how you feel about what it looks like when it does get a ding! I will share pics of my soapstone waxed and non waxed in a later post to show the differences (along with some of the dings)!

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