The Kitchen REVEAL!!!

18 months…

Kitchen before and after 1

1 week…

Kitchen before and after 2

and 2 days.

Kitchen before and after 3

It’s been a long haul, you guys.

One week into the kitchen overhaul

We learned plumbing.  Then we re-learned plumbing.


We learned drywall.

Sanding drywall is awesome.

We cooked on a hotplate in the living room for 8 months.

Kitchen before and after 4

We knocked out structural walls.

Kitchen floor plan before and after

We rebuilt a bathroom.

bathroom before and after

I spent 5 months DIY-ing molding.

Making molding

We budgeted $6,000.  We changed the plan.  I think we came in around $11,000.

kitchen remodel 2

We wired.  And tiled.  And customized our cabinets.

kitchen remodel 7

We salvaged doors and Craigslisted appliances and bought windows that were some builder’s measuring mistake.

kitchen remodel 4

We worked late into the night for months.

leveling the floor

Okay, everything is true except for that last thing.  There were remarkably few late nights (or forfeited weekends, for that matter) in the last 18 months.  It took us EIGHTEEN MONTHS, for crying out loud.  We weren’t exactly rushing.

kitchen remodel 12

But I guess you could say, it was all worth it.  Mostly.

Actually, it’s best if you don’t say that while I’m thinking about all that molding.

kitchen remodel 9

But seriously?  Words cannot describe.  I can’t explain all the feelings that this project has made me feel.  And coming from someone who’s written over 160 blog posts to date, with an average of maybe 500 words per post (that’s over 80,000 words), that’s saying something.

There is a folder on my computer labeled “Kitchen Remodel 2012” (2012 — HA hahahaha!) with over 1,180 pictures in it.

So I will let the pictures do the talking.  Because, quite frankly, after 179 blog posts, what else is left to say?

kitchen remodel 1

kitchen remodel 3

kitchen remodel 5

kitchen remodel 6

kitchen remodel 8

kitchen remodel 10

kitchen remodel 13

kitchen remodel 14

kitchen remodel 15

Many, many biscuits were required to get the Coyote and das Hund to sit still long enough to take that picture, by the way.  Exploiting dogs for photogenic purposes is far more challenging than I had imagined.  As is every project I take on, I guess.

And now, there’s really only one thing left to say about this kitchen.  And I will let Ned the Flying Pig do the honors:

Ned the Flying Pig says this remodel is officially over.



  1. Susan Riggs says

    WOW!!!! It’s a very small word, but, I hope, you understand the hugeness of it’s meaning. WOW!! Great job, I love it.

    • Sarah says

      Hmmm, so many choices! Well, there’s that music room that I planned out but never started…but now that the kitchen is done, our front porch is officially the shabbiest place on the property. And front-porch season in Minnesota doesn’t last that long, so I might have to take advantage of it. :)


  2. says

    Congratulations. :) I’m impressed that you learned how to do so much of the work yourself. I’m tackling my mom’s kitchen this month, but I’m concerned about permits and coding. Did you apply for an owner-builder permit, and how regularly did you need to have inspections? Thank you in advance.

    • Sarah says

      Thanks Yvonne! The number and types of permits depends on your city, county, and state regulations, so all I can tell you is what we needed to do here in Minneapolis. Also, I should say that Chris did all the work to find out which permits we needed, so I’m not particularly well-informed on that process anyway.

      But I do know we got three permits: building, electrical, and plumbing. For each one, we needed two inspections: rough-in, and final. The rough-in is the inspection that happens before your work is covered up, so they can see all the inner workings. The final inspection comes after everything is closed up and finished. In Minneapolis, these two inspections were covered in the cost of the permit, but if you don’t pass an inspection and they have to come back, you can get charged for the extra inspections.

      I will say that we had good experiences with all our inspectors. Chris even called a couple of times during the remodel to clarify code requirements, and they seemed happy to answer our questions. Maybe they appreciated that he saved them the effort of coming over again and again to re-inspect.

      Hope this helps! Good luck with your remodel!

  3. Brian says

    Awesome job! I’ve been following along quietly for a while. I’m sure you’re so happy to be able to say you’re done with it all. Everything looks great. Also, Vegan Planet is one of my favorite cookbooks – I’ve not been disappointed with any of the recipes I’ve tried.

    • Sarah says

      Ah, good eye! But you will have to wait another week or two…that post is yet to come. 😉 For a little teaser, I’ll refer you back to this post.


  4. Alcie says

    So so impressed. I found you by accident yesterday whilst searching for ideas for my own kitchen redo, and seeing someone do real diy is so encouraging. We can’t afford the TV diy route, which seems to involve doing a few projects yourself and hiring out the big stuff like plumbing, electrical, and drywall. So it’s very helpful to see what persistence and hard work can achieve. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Sarah says

      Alcie, I’m glad I could inspire you! As long as I didn’t give the impression that it was easy or fun or anything… 😉


  5. Cheryl Stevenson says

    I am in ahhhh!!! GORGEOUS!!! I would always want to be hanging out in the kitchen now! LoL! Thank you for sharing and hopefully inspiring many!

  6. says

    I absolutely love it! I love the height, all the details, and the contrast added to the cabinets. You did an awesome job! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Denice says

    Good job. I would say inspiring but damn 18 months is a long time. Lots of arguing? Worth it though, LOOK GREAT!

  8. Paul says

    Fantastic work, Sarah!
    When you get your own show on HGTV I’ll be able to point at the TV and say, “I went to school with her and sat next to her in band!”

  9. says

    Its beautiful! I feel your pain! We did a total gut job on ours 4 years ago and it still feels like yesterday that I was crying since I had no kitchen sink for 5 weeks! Yes, 5 weeks! Long story with a lot of tears! Yours is stunning!

    • Sarah says

      DeDe, I hope you had a back-up sink! We washed dishes in the bathtub on the second floor for 8 months…all I can say is, it was better than camping. Which isn’t much of an endorsement. 😉

  10. says

    Wow, to see it all in one succinct post speaks volumes to the work you guys have done, seriously! What a bad-ass team you guys are. :) It looks totally fabulous, and to know you created it all yourself must feel wonderful. Hey, sorry I didn’t get to say bye at Haven! Me and Jodi left the RYOBI party early. My plane was leaving at the butt-crack of dawn. It was so great seeing you again!!

    Serena @ Thrift Diving

  11. Joan Gerding says

    Wow! Absolutely love your kitchen and envy your ability to do it yourselves!

    I think the best part is that it has such great personality, which doesn’t happen with most of the remodels I’ve seen. My biggest “remodel” was painting the hardware and getting a new fridge!

  12. says

    Great job and I LOVE a white kitchen. I have the orange oak cabinets in my kitchen as you did prior. I long for new cabinets and countertops. But…I’m not as young and industrious and you guys.
    I was wondering why you chose to apparently close in an area above your cabinets as opposed to adding another cabinet above for storage or taking the drywall to the ceiling?

    • Sarah says

      Hi Rick, and thanks! Because our ceilings are so tall, we wanted to fill up some of the space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling. I chose to just make a decorative “box,” almost exclusively for budget reasons. I know that some people would have put more cabinets, but A) they are a lot more expensive, B) we’d have to store a stepladder nearby in order to reach them, and C) I’m kind of a minimalist — we don’t have so much stuff in our kitchen that we need more storage. In fact, after having most of our kitchen equipment in boxes for 8 months during the worst of the remodel, I got rid of so much unused stuff that we STILL have empty spaces in the cabinets we have!

  13. sandyc says

    TOTALLY CHARMING! And that’s the best compliment I can give. I would not only smile every time I walked into your kitchen, I would downright laugh in delight.

  14. says

    I just saw your kitchen on Apartment Therapy. Love it! We’ve been looking at buying a fixer upper, and they all need new kitchens and baths. I would love to hear about your lessons learned. If you had known what you were getting into at the start, would you have taken this project on? What would you do differently? I need a reality check. :)

    • Sarah says

      Oh, that’s a loaded question. If I had known…short answer: yes, I would have taken it on. I learned a lot along the way, and I wanted to learn a lot along the way, and I had very low expectations about how smoothly the whole project would go. I KNEW we’d be cooking in our living room and washing dishes in the second-floor bathtub for A LONG TIME. I KNEW we were going to encounter structural/mechanical issues that would effectively stop our progress until we figured out how to solve them (or saved up the money to pay someone else to solve them, which never happened). I would not do anything differently.


      I am crazy. A little. If you’ve read anything else on this blog, you might have seen a hint of that.

      So my advice to you is this: keep your expectations low. Do you like to camp? Like, in a tent with no running water or electricity? Because without a functioning kitchen (or bathroom), it could devolve into that. When things don’t go as planned, do you look at it as an adventure, or does it make you want to curl up in a ball and cry while simultaneously screaming at anyone within earshot to PLEASE JUST COME AND HELP ME OUT!?? Do you have kids that you have to provide for during this time? Would they appreciate showering with the hose in the backyard and eating only what you can cook in the microwave you’re storing in the basement? If you’re hell-bent on DIY-ing it, do you have money saved up JUST IN CASE you dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of? IS YOUR MARRIAGE SOLID??

      These are all things that need to be taken into consideration. This is not HGTV; extreme makeovers do not happen in a week. Once you start opening walls up in an old house, almost nothing will go as planned. And “project sprawl” is a real thing. “As long as we’re doing this, we might as well just do that.” Beware the project sprawl.

      Have I talked you off that ledge you’re standing on? Because I could go on.

      Just remember: low expectations. That’s key.

  15. Paulette says

    Absolutely FAB!! As someone who grew up in a house that my mother was constantly remodeling, I can truly appreciate what a fantastic job you have done. Thank you for sharing.
    Have to ask, what is behind the oddly placed door above stairs by the stove?

    • Sarah says

      That’s our “pantry!” AKA, liquor cabinet and small appliance storage. It’s just a built-in cabinet, original to the house. Oddly placed, but surprisingly useful.

  16. Kirsten says

    Bang on gorgeous job! I think, even more than the DYIing, I am most impressed with your vision! How you were able to plan that layout in the first place is mind-boggling! Well done! [I have now exceeded my allotted number of exclamation points, so I must fade back into the internet.]

  17. Jo says

    Amazing and so beautiful , I especially like the details and color scheme. I saw your story on the Kitchen I am looking forward to following your blog.

    Great photos of the pups too!

    • Sarah says

      The floor is tiled with 12×12 porcelain tile by Marazzi, called Montagna Cortina (from Home Depot, which you can find here). And yes, almost all of the cabinets were recycled from our old kitchen. We painted them Mountain Peak White, by Benjamin Moore (the black trim is Benjamin Moore Black Iron). We used BM’s Satin Impervo, an oil-based paint.

  18. Loretta Cline says

    Is your counter top granite, uba tuba, what is your flooring? We just purchased a house that has to be painted, new floors and a few other minor things. We already have the white cabinets and I love the black trim. Genius! Now to find a bathroom that I love..

  19. says

    wow! Absolutely beautiful. I love everything about this kitchen. It is even more awesome that is was diy and that you took so much time to pay attention to the style of the rest of the house. I have been looking for countertop ideas. Thank you for posting this, I may have found just what I have been looking for.

  20. says

    Beautiful job! As someone who is diy’ing a 1930s home on her own, I can well appreciate the mess, cost, time commitment and weird layout problems! Thanks for the inspiration (and the memories you stirred up too!)


  21. Marcia Buckle says

    Congratulations! What a wonderful transformation! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing experience with all of us! I simply love it!!!

  22. Shoshana says

    Wow! You guys did an awesome job!!! Hope you’re still loving it!

    I was actually wondering if you remember what color grout you used for your white subway tile? It looks perfect.

    Thanks so much!

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