Our small kitchen had been crying out for renovation since the day we moved in. Falling down cabinets, squeaky drawers, a less than stellar layout…the list goes on. We had done some patchwork fixes over the years to make it work, but from a practical standpoint, we needed more space and more functionality. And to be honest, it was also just tired. We were already planning on using Home Hardware products for our reno, so it made sense to use their Home Installs service too. Everyone on their team was amazing. It was a ton of work, but we’re absolutely over-the-moon with our new kitchen.
Step 1: Assess Your Space
The first thing we did was assess our space. We realized that a previous reno had rendered our old dining room fair game for integration with the kitchen. Huge win! Right off the bat, it meant we’d be able to make our kitchen about 30% bigger. We’d have to knock out a non-load-bearing wall but that wouldn’t really impact workload or timelines.
Step 2: Make A List of “Must-Go’s”
This was easy. We were painfully aware of the things that didn’t work so we gleefully plotted their removal. Here they are—goodbye forever!
Cabinet Shelves: they don’t adjust and can’t even fit a box of cereal
Drawer Space: not enough for a growing family
Drawer Action: they come off the runners ALL THE TIME!
Garbage and Recycling: neither have a permanent good home
Stove: it sits next to a wall (ok for electric, not ok if we ever want to switch to a gas model)
Pantry: the makeshift space we created needs to be replaced with a real pantry
Faucet: it doesn’t pull out which makes rinsing dishes and filling pots a real hassle
Cabinets: the corner unit is blind and a waste of space
Cabinet Hardware: it’s too ornate for our taste and attracts lots of dust
Lighting: it’s not zone-oriented
Step 3: Make A List of “Must-Haves” and “Nice-to-Haves” Our “must-haves” are really just the flipside of our “must-go’s”, but listing them out is essential for planning and purchasing. Our “nice-to-haves” are, well, just that: if space and budget allow, we’ll try our hardest to fit them in.
Functional cabinets with adjustable shelves
More drawer space (especially for Tupperware and pots and pans!)
A big pantry
A double sink with extendable faucets
A clean, simple solution for garbage and recycling bins
A second prep surface (a built-in or mobile island for meal prep, baking, crafting, or rainy-day activities)
Glass display shelves for my lovely baking bowls
A little coffee and tea bar
Step 4: Make Your Reno Plan
Now that we had our space and needs-list figured out, we made some rough drawings with measurements for walls, windows, doors, appliances, ceiling height, etc., plus plumbing and electrical locations. We took these to our Home Installs kitchen designer for review and discussion. Do not rush this process! Our Home Installs rep was brilliant. She drafted several layout options and had some great new ideas for our kitchen, like putting the pantry beside the fridge, and adding a five-foot span of counter space beside our stairs. She also walked us around the showroom explaining the different finishes, cabinet styles, counters, and more.
Step 5: Declutter and Donate There was a ton of good, useful stuff that just wasn’t going to go with our new kitchen. So, Dan and I ransacked the room in the lead-up to Demo Day, tackling one area at a time to do a thorough declutter. Little stuff went into boxes, big stuff got tagged for removal. Once complete we had a minivan load of donations. Problem solved; good deed accomplished!
Step 6: Clean and Launder We did ALL our laundry prior to project kick-off. That means folding and packing it away in drawers too! The last thing you want is demolition dust getting into your clean clothes. Plus, the plumber needed easy laundry room access because that’s where the main water lines are located. We also deep-cleaned all the bedrooms to have a fresh, cozy place to sleep and recover after the remodel.
Step 7: Eat Yourself Out of House and Home We ate as much as we could before shutting down the kitchen. Crackers, cookies, cans of soup…all went down the hatch. In the end, the cupboards were bare, the fridge and freezer empty. Sure, we lived on oatmeal and pancakes for the last few days but why waste food, right?
Step 8: Get Outta Town The original plan was for us to live at home throughout the reno. Our wise and wonderful Home Installs project manager tactfully suggested otherwise. We went to an Airbnb and I’m SO glad we took her advice. Here’s why:
The Massive Mess: A kitchen reno makes a big mess, and sledgehammers and reciprocating saws create a massive amount of dust. It would not have been healthy for my family to live in that environment. Before leaving we covered all the furniture, rolled up the area rugs, and closed off the kitchen entryways with plastic sheets (dust still gets out, trust me).
The Lack of Space: A kitchen reno also takes up a lot of space. The new cabinets needed a temporary home (our living room) while undergoing sizing and installation—so we would’ve all been sent to our rooms for several days. Also, the giant dumpster for kitchen debris took up the entire length of our driveway. So even if we had stayed home there’d have been no place to park our cars. BTW, Home Hardware delivered six gigantic pieces of plywood to protect our driveway from being damaged by the heavy dumpster.
Stress Relief: The cost of the rental did add to our renovation expenses, but it came down to liveability and stress relief for us. The cost of ten nights in a clean, not-dusty, apartment with a functioning kitchen and laundry room was well worth it.
Read the next installment of Erin & Dan’s Kitchen Reno: < Creating Custom Design and Storage Solutions>