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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Budget Kitchen Renovation: Waste Not

OOPS: Remember my kitchen renovation "series"? It has been shamefully neglected. Here's the third installment, which I drafted on my birthday, January 20.

In addition to being pathologically frugal, I am pathologically against WASTE--of time, money, or resources. That may be why I picked up about 20 pairs of pricy men's shoes that were left out for the trash near my home and transported the whole lot to Goodwill. That may be why I told the nice rep at Powells who offered to overnight a book they mistakenly left out of my order to forget it: I'd just take a refund.

It makes sense, then, that I am horrified to see the usual scene when a home changes hands: perfectly good--or at least pretty good--cabinets, carpets, and other items littering the garbage pickup area as the new homeowners seek to make their mark on their new home. That didn't happen with us. We bought a house we loved that was a little too expensive for us. We were able to do that because we had saved a large down payment. We were so horrorstruck at the expense of the house (and the 30 years of payments to which we had committed ourselves) that we left things as they were for a LONG time. The kitchen in our new house was a cheaply done reno, perhaps 5-10 years old. The one nice detail was the Mexican tile, installed, no coubt at great expense, over an old wooden floor (erghhh).

The kitchen continued to deteriorate. To stave off a renovation, Mr. FS painted the ugly cabinets, which improved things a bit. Finally, after 10 more years, we realized that the kitchen was really shabby, the cabinets were really crumbly. The kitchen had crossed the line.

So we went up and down the expense continuum. Finally--and I will spare you the years of agonizing indecision--I accepted my frugal nature. And accepted thereby a truism of frugality: use what you have. The more you can keep or re-use the more reasonable your renovation.

What we kept:
THE LAYOUT. This is a real saver. Moving an appliance is very expensive.

THE FLOOR. OK, I'd prefer the wood under the Mexican tile, but there's no way I would pull up the tile.

THE COUNTERTOP. The countertop is just some oak flooring that was laminated. It is quite scruffy. But we like it. We were planning to replace with old heart pine, but the contractor uttered the magic words: "Do you want to keep this?" A few bits were rotten, but I had the idea of filling in with old wood. It looks good!

If I'd had nice cabinets, you can bet I would have re-used some.

Any other waste not tips for kitchen renos?


Anonymous said...

If the cabinets are in the right place and generally in good condition you could just replace the doors. It would give them a whole new look and be a lot cheaper. I like the sound of your counter top. I can't imagine a kitchen fitter saying that! He must be good!

Shelley said...

We're just about done with our kitchen. I say 'we'; it's to the point that only Bill can do the work and at the weekend.

Your oak bench (what they call it here in the UK) sounds great. Scruffy or not, if it is what you like (and I probably would, too) that's all that matters. Why change it just because it's not the new thing?

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