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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

DIY kitchen reno 1-year anniversary: what we'd change, what we still love

 A year ago around now we were wrapping up our biggest, most expensive room project yet: a full kitchen renovation in our 1937 house, removing all of the 1980's and 2000's cabinets, lighting, flooring, etc. We lived here almost a year with the funky old kitchen (which had some function issues as well as aesthetics) and planned long and hard for this project.

We had a 14-month-old at the time but Jason had some time off school and we did ALL the work ourselves with the exception of installing the countertops. It was a lot!!!

We are SO glad we jumped into this big reno and have been enjoying our beautiful new kitchen for a year now! Thought it was time to look back and reflect on how it's held up, what we'd change, and what we love most.

This is also a bit of a "real life" kitchen tour--I didn't style the open shelves or move Otto's toddler step stool out of the way for all of these photos. I did clean, but this is pretty much how it looks most of the time and how we use it!

DIY kitchen after 1 year


Here she is--small but big enough, our galley-style kitchen. The footprint, doors, windows, and sink location are all original. 

In the 1980's someone added a dishwasher (thankfully) and this general layout. We considered changing the layout so the fridge isn't the first thing you see from the dining room, but that would have involved moving the stove and vent hood too, and actually it's a pretty useful layout the way it is. (Actually wait, we did move the dishwasher from the right to the left of the sink; that was the only layout change.)

Still loving our budget DIY open shelves, this light fixture, the faucet, the hardware... 

We could probably get a cuter memo board, but we've been using this mini-white board for a working grocery list. :P It is nice to have something breaking up the blank side of the pantry, actually!

I moved this art from the open shelves to above the DIY vent hood. I had a wreath there at Christmas. Adds a lot to this wall!

Wondering what we'd do differently? Me, too. I really had to think about it to come up with something... I think the choices we ended up with for layout, appliances, semi-decorative elements like lighting and hardware, etc. are all AWESOME. I love it. I love cooking in this kitchen. I love the smooth countertops. I love the chunky crown molding. I love the brass hardware. 

I don't love how I was never able to replace the breakfast nook table with something cooler--I would love an old dark oak round table with chunky carved base, but haven't found anything at the Restore or on Facebook Marketplace in the right size. So that blonde wood one is the one that came with the house. Ha! It's functional but not as nice or as much my style as the rest of the kitchen.

There are also some DIY skill things we could have done better... the crown molding is not perfect in some places (that is the hardest task we've ever done! So confusing!) and I wish we'd put the floor leveler down thicker before installing the sheet vinyl cause in some light I can see the old texture through. But it's okay, I still love the flooring!

Let's talk about the cabinets. They are from Walcraft Cabinetry, who sells "ready-to-assemble" semi-custom cabinets/kitchens and does all the design for you. (I definitely considered IKEA and several other sources--see the comparison here.) WE LOVE THEM. They are perfect. It was so easy to work with this company, too--I sent them our measurements and what we wanted, and they did all the design for me (and made the modifications I kept requesting :P). 

Here are the last renderings before we placed the order...

The narrow cabinet next to the open shelves (it hides some wiring that sticks out an inch or so at the top), the panel for the panel-ready dishwasher, all the drawers!!!!!, the narrow cabinet next to the fridge that's the same width as the cabinet door above it... all details that I worked through with our kitchen designer Brian at Walcraft Cabinetry. I partnered with them to share their company for this reno, and if you check them out please tell them I sent you! I may earn a commission at no cost to you. 

If you are considering a kitchen reno and are overwhelmed by the IKEA kitchen planner tool or the cost or logistics of other options, I really recommend you check out Walcraft!

I shared ALL the sources and details in the full reveal here and the budget breakdown/cost post here. Spoiler: this kitchen was incredible affordable. Less than a car. We kept the costs down by keeping the same layout and of course doing all the work ourselves, plus some creative sourcing and lots of research on my part--which you can benefit from by reading those posts! 

And here are ALL the prior posts about this kitchen, in order:
  1. Read about our design/plans here
  2. See all the house before photos here
  3. See how we built our cabinets here.
  4. Read about our kitchen demo day here.
  5. See how we installed our cabinets here.
  6. Learn about our budget-friendly marble-look quartz countertops here.
  7. See our handmade-look tile backsplash/mosaic tile pros/cons here.
  8. Read how to lay sheet vinyl flooring in a complex, larger space here.
  9. Read about our kitchen sink and faucet (and why we didn't choose a farm sink and bridge faucet)
  10. Learn how to choose cabinet hardware and see the beautiful, affordable modern traditional options I considered
  11. See our chunky wood floating-look easy, budget-friendly DIY open shelf tutorial
  12. Read how we saved $4k on higher-end looking appliances
  13. Get the DIY built-in range hood tutorial here
  14. See my comparison of budget-friendly cabinet options (beyond IKEA!) here
  15. See my video about our cabinets, start to finish.

Hope this has been helpful! Check out the posts linked above for more details on every element of the kitchen!

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