Drumroll please…my dream white kitchen is nearly complete! You got that right, after YEARS of pain and horrors (more on that in a few) we finally have a gorgeous kitchen. I’m going to tell you some lessons from my kitchen remodel. Hopefully I’ll save you from making the same mistakes we did!
Our home in Miami is a very small 3/2 single family home in a small gated community. We had been renting it for years before we actually purchased. In fact the only reason we were able to purchase a home is because our previous landlord was nice enough to wait the months and months to sell it to us. Miami is a hot bed of all cash offers. Since most buyers are investors or those fleeing from other countries they either have the cash or are required to pay in full to purchase. This meant every offer we made was out done by a no-hassle all cash offer. It was a sad time until we decided to just purchase the less than perfect home we had been renting. It turned out to be the best option for us, plus we didn’t have to move!
The only problem was the house was pretty much in need of all new bathrooms, A/C, and a kitchen. To be really honest, we also need a new roof soon, floors, front door, etc…. lol. But one thing at a time, am I right? 😉
We started in the kitchen after getting furniture for pretty much most of the house. As awesome as it was to have adult real wood furniture, the kitchen is still the first thing you see when you enter. It was all sorts of awful. Moldy cabinets around the sink, the thermofoil stuff was peeling off everywhere, it was a yucky yellow fake wood pattern. It was just awful. Armed with zero idea how much a new kitchen costs we went to the local Miami Home Depot for a quote. We were ignored and cast aside in two separate locations, so thankfully there is a Lowes also somewhat close to us. They were really organized and had actual people around to help us with the new kitchen. They broke down how much a kitchen costs and let me say our kitchen is TINY. A very small kitchen to say the least. With little space we decided we wanted to grow upwards and make the cabinets as tall as possible and add an extra one for even more storage. When all was said and done the quote was about $10,000+ with many compromises. We were ready to go for it until a friend of my dad’s boss, Daria Jahann, told him he would do the job and give us custom cabinets including removal and install of countertops, plumbing, etc. With his custom quote he included quarts countertops, the cool inside organizing stuff I wanted, and best of all real maple doors. It was about $13,500 more or less. We signed a contract and waited.
Then we waited some more. Nearly 4 months went by until we pestered the guy enough to finally come over and do something. We knew nothing about how to pay contractors (you know what’s coming) and since he was a friend of my dad’s boss we were a little more relaxed. Lowes wanted 100% upfront to even begin doing anything, so we thought anything less than 100% upfront was fair. (not so bright) Long painful story short he did little work, what he did was so horrible and shoddy that if you saw it you would cry, and then he tried to force us to pay more money after getting everything from us. What actually happened is his relationship with my dad’s boss became sour and he must have thought that we know the guy and took it would on us. It was all revenge and seriously evil. In the end we were robbed. No one would touch the horrible job he did, they wanted us to rip it all out and start again. So we waited a few years, still pleading with the guy to finish the job. He would often text us that he was on his way, I would get hopeful and cancel plans, then he wouldn’t come and when he finally texted back would say he was “sick”. He said he was suffering from “celiac disease”. I can’t even comment on how dumb that sounds. Just don’t eat gluten!!!
Thankfully, my mother-in-law helped us out so my enraged husband wouldn’t go after the guy. There was literally nothing we could do legally against this guy, but we still intend on letting someone else sue him who can. So fyi don’t give ANY money over what you feel they have done so far. Because if you split it into payments and they stop working everything you paid up until then is considered for the work done, so don’t pay in advance. I would even go as far as to by the materials on your own and just pay labor. That’s the only way I’ll hire a contractor from now on. Just as labor that’s it!
Shellshocked we hired my mom’s life-long bff’s husband, Jim Koblinsky. His basically my uncle and made my playhouse when I was a kid with my dad. It wasn’t just some playhouse, that place had electricity and outlets, it was like a little efficiency in the backyard. He does awesome work, but charges a lot as its super custom and most of his clients have high end historic homes. His work has been in magazines and everything. I didn’t originally ask him because I’m not super rich or fancy. But after loosing so much money this time we did it right and went with someone that I not only trust, but trust alone in my home. That was the best part. Knowing I could leave him alone and run errands all day.
This time we got a real kitchen with actual high quality wood and workmanship. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have price shopped. I would go with the one I trust the most and who’s work is the best. Even if you need to spend 5 years saving up to do it. Price shopping is good for many things, just not in this case. If you want to save and are handy Ikea is an option, but they were not that much cheaper than Lowes. Oh and FIY if you have them installed they can’t charge you tax because it’s a part of the house, but if they don’t install they have to charge tax. I don’t get it either, but that’s what we were told and it seems to be true at least in FL. Sneaky independent contractors may lie about this to try and get more money.
So that’s my horror story, I hope it helps out someone in the planning stages. Now let’s get into the good and happy stuff!
What I Did Right
I purchased the cool Carrara Venato Polished Arabesque Baroque Marble Tile from The Builder Depot. I highly recommended The Builder Depot. None of the tiles were broken and they have excellent customer service. The delivery service dropped it off at the wrong address and whoever received them kept them. They shipped us a new one right away with no problems. We used a dark grey charcoal colored grout to really make the pattern pop. Mostly I went with dark grout so you can’t tell if my husband makes it dirty. I know him so well. 😀
Knobs and Pulls
I used two different brands, but in person they were a perfect match in color and style. I used a few sizes and shapes to create interest.
Ring Pull | Knobs | Arch Pull | Bigger Arch Pull
Sticking to white color cabinets really brightened up the kitchen. It’s a little hidden away and small, so the white makes it look HUGE and HAPPY. It’s such a great space now and totally fits in with the rest of my mostly white furniture. I feel that even though white kitchens are not always in fashion, I love white. I want everything bright and neutral, so I was true to my personal taste. When I go with color I always end up hating it and wanting to change it up. Now I can add and remove color with accent pieces and decorations. I can even change the faucet and hardware for a whole new look. But the white cabinets are always beautiful to me.
What I Would Have Done Differently
I went with stainless steel appliances. Not designer ones, but high end as far as Lowes and Home Depot appliances run. I instantly regreted the stainless steel. It dents SO EASILY. For the price you want it to not dent like a piece of paper. The thin stainless steel sheeting they use is weak. Upon closer attention, they were all pretty much dented up or would get easily dented if you touched them in the store. Maybe getting white or another color would have given me a sturdier surface with less dents. If you haven’t purchase appliances I urge you to consider how pathetically easy these dent. I have tired various brands and it’s all about the same. Some might smudge less, but they all get dents.
When I was younger we lived by the beach and we had a vintage mint gas wall oven and gas stove. They were cool looking with zero dents, plus they lasted forever (still going). They might not make them like that anymore. Perhaps that’s why people buy the ridiculously high end appliances. If by chance you can afford around $6,000+ for a range and so on then boy you got to check out these:
Since my kitchen is sooooo small I felt I had no choice but to save space and have the microwave over the range. However, if I had to do it again I would have gone with one of those fabulous decorative range hoods. I would give up some counter or cabinet space to put a smaller microwave elsewhere. Truth be told the microwaves made for above ranges are huge. You don’t really need one that big.
You can even do it yourself as shown here and makeover any existing range hood. Or really wow and go for something custom (and expensive) like this one from J.M. Frohler.Hope you found the lessons from my kitchen remodel helpful. Stay tuned for the BIG reveal with everything coming together! It’s so cool!Follow my blog with Bloglovin