Repurposed Kitchen Renovation
One of the reasons people are afraid to buy an old home is because of the smaller kitchen floor plans that tend to be closed off from the rest of the house. Our 1960s home had exactly that, a small dilapidated kitchen that even I assumed we would have to completely gut. It had the original 1960s cabinets with crumbling countertops, appliances that wouldn't turn on, and an overwhelming amount of dirt. Given the amount of mouse poop and water damage in the kitchen I assumed we wouldn't be able to repurpose much, but once we started demo, we uncovered some great things to restore instead of replace. Below we are breaking down all our different DIY renovation projects, and all the beloved products we used to bring this old kitchen back to life. Note that some of these are affiliate links, so we could receive a small percentage of any item purchased.
Project 1: Cabinet Makeover
First we started demoing the cabinets, because we thought we knew for sure they couldn't be salvaged. The old cabinet doors had been painted several times and didn't function anymore. And the cabinets themselves were stained with mouse droppings and other filth that accumulated over the decades. We demoed what we thought would be the easiest cabinet first and were hit with the tough realization that these cabinets were installed to be there forever. And by forever I mean they were bolted, screwed, nailed and glued in. We used a sledge hammer, pry bar, and a lot of force but the cabinet ultimately had to be broken into tiny pieces to get it off the wall.
I looked at Jeff and said, 'clearly whoever installed these wanted them here forever so maybe we can salvage some of them'. But there was a good amount of warping happening around the sink so I assumed we couldn't save all of them. I knew I first needed to call some countertop experts to see what leveling issues we had with the cabinets before we could fully proceed. Although the architect who came to measure was a man of few words he did make it clear that the cabinets were, to our surprise, totally level. All the warped damage was contained to the laminate counter top. So I got to work cleaning and priming, for what felt like an endless amount of days.
Since the cabinet boxes had a darker stain I used Kilz stain blocker to keep the old stain from 'bleeding' through the new white paint. This product is amazing because it dries thin and quick and basically seals anything you paint, so you can get away with not sanding all the wood.
We did have throw away all the cabinet doors since they were warped and might have had lead paint. I used a favorite site to order new shaker style doors, kitchencabinetdoors.com, which lets you custom size to the 1/8th of an inch. This site is the perfect option for older uniquely sized cabinets. Keeping the cabinets and ordering just new doors was obviously very cost effective, but the amount of painting and detail work that needed to be done to piece everything together added at least another month of work to the project list. But it was worth it to keep the renovation as eco-friendly as possible.
For both the cabinet boxes and doors you'll want to invest in a ergonomic paint roller. I used a shur-line roller because it was the most inexpensive and well-reviewed roller on Amazon, plus it had quick prime shipping which was a needed bonus since I wanted to get started painting as soon as possible. It lived up to its reviews as I barely got a hand cramp after all that painting. The only drawback to the roller was it needed a lot of force to get the paint nap off of it after several days of use.
Another shur-line product that was an absolute must for cabinet painting was their edger tool. this hand held paint pad is the best way to ensure you get all the corners inside the cabinet box, It is worth the small investment for the tool, especially because the replacement pads are very inexpensive.
I used this same tool almost a decade ago in my first home to paint those cabinets as well. I'm proud to say my work is still on display in that home (pictured below). I have to say the paint help up really nicely all these years! It might seem a little counter productive to buy new products for a restoration or upcycle project, but these are products that you will be able to reuse time and time again.
Other helpful products I used to help salvage the cabinets included a wood conditioner, caulk, and sander to help renew the cabinet drawers. Again these are versatile products that you can use for many projects, but are a must for restoring old wood.
Once the cabinet boxes and doors were painted and assembled it was time for the easier part of the reno, installing kitchen hardware. New hardware is a quick way to give a space a makeover with a small environmental impact, but it can be very costly if you don't consider how many pulls or knobs you'll need. Luckily for us Amazon made this an easy and inexpensive choice because they have very stylish and durable cabinet pulls for less than a dollar a piece. We got a 30 pack of the Ravinte brand matte black 5" pulls, as well as a drill template to ensure a smooth installation every time. If you skip on the template you might have to drill more than one hole, which could ruin your new or rehabbed doors. So we highly recommend a template, plus our linked template kit includes the drill bit size you'll need to install most hardware today.
Our next DIY project was a result of a problem we created. When we removed the initial cabinet it revealed a big problem, there was no dry wall and tons of holes behind the cabinet. At first we wanted to cover the whole thing with another cabinet, but the pre-fab cabinets of big box stores today just did not match our repurposed style. Instead we went with a more sustainable DIY project with open shelving. Although this project took a ton of sweat equity to restore the wall, the cost was low and made a big impact.
If you ever need to spackle a large space like this you'll want to invest in a kit or a couple tools to make your work as smooth as possible. Uneven spackle can look just as bad as a hole if its not sanded correctly. Although we already had the tools needed for the job, the kit below includes everything we used including the spackle, tape, and sandpaper. I also highly recommend you lay down an old towel or garbage bag underneath your work area to catch as much of the drywall dust as possible, and wear a mask when sanding. Drywall dust is notoriously difficult to clean up, and will likely get all over you and everything near the space.
The last major transformation we did in the kitchen is swap out the three mismatched light fixtures for a cohesive and minimalist look. Our kitchen had one gold oversized flush mount light, one nickel mini track light, and a dust filled ceiling fan. We took down all three and replaced them with contemporary flush mount led lights. What I love about these energy friendly lights is they are inexpensive and give a room a recessed light look without the labor and price tag. Just note in a few years when you have to replace them you will have to replace the whole fixtures as the led light is integrated into it to keep it as slim as possible. But since they are led you should get at least 3-5 years use out of them. We used the basic lowes brand, Project Source for our light, but the link below is a very similar fixture and is also sold as a two pack.
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Have questions? Contact us anytime at RepurposedRenovation@gmail.com.