Reader Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Before & After: Theresa’s 11-Day Gut Overhaul

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

After eight months of prep work, including sourcing, building, and staining new cabinets, Theresa and her husband were ready to gut their old kitchen and transform it. They removed everything from the kitchen, right down to the studs and subfloor, and put it back together in 11 days. See what it looks like now:

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Theresa tells us about the process in her own words:

It wasn’t our first “gutting,” so we knew things could get a bit… exciting. First, let me start by telling you about the “before” kitchen…

All of the cabinetry was original, not to mention hideous. The glue that held the cabinets together was not aging well, the odor gave that away. I had previously removed the doors so I could see what was inside the uppers because the lighting was so awful and the way the doors opened blocked the light any way. The sink was weak, the faucet weaker, and the plumbing was a nightmare. The previous owners attempted to “update” the kitchen by giving it a tile back splash. Not only did they manage to screw that up with grout all over the tiles, but they also managed to get grout all over the cheap counter tops and trim around the window and door way. Ah, and the exterior door was another issue. It wasn’t hung properly, so the cold air/warm air could be felt blowing through a foot away. It also opened the wrong direction.The doorway into the front room was in an awkward spot, too. That had to be remedied. The flooring was laminate wood planks, poorly installed.

So, our graph paper came out, our needs had to be met (more storage, more counter space, move the doorway to the front room, move the stove, replace the exterior door, more lighting, etc), and we decided the most economical way to get it all accomplished on a tight budget was to build it ourselves. We tallied up the costs, made some adjustments, and immediately started by making the cabinets in the workshop above the garage. My woodsman (husband) had worked out the cutting layout on paper and we ordered all the lumber from a local lumber yard. We chose a simple Shaker style cabinet door, bought the finest maple, and found a bangin’ deal on stainless steel hardware. The drawers were made out of birch, dovetailed and fitted with slides. All the drawer faces were also maple. We chose a nice cherry stain that complimented the flooring well. Actually, we had everything picked out before the construction began, which makes all the difference in the world! (I wrote a little bit about it here.)

Once the cabinets were built, it was time to gut the kitchen. We removed the cabinets and let the kids smash them to bits. The wallpaper was removed fairly easily… took out the drywall. We removed four floor coverings and my entire brood went at the metric ton of nails leftover with hammers and pry bars. A few puzzled moments (like…why would anyone put tile over a formica back splash, or, what do all these wires go to?) and buckets of sweat later, the odoriferous offenders were out of my house and made way for the fresh and new options we had waiting. Once we had the room down to the studs and sub floor, it was time to begin the reconstruction process.

We put in six recessed lights, one recessed light over the sink, built bulkheads, moved the front room entry doorway, re-drywalled, painted, laid the floor, set the cabinets, built the counter top, re-plumbed the new sink and faucet, moved the stove, and had the entire kitchen functioning by day 11. It wasn’t complete, but I could finally cook again.

As the weekends went by, the cabinet doors and drawers were installed. A new exterior door and storm door were also installed. Just a few short weeks later, the house went up for sale. And, although completely unnecessary, we even managed to sneak in a new stove (Part 1 and Part 2). We’re still waiting for that lucky buyer to show up and enjoy the new kitchen, but for now, I can’t complain. I have a custom kitchen…not too shabby.

Thanks, Theresa!

(Images: Theresa for The Kitchn)