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Our Kitchen Makeover - Before & After

What I am about to say, I say with great certainty. If you and your spouse can get through a major home renovation project, you can get through just about anything.

Back in early November we set out to create the kitchen of our dreams. I had pinned enough ideas to design ten kitchens combined, all the materials were purchased, the job was quoted and within our budget, and finally all the more important home projects were behind us. This took having to accept that insulating our basement and installing an energy efficient heating system was more important than new cabinets and more counter space - which wasn't particularly easy for me. 

The goal was bigger and brighter. The original kitchen had only one tight corner you could work on, a low hanging microwave and one sink. It consisted of thirty year old hardwood floors that were scuffed and damaged by water among other spills, oak cabinets that aged to an unpleasant shade of yellow, warped laminate counter-top with a dated wood design and finally, the ugliest Stucco ceiling you ever did see. The kitchen was so dark that even the brightest of paint and sunniest of days couldn't light it up, and it smelled like a musty old log cabin. 

Our project was more than just a face lift. Things got really, really messy and it took us an embarrassing five months to complete. You don't account for all the little road blocks and detours that arise when you set a completion date, or the dust that settles or the days you just can't muster up an ounce of energy or interest to screw in another drawer handle. It's a big commitment and if you're doing the majority of it yourselves, be prepared to quite literally sweat, shed tears and bleed throughout the process. There were many late nights spent assembling cabinets, cursing the mess we were in and cancelling our social life to get things done - but it was all worth it in the end and we're still happily married.

Thanks to some wonderful handymen, guidance from friends, family and visitors who thought they were only coming over for a coffee, we got it all done right. We couldn't be more thankful. Here's how it all went down...

  • We busted out the dining room wall to expand the kitchen and brighten the space with an additional window. We never used our dining room, even when guests came over for dinner. Here in Cape Breton, you do most of your entertaining in the kitchen so eliminating the wasted space made sense. I've always preferred an eat-in kitchens anyway.
  • Removed Stucco ceiling and installed drywall. Imagine dust covered, chalky, sharp, four inch icicles hanging from your ceiling. Imagine the chore of having to clean or paint them. Let's just say, when this mess was finally removed from our home, we danced the happy dance.
  • Removed laminate flooring from old dining room area and installed new hardwood to match the flooring throughout the house. We knew we couldn't combine the two spaces to make one with a dark laminate on one side and a worn down hardwood on the other, so we gave the flooring guys quite the task of refinishing our old floor to match newly installed hardwood. 
  • Installed new light fixtures, outlets and moved the range across the room. What seems like the easiest task of all happened to be the most stressful. I will never again support the idea of re-routing electrical wires. Always consult an electrician!
  • Assembled cabinets. Lifestyle Cabinets come in boxes and need to be assembled. The first one took us a solid three and a half hours to build, but once we got the hang of it we were banging them off in twenty minutes. They are good quality white cabinets that I highly recommend if you're wanting to save a buck and have the patience for the job.
  • Painted. Back-splash will come eventually but for now, a light shade of grey makes the kitchen warm and inviting.
  • Create a coffee bar. I collect tea sets, cups and mugs and can't stand hiding them behind closed doors. I wanted our new kitchen to have a coffee bar with open shelving so I could display all of my favorites. This is by far my favorite feature of the kitchen, and it's my first stop every morning when I get up.
  • Installed cabinets, door knobs, drawer handles, counter-tops and sinks. Black and white everything, just what I've always wanted. Black laminate counter, black knobs, a blank rinse sink and a black dish sink. 

See? Dark, tight and all wood everything.

Smooth drywall, a thing of beauty! A missing wall, not so much. It was amazing how busting out the wall and smoothing out the ceiling instantly brightened up the room.

This was at our halfway point, on the brink of a having major regret. We could no longer keep on top of the mess, Christmas was fast approaching and frozen pizzas were getting old real fast.  

Story of our lives for two months, spending our evenings assembling cabinets in our matching slippers. 

Finally seeing some progress!

Finally complete, and yes, we kept our red table. After traveling with us from apartment to apartment and house to house, this table holds a place in my heart. It's brought a lot of friends together and if it could talk, it would have many stories to tell. Not featured here is a window above the dish sink and two large bay windows on either side that make the kitchen bright and cozy.

The countertop has an Ora Edge which shows the flat face adding some bulk to the counter. It has a faint marble pattern throughout that adds some character and just so happens to match the light grey walls perfectly.

Stay tuned for our bathroom makeover!


  1. It's beautiful! I'm especially interested in the cabinets. We want to replace our cabinets soon but the quote we got for maple was...not low. Did you order them online and have them delivered or are they available at Kent/Home Depot-esque places?

    It looks really good. SO MUCH SPACE!! You guys did a great job!

  2. Oh I love it! Stunning! Never even thought of a coffee bar but I want/need one in my kitchen now

  3. Aw wow! Your kitchen is pinterest lovely!! Well done, and well done on getting through it with your husband :) Those white with black cabinets are gorgeous :)

    If you have any tips on keeping yourself motivated through it, they would be much appreciated as I have a lot of work round my flat to do.

  4. I'm loving the coffee bar... I think it's going to go on my to do list for the next house :)


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