Project Planning: The Grand Plan for the Kitchen


What do we do with this? Burning it down is not an option!


Kitchen A  with watermark

Having not done work like this before, we were unable to know what we were capable of doing. Our planning of this project would start with a test. We decided to take the small desk area of the kitchen (we call it the nook) and use it as a test area. We would try the cabinet paint, counter top paint, accent light fixture and hardware out there. In addition, we took the 2 smallest cabinet doors off of the cabinet above the shelf (we plan to use for the microwave) to test the application of shaker wood trim on. We chose those doors because if we totally screw them up, we could replace them with a different door (such as a glass door) and it would still work within the kitchen, they would just become an accent piece. The fact that they were the smallest doors in the kitchen also meant that replacement of them would be the cheapest.

Upon completion of the test, we would formulate a plan of action for the kitchen. We would rethink the elements that did not work and use the elements that did.



Test Area 1

The kitchen desk area (the nook)

Test Area 2

The small cabinet doors 

Nook with watermark Kitchen B with watermark



Here is an up-close look at the decorative detail on the upper cabinet doors. It appears on the upper cabinets only. So odd! Our 2 small test cabinet doors had the same detail. We needed to include doors with the detail in the test so that we would know how to approach them in the rest of the kitchen.


Cabinet with watermark

Then, we took the remaining kitchen are and broke it down into 3 zones. Each zone had a significant amount of cabinetry and counter space. We wanted to be able to renovate the kitchen while still being able to feed the kids. By tackling 1 zone at a time, we could still have a kitchen throughout the renovation. Doing a DIY project takes a fair amount of time and creates a fair amount of mess. We wanted to be able to run the house and still renovate. By dividing the kitchen up, we still had counter space to work with for meal prep. The approach we chose was slower, but met our needs for feeding our family. In addition, we knew that we would be learning through the process and would be able to apply our new knowledge to the zones to follow.


 Kitchen Before with watermark and zones

So, the grand plan for the kitchen rehab would be as follows:

  1. Rehab the cabinets and get them out of the 1970’s by changing the door design and color. To do this we would be breaking down the kitchen into several zones. We would patch any damage or decorative grooves, apply wood trim to the doors, prime and paint the surfaces, paint the hinges, apply new hardware and re-assemble the kitchen. The goal was to keep this step under $800 and to achieve a permanent surface and look.
  2. Do a temporary rehab of the counter tops to hold us off until we are able to replace them with a surface we like. The goal was to keep this step under $150 and make it so that the surface could be touched up if needed. We want the surface to last at least 2 years.
  3. Remove the current backsplash and patch and paint the walls behind it with a good quality, washable paint that would match the other walls in the kitchen. Budget for this step was $60.
  4. Replace failing light fixtures with rehab’ed 2nd had fixtures. This step is also on a tight budget of $150 or less for 5 light fixtures and supplies. The hope is that the replacements would be permanent, but if we were to change our minds, any financial loss wouldn’t be great.
  5. Tear out the current linoleum floor and sub-floor in the kitchen (it’s press board) and replace with plywood in the anticipation of hardwood floor application. Most of the hardwood floors we have looked at require a plywood sub-floor. In addition, we plan to stain and polyurethane the plywood to achieve a more aesthetic look for the temporary “floor”. The budget for this step was $700 and we hope that it would last 2-3 years.
  6. Replace the temporary counters with the desired surface. Budget to be determined.
  7. Add wood flooring over the new sub-floor. Budget to be determined.

Of these steps, our goal was to complete steps 1-4 in the next couple of months, and spend no more than the $1160 budgeted. We were delusional. Initially, I gave myself a month of time to complete most of the first 2 steps of the kitchen: the nook cabinets, the long bank of cabinets and the L bank of cabinets. Sadly, I did not make this deadline! Not by a long shot! The test on the nook area of the kitchen and the 2 small cabinet doors alone took 2 ½ weeks. It was at the completion of the test that I resigned myself to a more fluid timeline. I would have to give up the hard timeline to stay within budget. The only way to keep a timeline like that would be to have a team of trained professionals. That was out of the questions, so we resigned ourselves to slow and hopefully within budget.


Keep reading to see how we did!