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Orlando’s Kitchen Reveal

You guys I’m back! And so is my kitchen! (Finally). To refresh your memory, I moved into an apartment in January and haven’t had a kitchen since (you can read all about that here). As you know if you’ve been following here or on Hommemaker, this kitchen renovation project has been a bit of a nightmare. What I’ve learned is that renovating in a rental can be trying and that it’s ultimately a huge waste of money. BUT! Spending money to make your surroundings beautiful isn’t a complete waste. You benefit from it every day. So while I feel a little dumb for being roped into spending a ton of money on a place I don’t own, I know I’ll enjoy using my new kitchen.


My original plan with the kitchen was to get most of the makeover sponsored so I wouldn’t be “wasting” too much of my personal money on it. However, the main sponsorship from an appliance company ended up not working out and mid-construction I got laid off from my main job. I was worried I just needed to get the kitchen finished in case I had to sublet my place to save money so midway I just kind of started throwing money at it. When I started the kitchen, I had a job and wasn’t worried about money, but midway through it became my main source of stress. So this project ended up being an exercise in designing a budget-friendly kitchen (though when I added up the numbers, it didn’t seem super budget-friendly to be honest). There are certain items I splurged on and certain items I scrimped on.


The overall budget for the kitchen ended up being almost $24K, which kind of shocks me because I was trying to be as cheap as possible. As a designer, I know kitchens can get a lot more expensive than this. But I had made it a goal to keep costs down and I’d thought I’d be able to do this kitchen for less than I did. The cabinet doors, hardware, and window treatments were all sponsored and the landlord paid for the tile and demo so I didn’t actually pay that whole sum. I ended up paying around $10,000 of my own money. Not the smartest investment I’ve ever made, but I’m happy now that it’s done. My advice to renters who want to renovate a kitchen would be to put together a budget beforehand and have your landlord agree to pay a specific sum rather than “half the cost” which was what my deal was. Ultimately, if you live in an impacted rental market like Los Angeles, you don’t have a lot of bargaining power because someone else will come along and take the apartment regardless of how gross the kitchen is.


My favorite thing about the new kitchen is the cabinetry from Semihandmade. The kitchen was previously very badly organized, with appliances that were too big and not nearly enough storage. I wanted to make sure there would be enough storage space to stow all my dishes and keep my countertops free from clutter (this is one of my pet peeves, I hate seeing everything scattered all over a countertop). Semihandmade works with Ikea components to create high-end kitchens for a lower cost than you would pay for traditional custom cabinetry. They got their start customizing Ikea cabinetry, taking old Ikea kitchens and making custom doors for them. Now, they can create a kitchen from scratch and it’s a good way to save money on custom-look cabinets. I’d been intrigued by their services for years so I was excited to give it a try.


The kitchen is relatively monochromatic, with a pop of color coming from the insanely adorable roman shade from Loom Decor. I love a preppy nautical stripe so this makes me happy every morning when I stumble in to make coffee.


The wall opposite the window has some shallow storage. It seemed a little ridiculous to add storage on this side of the room since it could only be 10″ deep, but I wanted to add storage wherever I could because I love to make sure everything has a place.


My cute little Bertazzoni range is kind of the best. I searched high and low for an attractive 24″ range and I couldn’t find one anywhere. I’ve been a fan of Bertazzoni’s design for a while now (I had the same range in a larger size in my last place) so I decided to splurge on this range. I probably could have found a cheaper one, but since this is the centerpiece of the kitchen I wanted it to be beautiful. I always tell clients to spend money on things they’re excited about and save on other things they can find cheaper (simple white tile, for example).


A fun trick I’ve learned over the years is that having a bowl of meyer lemons in your kitchen makes you seem way less garbagey than you actually are. I don’t know what it is. People see a bowl of lemons and they just assume you’re a wealthy housewife from Connecticut who spends all her time arranging flowers and playing the piano for her adoring husband and children. Try this the next time you have people over!


When we left off in the intro post, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to install under-counter lighting because of the cost. I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I was able to install it and I love it. The bad news is that I did it in the most jerry-rigged way possible. The electrician I originally hired to install them fell through (after charging me $450 to install two pendant lights I could have installed myself) so I had his assistant install them. These are basically plugged into extension cords we routed through the wall and then outfitted with a remote control on-off clicker I found at the hardware store. They look like they’re totally legit, but the way we installed them was definitely not. The electrician assured me it isn’t a fire hazard so I’m keeping my fingers crossed he wasn’t lying.


The large-scale brass hardware from Park Studio is just gorgeous. I wanted the look of the kitchen to be classic and traditional, in keeping with the history of this 1930s building. But I wanted to have a few accents that made it feel young and fresh, so these comma-shaped brass beauties were the perfect accent.


I don’t know why I decided to include a pic of my washer and dryer. To many of you it’s probably like “BORING. I don’t wanna see that!” But for me it’s a huge accomplishment to have my own washer and dryer. When I first moved to LA ten years ago, I used to schlep my laundry to a laundry mat and spend hours there washing and drying all my clothes. I seriously took my dirty clothes home with me every time I visited my parents until I was 30. So being able to just plop dirty clothes into my own washer and dryer is pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to me.


While I like stainless steel accents, I’m kind of over how ubiquitous it is in modern kitchens. So I opted for a white refrigerator and dishwasher. I think white is going to make a comeback, in everything from refrigerators to ranges. I chose this fridge mainly for its size. The refrigerator that was in here previously was 36″ wide and was way too big for a kitchen this size. This one is 25″ wide and a much better scale. People think having giant appliances will make their kitchens look more glam, but in my opinion having appliances the correct size is a much better way to make sure your kitchen looks luxe and nicely designed.



I’ve always wanted a KitchenAid mixer and kind of assumed I’d get one someday when I got married. Now that I’ve basically decided I hate everything and will die alone, I’m happy to report I’m now the owner an adorable blue mixer. Like everything else in my small kitchen, this guy is mini. It fits on my countertop and the fact that it matches my cute striped roman shade makes me happy and/or is the reason I will die alone.


Those glamour cabinets, AM I RIGHT? All in all I’m very happy with my new kitchen. I think I did the best thing possible with the space. Would I do it over again knowing what I know now? Absolutely not. But sometimes when life gives you lemonade (a breakup, layoff, and sketchy landlord situation in my case) you make the best of it and move on. I’m excited to finally have a kitchen so I can make dinner for friends and not have to do my dishes in the bathroom anymore. You gotta celebrate the little victories in life…

PS: Find out more about this project, including the full list of resources on Orlando’s site, Hommemaker.

Resources: Custom Cabinet DoorsCabinet HardwareRangeRoman Shade, Refrigerator, Countertop, White Tile, Washer, Dryer, Globe Pendant, Flushmount, Dishwasher, Storage Canisters, White Dishes, Blue Pattern Vase, Marble Footed Bowl, Sculpture, Pour Over Coffee Maker, Hand Towel, Marble Tray, Mini Mixer, Soap Dispenser, Brass Faucet

***Photography by Zeke Ruelas

For more of Orlando’s Makeover Takeovers: Master BedroomGuest Bedroom Reveal | Bedrooms | Kitchen & Bathrooms | Living & Dining Room | Bedroom Makeover


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140 thoughts on “Orlando’s Kitchen Reveal

  1. Looks great, Orlando! When you move, please take everything you can out of this kitchen. Since you paid for it (and especially after your landlord reneged his promise to pay for it), the landlord deserves none of it.

  2. so I’m curious.. the stove. is that something Orlando is gonna take with him if he ever moves? otherwise it’s a gorgeous kitchen renovation!

    1. He can take it with him. If the kitchen originally had a stove, he is reponsible for replacing it, but he could replace it with a more budget stove from Home Depot or Lowes and take the fancy Bertazzoni with him.

      1. I hope he can take the cabinet hardware too! I’d strip that kitchen down when I left!

    2. Hi! Yep I’ll probably take it with me or sell it to recoup some of the costs of renovating the kitchen. I love it, but hoping my next place has a bigger kitchen that necessitates a bigger range. Dreamz…

  3. Love love love! It really looks wonderful. Some day when you move out, I hope you take those appliances with you. Even if you don’t need them. Sketchy landlords don’t deserve your fancy appliances (or kitchen remodels, but oh well.)

  4. Beautiful remodel and I agree that you should take all the appliances/window treatment, etc. when you leave!

  5. This kitchen is beautiful, Orlando. Thanks for sharing your story. Rooting for you.

  6. This financially gives me a panic attack. Can we do an Orlando go fund me pay for the kitchen and vacay post?

    Looks awesome!

    1. I agree! I would contribute. Orlando you did an awesome job and your posts are always inspiring. Plus, you are such a nice guy. Wishing you all that is good in life!

  7. Looks so great! Love how honest and real you are about the money struggles ect… i think it is something a lot of us can relate to! Bravo to you for seeing it through!

  8. Love the small touches…. triangle spice rack, marble sponge tray, blue stripped vase that matches the mixer and the shade. Lovely Orlando!

  9. We have all white appliances in our kitchen and just replaced our dishwasher and stuck with the white. Glad to have some confirmation from someone WAY more stylish than me, that white is a legit design choice…

  10. The roman shade, blue mixer with the blue and white striped case-perfection. Those three things would make any place a happy space. Congrats on your new kitchen, it looks like a fresh, happy place to be.

  11. Beautiful kitchen! How do you hang the artwork on tile backsplash? This is probably a novice question?

    1. I wonder if Command hooks would work if the tile is smooth and the artwork is light enough?

    2. Also want the answer to this… I’ve attempted command hooks on my kitchen tile and at least the clear sticky ones don’t work… maybe I need to go for the foam ones?

      1. I’ve found out that command hooks work great IF you clean the surface first with rubbing alcohol.

    3. I have two oil paintings hanging in my kitchen on subway tile. I used the command Velcro ones. No problems whatsoever. Been there for 18 months now.

    4. NOT a novice question! I always wondered that myself! I used foam tape (3M command tape) and it worked! I don’t think it would work with heavier art but for lighter pieces like this it def works. 🙂

  12. I’m going to buy a bunch of Meyer lemons today! Love your posts/style and sense of humor.

  13. Beautiful and happy kitchen! Wish you the best personally and professionally. And make sure you keep that stove!

  14. Orlando, I love you to pieces. Great job! This is exactly what I needed this morning, a shot of Chateaulando!

  15. Looks great! I’m a housewife from CT. I don’t play piano or have a bowl of lemons or a lot of money. Guess I’m off to the grocery store to get lemons. Hopefully the other two will follow!! Thanks for a good chuckle!

  16. I love your kitchen and congratulations on your Kitchen Aid mixer. The two of you will be very happy, and I am sure he will still be an important part of your life if you ever stop hating everything and get married. In the meantime, why wait? The color matching makes me smile, too.

    I hope the second half of 2017 holds less lemonade and more champagne for you!

  17. Bravo on all of it! Beautiful kitchen, and your post is as hilarious and full of heart as ever. I also hope you take everything you can with you when you leave the apartment someday. And I personally understand the desire to over-improve a rental, especially when you were mid-project when everything went to garbage. Of course you had to see it through! Now it’s all about living in a joyful space and moving past the regrets. Beautiful work as always.

  18. I’ve been following along your kitchen sage on IG for awhile. You are hilarious and a great writer that connects with your audience. Sorry it’s been such a debacle, but it looks amazing. Man, I wish I knew which stove to splurge on for my new kitchen!!!

  19. It’s adorable. I’m in love with those comma cabinet pulls!
    Did you end up using the Ikea undercabinet lighting or use something else? I’d love to install some….thanks!

  20. It’s beautiful! I love the globe pendant, and didn’t realize it could be hung so close to the ceiling, almost like a flushmount. I’d love to see that in a more pulled back photo, to see if it might work in a bathroom in updating. Thanks.

  21. WHERE did you get that spice rack!?! I’ve been on the hunt and this is what I NEED! Pretty please disclose your source. HALP!

  22. It is a beautiful kitchen! The landlord should be reducing your rent. I echo the other comments I’d be ripping those appliances out when I go, and the knobs, the light fixtures, the faucet…

    But I’m petty like that.

    Be well. 🙂

  23. So beautiful! Tell that landlord of yours that you’re not afraid to spend just a liiiiittle more to return it to its glorious hellhole-ishness when you leave. He doesn’t deserve your gorgeous reno.

  24. The kitchen is beautiful! I’m particularly smitten with the hardware and cute jars on the counter. I was wondering if you could add any photos (if you took any) that pull back a little so we can see the context of the kitchen? I’m trying to figure out its layout and space but it’s hard when the photos are shot so closely. I know those close up, style shots are more appealing for blog content and more pinned, but maybe including both types of photos would give us the ultimate experience.

  25. Orlando! Its gorgeous. The cabinets and floor tile are my favorites and I love that you chose white appliances. The coffee, tea and sugar containers are also my favorite accessory.
    Hope this helps you turn that corner in your life and never look back.

  26. I don’t understand how your landlord can see this kitchen and not pay you more than half the cost for it. It’s such an improvement.

  27. So beautiful!! I’ve always been such a fan of your writing and style but had never been to your blog or Instagram until this kitchen reno. I hope the new followers and page clicks you get from this help you have peace about the money you invested!

  28. Orlando, you are my favorite guest post writer! So funny and so authentic. Here’s hoping you do more guest-y posts on this blog.

    I know you have your own site too, but I kind of just check ONE blog for design stuff on the regular, which is this one. I have Bloglovin and I do follow you there, but I have a love/hate relationship with Bloglovin (the website doesn’t display right, and then it tells me to download the app, but the app isn’t user-friendly either, IMHAndUnsolicitedO).

    1. P.S. I have a stand mixer too, and I don’t know why, but having a stand mixer (in my favorite color!) makes me feel classier than I actually am. Your kitchen looks great :). Not just like a pretty place, but like a place that I would actually want to live in and super home-like, in addition to being stylish.

  29. Love the hardware. I don’t see them as commas. I see them as quotations, especially when you see two side-by-side. They say “LOOK AT ME!” And we should!

  30. Make sure you get your $10,000 worth when you move out. Buy cheap decent stuff to replace all the high-end items you have in there. I actually love the idea of a 10″ deep pantry.
    I know what you mean re the mixer. I had a similar dilemma many years ago: I found china that I loved, but thought that if I bought it for myself I’d be jinxed and never get married. Then I decided that was silly and I bought the china. Several years later I got married, but our wedding was small so even if I had registered for china I wouldn’t have gotten enough. I was very glad to already have china that I liked and had bought for a song!
    Still don’t have a mixer though. I have a handheld one that I use once a year at most!

  31. I love how your cabinet pulls look like tiny elephant heads from the side. I’m such a sucker for whimsy, and this is a great way to sneak it in without everything becoming too twee. Secret elephants!

  32. This is really great. Love the materials, especially the hardware, the faucet, the cabinet colours, and the wood tops. You did really well with scaling the appliances and other elements to fit the space…this is something we don’t always do well in North America. I think you are right that stainless fridges have had their day – I wouldn’t install one today. Thanks for including your washer/dryer set-up – I am a reader who works with a small space so I always appreciate details like this.

  33. Love this renovation! So beautiful. Can you please share the paint color for the lower cabinetry?

  34. What an absolutely gorgeous kitchen! Your job now is to enjoy it to the fullest every single day, so you can get value for money from just sheer beauty.

    Can you take that stove when you leave someday? Since you paid for it? Because there is no way I would let go of that loveliness if I didn’t have to.

    1. Yes, I can take with. Will probably do that or sell it to recoup some of my losses. Not planning on moving anytime soon though…

  35. Fabulous! I agree on the appliances. I recently did a white frig and dishwasher with stainless accents. The stores are still full of tired stainless appliances. There weren’t many choices for nice looking white ones on my budget.

  36. Beautiful kitchen reno! The stove is gorgeous and I assume you’ll take it with you when you move. 🙂 When I read your post, two things came to mind, particularly after having done a similar reno on a budget :

    1) In my view, never scrimp and save on a tile back splash in the kitchen because it’s the one item that you don’t need a lot of in most cases so the cost will be kept down because of that. You might be buying pricey tiles but you often don’t need a lot of them for an attractive back splash. Of course, in a rental, I would do what you did and go cheap subway tiles but not in a home I own!

    2) Why did you pay $4K to have your kitchen installed ?! In Canada, IKEA only charges $2500 for two service people to put together a large kitchen….Not sure what it’s like in L.A. but I’m guessing the cost is less because most IKEA things are priced better in the U.S. do to buying power. And your kitchen is smaller….so I’m guessing less than $2K for a kitchen like yours. You could have had the Semi Handmade doors installed yourself – that’s not hard. But the IKEA shells , I think you could have saved money here.

  37. OORLANDO FLY TO ISRAEL AND DO UP MY RENTAL! You’ll get a nice work-vacation out of it, why not?
    You and Daniel ( should talk. He always splurged on his rentals and LOVED IT. We rent disgusting places because we see potential in them, so it would be a waste not to invest in them FOR OUR OWN GRATIFICATION. It’s sadder to prop frames against the walls and think of what-could-have-been (and yes, I just spent thousands on my own rental -and it’s not looking half as good as yours- but I smile every time I walk inside. WORTH IT.)

  38. Beautifully realized, Orlando. We homebodies need our lovely spaces to give us an anchor in this screwed up world. I agree with those who suggest taking the stove & fridge when you move.

  39. Orlando I love your new kitchen. What a beauty. You’re posts are always a treat. By including the washer and dryer you made me think ‘Europe’ since these items are so often in the kitchen in that part of the world and the other is ‘how lovely’ to have your own set in a rental in LA. As a very, very long time renter in the LA area I’ve told my son that the one item I want to have after I retire and move ……right next door to him (just kidding it will be a few blocks away) is my very own washer and dryer!
    Thanks for sharing.

  40. I.Love.It. Such a beautiful design Orlando!!! Bravo! It gives me European vibes, in the best way… gorgeous! I’m thrilled for you. Thank you for updating us on Orlando Emily!

  41. Woa!! How sleek, modern, yet joyful at the same time! And I’m honestly amazed by how good the cabinetry (and those comma shaped hardware) look! Great job, Orlando! Though it may not feel like the savviest investment, you invested in making your life happier every single day, and that is worthwhile 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  42. The kitchen is beautiful, of course, but I am INSANELY worried about running extension cords through the walls. There is no way that is up to code. It could be dangerous. :/

  43. Love it, but it’s hardly what I would consider a budget reno. Even the items you say you scrimped on seem high end, in my opinion. LOL

  44. Let me add to the chorus advising you to take anything that isn’t nailed down with you when you leave — just replace it with cheapo basic stuff and move your treasures with you! Also, good on you for buying the KitchenAid mixer of your dreams. I made it a point to buy ALL the things I loved while I was single: the china, the flatware, the favorite-color KitchenAid. I figured that it I ever got married (spoiler alert: I did), I wouldn’t have to ask another person’s opinion on my choices, and if I stayed single I would be surrounded by things that made me happy. As an added bonus, when I registered for wedding gifts I got to ask for all the little gadgets and fun “extras.”

  45. Omg, Orlando, I love you sooo much! And this kitchen is gorgeous. I love the brass pulls. I’ve been thinking white would make comeback too… Maybe this year?

    Please write more posts for Emily. You make me laugh so hard. xx

  46. I’ve been considering doing IKEA boxes + Semihandmade doors for our upcoming kitchen remodel to save money, but I’m FLOORED by how expensive your tiny kitchen cost. I think our kitchen is slightly larger and has a more standard layout than yours, but we were quoted $17k for custom cabinets, which is only a little more than what you ended up spending. Can you offer any more detail into why your doors were so pricey? Thank you!

    1. That was just an estimate given to me by Semihandmade. Since I didn’t actually pay for them that number might be a little off. I think the installation could have also been procured more cheaply, but I wasn’t in charge of paying for that or choosing the installer so I wasn’t involved in that decision. I’d say the savings would be pretty significant with Semihandmade so I would definitely give them a chance. You can also get a quote from them by sending them your measurements/drawings of what you want to see what it would cost before committing to anything. I had a great experience with them and love the product, so if you’re interested I’d def give them a look to see if they could save you some money and give you a better kitchen than you might get elsewhere.

      1. I am shocked by this number too. Did you have them build the 10″ pantry by chance? We were hoping to use them (white cabs and their new navy color for an island) in our lake house and am a little skeeered by that number. Eeek!

        1. I, too, am surprised by the total cost of the cabinets (even without installation – $9,000 for Ikea boxes and Semihandmade doors seems really high for a kitchen this size). They do look gorgeous, but the cost seems much higher than other Semihandmade projects I’ve seen online. I am considering Semihandmade for a moderately-sized kitchen but this number is depressing me.

  47. I’m in love with Orlando…. xoxo

    *****blue makes everything better…………..and of course wood, marble, brass.

    He is talented, generous and anyone would be so lucky to have him in their life.

  48. Kitchen looks lovely! but the comment about the extension cords in the wall not being a fire-hazard gave me a bit of a heart-attack. Totally a fire-hazard. Love the overall final look though.

  49. Beautiful kitchen and your point of view is hilarious. Joining the chant to take as much as possible when you leave. Until then, enjoy!!

  50. This is absolutely gorgeous. I hope your landlord reconsiders since you added so much value to their property and decided to reimburse you at least half of what you paid. This is the kitchen I would have died to have in my apartment. Even if they don’t, I have a feeling this good karma will follow you Orlando!

  51. This is gorgeous!! And I agree with the other comments about taking the appliances with you when you leave! I also love the custom doors. I discovered Semihandmade in Palm Springs a couple of years ago but we didn’t end up having the budget to get the custom doors so we have Ikea for now. I hope to eventually replace the fronts though. Love the colours you chose. And I love seeing your sense of humour through a rough patch, it’s inspiring. I wish you all the best!

    Also, ha! I love the blue and white vase!! Is is new or vintage?? Can you share the source? The accessories are so great, beautiful space!

  52. It looks phenomenal! I’m really hoping you take those appliances with you though. Especially that gorgeous range! It’s too good to leave with a jerk landlord!!!

  53. Wait, the one roman shade was $850?? Was about to start looking for some and will definitely make me own if that’s what they cost!

    1. Hi! Actually it was two window treatments that added up to the $850 total (the other one is on the back door, which wasn’t photographed for this story). They were both custom made by Loom decor and are fade resistant fabric. I know it might sound a little pricey but one thing I’ve learned over the years is that custom window treatments are almost always going to be a bit pricey and that having ones custom made for the space makes a big difference.

  54. It may have been a stresser at the time but it was definitely worth it, this space is stunning. I love the gray cabinets; they are still subtle but they really add a flair to the design.

  55. Love how it turned out, what a beautiful kitchen! I am a little baffled though at the budget… I did a complete kitchen renovation last year and was on a budget too, I spent a little under £7500 ($9500) in total. That includes cabinetry, marble worktops, large SMEG, Bertazzoni range cooker, lighting, hardware, the lot. Is it really that much more expensive in the US? Wow.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      It’s possible to do, but it really depends on how pretty you want it to be. Labor is most expensive, and unless you’re using a cheap single craftsman to install your cabinets, floor, tile etc or doing it yourself after hours, it get expensive. But people don’t struggle in this industry as much as they did in the recession. As such it’s not that easy to find cheap labor, especially in California.
      I feel the window treatment could have been 1/3 of the price. Tile 1/3 to 1/2 of the cost. Even lights could have been $200, door hardware $200…. but obviously not as pretty. SImilarly stove could have been cheaper, but again not as pretty. And honestly, the things I bought for my house were not cheap either, I ended up going with slightly more expensive hardware.
      I’m buffled that Ikea cabinets were so expensive. There are cabinet companies that can make standard cabinetry of equal quality for way less. But I haven’t done a kitchen remodel. If I did wanting to stay in the house for at least 10 years, I wouldn’t go the cheap route. But yes, there are cheaper options available

    2. OMG. You must have made some clever choices! In the US it’s mostly labor and cabinets that eat up much of the cost, which was why I was so stoked to work with Semihandmade.

  56. You did an amazing job at creating an elegant, timeless kitchen. Perhaps what you need more than a man is a good accountant. Since you have a blog that showcases your designs and said blog is part of your income, could a portion of your kitchen renovation be a deducted business expense? Far less scrupulous tax deductions have been claimed….

  57. This is beautiful. The landlord is a winner here. People will fight over this apartment when you move out. Labor is the most expensive part, and I can tell you that you could have spent half the money you did on materials if you decided to shop at Home Depot, Floor and Decor, Lowes, etc. Thankfully your landlord covered at least a few of these more expensive items, so you still have a portfolio worthy project. Well congrats. I hope you’ll be using this kitchen for as long as you want, it’s both pretty and functional 🙂

  58. Your kitchen is stunning…fantastic design and execution. But, I was shocked at that cost. We just did a complete renovation on our snowbird home in AZ and even moved the kitchen from the middle of the home to a different area, better suited area so I could overlook view. We had to break the concrete floor and trench new plumbing, move the ceilings higher for new A/C and did all new electrical, white shaker cabinets and quartz and I did not spend as much as you did, came in at 20K. I researched like crazy and bought everything “almost wholesale” and I waited for a 50% off appliance sale. We saved 5K by doing the cabinet install ourselves and it was not difficult…just time consuming and careful measurements. I have gorgeous hardware and used 45 pewter pulls that I found online for $2.75 each! They were knockoffs of a designer pull that sold for $15 each. I realize California has higher costs. But I will admit that it takes a great deal of effort, research and time to save money $$. Even so, your space turned out to be a gorgeous kitchen and if it makes you smile every day, then it is definitely worth it!

  59. I’m with a lot of the other readers on this one…take it ALLLLLLL with you if/when you move on to bigger and better things.

    Also, your landlord annoys me.


  60. Love everything! The Roman shade, pretty blue mixer! That hardware looks like an elephant head! I want some! Wishing you many many wonderful times spent in the kitchen. Please take whatever you can when you do move out though.

  61. the fact that it’s equally as entertaining to see your incredible design style as it is to read your words are the very reason you are one of my very favorites on the internet. we have that faucet in brushed stainless and i love it love it. updating your kitchen makes you feel like your food will suddenly taste better and that you are basically on a cooking show every day. which is just so fun!

  62. Now we just want you to fall in love with somebody fabulous with an ugly kitchen so you can do this all over again, but someplace you get to keep!
    Love it love it love it. You did it beautifully (except the semi-home made wiring job). You spent a lot of money but it looks at least twice as expensive as it was…

  63. Beautiful!! Now you will never die alone! You can be buried in your sunday best with your gorgeous standmixer!

  64. That is the slimmest vent hood I have ever seen! Where do I find one of those? Is it a bank breaker? All the stuff I love breaks the bank, lol.


  65. BravOrlando! It is beautiful. And thank you, Emily for having Orlando over. I was worried about him being lonely.

  66. First, I love your kitchen! I’m sorry there is so much terribleness surrounding it, but the end result is beautiful! Second, I totally get being excited about having a washer and dryer! In college, the place my husband and I rented didn’t have a washer and dryer, so every Wednesday night we would wheel our clothes, uphill, in a child’s wagon, (we didn’t have a car either) to our friends’ place, where we’d all watch Veronica Mars while we washed our laundry. It was kind of the best and the worst at the same time.

    1. Oh, I also meant to say that the first time we did have laundry in our apartment, we were jumping for joy!

  67. Hi Orlando,

    I love how this kitchen turned out. It is beautiful. I wonder about the countertops. Why did you choose Mollekulla over the hammarp countertop? Hammarp looks like it’s solid oak all the way through. Mollekulla is oak over particleboard.

    I love the countertops. We own a condo that we bought at the absolute high in 2006. Work took us out of the area so we now rent it. We break even when we are lucky after paying the mortgage and the HOA dues. I would love to install these countertops in our rental.

    So yes, the landlord should have paid more, but maybe he couldn’t. Who knows when he purchased, whatever obligations he has, etc. But–I think we all will agree that your landlord is the LUCKIEST person in Los Angeles county to end up with a talented designer who will put his own money and contacts into spiffing up a kitchen. If you ever move (which I hope you don’t for a good long time because of the work and effort that you put in there), he will garner more rent and possibly more if he sold it.

    But I digress–I have been eyeing these ikea countertops for awhile to put in our condo which I desperately want to renovate (even though I don’t live there!) but it hasn’t made financial sense. I was hoping someone on the blogosphere would use them and also give a good review.

    How are those countertops holding up? Do you recommend them for tenants that may not baby them?

  68. Orlando, you pulled it off. It looks fresh and timeless. Thank you very much for sharing all of the details of the process. Your authenticity resonated with me.

    Related to the kitchen . . . everything costs more in coastal California. So much more. It just does. I think you should give yourself permission to forget the costs and the landlord frustration. It will only eat at you.

    And because I thought you should know . . . back in the day, when I first started reading EH’s blog, and you were still working with her and were featured in many of the posts, I remember my first reaction when I saw you: “Wow, that guy is extremely handsome. Movie-star handsome.” And you’re talented, and charming, and a good writer. And you had a super cool childhood in Yosemite. Read: You’re a mega-catch. Here’s to hoping that someone worthy of you stumbles into your beautiful kitchen.

  69. beautiful orlando! so much design inspiration here…i absolutely love it. “the fact that it matches my cute striped roman shade makes me happy and/or is the reason I will die alone”….hysterical!

  70. Super excited to see the narrow size appliances get some attention. I love your three picks!! The bright side of not working with a sponsor for your appliances is that you can choose exactly what you want. I’ve never seen an appliance-sponsored post with anything less than giant, robot-Transformer looking monstrosities that would be so out of place in this modest-sized kitchen.

    Plus, would you be able to sell them to your landlord when you move out, or take them with you? That way you could recoup some of the cost.

  71. LOVE this kitchen. And as someone who has recently lost her job, I’m so impressed by the way you bravely moved forward.

  72. If you feel like doing a follow up post, I’d love to see your initiative budget vs the final budget. Which things ended up being more expensive than anticipated? Any pleasant surprises in the other direction?

    I’d be interested in hearing the landlords logic… Was he used to super cheap builder material renovations, and thus was not expecting “half” to turn into 5-10k? I’ve lived I. Recently renovated apartments before, and they were always so low quality they were falling apart after I’d lived there for 2-3 years, but then again I always figured that was the landlords logic… I was renting in New York City, high turnover allowed them to keep raising rents exponentially

  73. MINI KITCHENAID?! Give me my money back and give me a tiny mixer like yours. I love your kitchen. The good you put into this home will come back to you. Don’t worry.

  74. For the record, I haven’t even read this yet but I love love love your posts. I always crack up and am impressed. I look forward to reading this.

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  76. It’s crazy how prices varies from country to country… We renovated an entire apartment (45sqm) in Prague (bathroom complete remodel, kitchen, furniture, and all the builders, electrics, plumbing, and so on included) with 12000usd.

    The result is amazing i am just shocked that the window treatment could be as high as 846usd!!

  77. It looks GORGEOUS, Orlando! And, the good news is, since you bought the appliances, they can come with you to a new place someday. So, really, you did invest in something you can keep AND you have the pleasure of working in a truly beautiful kitchen.

  78. I was so excited to see the headline for your kitchen reveal. It’s beautiful and I wish you all the enjoyment of living in it, renting or owning, you live there, and it’s lovely. Also, nothing wrong with the shallow storage, it’s great as you don’t have to reach over things and you won’t forget what you’ve bought and have too many multiples (food wise). Though multiples are annoying, doubles are perfect so you never run out 🙂

  79. Orlando – ugh, so sorry for all the lemons thrown at you recently! Fwiw, I think you’re fantastic. Your writing is a riot and some of my fav posts to read! Also, you won’t die alone (but what a cute kitchenaid to bring to the next relationship)!

  80. You are honest, talented, funny and it is always such a pleasure to read your posts and see your work !

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