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 Doors, Cabinet Hardware, Range, Roman 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.