Home Remodel: The Dilemma & Decisions


* Photos above from our Best Buy trip where we purchased our Samsung stainless steel appliances and from our Ikea trip when we finally made our kitchen purchase *

Kevin and I had been planning this kitchen/main level remodel ever since we moved into our home in November of 2011. When we went through our house the first few times before making an offer, we knew someday we may want to change things up in the kitchen. Everything seemed to be fine but it wasn’t particularly an attractive or amazing kitchen/main level. There weren’t enough cabinets and there was no pantry but we made do. This leads into our dilemma.

The Dilemma

One of the first times I ran the dishwasher – washing all of our dishes before putting into our cabinets for the first time – I noticed a leak coming out of the bottom. Awesome. Somehow, when our home was getting inspected, the dishwasher didn’t leak so the inspector missed it. If you were wondering, YES we have been running our dishwasher for over a year now and it does leak here and there. I know, very horrible. We had a repair guy come out and Kevin installed a part but basically, it still leaks. Did we want to buy a new dishwasher for that location? NO. Why? Because 1. Our big plates didn’t fit. The dishwasher was older so it wasn’t a tall tub meaning less space height-wise. AND…2. When you open the dishwasher the bottom hits the top of the oven drawer (if that makes sense) so you couldn’t get a new tall tub to fit in the space because the door wouldn’t be able to open all the way. Long story short, our dishwasher was broken AND honestly not in a very smart location… dang builders! Why would anyone put a dishwasher in a location where the door would hit the handle of the oven’s bottom drawer? And this dishwasher had caused a little water damage to surrounding cabinets even before we moved in. We also really wanted/needed to change the flooring. We had carpet throughout half of the main level and the carpet was in the dining room…eventually that would have to change with having kids. I mean, I’m sure Ryder will be chucking food soon and carpet under a kitchen table or highchair is no bueno. We also had linoleum (I think) in the kitchen and it was just crappy. Even if we were ok with the carpet in the main level, it was very old (since 2006 I think?), worn down, and ready to be replaced. The previous owners had a big dog and honestly they should have replaced it already. We didn’t want to rip out the whole flooring and replace it with hardwood floors if the dishwasher was leaking because then the floors would get ruined. And we didn’t want to buy a new dishwasher when it didn’t make sense to buy an older style model that didn’t fit our plates. Also, what color dishwasher would we get? Our current kitchen appliances are white but did we want to keep them forever? No. I’d rather have stainless steel or even black appliances.

All in all, we decided to invest in our home, do the remodel and enjoy it, and hopefully get a good return from our investment when we sell it. This is our first home and not our dream home. That is something we continually reminded ourselves while making decisions and sticking to a budget (which we have looked at a gazillion times). By the way, here is a tour of our main level after we first moved in...

The Decisions

// Kitchen Cabinets: After meeting with kitchen designers at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Schroll, and Ikea, and taking pricing into consideration, we decided to go with Ikea. At first, when I thought about getting our kitchen cabinets there, I thought, they must have low quality. But after looking at reviews online and other bloggers who bought their cabinets there, we decided it would be a good choice, especially if we were replacing flooring, painting, etc. Ikea is much cheaper than Lowe’s and Home Depot and specialty cabinet builders! Annnnd…twice a year they have a kitchen sale! Kevin and I almost took the plunge last fall at their kitchen sale but didn’t feel quite ready. The sale in the fall was 15% off. We had no clue when the next sale would be but they assured us we would get emails letting us know of the promotion. Kevin had signed up to receive emails. They didn’t know of the discount or when it would be but they always have them so we waited it out. I’m glad we did because the sale we got to take advantage of was 20% off!

The Little House Blog is one blog that was very helpful for us in deciding to get cabinets from Ikea! If you check out their blog here, you can see the kitchen cabinets we decided to get. Kevin and I originally wanted off-white cabinets that were a little distressed with a little darker brown in the cracks. Well, that was the most expensive cabinet door at every place we looked haha. We also wanted distressed hardwood floors. After deciding on Ikea, we had to change our kitchen look. I really wanted to go with off-white or white because our main level isn’t too big and putting in darker cabinets scared me. I didn’t want our home to seem smaller than it is. I decided on white because they didn’t have any off-white. There were three white cabinet doors to choose from and after speaking with kitchen specialists there I chose the Adel door (also the same cabinet in that blog). It seemed to be the easiest to clean (less amount of cracks) and the material seemed to be better than the others.

ÄDEL Door IKEA 25-year Limited Warranty. Read about the terms in the Limited Warranty brochure.

// Granite Countertops: Kevin and I decided to go with Ikea for our granite because 1. You can’t beat the 20% off and 2. It includes the install and everything. This is one area where we chose the best slab available even though it wasn’t our absolute favorite granite countertop ever. We could have gone to a granite place and found dozens we loved but we would be paying A TON more per square foot. Again, this isn’t our dream house and anything is going to look amazing compared to what our kitchen currently looks like. There isn’t too much movement and graining in our granite but I think it’ll be okay. We don’t have a lot of countertop space anyways.

// Butcher Block: We ended up choosing a butcher block (Varde) instead of putting in an island. I am forgetting the exact reasons of why we chose a butcher block and not an island but whatever haha. This is one item that Kevin and I are not 100% sure of. Kevin wanted to get a butcher block with open shelves but I just saw that as a nightmare with kids. Yes, it would be cool to display cool pots and pans or fancy appliances but all I see is Ryder pulling them off the shelves and every day me putting them back…so I said, it has to have drawers! The back of this butcher block is white and I don’t think is the same white as the Adel door so one option is painting it with chalkboard paint…we shall see what we think when we put it in!

VÄRDE Drawer unit IKEA Freestanding unit is easy to install and move. Adjustable legs; stands steady on uneven surfaces.

// Hardware: Again with Ikea, there isn’t too much of a selection but Kevin and I chose a simple modern handle for the bottom cabinets and knobs for the top cabinets. If I remember right, we chose the Attest knobs and Varde handles (below). For some reason, the colors of these handles seem a little different but they looked the same in the store and same finish….so hopefully they will match haha. A big reason we chose these handles was because they would match 1. our stainless steel appliances and 2. the hardware on our butcher block.

// Backsplash: After changing our whole look after deciding on Ikea’s cabinets, I really wanted our kitchen to be bright and feel bigger. Last fall, I started thinking about white subway tile. After months of debating last fall and as of recent we are going to do subway tile. This is the last thing we actually have to buy for our kitchen still. We checked out Carpet Exchange, Home Depot, and Lowe’s and I think Home Depot and Lowe’s was much cheaper.

// Apron Front Sink: Ever since I started looking at kitchens (on Pinterest, in magazines, etc.), I wanted an apron front sink. Unfortunately they are crazy expensive BUT the Ikea one is about the same price as a normal double basin sink elsewhere! This Domsjo Ikea sink is very popular for this reason. It was kind of a no brainer decision. My only concern is that it may be hard to keep clean? I’m not sure…anyone have one? Thoughts?

DOMSJÖ Double bowl IKEA 25-year Limited Warranty. Read about the terms in the Limited Warranty brochure.

// Faucet: I wasn’t in love with really any of the Ikea faucets but for the price I decided to go with the Elverdam faucet last minute. With the sink only having one hole, it limits you unless you are experienced and can cut another hole or willing to hire someone who can. That just seemed to be too much work and we got a killer price on this faucet so it was fine. I really wanted one that you could pull the bottom down and with a nice handle. Also, this stainless steel faucet should match our appliances and hardware and the white on the handle should match our sink. I like things to match haha. ELVERDAM Single lever kitchen faucet IKEA 10-year Limited Warranty. Read about the terms in the Limited Warranty brochure.


// Appliances: Kevin and I almost took advantage of the last 2 Black Friday stainless steel appliance deals…we were about to purchase a set last fall but just couldn’t. I am glad we waited because we made the right decision. We checked out Factory Appliance Outlet, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears, and Best Buy. We got the best prices at Best Buy for the Samsung appliances we wanted. For each appliance, Best Buy had the lowest price. I can’t wait to use them!

// Flooring: Kevin and I went to take advantage of a Black Friday deal on appliances and left with flooring haha. We were hoping to do an engineered wood but ended up with Pergo. The lady at Home Depot won us over. She took out her car keys and keyed up tons of different types of wood and left us wanting Pergo lol. The nice thing about Pergo is that it is cheaper than engineered and real hardwood BUT it is more durable. Yes, it isn’t as nice but then again this isn’t our dream home. With Katinka’s tiny claws and who knows what else scratching up the floor, we thought, well, it is cheaper and more durable, so let’s do it. They had a nice color on the end of an aisle for a killer deal so we bought the whole pallet. Another couple was looking at the same pallet of flooring but we bought it first haha!

// Paint: Our main level had some random off-white colors going on and one blue wall. Ever since living there, I wanted the blue wall gone. I felt like it was too dark. We also had a weird line across our ceiling. Let me explain. Our kitchen was painted in gloss paint and the rest was in matte and for some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to continue the gloss paint on the ceiling so the kitchen was separate from the dining room if that makes sense. Basically you could see a lovely line going from gloss to matte that just didn’t need to be there. Because Kevin travels a lot for work and I am with Ryder all day, it would take us FOREVER to paint the whole level. We actually ended up hiring a guy to do it and it only took him 2 days (well, him, and another painter). It was worth it because it was 2 days instead of 2 weeks haha. Other than that, we are doing everything ourselves…or Kevin is ;) It just would have dragged the whole remodel on another month…but really. It is so easy to get obsessed with lines and then you have to wait for it to dry and then another day goes by…too much time.

My job was to choose the wall color. That was SOOOO hard for me! Our painter dropped off a paint swatch from Kwal and my dad and I went through and picked out 8 samples. My dad is good with colors and paint, as he is a graphic designer and designed my parents whole house. He has good eye for color :).  We picked out around 3-4 greys and around 3-4 tans because Kevin and I weren’t sure what way we were going to go – either grey or tan. Anyways, the colors we chose looked very different on our walls than on the paint swatches! It was so weird! After looking at the greys and tans I thought a greige might be good option (to tie in the wood flooring and greys from the appliances).

Kwal paint options.


At this point, Kevin said he wanted a plain light grey and that was fine with me so I started googling popular grey colors and checking them out on Google Image. That is a great way to see the paint colors you are considering… in someone else's house :) Just type in the brand and paint color! I kept hearing everyone rant and rave about Benjamin Moore so I asked Lowe’s to color match a few of their paint colors because I didn’t have access to Benjamin Moore. I also tried to have them color match some of Restoration Hardware’s paint but they couldn’t for some reason. We decided at one point on Benjamin Moore Harbor Grey but I felt it may be just a tad too dark so I went and got even more paint samples and ended up going with Grey Owl. I am so glad I chose that color even though it took too much effort into deciding it! I have never had such a hard time deciding on a paint color! BUT, we were hiring a guy to paint the whole level so it had to be right. I would be so mad if I had buyer’s remorse and he painted the whole level a color we didn’t love!

*Grey Owl is the color on the bottom left (on the right wall).*


All in all, I’m glad we took the plunge and went for it with the whole main level remodel. The next home remodel post will include the demolition, paint, and flooring updates :)

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