the frugal renovator

These days, our culture seems obsessed with acquiring the perfect dream kitchen. Home owners are dropping big bucks like never before, in order that they may be ‘out with the old and in with the new’…new wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, granite countertops, designer tile, fixtures and faucets.

One year ago, as I surveyed our own drab and tired looking kitchen, I knew it was time for a change, time to tap into the room's unrealized potential. The kitchen itself is quite spacious and sees a great deal of use. Everyday it is utilized by 4 roommates, one cat, and a constant flow of guests and visitors.

As a humble renter, I had neither the cash nor the desire to blow my wad on such extravagance. Sure, I love an inspired environment to cook in as much as the next, and I knew there must be some cost effective ways to create an enjoyable, attractive and functional culinary space by simply working with what we had.

Here is where I got excited. I am often THRILLED when necessity breeds invention. I do not see such limitations as restrictive, but rather as an inspiring challenge. I decided on a working budget of $150 and one week of my labour to complete the project. The job list went as follows:

Removed cupboard doors from all upper cabinets and painted them white.
Painted dark wood on fridge white. Painted dark brown accent walls white.
Cost: $10 for paint brushes and trim tape (paint and primer were free- a donation from my parent’s basement)

Added a bar to the back side of the kitchen island. The bar was also restained.
Cost: $15 for hardware and stain (bar and 3 stools were moved from another space in the kitchen, with big help from my roommate, Michel, and his trusty powerdrill)

Purchased and installed matchstick blinds that were ‘customized’ to fit windows using our garden clippers.
Cost: $75 for 2 blinds (Asian import store)

Replaced yellowing track lighting with white ones. Luckily, we already had dimmers on all our kitchen lighting. This is a very simple and effective way to create ambiance. Dimmers rock!
Cost: $8.50 for 2 (second hand from M.C.C. Thrift)

Replaced ugly brass pantry door hardware with new stainless.
Cost: $15 for 4 pulls (Ikea)

Set up a cookbook wall.
Cost: $11 for 2 shelves (Ikea. Again, with help from Michel)

Edited glasses, utensils and dishware to get rid of the clutter and have ready access to the good stuff. Suddenly, our bright red porcelain sink no longer seemed an oddity when accented with a few newly unearthed red dishes. I even discovered a beautiful, deep orange Le Creuset soup pot hidden in the back of one cupboard, barely used.
Cost: (free)

Cost: $6 for 1 picture frame (artwork free)

The project was completed both on time and on budget (spent $140.50, plus $10 for beer). The results have exceeded my expectations. Our new kitchen is light, airy, cheerful and highly functional. It is now a beautiful room that is a pleasure to spend time in; creating, cooking, gathering and entertaining. It is especially satisfying to me that such a successful transformation could be done with so little.


Anonymous said...

Are you talking about MY kitchen ???
very you


Sea said...

Now I want to see the "before" photo! ;) Your new kitchen is lovely! The splashes of color are wonderful and make the room feel very bright and cheerful. I've "remodeled" my kitchen several times (meaning adding furniture or moving said furniture around the room-I'm a renter too) but I think it's time for another change!