Amazing home transformations

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Diary of a kitchen remodel

Planning, patience, and sweat equity pay off for Sunset's building writer

Kitchen remodel, after


Thomas J. Story

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kitchen diary before overview
kitchen diary corner sink before
kitchen diary after 2

By Peter O. Whiteley

Shortly after moving into our hillside 1,400-square-foot 1950s tract home, my wife, Beth, and I decided to remodel. The 12- by 13-foot kitchen was largely walled off from the adjacent dining room, which enjoyed a view of the San Francisco Bay.

Our goals were to open the spaces to each other and to reorganize and upgrade the kitchen as a warm and elegant entertaining area. We wanted to do all of this without adding space.

Slide show: Images from this kitchen remodel

The process of remodeling took about nine months, but we were physically without a kitchen for less than three.

We took our time planning the remodel and choosing the materials, finishes, and appliances -- sometimes changing our selections several times. After getting a construction estimate from a builder, we decided to save money by having me act as the general contractor.

It might have been less work with a professional contractor or architect to oversee the project -- we ended up having to locate and hire 17 different tradespeople -- but the extra effort paid off. We saved more than $30,000 and ended up with a kitchen that surpassed our dreams. This is our story of fine tuning and sweat equity.

Next: Peter's month-by-month remodel diary


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