Diary of a kitchen remodel

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

Kitchen remodel, after
Photo: Thomas J. Story

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

 
  • kitchen diary corner sink before

    Before

    A roll-around dishwasher crowded the corner sink. The range in the middle of the wall broke up the counter space.

  • Cabinets

     Built-in wine rack

    When the project was done, we filled the wine rack by the refrigerator with bottles, opened one, and toasted the new kitchen.

  • Cooking area after

    23 amazing home makeovers

    Get ideas for your house from some of our favorite Before and Afters

Most Popular

  1. 10 raised bed garden ideas

    Get instructions for the ultimate planting box for your veggies. Plus: More ideas for raised bed gardens
  2. 67 kitchen design ideas
  3. 20 favorite perennial flowers
  4. 20 colorful plants for shade gardens
  5. 53 favorite backyard projects