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


    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

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