Something I tend to do is wait until something is completely finished to share. I don’t like showing my work half finished.. but I realize that people love to watch something be created. It can be a lot of fun to feel like you’re part of the ride. So.. I’ve decided to write about my kitchen renovation so far- even though part of me really wanted to save the totally juicy before and after for one big sexy post- but I feel like I can share some peaks into the process so far!
So for those of you who don’t already know- I live in a basement apartment on the edge of Toronto. Other than the fact that the ceilings are pretty low and there’s not much light- it’s a pretty decent spot for the money. We live in a great neighbourhood, our direct neighbours share veggies with us all summer.. our landlord is an absolute GEM who literally bakes us pizza and feeds us cake.. we have a MASSIVE back yard which next year I am absolutely DETERMINED to outfit with proper patio/outdoor dining furniture so we can make the most of it.. We have two bedrooms, so I technically have a mini office/mess room.. and all in all the space is okay- we are in a pretty okay place for what we’re willing to spend, how close we are to work, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I am going to chug an entire bottle of champagne the day we move above ground.. but for now, instead of concentrating my energy on what I don’t like about my apartment, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.. Well, my hands.. my boyfriends hands, my boyfriends Dad’s hands.. and anybody else’s hands I can wrangle into helping haha.
So essentially, I decided the place I wanted to start focusing my attention on first was the kitchen. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door to our place.. and the “current” kitchen (I’m saying current but really we’ve already half finished, but pretend I wrote this when we started).. was very dated and cheap looking. It was peeling, it was discoloured and just kind of heavy in the space. I think when they decided to make the basement into an apartment, the kitchen was an afterthought that was just thrown in as affordably as possible. Here’s our “before” kitchen. As you can see it was pretty dark in terms of the countertop. Also, I added a chalk board wall which, don’t do if you live in a basement, duh. You can also see the toe kick was chipped, the vent was all greasy and there was literally only like 10 inches of counter space on each side. Also, because of the wacky pipe job under the sink, there was nowhere to put our garbage and our compost.. so we kept it out on display, like art. The first beautiful art you see when you walk into the house.
Our landlord has a very heavy italian accent and doesn’t always understand english- and.. she’s in her 80s. So when I asked her to go in on a kitchen renovation with me, you can bet she was pretty confused and it was a bit hard for me to explain that I just really thought our current kitchen was.. well, ugly.. and not as functional as it could be. (There was quite a bit of wasted space- and LOOK at that cutlery drawer. We couldn’t even fit a tray in there so you literally had to dig for forks and knives every time you needed cutlery.. and when your bagel is piping hot and your mouth is watering and you can’t find a butter knife because they all seem to get sucked into the butterknife abyss, it can make for some stressful mornings.).. Her first question was “Why do you want to do that, the kitchen works great”.. Followed by “No..”.. To which I said “Okay okay okay I am silly, I just thought it would be a great project and it will increase your rental value when we leave and” … explaining my story.. “To which she replied “No no no no. You stop. I will do for you, but, is only because I love you.”.. Literally her words. Which was so freaking cute.
So we decided to go halfsies on the kitchen, and believe me.. I do not want to be spending a whole wack of money on a kitchen that isn’t even technically “mine”.. however.. I really love my landlord too, and I personally really wanted to take on the challenge and test of my design brain, so halfsies it is.. but on a pretty snug budget.
So, after she agreed, I did the most irrational thing you could do when you “plan” a kitchen renovation, and I literally just ripped out the top shelves without any idea of what was going to happen next… All I knew was that they were going bye bye. Do as I say kids, not as I do.
So now that all the food from our cupboards was conveniently stored on the floor in my room, we were ready to make a plan! (laughing at myself).. Well, I had a bit of scribbles on paper before I ripped the cupboards out, but really I hadn’t considered much in regards to you know, plumbing.. installing said plumbing in new cabinetry, cutting a countertop.. hooking up the hood fan’s electricity.. you know, all the unpretty technical unfun stuff that happens with a reno.
I knew from the start that I definitely wanted all new cabinetry and I also knew that open shelving was a must because A: It will open up our space a lot and B: It’s way cheaper that cabinets.
Then, with some bribery and some vodka- I convinced my boyfriend Bo and our friend Marc to rip out the remaining cupboards one Friday night. (Side note..Remember when we used to wait outside clubs in insane weather conditions wearing mini-dresses and uncomfortable heels to drink overpriced drinks?) Well now we are real adults. Drinking vodka on a Friday night while you rip out cupboards =adulting. This is what adults do right?
We ripped everything out a day earlier than we had planned (yes we planned it this time)..just because we were excited haha. But this is definitely the part to pre-plan because you would be surprised how often you need to use your kitchen sink. Or your oven. If you were wondering if you can live off pogos and bagels and pizza nova for a weekend, the answer is yes. Yes you can.
The next day was paintin’ day.. and to be super honest, if this was my real real house I would spend some time likely agonizing over the shade of white to paint my space. However, since I am going for budget basement, I used what I had kicking around, which was simply “pure white” paint from Canadian Tire that probably cost $20. Again, if this is your real house- whites are tough and you should do some testing.
I had been considering a pop of pink in the kitchen since I started planning but I had originally planned to colour block the opposite wall to the backsplash. I had one day to paint the entire space and as soon as the white dried I figured it was now or never. I knew I wanted pink and I had a few chips but none of them were looking like what I wanted. So, I started snooping around my apartment to find something pink I liked to hold up and take pictures of against to the wall to see if it would look good. I really wanted to steer away from being TOO pink. I didn’t want it to look immature or like a nursery… so I knew I wanted to lean more towards a peachy pink instead of a pinky pink. If that makes sense.
I found this vintage plate that I bought from a small flea market near my small town, and asked my boyfriend to hold it up against the wall for me. Actually, if I am being totally honest it was the first pink thing in my apartment I tried. (I might chalk a lot of this reno up to beginners luck…)
Boom. I loved it. So, I took my plate and went straight to home depot, headed to the chips, and found an exact match. All within half an hour of actually committing to painting part of the wall pink. I had to act fast because I wanted to get the painting done before the cabinets went in, because knowing me, I would slop paint allover my new cabinets.
Pretty freaking close if you ask me.
So I measured out the width of our new cupboards, taped off the space (and used that fun trick where you paint some of the edge colour on the tape first so that you don’t bleed- it worked like a charm!!) & went to town.
Again, I was pretty lucky that the colour I chose looks good in different lighting conditions. My recco to YOU would be to test paint in swatches on watercolour paper, tape them up.. live with them.. get a feel for them.
Where as I literally bought a 1 LR can of a colour I found in ten minutes and said “if this doesn’t work I will paint over it later”…
And then, my ADD went into overdrive and I decided, I should make some art to go with this pink painted wall. So I made some art..before cabinets, sinks, hardware, lightswitch covers.. Art. Perfect. (I’ll share a DIY on that later!)
And then… the super duper fun awesome “all my hard work is paying off and it was worth it to use my office as a cupboard for three weeks” moment came. …
CUPBOARDS!! (and look at that super fine-ass clean looking pipe job down there, Bam!)
We got super affordable DIY cupboards from Ikea. They literally slide onto a track you install to the wall. Easy peasy. (Well, tbh I did a lot of watching at this point haha- special thanks to my boyfriend Bo and his awesome Dad for getting the plumbing sorted out and getting those cabinets installed!)
Add a farmhouse sink, a matte black faucet, a butcherblock countertop.. and you’ve almost got yourself a kitchen!
So here’s where we’re at right now. Next up.. Doors, hardware, backsplash and open shelving. (Woop Woop!)
I am super super happy with how things are coming along and I can’t wait for my kitchen to be done! I’m heading on the trip of a lifetime this week(no big).. so I won’t be finishing/revealing until the end of the month- but if you follow me on Instagram, I might share a few sneak peeks before the big reveal!
Thanks so much for reading. Anybody else live in a rental that they are dying to redo? Any homeowners recently tackle a kitchen reno and can share my pain (and joy?). Let’s talk kitchens!