Lessons Learned: Project Takeaways From Our Kitchen Update

Kitchen Update Blog

If I just changed just these few things, this room would be perfect.” Many of us have looked at a room in our house and felt this exact way. A perfect example — our kitchen.

The previous owners of our home did a great job updating the majority of the house, yet there were a few areas that had been left untouched, in some cases, since the house was built in 1991. 

The kitchen cabinets and countertops had been refinished and replaced (white cabinets with charcoal counters), the popcorn ceiling had been removed, and the fluorescent lighting had been replaced with can lights. What remained untouched were the floors, appliances, and lighting fixture above the kitchen table. 

Over the past 6 months, we’ve slowly updated those areas of the kitchen, and are really happy with the results. Below you’ll find a few lessons we learned along the way – hopefully, they are helpful for any future projects you may have! 

1. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

From the start, our goal was to limit costs by not having to change the footprint of our kitchen in any major way — more of a refresh than a remodel. What we quickly discovered was that there weren’t many modern options, if at all, that matched the sizes of our existing 1990’s appliances.

In some instances, such as the fridge and dishwasher, we were fortunate to find modern appliances that fit both our style preference and the space. The double ovens and electric downdraft cooktop were a bit more of a challenge. This is where consulting with a professional appliance installer paid off big time. 

For the double ovens, we were able to confirm that we could shave off an inch from our existing cabinets to accommodate the slightly larger cut-out needed for double ovens that matched our other appliances. Crisis averted. 

When it came to replacing our cooktop, the solution was less simple. After scouring the internet looking for a potential fit, we were unable to find an option that came anywhere close to fitting our existing cutout. 

We considered replacing the countertop on our island to accommodate one of the few available downdraft cooktop options, yet had a hard time with the idea of replacing newer counters that we already liked. Our installer then recommended an option that was a better fit both our vision — and our budget. 

He recommended we consider a company called Micro-Trim that specializes in custom appliance trim kits. At a fraction of what it would have cost to replace the countertop, we decided to try this route first. The Micro-Trim team worked with us to get exact measurements and created a custom trim piece the filled the gap in our cutout perfectly. If you’re struggling to find the right fit for a particular appliance, we had a great experience with them.

2. Floors really can make or break a room. 

When we first moved in, we decided that we would be satisfied by replacing the appliances and the lighting fixture above our kitchen table and holding off on replacing the floors for a couple of years. After completing both changes, we were left disappointed to find that the space didn’t feel all that different. 

Perhaps this was due to the fact the combination of white floors and cabinets didn’t offer enough contrast. Maybe it was simply our own critical eye. Regardless, we knew our restlessness was leading to a change sooner than expected. 

The result of moving forward with replacing the floors? In our eyes, the difference is night and day. The new floors deliver the contrast we had been missing and deliver a ton of warmth to a room that felt decidedly cold. We were also surprised to find the floors highlight the other changes we had made, bringing the whole project together in a way we’re really happy with. 

3. Your leftovers can become future lifesavers. 

One thing that the former owners of our house did has been an absolute game-changer for us. After remodeling the wide majority of the rest of the house, they saved all of their excess materials from their projects. 

Before starting any project on the house, we always check the leftover flooring, tile, and paint in our garage. When we’ve been able to find a match, things go much smoother. 

When it came to our flooring, the rest of our downstairs features the same style of laminate flooring, which we planned on extending into the kitchen. Being able to pull the model number from the extra boxes left behind made the process of finding more material a breeze. 

The takeaway: Save yourself future headaches by documenting the materials used in your larger home projects, and/or keep the excess around for future touch-ups. 

One thing to keep in mind when matching materials from old projects — in our case, flooring. Although you may be able to find the same model, it’s highly likely that the material you find will feature a different run number. 

Our flooring company did a great job setting expectations with us that flooring can show minor variations in color between runs. In our case, we didn’t see a difference, but were glad nonetheless to go into the project with clear expectations. 

Hopefully, these takeaways serve you well in your future projects. If you have tips or lessons learned from your own experiences that you’d like to share, send them on over to tony@vanpoole.com. I’d love to hear them!

On to the next project! 

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