The ketchen renovation – before and after

In the summer of 2015 we decided to sell our house (which we built new in 2010) and buy a fixer upper house. The main reason for this was to get in a better neighbour hood as well as some finical gains.



As you can see, the first order of business was the kitchen! when we first walked through the house we didn’t exactly know what had to be done to make the space more usable but we knew their definitely was some kind of potential there. Everything seemed so well built, well taken care of, and clean that we felt there wouldn’t be a lot of surprises. With this in mind we felt we could basically do what ever we wanted to the space to make it better.



the second walk through, it become very clear on what had to be done. The kitchen was very narrow and closed off so we needed a way to make it feel more open to the rest of the house as well as larger. the left side of the kitchen had the staircase  for getting downstairs which obviously can’t be easily moved but what we thought was, if we make it a half wall it would at least feel larger.

To make the kitchen feel open, was a little more obvious Knock down the wall that divides the kitchen and the dining room. This wall was a little harder to move because it was load bearing but we installed a header to clear the span. It is always nice to find a well built house but it sucks knocking it down because everything comes apart so much harder. Note the window above the stove had to be removed as well to allow enough room for the cabinets. We also made the window near the front door considerably larger to make up the natural light.


As nice as the original cabinets where, we decided to change them:) you can see in this picture the larger window near the front door, we kept it the same width so we didn’t have to change the header, we just made it longer.


Once all the demo was done, we patched up all the dry wall (except where the cabinets go) and installed the sub floor and tiles, a 12 by 24 porcelain tile. I knew we would be without cabinets for awhile, so I took the time to make the sink base and install it. This at least allowed us to do dishes. I could then install some simple shelfs temporarily for storage  until the cabinets where finished.


I then spent the next 3 days building the boxes for the cabinets. They are a simple melamine construction. I find that a lot of people who build cabinets automatically go for plywood but I personally don’t feel its necessary. plywood is stronger but does it need to be? I think people might have a bad perception of melamine because of the cheap furniture you can buy. Just like anything you build, its not really the material that requires the extra strength, its the joinery. Now of course you don’t need to go and dovetail all your panels together to get the needed strength, you just need a good construction design and enough screws in the right spots, instead of two ikea panel fasteners. the best way to add the needed strength to the box is to use a thick back panel material. I used 5/8″ melamine which gives the box a lot of lateral strength to keep the box from racking. these boxes are plenty strong for what i’ll put in them.


My wife and I decided all the base cabinets (except for the sink) will be banks for drawers. This is not our first kitchen we have done (its our third) so we have learned from previous mistakes what we like. Drawers just make sense! allows for more storage, keeps thing organized and looks great! when you have to make this many drawers, you want to make the the easiest, yet strongest drawer possible. Here is a link to how i make my drawers: In the video i am making a bank of drawers for a closet but same idea for the kitchen.

another key feature of the kitchen is the hood range. I didn’t want the microwave above the stove because I personally don’t like the look even though it is quite practical. I wanted something that gave the kitchen a more custom look. As you can see in the picture I basically made a box to house the hood range and trimmed it out similar to a boston header. I think it looks great and gives the kitchen a more custom feel. the upper portion will be a panel the same as the doors along with crown moulding.



Finally the doors! I didn’t build these my self, it just doesn’t make sense too. There is a door manufacture about an hour From where I live. the local prices for hardwood are just too high and the amount of work what goes into making a door is quite time-consuming. If you have a door manufacture close (even if not check shipping prices)  it will be definitely be worth your wild to get pricing. I think you’ll be surprised on how cheap they can make a set of doors for.

Some door manufacturers will put a finish on for you but the one I Delt with did not. I had to put the finish on myself which is actually a fair amount of work. I used a tented lacquer (white) for the finish and it took two coats of primer and three coats top per side. If you want a colored cabinet like white, lacquers  will be your best option because it is so much more durable then latex.

The crown molding is one of the biggest finishing touches you’ll put on your cabinets. It’s what gives the wow factor to any kitchen. Because I went with a double stacked wall cabinet, I had to bring my crown molding right to the ceiling. This is common in a lot of kitchens but It can present some problems. Because  kitchen cabinets will move differently then your ceiling, it will be hard to keep the joints of the crown molding tight as the wood moves seasonally. The typical solution to this problem is to only fasten the crown molding to the cabinets and leave the top floating, not attached it to the ceiling. Although this does work, it will leave a gap between your crown molding and ceiling which can look pretty ugly. I decided to risk it and attached it to both the cabinets and the ceiling and I figure if It does get movement and cracks show in my crown moulding, I will fill them caulking. Not a big deal to do this as the seasons change.

The last finishing touches that had to be done was to install the handles, pulls, glass tile backsplash and laminate countertop. Easy as that, I now have a kitchen:)



6 thoughts on “The ketchen renovation – before and after

  1. I can’t get over your craftsmanship Ryan. you do exceptional work and should be very proud.

  2. Wow you have been very busy. You have transformed a dark dreary house covered in old wallpaper and panelling into a bright contemporary home. Well done. I too like white shaker cabinets.

    I saw that you were using something by Mastercraft so knew you must be Canadian.

    Regards from Oakville Ontario

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