"DSIY" Reveal - and thanks for the help!

redmartin_michFebruary 11, 2014

First of all, I want to thank all the people on GW who helped us with our kitchen remodel project, even if none of you knew it at the time. Once my wife and I decided to replace our 20 year old builder grade kitchen, I went TKO and researched everything. I was able to find answers to nearly all of my questions here, and combined with a few trips to the store and online reviews, I had all I needed.

Why now? The dishwasher racks were starting to rust, the oven temp was all over the place, thermofoil was starting to pull away on cabinet doors near the oven, and the microwave handle was cracked, but what really did it was when one of our old cabinets started to literally fall apart. I'm not kidding, it pulled away from the wall when the side panel separated from the rear panel! (I said they were cheap cabinets)

We paid a kitchen designer for a design - he improved on our starter ideas - and got our quote last April. Sticker shock! We decided to check out some local cabinetmakers and found a one-man shop in SE Michigan where we live, and that started us down the road we followed.

This was a DSIY (Do Some of It Yourself) project, guided by what I *knew* I could do vs what I thought I knew. We've learned the fastest way to disaster is to almost know what you're doing. I'm solid on a few trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and yes everything's to code) but lack the tools and experience - and time - for other things. We decided that I would be my own GC and hire out to trades as needed. It's not for everyone, but it worked for us.

I have to give a TON of credit to my wife. The kitchen was really her vision, and she made all the critical decisions on materials and colors (flooring, stain, granite). Her one "must have" was the stainless farmhouse sink, which I was happy to go along with. I was responsible for selecting appliances and overall design. Everything worked smooth as butter between us.

I ended up redesigning the kitchen myself using 3D CAD, which really helped us work out the details and decisions. Everything worked great - there were no installation issues, everything just fit right into place.

We relied heavily on referrals except for our flooring contractor - which was our one mistake. The floor is fine, but the guy was a pain. Moral ... check ALL references, even when you just want to check off that last decision. On a positive note, both our cabinetmaker and the granite fabricator were amazing.

We decided to go with a separate cooktop (Bosch 800 36" gas) and wall oven (KA micro/oven combo) to replace our range and OTR microwave. My favorite part of this change was installing a real externally venting hood (Zephyr Gust) to replace the useless recirculating OTR job we had. We fit in a counter-depth french door fridge (KA), a DW (Miele Crystal) and a stainless single bowl farmhouse sink (Porcher 30"). We also put in undercabinet and upper glass cabinet lighting from Maxlite (direct wire LED dimmable).

The cabinets are maple Shaker-style with 3/4" frameless boxes, stained and sprayed with post-catalyzed conversion varnish. We put in plenty of gadgets (blind corner units, pull out trash/recycling drawer, etc.), but our very favorite was the in-drawer spice rack the cabinetmaker made for free.

The only real glitch we ran into was when the job in line before ours - a new construction project for a builder's own house - was vandalized before occupancy. This threw the cabinetmaker off schedule, but he did a great job bringing things in close to the original date.

We kept track of every penny and beat the original "sticker shock" price by $19,000. It was a lot of work, but we were so happy with the result and the extra money still in the bank.

Thanks again to all the GW'ers whose past experience helped guide us. I hope you like the pictures!


Before: Our dog pleading with us to replace the kitchen :-)

Packing day!

During: The depths of demolition

After: The new kitchen, looking toward the sink

After: Toward the pantry (the cabinetmaker made the door too)

After: Farmhouse sink flush mounted to granite

After: My wife's favorite part - the spice drawer

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Super-looking kitchen! I liked reading your post, too!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 12:37AM
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A beautiful kitchen. Love the flush-mounted farmhouse sink.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 6:23AM
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Really nice cabinets. Great job!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 9:22AM
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WOW!! I love it!! I am also in SE Michigan. Would you mind sharing your custom cabinet maker? I have interviewed a few custom people and very much leaning towards custom vs. the other lines I have priced out.

Also, do you have 39" with single crown or 36" uppers with stacked crown? I couldn't tell from the picture. Either way it's beautiful!! Congrats!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 9:36AM
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Thanks for the extensive write-up! It looks great! It sounds like you did everything right and got a great kitchen - both functional and aesthetically. Love your backsplash! It looks great with those cabinets.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 9:53AM
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Enjoyed reading your "story"...the results spoke for themselves! Well done! Hope you and that smart, good-looking pup enjoy every minute in your wonderful new kitchen!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Wow, gorgeous cabinetry! What a beautiful kitchen. You guys did a great job together and I like the smooth as butter line... you must communicate well with each other. That certainly helps the process to not add arguing to the whole mess of remodeling.

Now, you have to take a picture of that dawg IN the kitchen so we can see if (s)he matches.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:13AM
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That is a gorgeous kitchen! Do you have a closeup of the backsplash?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:21AM
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LOVE that pantry door!

Lovely all around. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment of DIY (and DSIY) especially when it leaves a chunk of cash in the bank, is there?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:22AM
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Beautiful kitchen! What is the floor?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:24AM
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Gorgeous, just wondering what the backsplash material is and if you could post a close up? :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:32AM
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Beautiful kitchen - you guys did a great job!

LOVE the spice drawer - it's awesome!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:49AM
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Thanks for all the encouraging feedback! I'll try to answer all of the questions, but if I miss yours, just send me a PM or post a reminder and I'll respond.

spartans99, I'll PM you with information about the cabinetmaker. The uppers are 39" with single crown molding. BTW, my wife is a MSU grad - I'm assuming you are from your name.

chiefy76 and xc60, I'll post a closeup photo of the backsplash tonight when I get home. It's a linear random mosaic "Picasso" travertine from Anatolia Tile.

Mags438, the floor is from Chelsea Plank Flooring and made locally in Michigan (though they distribute nationally, I believe). We used their Old Mission Maple with all 5" wide planks. They make a great product, we're very satisfied with it. The Old Mission is a character grade floor, so there are a few small knots, which I filled with West System epoxy (used for boat repair). They also have an Aspen Maple, which has less character (i.e! no knots) but still some color variation.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:54AM
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This former Michigander (S. of E. Lansing in Mason) loves your kitchen, too.

I particularly like the flush sink, vs. undermount or surface mount! It's quite a sleek look.

That door is the gem of the kitchen, though. Talk about a finishing detail. You're very lucky to have found someone so talented and able. Particularly to be able to fix someone else's heartache (at the vandalism) and to finish yours on time.

Congrats on the savings! You could be on that $10 grand in your hand shoe, easily! Put them all to shame

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 11:54AM
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Very nice and warm. You did a great job.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 12:10PM
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Thanks for the PM redmartin_mich! It's such an unbelievably small world…I literally just interviewed your cabinetmaker in my home this morning!!! Thank you for the information and strong reference. He seems so easy to work with and very talented. I couldn't figure out how to PM you back (never done that before on this forum), but would greatly appreciate it if I could call you to ask a few questions.

And yes, I am a proud Spartan grad! :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Your new kitchen is beautiful & I do believe your dog matches, but a pic for confirmation would be nice. I really enjoyed reading your post. "I went TKO", love it! I'll be checking back to see the closeup of the backsplash.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Redmartin, I'd also like to know the name of your cabinetmaker, please.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:52PM
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spartans99, what an amazing small world / coincidence! I've PMed both you and catbuilder with additional information. I'm happy to help anyone out, just contact me and I'll do my best to respond promptly.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Love it and really love that pantry door.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 3:00PM
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Great job! That sink is to die for. Lovely. Seamless. So much attention to detail.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 3:02PM
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More More More!!! More pics! Including one of your dog, happy in the new kitchen! More angles! More close-ups! More, More, More!!

Your wife did a really great job! She definitely has an eye for design. Oddly enough, one of my favorite things in the kitchen is the Pantry (I assume) door. It adds a level of interest for me that I can't explain.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:36PM
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I'll keep this short - it been an "exciting" afternoon with a daughter stuck in transit thanks to the ice storm down South.

I wanted to provide a few more photos, especially of Bella (our dog) and the backsplash. It's funny, but Bella REALLY does match the kitchen nicely. Maybe she was our design inspiration and we never even knew it :-)

FYI, the travertine backsplash is a bit more grey and uniform in its natural state. We used a matte sealer/enhancer to bring out the brown and add contrast. We didn't want it shiny but we did want the depth of color.

Here's Bella, much happier now. We had to bribe her to sit still for the picture ...

Here's a closeup of the backsplash above the cooktop

A quickie shot of the tray dividers above the combo wall oven

Thanks for all of the compliments!


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 8:12PM
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You all deserve the compliments. Your home is lovely. Congratulations on a job very well done! And smooches to the pooch. :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 9:31PM
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It's a match! Beautiful Bella & Backsplash!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:20PM
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Love it all, but really like the pantry door. Congrats on
a job well done!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:35PM
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