"DSIY" Reveal - and thanks for the help!
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 :-)
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