Finished NYC galley kitchen on a budget!

judibeanJune 23, 2013

Hi all,
I've finally completed my kitchen! I've been a long-time lurker on this forum and have been planning my kitchen since Feb this year. It's been challenging to get this done on a budget, and in NYC at that, but we did manage to keep costs down quite a bit and still have a decent upgrade.

Here are some before and after pics. Our kitchen is a long galley eat-in kitchen, which is common in NYC in a lot of pre-war apts. There are two "rooms" to the kitchen broken up by knee walls. We concentrated our remodel in the functional part of the kitchen where the cooking gets done.

First, the nitty-gritty details on materials:

cabs - IKEA for the boxes
door and drawer fronts - Cabinet Authority, white shaker style in Designer White
countertop - Caesarstone, Raven
pulls - Amerock Westerly, 128mm
backsplash � marble, "Calacatta white" (possibly mislabeled - looks more like a lighter version of Carrara?)
range hood - IKEA Luftig
sink - Krauss
faucet - Elkay classic
stove - (old) Bosch
dishwasher - (old) Whirlpool
fridge - (old) Samsung
floors - (old) unpolished travertine
shelving - DIY, red oak dyed in dark brown then coated with a matte poly finish
shelving brackets - Whittington classic
undercab lighting - InspiredLED tape lights on dimmer
(not shown in action right now)
paint - Benjamin Moore, Bashful Blue

Total cost for material and labor: $13,000. We budgeted $10,000 but ended up going with marble and expensive shelf brackets and other last-minute fanciful things, but in the end, we were both satisfied with the final cost. Materials ended up costing more than labor, surprisingly. The trick is to NOT use any contractors from Manhattan. Grab them from the outer boroughs or outside of NYC completely. Our co-op building is very strict about them being licensed and insured and we managed to find all six contractors meeting those requirements off Angie's List. They turned out to be great!

The only part we did ourselves were the open shelving, the capping of the knee walls, and installing the base cabs. I would be happy to answer any questions you have about the kitchen! I am just so glad it's over. It was 2 months of anxiety that has finally dissipated.











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Holly- Kay

Beautiful! I just love what you did with your space. The blue is beautiful on the walls and I love your counter tops. Bravo!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:18PM
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Love the blue walls! I especially love the shelves with all of the beautifully arranged canisters.

Enjoy your new space!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:23PM
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Very nice job. Love the shelves and brackets. That wall gives you a ton of great work space. NYC galley kitchens are tricky, speaking from experience! You have created a lovely, functional space. Enjoy your new kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:32PM
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It looks so light and airly now! Great job transforming that space. I agree, the color is awesome. Those open shelves work great on that wall.

I also used Westerly, lovely pulls. I like how they don't have any nooks and crannies to clean out, among other things.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Great transformation. Love that sky blue color-kinda like the NY Public Library rotunda ceiling.

It all works together nicely, and the Westerly pulls rule the space. Congratulations!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Looks wonderful. I love the open shelves and your clean lines.

I wish my brother had had the thought to get workers in from out of Manhattan as you did. His reno was a nightmare from start to finish and he spent 10x what you spent...with less than 1/10th the beauty. Live and learn. c

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Very be-u-ti-ful. I love the open shelving.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 10:11PM
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Looks great! I can't imagine dealing with a co-op board, and I really appreciate the tip to look outside on Manhattan. Enjoy your new kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 10:21PM
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Lovely. Really beautiful. Definitely looks like you spent a lot more than you did. Nice job!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 10:24PM
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So fresh! Your appliances look terrific with that new hood and paint color.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 12:15AM
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Love the lue and open shelving. I am curious if your pantry content fits in the drawers or did you do some lifestyle trimming here?

Love the 3legged table. Very cool.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 2:20AM
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modern life interiors


    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Just lovely! So fresh and airy feeling. That blue must make you happy every day, and I love how it plays with all the other finishes. What an amazing transformation on a budget. Congratulations on a great job!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I really like how you used your budget. The airiness is so nice. I could be happy working there. :)

Did you choose to do some "lifestyle trimming," simplifying to what you actually need? Or do you intend a second stage eventually for the second half perhaps?

BTW, underline, underline--that you declined to line up for milking by the "kitchen industry." Good for you!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 12:15PM
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Wow what a fabulous space. Love your backsplash and those open shelves!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 12:24PM
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Thanks for the kind words everyone! Some of you asked if we did some "lifestyle trimming" (love that phrase) - we first thought we would have to, but when we restocked the kitchen, we found all our stuff fit into the drawers and open shelving. Some larger items went onto the kitchen carts. We actually have two drawers empty right now and are wondering whether to move in stuff from the carts or let things naturally accumulate in those drawers over time. We're a family of two and don't cook everyday, so I think we'll be ok with the storage we have? We were cognizant about making this kitchen ours and not worry too much about resale value. We plan to live here for a long time.

The only thing I'm not entirely happy with is our kitchen cart side of the "eating room." It seems a little cluttered right now. We entertained the idea of extending the base cabs into the eating room on that side, but that side actually gets narrower as you get to the doorway - to about 20". We ended up using 18" deep carts with open shelving to give the illusion of more space. Do the two sections of the kitchen look too different in style to you? I admit we didn't give this side as much thought as we did the functional part of the kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 1:42PM
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Hooray for another galley kitchen! Fantastic job on your renovation - enjoy it!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:00PM
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What a great difference. It looks so much more open and functional.

I really like the open tables that you have used in the second part of the kitchen and I think they look good. I wonder if perhaps it's a spatial weighting issue that might be bothering you. In the main part of the kitchen you have the shelves on the upper part of the walls but nothing on the walls in the second part of the kitchen. Perhaps by adding some artwork above the open tables would help to balance the two spaces and add a little interest to that side of the room.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:41PM
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blfenton - I think you nailed what's bothering me about the kitchen carts. The open shelving is reversed in the eating room. I like your idea about adding artwork for balance. Will see how that goes!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:07PM
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Congratulations! You have achieved so much (in NYC or elsewhere) while keeping your spending rational. I especially love the blue and the edge detail on the countertop.

For your other section, along the line of what blfenton suggested, perhaps you can extend your shelving down the entire wall. It would tie the sides together, at the expense of emphasizing the length. You can set artwork on the shelves, and decorative serveware like your tea set. You might also consider a small broom closet at the end of the space, to fill the gap at the end of the tables.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:16PM
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Hi Judibean, looks great! Could you share your process of ordering the doors from Cabinet Authority. DId they have the sizes for the Ikea boxes or did you have to provide the measurements? Is that a factory finish and what other whites did they have? Did they drill for the hinges and the drawers? Could you share your Ikea boxes vs doors breakdown (ie 1/3 boxes 2/3 doors or 1/2 boxes 1/2 doors).

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:19PM
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gooster - we thought the exact same thing! Yesterday we went out and got another white cab with open shelving and light wood top for the end of that wall - it was almost too big for the space but we managed to wedge it in there. It looks pretty close in appearance to the other two, enough that it looks fairly integrated. It looks good and will be used for the induction burner that heats the tea kettle!

scrappy25 - we gave the IKEA measurements to Cabinet Authority. Unlike Semi-handmade and Scherr's, they don't keep them on file. I got the exact measurements of the fronts from

The paint is a factory finish with a very low sheen. I had an option of three whites by Sherwin Williams: Crystal White, Frosty White, and Designer White. I listed them in order by the strength of their yellow undertone, from strong to nonexistent. I went with Designer White because I wanted that stark white look. If you happen to live in NYC, I can just give you the sample color blocks since I don't need them anymore.

We had to do the drilling for the fronts ourselves, except for the two doors below the sink - those got standard boring holes for the clip-on hinges. IKEAfans has the template for where the drill holes should go on the drawer fronts. It wasn't hard to do at all. Just remember to measure twice and drill once! We made one mistake and have to live with a little unevenness on a drawer front.

I'm not sure what you mean by a box versus door breakdown. Do you mean drawers versus doors? We went with all drawers on one side of the galley (12 total on that side). The other side, where the sink is, got two doors under the sink and two drawers for the trash pullout (the bottom part of that cab looks like a tall door but is actually a pull out drawer). Drawer fronts are pricier to make than doors for some reason.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:10PM
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thanks Judibean, by boxes I meant the Ikea carcasses amd innards (shelves/drawers) vs doors.

thanks for the details on the drilling and the paint finish. That low sheen shounds lovely!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 11:00PM
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scrappy25 - Gotcha. Price-wise, the boxes (including innards) were more than the door/drawer fronts- $1100 versus $800. Hope that is what you're asking?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 8:37AM
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thanks Judibean, that's great. DId you consider scherrs and what made you choose cabinet authority?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 7:50PM
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JB - great job - a lot does fit in the drawers but they will fill up in time! I just maxed out on my drawer space y+1 after reno!
Enjoy that galley kitchen. Love you colors - I was too chicken to go out of the norms.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 8:00PM
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scrappy25- While I was researching, I got quotes from the following companies: Scherr's, Barker, Semi-handmade (had to factor in that they don't paint their shaker doors), Cabinet Joint, Cabinet Authority, and Advantage Cabinet Doors. I ideally wanted to go with Scherr's because they drill all the holes for you now, but it was the most expensive quote.

The other companies were also more expensive and required $100-200 to ship. Also, the wood I could got at the lowest price point from each company differed - Authority offered paint-grade hard maple versus paint-grade poplar from Scherr's and I think paint-grade alder from Barker. Poplar and alder are softer woods and can dent more easily.

I decided on Cabinet Authority for several reasons - price, free shipping, good customer service (many emails back and forth!), and the wood I could get that was paint-grade. Their fronts are by the Conestoga cab company, so I was reassured it wasn't going to be low quality for the price. I'm very happy with the quality of the fronts and we didn't find it hard to do the drill holes ourselves using the template from IKEAfans.

a2gemini- I'm hoping I don't run out of room in the drawers because those shelves on the carts would start looking much more cluttered!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:00PM
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thank you Judibean, that is all really good information. thank you so much!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:23PM
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What a great redo! Looks much more spacious with the open shelves. Love open shelves. I admire you big city galley kitchen people... you manage to cram so much into a small space. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:49PM
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