HELP Me Renovate This 900 Yr Old Kitchen!

LindsayJoanOctober 4, 2013

Okay, so it's not 900 years old.. But it might as well be!
So, I have this amazing apartment. In this amazing neighborhood... But I despise the kitchen. Lucky for me, this amazing apartment also came bundled with world's best landlords (SCORE) who have agreed to reno and/or allow me to reno the kitchen..... on a budget.

That old stove? It's being replaced. Along with the range hood.

So... What to do with the countertop and cupboards? They are so ugly that it hurts me to see them every day

No joke. Every day at 6am, when I stroll into the kitchen, I cringe.

I have done hours upon hours, week after week of research on the best method in resurfacing what is already here... But I am *really* stuck on the countertop.

See the way it creeps right up the wall? Yak. And parts of it are cracked or split... Is there a way to fill it, sand it, and recover it somehow?

The homeowners plan to completely gut the kitchen at some point, so it doesn't have to be a miracle solution that someone will be trying to fix another 900 years from now... But now something that will be peeling off in a week either.

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?

Any help is so so so gratefully appreciated!

**Please note: I have recently moved due to an unexpected breakup. So, I did not have time to budget for things like first and last, so I am working with a tight budget

** The landlord has given no limitations as to what I am and am not allowed to do.

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For cheap, temporarty countertop I guess I'd go with the ikea countertops.....they're affordable and easy.....and there are plenty of people who blog and use them who have great ideas. If you need a sink, I'd hit up craigslist. There are usually steals there. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Images of Ikea Countertops

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 3:50PM
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Thanks for that suggestion. I too really love Ikea countertops, but because this is a rental I am hoping to just give a face lift to the existing countertops. Via either a Rustoleum kit or Latex paint? I heard there is a method to painting cupboards which utilizes spray paint that you heat with hot water and it comes out smooth as glass?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 3:57PM
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I found this stuff advertized on the web that claims to let you reface formica countertops to give them the look of granite l. have never used it so can't speak to how good it is, how long it lasts, or how much it costs but it might give you a starting point.

Looks like there may be multiple companies making similar products.

Here is a link that might be useful: roll-on a

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Hi, LindsayJoan. That's a really nice room. I bet a lot of renters/renovators will envy you on seeing it.

Since you hate the cabinets, I think you should paint them to both make them look better and look less noticeable. It's not a long job for someone who doesn't let it be. Those slab fronts would really work for you there. Or hire someone to do it. Since they're less than great, paint them the same color as the walls, or one very similar to. You want them to blend, not be noticed. Then put on some nice hardware of a style that pleases but doesn't grab attention.

Then I'd cover the counters with new, higher-quality laminate. A simple, fast, no-nonsense job: cover the existing counter, don't replace it. If you go look at some of the new materials, you'll see why I see this as a "duh"/of course answer. Some (a few) of today's laminates really look good --sophisticated and in very good taste -- and, if you choose, can provide the effect a matte-finish light and/or speckle-less stone look better than any stone that's suitable for counters and without being glaring stone fakes.

I personally would keep the contrast with the cabinets down here too to not actually draw attention to them. Your big asset is the room as a whole, so encouraging it to be experienced as a whole, rather than drawing attention to the work area, should work for you.

Then tile for the backsplash. It won't cost much to do nicely if you keep away from pricey tile. Relatively subtle here too since the shape of your backsplash is less than architecturally admirable and for the reason above.

Then add in your style with the new hardware, art on the wall, curtains or other window treatment to set off the view, good-sized rug on the floor perhaps, etc. You know, with this pleasant space as a start, it should almost be hard not to end up a room you like.

Have fun.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 4:24PM
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If I were you, I would seriously look at large tile. And by large, I mean 24-36" large. I saw some seriously beautiful Italian porcelain tiles that looked sort of like concrete that would have worked perfectly for a kitchen counter -- and they cost all of $10/sf.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 4:43PM
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The floor and the light are WONDERFUL in there!! I would just admire the floor and not the cabinets!

The formica should not be too hard to get off, replace, paint the cabinets, put on new hardware( luckily, you can just buy this a few pieces at a time.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 5:09PM
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I actually put this in a rental, and a year later it's still holding up.

I think I bought it at, but have also seen it on ebay

The other option is that counter transformation stuff.

For the backsplash, if you can't rip it out and tile, how about SS panels behind the gas range and IKEA panels everywhere else?

Here is a link that might be useful: other rental kitchen updates

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 7:19PM
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If the countertops are cracked and splitting the renovation kits aren't going to work. They are cosmetic, not repairs.

I'd paint the cabinets - whatever color makes you smile - replace the countertops with Ikea's, and the backsplash with a bright vinyl wallpaper

Then quit ... it's rental.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 8:20PM
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I just priced butcher block in WI: $48 for 6 feet. It is reasonable,; and with a dark oil treatment, it would look much better than cracked counters. Your landlords should be willing to spring for that or deduct it from your rent

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 10:15PM
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Ranton has a good idea ... " Your landlords should be willing to spring for that or deduct it from your rent"

Figure out what you want to do and make out a budget for the materials, with either pix or samples. Then present it to the landlords with a request for help with the materials.

When I was landlording I would have bee happy to pay for something like that - but only on completion, and only if it were done well.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 6:17AM
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Sheet laminate right over the preexisting counter form sitting there right now. By far the easiest. Don't take anything off the counter, just remove the stuff on the backsplash.

I'd personally definitely pass on that counter coating stuff. The color choices are extremely limited, it looks like exactly what it is, and it's very expensive for what you end up with. And if it's easier than applying a new sheet of laminate, it's not going to be by much.

Wood's attractive too (we have it in our kitchen), but I don't see how inviting people to admire it on the countertop would improve the room as a whole. Again, I'd shift focus to the center of the room--those great windows and the table and chairs.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 1:03PM
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That's not so bad for a rental! Is the landlord willing to pay for a plumber if you change out the counters? I would hesitate to paint the cabinets in that they are not yours. If there is a problem with the finish or something, they could hold you liable for new cabinetry or the expense to have them professionally refinished.

This Old House did a cabinet repaint project, using a liquid deglosser instead of sandpaper. You might check out their process if you go ahead with it. Be sure to research it well so prep and the paint type selection work well.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 1:38PM
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No suggestions, but at least you can know you are not alone. I have the same handles, and the cabinets are similar... Circa 1948.....
I have white Formica counters with gold flecks to go with it......

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 2:43PM
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I agree with lazygardens above. Great solution.

When my DH and I bought our 1925 bungalow it came with a kitchen that was remodeled in the 1950's. It had cabinets about the same style and color of your kitchen. The counters were old ugly red-ish formica which, like yours, were also on the backspash all the way to the base of the upper cabinets. We hated it and because we had just bought our house, we were on a shoestring budget.

We sanded and painted our cabinets white, changed the hardware, and installed new laminate over the existing one with contact cement. For the backspash we pre- sized the formica and installed pre-pasted vinyl wallpaper over the top of it. (use vinyl wall paper because it is washable.) We updated the faucet. Those changes alone made the kitchen much more bearable and it was pretty cheap to do!

For this being a rental I'd go with the paint, wallpaper and new laminate. You are lucky that your landlord is flexible and will let you do it.

This solution for our kitchen tided us over for 20+ years. We are just now doing a full kitchen remodel.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 5:00AM
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The pictures may be deceiving, but I have to say that I actually like your cabinets. Could you use restore-a-finish and get new hardware? And just do something about the counters and backsplash?

Here is a link that might be useful: 1950s kitchen

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 2:00PM
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Sheet laminate, as mentioned above, is the easiest most cost effective.

You don't have much countertop. Could you talk your landlord into doing granite tile? It's very affordable. The "Tile Shop" sells the flat tile as well as the coordinating edges to get a nice finished look.

Here is a link that might be useful: Granite tiles

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 4:01PM
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Like nosoccermom, I like the cabinets. Mid-century slab front cabinets are popular right now. I also like the pulls placed on the diagonal -- kinda funky. New laminate counters and a new backsplash will help a lot. You said the range & hood are being replaced -- is the landlord paying for that?

The room is charming overall -- great light.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:26PM
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Do you have another picture of the cabinets (more straight on)? From this picture they look really nice! The big window seems to let a lot of light into the room too.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:13PM
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