Before & After · DIY · DIY Refined · repurpose & renew

Our Tract Home Remodel: The Surprise: The Kitchen: Part 1

No remodeling job is for the faint of heart, is it? I think you either dread it, love it, or fit somewhere in-between!  I would have to say we are in the crazy camp of those that love it!   We have been “DIYing” for over two decades now.   My husband likes the construction, math, and problem solving part, and I like love the designing and decorating aspects. It’s a sweet mix and something we really enjoy doing together. So, I thought I’d share with you how we customized our builder grade tract home.

Over the years we’ve poured a lot of blood (literally!) sweat, and tears into 3 semi-remodels, 1 complete gut-redo, 7 landscape projects, and 1 completely new build acting as the general contractor/ builder (which was a HUGE two + year long project, but that’s a whole other story!).

About five years ago  we sold our home only to find out that the doors for a move closed. We were fine with the closed door, and didn’t feel that God wanted us to renege on the sale of our home, so we needed a place to live and pretty quickly.

We found a tract home that was a great price, but was in desperate need of love. Because we received such a great deal on it, and could use the equity from our last home to completely remodel it, we decided to go for the buy. It had the typical builder grade orangey, oak cabinetry,  green sponge paint looking formica  countertops, and everything else that is standard for builders to use in mass production.

We DIYed all the things we knew we could accomplish in a reasonable amount of time, and chose to contract out other items/services we didn’t feel comfortable doing or  knew we didn’t have the time to finish.  To save money we kept most appliances, sinks, tubs, lighting etc. in their original location since changing the layout would not have been that big of a benefit. We also wanted to keep things in mind for the future sale of the home, so we tried to  keep things pretty neutral and classic, which works out great because we like that too.

One of the first projects we tackled was the kitchen. Here is the before…

 the kitchen before remodeling

Since the ceilings were (still are)  9 ft. high there was a ton of wasted space above the cabinets, the island wasn’t much of an island, and there was an oddly positioned half pony wall by the broken sliding glass doors to the left. This photo was taken literally the day we signed the papers and walked in the door.

 Beware the stove is was scary!




After we took measurements, and drew the configuration of the kitchen; we decided we could repurpose the kitchen cabinets (paint them) in the garage making them into a workshop area for my husband. That made him really happy! The kitchen wasn’t a total loss.

I had some specific design ideas in mind and drew out what I had pictured.  I’m blessed as my husband usually is on board with whatever I have in mind. I perused lots of kitchen magazines and on-line (it was before I was introduced to Pinterest!) and decided on the classic look of a European/French style kitchen.

Here was the clipping of my inspiration from a book called Great Kitchen Ideas. 

kitchen inspiration

A girl can dream big can’t she?


It was off to the home improvement stores I went with my pictures and drawings in  hand with the hopes of ordering semi-custom cabinets. I don’t know who was more frustrated, the guys I had the appointments with in the cabinetry department or me.  No matter how we configured the kitchen there were always awkward gaps and oddly placed fillers. Nothing was working, not to mention the sticker shock for the price of the cabinetry alone.  I think it crossed my  husband’s mind to build the cabinet boxes and order custom doors, but time was not going to allow for that large of a project. Fortunately, through a series of events, we found a local company to give us a quote on custom cabinets.  We thought for sure the cost would far exceed the home improvement store prices making them out of the question. What a blessing!  To our surprise the price came in a lot lower than both the home improvement stores! It pays to research all your options even if you think things will be out of the question.  It just might not be!

I gave them my drawing and the inspiration magazine clipping and away they went to work. While it did take a lot longer than we anticipated or wanted, we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. We ended up contracting out the cabinets, backsplash, and countertops with the same company. We DIYed: the demolition, and installation of the flooring, appliances, painting, electrical and plumbing.

Here is a sneak peek of how we lived for a long time forever.




We got tired of eating sandwiches, so we ordered and installed the appliances early, which was a huge blessing!  I used a card table as my island and we had a lot of opportunities to grow in patience!

 If you look closely you can see the cabinets drawn on the walls.



I’ll share on Friday “the after” of our kitchen tract home remodel!


4 thoughts on “Our Tract Home Remodel: The Surprise: The Kitchen: Part 1

  1. ooohhh my goodness..
    waiting with bated breath for the reveal,
    which will be absolutely lovely if i know
    anything of your final touches. and i do.
    anticipating beauty. ♥

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