5 Mistakes I Made While Renovating My Kitchen

This summer, I embarked on a soup-to-nuts kitchen renovation..for the first time in my life. I hand-drew a floor plan to scale, ripped out tile and hacked down cupboards, and product sourced everything from our custom cabinet makers (a friend of a friend) to our backsplash tile (a Wayfair score!). Am I obsessed with my tiny jewel of an apartment kitchen? Heck, yes. Did I make a boatload of beginner mistakes along the way? You betcha. I’m sharing them here so you can avoid them.

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Since the kitchen is all white and we chose durable, man-made quartz for the countertops, I wanted to bring in some more luxurious, natural texture via the backsplash. I found a gorgeous, long Calacatta marble subway tile which I thought would be the next best thing to a pricey, single-slab backsplash. The problem? Both the sample tile online and the first tile in the box were a pale, white marble with the subtle veining I’d been coveting. But the rest of the box was considerably darker with black veining. Lesson learned: Check the rest of the box—and read reviews more thoroughly (it had been flagged by an earlier purchaser).

Before we actually started purchasing appliances, I didn’t expect them to be too costly. For starters, everything was apartment-sized (24-inch fridge, 18-inch dishwasher, etc.)—and I had sifted through the internet for the best deals available. After sending my choices to my contractor—wouldn’t ya know?—he informed me that I needed special appliances. For example, since I wanted a fridge that was flush with my custom cabinetry, I had to buy a “built-in” fridge, which has different venting capabilities. It cost me literally nine (!) times as much as a regular one. Also, the over-the-range microwave I wanted actually wasn’t a possibility because we would have had to add ductwork through the walls to vent to the outdoors. If I had talked to him before I began the appliance search, I would have saved time and likely money too.

Early on in the reno, we noticed that the kitchen’s blonde parquet floors were a little bit wonky: In addition to the wear and tear, they looked ever-so-slightly uneven. Because a) I appreciate their charming, retro look and b) I didn’t want to sacrifice budget, I decided to leave them alone, despite warnings from my contractor that they could be problematic down the road. Spoiler: He was right and they proved to be a pain in the butt right away during construction. The floor was more warped than it looked—so cabinet construction became a bigger expense and headache with all of the leveling, securing and recutting pieces to size.

Rookie mistake: I assumed that all standard cabinet hardware was roughly the same scale. I ordered some classic satin pulls and set them out for my contractor. When I came home and saw them on the drawers, I realized they were definitely too big for the narrow width

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She thought they were renovating the kitchen, he worked with a Seattle company on a bigger surprise

30 years into their marriage and nearly 20 years in the same house, Alvin and Joanne were ready for a refresh — not the marriage, Alvin emphasizes.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long! We still feel like newlyweds who got married yesterday,” he says.

But the house was starting to feel a little dated, and the couple heard from a friend that Granite Transformations did really great work. As a former interior designer Joanne took the lead on most decisions, and then Alvin came up with a plan to celebrate their love at the same time.

“I said honey, I don’t think we can afford to do all this, and convinced her to postpone the fireplace and bathroom renovations. But of course in my head I thought ‘I’m going to make sure we get this done.”

Alvin worked with Granite Transformations to orchestrate a surprise, and they completed the bathroom and fireplace renovations while Joanne was away working as a flight attendant.

“The crew from Granite Transformations were great about working on the surprise. They’d bring paperwork to the school where I volunteer, separated invoices to keep things secret — things like that.”

Gorgeous transformation

Alvin emphasizes that his wife was the decision-maker for all the gorgeous design details, and he just said, ‘yes dear.’ But if he didn’t know her preferences, how did he pull together the surprise?

“The fireplace matches the marbled countertops in the kitchen, so that was a no-brainer,” Alvin says, and Joanne had already started to pick things out for the bathroom before they put the project on hold. “I said why don’t you put all your top picks in the folder for later on? And then I took all that to Granite Transformations.”

FURTHER READING: Your easy-clean kitchen never looked so good!

Joanne, of course, loved the surprise. And Alvin says when visitors come over says they’re always stunned by the transformation. The backsplash Joanne picked out is always a favorite, and the whole space looks totally updated.

“The countertops are great — they’re indestructible! I don’t have to worry about hot pans or water damage — nothing scratches, nothing burns,” Alvin says. “And the crew that did the installation was excellent. I’m a little cautious about having people in my home — I’m a retired police officer so I’m fairly protective — but these were total trustworthy guys.”

Ready to boost the beauty in your home? Request a free in-home design consultation to start sketching your own spectacular surprise, or use the online visualizer at granitetransformations.com. Call 425-998-0107 or email [email protected] to get started today!