I have the recipe(s) for making whoopie(s)...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


If the kitchen is broke you'll have to fix it (and you probably will go broke).


        Jonathan and I decided to go through Our House, LLC (CT LICENSE # 576078,163 Saddle Ridge RD. Southbury, CT 06488) the kitchen was designed with Rachel Stietzel. Jonathan had to give up on the idea of having a whole kitchen designed/installed for just $7,000.00 and in the end we invested in our condo. Yes the word "investment" is a euphemism for spending $24,000.00 for everything including take out meals. The Kitchen was actually not that hard to save for but we did have to take out $5,000.00 in a loan. The final price for the kitchen and everything that we bought for the kitchen was 5%-10% of the worth of the condo which is appropriate spending. Mostly the big chunk of the money was rewiring the kitchen to be updated per code and installation. The materials were not actually that expensive but we also did have absolute black granite instead of laminate counters. It was money well worth spending and it mostly was money we save from our tax refunds so we are using it to reinvest in our condo.

       Jonathan and I love our kitchen and now even he likes to cook! Oh and we have a working dishwasher so I no longer look like one of those ladies in "Hoarders." I like keeping my kitchen clean now and I love cooking in the kitchen. The kitchen sink is also big enough to hold a lot of pots that we need to clean! But no longer do we have our chinet and now we are using our everyday china instead! The Earth rejoices now since we waste less water and there is less dumping of plastic/paper.

Stove wall design by Our House, LLC Rachel Stietzel (all rights are owned by Our House, LLC)

Sink wall design by Our House, LLC Rachel Stietzel (all rights are owned by Our House, LLC)

          We went with white RAMSJÖ kitchen cabinets from Ikea that are made out of wood. I wanted to double stack our cabinets to use every inch of space and I hate seeing huge spaces between cabinets and the ceiling. We saved a lot of money by going through IKEA because they have options that would cost much more in other cabinet makers. When I close the drawers on my cabinets they go in quietly and I do not mind that the back of the cabinets are not made 100% out of wood. Would I love to have 100% wood frames but I rather be able to stay in the condo with the new kitchen instead. It is more to have the pull out drawers/pantry but it is only a couple dollars with Ikea instead of a couple hundred per cabinet with Thomasville! Also the glass door options were much cheaper than Thomasville and the glass doors came with beautiful glass shelves.

          Jonathan and I went to look at Home Depot. We were looking for cheap options to update our kitchen.  We could not afford any of the wood options and for white laminate non custom cabinets it was going to be $16,000 without counter tops, a contractor or installation. It was not going to be custom and the builders were not going to move pipes or the location of my stove or even add in the dishwasher. They were not efficient like Rachel who found space in every since inch of our kitchen. Ikea and Our House, LLC was the best choice for our condo. The contractor Our House, LLC also works with Ikea and does design layouts for the New Haven Store. So I was working with people that were well versed in the Ikea collections and that were helping me get the biggest bang and space for my bucks!

          Ikea is perfect for small condos because it is cost effective and it also comes in a variety of sizes so that you can fit it in little crevices. Also it has a variety of door fronts to mix and match.I purchase a lot of things through Ikea besides the cabinets: Tundra laminate wood flooring in dark brown (it looks amazing in person sort of mid-century modern/MOD), Grundtal container, Grundtal Rail,  HJUVIK kitchen faucet, Framtid slide- in gas oven, Energisk B18 S refridgerator, Nutid dishwasher and Framtid microwave.

          I also invested in two Pottery Barn lighting spotlight track kits ( a 60 inch and a 24 inch) which were on sale and much cheaper than other track kits. The best thing about the track lighting was that it was inexpensive but this kit just looks expensive and provides so much more light. In the old kitchen we had this hideous office light above that required deadly office florescent light bulbs and also provided no light. I also purchased four magnetic modular chalkboards from pottery barn which were also on sale. I had thought about saving money and using the chalkboard paint but it would have required lots of layer of paint also magnetic paint. In the end it was cheaper to purchase the magnetic modular chalkboards and the plaster walls would make the best chalkboard. It is great! I write reminders, post upcoming events, and I clip important documents to the chalkboards. I also purchased great fun magnets from Fridgedoor.com  with a coupon! and also some from Ebay.

         I was obsessed with the stainless steel shelves from pottery barn but they were very expensive and only came with smaller depth and length than I needed. I was watching a Dear Genevieve and she was talking about how going to a restaurant supply store could help you save lots of money. I looked through a lot of restaurant supply companies but the price and size of the shelves were too much still. But Genevieve Gorder is correct you can save a lot by going to a restaurant supply store.

        So I went on Ebay and I got a great deal on the stainless steel shelves from jensrestaurantequipmentsupply. I bargained with the Ebayer and I ended up paying for two 14 inch deep X 48 inch long stainless steel shelves $92.00 dollars plus shipping! Then I had Our House LLC attach the grundtal rail into the bottom stainless steel shelf and saved a lot of money. I still need to get the Ikea S hooks so I can hang my soup bowls that have sturdy handles on them. If I bought the one from pottery barn it is $99.00 plus shipping for just 12X 36 inch shelves and it was the wrong size. I saved a lot of money also by not putting in cabinets but I also made my kitchen look a whole lot bigger!

        I really wanted to have a breakfast bar and a place to prepare meals. I bake a lot and I wanted to sit in my kitchen and make my really time consuming cookies. Now I have so much more space for cooling racks and cake stands! I love that little area and I never hit my head on those shelves. I also have shallow drawers under the granite for baking mats, onion goggles and icing spatulas. I just now need to find the stools/chairs because we do have an odd size since we installed the drawers. I have been looking at getting another or maybe another pair of the CB2 vapor chair and maybe putting on rolling wheels? That way I would add a couple of inches and also save the flooring. The one that I have in the living room I love!

        I saved a lot of money with my cabinet hardware choices by mixing high with low choices. I purchased for the upper cabinets glass pulls from Anthropologie called cocktail ring in clear. They were reasonably priced at $8.00 a piece and I bought 20 of them which was good because one of them broke and I still have one left. I paid including shipping $184.34 for them. I saved money by purchasing stain nickle pulls from overstock for about $3.00 a pull when normally they can be about $8 and up for a stainless steel pull. I saved money by going through ebates first before purchasing which gave me percentage of my purchase back. I always make sure to go through ebates first to see if the store participates with Ebates. It pays you to shop as you would do normally and they give you coupon codes.

         I saved money and provided more of an open space feel in the kitchen by having an open niche for cookbooks and also a framed white pegboard over the sink. I was really inspired by my love of baking and the desire to learn how to cook. I had grown up with Julia Child and when I saw Julie and Julia I really fell in love with Julia Child's set up for her kitchen. I loved her use of pegboards in her kitchen and how she used every space of her kitchen. Maybe that is just because I am homesick for Massachusetts although her kitchen is actually now in the Smithsonian Institute. I always hated hitting my hands when I washed the pots in our old small kitchen sink. I wanted more open space and place to put all my baking molds. I still need to get the pegs for my cake pans because I am not sure what to use but when I do my kitchen is going to be so efficient!

      A surprising way that I saved money was that I bought Aura Benjamin Moore paint in Jet Stream. The paint goes on well and did not need that many coats of paint. In fact there was just need for one coat of paint because it is high quality paint. It is an expensive paint but in the long run it will save us money because it will not chip and we did not need as much as cheap paint. Also the Aura paint is the best option for condos because it is low in VOCs and we were not breathing in all that toxic air. For trim we used a less expensive but high quality trim paint in white that also had low VOCs.

     More details on my Kitchenplasty to follow.

THE UGLY DUCKLING OF A KITCHEN:Before Pictures of my Kitchen

    I moved in my Condo August 23, 2008 without ever seeing it first. My husband purchased the house out of anger from another deal that went bad in one of the condos in this Condo Association. He saw potential in this condo but also got burnt by the former tenants. This kitchen was 25 years old until it was redone in time for Christmas of 2010.

    The Condo association was bought and gutted in 1985 and my kitchen had not been updated since then. Laminate has come a long way since but 1985 laminate wood cabinets do not last long. Part of the cabinets were held up by duct tape, there was a hutch ripped out of the kitchen without a patch job and I hated being in this kitchen. It was just ugly and dangerous! The Bathroom is also half-assed done as well and is our next project.

 Lets explore all the ugliness of my kitchen:

Two or maybe three layers of old school linoleum
1985 laminate Kitchen
25 years of wear and tear
Hot mustard colored walls with signs of wear/tear
Off-white laminate counter tops that had bubbles on them
A white oven that leaked gas whenever you used it
Leaky Bisque colored fridge that had puddles under and in the fridge
Years and layer rings of grease that no matter how clean would not come off
Not all of the cabinets had doors
If the doors were on the cabinet they were hanging off of the hinges
The past owners ripped out a hutch without patching the wall
Only three outlets (not covered) for all items
Buckling of the wood under the sink cabinets
Rolling Dishwasher that did not work and would scrap the sides of the cabinets
Dishwasher= one heavy water paper weight just heats water and never cleans!
Sink was a shallow bar sink and could not wash pots in it
Limited counter space
Not a good use of space
Huge gap between the upper cabinets and the high ceiling

For past writings about my ugly kitchen please refer to the Stepfordwife blog at: http://stepfordctwife.blogspot.com/2010/08/project-transformaton-of-ugly-galley.html

Views of the office overhead lighting, loose doors and the wasted space

Wasted space filled by a metal storage rack for my baking/cooking supplies

Where the hutch was ripped out of the wall and not re-patched by the former tenants

Bisque/wood laminate style cabinets, Dangerous oven and hood to match

The view from Ugliville

View of the kitchen from the door, notice the wasted space above the upper cabinets

View of the wall and the color paint color

Marks from the roll around dishwasher which is the same depth as the depth between the stove and the cabinets.

This was the ugliest laminate I have ever seen and it never could get clean!

Do you see the buckling of the cabinet?
The Vodka helps you forget... oh and that is our finest chinet glasses in the back.

Marks of wear/tear on the wall

You can see where the hutch was ripped out from the wall.

View of the wall by my cooking/baking supplies

Wasted space above the upper cabinets

The Bisque and stained oven that leaked gas.

Marks from where the past tenant had items

Views of all the ugly surfaces in the Kitchen: cabinet door, laminate top,
laminate floor, oven and that ugly paint!

The following are pictures a couple months after the first.
I took off the doors because more than half were either already off or hanging off...

The biggest water paper weight ever. Just heats water and never cleans

I tried to make it look better by taking off the falling off doors

Look at all the space above the cabinets but it looks better without the cabinet doors.

The view of the Kitchen from the door opening

Jonathan in the kitchen while I make Christmas Cookies in 2009