How to Plan a DIY Kitchen Remodel

By request, we gathered the sketches we used to plan our kitchen. As you can imagine with a house full of unpacked boxes and demolition debris scattered about, these weren’t exactly easy to find! But now, we present to you, our process. We start with our own progression and end the post with our list of suggestions (so you can skip ahead if you like).

Special note: we had some obstacles to work around: soffits. Also, our kitchen is teeny tiny and L-shaped…things we really didn’t want to change with this project.

Our plans went through four major articulations. Okay, fasten your protective eye wear, here we go!

1. The initial sketch we drew when we knew no measurements. We were in the process of closing and had photos of the kitchen but had not yet gotten in there with a measuring tape. This sketch incorporates TONS of open shelving and cubbies…things we really wanted.

2. At this stage, we had the measurements and decided to get a quote from Home Depot (cost: $0). The lady who helped us was very knowledgeable and nice. If you have a lot of room to change around your floor plan and aren’t sure what you’d like to do with your space, we’d definitely recommend having a kitchen specialist draw you up some options. You can take their ideas and apply them in other ways and it can really help get the creative juices flowing.

It’s important to remember that they’re selling a service as well and we had to keep reminding them that we want to do most of the work ourselves, mostly to save money. Even so, that was discouraged (“We can’t guarantee unless we’re installing” and “Doing this big of a project is a lot more than you might think”). Here are the elevations from Home Depot:

As you can see, the Home Depot design left about 7″ of wasted space between our range and sink – an unthinkable atrocity in such a small kitchen. Also, it called for a microwave with built-in fan but we weren’t set up for a vent to the outside and didn’t want to go through the process of installing one right now (asbestos exterior shingles). Maybe someday in the future if/when we resurface the house. And, we really wanted a dishwasher, not only because they’re more eco-friendly, but also because one would help sell the house someday.

3. After receiving the ASTRONOMICAL Home Depot quote (which included specials/discounts), we thought we’d see what Ikea had to offer. Lots of bloggers seemed to be very happy with Ikea cabinets and one interior designer we know says that she recommends them to even her highest-end clients (even if they have to be delivered in unmarked trucks to avoid embarrassment from the neighbors). With Ikea, you can play around with their online planning software and come pretty dang close to a final plan.

With Ikea we still had a nice base corner carousel cabinet and room for a dishwasher. We wouldn’t, however, have an upper corner cabinet that cut in at a 90 degree angle for the above soffit and we still had the wasted space next to the range. Oh well. But the Ikea quote was 1/7 the Home Depot quote, so we could splurge on a few extra cabinets to mount across from the fridge, giving us a sort of pantry – a luxury in such a small kitchen. Here is an elevation from the Ikea plan:

At this stage, we drove to Ikea, picked out our door style, and purchased the goods. The store didn’t have the two 15″ base units we wanted in stock, so we exchanged them for a 30″ deep drawer cabinet instead and LOVE IT. Sometimes the best things are those you don’t plan, eh?

But then we had an aha moment that brought us to…

4. Our final sketch. We figured out a way to make the wasted space between the range and sink an open slot for baking sheets, cutting boards and other flat things. We also sketched out a cubby-style custom-built box for above the range that would hold the microwave we didn’t want taking up valuable counter space and the charcoal-filter fan (that came with the house).

Somewhere on a piece of old newsprint, I refined this sketch and figured out the exact dimensions after taking into account the wood we’d be using, etc. BUT alas, I cannot find that handy scrap.

In case it isn’t already obvious, I’m the sketcher and Chris is the builder. We brainstorm together first and since we’re in here together, side by side doing all this work, we’re constantly consulting with each other and amending our plans as necessary.

Our suggestions based on what we’ve learned, should we ever do this again:

  • Live in the space just long enough to know what you really want and not so long that lousy things become passively accepted
  • Make “must have” and “would be nice” lists and don’t compromise on the must haves (for us, a dishwasher)
  • Consult a kitchen planner (even the free services offered at those big-box stores)
  • Collect hundreds of inspiration photos (we share some of ours here, here, here, here and here)- when you see images you like, just save somewhere handy…when you go back and look through them, it’ll become obvious what they all have in common (and thus what you really like)
  • Think about ways to squeeze practical use out of every last square centimeter
  • If you’re trying to save moolah, look critically over your plans and determine what you can do cheaper in other ways (i.e. we built and installed a wooden box over our range, perhaps just for now, instead of a heavy-looking cabinet)
  • Set up a work room next to or in the space you’re remodeling (we ended up using our random room a.k.a. dining room)
  • If you’re DIYers like us, plan to make many MANY trips to the hardware store as you go and enlist help (OCH dad helped scrape paint off the windows and OCH bro painted corbels and helped install counters)

Well, that’s our madness in a nutshell, for what it’s worth. We know we owe many more kitchen updates so stay tuned for new kitchen posts.

Happy evening,



This entry was posted in Renovating & repairing our old home, Stuff we're working on, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to Plan a DIY Kitchen Remodel

  1. Mom says:

    A great post, your attention to detail is impressive!! Can’t wait for more PICTURES!
    I guess there’s truth to “measure twice, cut once”. What a team :)

  2. Pingback: No Wasted Space « Our Corner House

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