HELP! aka kitchen remodel plans

Guys, the kitchen in our house is atrocious.

It's the perfect size if you live alone, love faux painted yellow brick, don't do a lot of cooking, and you love washing dishes by hand. None of those requirements fit our family-of-3-plus-a-puppy needs.

Here's a picture tour to give you a sense of it...

 First, the view from the living room. This is about 50% of our kitchen in total, if you want a clue as to how small it is.

Problems to point out from here: really ugly and chipping linoleum, the fact that the door to the basement AND the back door take up a lot of the storage room we *could* have, the very makeshift additional storage we've added via pots & pans hung above the window and tiny wire shelf below. Plus the high chair, where Kate eats breakfast & dinner.

This was last night at dinner time (for Kate, we usually eat after she goes to bed around 7:30 or so). As you might have guessed, literally any surface we can use for storage gets used - that's why the two window sills are covered in spices, tea bags, etc. 

 This is a view with my back against the back door. The cabinets are AWFUL - first of all, there aren't any handles and they don't go all the way to the ceiling. Plus, for some unknown reason, they start up higher on the wall than most average cabinets, which means short people like me can only really access the bottom shelf without a lot of work. (I can straaaaain and get to the very top shelf if I'm up on one foot on tiptoe.)

As you can also see, when we do dishes, or when David does dishes I should say, the drying takes up 50% of our available counter space. Which forces us to use the stove as a prep area, and that isn't fun.

See what I mean about the tall cabinets? Plus, they don't go all the way to the ceiling for some unknown reason, which just means we have to store things ON TOP OF THEM. Grrr.

Also for some reason everything in the kitchen is just marginally crooked? Which drives me nuts.

Our small appliances/recycling pile are to the right of the fridge, which is fine because that's part of the counter we couldn't use for prep even if we wanted to. We also store most of our bread/chips/snacks on top of the fridge. Unopened food is in one of the lower cabinets, but not a lot because there have been mice problems...yuck.

The other 50% of our counter space. Such a nice big expanse, right? Except that a lot of the time it's filled with dirty dishes, because the sink is too small to hold very many and we don't have a dishwasher to hide them in.

And the terrible sink - it's about two bowls deep, yet somehow comes down so low underneath the cabinet that we can't store anything large under there.

Feature I haven't mentioned yet? The uuuuugly painted brick. The thing is, it's not even real brick! It's half bricks glued onto the wall, and then painted over. Which means when you try to remove one, half the plaster wall behind it comes with. STUPID.

Next to the door, there's the terribly skinny & oddly proportioned extra "pantry" cabinet. It's got so many weird-sized shelves in it that we can only store certain things in it. I'd love to get rid of that whole cabinet and put some shelves along the whole wall, mostly because it'd probably double the amount of storage we have in here.

Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever have the budget (or time...) to redo the layout of the kitchen, which is really what it needs (think: moving the back door to the center of the house, knocking down a wall, moving the stairs...impossible, really). Originally we were thinking of just knocking out the wall behind the fridge, which backs out to the dining room, but that is a lot of work for not a lot of extra square that's on the back burner for now.

What I'm thinking is something like this:

New floor (same as our bathroom!), new cabinets that extend all the way from a normal height to the ceiling, a new backsplash, getting rid of all the terrible faux brick, new countertop, adding some open shelves, a dishwasher, and a new sink would make this kitchen sooooo much better. (I really love the dark blue on bottom, white on top cabinets - I think it would make our kitchen feel twice as big, too.)

We might have to settle (due to budget) with a new floor and a fresh coat of paint on everything, which wouldn't solve a lot of the underlying issues with the place but would cost a lot less than the other plan.

But we're still at a loss as to how much money we want to invest in a house this size, or if there's a way we can reconfigure the floor plan without spending an arm and a leg. It's a serious blight on the rest of our house, and by far the worst room since we fixed up the bathroom.

So. Ye of the internet, got any ideas for us?
HELP PLZ. and thank you. :)


  1. Come and visit, we will go to ikea and get you some space-multiplying shelves. Perfect plan.

  2. Fixer Upper has got you thinking, huh :)

  3. We've decided that renovating our (very outdated) kitchen just isn't work the time and effort, since we're still not sure if this is our forever home. What we did do, though, was replace the cabinet hardware when we moved in (because, oh, so ugly!), and it's amazing how much of a difference that makes! If it were my choice, I'd at least replace the pantry with the shelving like you mentioned - that way you could at least get some things off the counters, windowsills, etc. More storage would make the kitchen a little more functional! (I LOVE the idea of blue cabinets by the way...)

  4. I think those open shelves are a great idea, and one you could do by yourself fairly easily (and inexpensively!)

    Our kitchen is awesome about space, but the cabinets are pink and yellow laminate ... and the floor is pink and yellow tile. Purely cosmetic, but I'm pretty sure that's why the house sat on the market for 2.5 years before we bought it ... which means before we resell we have to change it ... which will be sooo expensive. Sigh. :(

  5. I have no idea how much a kitchen remodel costs, but it we've been looking at houses for fun and it seems like houses with updated kitchens are always worth more and sell quick. Maybe it would be worth it and then it would have a higher resale value.

    1. That's always our burning question! Will it be worth the $$$ we put in whenever we decide to sell? Or is it just a cost out of pocket? The housing market in Lincoln is a crazy seller's market right now, but we have no idea how long we'll be here so it makes it hard to decide! The kitchen is always the first thing you look at when you're looking at houses, though, it's so true.

  6. Commenting again.. I did read the Rustoleum Cabinet Painting Refinishing Kit things (great description, huh?) are really user friendly and come with all the steps needed and is only $150ish. I read lots of great reviews online and know 2 people that used it themselves with great results! I also think I'd hang up some open shelves for more storage and get rid of that tall skinny cabinet.. seems like a relatively easy, cheap and practical fix.

    1. Ooo, that's a good idea! We've definitely also thought about buying new cabinets on the cheap end at Menard's or Lowe's and painting them, so that's a great idea.

  7. Oh my gosh. Yes. Let's talk kitchen reno!!!!!

    You can totally totally do this! My SIL and BIL just reno'd their super old kitchen, almost 100% DIY, and I doubt they spent over $8,000. Their kitchen is probably triple your size and has a huuuuuuge island that they covered in granite, so I imagine you could do this for WAY cheaper than that. They pretty much got everything at Lowes. So, just guessing here, but less than $4,000 could get you a brand, sparkly new kitchen. Like Emily mentioned, considering how important the kitchen is when selling AND how much more enjoyment *you* would get out of it if it were more functional and more . . . pretty, it's totally worth the investment. And it's something you could do over time. My SIL and BIL still aren't 100% done and they started about a year ago. They just pay for what they can as they go.

    Alright, so with that in mind, I'd totally splurge for the cabinets. Get the ones that go up to the ceiling. SO MUCH STORAGE! And get pre-fab. Way cheaper than custom. Lowe's has sooooo many great pre-fab options! I'd also suggest, instead of doing those adorable shelves, get floor to ceiling cabinets in that area to the left of the window instead. You'll get way more storage that way, plus it keep clutter hidden. I love those shelves, but whenever I see them on Fixer Upper or any other design show, they have only their nicest stuff on them, and it's minimal. If you want to solve your storage/clutter problem, you need to find a place to store things away that keeps them hidden. Boom. Also, how about a padded bench beneath the window that has hidden storage inside? It doesn't have to take up a bunch of space, but any bit of storage you can fit into that space will help. And then, how about smaller versions of those open shelves across from the basement door? Eh, eh?

    While the cabinets are being replaced, definitely either get rid of that funky brick wall and replace with that adorable subway tile backsplash, or paint it a nice neutral gray or creme or white. Most of the issue is the color. That can be pretty easily fixed with a can of paint if your priorities are elsewhere.

    Any thoughts on countertops? Are you guys totally into the granite idea? I think there are several other more affordable options out there that look great. Probably worth looking into! But I doubt granite would be too much since there's not a ton of countertop to be covered.

    Ok, you know I love that floor!! And that's something you can put in over time too. Because it's really just a cosmetic thing at this point. So functionally speaking, it's not that important. But it will up resale value if you can get it done over time.

    And with holidays coming up (specifically thinking 4th of July), it's a good time to buy appliances! Maybe you could get a good deal on a dishwasher?? That's what my SIL did!

    Whew! What do you think? Crazy talk? Or feeling it?

  8. That "brick"! WHY! I'd imagine it's not the easiest to drill into too, huh?

    While our kitchen footprint isn't as small, we have similar amounts of cabinet/counter/pantry space that drives me crazy. The YouTube channel "DoItOnADime" has SOOO many good ideas about organization in general but especially for tricky spaces. We've implemented many of her ideas ;) For style and organization ideas, you might be interested in "my so-called home"'s videos, too :) Their kitchen is on the smaller side as well. Hope you get some inspiration! Bonus--most of the ideas they use are thrifted or from Dollar Tree so it's super affordable!


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