Nest Makeover Monday: Kitchen Part 1…

I know, right?!?!  It’s MONDAY.  So here’s the deal, I adore making my nest an enduring, warm, inviting place. Somewhere for friends and family to gather and maybe spill some stuff. And then just bleach the slipcover and start over again.

Maybe you too?

I got to thinking, maybe once a month, we can walk through a project in my nest and hopefully, you will find inspiration or encouragement.

What I will not be doing is a tutorial. I’ll link to a few I found on Pinterest and send you to those DIY blogs who can teach you almost anything. We are not professionals and we don’t pretend to be.

But I want us to be able to build our nests into the comfortable, lovely spaces that reflect our personalities and our passions with a whole lot of aqua.

Okay, so maybe the aqua is only for me.

Welcome to our inaugural Nest Makeover Monday!

To kick this off, we’re gonna start off with our biggest project. Ever.

As we say in Texas, Go big or go home!

Our kitchen makeover.  How we went from this…

Brown Kitchen

To this…

Finished Kitchen

This is our sixth house and we have never done a big makeover. Bought new appliances? Yes. Changed countertops? Nope. Painted cabinets? Nah-ah. BUILT cabinets? No way.

Until we moved into our current house last August, we have had no reason to do a whole lot of changes. But this house had been a rental and it had been WELL-LOVED. The countertops were chipped and stained. Cabinets were scratched and, well, BROWN. Appliances, like the dishwasher, SO LOUD.

This house needed a kitchen makeover.

When we put our last house on the market, after only being there a year, our realtor said, “I wish you’d done some updates in the kitchen.” It was tight to sell the house and walk away without losing money. Some new countertops would have gone a long way towards getting us the best purchase price for the house.

But we’d gotten a quote shortly after moving in and it was close to $10,000.  Ummmm…no.

Our realtor said, “Oh no! Call me with those things. I have a granite guy I work with and he’s much cheaper.” So our realtor connected us with his “granite guy.”

And that’s my first tip.

Check with Your Contacts First

Your realtor, your realtor friend, the general contractor dad on your kid’s baseball team, your friend’s who just had their kitchen redone.

Ask around.

You know people who know people. Sure Angie’s List or The Good Contractor List are excellent resources but the referral from your people trumps it every time.

The “granite guy” was an absolute steal. He wasn’t the easiest to work with. Slow to respond to messages, slow to schedule appointments, slow to get it installed. Until he needed his payment, and then he was ON IT. Of course.

But our realtor had been right. He was significantly cheaper.

New countertops cost us $1,300.


There was one major change I wanted to make in the kitchen.

The high bar.

It’s that second level of countertop space. It’s purpose, best I can tell, is to block the view of the kitchen from the living areas. I read several articles/blog posts on how much that space was needed to give some visual separation.

Only, I didn’t want nor need visual separation.

My kitchen is very literally in the middle of my house. You cannot get to the living space without walking directly past the kitchen. So, if your guests are going to see the kitchen ANYWAY, then I saw no reason to block the view.

We hired a former band dad, a general contractor, to take out the extra bar.

Removing the bar

Of course, because nothing is ever easy, he had to rework this disposal too. But it was worth the extra $200 to have the disposal fixed.

The contractor also installed the subway tile backsplash after the countertops were in place. My husband could have done that and saved us the labor cost, HOWEVER, I wanted this part of the kitchen project done before I moved into the kitchen.

Which leads me to my second tip.

Know Your Timing and What Your Time is Worth.

We moved in two days before school started. I knew two things: 1) The kids would be at school during the day and 2) Dr. Band Geek would also be at school AND marching practice. I had zero interest in moving into the kitchen just to have it turned upside down for new counters and backsplash.

So, I wanted it done before I moved a single pot into the kitchen.

That meant hiring a contractor to do the things my husband could have done in four months.

For us, it was worth the extra money.

Contractor for high bar removal, reworking the disposal, and installing the backsplash = $700

Plan your reno based on when and how you want to spend your money. If you have more patience than I do, then wait the four months and save the labor costs. But if like us, you have more projects after that and you don’t want those four months to turn into a year or two, then save up and spend the extra money.

Your time and energy is a commodity. And it’s worth taking a hard look at your time as an expense just like any material you purchase.

Which brings me to my next point…

Buy Used When You Can.

After counters and backsplash came appliances. We brought our stainless refrigerator with us and we wanted all the appliances to match that. Older appliances use excessive amounts of energy, water, and quiet. Heavens.

We do our best to buy second hand or factory returns. Our refrigerator was just that.  We paid less than half the retail price for it and there was not a single thing wrong with it. We visited the big places first. Home Depot and Lowes. And then we headed up to the Sear’s Outlet. At Home Depot, we found our microwave. Again, nothing wrong with it but it was a return from a customer.


Then our oven we grabbed at the Sear’s Outlet. And I will confess, the top oven did not work properly. It never stopped heating up. Eventually, it would get so hot, the entire unit would shut down as a safety precaution. The Whirlpool technician came out and replaced the main “motherboard.” And that is what a factory warranty is for.

Sure, it took a week or so but we got the double oven for less than the cost of a single.

Worth it.

The only appliance we bought new was the dishwasher. And that’s only because we couldn’t find what we wanted second hand.

Altogether, we spent about $1,200 on appliances.

That’s a double electric oven (we don’t have gas), a dishwasher, and a microwave.

Go to the big box stores. Go to overstock stores. Go to Habitat for Humanity Restores. Check online marketplaces like a Facebook buy/sell/trade group or something like the 5 Mile app. It’s worth the time to save so much.

By a miracle, our microwave and oven are part of a matching set. Even though we bought them at two different stores. It wasn’t planned or even hoped for but, well, God is in the details y’all.


We had some additional lights installed and had the disposal switch moved.

Additional lighting is a good investment. Since our kitchen is in the middle of the house, it can be kinda dark. Two extra lights just made sense.

I purchased the new lights from IKEA. We bought three of these smaller ones. Two for the peninsula and one for the kitchen table. We also purchased the larger size for the center of the kitchen. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would love them but they worked out well. And you can’t beat the price!

The disposal switch was originally located on the wall. I had to close the dishwasher to reach it. We moved it to an adorable little button next to the faucet on the countertop.

Total luxury item but we love it.

New lights, installation, disposal switch move came in around $800.

Fourth tip.

Hire Professionals When Needed.

Listen, my handy hubby can do most anything but he absolutely DOES NOT mess with electrical or major plumbing. It’s not worth the risk.

Not to mention, we will likely sell this house and we’d rather not have to pay an electrician, later on, to fix whatever we might have done out of code.

We did the usual. Looked up professionals on The Good Contractor List, contacted a few of them, and went with the best price and best availability.

After that, we stopped. Took a long pause on the kitchen remodel.

Within the first month of moving in, we’d removed the wall, put in new countertops, installed a backsplash, added and replaced lights, and updated the appliances.


And since that’s where we stopped for several months, I think that’s where I’ll stop for this Nest Makeover Monday!

More next month!

In case you’re keeping track, so far, we’ve spent $3,000.

What about y’all? Any kitchen remodelers out there? How did you do it and stay on a budget?

Nest Makeover Pinnable Image

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