Category Archives: DIY & Projects

My $7,000 DIY Kitchen Reno Cost Breakdown + Source List

My $7,000 DIY Kitchen Reno Cost Breakdown + Source List

Last fall, I tackled a kitchen renovation.

Other than help from my awesome dad who pitched in, I did everything by myself to save money, save for hiring professionals where absolutely necessary.

Admittedly, my kitchen isn’t massive, so the $7k price tag is easier to swallow, however, I saved thousands by doing all of the demo, construction, installation and finishing touches myself. Below is a breakdown of everything in my kitchen (see more after photos here), what it cost, and where I bought it all.


Cabinets + Doors:
The majority of my kitchen is from IKEA. I spent far too many hours using their kitchen planner tool, and eventually made a final call using their new SEKTION cabinet system.
Cabinets and GRIMSLÖV doors — $2,000~
LANSA handles — $10 x 9 = $90
Toe-kicks and cover panels — $300

Carrera White Quartz (found a cut-off piece from Elite) — $1,500

Hardware + Accessories:
BREDSKÄR sink — $199
Peerless Faucet — $100
UTRUSTA garbage pull-out — $35
VARIERA utensil trays — $25
BITTERGURKA hanging planters — 2 x $16 = $32
GRUNDTAL shelves + hooks — 2 x $5 = $10
GRUNDTAL wall self  — $35
GRUNDTAL utensil holders and container — $28
Baskets + decorative jars/bowls — $0 mostly thrifted / hand-me-downs
ECarpetGallery Rug — $50

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#HelloProKitchenReno: Happy Dance

My DIY Kitchen Reno

One of the most fulfilling feelings is seeing something you imagined, created and worked hard for come to fruition. This week, my Frigidaire Professional® appliances arrived and were installed, and it wasn’t until they were put in place and installed that I began to see the big picture coming together! Up until now, it’s been hard to visualize and determine how my final space would look and function, but I’ve been forcing myself to trust my gut and stick to my plan — and boy am I glad I did. The appliances are not only gorgeous, but their placement has proven to be super functional and their layout feels natural and intuitive, so I am thrilled.


I have yet to cook a large Italian meal, but the few things I’ve already prepared (such as fried eggs and roasted chicken) have been scrumptious. I can really tell the difference between the power and durability of my old set of appliances and my new ones. In doing this whole renovation, my end goal has been to not only have a more functional kitchen overall, but to finally get some grown-up, durable, high-performing and reliable appliances. Though it’s only been a few days living with my new appliances, it’s safe to say that they exceed my expectations and needs.

Let’s be honest: most refrigerators can often stand out like sore thumbs and can be a necessary evil in the kitchen, but my Frigidaire Professional® french-door refrigerator blends seamlessly into my cabinets. There’s no unnecessary knobs or handles (thank goodness, I terribly dislike gadgets and gimmicks) — even the controls that are necessary are hidden on the inside of the door. The aesthetic of the fridge, inside and out, is sleek and minimal.


Because it’s counter-depth, it sits back and takes up less room, while still offering plenty of customizable storage inside with SpacePro Adjustable Crisper Bins and Slide-Under, Flip-Up Shelves. One of the many features it offers is a PureAir® Filtration System to remove odors and keep food tasting like it should, but if you asked Piper what her favorite aspect it, it would be the automatic ice-cube maker.


Next up, my Front-Control Freestanding Gas Range with powerful burners for maximum flexibility and performance. It has a PowerPlus Convection oven, and preheats in minutes. It also comes with a handy temperature probe and warns you when a certain temperature is achieved when cooking meat or fish — which will come ion handy as I’m hosting Christmas at my house for the first time ever. Eek!



Directly above my gas stove is an over-the-range microwave unlike any microwave I’ve ever seen. It doubles as a Convection Oven which you can actually bake in — I’m talking everything from cookies to an entire chicken! It also has PowerSense™ Cooking Technology which automatically senses the ideal time and power level to cook at, and an adjustable timer so you can add or remove time rather than having to cancel a cycle and restart (like I’m usually guilty of doing).



And last, but certainly not least, my Dishwasher (!!!), which I’m admittedly the most excited for as I never had one before. I love that the control are hidden inside so you don’t have to see them, and so you don’t accidentally start or cancel a cycle, but one of the most impressive features is the PowerPlus® 30-Minute Wash cycle, so if you only have on set of plates or dishes and you have guests over, you can wash everything and have it ready to use again in a half hour.


My plumber just installed the drain line yesterday and I’ve already used it twice, and I must say my dishes have never looked cleaner. This baby is not only fast, but powerful as heck! It even has special jets, AKA PrecisionPro Wash Zones™, to target those hard-to-reach areas of things like water bottles and delicate stemware.


Powerful performance and intuitive function of my appliances aside, I am most impressed by their overall design and aesthetic. All of the handles and knobs are consistent across the series, the control panels are hidden and discreet for a de-cluttered, seamless look, the stainless steel is Smudge-Proof (even with Piper poking her nose around them) and even the font used reflects the professional, sleekness of the pieces. As a visual designer and illustrator, I’m pleasantly surprised! It’s obvious that plenty of thought went into each piece, both individually and as a cohesive family.


But as I’ve come to expect in a renovation, for every bit of good news and progress, there’s an equal amount of issues you run into. I did run into some hiccups this week which came in the form of my back-splash. In last week’s post, I gabbed about my existing white subway tile back-splash and adding to it, but after visiting the store I purchased it from merely 6 months ago, I was burned to learn that the dye lot had changed and the colour and size was different, albeit ever so subtly. In the end, I made the tough choice to rip out my old back-splash (which was glued down so well by me months ago that the drywall came with it)! This meant re-dry walling, plastering, and sanding – which meant more dust, just when I thought the mess was over! But sometimes, blessings are disguised as curses, because though it was upsetting, it gave me the opportunity to choose the perfect tile for the new space and be able to line it up better than it previously was. And I must admit, it looks fantastic!

I cannot wait to show you guys how this has all come together! Next week is the big reveal and I’ll be sharing oodles of photos and a video of my finished kitchen and dining space! Heading into this weekend, it’ll be the first day in a month that I can sleep in and take the day off. Yippee!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON LEON’S NEW BLOG, HELLO YELLOW. Have a look around for plenty of DIY, recipe, home decor goodness.

#HelloProKitchenReno: The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

My DIY Kitchen Renovation

If you’ve been following along with my #HelloProKitchenReno series on Instagram, YouTube and social media, and on here, you’ve witnessed the up-and-down rollercoaster ride that is a renovation. This week compared to last is like night and day — figuratively and literally! (Check out this week’s vlog above to see what I mean.)


Before I dove into this renovation, I could not wait to get started, and now, I can’t wait to call it done! This week, I started to see the light at the end of the once dusty, dark, tired tunnel, and it’s beyond exciting. At this stage, it’s a game of small feats and little victories as all of the heavy-lifting is behind me, so things like ripping up the cardboard from the new hardwood floors felt so satisfying! Rather than demolishing my space, it’s finally time to build it back up again.






Although I’m taking this renovation on mostly by myself, I have to give credit and thanks to my dad, my mom, Shawn and the various workers and contractors who have come in and out of my house at all hours of the day to help me with all of the things that I thought I could do on my own, but definitely could not when it came down to it. There are certain things that you just have to hire professionals for, such as plumbing, electrical, gas, and even dry-walling and mudding! It may cost a bit, but to do it on your own would take you double or triple the amount of time and heartache, and, at the end of the day, it will never look as good or even be to code, so those small expenses on professionals are worth every penny.


Earlier this week, the electrician, gas line installer, plumber and plasterer finished up, which, for me, meant it was finally time for all of the fun stuff to start! Throughout this process, I’ve learned that I love the idea of doing the demolition and construction work, when in reality, I am not Nicole Curtis. I have learned (and have to admit), that I really only enjoy the aesthetic work and process.

So without further ado, on to the fun, aesthetic stuff! This week I began assembling my shaker-style off-white cabinetry and installing it.


I also chose my lighting fixtures, which was easy and enjoyable thanks to my sister, Elyssa, who is a lighting designer. I actually got lighting that she designed, which is a pretty cool feeling.


As you can see, multi-tasking and making lots of notes (even the back of a hand will sometimes do) is what my life looks like right now, all with a nosy Piper!

And last but certainly not least, one of my favorite tasks in any home update had to be done: painting! Which mean selecting a wall colour which is one of the hardest things to decide on. I love white walls, but the best white walls you see in magazines is not actually true white.


White is one of those wall colors that seems easy and safe, but there are so many tones and nuances in white that make it terribly hard to match, especially when you’re trying to match white to white to white like I am. As I mentioned in this week’s video, one of the most important things to consider when selecting a white paint is the lighting and temperature of your room, what’s in it already, and what you’re trying to tie together. One way my choices got narrowed is due to the fact that my kitchen is open to my living room, which is open to my entryway, which is open to my hallway, so the white I pick has to go everywhere, which means selecting something very neutral and forgiving.


Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 1.04.58 PM

Furthermore, in my kitchen, my cabinets are off-white, my back-splash is pure white, and my furniture and flooring is all warm and cozy, so with neutral in mind, the tone becomes important as well. A good rules of thumb is to select a shade that is either lighter or darker than anything off-white, such as my cabinets. It’s better to commit to being different than almost the same, so that little bit of contrast is what I’m after, and I ended up erring on the side of a darker wall paint to help make the cabinets look whiter than they are. After testing a small area and with help from my mom, we made a choice, I committed, and I’m thrilled with how it turned out!

Things in #HelloProKitchenReno land are finally shaping up, and I could not be more excited. It’s starting to look like a kitchen again, and in mere days, my Frigidaire Professional® appliances will be delivered and installed and I cannot wait! The thought of having a top-of-the-line, home-chef-worthy professional grade fridge, stove, microwave and dishwasher is making me anxious with excitement. I’m patiently waiting, but I can feel my happy-dance legs prepping in anticipation. Check in next week for another update, and until then, I’m off to touch-up paint and install more shelving and – the best part of all – shop for accessories!

#HelloProKitchenReno: The Storm Before The Calm

My DIY Kitchen Reno

I’m just over one week into this kitchen renovation and, I have to admit, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew this week. I may me a tad in over my wee little head.

I’m typically the person to stay up all night and just put my head down and get it done, but there’s so much to do in so little time, and the order that things have to happen in is very specific when it comes to home renovations, which means that for each day I spend working hard on the kitchen, there are two days where I’m twiddling my thumbs, awaiting an electrician, plumber, gas installer, flooring installer, plasterer etc. I’m having flashbacks to high school being in a bad group project where you have to organize and plan despite the inevitability that it can — and likely will — fall through. You have to surrender, trust, and practice patience, all while doing everything in your power to make sure things don’t completely de-rail.

Piper is still a dog who needs attention, I’m still a teacher with ongoing illustration, design and blogging jobs to do, and I’m just one person doing it all alone.

Shawn, my partner, has been away jet-setting across Canada with a huge film project he’s directing — which he feels awful about — but that’s life! When it rains, it pours. I don’t even have the time some days to shower, let alone eat. It’s been quite frustrating, to say the least, and it’s starting to take its toll on me. Over the last weekend, this exhaustion took the form of laryngitis which completely knocked me off my feet for nearly a week, and following that, I got called last-minute to appear on TV as a guest judge for a home renovation show! Irony aside, it was a huge opportunity I couldn’t say no to, so I was prepared to tack on another few days to the renovation schedule that I hadn’t bargained for — and that’s just personal life and work problems! Add on the house-related issues I’ve run into, and all you can really do is laugh.

But just when the dust and lack of sleep became too much to bear, and when eating cereal was getting in my nerves, Frigidaire Professional stepped in with a huge and unexpected surprise! One morning, as I was arming myself in my grubbiest clothes and top-knotting my hair for the work-day ahead, I noticed three large boxes on my doorstep, the word FRIGIDAIRE printed on each side. Upon opening them, I was tickled pink to discover a fantastic set of four small Frigidaire Professional® appliances, namely a large and mighty Convection Toaster Oven, a 2-Slice Wide Slots Toaster, a 5-in-1 Panini Grill / Griddle, and a Large Capacity 5-Speed Blender. It felt like Christmas morning opening the appliances, and I have to admit, since getting them, I’m a lot more well-fed! Each piece is super-durable, and I love the ease-of-use. They all came with a manual, but I barely had to open any because the functions, controls and buttons were all clear and super-functional, but I’m most impressed by the sleek design and stainless steel finish, which will look great and match my other Frigidaire Professional®  appliances!

Being without a kitchen isn’t fun, so having these small appliances grace my home has made meal-time a lot easier and more enjoyable. I’ve been able to make real meals (such as a shepherds pie, roasted vegetables, many smoothies, and grilled chicken) and feel like it’s nourishing my spirit and self back to health. I’ve been feelin’ like a queen these last few days, so I can only imagine how awesome it’ll be to get my remaining large kitchen appliances!

So dramatic ups and downs aside, here’s an update on what has happened over the past week since I began this renovation.


One of the most important things to do before you begin any renovation is protect your floors, so covering your flooring surfaces with cardboard is a must. After that, I was eager to get my sledgehammer swinging!

In truth, I thought the demolition would be my favorite part, but it’s been by-far my least favorite aspect. Rather than things coming down with a satisfying thud, each piece of wood and plaster was held in place by a huge 5″ nail or wire mesh, respectively, so everything came down in tiny bits and pieces. I also had to be careful to not ruin the areas of wall and ceiling I didn’t want taken down, which also slowed down the process. In hindsight, I should have taken everything down, but you live, you learn!



It’s also important to clean the work site as you go. So as annoying as it is to keep sweeping and vacuuming, only to make more mess the next hour or day, a clean site is a safe site. It also helps keep as much dust at bay as possible.


At this stage, you also have to consider electrical. In my case, I had a handful of wires coming through the floor into the walls I took down, so getting these moved, capped, or cut (by a professional electrician) was the name of the game. You also have to ask yourself, “Where do you want any outlets?”, “Where will your ceiling lighting go?”, “Pendants, track lighting or a chandelier? How many?” This all had to be resolved the day before my flooring was to be extended so that I wouldn’t be laying wood over live or needed wires.



Once the walls and bulk heads were finally gone, the flooring was installed, and the electrical was thought-through and dealt with, it was time to drywall! I did most of the drywall myself, and found it one of the more enjoyable tasks of the renovation so far.

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Yesterday, I just finished filling in the last of the gaps, so in the next few days, I’m having a professional plasterer come to smooth it all out and feather my old 1950’s plaster with the new. Despite being exhausted, where I’m at today feels great and I’m finally starting to get a bit excited for the final. My kitchen is now completely opened up to the living room and I can start to get a sense for what the space will be like, and I cannot wait!



I may be falling apart, but bit by dusty, messy bit, this kitchen is coming together! Continue following along with #HelloProKitchenReno on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to check in next week for more progress. Next up, it’s plastering, priming, painting, and assembling the cabinets. We’re gettin’ there, guys!

Related: Catch up on my first installment.