I was browsing the web the other day while watching Game of Thrones with my wife and stumbled across this gem. It’s by far the most comprehensive and well documented DIY kitchen remodel example I’ve come across online; it features a wall removal, a sink removal, and a window removal. Before we get into it, we’d like to thank @notadeckofcards for letting us share his incredible kitchen renovation with us.
Final Product First! Well, here we are… My life’s greatest achievement to date. I present to you my attempt at the best diy kitchen remodel online! I warn you, this album is big, there are so many steps to a full kitchen renovation, that even with trimming it down, there are still 100+ images. If you want to skip straight to the after/glamour shots, you can visit my Instagram where I have posted a bunch of final shots. If you want to come with me on this epic journey that has consumed the last 6 months of my life, please read on, then join me back in the comments!
Doing these projects and posting them online (and getting your constructive feedback) has really helped improve my skills and confidence. So much so that over summer I decided to undertake this massive diy kitchen remodel with my wife. We are so happy with the results and we keep pinching ourselves every time we see it, especially when we think back to how it was before…
Here is one more after picture, which shows off the entire layout, including a better view of the breakfast bar and bi-fold windows on the right. There are plenty of more after photos at the end, (if you make it that far), but now it’s time to go back to the beginning and see what we started with…
DIY Kitchen Remodel: Before Photos
Here is a before photo of the kitchen. Not too bad. A standard U-shape. It got the job done. No dishwasher though – for 5 years every single glass, plate, knife and fork was washed by hand.
A view from another angle, showing the old window on the right which we ended up cutting out and doing a kitchen window replacement for.
One more before photo angle showing a bit of a narrow space and an awkwardly placed microwave etc…
After seeing a lot of you guys doing your designs with sketch up I decided to join the fun. It’s a great tool once you get the hang of it. My idea was to remove the partition wall and have the new kitchen surround an island bench which would double as our dining table. The window on the right would be removed, and in its place we would put a new bi-fold window and breakfast bar. The oven and fridge would also switch places.
Window and Wall Removal
To remove the partition wall, we needed to put a new beam in the roof, and the end of the beam needed to be supported right where the old air conditioner was, therefore it had to go. Good riddance!
Next to go in this diy kitchen remodel was half the kitchen and the plaster off the partition wall, and also begun taking off the architraves from the window that was being replaced.
We got an amazing deal on this double glazed bi-fold window. Most places were quoting $4k AUD for single glazed, but I found this one for $1k AUD.
My brother’s mate is a carpenter, and with his help and the help of an engineer the wall was professionally removed and a new LVL beam installed in the roof.
They worked so fast, they even helped lift out the old window, and put the new one in place.
I also outsourced the brick laying because it is a skill I have yet to attempt. So apart from a plumber to move the gas and an electrician to help with the wiring, everything in this kitchen remodel you see from this point forward was done by us. Once the brick laying was done, I added some weatherboard stop to fill in the gaps around the window.
A few coats of paint…
Looking good as new!
Here you can see the new gas pipe for the new oven location on the right hand side of the room. The old oven is on the left. You can also see the old ugly blinds above the sink are gone and replaced with some nice white shutters. Putting shutters around my house was a separate project in itself which I have posted in the past, you can find that album easily from any of my profiles.
Now, if you remember some of my other posts, I convinced my wife to renovate our bathroom because a screw fell out of the shower door… When it came to the kitchen, my excuse to renovate it was that the tap was leaking 🙂 She finally said yes, which was right up there with when she said yes to my marriage proposal.
Some more kitchen demolition. I used a combination of drills, hammers, crowbars and lots of brute force to get everything out.
Once it was all out, we managed to sell it for $500! There are a lot of people who are happy to buy an old kitchen to put in their garage or basement, particularly if they cook spicy food and want to keep the smells out of the house, so don’t just throw it in the tip, it might be worth something to someone.
Yikes! The house is over 50 years old, so it was to be expected I guess. Time to bring it back to life!
Meanwhile, our appliances started to arrive. We went all out on appliances as you will see later on, but at the same time we were very savvy with our shopping. We got great deals on everything, waiting for sales, stacking discounts etc. Since we were doing 99% of the labor ourselves we figured we would be saving a lot of money which we could put into the big ticket items.
A few of the floorboards under the sink had rotted at some stage in the past, it wasn’t anything to do with the leaking tap, but it still needed to be fixed.
I ripped up the rotted floorboards and made a clean cut ready for some fresh floorboards to go down.
Meanwhile we started to put up the patchwork of plaster required to cover up the work we did around the kitchen window replacement and air conditioner removal.
We also replaced the plaster behind the sink.
More plastering, as well as getting the nib wall finished off with metal edging to make sure it looks flush and straight when it comes to painting.
To patch the hole in the floor where the old wall went I went to a recycled timber warehouse and found some matching floorboards (which was an effort in itself) and cut them into small sections to place across the gap.
Once they were all nailed in, we used wood filler to fill the gaps.
A similar process was followed where the floor had rotted under the kitchen sink. Once the wood filler dried I sanded it back until it was smooth, ready for varnishing.
Next it was time to paint the walls white to match the rest of the house. You can also see all the new power-point wiring poking out the walls. It took a lot of effort to figure out where and how many power points I needed (and wanted) and their locations.
Cleaning, sanding and vanishing the patched floor. The color of the gap filler wasn’t ideal, probably my only regret from the whole project.
Kitchen Cabinetry and Countertops
This photo was taken a couple of weeks into the diy kitchen renovation – we finally had everything ready to move forward with installing the new diy kitchen remodel. I can’t emphasize how hard we worked. Every minute of every day was spent making progress on the kitchen remodel, whether it was physical labor within the space, or driving around researching appliances, choosing cabinetry, fittings, bench-tops etc. On the cabinetry front, after heaps of research we ended up going with Hafele (sold by Mitre10 as Principal Kitchens). They are a German company, with great quality and very reasonable prices. We designed our kitchen using their online tool, put in the order, and the cupboards arrived a week later. The doors came a few weeks after that, as they were a custom colour so took longer to prepare. All in all it was $2,700 AUD for the cabinetry and $4,400 AUD for the custom doors. As you will see in the photos to come, the custom doors are worth every penny. For comparison, we had quotes of up to and over $20,000 AUD for the same kitchen cabinetry from some of the bigger companies. It pays to shop around.
I spent so long working out what cabinet sizes I needed to maximize the space. Eventually we came up with the design above. My main goal, which I mention again further down, was to make the fridge look built-in, and not protruding out into the kitchen.
The first kitchen cabinet I assembled was the smallest, to make sure I knew how the process went. It was very straight forward. German engineering!
Pretty soon we had the first kitchen wall almost done. We started from the left hand side of the room and made our way around one kitchen cabinet at a time.
As I said before, one of the things that kept me up late at night was trying to make sure the fridge wouldn’t look like it wasn’t protruding out too far into the kitchen. Due to the ventilation requirements of the fridge we chose, I designed the kitchen so that the area with the fridge would have all the cabinetry sitting 10cm out from the wall.
This created a void at the back (which helps with ventilation) but also makes the fridge look like it sits flush with the surrounding cabinetry. I was very happy with how it turned out. We also bought a wire pantry system, instead of normal shelves. I think it was about $250AUD.
Next it was time to do the kitchen sink cabinet.
I used a hole saw to cut the holes for the pipes. You can also see the feet system that Hafele use here.
Nice and snug. Some cupboard doors going on too.
Next it was time for the dishwasher. A lot of care was taken getting the gaps perfect. I really wanted the premium feel of everything being flush and level.
Starting to take shape!
Next was the microwave cabinet and drawers to go next to the fireplace.
When it came to benchtops, we always wanted timber (to match our bathroom and home office). It also meant we saved a tonne of money too, compared to stone/marble. These utility panels were $120 each. So about $500 in total, compared to $5000 in stone if we went marble.
Saving money on the bench-tops meant we could buy a fancy tap with extendable hose pull out.
Testing out the layout of the benches. Since it was natural wood, we wanted to get the features and grains exactly where we wanted them.
Cutting the benchtop using a circular saw and level to ensure a straight cut.
First bench top cut! Looking good!
Next it was time to put the oven it place, and man what an oven! Once it was in place we knew exactly how big the bench-tops needed to be each side and could start cutting them.
This was the first time I used a multi-tool, to cut out the skirting board so the end panels would fit on the end of the cabinets and have it flush against the wall.
A tip when choosing your cabinetry for a kitchen is to use kick-boards as end panels where a cabinet meets a wall or where you don’t need to see all of the end panel. A kick-board will be a fraction of the price of an end panel which saves a lot of money.
With the kitchen cabinetry now flush in it’s final position, the benchtops were cut for either side of the oven.
Time to cut out the kitchen sink. I turned it upside down over the sink cabinet and traced the outline. Our sink cabinet was 800mm, and the sink only just fit. This was intentional to maximise the cabinet sizes elsewhere, as sink cabinetry can be a waste of space taken up by pipes.
Here’s me cutting out the sink. I initially used a jigsaw but it was taking too long, so I used a circular saw for the straight edges and the jigsaw just to go around the corners.
Not a bad job.
Now that I had all the cuts done, it was time to sand and varnish the bench tops. We applied 3 coats of a special benchtop varnish (extra hard/durable) on each side.
Since the sink cabinet was a just a standard 800mm cabinet, and it was such a snug fit, I needed to lower the hinges so that the cupboard doors could be attached and close freely. I used this 25mm forstner bit to carve out new hinge locations.
It was a success! The sink is also being weighed down by bricks while the silicone I used to hold the sink in place dried.
Now that the outside/walls of the kitchen were taking shape, it was time to turn our attention to the island bench. We used a 900mm set of drawers for half of it, then another two 600mm wide wall cabinets for the spine of it.
OK, lets talk about tiling! Again, I wanted this diy kitchen remodel to be the best it could be so I was not going to cut any corners. After discussions with my wife and her sister, who also helped lend her great eye for design, we settled on an ambitious herringbone design. Although I am very much an amateur, I was looking forward to the challenge!
Using an angle grinder, I started small getting the layout right.
Once I knew what cuts I needed to make, my wife and I formed a production line with her marking and me cutting.
She would mark a line, I would do a shallow cut with the angle grinder and then use a padded hammer to snap along the cut. It took some practice, but I found with just the right force it would snap cleanly.
In a little over an hour we had them all made!
Moving back inside and I put up a string line at the height of the first row.
I liked this clever solution I came up with for bridging the gap behind the oven. A simple bit of wood screwed into the wall to temporarily hold up the bottom row of tile.
Here goes nothing! I mixed up some tile adhesive, started wiping it on, then carefully placed each tile using T spacers to keep the tiles square with each other.
Not bad! Even managed to cut a few tiles nicely around the power point.
I was so proud of myself with the job I was doing. I couldn’t stop staring at the pattern. Some people find joy having a kid, I was getting as much joy from seeing this take shape…
Made it all the way to the end of the kitchen wall and around the corner.
To finish off the wall, I needed to know how high to tile up. So I assembled the first wall cabinets, clamping and screwing them together.
I propped them up and screwed them onto the side of the fridge cabinet and into the studs in the wall.
Now I had my heights, it was time to finish off the last cuts. I was very happy with this one to go around the window frame.
Looks almost professional!
Next it was time for the range hood to go up. This was also planned way back at the start, making sure it would align with studs and have power ready to go.
I used some left over benchtop off-cuts to make some shelves to go either side of the range hood, secured into the wall via these brackets you can see.
Time for grouting! My wife is a great grouter. She took the lead here, using a rubber trowel to apply the grout and then a damp sponge to smooth it. The tiles came up an absolute treat! How good is that herringbone pattern!
Next it was time for the breakfast bar, one of the main features of this kitchen design. Again, the same timber as the bench tops was used, screwed into the window sill from above and held up by 3 right angle brackets from below.
Breaking out the old hand saw to cut the architraves to put back on the window.
Next they needed to be sanded and painted.
Turning our attention back to the island bench… Since these were wall cabinets they didn’t come with any feet. We bought some new feet separately and screwed them in. Each foot/plinth can hold something ridiculous like 800kg.
Kitchen Cabinet Drawers and Handles
Here it is assembled and leveled. Just need to cut some end panels to go on the back of the 900mm drawers.
Now, can we finally talk about the cabinetry color? You have clearly already seen it by now, but we took a risk and went dark blue/grey (depending on the light in the room). We didn’t want to do a traditional white kitchen, so took a leap and ordered the color from a swatch, without knowing what it would look like in real life. We also went matte, not gloss, (another risk), but it paid off in spades. And I can’t even tell you how far across the city I looked for the right handles. I called almost every cabinet hardware shop there was until I found one that did a matte gold handle. And how good does the combination look! Well, we like it!
Mitre10 lent us their Hafele handle jig, which was super handy (pardon the pun) for putting the handles on.
You calculate your spacing, line it up, drill through the front…
Then screw the handle on from the back.
Wow. We were so happy!
The colours of the doors, handles, bench tops, and tiles came together so well.
Keeping with the goal for a premium kitchen, I installed this pullout bin unit. 2x20L.
Time to start moving some stuff into these cabinets and drawers, and test out some different greenery.
Again, I wanted this diy kitchen remodel to be special, so I looked around for a good cutlery system and came up with the following.
It really makes the drawer something else!
DIY Kitchen Remodel: Finishing Touches
Nearing the end of the project, here is a reminder of how much effort we put in. A mixture of a million tools and belongings we would have to sift though daily whether it was to put a handle on or make something to eat. I was really grateful for my wife for letting me renovate this kitchen as I know how much it interrupts our daily life, but no pain no gain hey.
Speaking of effort…the plates we chose had a hand-made feel to them, and as such, they were all slightly different. Here is a photo of me kneeling of the floor at the store testing every single plate they had to make sure we bought ones that were level and wouldn’t rock as you ate off them. The passers by must have thought I was crazy…but little do they know the effort I was putting into this diy kitchen remodel…
Back in the kitchen, it was time to silicone the bench tops.
This is a nifty little tool that helps spread the silicone nicely. I wish I knew about them on my previous projects…
I think I did a great job. Nice power points too – again another small example of making sure every aspect of the kitchen remodel was well thought out and nothing was chosen in a rush.
Keeping with the premium feel, from all my research, the best kitchens had cabinetry that looked like it went all the way to the roof. Therefore I decided to fill in the space over the fridge wall cabinets.
Frame secured in place.
While I was waiting for the plaster to dry, I went and notched out an architrave to sit across the brackets that were holding up the breakfast bar.
This did a great job to hide the brackets (which you will see (or not) a bit better in the final photos)
The premium diy kitchen remodel theme continues. I wanted to lift the microwave up so it looked flush with the top and was easier to access, so we cut and put a shelf in at just the right height.
So many little things to do when doing a kitchen. Here’s me cutting and putting new skirting boards around the nib wall.
Getting close to the end! Here are the kickboards going on. I hand sawed (with a fine tooth saw) the kickboards to the right lengths and screwed the clips on. It is a great system, they just slide right on.
You then simply push the kickboard on – it is very satisfying when you feel them pop into place.
I didn’t like the colour of the kickboard the dishwasher came with….
So I painted it the same color as the rest of the kitchen to make it blend in.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, I wanted this kitchen to be as functional as possible, which meant to use every space as efficiently as possible, including under the sink.
Therefore I pieced together a shelf to go around the plumbing just under the kitchen sink…
And put it in place like so…
And also installed a wire drawer at the bottom. That way no space was wasted under the sink (which it generally is in most kitchens).
Same with this 150mm small cupboard next to the fridge so I bought a pull out rack to put in it.
I have to say it was quite possibly the hardest task in the whole kitchen. Having to hand screw, with no space, each screw was no easy job. It took about 2 hours to get them all in!
But it was worth it once it was in.
A few more minor additions…some hooks to hang some pots off.
Now onto the bar stools…yet another one of the many many decisions to make in the process. We ordered/bought/tested half a dozen different styles, trying to work out which height to go with, what color, backs vs no backs etc… Eventually we came across the right combination that worked perfectly.
More bamboo tray inserts… These were out of stock from most k-marts so as soon as they came back in I pretty much bought out the store.
I guess it’s a good time to talk about the island bench benchtop as we look at this mountain of trays. The island benchtop was a table top we found in a backstreet furniture warehouse, with cool natural edges, 2m x 1m that we simply secured to the cabinetry. It really is the center-piece of the whole diy kitchen remodel. Plenty of photos to come of it I promise.
Ok, the final task, the feature lighting! Again, so much effort went into finding these. I had an idea of what I wanted and after looking at a thousand different styles I finally found these.
I marked out the locations to be perfectly above the island bench.
A photo of the brackets used to secure them to the roof.
Here they are secured.
And here’s one being installed…
DIY Kitchen Remodel: After Photos
Ok… If you have made it this far, I can’t thank you enough for reading along. My guess is only about 2% of the people who clicked on this post will still be reading, so thanks again. I really appreciate it! Now without further ado, lets get to the good stuff! The final product photos!
Our brand new kitchen!! We started planning it in October 2018, and it is now April 2019. 6 months of hard work, although the main construction was over December/January. The rest was preparation, and then waiting on final items to be delivered…
I was so happy with how it turned out I asked a good friend who is a gun at photography and has all the gear to come over and take some professional looking photos of our diy kitchen remodel for us.
He did a great job!
Real Estate quality photos 🙂
The wide angle lens really shows the whole layout!
I love the fridge so much. It has a special door-in-door feature where you can open just the top right panel for quick access.
And it also lights up when you knock on it so you can see what is inside without opening it an letting out the cool.
But the main feature, and something my wife and I have always wanted since we were kids, was a built in ice dispenser! Life goal achieved!
Here’s a good shot of the breakfast bar with the bi-fold windows open. Every morning we open them and sit there having our breakfast looking out at the trees.
A close-up of the island bench, and power point.
Another feature I added was this USB charging station. Since so many of my devices are charged using USB, I thought, let’s forgo the chunky wall plugs, and just keep the cables. Keeps it very neat and tidy when charging multiple things at once.
Also note in the previous photo the built-in microwave. We chose a black one that pretty much blends in and keeps out of the way, but at the same time is very convenient to access and use. Since we put in the extra shelf to lift the microwave up, we store our chopping boards under it.
Here’s where I put the rest of those bamboo trays. It really helps to keep everything nice and organised!
Another photo of the bamboo inserts in our cutlery drawer.
I wanted this diy kitchen remodel to be as functional as possible. They talk a lot about the golden triangle in kitchens, and the “two step dance”, so I tried to put everything in optimal locations. Here you can see the dishwasher opens directly opposite our main dish/cutlery drawers. You don’t even need to take *one* step to empty it. You just lift it straight out and put in straight away.
Our dishwasher is also a dual drawer one, so being a couple, with not many dishes, we can fill up each half as we go and put it on without having a normal dishwasher half empty.
I had some fun opening every cupboard in the kitchen to show how much we can store.
Since we used wall cabinets under the island bench, they also double as an additional storage location.
The sink we chose didn’t have a built-in drip tray, but it came with one as an attachment. We think this is the best of both worlds, as we gain extra bench space when we want to cook, but also get the benefit of being able to wash a lot of dishes when we need to.
I really like the roll out drip tray too – only $20 from amazon.
We hosted the Game Of Thrones season 8 opener last night, so had a fair few dishes to do 🙂
And we’re done!! The final kitchen photo you have to look at!
Thank you so much for reading. As I said, this diy kitchen remodel is my proudest achievement to date. Thank you for all the tips and advice you have given me over the last 5 years – I doubt I will ever do something this big again, but if I do, you can be assured I will take lots of photos.
A big round of applause for @notadeckofcards and the best DIY kitchen remodel we’ve ever posted. The scope of this project was truly impressive, not to mention the vast array of skills that were learned and demonstrated along the way.
If nothing else, I hope this post will serve as inspiration for you to pull the trigger on that big diy project you’re thinking about. If this diy kitchen remodel can be done by someone who does not work in the trades for a living, then you too can accomplish your task at hand.
Be confident, be resourceful, and do your research! Thanks for reading; if you liked this post then check out out other DIY posts.