Kitchen Reno


4 Tips for a Faster, Less Expensive Remodel

No one likes living in dust. So why torture yourself longer than necessary?

1. Start with a list.

My mom loves lists. When I was little, she thought a fun Christmas gift would be to give my sister and I note pads with “Janel’s To Do List” and “Karen’s To Do List” at the top. At the time, we definitely didn’t share her love of lists. But times have changed.

Knowing where to plan first, will save you time and money in the long run. For this project, let’s start with a simple list of Materials and Labor for a kitchen remodel. Let’s get rid of this boring, dated kitchen!

Materials: cabinets, cabinet pulls, countertop, backsplash + grout, floor tile + grout + hardiebacker, double sink with shutoff valves, faucet, dishwasher, fridge, gas range, ductless hood, light fixture, 3 white GFI outlets + face plates, outlet and plumbing for dishwasher, paint.

Labor: demo + haul debris, install cabinets (including trim pieces, toe kicks, cabinet handles, shelves, and crown molding), install undermount sink with shutoff valves, countertop, install pull down faucet, install appliances (dishwasher, range, hood, fridge), install new overhead light, new tile flooring, tile backsplash, replace electrical outlets, mud and sand walls not covered by new cabinets, paint, clean

2. Plan Ahead.

I ordered all the materials ahead of time, either for in-store pickup or delivery, and planned ahead to get the best deals. With the appliances, I was able to find great deals at least a month before demo, so I ordered them online, and delayed delivery until after the project was completed. This also gave me the flexibility to cancel my order, in case I no longer needed it, or I found a better deal.

With pictures, layouts, and a full list of materials and labor, I was able to get multiple quotes before the job started. I picked the best quality at the best rates, for contractors that I trusted would finish the job in the promised timeline. Then I kept in touch with them to ensure we were all on schedule. Make sure to get the budget, schedule, and list of what’s included in the labor in writing.

4 weeks before we planned demo, I got access to the unit to do all the measurements. When you’re measuring for kitchen cabinets, its important to make notes of: ceiling height, all wall lengths, where the windows and doors start and stop (and their midpoints), where all your plumbing is (start/stop/midpoint), and your outlets. This includes measuring the center of where the sink needs to be (or looking under the sink to note the distance between your wall and where the pipes begin). Then, keep in mind how many drawers you might need for storage vs cabinets. Also take a look at the height between the top of your fridge and the ceiling, so you can get the right height of cabinets above your fridge.

With these measurements and layout sketches in hand, I worked with my supplier to order the cabinets, trim, crown molding, and handles. If you are getting custom cabinets, it can take several weeks to get your order. When I’m working with my supplier, I always specify that I want in-stock, non-custom pieces. These keeps my timeline on schedule, and doesn’t kill my budget. Then I scheduled delivery for the day after demo, and made a note in my calendar to be onsite that day.

3. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. But know when to call the professionals.

Fast forward to demo day. My demo guy arrives on schedule, and completely demoes the kitchen within a few hours, and even breaks down the drawers and cabinets so its flat for hauling. Since he isn’t able to haul the debris for a few days, we roll up our sleeves and spend the next few hours getting everything out of there, instead of risking a schedule slip on day 1.

On day 2, I knew that all my cabinets and countertop would be arriving, but that my contractor wasn’t able to meet the delivery truck. Rather than delay my delivery (and the schedule!), I called in some extra muscle for a few hours. I knew that I couldn’t lift a 300 lb countertop, and a dozen or so heavy cabinets and accessories up a flight of stairs. Yikes! With the extra muscle, and a hand truck, we got the job done.

Keeping on top of your schedule, and your budget, will help make sure everything goes smoothly. Throughout this job, I was onsite most days, and kept in touch with my contractor. This is critical, so you know what the key milestones are for completion, and when you can expect to check those off the list.

4.Have a Plan B, or C, because your original plan will absolutely go astray.

The best laid plans? Or something like that…

Plan for something to go wrong, and if it doesn’t, great! Having contingency plans in place will help keep your project moving, but it will also help you from losing your mind when it seems like everything is going wrong.


  • Cabinets: White Shaker with Satin Nickel Pulls
  • Counter: Quartz in Raven
  • Backsplash: 6 x 24″ Carrera Marble Tile with Platinum Non-Sanded Grout (for 1/8″ grout lines)
  • Floor Tile: 12 x 24″ MARAZZI Vettuno Greige Glazed Porcelain with Oyster Gray Non-Sanded Grout
  • Range: 30″ Whirlpool Freestanding 5.1-cu ft Gas Range
  • Range Hood: Broan Non-Ducted Under-Cabinet Range Hood, 30-Inch, Stainless Steel
  • Fridge: Apartment Size Frigidaire 15 cu. ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator
  • Sink: Ruvati Undermount 16 Gauge 29″ Kitchen Sink Double Bowl
  • Faucet: Comllen Stainless Steel Commercial Single Handle Pull Down Faucet, Brushed Nickel