10 kitchen renovation tips

We used an old Formica table and bookcase as the countertop and pantry.

Things I learned during our recent kitchen renovation:

1. Have one detail-oriented person be in charge during all design meetings and be present during all installation visits. She or he can then make sure the project stays on track and to make informed decisions as they come up during the installation.

2. Be courteous to and reasonable with your designer and general contractor. They can be your greatest allies.

3. Take samples of your cabinet wood, countertop, tile and paint to your house. They will look different colors under different lighting. At Home Depot, we picked out a wall tile that went well with the backsplash, but when we finally thought to place the samples against the actual wall, the tile looked so blah!  We had less than 24-hours to find a new tile. Love the new Floor Décor store less than a mile from our house!

Hodgepodge of furniture.

4. Take photos of the floor before installations. Put copy of install contract in photo so you can prove when the photos were taken. This way you can prove the floor was damaged during the installation.

5. Know your final design. Don’t rely on the cabinet builders to know how many shelves or drawers go in each cabinet. One of our contractors thought there were four drawers left over, when three of them were to be installed in a cabinet. I also discovered two shelves were missing.

6. Be patient. There will be hiccups. Something was not ordered, was on back-ordered or not delivered. Some problem will require yet another visit by a contractor. When our new stove was delivered, we discovered that the external  electrical outlet was in the way of the stove’s back leg so the stove could not be placed flush against the wall. Fortunately, the contractor was able to move the outlet over a couple inches, solving the problem. When the new dishwasher was delivered, we discovered that the plumber had not put in the appropriate water/waste line connections so the plumber had to come back for another visit.

I sold the Formica table and bookcase. We’re using a folding camping table as countertop.

7. Check to make sure there are no leaks after the sink and faucet has been installed. If there are leaks, take a video of them.

8. Be upfront with your designer. I was willing to spend money for some features, but I saved a lot of money by letting our designer know up front that I wanted to know where I could cut costs. Why spend all that money for the built-in silverware divider when a regular drawer and an organizer from Target will do just fine?

9. Be prepared for challenges caused by unlevel the floors, walls and ceilings. These unlevel surfaces will be more apparent as the perfectly level countertops and cabinets are placed. We have a window ledge above the sink that is crooked and seemed more crooked by the level backsplash and small square tiles around it. The contractor minimized the problem by cutting the bottom piece of window trim, about 3/4-inch thick on one end and 1.4 inches on the other side, so that the bottom of the piece aligned with the tiles.

10. Keep all your receipts together in one organizer. This helped me find receipts when returning extra bits for refunds after the project is over.


Removed the former buffet that was placed between the pillars. The kitchen seems so huge without all the random bits of furniture. Love our reclaimed heart pine flooring.
Kitchen space filled with new cabinets in their boxes.
Gene and I did the demo to remove the old sink and surrounding counter tops, shelves and cabinets around them. Removing the old tile above the countertop really messed damaged the wall. And that gapping hole by the water connections – now I see how the palmetto bugs were getting into the house! You can also see where the reclaimed heart pine flooring we put in ends, then there is a smidge of black/white tile set on top of the cement pad floor.
Unpacking the cabinets for the service bar.
Unpacking the cabinets that go by the sink.
Cabinets in place along the long wall.
Upper and lower cabinets going into place.
The two cabinets that go between the lower cabinets and the air duct cannot be installed until the countertop is placed.
Service bar cabinets are in place.
Divider wall and cabinets above the fridge are in place. Not happy with the damage done to the floor during this part of the project when they moved the fridge.
Countertops go in!
Sink is in position!
Copper metallic tile being placed on the wall after new sheetrock is installed.
Copper metallic tile all in place before coffee with cream colored grout is applied.
New stove installed. Bit of a hiccup when delivery man discovered leg of stove hit the exterior stove outlet, so outlet had to be moved about three inches before the stove could be placed flush against the wall. Note of fun: The inside of the oven is cobalt blue!
First plumber did not put in the hookups for the dishwasher, so the delivery folks could not install it. So this is the second plumber who came to put in the water and waste lines and to hook up the new dishwasher.
Ta! Da! The final kitchen, though we are still trying to resolve a small sink leak.
The final service bar!
The final installation of the long wall cabinets. Bit of a challenge installing with the uneven floor, wall and underside of the air duct.

About Kristine K. Stevens

Book Cover200Kristine is the author of "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It Isn't Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around the World." This nonfiction book tells the story of how she sold her house, quit her job and traveled around the world.

Kirkus Book Review: "... Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator ... plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read... An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places."

Next travel book to spotlight Iceland

25817249396_f6c787ef9f_z Kristine broke free from a desk job once again, and this time ended up volunteering in the far corners of Iceland!

Details about the release of this book will be posted on Facebook.