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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
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    the evergreen state!
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    1,253

    Default Kitchen: remodel or not to remodel?

    Hubs and i are talking about this a lot lately.

    We have a 1970's bi-level in a little suburban neighborhood we purchased a couple years ago, and it is now worth 60k less than we purchased it for. On top of that, we were forced to do early bathroom remodels and replace failing windows, so we've dumped about 30k into the house.

    This house is our first house and was intended to be our stepping stone- not permanent place.

    Right now we're faced with a kitchen dilemma. Slowly but surely stuff is breaking. the kitchen is old, and outdated.

    We're wrestling with remodeling it or not. On the one hand we think, "since we're stuck here we may as well do it and enjoy it" and on the other "why dump any more money into the beast."

    everyone tells us kitchens and bath's are what sell houses- but we're so far below what we paid for at this point it feels like it would be throwing money away.

    At the same time, why spend a little $ on fixing stuff as it breaks and end up with an outdated patch-work quilt kitchen?

    So, i'm just looking to see what YOUR theory is on this- and what you would do, or are doing if you are in this situation. i understand there are pros and cons to both, and just trying to weigh them.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 23, 1999
    Location
    Rosehill, TX
    Posts
    7,018

    Default

    if you are already 'down' $90k you're not going to recoup the $s until after you've been dead for a decade --- so make the changes that will make your life more comfortable and forget about getting any money back
    Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

    The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2007
    Location
    Western Washington
    Posts
    2,951

    Default

    How long do you intend to remain in the house, and how does your house compare to the neighborhood?

    Kitchen remodels can be outrageously expensive - moving walls, moving plumbing, electrical, etc.

    Or they can be reasonable, if you update the cabinets, flooring, and figure out, cosmetically, what makes sense for the rest of the house.

    But first, figure out a reasonable timeframe for how long you plan to be in the house. More and more people are deciding to stay in the home they're in and figure out a way to make it work for them. Obviously that won't work if it's a one-bedroom and you start a family or take in a parent.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
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    the evergreen state!
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    1,253

    Default

    the original plan was 5-7 years

    its a 3 bedroom 2.75 bath house, so its more than adequate to start a family (which we're on the fence about anyway)

    reality is now that time frame is in question. reality says its probably as long as it takes to minimize the loss.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2005
    Location
    Sunny CA.
    Posts
    305

    Default

    Do you have any other "big ticket" items looming, like a roof? If not, I'd say go for it.
    If appliances are going bad...replace them. You may be able to get a discount for buying more efficient stuff also. Stainless steel seems to be the most popular, and having them all match.
    Take a look at places like Home Depot for cabinets if they need to be replaced. Can you get away with just painting them? They also have a good selection of flooring and countertop materials. Granite tiles are less than slabs, and still nice.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 8, 2005
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    4,366

    Default

    I'd say remodel, so you can at least be happy with the kitchen while you're "stuck" there. But then, I have a DH that's a carpenter- we build our apartment attached to the barn (and the barn!) for less than most people pay for a kitchen remodel.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2006
    Posts
    2,449

    Default

    I am in the same situation....bought the house and now we are down a good $70k. Thing is we will simply stay here until the market improves, so we have fixed up 2 of the 3 bathrooms, and as soon as we have the funds will do the kitchen and the backyard. We figure if we ride out the market the prices are going to get better, and all the upgrades will make our house more marketable. Plus who doesn't love a pretty kitchen?



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 11, 2006
    Posts
    1,707

    Default

    If you and /or hubby are handy, you can do a lot of the work yourself. We remodeled our kitchen 2 yrs ago...did the demo ourselves and hung the new cabinets ourselves. only thing we had installed was the counter tops...cost about $3500 for the cabinets and $1800 for the countertops...new fridge$1000, new stove (can't remember - $900?) so all in all not THAT much for a totally new look...

    go for it. NO ONE really wants to move into a house with a crummy kitchen, so if selling is an option, i'd say remodel...



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2007
    Location
    Western Washington
    Posts
    2,951

    Default

    I'd call Kitchen Plus and if you're handy, figure out how much of the work you can do. They really work with homeowners so a plan works, you save money and end up with a beautiful kitchen.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 12, 2002
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    3,534

    Default

    The kitchen is one of the places you can make some money back, so I would go for it. It doesn't have to be expensive.

    If your cabinets are in good condition and you like the lay out of them, you can purchase new doors for them quite cheaply (check places like Texas Door Company). New doors can make a world of difference. If the cabinets are painted, you can always strip and stain them, or just paint them another color.

    I changed out the countertops in my house myself and it wasn't that hard. I've also put down hardwood floors myself and that's not too difficult either.

    Just changing cabinet doors, updating appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, and flooring (if needed) will be like a brand new kitchen even if you leave the floor plan the same. If the floor plan is not something you like, you can change it for more expense, but I would price out someone making you cabinets as opposed to pre-fabbed from a big box store. Those things are quite often made from chip board/mdf type products and are just crap with a laminate over them. The fronts may be wood, but the rest of them is not. Also, depending on how well your current cabinets are made, you may be able to salvage them and move them around.

    I work for a company that designs and builds custom turn-key homes and I used to design kitchens for a living, so feel free to PM any questions you might have.
    Rhode Islands are red;
    North Hollands are blue.
    Sorry my thoroughbreds
    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,423

    Default

    If the cabinet wood is good, then reface including new doors, new drawers or drawer fronts and you do the reface and door replacement yourself. This will take one day or two, then you replace the countertops with either generic predone ones from a big box (they have laminate in two or three designs) or you get an end of season or clearance quartz or granite from the manufacturer, usually their price includes installation. You can probably reuse your current sink if it's metal (don't refinish an enamel sink unless the refinisher is a good, competent pro or it won't last). And you get a nice faucet not the $500 dollar model, and get the installers to put it in when they install the sink and do the plumbing.

    If the drawers and doors are in good shape you can repaint them (chocolate brown is great), and put on new hardware very cheaply. There are always cheaper models of hardware (contractor packs) or clearance specials at the big box stores. If there's a Habitat for Humanity store you could save big on used items. If there's a cabinet outlet near you the drive might be worth it, and you can install yourself or find an installer who will put them in for you. You can do the floors yourself (sealed cork is very nice and relatively cheap compared to some other options) or do closeout neutral tile and get an installer or do it yourself too. If you want to do a tile backsplash a great way is to use 4" x 4" bathroom tiles (they come in various colors) and behind the stove (or other places you want accents) use two 12" x 12" glass or colorful and coordinating block of mesh backed 1" x 1" tiles-you can do this yourself. To save on appliances there are huge warehouses that are icky to go through, are not cute and bright, and require a lot of work on your part, but you can save a bundle especially on coordinated sets of applicances. If anything requires professional installation you can get the plumber out when you do the sink, etc so you only have one service call. You can also get end of season (yes, appliances have a season) deals, or scratch and dent floor models too and save. You can remodel for a good price, but just don't get carried away and start writing checks for things you don't need. You definitely can do this, but don't overdo it for the neighborhood or put in features you don't need to.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun. 2, 2002
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    6,227

    Default

    Another way to think of it, in addition to some remodeling making your life easier for the time you are there, is that you are going to have to be able to sell it to be able to move on. And if your kitchen is completely outdated, it makes it all the more difficult to sell your house and puts you behind your competition. So, it might be worth doing something, but weighing how far you take it and carefully budgeting what you want to spend and what gets you the most bang for the buck. THere are a lot of little things you can do yourself too, even down to changing the hardware on your cabinets.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    the evergreen state!
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    1,253

    Default

    Thank you all for your input- it is greatly appreciated!

    Unfortunately for us, the current layout is horridly boxed in and small, the cabinets are tiny AND made completely of particle board w/ some sort of plasticy sheeting stuff on them that is meant (i think ) to look faux wood and is chipping, cracking, and peeling right off. There is a dropped ceiling which means the cabinets are teeny- hardly any room for food, no pantry at all...nada.

    The floor is an ugly sheet of vinyl. the countertops, while small and restricted, are stained and do not allow for really any room to actually cook- not for more than 1 person, anyway!

    All the appliances would need to replaced- as they are generally ALL old and faulty in some way.

    the sink is leaking (a new problem, YAY! (oh and did you know particle board swells like a sponge when its wet! LOL))

    So the work would be plentiful, AND expensive, which is why this is such a difficult decision to make.

    When i write down all the problems, it actually makes it obvious that we really need to do something. its just a matter of what we can do within a reasonable budget that will give us more function (at this point beauty and asthetics are a back seat to me! LOL) and not make us feel like we poured $$ into something we shouldnt have done. I think our main problem is going to be figuring out how to maximize the limited space without going nuts $$ wise.

    Thanks again, everyone!!



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2000
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    2,387

    Default

    I have an older house (60 yrs old) that still has original cabinets. When I bought it 10 years ago, I painted cabinets and put in a new (cheap) countertop.
    Like you, I need to do something with the kitchen. The portable(!) dishwasher is broken, the cooktop with pushbuttons doesnt work properly, the peel-and-stick tiles on the floor are coming up, I dont want to paint the cabinets again, and even the ceiling is damaged! I just have a hard time spending money on a kitchen when I don't really cook!
    So first I went the crazy route and got the kitchen guys in for an estimate and wanted more cabinets and appliances moved etc. It took me months to recover from the shock of those estimates! Unfortunately DIY is not really possible for me beyond paint and minor carpentry. And the cabinets are badly organized and built in place so total replacement is the only option.
    Now I am looking at a more conservative remodel. I would keep most of the layout, but still gut the kitchen to the studs (yes, even the walls are bad!) Cabinets just above builder grade, simple appliances including keeping the white fridge and a less expensive countertop.
    So I look at it as what I could live with without having to struggle or constantly repair things. It also would be less offensive to buyers should I sell. Current kitchen would likely kill a sale! I will likely have it done next summer when I can stand the mess.
    I think getting over the dream kitchen "must haves" will help. Sounds like your's like mine, will be much improved and easier to live with with some work, but designer style is not necessary! An "acceptable" kitchen would make your life easier. And if/when you do sell, it will not likely prevent a sale as your current kitchen would.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
    Location
    NorthEast
    Posts
    24,499

    Default

    If more function, less scary looking but not House Beautiful is required...and since you've already lost a lot of equity:
    Look into an appliance suite. Most places sell a full set of kitchen applainces a lot cheaper than buying them piece by piece. Not to mention many makers offer really decent rebates with a full or partial package. (one package we bought was mid-grade fridge, cooktop and dishwasher and our rebates equalled $450. Last package we bought was an entire suite except for the cooktop but adding in double wall ovens and our savings and rebates totalled $2200! High end but not top of the line)
    The white packages are the least expensive too.

    Then look into Ikea for cabinets. I also suck out loud at DIY stuff but can demo a kitchen and hang new cabinets. (takes 2 people though, tried it myself and ended up on the floor under some cabinets, LOL)

    Counter tops...look into butcher block and/or stainless steel. Least expensive, less than cheap laminates and a much better and more desirable look and utility than laminates. You can mix the two and they look really nice.

    Flooring...ceramic tiles aren't that expensive and although slightly time consuming to put in yourself if you've never done it before they're surprisingly easy to do! You can find them in 12x12" beiges and creams (most common colors) for less than $1 psf. Rent the tile cutter for the day after you've laid out the tiles and marked the ones needing cutting, the cutter is really simple too. Spacers make it simple, just use thick knee pads.

    I've redone rental kitchens before like this (no Ikea then but found similar cabinets for low cost) on my own dime because I couldn't last through a year's lease with the kitchens already there and have redone a 10x10 l-shaped basic layout for less than $5k. Of course that was a while back when I rented and was young. But I've also had home sellers redo kitchens this way for very little cost when I've listed homes in the past that were just too aged and dated to even try to market that way. Usually probate homes with 1940s-1970s kitchens.

    Here's a $1400 Ikea kitchen remodel:
    http://sanfrancisco.apartmenttherapy...s/kitchen2.jpg
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,423

    Default

    Another possibility is available if you live near a kitchen showroom. The places that have big kitchen setups sell them when they change styles. I knew someone who bought an entire kitchen for very little, real wood cabinets and the island, and then had to do a couple of fill-in cabinets to fit their space. And you might even get a deal on installation too, if you don't want to tackle it yourself.

    And I second the IKEA cabinet idea. They have entire kitchens for a very good price. I think you have to put the cabinets together but you can do that yourself with very little skill (the directions are very good). And I bet you could find someone to demo the kitchen very cheaply. And even if your current cabinets are awful someone will want them for a garage or workshop. Maybe the demo guys or the installers (you hire them yourself not through a big box store) will want them.

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/ here's the main IKEA page, and they have specials for kitchens also. They are very stylish, good quality, and easy to install (they have a channel you put on the wall I think). Here's the kitchen page with a planner:
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/ca...tments/kitchen
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    the evergreen state!
    Posts
    1,253

    Default

    Ahhh wee update. First- thank you all for your input...you tipped the scales in favor of the remodel.

    We've since had our contractor out and are waiting on a bid. We've also had some really good conversations about it, and the plan is basically to remodel the kitchen- just a matter of when- probably in the spring/summer.

    Maybe on the July OT day I'll be able to post "before/after pictures"...or, knowing our contractor..."before/during"



  18. #18
    Join Date
    May. 11, 2007
    Posts
    437

    Default

    You could have been talking about my kitchen! We remodeled and have been very happy. My kitchen was also very small with no cabinet space, we solved that by knocking down the wall between the kitchen and dinning room. I made a cabinet peninsula where the wall was, it opened the space up and gave us a lot more storage room. Good luck!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2000
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    10,275

    Default

    Your post could have been mine. We have a goofy bi-level house, out in the country which should have been a "temporary" home but that was 17 years ago. Now the daughters are grown and gone so there is plenty of space....and an tiny, outdated kitchen.

    We just signed a contract with a builder to redo the kitchen. It was so worth it to have his eye help pick out the cabinets. He has created a couple elevations that will make it look sweet and created a pantry for me using wall cabinets. I'm getting 2' more counter space which will nearly double the counter space I have now, no kidding. I went with the Coriane counter with the intergrated sink. No more goo gathering around the edge of the sink or leaks under the sink.

    We'll put in new floor covering too.

    To save some money we will remove the existing cabinets and pull up the existing Pergo floor.

    Good luck with your plans!



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul. 26, 2007
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    940

    Default

    On the cheap:

    New appliances-nothing like inefficient, crappy old ones to ruin your mealtimes

    Floors: use an attractive stick tile

    Cabinets: Sand, repaint and add new hardware

    Countertops: shop 2nds aisles, craigslist or spring for inexpensive laminate tops

    Lighting-new or 2nds fixtures

    Paint-bright new coat of paint

    Do all the work yourself-of course any re-wiring or re-plumbing should be done by pros.



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