Before my husband and I moved to east Texas about two years ago, we lived in Austin — him for 30 years and me for 20.
About a month before we met and eventually married, I had finished the major remodel of my little cottage in north central Austin, taking it from 896 square feet to 1,618 square feet.
This is the first of several posts about my renovation project. Today you’ll see the “before” and “after” photos of my kitchen transformation.
MY KITCHEN “BEFORE”:
The original kitchen was very tiny and incredibly outdated. Forget about modern conveniences like a dishwasher.
Cabinetry and drawer space? You see it in this one photo. Same thing with counter space. I had about 2 feet on either side of the sink to prepare meals, make coffee, and dry dishes.
The tile countertops and floor always felt dirty no matter how much I scrubbed.
The only redeeming feature of my original kitchen was that it looked kind of cute with its open shelves. I tried to make things pretty as best I could with old glass jars, teacups, and plates.
I ate out a lot. Also, with limited prep area, I ate mostly one-dish meals.
If you noticed the Charlie brown tree at the end of the cabinetry …
… it hid a really bad patch job that resulted when I ripped out a LARGE ugly peninsula. The peninsula did provide useful storage, but it also made the kitchen feel much smaller than it already was, plus I needed room for my table.
(This table also served as a desk. That large notebook you see is full of house remodeling ideas.)
Truthfully, the patch job behind the little tree didn’t bother me much. I knew the long-term plan was to renovate … so I just lived with it.
On the north wall of the kitchen was the connection for the gas range. To the left of the range was the back door.
Why the construction company ever put the back door in a corner, I’ll never know for sure. One plausible theory is that my Austin cottage, originally built in 1949, was a kit home, so they just built it according to the directions.
All I know is that it completely disrupted the flow of the entire kitchen!
There was just enough room to squeeze by the refrigerator and range to open the back door. There was no easy fix, so I just lived with it.
There was no room for the microwave, other than on top of the refrigerator, so I used my little white stepladder often.
The pine cabinet you see? That was my pantry.
The hand-drawn papers on the side of the refrigerator were the original layout designs I drew up using graph paper …
… and ideas I’d torn out of magazines for years.
Call it “creating a vision for what the house could be”. Call me a control freak … or frugal. I just had a list of “must have this” and “would be nice to have that”, and I wanted to design in every single one of those things into the renovation.
Months later, when I was ready to take the plunge, I did hire an architect to get ready for the city permitting process.
I was a single gal at the time, and it’s not like I needed more than 800 square feet. However, the horrible kitchen really did justify the huge expense and time investment of a major renovation. All of the below factors impacted my decision to renovate:
- I knew I had to move the back door to a better location.
- The tile floors and countertops had to go. They were that ugly.
- I wanted more storage for dishes, pots and pans, and food pantry items.
- I needed much more space to prep food. I couldn’t survive on Taco Bell and Hamburger Helper forever.
- I wanted modern conveniences like a dishwasher and garbage disposal.
- I wanted my microwave to be more accessible.
MY KITCHEN “AFTER”:
Fast forward through all the site work, framing, electrical, plumbing, drywall, (and etc.) work (which I’ll write about some other time), and this was the final kitchen.
Quite a difference, huh.
Here’s a few details that may interest you:
- I installed reclaimed oak flooring from an architectural salvage business in Austin. (Remember, this remodel was well before my husband and I started our salvage business, so I didn’t have an inventory of reclaimed wood.) After cleaning and refinishing work, the oak flooring almost exactly matched the original oak flooring.
- My carpenter installed new beadboard on the ceilings, walls, pony wall, island, and backsplash. I painted all the beadboard white. Post remodel, visitors frequently asked if it was original to the house, a testament to the enduring vintage quality of beadboard.
- Reclaimed corbels support the island overhang. Old corbels are also mounted in the doorway between the kitchen and living room. You can see a close-up of them here.
- The black countertops are not granite or soapstone but a solid surface material, by Richlite. Made from paper, it’s a sustainable product.
- The round contraption on the ceiling in the center of the room is a sun tunnel, basically a small skylight. Since there were no windows in the kitchen, the sun tunnel provided plentiful natural light.
It was definitely a labor of love, and I was so proud of what I accomplished. Let me know what you think about the transformation!
I’ll be posting more articles about my Austin home renovation in the coming weeks so stay tuned!