Kitchen · Rental · Rental Renovations

Rental Rehab Part 4: Kitchen Renovation

Everyone knows that you are supposed to spend most of your budget on the kitchen.  It’s one of the most used spaces and so, you will always get your money back.  Well, I should say, you’ll get your money back so long as you upgrade and renovate based on what’s reasonable for your area.  If you’re putting in solid gold fixtures, for example, and you live in an area where homes are priced around $100-250k, you’re not getting that back…and frankly, you have horrible taste anyways so….(wait, do gold fixtures actually exist?)

I shared some of the before photos in my post here but, they are also below.  Wall 1 below is essentially the main wall, which holds the stove top and oven as well as the sink.  There is a little radiator behind the lower right cabinet, which you can’t see in the photos, but it’s there.

Kitchen Wall 1
Wall 1

The upper wall of the photo below looks like a cabinet, but this is a fully-functioning 1960’s refrigerator, which is pretty cool.

Kitchen Hallway
Hallway to Utility room on the Left of Wall 1

This back wall has some extra storage cabinets that I wanted to keep but, when we started laying out the new kitchen, it made more sense to remove these. Plus, they needed a lot of work that we just decided it wouldn’t be worth the time and effort.

Kitchen Back Wall
Back wall by the back door

This photo shows the view when you enter in through the back door.  You see the main wall on the left there (and the old refrigerator is to your left on the wall).

Back Entry to Kitchen
View when you enter through the back door


My husband did most of the tear-out himself, which saved us some money.  He removed the drywall carefully (and wore a mask) because we weren’t sure what was behind it.  He used to do this type of work when he was younger so, he’s very familiar with how to handle old materials. Below is a photo of the main wall (Wall 1) where the stove and sink were located.

Belos you can see what we were left with before he tore out the back wall with the refrigerator.  You can even see the new roof above it all.

He put in new ceiling and wall beams to prepare for new drywall.  Lumber can be expensive.  We got some good pricing and materials from a local lumber yard.  Clearly, we hadn’t addressed the electrical wires at this stage…

We hired an electrician to come in and run new wire through ought most of the house, including the kitchen.

He did a great job and gave us a great price…I think it helped that he was a neighbor-friend and so, he did a lot as a favor. We also removed the radiator (we’ll put in a new source of heat in another location TBD because the kitchen creates a lot of heat on its own.

With electrical done, my husband put in the insulation himself.  Again, this saved money.  We used these nifty insulation support rods from Home Depot that help to keep the insulation in place on the ceiling.  We used R-13 value on the walls and filled in the ceiling with a roll of fiberglass insulation R-30 value.  To see more on R values, read this article.

The paper rolls can be stapled into the wood to keep it in place.The Family Handyman has some tips on insulating walls.

With the insulation and electricity complete, we hired someone to install new drywall.

Then we planned out our cabinet layout.  We went to Northeast Factory Direct and their kitchen designer gave us several plans that we could tweak to our liking.  Once we finalized our design, we ordered the cabinets and they delivered for an insanely reasonable price.



While we waited for the cabinets to be delivered, we started painting the walls.  We chose the same blue for the bathroom as well.  First, we primed it (new drywall soaks up a lot of paint) and then we painted it.


Then we decided on a darker black granite countertop.  We were able to give them the kitchen design from Northeast Factory Direct so we had measurements correct. We had a contractor friend help us with the install.


Then came the flooring….

We initially bought this beautiful tile from Lowes and had a contractor install it. We paid him $300 deposit and when he completed we realized that it was done horribly.  The floor was a little uneven and instead of adjusting accordingly, he put down the tile and the edges of some of the pieces stuck up. It wasn’t the best work and when we asked him to fix it, he refused and bailed on the job.


With the countertops and cabinetry installed, it was time to buy appliances.  We bought our refrigerator from the Sears Outlet in Willoughby and the stove, microwave, dishwasher, stainless sink and sink faucet from Lowes.  With our Lowe’s card we got 5% off and they gave us an additional discount for buying all at one time.  We’ve always had great customer service there so, we usually start our shopping there and use it as a base point.

In all, we probably invested $10k into this space and still have some minor finishing details to complete (like molding, baseboards and the shutters on the window).

Here are some more photos of the overall project during the progress of our work.


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