home: snowpeak retreat kitchen makeover

Monday, April 23, 2018

It’s been nearly a year since we purchased a great little place in Truckee, California and we were so excited to start on projects that would give it new life (see my design inspiration here). We use it as a vacation house to get away from the city, and started using it for rental income last year before the holidays. To get it ready, we put a lot of sweat equity into the space.

The biggest project so far has been the kitchen overhaul which essentially had us remove every cabinet and start over. Although a great idea at first, we had quite the dramatic start. Instead of going through the horrible details of the cabinet delivery, Home Depot did eventually help us get those cabinets to the right location on the appropriate day. (Since they totally redeemed themselves, I won’t outline our experience, but the lesson here is to remain persistent and not curl up and cry. Girl bosses need to be persistent!)

After the mess from above, my brother leaned in on the small kitchen update. If you have been paying attention, he also helped us remodel our first kitchen in 2014 and clearly passed our critical evaluation with flying colors. For this project, we pulled out the old kitchen and installed the upper and lower cabinets in 30 hours.

Installation Process
To prepare, I carefully measured the space, appliances (we were not planning on replacing) and windows. I decided to use the same Hampton Bay Shaker cabinets in our current kitchen and worked with Home Depot’s design studio on the layout and cabinets I would need. The great thing about using the design studio is that they identify all those other “pieces” you don’t think about: spacers, toe kicks, etc.

We removed the old cabinets and posted them for free on Craigslist to a new home (eventually, they were picked up and reused). After a good clean-up, jokes about how the old cabinets were installed, we got to work installing the upper cabinets.

We kept to the same layout but instead added a corner cabinet to make the dishes inside more accessible, and had the cabinets flush with the ceiling (instead of adding space for custom molding). That made them 42" tall.

For the lowers, we replaced a three-drawer cabinet with a blind corner cabinet because that space was not being utilized before, and added a cabinet between the stove and refrigerator. Just these two lower cabinets added so much storage to the kitchen that did not exist before.

  • The ceiling is not level. Because of this, I added a 1 inch trim piece that had to be filled at one end of the wall so that it didn’t look off center. We weren’t about to install cabinets that were not level, so we had to manipulate the trim with a little savvy caulking.
  • The existing linoleum didn’t completely cover the floor in front of the cabinets. I had to add additional plywood at the toe kicks before adding the fronts to extend the space past the linoleum.
For the counters, I wanted something brown in tone to balance the wood beams and ceiling in the unit. I wasn’t super particular about material and asked for options. We called local businesses to find the best deal on counters and installation (and timing!), and landed on a great company that offered the color and gradient I was looking for in a granite material.

After my experience adding a backsplash to my own kitchen, I decided to skip that project in this kitchen remodel. Instead, I added a 4.5" granite continuation to keep it clean. Some touch up paint on the walls and framing, and we are set!

Next up: replace the fluorescent lighting with recessed.

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