We've been enjoying our new kitchen! Before we give you a tour, I thought it would be interesting to show you how our old kitchen looked before we renovated it (we were packing up, hence the emptiness and messy counter):
It served us reasonably well for the past eight years or so, and saw us through many gatherings and the arrival of both our boys. Here's some lessons we've learnt from our first time kitchen reno:
:: Getting the cheapest contractor that you can find may not be a good idea:
We were on a tight budget when we first renovated our home. After all, there were all the wedding expenses, plus we had not been working for too long. So we opted to get a really cheap contractor, and worked with one of those large companies to get our place done. Unfortunately, we were assigned to an inexperienced young man (even younger than us!), who managed to mess up quite a few aspects of the renovation. It came to a point that when he assured us "No problem!", we started expecting some problem to crop up! Also, the company used lower quality materials for the renovations, which didn't last the test of time, so we learnt that sometimes its better to pay a little more, for stuff that would last longer.
:: Cabinet heights are important:
One major booboo our contractor made was not factoring in the thickness of the countertop, resutlting in the counter being too high. By the time we found out, it was too late for them to redo all the cabinets, so we had to live with a higher countertop. It did cause some inconvenience, since I found it difficult to reach the higher shelves of the wall cabinets as well as the upper level of the dish rack (I had to tip-toe sometimes!), and my mum would actually resort to doing the dishes while standing on a step-stool. Because of the raised counter, they discovered that the hob to hood distance was not optimal, so they had to cut out the counter section which held the hood and lowered that section, which made cleaning all those extra greasy corners harder.
:: If you are using solid surface countertops, avoid dark colours:
The material that was used for our countertop was of lower quality (our current interior designer remarked that some parts of the counter were not sealed and polished properly), and scratches started showing up within a year of using the kitchen. In general, scratches show up more prominently with darker colours, and this is also the case for water marks. I'm not sure if this would be the case for better quality solid surface counters, but we've been advised to use granite or quartz for our counters as these are scratch resistant.
:: Ensure your rubbish chute is working well:
During the renovations, the workmen only inserted the chute into the wall, but failed to seal the sides shut. We kept wondering why the roaches kept visiting us! When we found out, we sealed the sides with silicon glue. Unfortunately, the cover of the chute was a little jammed, so some days the chute was accidentally left ajar, which meant the occasional roach still crept in. We did try to ensure that we always closed the chute properly, and got rid of the roaches using roach bait, however, during the one year that we were overseas (our bible study group still met at our place when we were away) the roaches came back. And they more or less left their mark on the cabinetry (and oh gosh, the smell that refuses to go!), which was one reason why we decided to overhaul the kitchen when we returned.
:: Drawers might provide better storage than shelves:
We had a combination of drawers and shelves for the lower cabinets, and found that drawers worked better for storage, since you could access the things stored at the back. However, on hindsight, it is a worthwhile investment to pay for better quality runners for the drawers (eg. those from Blum), since these are usually the first things to spoil due to the high amount of usage. We were given the ordinary runners, which jammed after awhile. Also, if you're planning to put heavy items (eg. pyrex/ovenware) in the drawers, plan to put them in the smaller drawers and not the larger ones.
How about you? Any kitchen renovation tips to share?
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