An Elegant Kitchen on a Budget
Savvy owner-remodelers share their thrifty shopping strategies.
Synopsis: When designer/builder Alex Nerland showed his wife a dilapidated two-unit building he had just visited, she said that they had to buy it. Nothing in the building had ever been renovated, so the couple could start with a blank canvas. They decided that they would move into the upper unit, where the kitchen was buried in the back and the front contained a parlor and a “fainting room” — a feature peculiar to Victorian houses. One of their key decisions was to move the kitchen to the front of the house. For less than $10,000, they outfitted their new kitchen with a six-burner range, granite countertops, a refrigerator, a dishwasher, an oven hood, and various lights and fixtures. They looked for bargains online and at local big-box and outlet stores. Ultimately, they transformed a three-bedroom/one-bath flat into one with four bedrooms and 2-1/2 baths, and they grouped the living areas in the front and the bedrooms in the back.
My wife and I didn’t really know if we were looking for a house project, yet there I was, touring a bunch of properties toward the end of 2008 with a real-estate-agent friend of mine. When I walked up the stairs of one particular two-unit building, I was blown away by the Victorian facade, the 12-ft.-tall ceilings, and the incredible amount of work it needed. The brick foundation was in terrible shape, to the point that the central post supports looked more like a Jenga game in progress than actual supports. Every wall in the upper unit had to be scraped, sanded, and replastered. The downstairs toilet flushed into the garage, and most of the walls had fist-size holes or bigger. There was even a 120-lb. pit bull prowling the backyard.
It was beyond what I thought I had…