Real-Life Renovation: Kitchen Update Week…uh…6?

I keep meaning to write about our kitchen renovation, but it’s been a frustrating few weeks and I didn’t want to just vomit my grumbly frustrations all over the Internet while it was all so fresh. But I’m back to being in an okay place about it all, and after looking back on my last update, I’ve realized we’ve actually come a long way since then.

But first, I will actually write about the frustrations—it’s important for me to discuss them because this is, after all, a real-life renovation.

Our main frustrations have come from the IKEA cabinets. Along the wall with the door to the garage, we somehow ended up with 118″ of cabinets on the top, and 114.5″ of cabinets on the bottom — and only 111″ of wall! It took a lot of staring at the plans (Ryan) and trying not to cry (me) to figure out what the problem was. We determined that 3.5″ came from a glitch in IKEA’s planning software, and the other 3.5″ was probably due to our poor explanation of how our kitchen was laid out to the IKEA associate.

After talking with IKEA, we were able to switch out a 15″ top cabinet for a 12″ cabinet (this is what should have been in the plans originally) giving us 114.5″ on the top and bottom. The cabinets were even, but still too long — and there were no other cabinets we could exchange for smaller cabinets. So Ryan and I discussed it, and we decided to change out our current three-switch plate on that wall for a one-switch plate, moving the garage light switch and the island light switch elsewhere. This required quite a bit of rewiring (and also moving the water line for the fridge…again), but it allowed us to fit all the cabinets on the wall. Everything would just fit! Huzzah!

Three days later, we realized the panel to cover the right side of the fridge and cabinets was also missing from our plans. Another trip to IKEA, $130, and a crazy trip home with an 8′ x 3′ panel stuffed in the Volvo. AND it added another 5/8″ to our cabinet length. Doesn’t sound like much until you just don’t have 5/8″! So Ryan spent an afternoon chipping into the frame for the door that leads out to the garage, so we could inset our one remaining switch. So much work for a light switch! Gah!

So here are a few lessons learned if you are doing IKEA cabinets. First, don’t only measure your walls (twice), but before you buy your cabinets, add up the measurements for the cabinets in the plans. We didn’t do this and we paid for it. Also double, double check that all your panel pieces are included. The IKEA planner should make sure this is all covered, but we learned that they aren’t perfect so you want to make sure you’re covering the bases on your end.

Other than the cabinets, my biggest frustration is how slow everything seems to be going. We’ve been extremely busy lately, and since we’re doing most of the work ourselves, it feels stalled. Add that to having to backtrack on the wiring and it feels like molasses around here.

But here are the things we have accomplished in the last few weeks, and now that I’ve listed it all out, I can see that we’re making some progress!


We wanted to paint the two walls that would have cabinets, so we wouldn’t have to risk getting paint on the cabinets once they were installed. That turned into re-painting the entire living room, dining room, entry, and hallway. No photos of this yet, though you’ll see it in the background of other photos. I absolutely love the color (Gettysburg Gray by Kelley Moore), especially how much it’s brightened the room.

Fireplace Makeover

I wrote a little tongue-in-cheek post about repainting my fireplace. Even though it was quite the project (and my knuckles paid dearly), I really love how it turned out.

Real LIfe Kitchen Renovation

Filled the Trench

We dug a trench to run power to our island, but we had to fill it up. Once again, by “we” I mean “Ryan.” He’s so handy. It took several days to cure, but now it’s pretty much the most perfectly filled trench in history.

Real LIfe Kitchen Renovation

Real LIfe Kitchen Renovation

Built the Cabinets

As of right now, I have built all but one of our 23 cabinets. The last to build is the other enormous pantry, and we just don’t have the space to do it until we get some more of the cabinets installed! The cabinets are scattered and stacked all over our living room, dining room, and kitchen. If you come for a visit, you may have to sit inside a cabinet.

Real LIfe Kitchen Renovation

Installed the Upper Cabinets

We’re finally getting some of the cabinet installation done! It’s definitely something that makes me feel like we’re making progress. It’s starting to look like a kitchen around here!

Real LIfe Kitchen Renovation

IKEA cabinets are hung using a rail, and it was fairly easy to cut the rail down to size, level and hang it, and then hang all the cabinets along the wall on the rail.

Real LIfe Kitchen Renovation

Ryan leveled the cabinets and used special screws to connect the cabinets to each other, so we should be able to put shelves and doors on soon!

Real LIfe Kitchen Renovation

Now that we’re back in town after a trip to Seattle, this week we’re installing the lower cabinets and starting the cabinets in the dining room. Once all the cabinets are installed, we can get the counter people out to measure. Our floors are also in, so once the cabinets are installed, we can start on the floors! Hopefully it won’t take me three weeks to do another update!

Want to see more of our kitchen renovation? Check out the links below!

Our Experience Planning Our Cabinets at IKEA
Renovation “Before” Photos
Setting Up a Temporary Kitchen
Kitchen Renovation Week #1
Kitchen Renovation Week #2
How to Paint a Brick Fireplace


  1. Simple IKEA Hack: Narrow Console Table 229 views
  2. North West Quilt-As-You-Go Block Tutorial 80 views
  3. Our Wedding: Paper Flowers + Tutorial 64 views
  4. Bloomin’ Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial 62 views
  5. Tutorial — Easy-Sew Curtains 59 views
  6. DIY Color Block Paint Chip Artwork Tutorial 55 views
  7. Upcycled Thread Holder 54 views
  8. DIY Sewing and Craft Room Peg Board 23 views
  9. Let’s Eat Grandpa 20 views
  10. Handmade for Newtown Auction Pillow 17 views


  1. says

    You two are seriously so brave to take this on yourselves!! It’s coming along and I can’t wait to see the finished product! I think you were ripping everything out when I first discovered you :) :) Good luck friend…stay positive — you’ll be enjoying your kitchen in no time!
    Jessica Leigh recently posted..A New Dream // be debt freeMy Profile

  2. Marcia R. says

    I would happily sit inside one of your cabinets to have a nice visit with you! :-) I do think you guys are going to love and your kitchen even more because you have done most of the work yourselves. Sorry it’s given you some headaches, but my experience is that is par for the course.

  3. says

    All that assembly is a lot of work but you’re plowing through it nicely. I’m sure it’s going to look great once you’re done. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge