Here I am sitting on the dock at Ardagh Cottages on the shore of beautiful Lovesick Lake in the Kawartha Lakes in central Ontario. We always look forward to this vacation, but even more so this year as this was the summer we renovated our kitchen ourselves.

Let’s see, it all started last fall. We had a leak in our bath tub in the bathroom directly above our kitchen which resulted in me cutting a hole in the kitchen ceiling to find the source of the leak. Much to my dismay the leak was not located where I thought it would be but it was in the fawcet and could have been repaired without ripping open the kitchen ceiling.

The gaping hole in the ceiling, which was temporarily covered with a scrap piece of drywall and screwed on top of the existing ceiling, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When friends came over to visit they asked if this was a new decorating technique – Early Blitzkrieg!

So we decide it was time and after several months of planning and deciding on such things as flooring, backsplash, cabinets, and countertop it was time to start the renovations. I assured my wife it would only be two weeks from start to finish – my first big mistake!

The part of the ceiling where I had made the hole had to be ripped out. Unfortunately for me there was the old wood lath and plaster ceiling as well as the new plaster ceiling applied over it during the last kitchen reno. Then of course the floor joists for the second floor are not level and have to be shimmed, ecetera. Then the new drywall is installed and taped and sanded. No matter how well you seal a room that dust goes everywhere. Just another thing I told my wife wouldn’t happen.

We decided to go with the Ikea cabinets even though we had heard some horror stories about people installing them themselves. The sales staff at the store were very helpful and provided us with many helpful hints. My best advice to people who are installing their own Ikea cabinets – Do Not Doubt Mr. Ikea!! Just when you think they screwed up you follow the instructions to the letter and it will all work out. Now that they are installed we are very happy with the quality of the cabinets and how they function.

The only real frustrating moments we had were due to our house being almost 90 years old and the methods of construction were not quite the same as today so nothing is even close to being square. So there were some very challenging moments.

Yes we did the cabinets ourselves and I even installed the new dishwasher, but there are certain things you need to leave to the professionals. The new sub-floor and flooring was supplied and installed by Hamilton Carpet and Tile and they did a fantastic job. The counter tops were supplied and installed by We R Tops in Burlington. Andy did a great job with a very difficult installation (remember nothing is square) and was extremely clean while doing so.

I’ll leave you all with a few tips:

  • Take plenty of time to plan and then review
  • Order you materials to ensure you receive them on time – you don’t want to be holding up trades for a scheduled installation because of lack of material
  • Do only those things that you are capable of – everyone else’s job always looks easy – leave the rest for the pro’s
  • Always tell your wife it will be very messy and it will take 2 to 3 times longer than you think – if it is not as messy and you are done sooner you will be her HERO!

So, how long did it actually take? About five weeks and we still need to replace the light fixtures and have the backsplash installed. Would I do it again? Maybe, now that I have a better idea on how to make the process run a little smoother and keep my wife a little happier.

Good luck to all of you who are contemplating doing their own renovation and let us know how you make out.

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