DIY Dork's Kitchen & Dining Room Renovation

When we first looked at the barn house, we knew the kitchen & dining room area would have to be changed. The original idea was that we could “live with it” for the time being until we really decided how we wanted to change it. But once the papers were signed and it was officially ours… we realized how gross everything really was. So priority #1 was to completely renovate them before we moved in. And wow… it was a lot of work, but SO worth it.

Check out how it all started here in Part 1:

The ugly, dated, country style kitchen when we bought the house.

So this is what we started with. (Note the FREE spices on the stove that were included in the sale … lol) The outdated, early 90’s, country style kitchen looks innocent enough… but it was much worse upon closer inspection. They say the camera doesn’t lie… but this photo is one big lie. This kitchen was NASTY!

The dark, cramped, dining room when we bought the house.

I’m not even sure where to start here. The early 90’s country theme was strong in the dining room too. There was a grape & candle chandelier … apple stickers on some of the tiles … a craft store angel guarding the place …. Americana wall border (we have 2 or 3 leftover rolls of it in the closet in you’re interested… lol) … the world’s worst drywall patch job I’ve ever seen on the entire wall … fake tile vinyl flooring … mismatched trim everywhere … and a big ‘ol, view blocking set of upper cabinets.

Check out the Seinfeld style overhead cabinets. Terrible design!

Here’s a better look at the view between the dining room and kitchen. Check out how they wrapped the counter top laminate up around the old school stove. And do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry had his kitchen remodeled… and the contractor installed big ‘ol view blocking cabinets like this? Here’s a quick clip of it I found for you. lol

The rooms were super, early 90s country style.

Here’s a close up of the Americana style wall border. There definitely was no other place I’ve ever seen like this home. Also, check out that light switch plate. Every single switch plate in the house was a different shape but along these lines… wooden “craft store” country style with a little pizzazz thrown in.

The gross air vents in the floor and the floor trim hack job.

Here’s a good shot of the weird swimming pool-like air vents installed throughout the house. You can also see a hint of the world’s worst drywall work, and of course… the hack job someone did to “complete” the trim work. Wow.

The wall cracks around the window corners.

The drywall around the window in the dining room had big cracks at each corner. This was a sign of BIG problems to come later, but we didn’t know that at the time, so we figured we could just patch them and move on.

The gross, stained, popcorn ceilings in the barn house kitchen.

The whole house had popcorn ceilings, but the ones in the kitchen were definitely the worst. They were a mix of off white and beige with water spots and grease stains. Eww.

GROSS! The water logged, moldy cabinet under the kitchen sink.

At first, we thought that we could just live with the cabinets until we decided exactly what to do with the kitchen. But then we opened them up underneath the sink. GASP! They were mushy with mold, mildew, and mouse poop. And who doesn’t love to look at a toilet plunger in the kitchen. It was repulsive. We knew right then, the kitchen had to be redone before we moved in.

The hilariously unbelievable nursery rhymes in the kitchen cabinets... !!!

We busted out laughing when we saw that the upper kitchen cabinets all had old nursery rhymes decoupaged inside the doors. Why? Just why? haha

The old dark posts with the mini bar between them

Not only did the cabinets make the kitchen feel so cramped… but there was this little breakfast bar thingy installed between two of the posts. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea whenever they first installed it, but it was rickety and in the way. We wanted to knock it out to open up the space. Also, note how dark and beat the posts were. They really darkened and dated the place, so we wanted to lighten them up. (And you can see another one of the light switch plates over there on the left)

Tearing out the old barn house cabinets

The very first thing we did to the kitchen (besides my wife peeling off the cheesy apple stickers off the tile the night we bought it … haha) was knock out the old tile back splash, so we could loosen the upper cabinets to take them down. Those old cabinets were SOOOOOO heavy. By just removing the Seinfeld style cabinets, it really opened up the space. We were on to something here…

Bye bye you ugly, old, creepy cabinets!

It took some real work to wrangle those old cabinets out of the house in one piece, but someone on Craigslist actually wanted to use them in their kitchen that they were redoing. I showed them how gross the interior was, but they didn’t seem to mind. Hmm… oh well. Whatever floats you boat, I guess. They even took that old gross stove for their brother in law.

The kitchen was cleared out & ready to gut

Once all the old kitchen cabinetry was gone, we could really see what we had to work with. The drywall was in rough shape … the flooring was installed after the cabinets were in place … the outlets didn’t work quite right … the plumbing was a bit sketchy … and there was some major floor rot where the leaky dishwasher used to be (next to the fridge).

We gutted the kitchen, tore out the busted drywall, & blocked the walls for future kitchen shelves

We decided the drywall was too rough to reuse, so we ripped it all out. We also liked how open the kitchen felt with the upper cabinets torn down, so I added blocks in between the studs to act as supports for some shelves. We originally thought about doing two layers of shelves, so that’s why I installed two sets of blocks.

New drywall hung up in the gutted kitchen

It took some real work, but I managed to install all new drywall in the kitchen. The plumbing was in bad shape, so I got rid of it all, so we could redo it later. We also replaced all the outlets & switches and made sure they worked properly. We used GFCI outlets to make everything a little safer as well.

Cutting a notch in the post to hide the light switch wire

Once the walls were up to par, we tore out that breakfast bar thing and ran into a problem. There was a wire coming out of the floor that went to a stairwell light switch mounted in the pole. We had to figure out a way to make it disappear … so we decided to cut a 1″ wide notch in the pole & floor to hide the wire. I drew out where I wanted the notch, made a couple of cuts with the circular saw, and then chiseled out the rest until the wire fit nicely inside.

The post with the hidden light switch wire patched & painted

We finished off the pole by cutting & gluing a strip of 1/4″ thick wood to sit flush over the wire inside the notch. Once the glue dried, I smoothed it out with bondo, and then we primed and painted it. You can’t even tell we did anything there now.  I should also mention that we had to sand the old, dark stain off the posts the best we could. Then we primed them with oil based primer to block any stain that wanted to poke back through, and then we finished them with semi gloss white paint. They looked so much lighter & fresher with the bright white paint. Good choice!

Alright, I’ve realized this post is getting long, so I’ve decided to split it off and make a send part later.

In Part 2, I’ll show you how we finished out the kitchen renovation with fresh new paint, new board & batten ceilings, new Ikea cabinets, diy shelves, new appliances, & more.

See ya then!

~ Kevin