Kitchen renovation part 1: Demo

An ode to my kitchen - but I don’t even know where to begin! So, I guess I'll start at...the beginning! Demo!


This 1920's craftsman home became ours in September of 2021, and while most of the house needed cosmetic updates, the kitchen was in desperate need of a complete renovation. That didn't scare me though. It meant that this house would be the first I could build my dream kitchen in.



Why we demoed so early

We knew we wanted to refinish all of the hardwood floors right away. Having the floors refinished before moving in made our transition so much easier, and I have no regrets about completing this pretty large project to this day. The living and dining room floors are white oak boards, and the rest of the house floors, but for the bathrooms and the game room, are heart pine boards.


When it came to the kitchen, the prospect of finding wood flooring beneath the layers of laminate and vinyl peel and stick tile was super exciting.



The heart pine floors at the foot of the stairs and hallway ran into the kitchen, with a raised threshold about an inch high. So, we knew if we found wood floors, they’d likely be heart pine and would be a continuous run of boards into that hallway. (We were right, by the way!)

But, there was only one way to find out. And, since refinishing all of the floors at once would be the easiest and most cost effective solution, we decided to demo the kitchen two days after closing and just a few weeks before moving in. With absolutely zero plans of renovating/replacing the kitchen any time soon! Crazy, right?


This was necessary in order to access all of the wood floors in the kitchen. We removed the cabinetry that was probably installed in the 60s, tossed the yucky and broken dishwasher, and moved the refrigerator and stove into our laundry room until the new refinished floors cured.


The floors had some water damage from an old radiator, most likely. But, we loved the character and decided to keep them.


Kitchen floor refinishing costs

For reference, my kitchen is about 160 square feet, and our refinisher charged us $6,800 for the entire project, which I guesstimate was roughly 1,800 square feet of our 2,042 square-foot house. If you're keeping up there, the math to get you to the cost of our kitchens floors was roughly $600. I'll be conservative, and round up to $1,000 since the floors were damaged. But REGARDLESS how much of a steal is that for kitchen floors?! We made what was already there gorgeous and for just a portion of our total refinishing costs.


Our floor contractor sanded the floors down, and finished them with two coats of Bona NaturalSeal and one coat of water-based poly.


What else we did we demo ourselves?

Since we wanted to pay for our kitchen renovation with as much cash as we could after dropping much of our savings on floor refinishing, we worked hard to save again and were ready to start the rest of the demo in March of 2022!


We still had upper cabinets and a soffit to remove, as well as an entire ceiling of retro-fitted electrical wires and paneling. You could say that was the worst part - by far.


We decided to keep the layout of our kitchen, because honestly, it wasn't bad! And, moving plumbing can become pretty costly.



After Matthew and I tore out the ceiling fixtures and paneling, we hired a local contractor we've worked with before to help us finish the rest of the bones of the kitchen (you can read more about that work and those costs here).


I'd demo a room again in a heartbeat (and actually, we are just about ready to hit the laundry room, so stay tuned!)


My favorite part about demoing the kitchen ourselves is that we saved money this way. When you renovate a space and have some tear out that needs to happen, this gets factored into your contractor bill if you are hiring out. It's easy to break shit. My vote is to always demo when you can, and you'll learn a ton about your house in the process!

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