Earlier this year, I took a big HGTV-inspired leap and bought my first foreclosure. As you may know from reading my about page, I live in Los Angeles where the housing market is pretty competitive. Foreclosures tend to be in high demand from house flippers, but they’re a great way to enter the market at a pretty reasonable price (for whatever area you’re looking to buy in). Foreclosures often need some work done to them and how much work the property needs is going to influence the price you pay for the property and how much money you have to put in to it.
I’m not kidding when I say that I was influenced by HGTV because I’ve probably watched DIY shows every single week of my life for the past few years. I love that stuff. And it made be think that I was completely prepared to tackle a large project, such as a kitchen renovation, with minimal experience. In many ways, it actually was great preparation. I had a good idea of the obstacles that I might encounter, what types of general questions to ask a contractor, plumber or electrician, and had a ballpark idea how much I might need to spend to get everything done. I was prepared to accept some setbacks and spend a little more (hopefully not too much more) than I planned because unexpected things always come up.
Naturally, I looked for a place that offered a big kitchen with lots of natural light and a reasonably large footprint. I looked for potential and tried to overlook absolutely everything else.
When I found a place, it did not have my dream kitchen. Instead, it had a somewhat closed-off kitchen that was built in 1964 and that was almost completely untouched (and uncleaned). It had a peeling linoleum floor, a chipped tile countertop and huge soffits. Previous owners had made a few minor cosmetic “improvements,” such as changing out the kitchen hardware, adding some unusual stucco swirls to the walls and mixing-and-matching various patterns of contact paper inside of the drawers.
What the kitchen did have, however, was a lot of potential. It had glass doors opening to a terrace at one end, letting in plenty of natural light during the day, and it had a large pass-through into the living room that could be opened up to literally open up the space. Opening up the pass through area would also give me the opportunity to add in some additional counter where there was only unused space before.
The O’Keefe and Merritt appliances were original to the kitchen and were still in working order. I loved the star-shaped burners on the cooktop and decided to see if I could get it restored to make it more functional (and, of course, much cleaner). The oven was a bit too small for my high-volume baking, but it had a great look to it.
The kitchen was, as they say on HGTV, a tear-down – but it was a tear-down with good bones that that was good enough for me. Fueled by hours and hours of renovation shows, I was ready to pull those disturbingly sticky cabinets off the wall and try to build out a kitchen that I really wanted.
So, I did.
My journey from the kitchen pictured here to a bright, shiny new kitchen was a long one and I’ll be chronicling the process here, from taking out the old to bringing in the new. When I started, I was hoping that my kitchen would be bright and modern, with plenty of counter space, storage space and room to work in. I wanted that HGTV-style reveal. But like HGTV, I’m going to leave you with a brief break before diving further into the renovation. Stay tuned here for updates on the journey, from start to finish.