By the time we were completing construction on our kitchen, I was nine months pregnant. Nothing will motivate a contractor to wrap things up faster than his client going into labor before his eyes. I waved away an offer to be driven to the hospital and said between deep breathes, "I just need it done!"
Purchasing our first fixer-upper apartment in the heart of New York City's Jackson Heights historic district proved to be an up-close and personal lesson in home-renovation for an industrial designer and an architect. We liked to think of our apartment as our "lab", so when it came time to tackle the kitchen we wanted to apply our high/low philosophy of mixing inexpensive items and materials with a few splurges to elevate the spatial experience - and do it on a shoe-string budget.
In its original condition, the kitchen was an ode to fake dark wood cabinets, cappuccino-colored plastic-laminate walls and counters, peeling vinyl tile floors, and lots of grime. We delighted in ripping out every last bit of it.
Since the kitchen was quite small, and to keep costs down, we utilized the same footprint for the cabinets and appliances. In order to maximize light and visually expand space, we mixed light-colored wood with aluminum and glass-fronted Ikea cabinets, along with white Corian counters, touches of stainless steel, and strategic lighting. For the floor, we used inexpensive cork tile. Our splurges included a beautiful glossy glass mosaic tile backsplash, an 18" GE Monogram stainless steel dishwasher, and the Corian countertop.
The transformation was dramatic and well worth every shoe-string penny.