Tackling the Kitchen – From Scrap to Sparkling

Oh the Kitchen.  As a Realtor I know the impact a kitchen has on the resale value of a home.  As the daughter of a Chef and married to a Hobby Chef,  I know the kitchen is truly the heart of the family.

Sadly the kitchen in our new condo was lacking any life at all.  The tile was dingy and chipped badly, the cabinets, well not all the hinges work or were there in the first place. One drawer was tapped shut.

Oh my goodness...

The sink was made for a doll house!  The wooden surround had dry rot, the dishwasher functioned as a dish rack and there was no pantry!  Plus, there was tons of wasted space above the cabinets and a broken compactor taking up valuable storage!  Twenty years is a good long life for a kitten – it was time for some love and reworking.

Oh the 80's were not kind to kitchens

The kitchen is the biggest investment!  I planned and planned, shopped online and locally to make this kitchen work on our tiny tiny 1st time homeowner budget.


Before you lift a paint brush and for sure before you pick up a sledge hammer – plan, plan, plan and measure, measure, measure.

I made several drawings to scale on graph paper to make sure I planed this right.  To save money, we were the general contractors, the planners, the accountant, and the cheap labor.  I goggled all the appliances for their specs and measured the kitchen 100 times.  Once I had it just right I took my cash (after we closed escrow) and started spending some dough.


I’ve always loved color, it’s just who I am.  When picking the colors for our condo I went to town.  For the kitchen I wanted something light, bright and fresh.  There is no window in our galley and I wanted to evoke some nature.  I decided on a shade of green.  First I found my slab of granite (more on that later) and took it to the colors – finding a Sage that felt right.  Then I bribed my sister-in-law with wine and cheese if she came over to paint on a school night before we installed the cabinets and floors.  Cheap labor is awesome – feed your helpers wisely!


Ya gotta start from the bottom up.  Since we tore the kitchen down to just walls we had a lot of rebuilding to do.  I liked the green aspect of Bamboo flooring and loved the warm honey shade.  I must say – it is a grass and therefore a soft floor.  We’ve had a few drops that have left an imprint in the floor.  Not good if you have big dogs I would imagine.  Yet, they were affordable, easy to install and green.  I was all for it.

Hubby, sister-in-law and I installed the floor first, so the appliances and cabinets would rest on an even surface.  As an engineered floor, we put down 1/4 inch thick cork tiles as sound proofing per the Home Owner Association rules.  Cork is also a green product and works better than anything else.  We then put down a moisture barrier and opted for a floating floor.  Hubby and sis did a great job!


You could give your left foot to buy nice cabinets.  You can buy some pretty bad ones too if you’re not careful.  I had a real hard time finding the cabinets I wanted for the cash I had.  After lots of shopping in swanky kitchen stores and giant warehouses, online I found a small husband and wife company out of South City that carried a very similar style cabinet in the color I wanted for the price I needed.  WEST PORTAL TRADING assembled all my cabinets and to save on cost, we picked them up locally!

I have to give a HUGE thank you to my dear cousin MARTIN GEBERT from SIMPLY PERFECT CATERING for lending us his catering van to move all the kitchen cabinets and then helping us load them up to the third floor.  YOU ROCK!

I also need to thank my father-in-law and his friend Reid for installing all those cabinet!  Again bribed by food and drink!


Who knew finding a big kitchen sink would be harder than finding the fountain of youth.  My hubby loves to cook and I got him a huge Chippino pot.  Therefore I needed a sink that could wash it.  No one, and I mean no one had a big sink without a divider.  Who needs a medium sink and then a small baby sink next to it.  Nothing fits in that sink – not even a baby!  Thankfully my mother-in-law found one on ebay.  Thank god for Buy Now!

Once I had the kitchen sink I could order my counters.  For a clean look, I wanted an under-mount sink.  That means the lip of the sink is installed between the counter and the underlay – not above the counter.  If you’re going to spend the bucks on nice granite, make the sink an under-mount.  These are very important decisions because you can only cut the granite once!


We got the beautiful granite at BEST MARBLE in Redwood City.  They were beyond awesome!  Came and measured twice, installed the counters and the underlay in one day, calked and sealed the whole thing.  They were great and by far the best price in town!

I walked through their slabs and picked the one I wanted.  A light green I had never seen before.  I didn’t even know I liked green!  But that particular slab was beautiful.

So paint, install cabinets, find sink, cut granite and then…


These are truly the most important aspect of the kitchen and should be treated as such.  You can’t eat on pretty paint or store the milk in the Italian cabinets.  I did A LOT of online shopping to compare prices, bells and whistles.   Once I had the serial numbers of the products I wanted I started calling the local shops.  I found TELECENTER APPLIANCE in San Mateo had the best prices.  The employees there, respectful of my budget showed me some better options that I truly enjoyed.  Who knew you could have a double oven in a galley kitchen?!  We do!  And a HUGE thank you to my Mommy – the oven was her house warming gift!

Here is where we called in the pros!  Hubby and I didn’t try anything dangerous when updating our home.  We left all the plumbing and electrical work to the pros.  A huge THANK YOU to CAMPER CONSTRUCTION in San Carlos for doing such a great job!  I always recommend them to my friends and clients!


Looking back I would have done two things differently.  One – unrelated to the kitchen – was to remove the popcorn ceiling right away.  Would have been a cinch before we installed the carpet.  And second, I could have taken out the florescent lighting (that hubby had to replace a few years later anyway) and put in some can lighting or a cool fixture.  Instead we left the florescents.  The good news, plants live a long time in the kitchen.    I did, however, install a really cool light above the sink that is less bright and makes a nice ambiance when you want a light on but not the harsh florescents.


I have to say, of all the home projects we tackled the kitchen was by far my favorite.  I remind myself of this each time while I clean the darn dishes!

Here is are the after pix…


Not bad a some hard work

I had a lot of fun with a power drill and level installing my handles.  Everything fit just right – with not much room to spare.  All in all, I think this was our best work!

Go Team!

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About The Caton Team - Realtors

Sabrina & Susan are native Californians - born and raised in the Silicon Valley with a passion for Residential Real Estate. A mother and daughter-in-law duo called - The Caton Team. With over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time. Call | Text at: 650-799-4333 | Email Info@TheCatonTeam.com The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true. The Peninsula is our backyard - let us help make it yours. We represent Buyer’s and Seller’s throughout the Bay Area. The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina A Family of Realtors Effective. Efficient. Responsive. What can we do for you?
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