As some of you already know, we bought the majority of our kitchen cabinets used off of Craigslist. It was definitely a journey to transform them into our dream kitchen, so I thought I’d show you the whole process!
This is a massive post, so buckle up!
Purchasing the Kitchen
It all started with my sister. She saw this kitchen listed on Craigslist, and told me about it. They were selling the cabinets and the appliances for $6,500.
Suddenly, an idea popped into my head. What if I bought that light cherry kitchen for our new house? It would be a great way to save money.
So I called my sister and sheepishly asked what she would think if I bought the kitchen instead of her. I didn’t want to buy it out from under her.
Turns out she secretly wanted me to buy it all along. 😅
Viewing the Kitchen
The thing that really got me interested in this kitchen was the fact that the stove was included. It was only 32 inches, and I already had a brand new 36 inch stove picked out. But it would save some serious money if got one used! It was a Wolf range, so I knew it was higher quality and would probably not die immediately.
It also came with a warming drawer, dish washer, granite countertops, and a built in fridge. We had been planning on keeping our old (decrepit) appliances when we first moved, and upgrading as we had the money. So the thought of new(er) appliances right off the bat was awesome.
On May 27, 2019 we made the long drive to the cities to look at the kitchen. We had kind of already decided that unless the cabinets were in really bad shape, we would purchase. $6,500 for kitchen cabinets plus appliances sounded like a steal.
We met with an agent at the house who was working with a construction company on remodeling the homeowner’s kitchen.
After walking through, opening drawers, testing out the stove, etc., we decided that it was totally worth it. The stove was natural gas, but we were pretty sure we’d be able to convert it to propane. So we paid $500 down, and went on our merry way.
We were unable to pick up the kitchen until the construction company “uninstalled” it. So we waited patiently until we got word from the agent that it was ready to be picked up.
Picking Up the Kitchen
And then…things started to get disappointing.
The agent emailed me letting me know that the stove was not able to be converted to propane. Also, the granite countertop got cracked while uninstalling. But I wasn’t attached to the dark green granite, and the agent took $800 off the listing price, so we decided to purchase anyway.
And then things went from bad to worse.
On July 7th, a Sunday, Reuben, his brother, and his cousin headed out for the cities to pick up the kitchen. The construction company was on a tight schedule to get the kitchen out, and we would have had to pay an extra fee if they would have had to store the kitchen for us off site.
When Reuben got there, things were kind of a mess. Several of the cabinets had been damaged. An inexperienced crew had finished uninstalling the kitchen, and let’s just say that they weren’t very careful. It was a major disappointment. Especially because Reuben works in construction, and he knew that the cabinets could have been taken out without all that damage.
So we had to negotiate the price with the agent on the fly. Ugh. That was not fun.
We ended up paying $5,000 total ($4,500 plus the $500 down).
Reuben got the kitchen loaded into a trailer, and headed home. It was disheartening that the kitchen didn’t uninstall perfectly. But in the end we were still glad that we went for it.
Our Craigslist kitchen sat in the trailer for many months while we worked on finishing the exterior of the new house.
Picking Out the Countertops
In the meantime, we worked on picking out other things we would need to finish the kitchen, such as countertops, paint colors, faucets, light fixtures, etc.
Originally, I wanted to go with marble for the countertops. I absolutely adore the look of marble. But it’s expensive, and I’ve heard that it stains and etches really easily. And you have to seal it regularly.
We also toyed with the idea of a butcher block counter. It would be very affordable, but the upkeep sounded like a headache. Plus we were advised that it’s not a good idea if you want an undermount sink (which I was dead set on).
We finally settled on quartz countertops.
But I knew that I didn’t want to decide which quartz to go with by looking at pictures online or going off of a small sample. I needed to see a larger slab in person.
So we called a local-ish quartz manufacturer and set up an appointment to view larger slabs. They only had Cambria Quartz in full slabs. I know Cambria is high quality, but I was very underwhelmed by the patterns they offered. They looked very…manufactured.
Pictured above are Ella (left) and Swanbridge. The photos I saw online of Swanbridge were lovely, but in person it looked kind of like paint splatters instead of real stone.
So we made a trip to Fargo to look at more quartz. Pictured here are 24×24 slabs of LG Viatera Minuet and Silestone Statuario. It was so helpful to see larger slabs.
It was so difficult to make a decision. But in the end I went for the Silestone Statuario. It was more affordable than some other options, and I liked the clean look. LG Viatera Minuet was my second choice, but it looked a little too busy to me.
Picking Out the Paint Color
For a while I held out hope that we wouldn’t have to paint the cabinets. I wasn’t mad at the light cherry color, though it wasn’t my favorite. But after our flooring arrived, it was clear to me that the cabinets would not look great next to it.
I knew that I wanted a blue color for the cabinets. Originally I wanted a dark navy color. But then I saw this kitchen on Pinterest, and fell in love with it.
So I ordered some paint samples to test out. We went with Ecos semi gloss paint. It’s a non-toxic option that’s that outrageously expensive. Not super cheap, but it’s so worth it to me to have safe paint in my home.
I got about 7 different samples, but narrowed it down to these three. In the end I crossed my fingers and went for Blue Jacket. I’m so bad at making decisions, guys!
Picking Out the Faucets
But I fell desperately in love with Delta’s Broderick bridge faucet. I loved the bridge styling and the industrial feel. The only downside was the price tag ($$$). But we found an awesome deal on Faucet Warehouse. We got the Broderick bar faucet as well.
Putting it All Together
In March of 2020, we were finally ready to start assembling our kitchen. I say we, but Reuben did the majority of the physical labor.
Reuben and his brother unloaded the kitchen from the trailer into the garage. And Reuben got to work patching and prepping the cabinets for paint.
We also had to order three new cabinets since some of the Craigslist ones were damaged, and some of them didn’t fit into our space. It was a little difficult finding ones that matched the style of the ones we already purchased. But we got pretty close.
For just three new cabinets, it cost around $3,800. So the total price we paid for our cabinets was around $8,300 (if you subtract around $500 for the fridge, dishwasher, and warming drawer). We definitely wouldn’t have been able to buy new cabinets of the same quality for that price.
Setting the Cabinets
Once the cabinets were painted, the work was just beginning.
One of the challenges that Reuben faced was setting the cabinets in place. We went for a slab on grade house, and unfortunately the concrete was not perfectly level in the kitchen. So he had to cut some of the cabinets shorter and shim up others to get the tops level for the countertops.
Since the cabinets were used, Reuben had to put new faces on some of them. We decided to do an X on the front and sides of the island cabinet to give is some character. I absolutely love how it turned out.
Here’s another example of how Reuben had to reface the cabinets. This is the edge of our kitchen. We thought about putting an X here as well. But we went with a border around the sides (see finished photos). I didn’t want to detract from the island.
Something else we needed to make a decision on: how far did we want the kitchen sink to stick out? We moved it in and out, took pictures, and finally settled on about 2 1/4 inches out from the cabinet.
We decided to do open shelving in all of the kitchen except for the fridge cabinet. I found some 3 inch boards online, but when they arrived, I realized that they were too thick. They would have looked a bit awkward.
So Reuben borrowed a planer from a friend and ran the boards through it. It got them nice and smooth, and more of the thickness I was looking for.
Using a tutorial that we found online, Reuben drilled threaded rods into the wall, and drilled corresponding holes in the shelves. It was a lot of work, but the shelves are nice and sturdy.
DIY Custom Range Hood Cover
I had my heart set on a custom range hood cover. So we found some inspiration and tutorials on Pinterest that Reuben recreated. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Subway Tile Backsplash
On June 4th, our countertops FINALLY got installed. Which meant that we could begin work on the backsplash! I didn’t want to start working on the backsplash until the countertops were installed. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to match the tile color to the counter color.
Laying the Tile
I have had my heart set on a subway tile backsplash for years. Sure, it may seem cliche, but I adore it. And it fit well with our industrial/modern farmhouse style.
Since we did open shelving everywhere in the kitchen, we decided to take the backsplash all the way to the ceiling. It was a lot of work (I actually got involved with this project!), but I love the look.
Picking Grout Color
Picking out the grout color was kind of stressful. You can’t really buy samples, and the bags of grout we were using weren’t cheap. So I went and stared at bags of grout at Menards and tried to discern which colors would be good.
I wanted a mid-tone gray that was neither too cool toned nor too warm. Originally I considered doing white grout, but I’ve heard that it stains really easily.
I narrowed it down to Slate Gray and Light Pewter. We bought a bag of each, and Reuben did a test swatch of each on the backsplash. It was a tough decision, but I finally went with the Slate Gray. The Light Pewter was a little too warm and dark.
If you want to do a really good job on grout but you don’t have a lot of experience, it’s a good idea to do it with two people.
So Reuben got me to help with the grouting as well. He spread the grout, and I went along and washed off the excess. It was stressful because I had never done it before, and it was time sensitive. And Reuben and I had a bit of miscommunication about the proper way to wash out the grout, so we were furiously scrubbing it and scraping it out.
The second time we grouted it worked SO much better because I actually knew what I was trying to achieve. 😅
We already had the plumbing in place for a pot filler over the stove. But I started to get cold feet. What if it was totally frivolous and a waste of money? But Reuben convinced me it was worth it.
So we decided to try purchasing one on ebay to save a little money. The listing said it was in flawless open box condition. But when Reuben installed it, he quickly discovered that it was bent. It must have been a manufacturer defect. So we sent it back and purchased a new one from Faucet Warehouse.
After that, we just had to stain and varnish the open shelves, and wait for the electrician to install the sconces over the kitchen window.
It was long journey to transform our Craigslist kitchen into our dream kitchen. But in the end it was so worth it. Because we saved money on the cabinets and appliances, we were able to spend more and get quality countertops and faucets.
I’m planning on doing a full kitchen tour at some point. But before this post gets any longer, I’ll sign off for now!
List of Products Mentioned:
- Ecos semi gloss paint
- Delta’s Broderick bridge faucet
- Broderick bar faucet
- Pot Filler
- Houzer Fireclay Apron Front Sink
- Cabinet Pulls
- Cabinet Knobs
- Bright White Subway Tile
- Window Sconces
Previous Posts in the New House Series: