Matt’s grandmother passed away in January at the age of 104, she was a lovely woman who lived a full life and we miss her very much. Her small home that she shared with Matt’s grandfather needs to be sold, so we are evaluating the task of remodeling the kitchen before it’s placed on the market.

It’s a small kitchen with a nice L shaped layout that receives natural light from an adjacent courtyard. The location of the appliances makes sense so we have no plans to alter the configuration. We want to stick to a budget and not over improve the space, so we’re looking at affordable upgrades like laminate countertops instead of stone, and cabinets from IKEA or another similar brand that offers quality at good prices.

The remainder of this 1,100 square foot home is in good condition but the kitchen cabinets and appliances are dated and could hinder the sale. We stopped by over the weekend to take measurements and wrap our heads around what needs to be done to upgrade the space.

grandmas kitchen before

The cabinets are not horrible or bad looking but they are very old and layers of paint have left them sticky in places and dingy on the inside and upon inspection not appealing to a future buyer. The Formica countertops and appliances? Same issue, old and funky.

grandmas kitchen appliances

One of the debates we’re having is about this cooktop. We believe it was lowered decades ago before his grandparents moved in to accommodate a wheelchair bound person but to us it looks odd as it is.

lower cooktop

With any other remodel, we wouldn’t hesitate to raise it up but this home is in an age restricted 55+ community, so the issue remains whether to keep it at this height or raise it up to a standard countertop height.

sink cooktop

The sink and oven are a standard height, but not the cooktop, so we don’t really see the rationale of the lowered placement which makes us want to raise it up to a standard height for consistency but then again, is there value in having it lower in a retirement community? I welcome any insight you may have on the issue !      

I plan to reuse the hood which is newer and just in need of a good scrub, I think I can make it work with new cabinets. 


I’m also debating the refrigerator issue, this one is smaller measuring 64 ½” high and whomever moves in might want a taller one at 70”. We will make a decision which way to go once we start planning the cabinet layout.

old fridge


For the cabinet finishes, I have always loved kitchens with contrast, white and wood is a favorite combination, one that offers the clean bright white cabinets paired with the warmth of stained wood, so I’m leaning in that direction. I’m inspired by these kitchens that mix both in the cabinetry finishes.


wood lower white upper cabinets

white and wood kitchen

stained wood lower cabinets white uppers

aaron leitz / skona hem / better homes and gardens / design manifest

Our research continues on the smartest choices for the space within the budget, stay tuned for more updates as the remodel progresses this fall !


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