My BIG fall project.
Plus a lesson in the business of blogging.

Remember back in the spring when I told you about my Big Spring project of ripping out my kitchen floors and installing Warmly Yours radiant heating and new tile?

Well as you know, I got that done in the spring. The second part of my Big Spring Project was to repaint and do a general updating of my kitchen and mudroom.  I did NOT get that done.

But here’s why.

As soon as I finished doing my floor this spring I took a look around and assessed my kitchen.  I love my kitchen.  It’s genuinely old and comfortable and perfect for my old, creaky house.  I’ve never wanted a new kitchen.

But I definitely needed a new countertop.  And hopefully, maybe a new sink.  As it turns out, because my cupboards were probably thrown together by whoever built them in the 1940’s they aren’t exactly what you would call standard size.  So the sink I was looking at wouldn’t fit on them. And neither would the counter.

 

Window Wall

 

I’ve never had a vent for my stove so I needed one of those.  My kitchen table was clumsy and the light over it needed to be hardwired.  All in all I was realizing that my much loved kitchen could be better.

 

End Of Kitchen

 
My fridge has always been right beside my stove which is without a doubt the worst place for it to be, but there was nowhere else to put it with the current kitchen configuration.

 

My biggest fear with redoing my kitchen was cost and authenticity.  If, and this was a BIG if, I was going to redo my kitchen I wanted it to look like it had always been there.  I didn’t want granite countertops and a matching wraparound cupboards.

I wanted a working kitchen that looked loved, worn in and comfortable.  And I wanted it for free.

And I got it.

And this is how I did it.

The Art of Doing Stuff has now become a large enough blog that it is a commodity.  It has value.  And I’ve established myself as a DIYer who can not only DIY but do it in such a way that it’s magazine worthy.  I know this because my home  has been featured in 4 or 5 different magazines this year alone.  It makes me feel like a bit of a show off saying that, but if it weren’t true, the following story wouldn’t have played out the way it did.

Back in May, I emailed a friend of mine who works at as an editor at Canada’s 3rd most popular Canadian magazine, “Canadian Living“.  I told him I was thinking of redoing my kitchen, by myself, and asked him if he would be interested in featuring the before and after in the magazine.

He said yes. I was given a 4-5 page feature in the magazine, for some time next year.

Armed with that information, I contacted the people at Home Depot, because THEY CARRY THE MARTHA STEWART KITCHEN CABINET LINE.  Which, clearly I was very excited about.  

martha-stewart-cabinet

She makes a beautiful, authentic looking shaker style cabinets that I love. I found out the name of the head of their public relations department and told them I’d like to form a partnership with them.  If they would provide me with the kitchen cabinets for free,  I could guarantee they’d be featured in a 4-5 page spread in Canadian Living magazine ( as well as be featured on my blog ).

Home Depot gets huge exposure and I get cabinets.  They agreed.

The reason they agreed is because of the ROI I could provide them.  Return on Investment.  If I ran a smaller blog, with less engaged readers and no guarantee of a magazine spread I’m sure they would  have politely declined.  But because I did my homework first and presented them with a guarantee of a great return on their investment they said yes.

They aren’t paying me, but I am definitely getting a monetary value out of it.  Plus, I’ve been asked to write the feature on redoing my kitchen for Canadian Living, so I am in fact in the end actually making cash money.

The work has barely begun in my kitchen, but I’ve already started ripping out cabinets and getting ready.  If all goes well I’ll have a new kitchen installed by the end of the fall.

As things progress I’ll be posting updates here on the site.  Like about the time my nearly 80 year old mother took a sledgehammer to my wall for instance.  In bedazzled flip flops.

So for those of you who love kitchen porn, I’ve got a lot coming up for you.  For those of you who have a blog and wanted a little lesson in business I hope you’ve learned something.

I’ve learned 2 things.  The elderly should not be trusted with anything above a 5 pound sledgehammer, and I am now ready to go public with something I’ve been doing on the side for a while now.  Blog consulting.  More on that once the dust settles.  Literally.

 


 

161 Comments

  1. Jamie says:

    VERY! Very cool! I can’t wait to see it all unfold. And I LOVE the cabinetry!

  2. Amy Watson says:

    I Love Love Love kitchen porn, even better than bathroom porn!!!!! Hmmmm. That didn’t sound right 🙂

  3. sharktooth says:

    ~~~ and that is how it is done ! congratulations 🙂 well done – thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Laura says:

    I love the light fixture over your table! It kills me that I tossed one of those back in the terrible 1980’s.

    • Karen says:

      Understandable. You probably had to make room for your shoulder pads. ~ karen!

      • Lynne says:

        LOL – I divested myself of the copper version when I was renovating my house and kitchen. I’m still regretting it – ‘cos even though I wouldn’t hang it in my kitchen I’m thinking I could have got big bucks for it from someone who would.

        Instead I took it to the local recycling depot – which was better than tossing it, I suppose. Someone is enjoying it.

  5. Mondo says:

    wow, the business of blogs, man! free kitchen furniture? that’s the way to do it! can’t wait to heat all about your blog consulting gigs. perhaps, I could get you to advise me on my new blog?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Mondo! A blog is a business that’s for damn sure. At least it can be. And yes I’ll be doing (eventually) consulting via Skype and in person. ~ karen!

  6. kerry says:

    Um. Is it bad that I want the story on the 80-plus year old in bedazzled flip flop? Ugly if I misspelled,stupid phones!

    • Karen says:

      OMG! LOL, not 80-plus. NEARLY 80. A few years away from 80, LOL. If my mother ever tracks you down you’ll be in troubleeeee. ~ karen!

      • Kerry says:

        That’s what I get for reading your blog at way too early in the am on a teeny tiny phone! Apologize to Mom for me! But I still want the story – primarily so I can convince my nearly 70 year old mother to help me do demo!

  7. Tracy says:

    Nicely done, Karen. I can’t wait to see the pictures:-)

  8. Seadee says:

    I look forward to learning yet ANOTHER couple things from ya (blog biz and kitchen redo), both of which I have great interest in. Added to my list of other things I have interest in (I have interest ADD). Can’t wait to read all about it.

  9. Jenna says:

    Congrats Karen! That’s pretty awesome! And your mom rocks. Just saying- the bedazzled flip flops and sledge hammering are pretty impressive.

  10. Stephanie Hobson says:

    I’m nearly 80 (well, a year away from 70… same thing, right?) and I wouldn’t even attempt to swing a sledgehammer, regardless of weight. Kudos to your mom!

  11. Terri says:

    Can’t wait to see your almost new kitchen! Gonna ask my grandkids for some bedazzled flip flops for my birthday. Oh, and a sledgehammer.

  12. Lori says:

    Congrats!! Can’t wait to see / read what you will do to your kitchen! Now I have to go check out Home Depot, to see what Martha has to offer! Hahaha

  13. Pam'a says:

    Well played! I’m not the least bit surprised.

    As you tackle yet another huge project, I hope you won’t forget to squinch in a little “me time” –I mean Karen time.

    You, like the rest of us mortals, need a little of that to stay healthy and sane. 🙂

  14. Lisa says:

    Kitchen Porn. Now I have a phrase for it – and looking forward to this version!

  15. Therese Bourne says:

    Well done you!

  16. Marion says:

    Can’t wait!! Since I have been waiting to redo my own kitchen for several years now, due to lack of time, money and ideas! Hopefully you inspire me to do it!

  17. Barbie says:

    I Can’t WAIT to see your new kitchen!!! SO excited for you! ……..AND I am very interested in getting some help with my blog.

  18. Kathy says:

    Three cheers for you, dear Karen! Whenever I pop into your blog you put a smile on my face. You are just adorable…and your Mom is too. As for your blog consulting…How do you teach charm, adorableness, humor and humility?

  19. Danica says:

    I attended your session at Blogpodium, specifically sat in the front row the dark hair girl beside Lynne you provided so many great tips! One of them was to comment, comment, comment! And try to be the 3 or 4th person comment….now I wouldn’t just comment on every post for the sake of commenting but when I saw you talking about kitchen reno’s I knew I wanted to comment…but SHIT….You posted this last night, I wake up EARLY (4:20am)for work and already 20 comments!!!! HA clearly you have a great listeners!

    Anyways….I love kitchen reno’s and I can’t wait to see how this turns out! I also love Home Depot and am so happy to see how they partnering with you, we spend too much time there.

    I also hope you incorporate that vintage TV in your new kitchen 😉

    • Karen says:

      LOL! Thanks Danica. That television is so covered in grease because I don’t have a range hood that I can’t even touch it. It’s GROSS. ~ karen!

      • Danica says:

        Ummmmmmmmm you are talking to the girl who drive her daily car on veggie oil! HA! So therefore I still think you need to keep the TV, TIP – Orange Cleaner from Canadian Tire in the car section will clean that right up 😉

  20. Alexandra says:

    I am so excited for you! And I can’t wait to see pictures, because who doesn’t love good kitchen porn and a makeover and before and after pics?!! 😀

  21. JennyW says:

    Well played Karen, well played!!
    I too have been “Modernizing” our little 60 year old brick cottage thanks to YOU and your Inspiring Blog :), and I can not wait to see how you deal with your kitchen. I will be taking notes – and showing the Hubby, cause he thinks granite and wraparound cupboards are the way to go too.

    • Karen says:

      They’re a great choice for a lot of people. Most people in fact, because it’s an easy decision and ends up looking professional and sparkly and good. But it just isn’t for me. Apparently I like amateur, dull and bad, LOL. ~ karen!

  22. Lush says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the process!! I am sure a load of people wonder how those deals are done but have no idea.
    Incredibly generous of you & I am sure you will be well rewarded.
    Cheers
    Lush
    Worthing, UK

  23. Jennifer says:

    Love this post so much. Not only talented, but one smart cookie. Absolutely love that Martha Stewart cabinet!

  24. Bonnie G. says:

    Karen, you are quite the entrepreneur! Cannot wait for the before, after, and, in between!

  25. Amie Mason says:

    I can’t wait to see it!

  26. Ruth says:

    Looking forward to it. 🙂

  27. Alex says:

    Consulting? Sold. And what you did for your kitchen was very smart and very inspiring. As was your presentation on Sat which had us all in tears – laughing that is. It was great to meet you! I can finally cross that off my bucket list. I’m kidding. (Not really).

  28. Louise says:

    Brilliant! My motto is “It can’t hurt to ask!” and I’ve worked a few deals like that, but NOTHING AS BIG as what you did! Puff out your chest and strut around a bit, because you are one smart cookie! Congratulations!

  29. Tigersmom says:

    Good for you! And congratulations!

    Your ability to see something that is a challenge (whether it is something boring or homely by itself at the dollar store or a kitchen in need of an update)and turn it into, not only something fantastic, but a financial gain as well, is truly remarkable.

    You need to add capable and savvy to that one-word description. Yes, I’m aware that it would then no longer be a one-word description, but one word just can’t cover all the fabulousness that is Karen.

    So, I guess I have to wait to find out if the free labor involved in this project is provided by Sven, or Indira (or whatever is name is) or if you just dumped all the heavy lifting on your not-quite-pushing 80-year-old mother and her fancy footwear. I hope you at least got her some steel toe boots to wear. Sheesh.

  30. calliek says:

    I love your present kitchen too and we all know what a great example you set so I have a request- when you are tearing out the current cabinets can you try to save them and give them to the Habitat REstore? Every time I watch a home reno show I feel so angry watching perfectly functional kitchens get smashed to bits because they no longer suit the owner’s taste. By donating them you keep a huge pile of wood out of landfill and you give someone an opportunity to do something creative with them!

  31. RosieW says:

    This is HUGE! I am so excited for you. Hope it will include tons of full extension drawers in place of base cabinets. What I hope most is that it’s the kitchen of your dreams.

    When is this starting?

    BTW, I live where HD headquarters is. And have shopped their stores since the second one EVER was opened on Buford Hwy. in Doraville, GA.

  32. Debbie J says:

    Now I must go to Home Depot to check out those cabinets! Can’t wait to read more about your kitchen.

  33. Marti says:

    Yee-HAA! I love kitchen porn! And kitchy porn! (You often seem to do both!) This is great… and maybe I will learn something useful at some point.

    Let me just point out, it’s because you have such ENGAGED readers. I’m pretty sure I’m on that list somewhere. I feel so validated! YIPPEE!!!

    And now, back to my regularly scheduled work. It is so much more fun to read this right after you post it, you know? This business of getting up early sucks BIG TIME.

  34. Heidi Lee says:

    Hi,

    Been a lurk reader for at least 6 months. i enjoy your blog thoroughly and i am envious of your potato harvest. Put mine to shame. Anyway, my advice…..get a hotplate, or develop a close relationship with the nearest subshop because you will be supremely hungry doing all this work and supremely irritated when you can’t make a hot meal for your self. I know from experience.

  35. Lynn says:

    So looking forward to following this, Karen! Yay for you!

  36. gogothrift@etsy.com says:

    So happy for you karen! Is that the sound of another window opening 🙂
    I’ll be glued to my laptop waiting for first installment of kitchen porn.

  37. Ann says:

    Awe-Some!! I am proud of you and totally in awe of your DIY-ness. We have a much newer kitchen but it still needs some serious upgrading and I wish I had the skill, initiative and health to do it myself. We still haven’t even finished off our sunporch that was built almost a year ago.

    I will be waiting and watching you step thru this project. My oh my, what will next year bring?

  38. michaele anderson says:

    Love the Martha Stewart cabinetry and I had no idea Home Depot carried it. Hence, your blog’s mention has already proven their investment in your project worthwhile. I’m sure they will find you as much a treasure as your readership does!

  39. Susan Dulley says:

    Karen, I was thinking, since you will be working on your kitchen during the coldest months of the year, you most likely will not be able to do a lot of cooking. What if you contacted, lets say, one of your favorite local or chain restaurants, let them know of your dilemma, (starvation due to not being able to prepare meals), agree to mention them and have their (bag w/logo) on the counter or dining table, which is where you will most likely be taking most of your meals, mention once or twice how grateful you were to them for feeding you healthy, nutritious food during your project and then with any luck at all they will supply your meals, at least once a day, for free. I am not certain this is allowed but I think it might be worth a try…that is if you haven’t already thought of it. Grilling in the snow can be fun, but, not every night!

    • Karen says:

      LOL! That’s actually an excellent idea Susan. The only problem is I don’t really like restaurant food. 🙁 Once in a while I do, in fact once in a while I LOVE McDonalds or whatever, but I couldn’t eat chain food every night. I always have a ton of stuff in the freezer, like pesto, lasagna, chili etc… so hopefully that’ll be enough to get me through. 🙂 Like I said, really good idea though! ~ karen

  40. Ann-Marie says:

    I so love that you Love your old kitchen and have thought of ways that you can give it new life! In this economy I find it difficult to see the huge make overs in magazines and think that the average home owner requires more affordable options. Your methods of DIY are feasible and give hope to those of us that live within our means.Thanks Karen, you are the best!!

  41. Ev says:

    Have you considered switching out the sink and the dish washer? Not being as “handy”, I don’t know if it is doable or not, but it would be nice, I think. But good for you getting $ help with all of this! And paid to write the article too! Yea!

  42. Mariella says:

    Hi Karen,

    I would be interested on your blog consultant time. Let me know how much you charge please.

    Thanks,
    Mariella

  43. annie says:

    You are rockin’ it, Karen. I’m proud, and a little in awe! Looking forward to the series (my standard-issue trailer kitchen needs a re-do ASAP).

  44. Pati Waggoner-Gulat says:

    Can’t wait to see the progress ! Btw, Karen, I work for Home Depot…so i know the cabinetry whereof you speak. 😉 As a matter of fact, I need to get up from here and head that way right about NOW !

  45. Hahahaha Such a show off! But getting free kitchen cabinets is totally awesome. Now I wish my kitchen wasn’t already done… oh wait! my blog isn’t nearly as popular as yours. haha But I got great tips from some TV personality-turned-blogger at this weekend’s BlogPodium… 😉

  46. Maggie V says:

    You go girl!!! Looking forward to seeing end result.

  47. Deb Miller says:

    This. is. gonna. be. GREAT! Can’t wait to follow along!

  48. Melissa Leach says:

    I’m puttin’ on my hard hat and I’m ready for the ride. Congrats on your awesome accomplishments, toot that horn, YOU DESERVE IT. Can’t wait for photos.

  49. theresa says:

    I’m sure everything you do to your kitchen will be brilliant, but please, please, please put your new sink underneath that window. We have always lived in homes that have open floor plans and I have always wanted to look out the window while using the sink instead of looking up and seeing the TV in the den. Call me crazy but I would rather look at reality than Reality TV 🙂

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