A woman lying on a bed

Follow Up: Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge

Did you accept the challenge Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge? It’s been six weeks since I wrote about our big kitchen remodel and my determination to follow Cynthia Townley Ewer’s (Cut the Clutter) three rules for organizing an efficient, convenient kitchen. I invited my readers to accept the challenge and many did.

It’s time for a confession and an update.

Confession: My beautiful new kitchen is finished but it is not yet an organized and efficient kitchen.

A woman lying on a bed

Related: Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge

Do you recall Cynthia’s first step in creating an organized kitchen? She says we must harden our hearts and dare to dump everything that is not absolutely necessary and useful. I thought this would be easy. It’s not. There have been days I have felt like giving up and just throwing everything back in the way it was. I’ve been doing a lot of praying.

Here is just one example. I discovered I have six wire mesh colanders. Why? How? I know, and I’m embarrassed. Being disorganized is expensive because we keep buying more of what we have already because we have no idea what we really have because we don’t know where it is.

Cynthia’s three rules (here) have not been to easy to follow, either. There have been times in the past weeks I’ve wished I’d never found her book. But those feelings quickly fade one drawer, one cupboard—one step at a time.

As for an update, I’ve decided to do this with photos, amateur photographer than I am.

First, two before shots:

A modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances and wooden cabinets

This kitchen, as lovely as it might appear, was not efficient, nor was it constructed with quality materials. It was falling apart, and I mean that quite literally. Two drawers were being held together with Gorilla glue and duct tape! The hinges on several doors simple broke in half. It was time to either repair or replace. We chose the replace/remodel route.

A modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances

And now for the after photos of the remodel that my husband did in his spare time, nights and weekends in just 10.5 weeks. I know! Breathtaking, amazing and the only way to do a remodel on a budget.

A kitchen with stainless steel appliances

This is an IKEA kitchen, people—cabinets and quartz counters. We waited for IKEA’s 15% off Kitchen Sale, which dropped the price even more. We had the floors refinished, which was a fraction of the cost of installing new flooring. Appliances are all GE Cafe except for the Fisher & Paykel dishwasher. Bar stools are from American Furniture Warehouse ($67 each).



A kitchen with an island in the middle of a table

A room with a wooden floor

The GE Cafe cooktop is induction; not gas, not electric. I’m learning a new way of cooking and loving it! My husband is also a master tiler. How did I get so lucky?

A kitchen with a stove and a sink


A kitchen with a stove and a sink


A kitchen with a wooden floor

Two gigantic pantries (they are tall and I am not), plus a utility closet.

A refrigerator in a room

This might be my favorite thing: Our new coffee bar!

A kitchen with a sink and a microwave

A kitchen with a table in a room

A kitchen with a leather chair

A kitchen with a stove and a sink


Drawers … so many drawers and all of them with lights inside that come on automatically, the way a refrigerator light works. Brilliant, my sweet husband!

A modern kitchen with an island in the middle of a room

A kitchen with a sink and a window

Perhaps you noticed all of the empty shelves and cupboards. Most of the drawers are empty in these photos, as well.

Next week I plan to open them and show you my hard-fought progress at making this kitchen as efficient and convenient as it is beautiful.

And so my Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge continues, even though it is now Summer. How is yours coming along? If you feel comfortable, give us an update in the comments area HERE.

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15 replies
  1. Beth says:

    Mary, I missed the post about the challenge, but will check it our now. Meanwhile, do you loan that talented man out? For those of us without handy husbands, how do you do an affordable remodel?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      The cost of labor is huge on any kind of remodel or construction. I don’t know how you do-it-yourself if you dont know how or don’t have the skills and tools. Trust me, my husband is handy to have around!

  2. Jo says:

    Too far fetched for people working to live within our means. Or apparently the people in my world do not do decluttering and remodeling on this level. I fail to see how this becomes a living frugally mentality.

    • Suzi says:

      Jo, we are all in different places and stages of life. Some of us have been in our homes for many years and our kids are grown and gone, freeing up a little extra cash. We were where you were once, too. There are always smaller things you can do to spruce up your space, paint can make a huge difference!

  3. Ronda says:

    You do realize that many of us cannot afford that, right? For a cheapskate site this is a little far fetched. I would be happy with cabinets that just closed correctly and could be painted in a way I could afford. Congratulations on your fancy kitchen. I can’t do that. This is not cheap for me. Bye bye

    • Ya But Queen says:

      5 years ago before moving from Illinois to the Nashville area, we replaced our kitchen…original to the house, with an Ikea kitchen and new appliances. I had only 2 walls…one with the sink, the fridge was at the end of that line, so a shortened countertop there, and the stove wall, the stove is 30 inches, I put their 36 inch base unit to the right of the stove, and a 15 inch unit to the left. A small kitchen compared to what people insist they need today, but it held all my stuff from a 45 year marriage! The total for the Ikea cabinets was under $3,000. We assembled and put them in ourselves, my husband is retired and very handy. I LOVED my Ikea kitchen and wish we had an Ikea here. The closest one is in Memphis or Atlanta where my brother in law lives. If you think of Ikea as cheap college dorm room furniture, think again! Unfortunately the company decided not to add a store to Nashville but will focus on on-line sales. Seriously, you must see their stuff in person to appreciate the quality and value. I would do an Ikea kitchen again!

    • Janet S says:

      Mary’s kitchen is obviously a grand-scale remodel. Kitchens come in all kinds of sizes and shapes and Mary’s point is that a quality kitchen remodel can be done within an allotted budget (large or small) with quality materials, especially if you wait for them to go on sale. Plus, you can save on labor if you know a good do-it-yourselfer or want to become one yourself like Mary’s husband.

    • Jan New says:

      Try the “do it yourself” websites for ideas to fix and update your kitchen. There are a lot of cool, inexpensive ideas and projects. My neighbor put in her own garbage disposal after watching a video:)

  4. Deanna Byrne says:

    I did take you up on that challenge. I cleared out a box plus a couple small appliances, and added two wire pullout shelves. Most importantly I really cleaned everything! It looks and functions so much better! Thanks for the challenge! I am looking at New countertops and backsplash. Never thought of IKEA. Will have to check them out. Thanks for sharing your remodel. It looks so good and seems like a great kitchen to cook in!

  5. Karla Mason Bergen says:

    Just WOW! You are so lucky to have a handyman husband. I have to confess I’m more than a bit jealous. My hubby is challenged to hang a picture. Luckily, I have that one covered.


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