Chateaulando: Planning The Kitchen

6 March 2017

Sources: Delta Brass Faucet, White Tile from Cosmos, Ikea Wooden CountertopUpper Cabinets (Color: White) and Lower Cabinets (Color: Clay) from Semihandmade, LG Refrigerator, Park Studio Cabinet Pulls, Drawer Pulls from MyKnobs, Bertazzoni Range, Bosch Dishwasher.

Dear Renter’s Diary,

It’s pretty impossible to find an apartment that is perfect in every way. Usually if the kitchen is great, the living room is too small. Or if the bathroom is spacious and sun-filled, the bedroom lacks a window or adequate closet space. So when I came across my new apartment (after being beat out for two similar apartments in the area) I jumped on it, despite how ugly and gross the kitchen was. The landlord told me she’d split the cost of renovating the kitchen with me and I had interest from a few product sponsors so I figured, why not? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

. . . E v e r y t h i n g .

My landlord basically flaked on paying for anything (aside from some demo work and tile) and the appliance sponsor I originally had on board got so complicated that I ended up forgoing the sponsorship altogether. So now I’m basically paying fully for a kitchen IN A RENTAL. To top it all off, I no longer have a full time job or a regular paycheck (can’t really say more on that) so while trying to dust myself off from getting dumped a few months ago now I’m also freaking out daily about how I’m going to pay my bills WHILE WASTING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON A KITCHEN I DON’T OWN. It’s definitely a comedy of errors type situation. Like I never would have signed an expensive lease and gotten myself into an expensive kitchen renovation had I known I was going to not have a job in a month. It’s actually kind of funny how many things have gone wrong, like I’m laughing at how stupid it is.

Okay, I’m not writing this post just to complain about how hard my life is. I realize I’m pretty lucky to be doing what I want to be doing on a daily basis. I also realize this is all my responsibility. I’ve made some poor decisions. On the bright side, because I now have more time, I’m concentrating on design clients and revitalizing this blog, which I didn’t have time for when I was employed full-time. I’m working on my plan for Orlando INC, and I’m feeling pretty positive about how it will all turn out. ALSO I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO STRESSED ABOUT MONEY AND I COULD LITERALLY BE HOMELESS IN A MONTH.

A few people have reached out to me to ask how I negotiated renovating this place with my landlord. My landlord had planned to renovate the kitchen but was going to raise the rent if she did so and offered to split the cost with me. I agreed to that and we tore out the kitchen. Then once the costs started rolling in (installation of appliances, cabinetry, etc) she basically reversed her stance and decided not to pay for anything. I’m not a master negotiator or very aggressive with this type of thing, but I did my best to try and get her to pay her fair share. I failed. So now I’m basically gifting her a $20,000 kitchen. I’ll enjoy it and I love to cook and have friends over, so I suppose it’s an investment in great experiences to come, but I do feel a bit like I’ve been taken advantage of.

This is one of the worst parts of renting. It’s an inherently oppositional relationship. Your landlord wants to charge you the most money for the shittiest product, and you want the nicest place for the least amount of money. I can only imagine how annoying it is to be a landlord in a building like this, which is older and needs a lot of maintenance. But at the same time, the landlord is making bank off owning a building. I have sympathy for how difficult it must be pay for all the repairs on a building like mine, but I’m also like, “You’re rich, why am I buying you a goddamn kitchen?”

So I guess I don’t have a ton of advice for anyone looking to renovate their rental kitchen. I’d say if you do so, be ready to spend a lot of money and don’t expect too much from your landlord. Unless you have a special landlord with a heart of gold, most of them are just going to want to do the bare minimum to keep you in the apartment paying rent. But investing in a kitchen you plan on using for years is a worthy investment. Think about all the money you’re spending on rent every month. Why spend all that money and live in a place you don’t fully love? If I had to do this all over again, knowing what I know about the landlord and my employment situation, I wouldn’t have moved into this apartment or agreed to this kitchen renovation. But I did both of those things so now I’m dealing with the consequences. The only thing to say about it is the same thing I’ve been saying since I got dumped in November. It is what it is. Moving on.

My shining savior in this has been Semihandmade, who are doing all the cabinetry. If you don’t know Semihandmade, they are known for taking Ikea cabinetry and customizing it for your space. The result is the high-end look of custom cabinetry at a much more approachable price point. I’m going pretty traditional with the kitchen to stay in keeping with the style of the building, so I’m doing shaker style cabinets. The kitchen is tiny and currently has no storage for my ten thousand dishes, so we’re adding a lot of built-in storage everywhere which I could not possibly be more excited about.

Before I moved in, the flooring was this gross tile. I think it probably looked good at some point but we took it out and replaced it with an absolutely lovely concrete-look tile I found at a local tile vendor. The appliances were huge and ugly so they’re all being replaced with smaller, more appropriately-scaled ones.

I’m constantly perplexed by the design of apartments. This is what I call the laundry hole. It now has a washer/dryer in it. We are building cabinets around them for more storage. HOW FUCKING SCARY IS THAT WATER HEATER. Kinda surprised he hasn’t walked into my bedroom and murdered me in my sleep already.

The previous fridge was 36″ wide and way too deep. The new one (which arrived last week) is 24″ wide and 24″ deep, so it won’t jut so far into the middle of the room. Before I moved in, the landlord actually reached out to a restoration company to see how expensive it would be to repair all the cabinets (which I’m guessing were installed in the sixties). It was going to be about $7000 so it made more sense to just replace them with cabinets that are more in keeping with the style of the building.

There’s a large window that overlooks the backyard garden. I’m installing a dishwasher to the left of the sink but keeping the rest of the layout pretty much the same.

 

Figuring out the layout for the kitchen was tough because it’s so small. I’m moving the range (it was originally on the wall opposite the sink) to the wall opposite the fridge and adding cabinetry above it for more storage. I don’t think there’s anything that makes me as happy as storage. STORAGE WILL U MARRY ME?

I’m going pretty bright/airy in the kitchen. The upper cabinets are white and the lower cabinets are a very faint grey.

I hate dark kitchens, so I’m adding as much lighting as possible. Since I was pretty much tapped out by the time I got to light fixtures, I tried to find affordable ones. The main light sources are this simple, large-scale Globe Pendant Light and this Globe Flushmount. I’m also adding Ikea Undermount Lighting to make sure I don’t chop off my fingers whilst cutting carrots.

The above look (another Semihandmade kitchen from Chris Loves Julia) is pretty much what I’m going for. Just simple, traditional, and elegant. I’m wavering between doing a parquet pattern on the backsplash for something more interesting and doing a simple subway pattern. I’m torn because I like the subway pattern and it’s classic, but I’m also kinda sick of it. What do you think?

 

I found this gorgeous (and inexpensive) floor tile at Cosmos in LA and I love it. It looks like it’s made of concrete but it’s actually ceramic, which is why it’s only $5 sq/ft I suppose. The walls are Benjamin Moore Super White and I’m doing a simple wood countertop from Ikea. I don’t fully recommend wood as a countertop surface because it’s not durable at all, but it’s VERY affordable compared to what else is out there. I got a few quotes for Corian and other composite materials and they were all around $1700. The wood cost me about $350. If I find it’s not working or it gets damaged I’ll probably replace it with something more durable (also, when I’ve recovered a bit financially from all the other kitchen-related expenses).

The kitchen’s color palette is pretty neutral but I’m adding a little pop with a Flat Roman Shade from Loom Decor. I’m SOOOOO excited about these! They arrived over a month ago and have just been sitting in a box, being the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I love a preppy stripe, especially in a kitchen. And they add a needed splash of pigment.

Despite all the weirdness with my landlord and my terrifying financial situation, I’m really excited about my new kitchen. I’d literally not have a kitchen if it weren’t for Semihandmade and I’m so stoked to see their pretty doors installed on all the NEW STORAGE I’m going to have. Installation starts this week and I’ll be updating you ASAP when I have my “after” pics.

GET EXCITED! (And I’m sorry for so much whining).

Love,
Orlando

Photography Credits: Chris Loves Julia, Homepolish

54 Comment

  1. Wow! That’s a lot of stress, but you still managed to pull an elegant kitchen design together. I love that you are doing the uppers in white to keep the kitchen light and bright. That water heater is frightening! Not replacing my water heater with a tankless option was one of the mistakes I made when I brought my apartment in florida down to the studs, well really I brought it down to the 4 exterior walls(it was original 70’s EVERYTHING and not the cool stuff, with the exception of a lucite table that I kept). To be honest there were so many decisions to make I completely overlooked it! If that terrifying water tank is as old as it looks maybe you could sell your landlord on replacing it with the tankless option, I believe there are a bunch of benefits, but for you it would be so much more space for storage!!!

  2. R says:

    Long time reader, never-commenter. I am so appreciative of the courage it must take to break the oppressive silence of online perfectionism. That you’re including us in on this story even though you’re not sure how it’ll pan out leaves me awestruck and grateful. I hope that you experience safety, security, kindness, and inspiration in the coming year (and every year). This internet stranger is rooting for you, as always. (Plus of course your kitchen plans are beautiful and tasteful and functional and lovey).

    1. Naomi says:

      Eloquently put. Ditto!

  3. Annie says:

    O man, Orlando– $$ madness, right? It’s the case for so many of us. Know what, though? Even though you wouldn’t have chosen for these events to occur right now, I am POSITIVE it’s going to be awesome in the end. You’re going to have a beautiful kitchen and apartment AND creative/professional freedom and autonomy. How cool is that? I’m convinced you would have chosen this (professionally) at some point as it’s the logical next step for a great talent and voice such as yours. Keep on keepin’ on– it’s gonna be awesome!

  4. LA says:

    Just a question. When you’ll eventually move out, can you bring with you the kitchen (since it is ikea, you can rearrange the modules and/or add new ones if needed) and the appliances? Since the landlord didn’t pay for them, they are yours to keep, I guess. I am not sure how it works in the US, though… here you can buy or rent homes with or without a kitchen. If there is no kitchen, when you move out you usually try to sell it to the new renter or you bring it with you.

    1. April says:

      In the US people don’t usually take the kitchen with, but sometimes they take appliances and fixtures that are easily removable (like the faucet). Not always though.

      1. guada says:

        I really hope he does this when he moves out, if the landlord doesn’t pay any of it.

    2. Julie P says:

      He could replace the appliances with bottom of the line or used models when he moves out. I’m guessing nothing was put into writing or the landlord would have not been able to screw him over like this. The cabinets are attached to the structure so by California law they become property of the landlord.

      1. Hopefully he kept the old crappy appliances and can take the nice new ones when he goes and leave those! i love your honesty and it makes you so relatable and loveable Orlando!

    3. laliday@att.net says:

      LOL He cannot do that. He entered into a lease agreement where the whole apartment had appliances, kitchen cabinetry, and a bath. You cannot demo a place and leave it just like that without any consequences. If he decides to change anything, he needs an agreement with a landlord. He cannot just demo a place because a landlord asks him to. It’s not safe and you can have a lawsuit for this. It seems the landlord did pay half for a demo. If he has any supporting evidence, and witnesses, he should sue the landlord for their half of the renovation cost. But he cannot just take things out of an apartment and take it with him. He destroyed it and he has to fix it. If he kept old appliances, that would be another story. He could always replace them before leaving. The fridge though wouldn’t fit

  5. Jackie says:

    Love you, Orlando! You’ll get through it all. Sorry it’s gotten pretty rough on you the last few months but you’re so talented I’m sure working on more design clients will totally pull you out of this funk! Sending you hugs and all the good vibes! 💖💖💖

  6. Rachel M says:

    I just recently started to read your blog and I love it and you so much! I’m sorry life is being the WORST right now and I hope you get to have a bunch of fabulous dinner parties with your new kitchen soon. Love the design and I think it will make all this change in your life a little better and easier once it’s done and that bit of stress can go away.

  7. Jody says:

    I hope you have a wonderful photographer friend that can shoot it for you and you will blow up the internet with photos. Everyone will wish they had sponsored you and beg to sponsor your bathroom reno. I am putting it out in the universe for you to become an instant hit globally with your approachable designs. I will Like and comment on every photo i see. You have my commitment. Who else is with me? If we have a small role in how your paychecks roll in then we will try our best to help. We all enjoy you so much and you should be paid to entertain us….

    1. Naomi says:

      I’m with you Jody!

  8. Leisa says:

    I have read your blog for quite a while, and am so sorry that you are going through such a rough time. But on the plus side, your blog has never been better – I appreciate your realness, and openess. Also, your landlord is a dick. I vote you take the kitchen with you when you go – you paid for it. Espcially the appliances. (Or sell them off). And i would say, spend as little as you possibly can – although you want the kitchen to look amazing, i’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to see a beautiful kitchen done on an affordable budget.

  9. Dena says:

    Well, it can only get better from here, right? And that kitchen!! I kinda like that you had to work within a tighter budget and space as I feel the constraint will show what you can do with less. And then you can upgrade as time goes on. I really like that you are going with white appliances. I know you were asking recently about referrals for sustainable products and companies and that’s wonderful but my vote would also be to show us more of your vintage side/ garbage finds!! You are so loved and so honest and real. You need a show. Period.

  10. Always being a fan of your blog. This posting resonated with me as we are currently doing renovations on our house. All I can say it’s a huge mess and the project started off small but we just kept on adding on. Breaking the bank but it’s coming to an end soon. Looks amazing so far. But you are truly gifted with vision and able to just bring it all together. Sometimes to read that your realtionship also ended, and I am sure this radical change of moving and job wise will lead to an amazing journey for you ahead. Ivan.

  11. Imelda Gold says:

    Gorgeous! So frustrated with your landlord. Did you get this agreement about the kitchen in writing? If so, pursuing your legal courses of action might be an idea. If not, as another commenter mentioned, TAKE EVERYTHING WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE! Or ask the landlord to buy from you whatever they want to keep at that time. But definitely don’t pay for it all and then leave it there when you move.

  12. Katerina says:

    Just wanted to send all my positive thoughts and vibes to you from Greece. I am sure the kitchen will look great and sooner than you know it you will be cooking for your new perfect boyfriend 🙂
    Also, when you recover a bit financially, get yourself a lawyer to tell you what your rights are against your shitty landlord…

  13. April says:

    I think the lesson learned here is if the landlord agrees to anything, always always always GET IT IN WRITING. That way they have to keep their promise.

    I’m excited for your new kitchen. Sorry it came about in such a sucky way, though.

    1. April says:

      Sorry, the bit about getting it in writing sounded more critical than I intended. I meant we all can benefit from this now that you’ve taught us.

      I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time with life right now. I hope you have someone trustworthy to talk it all out with. 🙂

  14. Katy says:

    Okay I have a few things to say besides the obvious OHMY GOD I AM SO SORRY UGHHHH

    1.) You better take all that shit with you when you move. I’m not even kidding. Europeans do it all the time, they move with their kitchen cabinets and appliances. I know, it’s weird but even if it doesn’t work in your new place you can sell it all on Craigslist or facebook or light fire to it and cackle at your landlord. There is no reason this jack ass should get a brand new $20K kitchen for free. Oh hell no.

    2.) The Chris Loves Julia kitchen is so beautiful and I remember Julia saying that because that kitchen was so tiny that she used a smaller subway tile to make the room look bigger and it totally does! I think her tiles were 2×4″ and regular subway tile is 3×6″? Anyway, something to consider.

    3.) Also re: the subway tile and which pattern you should choose, I would ask the installer if one costs more to install and see if that influences your decision. But also I would just make it classic subway pattern because of the age of the building.

    4.) And finally, yes way Jose does wood hold up! You just have to seal it. I had the same exact wood in my last kitchen and literally couldn’t have been happier with it. I sealed it with like 5 coats of poly (which was still only a quart – small kitchen too) and in the years we lived there, I never saw one spot that looked like it needed touching up or like it wasn’t wearing well. It can totally be done so don’t you even think about spending more money on Dorian or quartz down the line for a damn rental.

    Okay that’s a lot, but I’m done now. Big hugs to you. This is such a shitty shitty time but you will laugh uproariously at it one day. Xo.

    1. I agree – take that shit with you! I mean, I’d still sue your landlord FOR SURE.

  15. M says:

    So it’s sounds like things kind of stink, but man you are the real deal Orlando. No doubt we will continue to see great things from you in the future, with time this will hopefully just be a short hiccup in your life.
    I love what you’re doing with the kitchen. I know your budget isn’t as big as other projects you’ve done in the past, but I love seeing really talented and experienced designers doing more budget friendly projects so I’m really excited to see how this ends up.

  16. Oh my God, please sue this woman! You only rented the apartment because you made the agreement to split the cost! An alternative is to pay her only half rent for however many months it takes to get to $10,000 – or whatever half of the kitchen would cost. Then let her sue you. You have a good defense. I’m a lawyer (obvi), but I don’t practice in California – do you have any lovely California lawyer readers? I’m SURE one of them will give you good advice.

  17. Mimi says:

    My advice on wood counters is pil them often and they will last great!

    1. Mimi says:

      Oil

    2. lauren says:

      Also a lawyer but not in CA, but yes, my immediate thought was to withhold rent until the amount agreed was reached.
      Still a crappy situation but that would make it a little less painful…

  18. Sarah McLeroy says:

    you don’t have to have the kitchen agreement in a formal contract writing (or in any writing at all) to think about legal action. even a text message, email, something like that would probably be enough. UCLA and USC both have great law schools and undoubtedly have legal clinics where students practice under the guidance of lawyers and might be able to help you. I would look for a civil clinic.

    1. patty blaettler says:

      And save every receipt!

  19. Amy says:

    Renter’s rights are a thing and every major city has a government office to help deal with bad landlords, and pro bono lawyers as well. You don’t have to take it lying down. The renter-landlord relationship is heavily proscribed by law (for good reason- landlords have all the power)! Plus small claims court is often a good way to recoup SOME money without paying hefty legal fees.

    That aside, you are my favorite. Because you are so real (and funny) despite all this shit, not to mention wildly talented!

  20. Taryn says:

    Oh going to a legal clinic is a great idea. DC has a great tenant’s bill of rights and a whole department to help fight this kind of bs. Good luck!

    The good news is you’re owed a huge dose of good karma any day now.

  21. rlybrg says:

    Not super familiar with Los Angeles (I’m a DC lawyer), but big cities are notoriously TENANT FRIENDLY. The way you would typically get your money back for something like this is to stop paying rent, or by paying half until you get to $10,000 like another commenter said… the landlord will either say “fine, ok” or will have to sue to evict you. You show up to court, and tell the judge that you have all of the rent money saved, but your landlord has renigged on the deal you relied upon to move into the apartment. Surely you must have some texts or SOMETHING showing some conversation about it. Further, you have photographic evidence that you moved into the apartment with NO kitchen. You explain the situation, and the tenant-friendly judge tells the landlord what an awful human being she is, and changes your rent to reflect the agreement. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but it sounds like your financial situation isn’t strong enough to just give up. FURTHER, most all big city landlord/tenant courts have a resource center for people just like you, where an attorney will help you with the forms and what you can say (in other words, you probably don’t have to hire an attorney). Do some Googling, but I think you really are in a stronger position than you realize.

  22. Laurielulu says:

    Hello All and Orlando!

    So much to say…..
    1. In CA, there is no renter protections. In my experiences, it is not a renters market. If Orlando sued, he would immediately be evicted. A sixty day notice can be issued with no reason etc. regardless of lease terms. Happened to me two times.
    2. I’m embarrassed and ashamed, I stalked you on your work site to see what was up. I know you cannot say but I was worried, which you have confirmed…..sigh. I’m sorry, instability is hard. Orlando, you know damn well your talents will carry things to a better place at just the right time.
    3. I cannot and will not address love lives…..I haven’t had a date in 6 years….sigh. People are dang crazy 😜.
    4. I am re-doing a 100 year old colonial, I’m in the I.E. Kitchen being up next. Wanna do some online designs for me? Let’s talk about it.

    Put it all out there and the Universe will bring it to you. Create a visual board of what you want your life to look like and it will come at just the right time. ❤️💋👏🏻

    1. BSM says:

      There are certainly renters protections in CA, though they vary a lot on where you live. I know there are fewer in LA than they are in the Bay Area, but it’s best to do your research yourself.

  23. Naomi says:

    You’re REALLY inspirational Orlando! Not only because of your enviable taste & talents and the open, truthful way you write – Oh no, it’s because of your awesome attitude (paraphrasing) “Life Sucks, Carry On.”
    Reading about you overcoming your own hardships with optimism make me realize that accepting the sucksage isn’t the same as giving up, and that it can be smarter (and healthier!) to just roll with the punches instead of fight against them. Like you said, very freeing. Makes me feel relieved to consider adopting that attitude myself, anyways.
    So next time life throws shit at me -from something as small as missing a work deadline to as big as being conned out of 30,000 by family- I’m going to try just going “Meh, so what else is new?” and moving on! Well, maybe not from that 30k con so fast… but still!

    Sounds like you’re turning the suckage around; I look forward to your new professional ventures! And dear god, a full reveal post of that kitchen. Please, I already can’t stop thinking of painting my bedroom a blush pink.

  24. Kika says:

    Wow! That floor tile is known as “la baldosa de Bilbao”, the tile used in the streets of my hometown, in the Basque Country (Spain). It was designed to support heavy rain and avoid slipping. There’s a whole wikipedia post about it, but Im afraid it is not translated into English (but you will ser a photo of the design that I think it’s exactly tour tile!)

    https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldosa_de_Bilbao

  25. BSM says:

    Ugh, I hate shady landlords – they give all of us a bad name! I take my responsibility as a landlord to provide housing to another family EXTREMELY SERIOUSLY (it’s home for someone else – there’s very little else so fundamental and significant in our lives!).

    I second others’ suggestions to look into your local renters’ rights options and small claims court. Also, it may be too late for this, but you could threaten to not finish the kitchen and break your lease if your landlord doesn’t follow through on her agreement to pay for half.

    Looks lovely!! We’re drawing up plans for our kitchen reno now, and I can’t wait!!!!

  26. Virginia says:

    Just starting reading your blog. I’ve been following you on Instagram and have read your posts on Emily Henderson’s blog in the past. You are so funny and talented. Sorry about the series of unfortunate events (to put it lightly). A broken heart and bank account. Sending good karma out there for your heart to mend and bank account grow : )

  27. Monica says:

    Okay landlord, dish out the $7000 you would have paid to get non-wonky cabinets at least. My God, she’s getting design services for free to boot. Obviously this rental is going to be the nicest unit in the building.

  28. what a shit-tastic landlord! i’m pretty sure i would have just stopped doing the kitchen, like, leaving it exactly as is and trying to get out of the lease. would that not be cheaper than gifting her a new kitchen, which she will get to enjoy/reap benefits of for a long time? you are a better person than i. good luck to you. i love emily, and enjoyed your writing (and wordplay!) when posting about orcondo, so on today’s post she mentioned you and recent challenges, let’s say, and like a little voyeur i did have to see what was up…man. and yikes. what happened with orcondo? also, oy. you got this, tho.
    b

  29. Diane says:

    I’m cheering you on, Orlando! Also, parquet pattern for the backsplash. Looking forward to seeing your progress, and I promise you, life will get better.

  30. Jennifer says:

    I can not wait to see your finished kitchen. It’s crazy what a difference it makes when you have a kitchen you love. I know because I’m really super duper not liking my current kitchen and it puts me in a funk every time I walk in to it. Which is of course all day every day.
    I’m glad you’re blogging again because I love reading your stuff. You are talented in many ways!

  31. Emily says:

    Hey orlando
    Why dont you just say that youll take the kitchen with you when you move out… its really common in europe to rent a place where you have to put in your own kitchen and then take it with you to the next place. At least then you have a point to negotiate from if the owner wants to keep it when you vacate.

  32. […] chose the inexpensive Ikea pendant mainly because I ran out of money while doing my NIGHTMARE KITCHEN PROJECT but I was surprised at how much I loved it in person. It’s a pretty great piece for $60! My […]

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I am so sorry this is all happening. I would certainly do what everyone else is suggesting and look up your rights as a renter. And if that doesn’t work I’d take everything I could from the kitchen when you move. You are strong. I have to believe there are many good things coming your way!

  34. jessvii says:

    First off, you need to get yourself a friend that’s a lawyer so you can get some pro bono legal advice. I think you can recoup a lot of your costs on this project given that if this ever did come before a judge, the judge would see the inequity between you being locked into a lease and paying for a kitchen reno (insert average costs for kitchen renos here) on your own for a place you have no ownership interest in. The kitchen reno is increasing the value of the unit to the landlord (not just the potential rent that she could charge later), and you have her prior word that she knew the kitchen needed help and that she was going to split the reno costs with you (which frankly, even that sounds kind of outrageously generous of you). You have a boatload of photos documenting the before and after, so you have abundant evidence of what you’ve done (save your receipts, etc.). Further, you had to live through a demo project – not exactly ideal (most tenants get a discount in their rent if they live through a demo, at the very least, due to inconvenience and loss of use of part of the space they’re renting). True, you could threaten to take your landlord to small claims court on your own, and she might cave without you having to get a lawyer on board. And one more thing – just because a sponsor gifts some items doesn’t mean that those are “free” in terms of getting your landlord to pay you back. They were gifted because of your job and the sponsorship deal you negotiated and executed. So, I think the landlord owes you something for that too. Second, what is the plan for when you eventually move out? Do you get to take the new appliances with you or what? If so, you should try to get that in writing. We’re rooting for you!

    1. Lane says:

      That’s a great advice. i also think that Orlando can and should do a budget renovation. If he’s stuck with this and doesn’t have the funds, he can always buy the cheapest range available, cheapest fridge, cheapest lights. $5 per sq ft of floor tile is still expensive. Home Depot or Floor and Decor sells some tile for $1-2 a sq ft. It’s not going to have the same look, but it can be a close enough replacement and may not cause the entire look and feel of the place much different. I can say the same thing about the range, countertop, cabinets, faucet, fridge. It’s not going to look high end at the end, but with his skills it will have a professional look because it will be built in, and the scale and colors will be properly selected and matched to the space.

  35. shannon says:

    Happy to follow along here and on Emily’s blog too! I hope the kitchen investment returns several times over since you are using it for work.

    Your mood board and inspiration photos both have inset cabinet doors — is that possible with IKEA/semihandmade?? I love the look!

  36. Cj says:

    Take the kitchen with you when you leave. They do it in Europe.

  37. Melissa says:

    Orlando, I don’t even have words for this situation. Sometimes when I’m having a particularly trying day I sing myself the theme song from Kimmy Schmidt. It helps. Also, you can totally install LED strip lighting under your upper cabinets. By yourself, or get a friend to help. You definitely have the skills, and you can teach yourself from watching YouTube videos. And your quartet of Yosemite photos look even more stunning on pink. But my favorite part is how the edge of the water looks like you have suddenly grown long hair which is styled into an 80’s metal band ponytail just barely visible over your shoulder. Absurd of course, and an amazingly awesome unplanned accident. You alive, damn it, and strong as hell!

  38. Carmen says:

    Lovely kitchen but shame you carried on given your landlord’s change of tack (surely the rental contract was broken then so you could have left without fear of penalty?)

    Definitely take the kitchen with you when you move, unless she agrees to buy it from you I guess – it’s yours! I think your landlord has taken advantage of your job/skills.

  39. sc says:

    This is going to be gorgeous. I have semi handmade doors for three years now – my realtor’s husband is an architect and tipped us off. They’re great. Sorry your landy sucks. But take all the appliances when you go.

  40. Kellie says:

    Wow! Everything is beautiful. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Also, I want to go key your landlord’s car. Just kidding. Kinda. Hopefully good karma comes your way, and she gets what she deserves.

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