Yesterday, we featured the kitchen remodel of Darell and Melissa’s 1971 Skyline single wide kitchen remodel. If you haven’t read it yet, go now!
By remodeling the kitchen themselves they saved a lot on labor. Tackling such a large job is scary if you’ve never done it before but with a little research and guidance, you can conquer any job your home needs.
We asked the handy couple a few questions and their advice and candidness is a treat for all the future do-it-yourself gurus out there.
Single Wide Kitchen Remodel:
Tips From Homeowners That Have Done Their Own
What advice would you give someone about to do their own single wide kitchen remodel?
The internet is your friend. Neither of us has much construction experience so with each new step in the project we’d go online and search for tips on how to do whatever it was we were about to do. For example, “How to cut a preformed laminate counter top”. We found how-to’s with pictures and in many cases even videos. We watched them all, printed out any pictures or tips that looked especially useful, and bookmarked them in case we had to refer to them again later. And actually, we did run into some small glitch with almost every new part of the project.
Also, we got a tip from our contractor neighbor that proved to be very valuable and accurate. He said, figure up how much you think it’s going to cost you, then ADD 20%. It seems you always need some screws, a special tool you don’t have, or something you simply didn’t know you would need. Plus while out shopping you find those little “extra” things that make the project work out, like the trim we added to prevent scuff marks on the bottom of the cabinets or the new floor register we didn’t originally include because we didn’t really NEED it but it fit so well with the new look. In our case, we went over our original estimate by 21.2%.
What was the hardest part of the remodel? The easiest?
The hardest thing was getting over the “fear” of tackling such a big project with such limited experience. We worked on cultivating the idea of it being an adventure and a learning experience and had quite a bit of laughing at ourselves in the process. All in all, it was actually FUN and REWARDING and showed us we could do things we didn’t think we could just by taking the time to quadruple check what we were doing and going slowly and deliberately trying not to rush the job. Total time start to finish was about 5 or 6 weeks since we both have jobs, too.
Another part of the job that was more difficult than we thought it would be, was to get the plumbing to line up for the sink drain due to switching from a two basin sink to a single drain sink. Things just did NOT want to line up correctly and it took three trips back to the store to find parts that would work.
Melissa says the easiest part of the job was “turning on the new stove”. She also pointed out that dropping the new floor register into place was easy as it just gets dropped into it’s already there, hole. LOL!
What are your thoughts about the stigma manufactured homes get?
Because they cost less than regular homes many think they aren’t as structurally sound. This is actually untrue, since they must be hauled over roads with potholes and are shaken and jolted around in the process of getting them to where they’ll be, I think they are actually more sound.
Also, many mobile home parks are let’s just say, “less than ideal”. Our park has quite a few rules that ARE enforced, and if you wish to purchase a home within the park you must meet their income and credit requirements as well. It’s one of the better parks in the area with quite a few good amenities and the neighbors are great.
Would you change anything about the remodel?
If the budget had allowed, while the lower cabinets, stove, and refrigerator were out of the way it certainly would have been a good time to resurface the floor. We’ll just have to do that at a later date.
Any tricks that you would like to share?
Be prepared to improvise. Older mobile homes don’t always easily accept newer sized cabinets and appliances. This showed up in the problem with the toe kick area on the lower cabinets and in reworking the cabinet above the stove to be able to install the new range hood.
The upper cabinets we kept are NOT as deep as newer ones, so I had to install a wood base under the lip of the bottom of the cabinet to make it was flush with the lower lip, and THEN add another piece of wood attached to that which extended far enough forward to be able to reach the front mounting holes of the hood. This second piece of wood I put a routed front edge on it and spray painted it with several coats of high gloss black paint so it would blend in well with the new hood. Worked out well, and if we don’t point it out most people don’t notice it isn’t a part of the hood itself.
Also, don’t hesitate to pick up a tool you need to do the job right. For very LOW cost at Harbor Freight, we picked up a small trim router and the right edging router bit to trim the laminate edges. A Japanese pull saw made cutting the two-foot section of the ten-foot countertop easier. This made the countertop cheaper by getting one larger piece instead of two smaller ones (the smallest section of pre-formed countertops don’t come in two-foot lengths so we would have had had to buy a four-foot section and cut it anyway). We were trying to buy ready-made off the shelf stuff to keep the costs down. Trimming the edges with a file would have been a painstaking task and would not have come out nearly as well, which I learned because the very edges near the walls had to be filed by hand anyway. If you were to be here and look really close you’d see the difference.
Do you have any other projects planned?
Living room. The front of the house has a 10-foot wide bay window that bows out from the house with a curved shelf type sill. Before we repaint the room we plan to build a bookcase front from the height of the ledge to the floor and the full width of the room (12 feet) and adding curio shelves up either side of the bay windows to the ceiling. Then we are going to put individual sheer curtains on each of the five windows, and a heavier drapery style curtain from the ceiling to the ledge so we can close it for more privacy.
Bedroom. We’re going to remove the smaller closet and convert it into a sewing center for Melissa. With drop down tables and added surfaces for her to use for her sewing projects. It will all fold back up into the “closet” and hide behind a double door when not in use.
What are some advantages of living in an older mobile in your opinion?
Lower cost. We paid cash for the house, and have NO house payment. Wooden studs in the walls can be useful when installing cabinets.
|Test fitting the countertop.|
Any advice on setting cabinets? Tricks?
Use shims to make certain they are level. Be sure to use the right type of screws to secure them and make certain the ones you use to attach the countertop are the correct length. You don’t want a screw poking up through your nice new countertop. LOL! When test fitting the countertop make sure you look closely around ALL of the edges, sides, back, and front. We ended up with a gap on one of the back edges because we didn’t notice it when we were test fitting it, being more concerned about the side to side length and the walls on either end, so we had to add trim along the top edge of the backsplash to hide it. Again, it’s something that no one notices, but it could have been avoided if we had been a bit more alert earlier in the process.
How did you pick the paint color?
Our house has a carport that runs the full length of the house on one side and a covered, enclosed sunroom that runs almost the full length on the other side. Add to that, we are surrounded by huge trees and it’s almost always in complete shade, which is a good thing in the summertime. With most of the interior being brown paneling and with no way for the sun to directly shine into the house it seemed kind of dark. So we picked the brightest WHITE we could. It makes the place brighter and cheerier.
We chose a black stove and hood because Mel liked it, so we picked the best “pre-formed” countertop that would go well with both the black stove AND white walls and refrigerator. The grey accent color we used actually is a little lighter than it looks in the pictures, but it’s a very neutral grey. What this allows us to do, is to completely change the “look” of the kitchen by simply changing the curtains and accents we put in it. We started off with bright RED curtains, but Melissa has plans to make some green ones, blue ones, purple ones, yellow ones, etc. They ALL go well with black, white, and grey. Oh, and we DO plan to replace that crooked old light fixture above the sink too.
Thank you, Darell and Mel, for allowing us a glance into your home and for providing such useful and handy tips for a single wide kitchen remodel! By sharing your knowledge and experience you are helping others to realize their dream and that’s a very honorable thing to do! We appreciate your candidness and helpful tips very much.
If you have a remodel you would like to share, please contact me and as always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!