We hired a contractor to help install the cabinets and countertop because Mike had never done anything like it, and we were glad we did. It was more complicated than we thought.
The countertop is Mike's pride and joy, so cutting into it was scary, especially because our sink didn't come with a template. We almost didn't get the counter we wanted because they discontinued the color,but fortunately I called the supplier and found they had some in stock and got the place we ordered it from to try again.
The sink fit perfect, fortunately. We still have the cut out piece, we need to make a desk or something with it.
The cabinets were new too, but budget new.
The pantry was fun. The finished cabinets didn't come in the size we wanted so we bought an unfinished one, ordered unfinished doors that matched the new cabinets better, and got the contractor to finish it. The finished cupboards were maple, the doors on the pantry are alder, the frame around the doors are oak, and the panel on the side is birch. Fun stuff! But it looks good. We used what was left of the birch panel to make the kickplates and a panel next to the dishwasher as well. The dishwasher we found on Craigslist for $25. Nice, especially because Mike was laid off.
The microwave was on Craigslist as well. LOVE having the over the stove microwave, it frees up so much space on the counter. The fridge was a gift from someone at church.
We do still plan to get a backsplash above the counters, but that's a long term thing.
The good thing about writing this late is that I have a longer term opinion about the kitchen. The main part has been finished for 3 months, and I have gotten into it well. And I LOVE it! I have so much more space (triple the counterspace, more cupboards) I have a dishwasher, I don't have to put appliances on top of my cupboards, I can actually sweep and mop my floor, and the garbage and recycling fit perfectly under the sink! And the outlets! I never have to to search for a plug, we installed a bunch of new ones, and they are all easily accessible! Plus, we grounded them all. Much safer. I am so happy with my new kitchen!