The 80/20 Rule At Work In Our Kitchen

The Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, is a common aphorism that basically states:

In many endeavors, 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.

Or, put another way,

The final 20% of results, requires 80% of the effort.

And we’re seeing an application of the Pareto principle as we start to attack the major structural changes in our kitchen.

Like we talked about in our post on dreaming and designing our dream kitchen, we’re taking our 1980’s cave of a kitchen, with small windows, dropped 7 foot ceilings, and an inefficient use of floor space and opening it up.

View into kitchen/dining area with thick blue lines indicating change to ceiling line and where wall will move opening up the space.

View into kitchen/dining area with thick blue lines indicating change to ceiling line and where wall will move opening up the space.

The two major structural changes that we’re making are vaulting the ceiling to match the vaulted ceiling in the adjacent living room, and moving a wall to take space from a laundry closet in the garage and make it interior space in the kitchen/dining room.

We actually started on the prep work for this several months ago in the garage, rerouting plumbing, electric, and dryer vents to move the laundry, and over the last month, (while sick, what a champ!) Mr PoP has been building the new wall. The old wall was still there, so we had this weird mostly enclosed space that I had taken to calling the clubhouse where I would go in and dance.


Temporary clubhouse between the new wall and the old wall!

But as cool as the clubhouse was, I was pretty excited this past Saturday, after I got home from my morning yoga class, Mr PoP asked me if I was ready to get rid of the old wall and asked me if I wanted to leave for an hour to be out of the house while it was noisy with him taking down the framing 2x4s.

“No way! I just did 15 consecutive full wheel poses! I am pumped! I want to help!”

So he showed me how to wield the sledge hammer to knock the studs out and an hour later we had the wall down.  Here’s the before and after:


Top – before, Bottom – after incorporating laundry closet as interior space


(We also moved the map ~3 feet to the right in case it’s not obvious!)

The messiness of the after picture actually detracts from the visual impact a bit (darnit!), but trust me, the difference is HUGE. It actually didn’t hit Mr PoP how huge it was until the wall was down. Somehow my saying the dining area would be 46%* wider for the past month didn’t hit home with him in the way that standing in the wide open area now did.

The area of the floor without tile was all out in the closet in the garage. In the grand scheme of our house, it’s only ~3% of the square footage, but recapturing it here instead of being in a garage closet is already making the house feel so much bigger.

Moving this wall is our 80% of results that we are getting for 20% of our efforts. And boy was it satisfying! This is the Pareto principle at work in our kitchen. And we both realized it almost immediately. Well, after sitting in the living room staring at the kitchen with our jaws agape for a while.

How Badly Do We Want The Other 20%?

After we both recovered from the shock of how big the kitchen is already (we each twirled around in it and were amazed that we could without running into anything!), I had to stop and ask Mr PoP.

“This is pretty amazing. And getting an additional 1 foot on the flat ceiling, for an eight foot ceiling would probably be pretty easy too. Modifying the roof trusses to get the full vaulted ceiling (to 10.5 feet) is definitely NOT going to be easy. Do you still want to go all the way and vault the ceiling?”

I meant it to sound pretty casual and nonchalant, as though I had nothing invested in Mr PoP’s answer, but boy was I relieved when he said, “I think the truss modification is going to be 80% of the effort for 20% of the result, but I still think we should do it. This is our one shot at this project and this is our forever home. Let’s make it a 100% home instead of an 80% home and go all the way.”

Then I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding and smiled. The easy part of the Pareto principle might be over for these structural changes, but I still think we’ve got some more awesomeness ahead on this yet.


Have you noticed the Pareto principle in action in your life lately?


* And yet, our net worth going up by 32% in 2014 and 49% in 2013 strike him as huge. But putting those in linear (not dollar terms) does nothing for him!


36 comments to The 80/20 Rule At Work In Our Kitchen

  • That’s looking amazing already! Wow–it really opens up that whole space! I’m so excited for you. I do sometimes apply the Pareto principle because otherwise, I can slide into perfectionism and then nothing gets done. Sometimes I need to just move through projects and not aim for 100%.

    This is often the approach I need to take in home improvement projects, because otherwise I’ll drive Mr. FW (and myself) crazy. I learned this as I spent hours (HOURS) painting the curvy, tricky spindles on our staircase. At a certain point, I had to realize that I’m not a professional spindle-painter, and there’s no way I’m going to be able to make it look perfect. The staircase looks great and I’ve never given the spindles a second glance :).

    P.S. 15 wheel poses is quite impressive. Nice!
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Frugal Hound Sniffs: Eyes On The DollarMy Profile

    • I think when we get down to the nitty gritty of the aesthetics, we’ll probably be okay with 80% in some areas – but for the big stuff we still really want to go 100%!

      re yoga: 15 wheel poses was not easy, especially b/c our instructor didn’t tell us we were doing 15 (for our first power class in 2015!) until we had finished the first 5 (where we usually stop) and I had given those 5 my all. But it was exhilarating at the end to have completed it. =)

  • Wow! Moving that wall REALLY opens up the space. With the vaulted ceiling it’ll look absolutely divine. Congratulations on your new kitchen!
    Taylor Lee recently posted..2015 Challenge: Cut My Food Spending By 30%My Profile

  • That looks huge!

    We’re going to have to wait on our kitchen renovations… (that I’ve been putting off forever). Going on leave next year is going to be EXPENSIVE.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..RBOCMy Profile

  • Wow I love it! I have a few friends who opened up areas in their home by doing something similar. Crazy how much room that adds to a home!
    Michelle recently posted..Unhealthy Habits That May Be Making You PoorMy Profile

    • It is crazy, especially when you consider that it’s really only about 35sqft that’s moving from the garage to the interior of the house. Not that much to make such a huge difference!

  • I can definitely see the difference. And when that ceiling opens up it’s going to look great. I’d love to bust out a wall and make our kitchen bigger! I hope you post pictures of the final product. What will you do with the new space?
    Brian@Luke1428 recently posted..99 Simple Action Items to Help You Spend Less and Save More in 2015My Profile

  • That’s gorgeous! (Or it will be, hee.) It already looks like a much more pleasant place to hang out and cook.
    C@thesingledollar recently posted..Why I Don’t Percentage-BudgetMy Profile

    • haha, I agree that gorgeous isn’t the word I would use to describe it… at least not yet. But it’s certainly getting easier to see the potential!

  • I love the way you guys came to the conclusion you did. Sometimes it’s worth it to get the whole 100%.
    Done by Forty recently posted..Playing with My EmotionsMy Profile

  • Your eating area is so much bigger now!

    As for us… well we have a powder room with new paint, floors, toilet. There’s also a new sink and trim, but we’ve gone months without installing them. So ya, I think I know the 80/20 concept pretty well, ha!
    Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom recently posted..2015 Budget for a Family with a ToddlerMy Profile

    • Increasing the size of the eating area was a huge priority in this since it was so tiny we really couldn’t have guests over to eat inside. All dinner parties had to be outside on the patio, which is nice, but it’s also good to have an alternative in inclement weather. =)

      So when are you going to commence with the new sink and trim? It’ll look great when done I’m sure. =)

  • I was intrigued with Sledgehammer, best of luck on the finish.
    Even Steven recently posted..Act Like Your Grandpa and Grandma in 2015My Profile

    • haha, it’s not a huge sledgehammer, just a little one the size of a normal hammer, but a bit heavier. Sounds more impressive than it looks, I think!

  • That looks great. We hope knocking out part of a wall between our living room and kitchen has the same effect!

    I wish we could get cracking on ours now, but lots to do before then. We’re taking a do-it-yourself class at Home Depot on how to install flooring. Should be…fun. :)
    Mr. FI recently posted..End of Year FinancesMy Profile

  • Wow! What a project!

    It’s amazing how much larger a space looks when you knock out or move a wall.

    Hm. What do the trusses look like? Could they remain in place and appear like beams in the new kitchen, maybe with a paint job?

    If you have rebuild the support for the roof, that could be one heckuva lot more than 30% of the job. On the other hand, the effect could be AWESOME…especially if you put in a kitchen skylight, too. Hmm…maybe the question is, “Is the house worth ‘awesome'”?

    Uh oh, waitminit…i didn’t notice the kitchen ceiling has a return air vent, suggesting ductwork. eeeep. If there’s ductwork and wiring or plumbing up there, man! I’d sure be given pause about raising the ceiling. Surely not as a dyi project.
    Funny about Money recently posted..It LIVES…after a fashionMy Profile

    • We think the trusses are going to be about 80% of the hard work for the structural changes, and it’d look too funny to have them visible, so we’re definitely going to be modifying them. Luckily we have 9 trusses that are getting modified in the exact same way, so I’m betting it’ll take us some figuring to get the first few and then the other ones will (hopefully go smoother).

      As for the vents, those are very easily accessible and movable flexible ducts, so moving them is no problem at all. There’s no plumbing, and just the bare minimum of electric goes through this area, so we’re not dealing with too much “stuff” up in the attic for the portion that we’ll be vaulting. Over the garage (which we’re not vaulting) is another matter, since that’s where the air handler for the AC unit is (with drain pipes, 220V electric lines, LOTSA ductwork) so we’re definitely glad we won’t be having to mess around with any of that.

  • Sounds like one heck of a project. Loving the idea and that it will open up a lot of space in the room. A higher ceiling will look amazing!
    Tawcan recently posted..Happiness is not a fish you can catchMy Profile

  • I totally could not picture that before, but this looks amazing and I totally understand why you’re doing it! I can’t wait to see the finished product :)
    Leigh recently posted..December 2014 net worth update (+0.5%)My Profile

  • I’m so glad you decided to go the Full Monty. This is going to look spectacular when done. Can’t wait to see it in person someday! :)

    Only advice to you (which I’m pretty sure you’ve already planned for) is to get that truss work done before the hot weather sets in. I would not want to be working near the roof when things start heating up.

    PS: I have no idea what wheel poses are, but they sound painful.
    Mr. 1500 recently posted..Performance Update 24/50: December (with a bonus roadtrip)My Profile

    • Haha! Yeah, we’re definitely wrapping this up before the hot weather hits. The drop ceiling should get “dropped” this weekend; we’ll start re-building the trusses after that.
      Mr PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..The 80/20 Rule At Work In Our KitchenMy Profile

    • Weather was definitely a factor in the planning of this. We want to get all the ceiling work AND all the tile removal done when we don’t need any A/C since they will be messy!

      You’ll definitely have to see it in person… but it won’t be done until fall at the earliest, I imagine, so plan your travels accordingly. =)

  • This is great, Mrs. Pop. I love the comparison pictures. I also love how the framed map magically moved itself to get out of the way. You can really tell the difference. And now your fridge isn’t shyly hiding behind a wall.

    We started a similar destruction project last fall. We demolished a hulking 2-car concrete garage behind our house. And I’d say 80% of the results are due to 5% of the effort! See, we hired someone to demolish it. Believe me, I entertained idea of having our friends over for a demolition party. But it would’ve been much too dangerous and, with my luck, someone would’ve died. We did bash out a little bit of concrete foundation ourselves, hence the 5% effort. The other 95% will be building our new fence, patio, and shed.
    Norm recently posted..Our Travels Using Frequent Flyer Miles: IntroductionMy Profile

    • Thanks, Norm! Yeah, the map move was totally magical =)

      I’m impressed with the garage demolishment. Would have been a heck of stress reliever to demo that!

  • Wow! What a difference that made. Great job!
    Kayla @ Everything Finance recently posted..5 Free Apps to Help You Achieve Your Weight Loss GoalsMy Profile