Monday, July 28, 2014


Holy crap.

I think we've bitten off more than we can chew.

They're almost all the way up to the chandelier!

Yes, those cabinets are stacked solid all the way to the back wall.  If we need to close that window, we're in big trouble.

These ones wouldn't even fit through the door into the girl's room.  Oy.

You don't realize quite how many cabinets you ordered until they're all stacked in a very small room.  The husband is going to freak out.  This is going to be a HUGE job.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ghosts of Kitchens Past

Progress on the kitchen is not quite at a standstill right now, but it's moving verrrrrry slowly.  Today, the old laminate came up to reveal...

...old sheet vinyl.

Sticky, dusty, ripped, UGLY, sheet vinyl.

I don't think this room could possibly be any more hideous than it is right now.
(But my helpers are totally adorable.)

Thankfully, my unpaid laborers made short work of taking up the laminate.

Even the girl wanted to help.  Probably because she was trying to get out of cleaning her room.  But hey, free labor is free labor, right?

Much to my husband's initial chagrin (and later reluctant acceptance), I made the decision to remove the oak laminate in the hallway and extend the vinyl tile into that area.  With a new floor in the kitchen, the laminate floor in the hallway no longer connects to anything and doesn't make any sense.  Putting the tile in the hallway also eliminates the need for a transition strip, which I think will flow nicely.   Plus, I'm pretty sure I have at least two extra boxes of flooring, so why let it go to waste?

I haven't seen these awful vinyl tiles in so long I actually forgot they were under there!
BittyKitty doesn't care about kitchen remodels.  She just wants to know when someone is going to fill the food bowl.

Obligatory kitten picture.  Because KITTENS!!!

Tomorrow, the cabinets will be delivered.  I hope to get the walls washed and some paint applied at some point between now and then.  Things are really moving along.  I'm so excited!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Utter Destruction

Things are gettin' really real around here.  The new cabinets will be delivered Monday, so this weekend is "Get Rid of Everything" time.  All the old stuff is going bye-bye.  Huzzah!

Check out my handsome handymen.

Oh look, the old yellow paint.  Yuck.

The awesomest part of having teenage kids:  all the free labor! 

I don't even want to think about what's living behind my cabinets.


Where does all this dirt even come from?!

It seems so big and bright with the wall cabinets out of the picture.  Well, except for all the cobwebs and dirt and scary stuff we found behind the cabinets...

It's so dirty and terrifying the camera doesn't even want to focus.

 Oh hey, look.  There's an entire kitchen on my front porch.

Help!  I'm trapped! 

Good bye, old kitchen.  It was nice knowin' ya. 

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have an absolute TON of cleaning and painting to do.  If you don't hear from me in 48 hours, SEND HELP.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The beginning of the end...

...of our old kitchen.

(Yes, there are two stoves practically side by side.  The new one was delivered, UNBOXED, and we had no choice but to bring it inside.  I didn't want the ginormous spiders that live on our porch to take up residence inside my pretty new stove.)

I can't even bear to take photos of the other rooms in the house.

The ends justify the means.
It'll all be worth it in the end.
This was my idea.
I'll be happy when it's done.

Right?  Please tell me it'll all be worth it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

So many decisions, so little time.

In past remodels, time and budget were always the driving factors in the decisions we made.  This time around, budget is less of a concern (only in that we actually have a decent, workable amount of money to play with) and we can focus on style.  Since there is no major construction happening, and the only plumbing work will be to add a gas line for the new stove, we don't have the added burden of a lot of labor going into the project as well.  That makes me happy because a) building materials are expensive, and b) less work means my handyman is less cranky.  (Note that I said less cranky and not not cranky at all.  He's always cranky to some degree or another.) 

I digress...

The materials we chose for the floor and the backsplash gave us a place to flex our creative muscles.  I knew I wanted to arrange the backsplash tile in an interesting pattern, but it wasn't until we chose the floor that I realized we could have some fun there, too.  After it was delivered I opened up one of the boxes and started playing.

First option:  staggered, in a subway or running board pattern:

Second option:  basketweave pattern 

Third option:  90* herringbone pattern 

Fourth option:  angled herringbone pattern 

I liked all of the layouts.  So I brought in my #2 (aka the hubby) and asked his opinion.  He quickly nixed the basketweave layout because he thought it was odd and uninteresting.  Next went the angled herringbone layout because of the level of difficulty of all the angles (and probable high waste factor).  That left the staggered layout and the 90* herringbone layout.  He surprised me by choosing the 90* herringbone.  Though it made me happy because that was the one I was leaning toward anyway.  Yay!  Everybody wins!

The backsplash tile will mirror the floor pattern, so it'll be getting the 90* herringbone pattern as well.  It should hopefully end up looking something like this:

The new stove comes tomorrow and the cabinets should be here by the end of the week.  We're getting so close to actually being able to begin.  I started cleaning out cabinets and purging junk (and expired food--so much expired food!) in order to make things move along more quickly when the cabinets arrive.  I'm not looking forward to living in chaos and having to dig through everything to find what I need, but the ends will definitely justify the means.  Let's just hope the end comes sooner rather than later!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Everything that's coming out of my kitchen must be replaced by something else.  And there are approximately 11,579,473,284 choices out there.  Where, oh where, to begin?

The cabinets are the biggest thing, therefore, they're the most important choice.  We've gone down the cheap white laminate road before, so white cabinets weren't at the top of my list.  (Though I did give serious consideration to white beadboard cabinet doors.  So pretty, but probably always dirty.  Scratch those off the list.)  We currently have two-toned cabinet doors:  cream on top, and cocoa on bottom.  I also thought about doing a light cabinet on the uppers and a dark cabinet on the lowers, but wanted something fresh and new this time around.  All light?  All dark?  Country style?  Modern style?  Fancy?  Simple?

After much deliberation, this is what we chose:

American Woodmark "Reading", in maple.  Espresso finish.  
Totally gorgeous, right?

I can't find a picture of the cabinets in an actual kitchen, but here are the same cabinets in a different finish.
So pretty.  We got the five-piece drawer fronts, too.  Much nicer than the slab drawer fronts.

The cabinets need topped off with something.  Solid surface?  Quartz?  Granite?  Laminate?  After some research, we quickly eliminated solid surface and laminate from the race.  Too many issues with durability and staining.  Plus, frankly, they're BORING.  And I don't want boring anymore.

That left quartz or granite.  After looking at the colors and patterns, and comparing pricing, we decided to go with granite.  I like quartz, but found the uniformity of the engineered product is boring.  The ONE pattern I fell in love with was also at the top of the price scale, which was nearly double what I had budgeted for counters.  So we revisited the granite.  Having picked my cabinets made it easier to choose the countertops.  Because we went so dark with the cabinets, I wanted to keep things light with the counters.  Our final choice was Stonemark Granite's "Moon White".  It's white with gray and purple that looks like amethyst.  
A terrible representation of the granite we chose.

For 19 years, I've been cooking on an electric stove.  We have gas in our house, but because the previous occupants had an electric stove, in the interest of getting stuff done quickly, we bought a new (and cheap) electric stove way back when we moved in.  When the time came to replace it, we stayed with electric but upgraded to the smooth cooktop.

Until now.

We're gettin' gas, baby!

I've been coveting a five-burner gas stove ever since my mom got one, and I told the hubby that the time had come for us to get rid of our electric stove and upgrade to gas.
I cannot wait to cook on this bad boy.

The stove is the only appliance we're replacing.  Everything else is relatively new (the fridge is not-quite five-years old) and I refuse to replace something that is still functioning perfectly.  The dishwasher isn't even three months old yet--we're definitely not getting rid of it!

So where were we?
Cabinets:  check.
Countertops:  check.
Appliances:  check.

Floors!  We'll need something to walk on.

We currently have cheap laminate flooring in our kitchen.  I hate it.  It was crazy cheap (we bought it at Sam's Club--that should give you some idea of the quality) and while it's served its purpose, I'm so totally over it.  Again, I agonized over what to replace it with.

Hardwood?  In a kitchen?  Ehhhhh.
Ceramic/porcelain tile?  Too high maintenance.
More laminate?  Expensive, because there was no way we were getting cheap stuff again.
Sheet vinyl?  Oh, heck NO.  Been there, done that.  Got the tears and holes to prove it.
Resilient vinyl tile?  BINGO.

We used the resilient vinyl tile in our laundry room and we loved it.  But a 12x12 tile seemed too boring.  (I want EXCITEMENT in my kitchen!)

Then we found out that Trafficmaster makes a 12x24 tile.  SOLD!
Trafficmaster Ceramica in "Concrete".  I loved the bigger tiles, and I feel like they're different enough to really jazz up the kitchen.  12x12 felt dated, but the 12x24 feels much more modern.  (Next blog post, you get to see the pattern we're going with!)

We have never had a proper backsplash before, and since we're going all-out in this kitchen, a backsplash was imperative.  But tile can be super expensive, and since I am already about $3,000 over budget, I knew this was a place where I could regain some ground, financially speaking.  I wanted something simple that wouldn't detract from the beautiful granite we chose, and also something neutral so that if we ever decided to make changes to the kitchen, we wouldn't have to tear out the tile because it was clashing with the new decor.  4x4 tiles are definitely the most inexpensive option, but again, BORING.

Enter the 3x6 subway tile:  
Simple, yet elegant.  And so many ways to install them!  I had originally thought I wanted to do a staggered installation, like above, but then I searched Google and found so many other patterns.  (Our final choice will be revealed later.)  And at $.22 each, they're a really budget-friendly option.  (That ends up being just $1.76/sq ft!)

One of the last big decisions was wall color.  Previous colors have included cream, green, yellow, and blue.  When I put everything together, I kept feeling drawn toward purples and mauves.  (Have I mentioned how totally in love I am with my Sherwin Williams paint fan?  I feel all professional and stuff when I whip it out and start looking at paint chips.)  Choosing paint color is so hard, isn't it?  I knew I wanted a purple-y color, but there are so many choices.  I narrowed it down to two, bought sample pots, painted a piece of foam board (how can anybody choose a color by using those teeny tiny little chips?!) and presented them to the hubby.

Here is the winner:
Chaise Mauve, SW 6017
It brings some color to the room, but it's not a color explosion, if you know what I mean.  And it's a nice warm backdrop to all of the grays and whites in the floor and countertops.

There are still some decisions to be made, the main one being cabinet hardware.  Again, there is a veritable cornucopia of options and it's really difficult to pick just one.  But since that's pretty much the last thing that will be installed, I still have time to make up my mind.

If you made it all the way to the end of this, I thank you!  I'm so excited about this project I could go on and on and on and on...

(Oh wait.  I already have!)

Monday, July 7, 2014

The evolution of a kitchen

Oh, the sacrifices I make for you, dear reader!  You don't even know.  I just went through approximately 1,294,856 photos to find pictures of our various kitchen remodels.  The burning question at the moment is, "WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG TO GET A DIGITAL CAMERA?!?!"  I'm pretty sure I bought a digital camera right AFTER we did the last big remodel.  Luckily for you, I hit the jackpot and can now share photos of my kitchen through the years.

Once upon a time, waaaaay back in 1995, my husband-to-be brought me to the house that would become ours.  His parents owned it, and had just evicted their previous tenants a week before.  I was so excited to finally get to tour the house in which I'd start my new life as a married lady.

Until I walked through the front door.

Picture it:  a 100+ year old house that was previously occupied by a troop of wild monkeys.  Okay, not actual real monkeys, but a close approximation.  It was bad.  I won't get into any of the other rooms, but the kitchen made me cry.  As in, I walked outside, sat down on the (crumbling) porch, and sobbed.  The kitchen had the original 1" wide plank flooring, which was practically in splinters.  There was an old, broken electric stove on which to cook.  The sink leaked so badly that the cabinet that housed it was literally crumbling into a soggy mess. There were only three cabinets:  a 60" wide sink base, and two 18" wide wall cabinets.  That was IT for storage.  Well, unless you count the weird sideways pantry that was pretty much impossible to access, and which I'm pretty sure was home to at least 17 mice.

I was 23, had never lived on my own before, and BROKE.  What on earth was I going to do with this mess???

We eventually figured out a plan.  We'd add a few "builder basic" cabinets, a new stove, a new fridge, and a new microwave (our wedding present from my mom and dad) and a new floor.

This is what we came up with:
Not surprisingly, there aren't many pictures of this kitchen.  Would you want to memorialize this hot mess?

A few years later, we added another base cabinet and a Dish Fairy, more commonly known as a dishwasher.  It was a good day in our house when the Dish Fairy moved in. (Her arrival was exactly one month before the arrival of another important family member:  our first child.)
Yep.  Still sad.  Plus, it was in front of this strange chimney butt-out that made it stick out halfway into the room.  Old houses are so weird.

There were some other additions to the kitchen over the next eight years.  New paint color, some ceiling-height shelving, and a wallpaper border (incidentally, wallpaper borders are the work of the devil) were some of the ways I tried to infuse a little more style into our bland, boring kitchen.

FYI, the addition of plants did NOTHING to hide the fact that I was trying to stash all of the things I had no cabinet space for.  And also, EVERYTHING was constantly coated in dust and cat hair.  FAIL.  And seriously, what was I thinking with the apple wallpaper border?  Eeek.  Sometimes I question my own taste level.

In 2005, we decided to take our tax refund (hooray for Taxmas!) and remodel the kitchen.  Still on a budget, we opted for pre-assembled cabinets from Home Depot, along with the in-stock pre-cut counters.  We bought laminate flooring at Sam's Club, because budget.  Some yellow paint and a good bit of elbow grease later, we had a new kitchen.
Don't we have the cutest helpers ever?

Almost there!

A vast improvement, to say the least.  We went from five cabinets to FOURTEEN.  I had so much cabinet space there were actually empty cabinets.  (Side note:  they did not stay empty for long.)

I just had to add this one because it's one of my favorite photos of Sam.  Doesn't he look like a Baby Gap ad?

The oak cabinets made me happy for about four years.  Then I started to loathe all of the yellow--yellow walls, yellow oak cabinets and yellow oak floor...yellow, yellow, yellow!  Guess who got the brilliant idea to paint the cabinets?  I didn't want to close the room in by painting them all dark (because dirt), but I didn't want to spend my entire life wiping them down (because dirt).  The compromise?  Light on top and dark on bottom!  Everybody thought I was crazy until they saw the finished project.  I actually really liked my cabinets again after I painted them.  The sky blue paint really accented the cream and cocoa cabinet doors.  We also swapped out the hardware for a more stylish oil-rubbed bronze finish.

  These cabinets above were an addition with this remodel.  Don't look too closely or you'll realize they are a completely different cabinet with a totally different counter.  D'oh.  Thanks for discontinuing EVERYTHING, Home Depot.

We also added an over-the-range microwave.  Hooray for reclaimed counter space!

Eventually, we took out almost all of the half wall and added a window over the sink.
It's almost completely open to the living room, and it feels big and bright with the new window.  We have a ton of lights, which also helps immensely.  I love those sconces over the table.  That wall is sooo long and is hard to fill.  Unless you want to spend a small fortune on a huge piece of art, which I don't.

So this is where we begin our latest remodeling adventure.  Pretty much everything is going.  Well, except for the microwave, the fridge, and the dishwasher.  I refuse to replace nearly-new appliances that are in perfect working order.  (The dishwasher is only two months old.  The fridge and microwave are 5-ish years old.)  Though we are converting to a gas stove.  Yay!  It's a five-burner gas range.  I'm so excited!  The new kitchen is going to blow the old kitchen out of the water.

Tomorrow, I'll give you a sneak peek of what's going back IN the kitchen!