Our Kitchen Renovation  

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Alright, guys.   I’ve gotta warn you.  This is a whopper of a post.  Like, consider yourself in for the long haul.   Grab some coffee, cozy up in a comfortable position, and let’s do this.

I’d originally wanted to publish several progress posts during the course of our kitchen renovation, but somehow that never happened.  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen some of the progress as it’s happened and a few of those shots have made it into this post as well.   Ultimately, I decided to just wait until completion and give it to y’all in one go, with instant gratification, in the form of before and after pics.

So, with that said, ya ready??

LET’S DO THIS.

If there was one room that impeded our flow of daily life from the time we moved in, it was our kitchen.

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Many, many reasons are responsible for our constant kitchen begrudgement, but the most pressing???

This stupid, partially working stove…

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Please note the exceptionally wonky burners.

On more than one occasion, they sent pots of boiling water sliding to the middle of the stove.  JUST from the vibration of the water.   Dangerous, you ask??  Why yes, I say.  I’m just grateful that the pots stayed on the stove and didn’t maim one of us in the process. The front burners (which were the only ones that worked… and “worked” is a term used extremely loosely here) would intermittently stop heating in the middle of cooking.   Like, I’d be cooking eggs and halfway through… nothing.  No heat.  Dead burner.  I’d have to bang them around to get them to heat up again (which apparently was highly entertaining for guests).

I tried replacing the burners, but the openings in our stovetop were slightly irregular making replacement burners too large, which only made the problem worse.  The oven was no gem either…. The temperature was off, so food either was either under or over-cooked when we baked.  Which was rare, because… well… Ugh.

Now, as awful as our range was, it shouldn’t totally steal the show here.   It’s worth mentioning that our microwave would randomly pop open by itself, which was a little frightening.  The dishwasher  (operative word being “wash”, which it didn’t) leaked upon occasion.  And while our fridge was newer and worked just fine, it was black, which didn’t match.  And it was GINORMOUS.  Which did not for pretty make in our kitchen.  It was sort of like a giant black hole, visually.

So, you get the point here.   Appliances.  Problems.  The whole lot of ‘em.

But, ESPECIALLY the range.

I would’ve been content with simply purchasing new appliances and waiting a while to tackle a full renovation.   But the problem was this…

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Whoever installed the chipping formica countertops, made them about ½ inch too long into the range opening (1/4″ on each side).  Thus, a standard range wouldn’t fit into the opening without the countertops being removed first.   You can see in the pic above how our smaller-than-average range was STILL squished in there (it measured about 1/4″ narrower than the ranges on the market today and it BARELY fit).   I searched and searched and couldn’t find a smaller range that would work.   We talked about shaving down the current counters, but not only would that look terrible, we’d have to remove the VERY glued-down counters to do so, which just wasn’t worth the effort.    We discussed using inexpensive Ikea butcher block as an interim solution, but ultimately, I didn’t think that butcher block was the right choice for our style of home and we didn’t want to spend $500 on something that we weren’t keeping.

So, with our range on its final last leg, we decided to just do it.

{{GULP!!}}

The original plan was to simply change out the countertops and paint/modify the “Nose-Cabinets” (aptly named (by me) thanks to the weird placement of the knobs).  Observe…

Warning: Amateur reenactment: 

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Feel like you’re being watched, do ya?? 😉

But, Joey was a huge advocate for new cabinetry and replacing everything.

Now, our cabinets weren’t in stellar shape – they were poorly painted, chipped, nasty, with sticking drawers, etc.-, but I didn’t want to go through the expense and effort of replacing them.  Plus, the thought of being sans kitchen for months on end terrified me.   But, to humor him, I decided to plan out our “dream” kitchen using the Ikea Kitchen Planner just to see how costly new cabinets would be.  I’d heard great things about the quality of their cabinetry… the soft-close hinges, durable finishes, etc.   So, I figured… We’ll see.

In my head, I thought it would be an easy $10K, which was a no-go for us.  No, thank you.  We’ll just keep our “Nose-Cabinets” and enjoy life.

But, I was stunned to see that an entire kitchen of brand new cabinetry, would cost less than half that from Ikea.   I was seriously shocked.   While that’s still a large chunk of change, it was much more affordable than I could’ve imagined.  And really, it was now or never, because once we changed out the countertops, that was it.   We wouldn’t go back.

So, I reluctantly agreed.

And I humorously witnessed the profound relief on the majority of our family and friend’s faces when we broke the news.

And then the truth started pouring out…

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re replacing those!”   “That’s the best decision ever!”  “I’ve always hated those cabinets!”

Turns out, everyone was rooting for new cabinetry but me (and I was only pro-keep-the-cabinets out of renovation fear, really).  It was like telling them that I’d broken up with the worst boyfriend ever, whom they actually hated, but never shared their opinion of.  Finally.  After years of dealing with him, I’d finally seen the light and cut ties.   And now they could tell me how they really felt.   Poor little misfit Nose-Cabinets. 😉

We decided to keep our current layout because after a year and a half of living with it, we had no complaints.   When we first moved in, we’d thought that we’d open up the walls in this space, but believe it or not, we actually like having a closed floor plan.  It’s nice having a space just for cooking/eating.  Plus, when we have people over, the kitchen can be a total disaster, but the rest of the house still feels clean which was NOT the case with our previous open-floorpans.  So, the walls would stay intact.   And everything would remain in it’s place.

After a few weeks of playing with the kitchen planner, here’s what we ultimately came up with as far as cabinetry…

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We chose the Bodbyn Grey cabinet line, which is a nice, medium grey color.  It had a touch of traditional style which coordinated with the built-ins in the rest of the house, but would still mesh well with the modern-vintage style that I ultimately wanted for this space.

The two main changes that we made from our previous kitchen in terms of function/aesthetics were…

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  1. We added a built-in pantry around the refrigerator.   Our existing pantry was in the laundry room by the back of the house.  And while it wasn’t the end of the world to have it there, it would definitely have been more convenient to have ingredients closer to the prep area rather than having to run to an adjoining room if I suddenly needed something.

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2. We added a vent hood and eliminated the upper cabinetry on the wall below in favor of open-shelving.  This would open up the room and add some texture and variety (not to mention warmth to the space).

We finalized our plan, then headed to Ikea once their annual kitchen sale started.

We’d expected the purchasing process to take hours based on what I’d read, but it was actually super fast for us.   Probably a function of going on a rainy Thursday morning.   We got there at opening and an hour and a half later, we were loading our new kitchen into our trucks (and by “we”, I mean Joey and my father-in-law. Clearly.) ;)…

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….And yes, those ARE 128 BOXES!!!   128!!!  And there were still 4 more that I had to pick later as they were out of stock.  

(Note to anyone buying a built-in microwave through Ikea: They DO NOT stock them according to the kitchen specialist who helped us.  And they will charge a $99 shipping fee to send it to your house.   There’s no getting around this unless you’re lucky enough to have a distribution warehouse near you.  We did, fortunately, so we picked ours up there at no charge, but be sure to account for this extra cost if you don’t.)

Now, for the (more) fun stuff…

(I must warn that the majority of my progress pics were taken on my crappy phone… I’ve since gotten a new one (or, ya know, stopped being lazy and used my camera), but in the meantime, sorry for grainy pictures)

So, ONWARD…  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help out with the first parts of the renovation thanks to my back injury, so most of it was on Joey.   But seriously y’all, he killed it.   And he didn’t complain once.   He was awesome.  He demoed everything in the kitchen over the course of a few days…

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We lived in various stages of ugly for some time (Luckily, Lucas’s cuteness helped balance the scales)…

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Aaaaand this next pic was the point where I walked in, and was like “FOR THE LOVE OF PETE I HOPE WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING.”…

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…then we hired a drywall guy to come out and patch and retexture the walls to match the rest of the room.   Joey painted the ceiling a crisp, bright white…

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….and, cabinet installation began.   Joey and my father-in-law, Keith, were the main players, but my dad, and our neighbor also chipped in and helped with cabinet assembly…

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We decided to leave a “time capsule” for our house’s future owners by writing a note on top of our refrigerator cabinet for them to find when they renovate our “outdated” kitchen in 60 years…

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I told Joey to write something heartfelt.

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He went with “YEA IKEA!!”.

Completing all the cabinetry installation took about 3 weeks (in between work and life), but we finally got to a point where we could order our countertops.

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We ended up going through Lowe’s.   I wanted sleek white countertops, which would contrast with vintagey gold hardware in keeping with the modern/vintage feel that I was seeking.  Here’s a shot of the hardware that I shared on Instagram (it’s from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot)…

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After weighing our options, we ultimately went with quartz for it’s durability and stain-resistance.  It seemed worth the investment since there would be no color variations to hide scratches or stains in our white countertops.    Our final choice was Silestone quartz in White Zeus Extreme.

So, we ordered the countertops.

And we waited.

And waited.

Aaaand waited.   This was the longest amount of waiting time throughout the entire reno.   From the time we ordered until installation of the counters, was approximately five weeks.  Surprisingly, we made it without eating out a whole lot, which was mainly due to frozen meals and bumming off of family. (“Why yes, leftovers ARE accepted. THANK you.”) 😉

At this point, Joey donned his “electrician cap” (notanelectrician. justworethecap) and installed 6 recessed lights to replace the outdated fluorescent fixture that had previously resided there.

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I painted the room a light greigey color (Silverbirch by Glidden)…

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THEN, Lowe’s FINALLY installed the countertops. But, (wompwomp!) two of the three slabs were wrong (one had the wrong edge and the other was an inch too short), so we ended up with just one little bit of teaser countertop for a few days…

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Fortunately, they fixed the problems and reinstalled the countertops two days later. As annoying as it was, we were pretty impressed with their efforts to correct the problem.

After that, we decided to spoil ourselves and hire out the backsplash installation.  #bestdecisionever  We’d gotten a great deal on materials through Floor & Decor, and found a guy who quoted us a great price for installation, so we figured, why not.

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Once the backsplash was complete, we hung shelves, and I went to town accessorizing… which brings us to today.

So, for real…. are you guys ready for some before and afters??   I know I am.   (Insert jazzhands + permasmile)  I’ve been waiting for this for over three months!!!

So, here’s the “lovely” before shot from above so you don’t have to scroll up….

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And here’s where we are now…

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Here’s another before angle…

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And now….

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And since that before shot showed a glimpse into the dining room when we moved in, here’s a glimpse now…

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Gah, before and afters are fun.   You have no idea how much I’m geeking out right now.  #playingitcoolcardrevoked

So, let’s pretend you arrived at our front door and entered the kitchen from the foyer.   I’m sorry to say that this was the view that slapped you in the face…

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But, now you see this…

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Having used the kitchen for several weeks now, I have to say that the built-in pantry below was a total game-changer in how our kitchen functions.   This was the best, most awesome, actually-makes-me-wanna-cook-again idea we’ve had throughout this entire reno…. (Yes, I’m looking at you, floor-to-ceiling-pantry.  Smooches.)

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Get this.   All of our food is now IN THE KITCHEN. (fist pump!)

Funny story:  Anyone who purchases an Ikea built-in microwave, be prepared.   If you use it for over 3 minutes or more than once in 10 minutes it automatically enters a “cooling cycle” that looks and sounds no different than when it’s cooking.   I had no idea, so the first time the microwave did that, and didn’t shut down when I opened the door to retrieve my food, I was convinced that it would kill us all and my arm would rot and fall off for having reached in there.  #itdidnt  Then, I learned about the cooling cycle and was all “Haha! <-(fake) Aaaaaaaannnnnyyyywaaaaays…”.  And Joey commenced in overly-dramatic eye-rolling.

Here’s a view towards the breakfast nook…
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And a different view, just to show off my mother-in-law’s artwork…

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I have to admit that this part of our kitchen (below) was inspired by one of my favorite blogger’s kitchens (Dana at House*Tweaking).  I love how her backsplash goes up to the vent hood and her Ikea brackets with wooden shelves that flank either side, so I did the most obvious thing and copied that gold…

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I chose the stain color (which appears yellower in this pic than in real life for some reason) to coordinate with our mid-century Drexel, which sits just inside the dining room (it’s Early American by Varathane for anyone wondering)….

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Here’s a shot of the sink area with the pendant light turned off so you can see better what it looks like (it’s the globe pendant from West Elm… also inspired by Dana’s kitchen)…

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That painting was thrifted and I refinished the original frame.

And one more shot, because, well, you’ve made it this far…

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This renovation was by far the most extensive we’ve ever completed.   And with the exception of drywall retexturing and backsplash installation we did it all ourselves.  We are so proud and RELIEVED to have a kitchen again.   One with a FUNCTIONING RANGE.  Ha!  I have to say that I’ve baked more in the past few weeks than I had in the entire year and a half that we lived with our crappy, old kitchen.  It. Feels. Glorious.

And now we’re thinking about our next project. (YESSSS!!!)

So, anyways, thanks for sticking with me!!!!  Have a good one!

(Psssst… wanna see how our kitchen looks now, after a year of tweaking??  Click here.)

Our workout room reveal

Sooooooo, I finished refinishing the desktop in the new workout room and I’m RIDICULOUSLY ecstatic about it. I keep dragging poor Joey in there to gaze at it with me.  No joke.  Poor guy totally humors me most of the time, although I have no doubt that he finds it slightly less exciting than I do.   Heehee!  #luckygal

I think this is a great time for a lil’ review of this space’s journey up to this point.  It’s super fun to see progress.  For me anyways.  😉 So, remember when we gained possession of the house a year and a half ago??…

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The room was a blank slate… gross carpeting, rickety windows, dusty.  Not so great.  Oh, and it was peach.

Before we officially moved in, we decided to have new carpeting installed, which was awesome…IMG_7321.jpeg

WOOT!   Clean, crisp and gorgeous.  

(*coughcough*)  But, not for long.  

The very next day, we walked in to the house to discover that the carpet installers had knicked a pipe during installation which resulted in the flooding of our BRAND NEW carpet…..   

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Aaaaand we moved two spaces back.

Luckily, we got everything fixed and patched, and the carpet was reinstalled with new padding the following week.   Then, the room sat for, like, months.  Just acting as a storage room as we unpacked the house and got settled in.

Finally, I got around to painting the space a lovely taupey grey (Sherwin Williams Loggia), and I got started with styling…

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This room was basically a mish-mosh of everything we had leftover that didn’t fit in other rooms.   It was okaaaaaaaayyyy….   Then, I had an “A-Ha! Moment”, switched up the layout, and created a DIY headboard out of art, which helped the room to feel more finished…

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But, it still was a mish-mosh of a room in my head.  And also, it wasn’t really practical.  The bed was a twin size (it was Lucas’s old bed frame), so it didn’t exactly spell out luxury to guests.  Plus, we had our Friheten sofa in the other spare room that pulled out to a comfortable queen-size, so we didn’t really need an additional guest space anyways.

Then, I hurt my back.

And I got REEEEEEALLY crabby.

See, I’m pretty athletic and running is like my meditation session.  It’s my time to be alone, think, jam out to music, snoop on my neighbors exterior home changes, etc.  And living in a beautiful, established neighborhood with lots o’ trees made it even better.   Running is one of those things that I’ve never had to force myself to do.  Whenever I had free time, I’d think “Yay!  I get to run!” as opposed to “I HAVE to run.”.

At the time that I hurt my back, I think I was in the best shape I’d been in since high school.   I was logging about 15 miles/week along along with a bit of strength training mixed in (which I DID have to force myself to do… ugh).   And I felt GOOOOOD.   I had energy, my allergies were practically nonexistent, I was sleeping like a log…

Then, it all stopped cold turkey.   I went from being super active, to not being able to do ANYTHING when I herniated my disc.   The sudden inactivity affected everything…  my sleep, my stomach, my mood, my stress level.  Not to mention my wardrobe… not being able to wear heels to a 5’0 gal was like losing an appendage (I only had 2 pairs of pants short enough for flats).

So, after a few months of this, I was NOT easy to live with.   But instead of feeding off of it and getting pissy with me, Joey secretly tracked down an elliptical machine on Craigslist for $50.   He drove an hour to get it and set it up in the hangout room (the only room at the time which had enough space).  He called me when I got home from work that day and told me to check out that room.  And there it was.   A MONSTROUS piece of athletic equipment….

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…just waiting for me to find it.

As a fellow athletic person, he totally understood my mood and why I felt the way I did.  The elliptical was an exercise that was approved by my doctor, so he got it for me to help.   Although, I typically DESPISE any athletic equipment that requires me to exercise in one place, I was blown away by his gesture.

But, let’s face it… the equipment was huge and REALLY needed a better space to live.

I knew that our front bedroom was in flux and not needed for it’s current function, and I also knew it would be a long time before I’d be able to run again (it’s been 3.5 months now, and I’m improved, but still nowhere near running again), so I decided to sell almost everything in the front room and transform it into a workout/rehab room.

We got everything loaded in there and this brings us to where I started in my last post.   Check that out for the full story of how this project came to be, which includes a HILARIOUS conversation with Lucas regarding strippers.   NOT.JOKING.

Basically, the short version is…

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I got bored.

I made a mess.

I ended up stripping the desktop and refinishing it to help break up all that beige.

It looked like this….

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Then, I chipped away the pathetically applied paint on the desktop, sanded, stained (which took 4 coats of 3 different colors of stain before I was satisfied – Varathane Dark Walnut was too blah brown, so I added some Varathane Early American which added some gold, but it still wasn’t quite right.  So, I added 2 coats of Minwax Ebony overtop.  Bingo.  Perfect. Dark and rich with dimension.  Mu-wah! <- kiss ), and I poly’ed that baby until it was completely awesome.   I used the same method of refinishing that I used on our kitchen table (except that I didn’t need stripper thanks to the poor paint job), so for a detailed tutorial on that process, visit that post. I also painted the backs of the shelves the same color as the walls to further break up the beige.

And here she blows, all dressed up for the ball…

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Up top, I’ve got all of my workout DVDs, weights, and fun decor that I enjoy (obviously, a picture of a mug of coffee made the cut.  I mean, CLEARLY. Heehee!) ….

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Working our way down, CHECK OUT THAT FRIGGIN’ WOOD GRAIN!!!! I almost fell out when I saw how nice it was once exposed….

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I can’t believe that was hidden.

If I could arrest people for crimes against decor… 😉

In the photo above, I decided to hang my favorite picture of my brother, Alex, here. He loved CrossFit and was EXTREMELY in shape (as Green Beret’s typically are) so it was a no-brainer that his picture should hang in our workout space.  I do want to change out that frame eventually, but this was what I had so I’m workin’ it. I added bottles of water and a laptop to play my workout DVDs as needed.

Down below, I have my exercise ball and a vintage magazine rack that I found at a thrift store to hold magazines and such to look at while on the elliptical.   And then there’s my beloved desk chair, of course…

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The view from the doorway…

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The elliptical looks so much less ginormous in this space.  We’re borrowing my parents’ inversion table at the moment, but it’s about to go back to them.  Although it felt great on my back, it started aggravating my knee, so it’s a no-go, unfortunately.   I still want to add bamboo roman shades below the curtain rod to warm up that window.

You can see that I moved the Make The Time art created by my mother-in-law from the hang out room to here. It just made more sense in this space. The bright, motivating color plus the meaning. It was pretty much meant for a gym…

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On the wall next to the built-in I have a leaning mirror…

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Yes, I’m still in my PJ’s. It happens. Sometimes it’s all day. I make no apologies.

The plan here is to hang the mirror on the wall and add a barre across the middle. I love doing ballet workout videos upon occasion (well, I will again once the back heals up more). Hence, no rush. We’ll get ‘er done eventually.

And I will leave you with this pic. Gosh, I love this makeover. So simple, yet so impactful (both in looks and function)…

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And I’m nothing but smiles as I put together this post!