Thursday, October 2, 2014

Our Kitchen Renovation (2/31)

Welcome back to 31 Days of adding beauty & loving my home! This post is part of a series for the month of October - visit the first post for details & links to all the other posts! 


On the days that I don't have time for the dishes and scrubbing the sink, it's very easy to dislike my kitchen. It's a physical symbol of the dirty work and revolving door chores I can't seem to schedule neatly into my day. I like to believe that everyone has a love-hate relationship with their kitchens (or maybe even a hate-hate, ha!), so I don't think this is such an unreasonable idea.

But sometimes I forget how far our kitchen has come! (And truthfully, I've been waiting to share this post for a very long time, but wanted to wait until it was done-done. And The Nester says that's a no-no!)

When Matt & I were house hunting in early 2010, we overlooked the listing for this house over and over again - despite it being exactly where we wanted to live, and for the exact right price. It sat on the market for over a year - and knowing how wonderful the yard and finished basement are, I have a feeling it's because everyone else saw the kitchen pictures and said, "nah!", too.

Our Kitchen Before Renovations

I like to call our original (well, original to us, as it had been changed once or twice before we came along) an RV style kitchen. Which clearly, does not belong in a HOUSE. I call it that, because the kitchen consisted of a single wall. Yep. One VERY small wall where the fridge, stove, sink, and a single cupboard of drawers were all mashed together. The sink and stove were touching, you guys. I mean....what? I had so little space, had the stove not been a flat top, I would have had no where to chop my veggies or mix up cookie dough. It was absolutely ridiculous. Studio apartments in NYC have more space than I had. Oh, was decorated all hideously country-style. Yikes.

But because the rest of the house was just what we needed and wanted at the time, and we only had one toddler to accommodate back then, our mantra became - you can fix a kitchen, you can't fix the lot it's on. And we were so pink puffy heart in love with this property, we decided to suck it up and tackle the job of kitchen renovations.

The problem was - we spent so much on closing and moving expenses, that we couldn't afford to renovate for nearly 3 years. It drove me CRAZY! I did find a temporary storage solution - I repurposed Luke's old changing table from his nursery in Charlotte. We gave him a big boy room when we moved in, so he no longer needed it. I made some simple curtains out of a pretty fabric and inexpensive tension rods, and we stored our pots and pans on these shelves for years! It worked pretty well, except for the way mail and other junk collected on top. Don't mind the tape on the floor in the picture above, we were measuring out the size of our cabinets and fridge so we could really get a feel for how much room they'd eat up in our tiny kitchen.

After a few years, we received a surprise inheritance in the form of some stock, gifted down from Matt's late Grandmother. His family actually suggested we use it for a kitchen (it was that bad, folks!) We thought about it for a few, and decided that his Grandmother, who was such a family oriented woman, would love to be a part of our family's memory even after her passing. We loved the thought of her coming to mind anytime we walked into our pretty kitchen.

Wanting to spread the money far, we knew we'd tackle the installation ourselves, but we needed help. Plumbing and electrical and leveling weren't things we knew much about. My Dad on the other hand? Is kind of a guru. So we enlisted his help, and then started shopping for pieces.

The first step was to sit down with a kitchen designer, and Matt's parents had a friend at our local Lowe's. She came up with a drawing that was exactly what we needed! Tight, but practical and cute, right?

Then, we found our side-by-side fridge on deep discount on Black Friday in 2012. We needed the smaller "custom" size since our kitchen is so tiny, and our plans would turn it into a tight galley style layout. It doesn't make sense, but those style of refrigerators cost more money...for less fridge. But when we found one mistakenly marked down further than it should be, the manager had no choice but to give it to us for that amount. It's so cool how little things like that happen when you need them to, isn't it?

The fridge sat unused in our garage for some time, but a few week's later, we were ready to order our cabinets. We chose a bright white set with whisper-close upgrades (ya know, the ones that slowly and smoothly close like butter? Ohh, it's fabulous!). I remember taking a picture of our receipt with such excitement in realizing - this is really happening!!! They even totally surprised us and arrived on New Year's Eve - a full month early!

While we waited for official renovations to start, I immediately began pulling the hideous wallpaper down. It was a horrible mess, and I don't know why ANYONE thinks wallpaper is a good idea - it's not, friends. Nope, not even for that reason that popped into your head just now - JUST SAY NO to wallpaper! It was sort of satisfying pulling it down, but when it constantly ripped and continuously caused problems, I would get SO frustrated! Getting all of that wall paper down and the walls prepped for paint was a TON of work, but I knew that it would be one of the only jobs I'd be able to contribute to, so I was happy to do it.

I was also thrilled to pick out a paint color - I'd always wanted a sunny yellow kitchen, and picking out the paint for it was a dream come true! We actually went through a couple colors that looked beautiful in the store, but like neon mac & cheese on the walls, so we ended up going with a super-light color that I didn't think would even register as yellow, but looked PERFECT on the walls. It was called Summer Morning, and that sealed the deal for me - I wanted to feel like I was walking into a bright Summer Morning every day!

Next came the hard work, and I have to say - Matt & my Dad ROCKED it! They installed pipes to allow us to use the in-door ice and water feature in our new fridge, added new lights, outlets, and light switches, installed all of the cabinets and cupboards (despite the continual roadblocks they ran into because of shoddy renovations done before we lived here), worked around other obstacles like a vent in the floor, a gas line, and a chimney behind the drywall. It was crazy, and my kitchen was in chaos for a month. There was even a time when we were using the stove in the middle of the room, and the microwave was operational on the floor - haha!

As each thing became functional, I was over the moon with excitement. It was so, so great to see it all come together! The guys were done with installation at the end of January (2013), and the company installing the granite counter tops (which we were able to afford by installing everything ourselves!) came by within days of completion. They, too, were ready to install our counters earlier than expected, so the entire kitchen was finished by Valentine's Day. And the counters? Ohhh, how I LOVE THEM! When they are freshly cleaned, they are sparkly and smooth and drool-worthy. But when they're dirty? You'd never know it. It's kind of perfect ;)

Ready to see what became of my kitchen?

We still have dreams of some pretty white subway tile, and a lot of detail and decor has changed since these were taken (which you'll see in the coming posts this month!), but here is how it looked in February 2013, when all of the renovations were finally finished!




Ta da!

What do you think?! MUCH better, right? The difference in what I can now do (and my frustration level while I'm doing it) is SO huge, and much improved. I LOVE my kitchen, and even when it drives me crazy while it's dirty, and even when it gets crowed with only 2 people in it, I love decorating (and can't wait to show you the things I've done!), and I'm so appreciative for it's improvements and beauty, every single day.

Tomorrow, I'll start to show you the bits of beauty I've added to my kitchen since early 2013. See you then!

31 Days of Adding Beauty and Loving My Home

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