Kitchen Punchlist…and a Deadline

We are feeling SO. CLOSE on the kitchen. And we have been saying that for months now. There are so many steps when you are really DIYing every inch of a project.

Matt built cabinet doors for three pantries (13 doors total), routed out the centers of four upper doors, and built three new drawers, which after lots of patching and sanding, I was finally able to prime Memorial day weekend. I did a morning session to prime the backs, then came back for two hours in the evening to do the fronts. Now the cure this week and go in for sanding and paint next weekend.

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painting final batch of cabinet doors in the living room…once this is done we clean out this room and finish working in here! (time to start picking a paint color…)

So what is left?

  • swap out a few outlets and switches in the kitchen
  • cut glass for cabinet doors (salvaged from old windows)
  • hang doors, add hardware
  • final touch up paint
  • rehang glass light shades

-MOVE IN!!!!

And with that, the dining and kitchen will be DONE.

We are still a few weeks out (that happens when you only have 3 days a week to work on the project, are living in it, and have a baby…who is 11 months old today!!!) but the end is in sight! We celebrated some hard work with a pause Sunday evening with pizza in the backyard.

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A deadline for these rooms is upon us too: Oakleigh’s first birthday party! We are doing an open house BBQ day and I cannot wait to button things up and show them off. Then we are into finishing the living room and hallway. Onwards and upwards!

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Kitchen Remodel: Cabinet Makeover

When we embarked on our kitchen remodel, one of our primary goals was to complete the project with a low environmental impact. So much material is ripped out of homes, sent to the landfill (though sometimes upcycled) and replaced with new products. Since our cabinets were in decent shape, we decided to reuse them in the space, and just add to them to boost up the custom layout.

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Just the shell of the old kitchen. Hard to imagine it with a wall cutting through it.

Most of our cabinets were left in place, just removing doors for painting and repair. Matt built new cabinet sections to match the existing boxes for the new 4ish feet we added to the east end where the wall came down. That 4 feet make SO much difference! We brainstormed options and settled on only adding lower cabinets, resulting in more storage and counter space while keeping all the vertical wall space free and open. The lower boxes he built feature open bookshelves…though our cats think they are custom hangouts just for them.

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We also amped up the existing cabinets with open boxes to fill the space between the cabinets and ceiling, all framed out in wide crown molding. With a fresh coat of paint you can hardly recognize that this is the same space!

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So much more open, lighter and brighter…and the ceilings even feel taller!

Painting cabinets is a project, and one that is usually recommended to be completed in a totally dust free environment. Well, we did the best we could with the limited workspace we have in this house, opting for the “vintage, lived in” look of brushed paint vs spray. I tackled the boxes while Matt prepped the doors. We have a mix of doors from the existing cabinets and four salvaged doors that so nearly match. All white, you would barely notice the eclectic mix. In fact, through this project we realized that the cabinets that we were saving were already “seconds” stock, and had extra quirks and two doors that matched even less than the salvage ones we found!

Sand – repair – prime – sand – prime – sand – paint – sand – paint, then cure. That was the routine for this transformation. We used Benjamin Moore Advance in beautiful Swiss Coffee. This paint looks and performs great once up. It is self leveling and has a beautiful finish, but it is a little finicky to get on. I found that rolling cabinet doors with a small roller, then back brushing the paint left the cleanest result.

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I am pleased to report that half the cabinet doors are reinstalled, waiting for hardware and looking fabulous! The remaining doors are getting extra special treatment with adding salvaged wavy glass panes!

Slate Blackboard Countertops – How Do we Like them?

I have written about our DIY salvaged slate blackboard countertops a few times now. I am thrilled to report that we still love them, even more than I could have hoped.

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They are sturdy and beautiful and super easy to maintain. We actually never even got around to coating them with mineral oil but it does not seem necessary. Pie crust rolls like a dream on the cool surface, and the texture of the subtle grain feels so nice to the touch. Not to mention, they are stunning and unique.

Of all the salvage components of our remodel, this is by far my favorite story. Not only did it save us thousands of dollars (compared to honed, black granite which was our runner up choice), but it is more beautiful, 100% DIY, and kept so much waste out of the landfill. These blackboards will live on for years to come.

Picking a Whole House Color Palate

We love color. We also love most of our furniture. In the past, these two things have always come together in a mish-mash of design and decor for our house. Although we like the eclectic feel, for our post-remodel house we are shooting for a cohesive grownup comfortable look that truly looks intentional.

We will be ditching our old couch (well, to be fair, my parent’s old couch…it was around before I was born!) and only keeping pieces that we truly love. The new darker hardwood floors, new fresh trim, and remodeled kitchen deserve a color palate that brings out every bit of beauty possible.

Enter: a whole house color palate!

I started out thinking this would be easy. I have always been good with color, and have picked paint for many spaces. But I realized I had never truly started with a blank canvas, and included so many considerations as I selected paint.

Considerations:

  • wood floors
  • white trim and cabinetry
  • red brick fireplace
  • creamy white/terracotta/black kitchen tile
  • slate black counters
  • mix of white and stainless appliances
  • lots of green foliage through windows
  • very grey weather all winter long
  • antique oak and walnut furniture
  • light and airy feeling of house, but we also like bold color
  • desire to have room color flow from one to the next while being distinct
  • Matt has to like it!

I started where most people start these days: Pinterest. I got some good ideas, but no clear vision that was right for our home. From there I went to our local Benjamin Moore store and started sifting through colors. We have used Behr in the past with descent results, but tried the Aura paint on one room last year and were SOLD! Also, the BM Advance is what people tend to say is best for cabinets so we are going 100% Benjamin Moore on this remodel.

It is pretty overwhelming to look a 10,000 colors all at once. So I borrowed a fan deck and brought it home to look at more closely. I also got a white deck and their Williamsburg collection booklet. The fan deck is over 3″ thick and was also quickly overwhelming, so I stuck with the Historical Colors section and the Williamsburg  collection. We like classic style the best, and our craftsman house really is asking for those tones anyway. Through process of elimination, we were making progress.

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Pulling out tile samples and overlaying them on the colors further helped narrow our choices. Right now we have 4-5 wall colors that we really really like (beachy toned theme), and have narrowed down the whites (trim and cabinets) to a small handful. We keep revisiting them as the light changes throughout the day.

This weekend we plan to paint the interior of the two new kitchen cabinets Matt built (existing cabinets will not get painted interiors, but the new ones need a protective layer) so we will be picking a color and giving it a try!

Kitchen Demo

Memorial Day weekend Monday the first bit of granite tile was smashed in our kitchen. By Wednesday afternoon, demo was done! There were a few (very frustrating) snags, but overall it was quick and successful!

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The biggest snags were what were supposed to be the easy quick parts: taking out the gas stove and sink. Disconnect, lift up and out. Right? RIGHT? Wrong.

For both of these, the attachments were in too cramped of a location to utilize tools to loosen connections. Both ended up being cut and will be a repair job later. Not ideal, but that is what you deal with when you remodel (and want to save things!). We really like our stove, and ADORE the wall mount farmhouse sink and did not want to repurchase either of them…never mind that replacement was not in the budget!

The sink was also grouted in place rather than calked, which was a large concern for additional chip/cracking damage. It is successfully out in one piece though and waiting to be reinstalled.

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Backsplash and counter came off pretty easily and cleanly. The plywood is still in good shape so that is some time and cost savings.

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Now we are on to the rebuilding phase. New drywall and backerboard, then we can lay the counters and tile backsplash. Cabinets are ready to be sanded and painted. The end is nearer than it has ever felt!

34 Weeks Pregnant without a Kitchen

And the remodel journey continues…

Today I hit 34 weeks in my pregnancy with our little Grain. Belly is big and sleeping is not great. This week baby found that he/she gets a few extra inches by stretching feet into my ribcage at night. It is painful!!! As if it were not already hard enough to roll over or get up to pee every hour! Luckily as soon as I am up the pain is gone and I can generally go about my day, with a slight waddle of course.

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nearly 34 weeks pregnant, prepping the garden!

For the long Memorial Day weekend we took a break and played!

Ha, just kidding. We do not feel like we have time for a break right now. Although a day at the lake sounded perfect with 80 temps, we remind ourselves how good it will feel to have the house back, but to get there we have to keep plugging along. So we did.

It took a day and a half to empty the kitchen and remove cabinet doors/hinges. Then we paused and took a day to seriously get the garden started for the season. Matt broadforked the areas where we pulled out the overgrown winter garden while I prepped for and planted beans, zucchini, squash and zinnias. We moved some kale starts, and prepped a bed for corn. The garden looks SO much more under control, at least for the house facing half. We will need to get more space cleared for 60ish tomato plants, but that is likely a few weeks out. They are happy on the deck for the moment.

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garden prep day

After killing ourselves in the sun and garden (oh boy did an Epsom salt bath feel good on this pregnant body!) we slept like rocks. Good thing, because Monday was full too. Matt bottled hard cider in the morning, I planted corn, and then we started on the kitchen demo.

Demo on the kitchen counters and backsplash have been a looming milestone for months now. The final really messy piece of this remodel…and a time critical one since it means a stretch of living without a kitchen. It is also an unknown of how easy (or hard) the removal of these old materials would be…while preserving the sink, appliances, and cabinets.

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kitchen ready for demo!

I am happy to report that the counter tops came off easier than we were expecting, and the backerboard and plywood under the old granite tile is in great shape! That will be a time/cost saver. Taking out the sink was not an easy task. It was a) grouted in place (ugh!!!) and b) the plumbing is soldered copper that is tucked way up behind the sink where we cannot disconnect it. This will require cutting and more rebuilding when we go to put the sink back. Figuring that out took more time that we anticipated, but this week Matt should have a whole lot done! We are anxious to see how the rest of it goes.

So yes, we are living without a kitchen, 6 weeks away from our little Grain’s due date. Luckily the sunny weather has made evenings on the deck a perfect retreat from the chaos of the house, and Matt and I are riding the happy wave of progress, sunshine and excitement of our growing family.

DIY Blackboard Kitchen Countertops: An Update

Remember wayyyy back, like over a year now, when I introduced our grand plan to DIY our kitchen countertops? Well, that is still the plan and I am THRILLED to report that we are actually now working on that project.

The house remodel scope significantly morphed, and ended up going far past the kitchen and dining room, so we decided to finish up those other spaces (keeping our kitchen usable) and finally ending with it’s demo…and the long awaited counters!

If you don’t know the story of how we came to choose salvaged solid slate blackboards as our countertops, you can check that out here. These beauties (or rather, diamonds in the rough) have been leaning against our house for the past year, patiently waiting for their turn.

While they have been waiting, so have we. We always a knew that they would work as counters, but were still just assuming that we could successfully get off the old 1940s adhesive that is awkwardly stuck all over the slabs. If we could not get it off cleanly, we were going to have to come up with Plan B for counters…and that was NOT the goal.

After a super rainy start to spring, this week blessed us with some sunshine, and an opening to get outdoors, set up the sawhorses and get to glue removal. I need to keep baby away from all construction fumes, so this is a solo job for my sweet handy husband.

He set out with two main approached: a heat gun (borrowed from our local tool library) and Jasco Premium Paint and Epoxy Remover. Much to our excitement, the heat gun worked like a charm to pull off big blobs of glue and then the residue remaining dissolved with the chemicals…and a significant amount of elbow grease. We are planning to use the “natural” more textured side of these slabs and it is stunning to see them really clean. It is a huge weight off our shoulders to know that we have a solution that works!

Two down, maybe 6 more to go? We have roughly 35 slabs to work with (!) but only need 6 for the kitchen. Extras will be practice for cutting, other projects or maybe passing them along to other inspired DIYers.

The forecast promises more rain this week, but then we hope to get back to our lovely counters, finish glue removal, demo the kitchen and then cut the new counters to fit!