the kitchen

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

Part four of the slowest holiday tour ever!

I took photos weeks ago, started this post and never got around to words... so this one will be photo heavy and light on explanation.  At this point, who cares?  I will say that this year was the first with my new kitchen, so I did have fun with it.  In the past I really didn't want to draw attention to my shiny dark den-like space.

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

 The deer and ornaments were above my pantry on the right.

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

 I made some boxwood wreaths from the overgrown shrubbery in my yard and hung them over the stove, which now has the new section of cabinets above.  I cannot believe how different this space looks now.  (before)

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

The kitchen got the tall skinny tree that I've had for 12 years... it's so short that I prop it up on canned goods every year under that skirt.  This angle shows the (1985, free to me) black pedestal table that I painted black. The aluminum chairs and garage-sale-still-needing-slipcovers parsons chairs all fit nicely around it, and we could easily add another 4 narrow chairs around the sides if we needed to.  This works so much better for our large-ish family, friends and littles that are always in and out.

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen


{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

This shows off the new cabinetry in its entirety.  If I were to do it again, I'd have added lighting in the top cabinets, but I still love the extra storage.  (before)

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

From this angle, you can see the now-black secretary and hutch, which looks so much better as a stand alone piece.   I kept my original cabinet stuff up there and added a few ornaments and boxwood sprigs for Christmas.

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen


{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

One of my favorite things was the glass jar with lights. 

{ holiday tour } The Kitchen

If I had time to do only a few things, this would make the list.

I hope your holiday season was full of sparkly moments. 

(if you're curious about the kitchen reno, it starts here.)

{ the kitchen } this morning.

I've been getting pestered for kitchen photos.  When I look at things, it hasn't changed that much in the last couple weeks, but here goes.  We're at that last 5% of the project that is taking 95% of the time. 

We are waiting for what seems like a hundred tiny little details. Like outlet switches. 


And the remaining tile so we can finish the backsplash.  (And move the stove back 12")


And grout.  And the exhaust vent.  And shelf pegs in the new uppers so I can put my dishes away on the shelves that have been painted for weeks.


I am still loving the results this far. 

new bar

And we are so close.

getting there

In fact, as I'm writing this, the tilework is done above the stove and it looks great. 

The guys have just left for Home Depot to look for outlet covers and get some stuff related to the new exhaust vent.  The cabinet guy is going to fix the doors above the stove that were attached incorrectly (like, without hinges) in the next couple of days.  The granite people have been notified that one of their pieces doesn't look right... the painter is scheduled to come back on Monday for touch-ups. 

It's getting there.  It really is.  And believe me, I cannot WAIT to have it done to share with you. 

Also, if you were wondering, I'm now 23.5 weeks along. And it looks like I'll be doing pink loads of laundry for the rest of my forseeable future. I guess that also means I have a nursery to start. :)


{ the kitchen } days... um. Not sure where we are


Hidden microwave

We're still hanging about around here.  We ran into a bit of a snag the other day and are a few tiles short of finishing a part of the backsplash, so the boys are tackling some of the less exciting finishing work while we wait for those to come in. 

One thing we did yesterday was implement Mission: Peekaboo Micro.  The layout of our kitchen won't accommodate a wall unit and I was pretty hell-bent on my mantle-ish cabinetry over the stove in lieu of hanging a microwave there. My word, was that big black box ever so garish sitting on my new counter.  After a little head-scratching and measuring and accepting the loss of one shelf, we decided to have the guys install an outlet in the pantry so we could slide that puppy in and store it out of sight for good. 

It's making me very happy.  It's the little things, you know. And if pantry storage ends up really being a giant pain in the derriere, we can always take it back out.  For now, I like shutting the doors on that thing.

Photo note: I've been terrible about using my real camera these days.  With our house in total upheaval, it seems like I've lost my shooting and downloading mojo and can't make real photos happen. I have been enjoying some photo apps on my iphone, thank goodness. (As much as I love my Hipstamatic app, the Instagram app is even faster and easier, I think.  And then I can upload directly to flickr as well... who needs a computer?? )  xo

{ the kitchen } days 8-11 & 14 (and a vacay)

No worries.  The project is still underway.  For a few days we were painting extra coats and top coats and letting that dry.  And that just doesn't show up well in photographs.

And then I went on quick vacation! 

AZ vacation, 2011.  The Boulders PoolMy sweet husband takes me to Arizona every year for a nice long Mother's Day weekend before he stays on for a week to play golf with his friends. Works out fine by me, because after 4 days, I miss the girls a ton and need to get back in action.  The break sure is nice, though.

One of the things I love best about Scottsdale is the food.  We eat so well there.  My friend Sarah introduced me to Postino on my last trip and I had to go back this time after dreaming about their bruschetta board for a year:

Um, yes. 

I think Arizona is gorgeous in May.  It might get a bad rap for being all brown and tan and pink the rest of the year, but in May everything is wild with color.  We were surrounded by blooms.

And I discovered that an NA beer + lemonade cocktail at the pool tastes almost as good as the real thing.

Let's fast forward to Monday night, when I got home.  Late night photos...

day 11 - doors on!

Cabinet Doors!

day 11 - secretary done

A painted secretary!

day 11 - doors on!

I love that Carl the Painter talked me into going black with the secretary.  He did a rub-back on the edges.  And the pulls!  And knobs!  Ack!  I was freaking out.  I can't believe how far this has come in two weeks.

day 11 - doors on!

And, since there is no rest for the weary...

we hit the ground running yesterday (Tuesday) morning with granite installation...! 

day 14 - granite

Today we have a plumber coming to hook up the kitchen sink, which will be nice.  Here's praying that goes off without a hitch.  The whole rinsing-plates-in-the-powder-room-gig sounds more fun than it really is.   And I'm honestly worried that I any minute I'm going to pour out a sippy cup of old milk down the drainless sink by mistake.  Yikes. 

We're on the home stretch.  It feels good.  And I'm thrilled that, so far, it is coming together just as I saw it in my little noggin.  Whew.  Big sigh of relief.


{ the kitchen } days 5 -7: paint and shelves

By Friday afternoon, the first coat of paint was on our cabinets.  I love it.  Love it. 

day 5: first coat of paint


weekend project: tiling shelves

Something that I've wanted to do since we moved in (besides paint the cabinets) is tile the base cabinets. 

I can't take credit for this idea.  Around 1997, when I lived in California, a friend of mine moved into her new house and decided to put vinyl tile in her base cabinets instead of contact paper.  She just didn't want to wrestle with contact paper.  Who does?  I thought it was brilliant.  Durable.  Easy to clean.  Sold.

I stored this little idea away for future use.  And even when I moved into this house seven years ago, I thought about it, and then said something like, "Heck, I don't really care.  Let's just throw the stuff in there and call it good.  I'm tired."

But last week we emptied the cabinets.  And it all came back.

weekend project: tiling shelves

On Friday I picked up 40 tiles for .88 a piece.  We cleaned the shelves and without too much planning, started peeling and sticking tiles last night.

weekend project: tiling shelves

Within a couple hours I had most of my kitchen done.  I ran out of the tile before I got to the sink cabinet (which needs it BADLY), but I can already tell it's going to work just fine. 

If you decide to do this, consider whether or not you want the faux grout look.  I didn't realize my tiles had beveled edges when I bought it, but I was too lazy to take it back.  Now that it's in, I like it ok.  However, I do hope that when it comes to cleaning out under the sink, I don't have issues with coffee grinds stuck in the grooves.  (Whatever.  It will still be way better than before.)

Also, you'll need a nice sharp utility knife.  I was a little concerned about cutting some notches for the bottom pieces, but I was able to cut and snap the pieces off with little effort.  And I was using an old rusty dollar store box cutter. I imagine a proper utility knife would cut like buttah.

weekend project: tiling shelves

So it was 14 years in the making, but I finally tiled my cabinets.  How's that for procrastination?  :)

(New pics tomorrow.  The painter started on the secretary unit in the corner, so she's got a fresh coat of black now and looks all schmancy.)

{ the kitchen } day 4: more trimwork

Okay... so... day four!  Not as dramatic a transformation as yesterday, but they can't all be.  Today saw the addition of crown molding and additional trim around the bar.

day 4: more trimwork


I have to say I feel like I've been blessed with contractors.  They've been prompt and courteous and work hard. My folks had a few projects done on their house when I was in high school and I remember it dragging on forever.  This feels like hyper-speed!  Which is 100% okay, really.  Having a kitchen displaced while little ones are running about and needing several meals a day isn't the easiest thing to manage.  It's like we are ripping off a bandaid around here, and we are mid-rip... but we are almost there and it's going to be fantastic.  :)


Tomorrow the painter is coming back and we will see the first coat of paint go on the cabinet boxes. As excited as I was about the primer, watching the creamy real stuff go up there will be even better.  It's killing me not to see the doors and drawers at this point... I'm sure they are already painted and awaiting another step of the process... but it will be next week before they make it back over here. 

For now, I'm going to tidy up the kitchen for the last time today, restack my pantry items on the dining room table.  I'm tired.  No naps for mama this week!  And no chance it slowing down any time soon!


{ the kitchen } day 3: new uppers!

Day 3 of the whirlwind kitchen reno! 

day 3: new uppers, trim and priming

This morning, the cabinets arrived and were installed.  I think they are going to work out nicely, indeed. 

day 3: new uppers, trim and primer

The painter wasted no time and primed everything... the existing cabinet boxes, too, so I am starting to see how it's all going to come together.  Removing the dark stain from my kitchen lightened it up ten-fold.  Even though it's only primer, I'm still digging it.

day 3: new uppers, trim and priming

The outside of the bar is getting some special treatment.  My builder is eager to cover up as much of the plywood as possible (I can't imagine why), so tomorrow he is going to add some additional pieces that will give this a raised panel look.  He'll also be installing crown molding and baseboards. 

The countertop lady came by today, so at some point I'll be going to a granite yard to pick out My Slab.  Word on the street is one vendor is liquidating some seriously high end stuff, so maybe I'll end up with something super cool.  Who knows? 

It's all terribly exciting and fast.  Did I mention how fast this is going?  Three days ago we looked like this:

kitchen before: west wall

Yes, I am officially freaking out.  In the very best way.

Thanks for joining me on this thrill ride!  xo

{ the kitchen } day 2: demo!

I've never been to excited about a mess before.

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

Our builder showed up this morning to remove the upper cabinets above the range and demo the tile from the backsplash. 

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

It was very exciting.  And loud.  And messy.

But now we are ready for new cabinets tomorrow and day three of painting prep and I cannot wait! 

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

One of the other things we are doing is beefing up the outside of this bar...

outside of sink bar: getting beefed up

It looks into the living room and is quite a massive element to have just left kind of naked. (Add this to the rather long list of head-scratching choices made by the previous owners.)  We are replacing those brackets with some basic corbels and extra trim as well as adding molding around the bottom to match what will be installed to the left around the dining nook.  I have hopes that this will turn our blase stained plywood to something a little more interesting.  It's even put the dog to sleep.

Also, these are the paint samples from yesterday. My camera battery died before I could download them.  Of course.

door paint samples

It's hard to get the creaminess of the white and not lose the grain detail of the espresso stain in one photo... so you'll just have to trust me on the color part. At any rate, it's way better than the high gloss shellac we had going on before. (One of my friends and I were laughing about how they were so shiny you could have probably checked your lipstick in them.)

I was floored that the painter had just done these the day before and the tackiness that I have come to expect from paint projects wasn't there.  Neither was the smell.  He said the sealant product he uses takes a full 30 days to cure, and when it does it will be a floor grade protectant that I can spray with whatever products I want.  Durability is one of the concerns I have had from the beginning.  I didn't want to go through the hassle and cost of having them painted only to have to baby them!  Because, let's face it, they are not going to get babied in a house with kids running amok. 

It's nice knowing that the majority of the painting is being done off-site and that when it comes time to paint here, we're using low VOC products and can take advantage of warmer weather by opening all of our windows.

Tomorrow we have the new section of cabinets going up above the range, trimwork going up, and the painter coming back to clean the cabinet boxes and prep them for priming.  And I will be freaking out and pinching myself while I start to see progress.  Demo is fun... but progress?  Ack!  I love it.

Thanks for playing along and humoring me, too.   xo

{ the kitchen } It has begun

There is no turning back now.

kitchen before
This morning, this was my kitchen.  

What I love?  Our kitchen has lots of space and countertops.  When we bought the house, one of the things I loved was the spaciousness of the kitchen.  During holidays, when the house is full of people, we can easily fit many family members in here to cook and prepare and visit. We can spread out our cookies to cool and have plenty of storage for lots of things we never knew we needed.

kitchen before: east, from south/kitchen table

The original owners meant to put in an island and then thought there wasn't need for one. While we still have little ones doing laps through here, we don't see the need either.  Maybe something on wheels that I could scoot about and use for buffet or extra seating someday, but not right now.

I love the secretary hutch in the corner.

kitchen before: east

I love that the dining area gets lots of light.

I love my appliances, which we have slowly replaced over the years.

She has good bones.  (Dark, shiny outdated bones.  One painter that came by for an estimate said that in 25 years of painting, he had only seen a similar high gloss finish in a home before and it was in a man-cave-library kind of thing.  Not a kitchen.)

What this kitchen needs is a face-lift.

kitchen before: west wall

What I don't care for?  Shiny-dark-cherry-stained ash cabinetry intended to 'blend' with the dark cherry laminate flooring.  Bright white 4" square shiny backsplash tiles.  Shiny chrome pulls. Laminate countertops.  A oversized countertop ''bar' that we can't use for seating, because you'd be sitting in the middle of the living room.

And, above the range....we've got two straight feet of clearance, Clarence.  Those cabinets feel painfully short.  That flat 3-part section is getting replaced with a staggered combination that will include a middle section that goes flush with the ceiling (which is also getting some new trim). 

All of the cabinets will be painted a creamy white.  (The two little missing doors were removed to use for paint sampling.)  We're getting new knobs and pulls.  New tile backsplash.  New countertop with a narrower bar. 

kitchen before: the secretary
She's getting special treatment.  This secretary stands alone in the corner and will get her own finish in a warm espresso.  The builder is adding a piece to the right of the desk so she will reach to the floor and resemble proper furniture.  No more just hanging about for her!  Oh, and the chair is moving to a new place and getting a new slipcover.

Now I can say I have a walk-in pantry, right?

This is what used to be my dining room.  It is now my walk-in pantry.  :)  Thank goodness for a stash of vintage sheets.

Something we are also having done at the same time... replacing the 3" trim with taller, beefier moulding around the dining nook.  It's a nice small thing that will make a big impact over here, I think.

kitchen - eating nook trim

(I feel like I need to apologize for the wonky lighting in each of these photos.  I took most of these photos early this morning before we had proper sunlight on the west side of the house...)

Four hours later... my painter left with half my kitchen in his truck. This takes some getting used to.

kitchen: drawer and door removal day

So we're off!  Emptied and ready for additional demo and prepping.  It's so exciting and terrifying.  The inconvenience is kind of funny and it's not permanent.  My eldest got up this morning to make breakfast and kind of freaked when she saw all the cabinets and drawers were empty.  She had no idea what to eat or bring to school for lunch, so she just grabbed a tub of leftover Chinese white rice and ran out of the house.  LOL  We'll have to fix that.

I'm going to try and update daily if I can...I have lots of out of town family that is just plain curious and I'm kind of a documenter anyway.  I've dreamed about doing this for years and cannot believe we are going forward with it... it's happening!  So just bear with me for a bit, if you will.  I know it's not crafty or thrifty anything.  Shoot, it's not even DIY.  But it is a huge, doable project.  And since I spend about 50% of my life in the kitchen, it's also making me want to turn cartwheels just thinking about it.  Whee!

What's up tomorrow?  The tile is getting ripped off.  It's going to get messy in here.  :)

{ taking on } the kitchen

the ball.  the ball is rolling.

I haven't been feeling my sewing groove lately.

As it so happens in the winter, when the children are bouncing off the furniture like pinballs and I haven't left my house in 4 days for the snow and ice and cold, my obsession turns to projects. Big projects. Like Let's Redo the Kitchen.

I am bound to be a terrible general contractor. The thing is, I really do see the good in people. I want to like people. The painter guy who came by today, for instance, was really very nice. Polite. A family guy.  Wife is a photographer and stay at home mom to two toddlers. He liked my sketches and we chatted for a while. I was impressed by his attention to detail -- even on his quote. If it were just up to me and money were no object, I would say this is a done deal.  (Actually, if money were no object, I'd be ripping out these cabinets for sure.)

Of course, I have to be realistic. Tomorrow means another round of calls and appointments. Let's be honest though. I'm pulling for this guy.

The funny thing is, once I have the contractors lined up for the kitchen, I am totally taking on the upstairs bathroom. It needs a makeover too. But that is one I can handle on my own. The contractors shouldn't have all the fun.

So this is your fair warning, I suppose. Prepare yourself for lots of home improvement posts. Or just check back in May if you're not into that sort of thing. We should surely be done by then. :)


ps: Yes, that is a heather smith jones original sun print + watercolor hanging on the left. I have had it for a couple years now in my kitchen and it makes me smile. If you haven't picked up her new book yet and are the kind who gets inspired to try new things, I highly recommend doing so. It's beautiful and  instructive and truly does make you want to run to the art store for brand new supplies.  heather, I haven't done your book justice here, but I love it. I really really do.  I'm so proud to know you.  xo