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As promised, I have before and after pictures of our kitchen today! The before pictures are in various stages of grossness including before we peeled the tile and after we started  removing the texturing from the wall.  And even though it is painfully obvious which are the before pictures and which are the after pictures, I will still label them!












So, there you have it! What next? Who knows, we have so many choices!


We’ve done it. We’ve finished the kitchen (for now at least). There are a few little additions and tweaks we would like to make, but all those things can wait. For now, everything is painted, put back together, installed, cleaned, done. So, before I give you the really cool before/after pictures, I thought we would take a look back on how we got to this wonderful place.

**WARNING: This post is really long with lots of pictures. Just thought you should know before you embark on this chapter of our lives with us!**

Here’s what the kitchen looked like when we moved in.

Nice beige tile, right? Soon thereafter, we discovered that the beige was actually paint hiding the salmon/coral colored tile beneath. So, we had to peel the tile, revealing the true beauty of our kitchen.

Then we painted. Our first big project in the house.

Next, it was time for some serious business. Matt’s parents came down for a visit and we destroyed our kitchen.

There’s nothing like a fresh start. They rebuilt the rotted and disgusting cabinets with clean, new, white ones.

They measured and cut our new counters, wood!

We sealed the wood, changing it from raw, whitish wood, into beautiful, rich wood.

The counters were then installed.

So was the sink.

Then our kitchen looked like this.

Next came painting the cabinets (Part 1 and Part 2),

And under cabinet lighting.

No kitchen is complete without a backsplash (Part 1 and Part 2).

Our kitchen now looked like this. I think this was when I was starting to have my nervous breakdown about the kitchen. It was taking so long to complete and I was running out of excuses what people couldn’t come over to our house. As convenient as it was, I really hated having the cabinet doors off.

We took down cabinets and created open shelving (Part 1 and Part 2).

We picked out stone and had it installed.

And, finally, we finished painting the cabinet drawer fronts.

Whew! What a trip it’s been! I really can’t believe that we are finished with the kitchen (maybe because there are still paint cans laying around and I just put the drawer fronts back on yesterday!) Stay tuned tomorrow for amazing before and after pictures!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. This is partly because we’ve been running around crazy and partly because our house has looked like this:

While it has been a wonderful thing to finally have lots of our house stuff ordered and delivered, unpacking and putting things together sure does make a big mess!

So, whats new? Well, let me fill you in.  Last week, we said goodbye to the last reminder that our kitchen used to be covered with salmon colored tile and graciously welcomed beautiful stone into our home. That’s right, the kitchen island top arrived! And it’s beeeaaauutttifuul!

I absolutely love it. It really is a huge step in our kitchen transformation. And to complete the transformation, I spent my weekend painting that dag gum island and the drawer fronts.

Matt was working on this wall, which, I am embarrassed to say, has looked like this since mid-February.

Did you know that Matt is a super fast painter? He is. Here’s the proof.

The kitchen will be complete this week. After 3 months of working hard and then slackin’ and then working hard again, I will be able to show you our finished kitchen! Stay tuned!

Sorry for the lack of posts the past couple of days. Matt and I have both been sick with colds!

But, even though we are sick, we were able to put up the light over the breakfast nook. I ended up buying the one from LampsPlus. We got it in earlier this week and it has just been sitting on the floor staring at us. I finally convinced Matt to put it up!

(I want to apologize in advance for these pictures. Most were taken without flash and it was nighttime. To add to the poor quality, we had to turn off the power in that part of the kitchen for Matt to install the light, so there were no overhead lights to help my pictures!)

I haven’t talked about the breakfast nook light on this blog yet.  It is the most hideous light fixture in our house, and that’s saying something. After our initial gasps of horror, I just accepted it and ignored it. Or tried to, for the most part. What’s funny is that some people, who had not seen our house, wouldn’t comment on it because they didn’t know if we had picked it out! They didn’t want to offend us for having horrid taste. So, without further adieu, here it is:

It looks a little like an exploding brass flower. It also has paint drips on it where the previous owners had painted the ceiling or something and failed to cover up the light fixture.

A recent addition to this light is this:

Yes, it is a Chiquita Banana sticker. You need a back story for this one. My grandparents have hanging light over their kitchen table. My grandfather loves putting these stickers on the light. I thought it was kinda cool as a kid that there he had collected all those stickers! And then, I grew up and realized how silly it was. The other day Matt was eating a banana with the sticker on it and I told him the story. He thought it was hilarious. A few days later I was eating at our table and looked up to find the sticker on the ugly light. It made me laugh and miss my grandparents. So, we kept it there until it was time to take the light down.  It’s those little things that make me really miss home.

So, back to the post.

We said goodbye to the flower light and the plastic medallion attached to the ceiling (I was really worried that there was going to be a big hole or something terrible that they had covered up with the medallion, but I was pleasantly surprised that no such thing existed).

As you can see, there is a difference in color where the medallion was. The color below the medallion is a creamy color. The rest of the ceiling is…blue. That’s right, the kitchen/family room ceiling is light blue.  Just something else we have to do!

There’s the new light!

I really don’t have a great picture of the final product. But, hopefully by the end of this weekend we’ll have some rockin’ “almost finished” kitchen pictures!

So, where were we? Matt had just installed the under cabinet lighting and he was finally getting ready to relax. That is just not allowed around these parts these days.

It was time for the back splash. We had settled on the popular and common white subway tile for a back splash. When we were first talking about this kitchen remodel, Matt was really nervous about doing the tiling himself. The kitchen is a pretty public place and any mistakes could be seen by all. But, I think the counter replacement gave him the confidence he needed to tackle this project. Plus, we both read a ton of online articles on how to tile a back splash.

We took advantage of having the counters off for the week between his parents’ visits and removed all of the hideous pink tile from the back splash.

By some miracle, the tile and the adhesive came off fairly easy.

Then a few weeks passed and a few other projects were completed. Also, we had to order the tile from Home Depot (they didn’t have enough in the store! We thought that white subway tile was a staple! Apparently not). Fiiinnallly, after weeks of waiting and me begging, the tile project picked back up. If we learned anything from the sinking sink, we knew that we needed to do everything we could to protect the drywall behind the tiles. So, we painted a coat of primer/sealer and a coat of white paint on the walls.

Our beautiful counters went into hiding for this and the painting of the cabinets.

Matt’s a planner, so he laid out the tiles for the first section of the back splash. Look, he’s so happy. (Note: This is actually a fake smile and he was smiling just to stop me from saying, “Come on, Matt, turn around and smile!”) We had to determine where all the cut tile would go and if we wanted the edge pieces offset. All those little things that you never think about.

And now, laying them out in the almost real space.

Ready to go! And now, Matt is thinking that he has done all the prep work. There is nothing standing between him and his first tiling experience. I, his life coach, was there cheering him on the whole time. Especially if cheering includes, “When do you think you will be done?” I’m such a good wife.

Here we go! (It sure is convenient that he installed the under cabinet lighting the day before!)

And, then he hit a snag.

The outlets! (Say in a Jerry Seinfeld voice while grabbing the air, much like Jerry says, Newman!). The tiles around the outlets needed to be specially cut and his cheap-o tile cutter (seen in a photo above) is only able to cut a tile completely in half. So, off to Home Depot he skipped to rent a wet saw. Unfortunately, the only wet saw you can rent is huge and wouldn’t even fit in his car. But, for $40 more, you can be the owner of your very own portable wet saw. If anyone ever needs to borrow a wet saw (or a biscuit joiner) you know where to find us.

He hooked up the saw to the hose in the backyard and grabbed the first tile to be cut. He came back in a few minutes later and I heard him say, “Well, it sure is a wet saw.” He was soaked. And then a few moments later, I heard a GHHAAAHHHHH (not sure if I spelled it right. Just read it out loud and you’ll know what I mean). The tile had broken.

This happened about 10 times. No joke. I was in the other room painting cabinet doors and every time he would walk in the house and start to install it, I would hear the cry of frustration that I awkwardly spelled out for you above. Finally, he changed his approach. See image below.

He was using the wet saw to cut to cut two slits in the tile (white spaces) and then use the other tile cutter to finish the job (dashed line). The cheap-o tile cutter was breaking the tile in pieces. He eventually decided to use the wet saw for the entire process. Victory! He zipped through the rest of the wall.

I think he did a phenomenal job! I would never have guessed that he had never tiled before! Then, we got busy and the project was put on hold….again. Maybe, I’ll have a Tiling Part 2 post for you someday. Maybe…

We knew that we wanted to try to put lights under the cabinets, but we didn’t know how to tackle this project. We actually didn’t even know where to start. We went to Home Depot to just check out what different kinds of lighting options were available. I was totally overwhelmed by the many different types. Then Matt, who had done a little more research than I had, started asking me all these questions. Do you want puck lighting? Florescent? Xenon? LED? Should they fade? Do you want a dimmer? My answer to all of these was, “Oh crap, I need to do more research.”

Luckily for me, I am married to a man who is a super whiz at using the interweb. A few days after our fruitless journey to Home Depot, Matt had made a decision about what type of lighting we were to get and needed an opinion on a dimmer switch. Now, this I can do. Unfortunately for me, Matt already had his mind set on what he wanted and he really didn’t want my opinion, he just wanted to show off his great find. But, that’s alright. I have decided that we each need to have ownership in these house projects. He has complete and total ownership of the under cabinet lighting.  I will do nothing more than oohh and ahhh when it is done. So, he is given full freedom with his choices (within reason). He knows what our general taste level is and is pretty good at sticking to what we want. So, the moral of the story, I am learning to let go of some of the little decisions so that he can have ownership, too. However, I will not let him have an entire room in the house to decorate as he wishes. We are still battling on this one. He wants to decorate the living room. And I said no. I told him he could decorate the garage. Is that wrong?

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Here is the lighting he choose for the project.

He bought it on Amazon. We really should buy stock in Amazon.  This lighting will fill the entire length of the cabinet underside, creating a more uniform output instead of the concentrated output from puck lighting. Also, as you can see from the last bullet point on the box, it installs easily. Always a plus.

I was excited about the lighting. Matt was excited about this.

The dimmer switch (from Home Depot). It’s a button on the bottom and then it has up and down buttons to adjust the intensity. If you squint at the picture, you can see that there is a little green LED above the intensity buttons. This tells you where you are on the intensity spectrum.

The first step in creating a nice under cabinet lighting ambiance in your house is to determine what you are working with.

I really have no idea what he is doing in this picture, but he has tape in his hand, so it must be serious. I just had to take a picture. So, once it was…all taped…?…he moved on to the actual installation.

Before the supplies arrived, the prepared all the electrical work. Now, just so you know, I asked Matt to write this post because I have no idea what he actually did, but he said he didn’t want to and that he would write a post later correcting all of my interpretations of his work. Does that make sense to you?? Here are some shots of him putting in the first light unit.

We had to wait another day for the rest of the units to arrive, but let me tell you, it was really fun checking out how the lights worked just with this one tiny one. I do know that Matt had to “daisy chain” the wires up and over the cabinets in order to get them to the other side of the microwave for the rest of the lighting in order for them to all come on with one switch. Nothing says ghetto like having two switches for under cabinet lighting.

It actually only took him about 45 minutes to install the other lights. Here are great pictures of our kitchen with the lights off and then with them on.

Super cool. We need to add trim and molding to our cabinets to hide the lighting and to add a touch of class to our kitchen. Also, please try to ignore our open cabinets. The doors are currently being painted (almost done!).

Overall, the under cabinet lighting project was a fairly easy one. I absolutely love love love it! Next up…finishing the cabinets and a subway tile back splash!

We got Phase II of the Kitchen Remodel off with a bang. The wooden counters are beautiful, but not too great looking with our wooden cabinets. So, the week after the parentals left, I was taking off cabinet doors. Boy, do we have a lot of cabinet doors! And, I really do think that they multiplied over the course of this project. Everytime I would look back at the stack it looked taller and taller.

Also, apparently you are supposed to match the cabinet doors to their exact spot when you put them back. Even though some of the doors are the exact same size, they can shrink and warp over time making it impossible to swap spots. So, I numbered each one in the only spot they will not get painted, the hinge hole. Hopefully I will remember where the number 1 spot is when I go to reinstall them!

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know that nothing is simple in this house. We already knew that some of the doors had been damaged and the owners had used what looked like Gorilla Glue to repair them. There were drips of glue all over a couple of the doors and the repairs were, as expected, less than desirable. I was able to chip away most of the glue drips from the doors and fill in some of the craziness with wood filler, but we still have to deal with this one.

The two pieces are not aligned correctly. So, we may have to break off that little piece and try to reattach it. As you can see, we have our work cut out for us.

And if you can’t get a handle off, just ask your local stud to help out!

He’s so great to have around! And, to keep us throwing our hands in the air, some of the pulls were actually glued to the drawer fronts. Awesome. My neck is tired from shaking my head in wonder.

The next step was to clean these bad boys. And if the hairy fan was any indicator of how these people lived, you’ll know that the cabinets were a tad dirty. We had wiped them down when we moved in, but nothing like the deep clean they needed before we painted them. I had read that a cleaning product named Krud Kutter was excellent at getting through all the grease buildup on cabinets. But, we couldn’t find it at Home Depot. Matt actually thought I was making it up because the name sounded hokey and it was no where to be found at the store. We ended up with your basic degreaser and a handy dandy sponge. (Side note: We did find Krud Kutter later and I was able to hear the glorious words, “You were right.”)

I cleaned and I cleaned and I cleaned. And then I cleaned some more.

The doors had previously all had two holes for pulls and we wanted to change that to one hole for a knob, so we had to fill and sand and hope for the best!

After all the holes were filled and the wood filler dried, I sanded down the filler and the doors to give the primer something to adhere to.

Here are the doors all laid out in our extra room. After a good wipe down they were ready for primer!

Stay tuned for the riveting Part II of our cabinet painting saga.

OK, maybe that’s a little too dramatic, but I want you to feel like you are here with us, scraping glue and sanding primer until your fingers fall off!

And, I really do think that they multiplied over the course of this project. Everytime I would look back at the stack it looked taller and taller.

Continued from Kitchen Remodel Part 3.

The seal was still drying from the last coat when Matt’s parents arrived for the second weekend of work on our kitchen. So we partied on Friday by going to our favorite local Cuban restaurant and watched the open ceremonies of the Olympics. The boys put together the finishing touches on the cabinet and prepared the kitchen for the installation of the counters.

In they go!

Now for the sink. Thankfully, it fit perfectly in the opening they had created!

How cute are they?

Here is what the kitchen looked like on Sunday morning!

Everything turned out perfectly. I absolutely love the counters. I just can’t wait for all the other details of the kitchen to come together! Our kitchen to do list is as follows: paint cabinets, install under cabinet lighting, install subway tile back splash, remove upper cabinets on one side of kitchen, install open shelving, install white marble counter for island. I think that’s all, but I’m sure that more tasks will present themselves as we move forward!

Thanks for tuning in for Phase I of the Kitchen Remodel. We will immediately begin Phase II so that I can get my kitchen back!

P.S. – We are soo very thankful for Matt’s parents and their incredible help on this project. We really would not have been able to complete this project without their help. Thanks guys!

Continued from Kitchen Remodel Part 2.

Matt’s parents were on their way to the other side of the state for the week and Matt and I were looking dreadfully at the wood in our back room, wondering how the heck we were going to seal them properly in time for their scheduled installation the following weekend. The wood we received from Lumber Liquidators was raw cherry. When I first saw the wood, a little fear settled in my heart.  It was so pale. We had decided not to stain the wood because all the reviews said that the seal would bring out the natural color of the cherry. For the seal, we decided to use Waterlox.

It seals the wood and makes it waterproof and food safe. A great combo for the kitchen counter. Before we could start sealing, though, we had to scrape off/sand the glue that had squeezed out of the joints and fill a few of the flaws in the wood. Here is Matt putting on the first coat of Waterlox.

The wood turned out to be super purdy with the seal on! I was able to let out out that breath I was holding.

It is suggested that you apply the Waterlox with lamb’s wool. The lamb’s wool applicators were super soft, but they left fibers behind. The fibers then dried to the wood and made the wood feel rough.  So, between the second and third coat, Matt sanded the wood to get rid of the fibers. But, as careful as he was with the third coat, a few fibers remained. We still haven’t figured out how we are going to get rid of those without ruining the finish.

The whole week we had this bad boy staring us down.

I can’t wait to use my sink!

As most projects go, destruction is quick work. Rebuilding, is, well, rather slow, especially when you have two engineers working on it. Matt and his dad jumped into the destruction on a Friday and by Saturday morning they were ready to rebuild. Almost.

Let me give you a little more information. The part of the kitchen that needed to be destroyed and rebuilt was the section with the sink and the bar. When we were figuring out how to replace that part of the cabinet (remember, we are first timers!) we discovered that the cabinet length was a couple of inches shorter than the standard. So, we couldn’t just buy stock cabinets and pop them in, there would have to be an adjustment made. This, and the rest of the project, requires many tools.

Back to the story. Matt’s dad had asked Matt what kind of tools he had so he could get a good idea of what we needed to buy and what he could bring with him on the visit. Matt told him that he had just the basics. Well, I guess “just the basics” means something completely different to a newbie than it does to a veteran. The poor kid didn’t even have a wrench! So, off to Home Depot the duo went to gather supplies and tools. Then it was back to work!

They put up the new drywall and started building the base for the cabinet. The sink we ordered is cast iron and the cabinet below needs to support 300 lbs! The guys beefed up the cabinet base to help support the weight.

After talking it through once, or twice, or 30 times, they added the adjusted cabinet.

Originally, our time table was to destroy on Friday/Saturday, rebuild the cabinet Saturday morning, cut the counters on Saturday day, and put the first coat of seal on Saturday night. But, as usual, this was nowhere near what really happened. The fast Friday demo gave me false hope. But, as Saturday rolled around, I could tell that the boys were slow moving. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. They are both intelligent people who like to think things through before they dive in. Not a bad thing. It just makes me nervous and I have to occupy myself so I am not constantly asking Matt why it is taking so long! The picture above is what the kitchen looked like on Sunday morning.

Finally, on Sunday, they started measuring and cutting the wood. Now, up to this point, everything they had worked on could easily be replaced by running to Home Depot. The wood, however, was from the other side of the country and currently out of stock. They had one shot. And, of course, they nailed it.

Now the tricky part, cutting the hole for the sink (well, I don’t know if it was really the tricky part. The mitered cuts were pretty tricky too).

They made it work! I actually didn’t get to look at the sink sitting in its place because they finished it late Sunday night (I was asleep) and Monday morning (I was at work). Matt had to take off half a day Monday to finish the job before his parents left.

So, this is the situation on Monday morning. All the cuts are made. The joints have been…joined. The wood has been transported to our back room and awaits seal. We have until Friday to completely seal the wood so Matt and his dad can install them on Saturday.

We have a busy week ahead of us!

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