Our kitchen renovation is finished!

Hey guys! I am here to show you the final kitchen before and afters. We are pretty much finished with the renovation. We have small stuff to finish up (painting the baseboards, painting the walls, small random finishing touches), but for all intents and purposes, this renovation is D.O.N.E. And I couldn’t be any more relieved. We’ve never tackled a renovation of this magnitude, and although much of it was hired out, we did do a fair share of the work ourselves. Living in this chaos for the past 3 months has taken its toll on my sanity.

We hired a local builder to oversee the project. He sent over each of his crews to do all the work, and then we paid each crew individually. This allowed us to squeeze in there and do as much work ourselves as possible to save money. Anyway, I’ll stop blathering on and on and just show you the money shots.

We haven’t installed the under-cabinet lighting or tile yet. They will get wrapped up as soon as we have the funds and as soon as I’ve recovered from the trauma of this renovation and am ready to jump in and DIY something again.

I don’t know what my favorite part of the new kitchen is. It’s a toss up between the desk area, those chunky shelves, the actual style and color of the cabinets, all the fun pull-out organizers… Honestly, I can’t pick a favorite part of the kitchen. I am just obsessed with every inch of it.

White and two-tone (such as grey on bottom, white on top) kitchens are so popular right now, but I just really wanted a dark rich kitchen. I feel like this kitchen will stand the test of time and will still look fresh and current 5 years from now. White kitchens are classic as well, I just really love the look of rich dark cabinets.

All the barstools and chairs are temporary until I find some that I truly love and go with this new style of kitchen. I love the industrial stools but I don’t feel like they really go with the look of the kitchen. Also, we now sit at this bar multiple times a day and those stools are not very comfortable. I’m on the hunt for new stuff but it will be awhile while we save up.

Ah, the desk area… Desks in kitchens are so polarizing. Who would have thought? This one works for us though for a variety of reasons, the two biggest being a) we want the kids to enjoy their computer time out in the open so that we can keep an eye on them, and b) the desk is on a completely separate wall in the kitchen, so it’s in its own little area and doesn’t ever get junked up with kitchen stuff. I am 110% happy with our decision to put a desk in our kitchen.

Between the island and the oven is where I spend the majority of my time while in the kitchen. Everything I need it at arms reach and it makes food prep so easy. I can prep a quick meal, then turn around and serve it to everyone sitting at the barstools.

Here’s our sink area. It is the hardest working space in the kitchen. I chose a single-basin sink and was a little nervous about it, but I am now totally sold. I hate washing dishes in a split sink.

Instead of another cabinet, I told the cabinet maker I wanted some open shelves. What he created is so beautiful. Seriously, I was expecting some thin shelves. These chunky ones take my breath away.

I don’t know if you remember, but the bar behind the sink use to be bar-height and we dropped it to counter-height. This choice had me up with anxiety each night for weeks but as soon as the granite was installed and I saw the finished version, I knew I made the right decision. I love how open the kitchen is to the family room now.

We also added cabinets in the dining room. I was going to build my own and even waxed poetic about it here, but Ben suggested we get the cabinet maker to do them so they all matched. Good call, Ben. We originally planned to have open shelving for the uppers but added doors as a last-minute plan change. I’m so glad we did because those cabinets are great storage!

Pretty much all the chairs (and the table) are filler for now until we can upgrade everything to stuff that works better in there. For now though this situation works great for family dinners and game nights.

I just have to throw the next few photos in the mix. Check out this before and after looking in from my front door:

  

Look how far the living room and kitchen have come from last year when we bought the place:

  

And just because I can’t end this post without some serious before and after action, check out where we were and where we are now:

Before & After


Before & After


Before & After


Before & After


Before & After


Before & After


Before & After


I’m going to do several additional posts that break down individual areas and topics, but this post was so overdue I just wanted to quit the suspense and show you the whole area finished. If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below. I know I sound annoying droning on and on about my love for this kitchen, but seriously. This is my favorite kitchen in the entire world and I now love my house more than I ever thought possible. Good thing because I am seriously never moving ever again!


     

Build a tire swing!

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

I’ve teamed up with True Value today to show you how to make a fun and easy project that your kids (and you!) will enjoy all summer long… a tire swing!

We’ve had this old tire laying around the yard so instead of tossing it we decided it would be fun to turn it into a tire swing.

I’ve never made a tire swing before and the task seemed daunting. Believe it or not I whipped this tire swing up in less than an hour! I started with this very helpful tire swing guide:

Once I had a plan in place I headed to True Value to pick up all my supplies. Here are most of the supplies I purchased, but I did have to run back for a few more things (not pictured).

For the first step I flipped the tire over and made several small holes around the base so any water can drain out (after it rains). I don’t want a mosquito habitat hanging around (pun intended!).

After that I flipped it over and drilled three holes for the eye bolts. I used a standard drill bit and it easily cut through the rubber. Once the holes were drilled I prepped the bolts with the washer, lock washer, and nut.

Once the bolt was inserted into the tire hole I finished off the under side with another large flat washer, a locking washer, and a nut.

Here are the eye bolts after I installed them.

To hang the swing I wrapped a 4′ long chain around the tree branch, attached a locking swivel hook, attached three more chains to that, and then attached the chains to the tire swing. For each attachment I used a simple connector link.

You can buy all the pieces in many different sizes. I made sure each connector link, swivel hook, and chain were rated for multiple hundred pounds. If you make a swing make sure you buy pieces that can support your weight and won’t snap.

Our son jumped on and tried it out as soon as I was done hanging it. It worked perfectly. The swivel hook allows the tire swing to continue to spin around and around guaranteeing a nauseating experience only a child can appreciate. To say the kids are in love with this new swing is an understatement. It’s now the hit of the yard!

For even more fun summer activities and projects, visit True Value‘s project website or facebook page. They are always posting new projects.


     

New floors!

The new floors are finally in! I cannot even contain my excitement about this. When we bought this house the common areas had two different types of flooring – tile and wood. Not only was the tile in really bad condition, the combination of the two types of floors really broke up the spaces and made them feel small and choppy.


BEFORE

Our goal was to get rid of all the tile and have wood throughout the main areas of the house.


BEFORE

It’s been a long road to get here. First we had to gut everything, then the cabinets and counters had to go in. One of the last steps in the renovation process was installing the floors, so we basically lived on a cement slab for more than two months. I’m pretty sure I now have plantar fasciitis from walking around on the cement for so long.

But. It was worth it because we now have brand new engineered hardwood floors and I am in lurve love LOVE.

I’ll just give you a quick rundown about the laying process and then cut to the chase with a boatload of “after” pictures. The builder we hired to oversee this entire remodel used his flooring company, Mill Direct Carpet and Tile to do all the work. We picked it out and they ordered, delivered, and installed it. It is such a big space and we are limited on time, so this was the best option for us this go-round.

They started by pouring self-leveling cement everywhere to make sure the slab was perfectly level. This took half a day and then they let it dry overnight.

The next day they came back and started gluing the floor down. The last wood floor in here (it was in the dining and living room only) was also an engineered hardwood but the previous owners had it floated on top of a pad. We opted to glue ours down instead because the last floor just sounded hollow when you walked on it. We wanted this one to feel more substantial.

The crew spent two and a half days installing the floor. They did a fabulous job. I have looked high and low to find any imperfections or flaws in their work but I can’t find any.

Here’s the almost finished dining room. Ignore the cardboard under the table legs. The installers did that as an extra precaution to not scratch the floor while they worked around our furniture.

We weren’t planning on using this room as a dining room when we bought the house a year ago but plans changed. After living here for a year we realized it made the most sense to use it the way it was intended (we replaced the breakfast table in the kitchen with an eat-at island, so this is now our only table). If I had known I wouldn’t have sold our previous dining table and chairs to the new owner of our last house. Sigh. Hindsight is 20/20. So now we are in the market for a new dining table that is longer than this one. Eventually.

The new cabinets and floor color really make our front door look way too red, so refinishing it is now at the top of my priority list (after finishing up all the renovation details at least).

Here’s a good before and after of the door that leads from the living room to the backyard:


before


now!

We obviously aren’t finished because there are no baseboards yet.

Here’s a before and after of the hallway that leads to the rest of the house:


before


now!

The flooring looks red in the hall because of the terrible lighting. I really want to put a skylight or something in this dungeon of a hall.

Another shot of the floor. I love how cohesive it is now. The rooms aren’t broken up by a tile walkway.

We also opted to take the wood into the kitchen. People seem very opinionated about wood in a kitchen. I love the look of it and am glad we kept the flooring uniform throughout the house.

I picked up this long runner at Costco, in case you are curious.

The view from the front door. Sure beats a choppy tile and wood combo!

Before the flooring went in I used my dad’s tile saw and cut two marble thresholds for either bathroom, then I glued them down. I purchased the thresholds at Home Depot for about $15 each. When we lived in New Jersey for a year in 2008 our apartment had marble thresholds leading into each bathroom. I was smitten with them and jumped at the opportunity to install them in this house.

We are now in the final stretch of renovation. What’s left:

*baseboards, door casing, doors, shelves, basic finishing stuff
*appliances (went in a couple days ago. I just need to write a post about it)
*Cabinet finishing: shoe moulding, floating shelves, and a few touch-ups
*pendant lighting above island (on temporary hold due to budget)
*under cabinet lighting (already wired, but on temporary hold due to budget)
*tile backsplash (on temporary hold due to budget)
*finish painting all the walls
*paint all trim once it’s installed
*deep clean everything (about 60% complete)

I *think* that’s it for the to-do list. Of course, we also have lots of additional stuff like purchasing new barstools for the island, upgrading our dining table, etc, but that will all come together over time.

Make sure to check back tomorrow because I am taking a detour from the renovation to share a really fun outdoor project for kids!


     
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