Let the kitchen demo begin!

This weekend we demo’d the kitchen. In order to save some money we’ve decided to do as much work ourselves as possible (plus, hello! I’m a DIYer!!). We’ve hired out for the big stuff (cabinets, countertops, electrical work, etc), but we will also be DIYing as much as we can.

We started by removing all the upper cabinets. I helped unscrew them all while Ben and Travis took them to the garage. We tried to remove everything as carefully as possible because we are going to try sell everything on Craigslist.

Removing the kitchen took a little longer than expected though because, hello! March Madness started! Ben and Travis had to frequently race over to the TV to check the score. We’ve all gotten into it this year and each filled out our own bracket. I think Kinsey (our 9 year old) is currently winning. Dang you Syracuse! I had you in my final 2!

Once all the uppers were removed we started taking the counters off the base cabinets. They are Silestone and were heavy! Yikes!

Travis went around and unscrewed the base cabinets from the wall and each other while Ben and I pulled the counters off the cabinets.

In order to get the counters off we had to break up the tile backsplash. It was holding the edge of the counter down.

I had Travis snap this picture of Ben and me carrying a slab of countertop out – proof that I was actually there. haha

After the kids’ sports games were over Saturday afternoon we started chipping away at the tile floor. We considered renting a power tool to help chip up floor but with Ben and Travis both going at it with sledgehammers they made huge progress in a short amount of time and insisted on the challenge. Boys.

While they were taking up the tile I started removing the wall next to where the fridge used to be. We are going to box the fridge in with cabinetry for a more custom look so the wall had to go.

On Sunday (after yet another kid soccer game) we were able to finish up the kitchen. I had to run to Walmart for a few more garbage cans for all the tile. We are having a huge 20 cubic yard dumpster delivered soon, but it hasn’t arrived yet so in the mean time I picked up several $10 cans at Walmart to hold tile.

Here’s where we are currently at. We met with the cabinet maker on Friday and solidified the plans. He worked on them over the weekend and is coming back hopefully this afternoon for a final measure. We wanted the kitchen totally removed so that he can get the most accurate measure possible.

It is so weird and exciting to see our kitchen gone! We have a lot to get done in the next 3 weeks before the cabinets go in though. It will be a crazy 3 weeks full of hard work. I will definitely keep you updated with the play-by-play of what’s going on around here.

Last night Ben got ambitious and started chipping away at the tile in the foyer. I wasn’t joking all these months when I kept saying this tile is outta here! I also peeled back a few layers of the wood floor in the dining room. I was shocked to find out that the dining room and living room used to have carpet! Yikes.

Here’s my wall I removed, all pretty and waiting for a patch up job with sheetrock. That’s one of the ten bazillion things that needs to get done within the next three weeks.

Here is our old kitchen, all stacked nicely in garage just waiting for a buyer. If no one bites then we’ll donate everything to Habitat for Humanity, but we want to try to sell it first to help offset the cost of the new kitchen.

We have kept all the tile and wood separate so far, but as soon as the big dumpster is delivered we will be chucking everything in it. Here’s all the baseboards and random wood we’ve pulled up so far.

The angled countertop with the sink is so big and heavy that we put it in the flowerbed instead of the garage. It took Ben, Travis, and me to carry it outside.

As for all our stuff? We may as well have just moved out. We have a huge pile of stuff in our master bedroom and the game room. I bought a bunch of moving boxes and have been packing up the main areas of the house for a week now.

We can’t just block off the kitchen because we are also doing the floors at the same time. We are replacing all the flooring in the house with the exception of the bedrooms and bathrooms, so not only do we have to get all the furniture off all the floors, we also want to protect everything we own from the layer of white dust that is settling everywhere from chipping up all the tile.

I’m sure by the end of this I’ll have a permanent eye twitch. The main dust storm will be from all the demo, so once that part is done I think it won’t be so stressful living in a half finished kitchen because at least it won’t be filthy everywhere.

That’s where we are at! The kitchen is bare and we are waiting on the cabinet guy to come measure again. Now I’m just waiting on the dumpster to arrive; I need to schedule the plumber, electrician, and propane company (we are adding a gas range instead of an electric one! I. Can’t. Wait.); and we need to finish pulling up the remainder of the floor and baseboards.


Let’s talk kitchens. Or more specifically, my kitchen renovation.

The kitchen renovation begins! Can I get a holla?! After months and MONTHS of planning every last detail of a new kitchen, we are ready to pull the trigger. This is only a small sampling of all the hand-drawn layouts I’ve done in the past 10 months leading up to this renovation. And none of these are even the final drawing either!

Before we bought this house, we fell in love with the house, the layout, the 1+ acre property, and many other things. There is one thing we haven’t loved though… the kitchen. It is an awkward layout, the breakfast area is too small for a table to fit comfortably, and the cabinets are not great quality. We decided that if we bought this house, we would put in a brand-new kitchen (and new floors – that is our other big renovation).

Let’s start with some “before” photos of the kitchen.

We knew going into this new house that the kitchen was going to be our biggest hurdle and that it would involve a renovation of some sort.

It isn’t a terrible kitchen. It is functional. It does have several issues though including a stove that has several wonky or non-functional burners and a dishwasher that falls out of its hole if it is fully loaded and you open both drawers. The counters are nice, but have a few cracks/holes in them and are not a color I would have chosen.

Here’s a view of the kitchen from the family room before we moved in. It has a nice bar that helps it to feel open yet in it’s own space. (All that tile is getting the boot too, so just ignore the floors.)

One of the biggest issues we have with the kitchen is that the breakfast area is just too small. It feels awkward, we had to take the leaf out of the table to make it functional, and my favorite industrial chars won’t fit.

I stood on the counter for this photo to show more of a birds-eye-view of the island and table. The island is too small, but the table area is also too small. Plus there’s that awkward area on the right where the green cart is. Currently it is a drop off zone for my tools but we would love to have a big built-in desk there for the computer.

I love the big windows. I plan on moulding them out like the ones in the family room, and then I want to get some nice big shutters installed. Yum.

And here’s a quick sneak-peek of the archway we removed. I haven’t blogged about it yet because I’m (obviously) not totally done with the mud and texture.

If you haven’t noticed, things have been slow-going at the house since we moved in 10 months ago. That’s because we have been putting every last penny into our kitchen fund. After reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover several years ago we have tried to live debt free (except the mortgage) and pay for everything in cash, so instead of just taking out a renovation loan, we have been saving like crazy so that we can update the kitchen without going into debt for it.

The good thing about taking 10 months to save up enough cash for a renovation is that we have had 10 months to live in the space and really get a feel for exactly what we want. I have been planning out the kitchen for months and it has gone through several layouts and ideas.

We have decided to hire a local home builder to renovate our kitchen. We have gone back and forth for months on what type of cabinets to purchase (IKEA, semi-custom, big-box store, custom, etc) and ultimately decided to hire a local home builder who has a custom cabinet maker. There is a lot that went into this decision, but the main reasons are 1) his kitchens and cabinets are amazing quality and we love the look of them, 2) our kitchen is a very irregular size and standard-sized stock cabinets don’t fit well, and 3) because we are going local with a smaller home builder who has a local cabinet maker (as opposed to a kitchen renovation company or a cabinet company), we are getting completely custom-made solid wood cabinets for around the same price as if we had purchased semi-custom cabinets from a big box store.

I’ve got tons of little details to share with you guys, but for now I’ll just give a large-scale overview of where we are going with the renovation. In the next post I’ll try to give more of the smaller details and also will answer any questions you have asked in the comments section of this post.

First off, the island/table situation. We’ve decided that there just isn’t enough room for a table and an island, and the island won out. In leiu of a kitchen table, we’ve opted for a very large eat-at island. This decision is what prompted us to start using our dining room as an actual dining room. We figure we’ll eat breakfast and lunch and quick meals in the kitchen at the large eat-at island, and we’ll do family dinners in the dining room. I found this picture to give you an idea of what our big eat-at island will look like:

After lots of measuring and taping, our island will be a tad smaller but will still hold 4 people comfortably.

Next up, the cabinet color and style. After lots of hemming and hawing we’ve decided to go with a dark brown stained cabinet. I opted for a dark brown because I love the look of them, they won’t show dirt as smudges like white would, and they are a finish and shape that will always be in style. The builder we have hired is building a house down the street from us and just put in the cabinets a few days ago. These are the exact same cabinets we are going to install.

Shayna at The Wood Grain Cottage installed a kitchen in almost the exact same style and finish that I am doing. She also added three features that I am obsessed with and am adding to my new kitchen – the pull-out spice ranks, the vent hood cabinet with a mantle on it, and a cooktop (not pictured) with drawers under it.

Here’s another image I found that shows what we are going for – a cooktop with drawers under it for pot and pans:

We’ve decided to drop the sink area bar-height counter down to counter-height. It will open the area up more with the living room. Unfortunately we can’t remove any of the columns because they are all support walls, but I have some exciting ideas for moulding them up to make them look more intentional. Here’s my current kitchen:

Here’s an image of a kitchen that removed the bar-height counter and replaced it with a single counter-height one:

We’ve managed to incorporate a tall cabinet for an oven and microwave into our design, and I’m pretty stoked about it. I didn’t think it was possible initially, but after some brainstorming we’ve come up with a way to fit it all in. The tall cabinet will look like this (but dark brown):

It will go in the space to the left of the glass corner cabinet (that we are removing):

Next to it will create a somewhat awkward corner space so we’ve decided to add a feature I’m super thrilled about – an appliance garage! After much online sleuthing I’ve finally managed to find an appliance garage that is the most similar to what we are adding over at Eclectically Vintage. We won’t be adding the big open space above the garage though. This area will go directly to the right of the new tall oven cabinet.

Hmmm, let’s see… what else? Oh, the desk! The desk will be built-in using the same matching cabinets and countertop and will go where the green cart is sitting in this picture:

Here’s an image that is the most similar to what we’ve designed. Our desk will only have one center drawer unit under the desk (as opposed to this picture’s two units), and ours will have open shelving where the glass cabinet doors are. Other than that, almost identical.

When I taped off to measure for the island, I also taped off the desk area and added some chairs. On paper everything fit, but I wanted to make sure it didn’t feel cramped in real life. Also, you are getting a sneak peek of the new moulding going in around the windows!

And finally, one surprise feature we are adding. Remember back when I did a mock-up of the dining room built-ins that Sarah did that I wanted to replicate in my dining room? Here’s my mock-up of my dining room with her built-ins:

Ben pointed out that maybe we should have the cabinet builder make custom cabinets for the dining room so that everything matched. The kitchen and dining room are across from one another, and they are both the first rooms you see when you walk into the house, so it seems like a better idea to have them match. So, yup, we are adding the custom cabinets in the dining room as well. They will be similar to what I previously planned, but I’ve made one minor change to the plan. Instead of the shelving part coming down and sitting on top of the counter I’m going to just have cabinets above that are doorless. It will look more like a butler’s pantry or buffet, but the base cabinets will still be almost as shallow as the upper cabinets (most kitchens have 24″ deep base cabinets and 12″ deep upper cabinets. Our buffet will have 15″ deep base cabinets and 12″ upper cabinets). Here’s a picture I found that is most similar to what I have in mind, but picture the buffet with cabinets (no drawers) on the base cabinets and no doors (just open shelving) on the upper cabinets.

The cabinet fabricator comes this week to do a final measurement to begin building the cabinets, so now I’m packing up the kitchen (didn’t I just pack like 10 months ago?). We are packing up the entire kitchen and are planning on living with no kitchen for 6-8 weeks. The grill has a full propane tank and we are stocking up on disposable plates. We’ll be setting up a microwave and fridge in the dining room.

I don’t dare cram any more info into this single post (my fingers are almost numb from typing so much already!) so I’ll give even more details in the next post. Also, I’m going to try to keep this renovation blogged in as close to real time as possible, so there might be some posts that are a quick small update, and others that are more detailed. If you have any questions or any awesome ideas or input, please tell me! We finalize the kitchen plans later this week, so I still have time to make last minute adjustments.


Less is more [removing shelving in the pantry]

I won’t lie, we have a pretty fab pantry. At least the size of it is pretty fab, though I’m not a fan of the wire shelving.

After living here 6 months though, I’ve kinda started to figure out what works for me in this house and what annoys me. What annoys me about this pantry are 1) it’s not technically in the kitchen, which means I have to walk farther (I can’t fix this issue though), 2) the wire shelves are obnoxious (I can and will handle that issue in the future, but it’s not high on the priority list), and 3) The rear left and right corners are like dark abysses where food goes to hide and then expire (which I can take care of right now).

I spent about an hour and a half last week tweaking the pantry to better suite my needs. Basically, I removed all those shelves that are in the rear of the pantry.

Seriously, so much better. Yes, I have less space to put stuff, but now I can actually reach all the food, so it feels like I have more space. I may even hang some spice racks along the back wall to create more storage.

When I removed all the shelves I was left with huge holes from all the shelf anchors. They were too big to just fill with spackle, so I did a little awesome trick that I thought you’d like to know about.

First off, you can’t fill holes if they aren’t flush with the wall. Well, I suppose you could, but it would look like crap. And I prefer my home look nice, so I just took my putty knife and scraped each hole flat.

See how the surface is smooth and flat now? This will make for a more professional putty job. It took no time at all to scrape each hole, so just go ahead and do it, m-kay?!

Now, for my trick. I’m sure I read about it on a blog at some point in my life, but I honestly have no idea where I got this tip from. The more I think about it the more I think I learned it on HGTV or something.

Take some tissue paper, smooch it into a ball, and stuff it into the hole you need to fill. This will give your spackle something to grab onto so the spackle doesn’t just fall through the hole and into the space behind the wall.

After that, simply spackle as usual. Easy and effective.

Final result? More open and a lot easier to find our food.

I also tried to get a little more organized while I was in there tinkering. I moved all the food to the right side:

And all the non-food and baking goods to the left side:

It’s not perfectly organized (I’ve never claimed to have a blog about organizing!), but at least for today it is clean and I can find what I’m looking for.

Before and after:


And I swear, when I put a level on the black wire shelf hanging on the back wall it says it’s level. It sure doesn’t look like it to me though. Maybe the shelf itself is wonky. I’m going to have to investigate. B-T-dubbs, the little organizer holds chips for school lunches.

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