The making of a kitchen island

In order to install the kitchen island completely, it took several additional steps to make sure it was secure. We definitely don’t want the island accidentally tipping over or having a heavy piece of granite falling on top of one of us.

It looks pretty and simple just sitting there, but there was a lot of additional thought that went into getting this beast secured to the floor. The cabinet guy started by gluing several 2x4s to the floor with liquid nails. He then used the coolest little tool to sink huge nails through the wood and into the actual slab foundation.

After some google sleuthing I figured out the tool is similar to this one on amazon: .22 Caliber Single Shot Powder Hammer 00022

He loaded a bullet into the tool, added the nail, and then slammed the top with a hammer. The bullet added the additional force to get the nail to sink deep into the cement. It was crazy cool and I was totally tool-geeking out.

Once the nails were in place in the foundation he added additional liquid nails to the underside of the island.

The island was then set into place and additional screws were driven in from the base of the island into the newly installed 2x4s on the cement. The entire point of the 2x4s on the floor is so that you can attach the island to the 2x4s with screws, which are then attached to the floor.

Once the island was officially anchored to the floor, we could now add the island countertop. Here’s where things started to get hairy…

After lots of research, I learned that if you want to comfortably sit at a counter-height bar, you need 15″ of leg room. We want to sit on two sides of this island in order to have enough seating for at least 4 people, so we planned for 15″ of overhang on two of the 4 sides of the island.

I also learned from lots of research that if you plan on extending your bar more than 10″, you need to support the counter overhang with braces. When the countertop people came to install the countertops, they acted clueless about the brackets. I assumed the entire time that they would be adding some hidden brackets. They told me that was the cabinet makers responsibility and should have already been done.

They were about to just slap a 40″ x 55″ heavy piece of granite on top of a cabinet with no bracing whatsoever. When I saw what was about to happen I FREAKED OUT. I called the builder, he came over. I called the cabinet maker. We all argued about it. They wanted to just finish the job.

Our builder, the cabinet maker, AND the countertop guy all insisted I did NOT need any braces. At one point one of them even told me, “just don’t let your kids sit on the counter and you’ll be fine.” Um, do you know my kids? They will absolutely sit on top of the counter because they are part monkey!

I flat out refused to let them install that island granite without any braces. No one had a solution. Apparently bracing an overhang is not necessary? Not going to fly with my island. Sorry. My only option was to DIY some braces myself while they were doing the other counters. It was either that or be a neurotic nervous mess for the rest of my life knowing there weren’t any braces under the island. I could have added corbels after the fact as additional support, but I wanted hidden support. I had been vocal about this from the start of the renovation, but somehow that ball had been dropped and no one would accept responsibility.

Also, our island cabinet is only 25″ deep, so with an additional 15″ overhang, we are talking about having one third of the entire counter hanging off the cabinet. Not bracing this beast just did not sit well with me at all.

So I DIYed some brackets on the fly. I hit google quickly and found this tutorial from YHL where they used some 10″ L brackets as braces. It was a brilliant last-minute plan, but I did not like that they left the braces exposed. I raced to Lowe’s to purchase these L brackets and all the screws and washers needed for the project and then busted out my Dremel to carve notches into the cabinet.

The notches allowed for the L brackets to sit flush with the cabinet while remaining hidden. In addition to screwing the L brackets into the cabinet, I also added some liquid nails under each bracket for extra reinforcement.

I feel like there are probably better bracing systems out there, but with zero notice and people waiting on me, I had to find a solution that I’d be happy with that could be completed asap. They don’t look “pretty” from inside the cabinet, but they are so deep in the back of the cabinet that I never even see them when I open the cabinet doors.

The brackets are 10″ long, but because I installed them inside the cabinet, they ended up only sticking out about 8-9″. They are well hidden under my 15″ overhang, but add additional support that helps me sleep more soundly at night.

Whew, that was a long-winded story! I just wanted you to see why we chose this short-cut L bracket option instead of an actual bracket made for island overhangs. You can see in this picture below how they all sit flush with the cabinet.

Finally my little derailed side-project was complete and the countertop guys could finish their work. They installed the countertop and added silicone around each bracket.

You can see in this picture the brackets are adding additional support but are completely hidden and out of everyones way. I could have added corbels instead but I really wanted some hidden support instead. I think they look great and I’m pretty darn proud of myself for coming up with this dirty solution on the fly.

To finish up the island, once the wood floors were installed the cabinet guys came back and installed shoe moulding around the base of all the cabinets for a clean look. I LOVE the shoe moulding he used. It isn’t a quarter-round, it’s more square with the edge knocked down. He said he makes it all himself in his shop. Yet another reason to love this cabinet maker.

So there you have it! Who would have thought that a little kitchen island would require so much additional work?

I guess my takeaway from this that I want to share with you is, even when you hire out work, do your own homework. If I hadn’t researched kitchen islands and countertop overhang, I wouldn’t have known to make my overhang 15″. The standard a builder does is around 10″ I believe. I also wouldn’t have known that a 15″ overhang requires additional support. I wouldn’t have known to fight my builder on this issue, and make sure the project was done right. Yes, we hired out for a lot of the work, but I researched each step of the way and I stayed on top of these crews and micromanaged them so the work was done the way I wanted it.


     

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!


     

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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