Sunday, May 12, 2013

The New Kitchen

I'm about seven months behind on this blog, which is kind of depressing because I actually do want to keep it up to date.  I think I'm down to only about five readers but I like having the blog for myself so that I can look back on trips, holidays, and other events and have my memories all written down and my photos organized.  I will go back and update all that I've missed in the past several months but for now I'm just going to go ahead with the kitchen post.  No one really cares about my Halloween photos in May, right?

From the time we purchased this condo six years ago, we knew that we wanted to redo the kitchen.  Before we moved in we gave it a little update by painting the cabinets white and the walls a bright green apple color.  And every year since then we've talked about doing the full renovation.  This year we finally bit the bullet and went for it.  

Our main purpose in redoing the kitchen is for resale.  We don't have any immediate plans to put our home on the market, but we hope that in the next couple of years we'll be ready to move on and we want to be ready when the time comes.  Besides, if there's going to be a whole new kitchen - we might as well enjoy it for awhile, right?   

Because we designed the kitchen with potential buyers in mind, we wanted to keep everything as neutral looking as possible.  We didn't necessarily choose the materials or the colors that we loved the most, but just what we thought would be the best fit.

We found a contractor that we liked and scheduled a start date.  His name was Luong and he was a young Vietnamese guy.  He was super nice - almost too nice.  He was always bowing to me, only called me Mrs. Wood, and took off his shoes every time he came in (I kept telling him to leave them on - I mean really, why are you walking around this dusty, scrap covered floor in your socks dude?).

Alright, so let's get to the pictures.  Here are a few before shots.  This was after most of the kitchen was packed up, so it looks a little bare.  We normally have a bit more stuff out on the counters. 

In this photo you can see our embarrassingly dirty grout.  We think that the old owner did a lot of the fix-ups around the house himself.  And he did not seal the grout.  It was nearly impossible to get clean.  

Now let the renovation begin!  This project was way more stressful than I ever thought it would be.  In addition to the construction noise, mess, and inconvenience, there were so many details that Charlie and I had to make decisions on.  And watching the whole process I kept noticing every little error or problem and stressing out about everything.  

On Monday morning they started demolition and the whole thing was gutted within a couple of hours.  Overall we liked our contractor, but there were a few things we wish he would have been more on top of.  Like scheduling time to paint.  We had decided to save ourselves the $500 and do it ourselves, but it would have been so much easier to do in an empty room.  They started installing the new cabinets right after lunch, so by that evening the kitchen looked like this:

So painting had to wait until the end.  The cabinets were not custom made, and the tall one in the corner ended up being a little too big.  It just barely fits outside the cut-out area in the ceiling, but there was not any room for molding around the top.  Other than the tall pantry, all of the new cabinets are slightly smaller than the old ones.  There were gaps all around with different colors of paint, so leaving the green was definitely not an option.  We were planning to paint anyway, but I always really liked the green.

Meanwhile our dining room was housing all of our appliances and the living room was home to dozens of boxes filled with our dishes, food, etc.  We could still use our refrigerator and microwave, so feeding ourselves wasn't horrible.  Breakfast and lunch were totally doable and we went out pretty much every night for dinner.  

We found ourselves at Lowe's and Home Depot almost every other day during the remodel.  It was kind of fun picking out things like a faucet, new hardware for the cabinets, a new dishwasher (we discovered that our old one was still leaking even though we thought it was fixed), a window covering for the side door, and a paint color, but it was also stressful because we always had our boys with us and they are not the most patient shoppers. 

The hardest thing of all was picking out granite.  We originally planned to go with a dark grayish color, but then decided that it would probably clash with our existing flooring which we had opted to keep.  Anyway, we went with our contractor to the stone yard and agonized for an hour or so over which color we should go with.  But some colors only came in smaller sizes, so did we want more seams?  And some had rounded edges and some had square edges.  And then once we found a slab we liked we had to find another piece from another section of the warehouse that would maybe kind of match the first piece even though each piece looks totally different and some don't match at all.  Totally stressful!  Not to mention trying to keep Isaac and Luke from being run over by one of the many forklifts that were constantly zipping past and swinging giant slabs of granite over our heads.  

We decided on a color called Colonial Cream and we are really happy with it.  This is the actual slab we picked.  It has square edges which I wasn't sure about at the time, but Charlie convinced me and now I love it.  

Isaac and Luke both loved watching the work in progress.  They'd often pull up chairs in the dining room and sit to watch for awhile.  It was really convenient that we could just put a baby gate up on the doorway to keep the boys and Cracker from getting in the way.  The workers used the side entrance to the kitchen so the mess and noise of it all felt pretty contained.  

We tried to match the paint color as closely as possible to the taupe-ish color that was used in the dining room and in most of the house.  We didn't know the actual name of the color, but we found a pretty good match.  A day or two after we had finished painting Luke found some extra brushes lying around and started doing some painting himself.  

We re-stained and sealed the grout to hide all of the impossible dirt stains.  And we had to have one tile replaced because it was cracked.  There were two extra tiles left by the previous owner.  One was an exact match to the floor and the other was just slightly different.  Of course the tile guy put the exact match UNDER THE REFRIGERATOR and the different looking one right in the entrance of the kitchen.  There were a few things like that that absolutely drove me crazy.  Like can't these guys use their brains?  Also, did he really think this new wood molding was a good match for our existing floor? We had them replace that, but it was too late for the tile (bottom right corner in the picture).

And just in case I haven't dragged this post out long enough, here is a photo of our new dining room set.  We had been meaning to replace the old one (which Charlie had before we were married).  Then when we were moving the table back in place after the kitchen was done, a leg broke off of it.  So that pretty much sealed it's fate.  I love the new set but it is a tad too big for the room because it is hard to scoot the chairs in and out and still have room to walk around.  So now we just need a bigger dining room, right?

And now finally, here are the pictures of the finished kitchen.

I don't think the change looks that dramatic, especially since we had white cabinets before and after.  But I absolutely love it.  I love the granite that we chose.  I love how the floor finally looks clean.  I love putting things away inside new cabinets that are clean and white inside instead of dark and gross.  Also, we did a major clean out and took about two carloads of kitchen stuff to Goodwill, so there is now tons more space everywhere.  We bought a new toaster, new trashcan, and new paper towel holder - little things, but they made a difference.  I need to get some nice new towels or something to add a little color, but the whole thing feels fresh and clean.  From start to finish it was just a little over two weeks, which was really not too bad.  We are so happy to have it done!  


Erin said...

Love it Carrie!! Good for you guys for going ahead with it now so you can enjoy it for awhile. I kind of wish I had done white cabinets but they were more money and at the time it was just one more thing that I didn't "need" but I sure do love them.

Amy said...

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this post. It looks gorgeous. I love the granite as well and I think it was a super smart choice. And I totally know what you mean about being so glad to have it all done and dealing with all the craziness and decision making during the process. Congrats!

Sherri said...

It looks great! I can't wait to see it!