The Kitchen Remodel

I am sitting here this morning in my new kitchen. The coffee is brewing and smells great. My dogs have already been out, but the kids (well, two of the three) are still sleeping so no one is bugging me yet. A kitchen remodel is sort of like pregnancy and childbirth. Everyone is happy for your news and can’t wait to see the baby. They know you are suffering during construction (for both kids and kitchens), but they all encourage you with “wait until the baby (kitchen) comes and you will forget about all the other stuff”. Surprisingly, they were right!

This kitchen is functional now. Not only have we cooked in it, but it has been a workplace for my husband, a homework place for my kids and a writing space for me. I have also folded laundry on my island – something I could never do before. The kitchen is actually bigger and has more walking space. We put hardwood floor in the dining room to extend the kitchen space even more. No one wanted to set foot in a “formal” dining room so we fixed that with more casual furniture and decor. That room needs another couple of weeks for painting and furniture delivery.

All the guys we used were reasonably priced, on time and did great work. We started at Brakur for the cabinets and they lead us to everyone else. If any locals want their names and numbers I will be happy to share.

So let’s see the pictures already! (FYI, the before pics were taken in the afternoon and the after pics were taken at night, so they do look darker. Sorry!)

Fridge Side Before

Fridge Side After

A full length shot of fridge cabinet

Dishwasher Area Before

Dishwasher Area After

Sink Area Before

Sink Area After

Stove Area Before

Stove Area After

Left Corner Before

Left Corner After

Right Corner Before

Right Corner After

Our Sad Little Island Before

Who Says Size Doesn't Matter?

Stove Side of Island

Fridge Side of Island

Come by and see it for yourself. The wine will be waiting!


It has been a long, stressful week. The kitchen remodel has been moving along, right on schedule. There have been one to four guys here working on various projects every day. Keep in mind, my husband and I work out of the house. Since we are here, we are asked lots of questions by the contractors. Although that is important, it is not very productive for us. We were forced to leave our house so the floors could be sanded and stained, including installing the new wood in the dining room. Let me tell you, that weekend trip came at the very end of my nerves.

My kids had the day off on Friday and Monday this week so we thought that was the perfect time to get away. However, they had sports practices and games on Friday and Saturday morning so we hung around for part of the flooring. I spent the time packing for the cat, dogs and myself as well as oversee the kids packing. I also had to gather up all the stuff from the two closets that have wooden floors (one is a pantry!) and lay it all in the living room. Our living room was the only room in the house not affected by the remodel. We moved the piano and foyer table in there and draped everything with sheets. The whole time this was going on, you could hear two rapid ka-pow, ka-pows of the nail gun as they worked on installing the new floor. This was accompanied by the alternating hum of the air compressor.

Before the night was through, they started sanding the kitchen floor. No one should be home for this! Dust was everywhere and the noise is deafening. Thankfully, two of my kids left to go to friend’s houses and the other one hid out in the basement. We ran some errands – pick up tile, get plastic for doors, etc. – to get away from it. I wasn’t the only one affected by the noise of the remodel. Our poor cat vomited for three days (all over my bed) and since I had to board him, I brought him to the vet last minute to see if it was anything other than stress. The vet said, “probably not, but here are some meds”. $114.00 later, I was off to retrieve my kids from their friends and pick up dinner.

After dinner, I had the kids start their packing. I reminded them what to take, but did not check things. My son couldn’t find his DS. Not only is it an expensive toy, but there was no way we could drive 200 miles without it. It was found in the armrest of my husband’s car after a 20 minute search. My husband told the girls to pull out their basketball uniforms for the next day’s game. We were leaving right after the games. The next morning, my middle daughter could not find her shirt. Yes, her dad told her to have it pulled out the night before, but apparently, she didn’t listen. In between running the cat to one place at 7:00am and the dogs to another place at 8:00am, I got to look for the shirt while my husband fumed and my daughter cried. It was also lost in the abyss of my husband’s car – in a bag of pinnys in the trunk.

Needless to say, I was fried by the time we left. We weren’t more than 30 miles from home when my oldest daughter announced that she might have left her lava lamp on. My son (who is eight and can’t remember to brush his teeth everyday) swears he saw it on and turned it off. I would have loved to believe this reliable source, but I chose instead to call our floor guy and ask him to go up and check it. Thankfully, it was off. We drove in silence for a little while after that.

The rest of the weekend was very relaxing. We stayed in the Dells at the Wilderness in a great condo. It had a working kitchen and no dust. I was in heaven. When we weren’t in the waterpark, I hung out in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine. We only had a couple more hiccups follow us from home – my son forgot to pack a bathing suit and I forgot some things, too. Thankfully, there was a little store downstairs. With milk at $3.50 for a half gallon, it was a real bargain!

We came home to a finished floor (part one of two) and all the cabinets installed. We watched them unload the cabinets into the garage on Friday morning. They look beautiful! Yesterday we had a few issues – uneven walls and straight cabinets, a tight fit for the refrigerator, a light switch that had to move on the new wall. They came to measure for our granite and we go this week to lay it out on the sheet we picked. Now, our house will be construction free for a week, which is great. I will need that long to clean up all the dust!

This past week has been full of decisions for us regarding this kitchen remodel. I originally thought this would be fun to design and decorate a room from floor to ceiling. However, working from a clean slate is a little stressful.

When we moved here, the house was already build. We didn’t have to pick any of the lights, faucets, sinks, counters, cabinets, carpet, etc. We didn’t even have any grass, let alone landscaping! We had white walls to work with. Over the past 13 years, we have painted, changed lighting, faucets, carpet and landscaped the yard. I have been happy with all the decisions we made.

I think what made that easier was the fact that everything was done a little at a time. We never went into a room, ripped out the floor and ceiling, bought new furniture, lighting, decorations, carpet and painted at the same time. It was always a little bit – new furniture OR new paint OR new carpet. The kitchen is everything at once and I don’t want to make a bad decision because we are stuck with this for awhile.

Color doesn’t scare me. Working in the printing world for 18 years, I feel pretty confident picking colors that compliment each other. Printing colors are talked about in numbers – PMS 185 (Red), PMS 376 (Green), PMS 116 (Yellow). Those same colors in the decorating world are called Desert Sunset, Winter Moss and Lemongrass Breeze. Other than that, it is the same.

I am not one of those people that can’t make a decision. I usually see what I like right away. While we were picking tile for the back splash yesterday, we were helped by a 30-year-old man single man (no ring). I was surprised by how patient he was with us (not to mention knowledgeable) and ran (literally) back and forth across the showroom every time I said “what about…”. Having never bought tile before, I thought we were pretty quick. We were in and out in 45 minutes, including the check out process.

I think that the tradesman are expecting someone to hem and haw for days on these decisions. In a meeting in my empty kitchen this week, my husband and I discussed the lighting with our contractor, carpenter and electrician. I already had in my mind what I wanted. They are putting in can lights and suggested pendant lights over the island. I am not crazy about pendant lights. Whenever I go to someone’s house, everyone naturally flocks around the island to talk. I always find it annoying to stand there while those lights hang at eye level. I simply said, “I don’t want the pendant lights.”. My husband was quickly in agreement and we both decided on an additional three can lights – although smaller – over the island. You would have thought that was the end of it. Nope! We stood there for an hour talking about the placement of the cans and if we even needed them. I said that I would rather have too much light than not enough. We talked about that island lighting for a half hour before agreeing that our original decision was a good one.

On Friday, they are putting down the new hardwood flooring. They will also strip the old floor, which covers the first floor with the exception of the living room and family room. We have to either choose a stain or go with the natural color. Ugh! I have no idea what to do, although I am leaning towards the natural wood. The flooring guy wants to show us all these stains and told us that he could custom blend a color for us. No! Don’t do that! That will open our decision to a trillion other options. Why do they make this harder than it has to be?

So far, I love everything we picked. I have been walking around with paint swatches, wood pieces and granite in my purse for weeks. I think everything will match. Worse case scenario, even if I hate it, I know we can change it in 13 years or so….

Decisions, Decisions

We are on day two of our kitchen remodel. They have torn out our cabinets, counter tops and sink. They pulled out the drywall from our ceiling to get to the electrical. They built out the wall section we are adding to accommodate the extra cabinets. They even added some beautiful clear doors to the room! All and all it was a productive day. Our garage is filled with all the debris for awhile. I can still fit my truck in the garage, so that is fine with me.

The family room is a little more crowded with the addition of the refrigerator, stove and unused microwave. Although most people would like the convenience of having the refrigerator within arm’s reach, it is not all it’s cracked up to be. We have a small path – maybe two feet wide, behind the couch and in front of our temporary kitchen. Let me tell you, just making afternoon snacks requires a few dance moves. I can’t wait to try a real dinner (last night we ordered a pizza). There is not enough room for more than one person.

On the bright side, we will not gain any weight while the construction is going on. Our garbage can is in the garage to keep the dogs out of it. I didn’t realize how many times a day I had to throw something out! Our wash station is upstairs and even though we are using a lot of disposable items, we still need to wash some items. When the family is done with a dish, they bring it upstairs. Of course, that is where it ends. By some miracle, dishes and cups get washed and brought back downstairs. In addition, we do a lot of walking back and forth looking for things. The answer to “Where is….?” is usually followed by a huge sigh when the person asking for it stomps off to find it. It will take some getting used to.

Here are the before pictures taken yesterday morning and some from this morning. Happy Friday!

Dining Area of Kitchen Minus Table - Before

Same Area - 24 hours later

Right side of Kitchen Before

Right side - after with partial wall skeleton

Left side of Kitchen - Before

Left side - After (notice the nice ceiling and new "doors"

The Family Room is getting smaller

Not a lot of room for walking let alone cooking

I am almost done packing up my kitchen. I have spent most of yesterday cleaning, emptying and boxing. The hardest part of all of this has been trying to decide what minimal items we can get by with for the next two weeks. I have saved those items – a few bowls, pots, plates, coffee cups and of course, some wine glasses. I grabbed a few utensils, the measuring cup, can opener and a few pieces of Tupperware. The rest went into boxes.

The bare minimum, temporary storage

I had my daughters help me out with the packing. They were not happy that I made them wrap everything individually. I told them that packing fun continues when you unpack. I told them they had to wash everything before putting them back in the cabinets. I think I made their day with that information. My husband moved all the boxes down to the basement and some of the larger items went directly into the crawlspace.

In addition to packing up the kitchen, I had to pack the dining room, too. We are putting hardwood flooring in so the table had to move and china cabinet had to be emptied. That was fun – NOT! I can’t believe how many glasses we had in this cabinet! nMy husband took the table off its base and took the top part off the china cabinet. Piece by piece, it went into the garage. Although we have a three-car garage, my husband will be parking his car outdoors for a few weeks.

Doesn't my dining room table look nice?

The family room has had a face lift, too. It is a more cozy room now, much like those seen in IKEA displays. We moved the couch away from the window and placed our kitchen table behind it. This will serve as our kitchen for now. The stove will be moving into the family room when the demo guys come on Thursday. The refrigerator has to stay plugged in as the one in the garage is unreliable. It is the drink fridge. The bad thing is that the refrigerator will not be connected to the water for the time being. My son was very surprised that the ice maker would not be working.

There are only a few things left to pack. I really don’t know what to do with them. One of the things is our garbage can. It normally goes under the sink. With two dogs, I can’t leave it out. For now, it is still there. I also need to empty out the silverware drawer and the junk drawer. We need those things daily. I might just keep them in the drawer and put the drawers in the laundry room. Another room disturbed by the remodel…. (Please note that I tried to separate these paragraphs, but WordPress is not cooperating!)

I think we are as prepared as possible. We have stocked up on paper plates, cups and bowls to avoid doing dishes. We will be without a sink and dishwasher for a long time. Even after the cabinets are in, the sink cannot go in until the granite is measured, cut and installed. Our “washing station” will be the master bathroom tub. This is currently occupied by our cat’s litter box. I hate to step on the litter pieces, so the tub has solved that problem. Needless to say, the litter box will have to move during our kitchen remodel.

I have to tell you that this minimal kitchen and smaller family room feels just like our first townhouse. We had nothing – just the bare minimum of furniture and kitchen items. It brings back memories of a simpler time and a couple who didn’t know how blessed their lives would be.

We moved into our house 13 1/2 years ago. It was a spec home – built on speculation – and had very neutral colors, fixtures and cabinets, and was not exactly our taste. The kitchen was much smaller than we hoped. However, it was move in ready and I was pregnant with our first child. We told ourselves that we would fix it up to our tastes in a few years. Silly us! I guess we forgot we were planning on having more kids and therefore, more expenses. We would save money, just like the couple in UP!, and like them, we spent it on something more important than remodeling. The size of the kitchen did not deter us from hosting countless times over the past 13 plus years, nor did it spoil our love of cooking.

This September, we finally decided that this was the year we were going to remodel the kitchen. We had done some updates a few years ago to hold off until this time – we painted, changed cabinet hardware, faucet and light fixtures. (Please let it be known that my mention of “we” in this paragraph is my husband. I just picked out the stuff I liked. He did the work.) Even with those updates, we noticed that the hardwood floor needed to be refinished and the counter tops, which are out of date, had too many scratches and stains.

After talking to three different cabinet makers, we chose one that we really liked. He sat down with us and helped us to make the most out of our kitchen. Although we are not tearing down any walls or expanding our floorspace in any way, we are still growing our kitchen by nine cabinets and eight drawers! The best part is that we are making it our own – choosing the cabinets, counter, sink, lighting, etc. The appliances have been replaced recently, so they are all staying. We still need to pick out our back splash, light fixtures and paint. My husband is the kind of guy that actually enjoys going with me to pick out stuff like that. That will be our dates for the next two weeks. I can’t wait for it to be finished!

What I am not looking forward to is the construction. Today I am starting to pack everything up. In addition to the kitchen, I have to pack up the dining room. We decided that since we are refinishing the hardwood floors, we might as well put hardwood in the dining room, too. There went my temporary kitchen! So, our family room will become the temporary kitchen. This should be fun! We need to move out one of the couches and set up the kitchen table in its place. The table will hold our “appliances” – microwave, crockpot, small convection oven, mini electric burner, etc. The family room will also be the temporary home to our large appliances, including the still functioning refrigerator. The garage will be filled with the dining room table and china cabinet, boxes and also serve as a work area for the contractor.

The contractor promises they work fast. The cabinets are already built and waiting for us in a warehouse. The granite is picked out and waiting for the footprint of the cabinets. Everything will be back in place except the counters and back splash in two weeks. (Yes, I saw Money Pit, too.) The electrician has already been to the house with the contractor and everyone is on the same page. It sounds like it will be okay.

I just worry about the day to day. My husband and I both work out of the house. My dogs will be crazy with the noise and the people and having things out of place. I think I will be right there with them. When I was a teenager, we expanded our kitchen and put on a room addition. My mom asked me if I remember how crazy it was. I really don’t. I remember bits and pieces. I think it is because I wasn’t the mom in that house. It was her problem. This one is mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to the final results on the dream kitchen we have wanted for a long time. When I got my braces, my dad told me that you have to suffer to be beautiful. I guess that applies to this, too.

Kitchen before we moved in

Another shot of kitchen before we moved in

There is no picture of the table side of the kitchen – sorry. I will post more pics of the updates we did a few years back. Stay tuned for more remodeling posts!