Sarah the Creative
Storyteller. Designer. Noun.


Adventures in Somewhat Grownup Shit. 

Kitchen Renovation: the Huge list of what we did

This is that post where I say, holy shit I should have been blogging along each step of the kitchen work. I never dreamed that in seven months of owning my house, my dream kitchen would be nearly done. But when you get started on a project, it's hard to stop. And as I cook in this beautiful room every day and entertain friends, I can't help thinking through the steps that it took to get it to where it is today. So, for my own edification, I've got to do it. Here's a grand master list of everything we (mostly my dad and I) did:

BEFORE: Note the wallpaper, the red countertop, the weird hole-in-the-wall fan, the oven on a wall all by itself, the dirty crummy white sink, just ERRYTHANG

1. Gather inspiration. I have a Pinterest problem. So many decisions about my kitchen were a combination of what I saw on Pinterest, photos from blogs I'm now head over heels about. Things like open shelves, duotone cabinets, and How-tos, like how to actually paint cabinets. 

2. Removed two layers of wallpaper. My angel parents brought over spray bottles and scrapers and got to work, while I worked on steps three and four

3. Removed the chair rail ... and nails from the walls, door bell, outlet covers and baseboard quarter rounding. 

4. Sanded the ridges in the the wall where the chair rail created a canyon between the layers of paint. (With a high probability that there was lead in the existing paint, the mask was quite necessary in this demolition phase.)

5. Primed and painted walls and ceiling. All of the early wall painting in the house is a blur; and somehow there are no photos from this phase. I think Dad and I pretty much knocked out the kitchen in a weekend. I don't have any before pics of the yellowed ceiling, but getting that pure white was a HUGE step to lightening the room up and making it feel fresh and clean.

6. Replaced all of the yellow outlets and brown vents with pure white. 

7. Removed all the hardware, doors and drawers from the existing cabinets. (Thanks Grandma and Uncle Tom!)

8. Filled the hardware holes I wasn't use, sanded, primed and painted the top cabinets. I believe it took two coats of primer and two coats of pure white paint on the cabinet frames and the doors, which I laid out on a table in dining room. 

9. Spray painted the existing hardware. Though I ogled over some of the latest in kitchen hardware, I chose to stick with the existing hinges and drawer pulls. The cabinet handles were clunky and had buttons that you had to press to open the doors, so I replaced them with cheap matching knobs. I sprayed the existing hardware with "hammered" black paint to match the texture. While my budget was the primary reason for this decision, I'm really happy with how it turned out. I think it retains some of the character and historic feel of the house. 

10. Dad made custom cabinets, cutting out shelves where we would install a dishwasher and using some of those deconstructed parts as well as some pine created two new cabinets and drawers, expanding the counter space and incorporating the oven to really make the kitchen feel whole.

11. I got to work filling holes, sanding, priming and painting the bottom cabinets a slate grey. With the paint uniting new and old cabinets, the L-shape really came together and if you didn't know any better, you'd think it was built like that. (Way to go dad!) 

12. Before we installed the outside cabinet, Dad installed a new outlet to replace the outlet we'd be covering. I'm telling you: woodworking, plumbing, electric ... this guy does it all. 

13. We installed laminate counters. For a while there, I'd talked about how I could live with the red counters for a little while, you know, wait until I could afford the right material to really do the kitchen justice. Ha! I found out how affordable laminate is and how far laminate has come in the last couple decades (it wraps so you can have a rounded bullnose finish, really helping the faux stone look like a believable slab) .. and said adios to the weird red metal counter thing. Which, by the way, was a BEAST to remove. And of course when you install new counters, there are a couple of things it makes sense to go ahead and do sooo.... somewhere in the counter installation process, we did the following three items...

14. Installed an apartment-size dishwasher. (Cute, efficient, all I need... this required a new circuit in the fusebox and new plumbing, of course.)

15. Installed a stainless steel sink. Of course, the first one I ordered was dented, extending that day's timeline immensely, so it's more like unwrapped a sink, rewrapped it, drove to Home Depot, returned for new sink, came home, cut the right sized hole in the counter (nerve wracking! why we always measure twice, cut once), place sink in hole, seal with plumber's caulk. Phew! 

16. Installed a garbage disposal.


17. At this point, there was some scarring on the wall - four inches of rough, un-level, unpainted wall that the old counter's backplash had covered. In all the reading I did, it seemed like the more professional route was to not get the factory-standard backplash attached to your counter. If you're planning on doing a backsplash, it should meet the counter all the way at the seam - no lip. I certainly preferred this look, so, just when I thought I was done with messes, I started sanding again.

18. I think around this time, we installed two new lighting fixtures. A pendant over the sink to replace a fluorescent bar, and a drum shade in the center of the kitchen to replace this weird circular fluorescent thing I never got a descent photo of. (Sorry, I know these aren't great photos of the new fixtures ... ) 

Creative Adulting | My Kitchen Renovation, the Journey

19. You've probably noticed a hole in the wall above the stove. Yeah, that's the old school fan. Which actually looked sort of cool. Originally, it must have blew through an exterior wall to the outside. However, at some point, I think in the last ten years or so, the porch got enclosed with sliding glass doors so that fan was going into an enclosed three-season room. Plus, it needed an update. So I found a stainless steel hood on Craigslist (which is a whole other story, because if I'm the Queen of anything, it's Craigslist), and we had to do some electrical magic and drywall cutting to seal up that giant hole and install the stove hood. The vertical vent thing is actually just for looks since it's not directional in this case, but I love how it looks!

20. Next is we set the backsplash. Dad cut white subway tiles, while mom spread tile set on them and I set them, placing 6 spacers around each tile and dropping a couple hundred down the nooks and crannies. 

21. A couple of days later, I grouted the backsplash with pearl grey grout. 

22. Dad helped me add a bead of pearl grey caulk around the edges of the backsplash, with white between the window and tiles.

23. I ordered these beautiful reclaimed wood floating shelves from Barnwood Designs on Etsy. They're handmade, a smart design, were easy to install and are really beautiful. 

24. At some point, we also installed a new white doorbell. I tried spray painting the old one, but it turns out when you paint brass chimes white, they no longer chime!

25. And while all this was happening on walls one and two, at some point, I moved the fridge from wall three to wall four so it didn't jut out into the center of the kitchen so much. That left a perfect little nook for the table that was handed down from my great aunt. I can pull out the leaves when I have extra company, but it works perfectly with the leaves down for day-to-day use. 

And just 25 steps later, countless late evenings and weekend later, it's pretty done. You may have caught some glimpses of the floor, which is on the list, but for now I'm enjoying the almost-finished product. Here are the 360 degree of "Almost-Afters" ...

Sarah LockwoodComment