Kitchen Renovation: Planning

Today I’m taking a break from progress pictures and taking a step back. I tend to get bogged down in tiny details of every project, so it’s good to remind myself where we’re headed and what the end goal is. And also, how far we’ve come already. Making all the decisions regarding finishes and materials for our kitchen was such a headache and took months! Now all the decisions are made and finishes are purchased (unless new issues arise, of course), and it’s such a relief!

So without further ado, here is our kitchen mood board! Ok, so not quite a mood board since all this is decided, but you get the idea.

1. White shaker cabinets

I’ve always known this is what I wanted for this kitchen, so there wasn’t much to decide here. Our house is not really an obvious style like traditional, craftsman, modern, etc. If anything, it’s become a bit of a mix between contemporary and mid-century, so I wanted a neutral, timeless cabinet. Hence, the classic shaker. I also like to keep our house feeling bright and airy, so white was an obvious choice. Andrew may be a messy cook, but I also wipe down our cabinets quite frequently.

2. Simply White by Benjamin Moore – cabinet color

I collected white swatches from Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, and compared them to our countertop and flooring choices to narrow it down.


I didn’t realize until after how popular Simply White is for cabinets and trim, but that gave me some reassurance. It’s not too stark, but not too yellow, gray, or blue.


In fact, we like it so much that we’re actually going to repaint ALL of our trim this color. We’re replacing our baseboards with something a little taller (I know, I know, we should have decided this before we repainted all our trim!), so those will have to be repainted anyway. But I’m not looking forward to repainting all the doors…again.

3. Kraus Pax zero-radius undermount stainless steel sink

Here’s the link on Amazon. Seriously, this is a beautiful sink. I’m SO excited!! It comes with the grate for the bottom (to keep dishes from covering the drain or scratching the sink), but you do have to buy the square drain separately here.


I waffled a lot between a divided sink or a single basin, as well as a sink with rounded corners or square corners (also called zero-radius). Square corners can be harder to keep clean, but I just don’t like the look of a sink with rounded corners quite as well. Especially where it meets the countertop.



In the past, I’ve made some decisions based on functionality/practicality over aesthetics, and I’ve regretted it. So I followed my heart and went with the zero-radius, and I’m so excited! As for the single basin, we really never used the other side of our sink for anything but collecting dirty dishes. I stacked them there so they weren’t blocking the sink from draining, but with the grate, we won’t have that issue! Also, look how much I can fit in the single basin (these are the actual dimensions of our sink)! Even a large cookie sheet will lie flat in it! Hooray!


4. Abalone by Benjamin Moore – wall color

We already agonized over this paint choice for our living room, hallway, and kitchen a few years ago, and we still love it. So as long as it doesn’t look terrible with our backsplash or countertop, it will stay. (On my screen, the color of the swatch below looks totally wrong, but it has the number, so oh well.)


5. Delta Trinsic Touch2O faucet in Champagne Bronze

After more debate, mostly with myself (seeing a trend here? talk about decision fatigue!), I decided on gold hardware for our kitchen. Satin nickel and oil rubbed bronze are perfectly fine and we have those elsewhere in our house, but I just wanted something a little different. So I figured we needed a gold faucet, too. Andrew’s employer MASCO owns Delta, and he gets a discount, so we chose the Delta Trinsic Touch2O single handle pull-down faucet in Champagne Bronze.


We were open to forgoing the touch aspect since this faucet is almost $500, but we got it on sale from Amazon on Black Friday, plus Andrew’s discount, so it ended up being a really great deal! I’m so excited it’s Touch2O! We also got the matching soap dispenser since our current one is satin nickel.

6. Daltile 3 x 6 Bevel subway tile in glossy Desert Gray

We chose to go with this glossy beveled tile in Desert gray for our backsplash. Since we chose to lay our flooring in a herringbone pattern (here’s a sneak peek), we’ll have this laid in a normal subway pattern.


Originally, we were drawn to these flat matte subway tiles in the same collection by Daltile, and ordered a sample of the matte Architectural gray. Right off the bat it read a little green-ish with the other finishes we’d chosen.


After willing myself to love it for a few weeks, and realizing I just didn’t, we ordered a sample of the matte Desert gray and gloss bevel Desert gray. We had thought matte originally to keep our whole kitchen from feeling shiny and stark, but we saw a beveled subway tile installation (in white) and knew the bevel was the right choice.

7. Liberty Hardware – 5-1/16″ pull with square feet from the Northampton collection in soft brass

We specifically wanted to choose a pull from Liberty Hardware (because it’s also owned by MASCO, Andrew’s employer, which means –> discounts) but it’s kind of hard to search their website as they mostly sell to distributers, not directly to consumers. I had seen this pull in satin nickel originally, and once we realized it came in gold, I was sold! We could only find one website to order a sample from and get it reasonably quickly, so we paid $15! Haha. But we got it, decided on it, and then ordered the rest directly from Liberty.

5-1-16inch-128mm-pull-square-feet-p28670-sbs-c-28. 12 x 24 porcelain glazed ceramic floor tile

I actually don’t know anything else about our floor tiles! We bought them over 2 years ago at Surplus Warehouse (see this post I wrote about it for pricing details and more pictures), and I don’t know the manufacturer or the name of the tile. We opted to have them laid in a herringbone pattern. Because why not?


9. Boudreaux by Elk Lighting antique gold and matte black wall sconce

We decided we were going to tile all the way up the wall behind our sink/around our window. When we decided that, I got it into my head that we should do a wall sconce instead of a pendant light, because why not. Not only does this add the complication of installing a light fixture (read: electrical box) where there’s a header, but also, I needed to find a gold wall sconce that was in my budget of less than $100. Not as easy as it might sound. I love this one:


But it was back-ordered on every site until January 9th. That’s today…but still no word. I went ahead and ordered it since I knew we’d still be mid-project come January, so hopefully I’ll hear something about it soon!

10. LG Hausys Viatera Minuet quartz countertops

Last, but definitely not least, our countertops! We originally were thinking granite because it’s the most affordable solid surface if you choose a basic option (when compared to stuff like soapstone, marble, quartz, Corian, etc.) BUT then we saw the quartzes. To be fair, I’ve always loved quartz. It’s no maintenance, unlike granite which can darken over time (even just from water!) and needs to be sealed regularly. Also, lighter granites are less dense/more porous than darker colors and so they stain even more. And we were definitely wanting something light. So we got some quotes on quartz, and decided it was worth it to us to spend a little more. But which one??

Here are 4 that we considered with our floor tile. Left to right – Silestone Blanco Orion, LG Viatera Minuet, Santa Margherita Victoria and Santa Margherita Lyskamm.


We ruled out Victoria and Lyskamm fairly quickly, leaving us with Minuet on the left and Blanco Orion on the right. I went back and forth for weeks on this, and asked everyone and their dog for their opinion.


This picture shows it best. Minuet (on top) has a whiter background, while Blanco Orion (on the bottom) is a bit gray with more defined marbling.


Initially, I liked the marbling of Blanco Orion better, but in the end I was won over by the white background of Minuet and felt that it more closely resembled marble.

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We’re continuing to make progress on the to-do list I shared last time, but there’s still so much to do! At the very least, we’re hoping to have our ceiling primed and painted by Thursday when countertops are being installed! Woo!

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Kitchen Renovation: A progress update

Now that the holidays are over, it’s back to work on our kitchen! A lot has happened since the last update. Cabinets were installed and painted, and our flooring is done! With the busy-ness of holidays, though, we haven’t had a chance to clean up the dusty floors and move tools/appliances to get good pictures, so here are some iphone pictures we snapped just after cabinet install.


We LOVE the cabinets! Our kitchen feels so much bigger and we’re really excited about our pantry cabinet! I definitely think moving the water heater was worth it!


We also love how built in the area around the fridge feels. Though we have yet to push the fridge in there, so hopefully it fits!

The opening below is for the dishwasher, and I’m still so excited to have the dishwasher next to my sink instead of behind it! We’re also giddy about our trash can pull out, which is the lower cabinet on the very end.


And look at all those upper cabinets! Before, we had about the equivalent of one of these on this side of the window, and it held mostly barware. Now we have a small bar on the other side of the kitchen for all those items, so these cabinets are basically all added storage!! So excited.


Unfortunately, we didn’t love the paint job quite so much. The painters have already fixed several of the issues, but we’re still in the process of talking with them about some things. Sigh. Overall, we definitely would consider it a professional looking paint job, and we get that nothing is ever perfect, but we’re still hoping for improvement in a few areas. We’ll see.


We also wish they had covered our patio door and window better…because we’re going to have to spend so much time scraping all the oil-paint overspray off EVERYTHING. Grrrr.


On a happier note, here’s a sneak peak of our flooring being installed! I’m in love! 🙂


We opted to hire someone to install the tile rather than do it ourselves, and we’re so glad we did. The reasons are almost infinite:

  1. Herringbone is a complicated pattern.
  2. This isn’t like our other projects where we can shut the door and ignore it. It needed to get DONE!
  3. Bigger tiles are harder to work with and keep level.
  4. December is already a super busy time with holiday parties, travel to see family, etc.
  5. Did I mention the pattern?

He did an awesome job and got it done so quickly!

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So our countertops are scheduled to be installed January 12th, and other than the backsplash that we’ll be using the same tile guy for, almost everything else falls on us to complete. You may be thinking, what’s left? Oh, trust me, SO MUCH. Here’s our to-do list:

  • Install outlet for fridge
  • Install 3-way dimmer switch
  • Re-mud small areas on the ceiling (where the painters didn’t use painters tape and it ripped off the fresh mud. Ugh, why?!)
  • Scrape/clean paint overspray off patio door and hardware, window, chandelier
  • Prime and paint ceiling
  • Caulk/fill crown molding
  • Sand, prime and paint walls (will need to sand and prime because of oil-paint overspray from cabinets)
  • Frame kitchen window and install window sill, fill, prime and paint
  • Install scribe around base of cabinets, caulk, touch up rough edges
  • Prime, paint, and install baseboards, caulk baseboard, fill and touch up nail holes
  • Re-paint patio door, laundry closet doors, and door to garage to match cabinet color
  • Replace threshold piece on door to garage
  • Paint laundry room (tired of that color) and re-install trim, put washer/dryer back
  • Frame out laundry closet and re-install door tracks
  • Install cabinet hardware
  • Re-install kitchen light and vent
  • Sand, prime, and paint broom closet (where water heater used to be)
  • Install flooring/trim in broom closet

After countertop install

  • Install electrical boxes and complete outlet wiring
  • Schedule backsplash install
  • Install under cabinet lighting
  • Install stove and over the range microwave
  • Install dishwasher
  • Install faucet and garbage disposal
  • Install sconce above sink (over backsplash tile)

Eek. Deep breaths. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but that seems like more than enough for now!

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Kitchen renovation: Demo

Demo is now behind us, and whew, are we glad!


We have two kind of mantras about renovations that we’re constantly reminding ourselves of during any project:

  1. It has to get worse before it gets better. (Exhibit A above).
  2. Everything takes longer than you think.

Number one definitely held true, but we did stick to our timeline…so far. We’d allowed ourselves 2 weeks for demo and prepping for cabinet install, but I found myself both hoping it would go faster and also worrying that we wouldn’t make it (resulting in pushing back cabinet install). But amazingly enough, we finished in about a week and half of working every night and all weekend on 2 different weekends.

First, we packed the whole kitchen and put everything in the guest bedroom, which of course took longer than expected .


Then the first “demo” night we focused on the area around our now empty water heater closet. We needed to open up the space so that the cabinet people could get measurements to start building the pantry.



The next night we started taking out cabinets.


And were thrilled when we realized our floor tile was installed on top of 1/4″ underlayment. This meant 2 things. First, that our subfloor wasn’t in terrible shape like we thought (it was the underlayment warping that made it feel squishy) and secondly, that taking our tile out went really quickly!


But it did reveal this laminate underneath that we had to to scrape up in some areas.


Then we replaced a full sheet of plywood here. It had a lot of laminate on it, plus water damage from the dishwasher. And it’s going to be in the center of our kitchen where we walk the most, so we wanted to to make sure it was sturdy.


We also replaced a small section where the water heater had been. There were multiple small holes from pipes that had run to it, as well as a cut out for a floor vent that literally just opened into the crawl space. Perhaps for drainage? But weird. And cold.


While it was open, Andrew redid some plumbing for our fridge water line and added a shutoff valve that will be accessible from both sides (as always, that seemingly simple thing took way too long!)

Next up (and this was like a full week later, mind you), was ripping out the soffit and sheetrock on the ceiling and replacing it. It was already messed up around where we took out the pantry and there would be none where the soffit had been, so we figured we’d get the best result if we replaced all the sheetrock in this part of the kitchen.


Luckily, we had an awesome friend that helped Andrew install it. Try as I might, I cannot lift and hold a piece of drywall over my head.


Then (on yet another day) I scraped the remaining walls/ceiling of what was the water heater closet, because for some reason they popcorn-ed the whole thing!


We cut a new piece of sheetrock to fit, put it into the space, and built the wall behind it. That way we didn’t have to use tiny pieces that fit through the door.


Andrew also spent some quality time with our attic redoing wiring, re-positioning insulation, and all kinds of other fun things. We’re moving a few outlets and switches around, so that took a LOT of time.

I’m especially excited about this one! Previously, by the door to our garage we only had light switches for the garage and the laundry closet, but not one for the overhead kitchen light. So you would get home in the dark and stumble across the kitchen to find the switch. Or leave the door open and hope the cats didn’t escape!


Towards the end of last week, we finally were ready to have someone come in and mud the sheetrock. Normally Andrew does it, but normally we aren’t living without a kitchen. And OMG, it was amazing! They were here for like 3 hours and then about 2 the next day to sand and touch up. It’s so smooth and perfect!


It was at this point that it really felt like we were making serious progress! Here are some pictures that show the progression…





The last one was after priming. We weren’t sure if they would paint the wall or not when they did cabinets, plus we wanted to seal all that new drywall and mud.

The mudding people basically ended up tearing out the middle section of drywall from the wall and replacing all of it, and then skim coated almost all of the bottom section so it was really smooth.


Here’s an earlier picture of the fridge/pantry area…


And after.

The fridge will have a panel on that side, so we left it without sheetrock to save about half an inch for fridge/pantry space (which was recommended and carefully measured by the cabinet people).

And of course, we installed 1/4″ cement board over the whole floor to add stability and a moisture barrier for our future tile floors.


We decided to do it before cabinet install so that we wouldn’t cover up too much of the bottom of the cabinets with flooring and because it’s a lot easier. (This factored into the cabinet measurements, too…so many details!)


So there she is in all her glory, just awaiting cabinet install. 🙂

And meanwhile, our pile, which looked way bigger in person, sat outside awaiting pickup from the city for almost 2 weeks. Sorry neighbors! This was a little bit of a cost savings for us, too, since we didn’t have to rent a dumpster or bagster. Our city gives every house 2 free pickups every year of yard/construction waste.


They do have a size limit that our pile DEFINITELY exceeded, but thank goodness, they took it all! Now the real progress has started! And I need to leave my house because the paint fumes are giving me a major headache.

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Kitchen Renovation: Moving the water heater

Today is cabinet install day! I’m so giddy! But first, the water heater. Sorry to be behind here, but there was no time for blogging during demo! Not the most thrilling topic, but it is a key element in our kitchen plan (and there’s not much to see yet, so, patience). Previously, our water heater was located in this closet that opened into our living room.


The pantry is on the opposite side, and the fridge is in the alcove behind the shelf. Here’s our floor plan for reference.


Water heaters do give off some heat, so our coconut oil was always melted, chocolate was soft, and our potatoes sprouted and rotted too quickly. So much for the pantry being a cool, dry place.


When we started planning our kitchen, we had two different options.

Option 1: Leave the fridge/pantry/water heater as is, and modify the drawer next to the fridge so it doesn’t hit the fridge (you can read about that here). With custom cabinets that meant a shorter drawer. If we went with Kraft Maid it meant either a smaller drawer/cabinet base and then about a 6 inch filler piece next to the wall (talk about wasted space!), or no drawer and let the cabinet still bump the fridge. Sad.


Option 2: Move the water heater somewhere in the master bathroom/closet, rip out the pantry and move the fridge to the end of that area, and put a built-in cabinet pantry where the fridge was. This was only an option if we went with custom cabinets because Kraft Maid’s pantry cabinets are $$$.


After much hemming and hawing (and maybe some tears…gosh Andrew, stop crying so much!) we finally settled on option 2. Then we actually had to decide on a future layout for our master bathroom/closet (which clearly hasn’t been renovated yet). We had to nail this down now so we knew where to put the water heater. As if planning a kitchen wasn’t enough stress…


We spoke to an electrician about switching to an electric water heater (they aren’t too expensive, and we thought moving it might be easier than a gas line). But turns out our electrical panel is straight up FULL. Upgrading to a new one would be multiple thousands of dollars, and very likely more if the electrician had to bring things up to code (code has changed a bit since our house was built!) So…no thank you.

We didn’t want to mess with moving the gas lines ourselves (house blowing up = bad), so we got quotes from 3 different plumbers ranging from $900 up to $2300, and naturally, went with the cheapest. We scheduled it weeks in advance to be done the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. But when Andrew asked if he was licensed and bonded the week before, he stopped responding. So, I guess that’s a no? Hm… Monday comes (as in the day before he’s supposed to show up) and he’s still not responding. We sucked it up and called one of the others who was twice as expensive, but licensed and bonded (WOO!) and miraculously able to come the very next day to do the work! So, $1800 later, and our water heater is now here.


In our bathroom. Woo. But this room is next on the list, and then that sucker will be enclosed in a closet! For now, though, it’s just a little creepy to stare at this as I brush my teeth.


The very next day we started our demo and for about a week, used the previous water heater closet as the entrance to our kitchen since the doorway was covered in plastic.


While it ended up being a bit more than we expected, we’re pretty convinced it’s the right choice and is going to increase the functionality of our kitchen. Our living room might be a bit quieter without the water heater noise, I’ll get a small broom closet so I don’t have to wrestle it out from the side of the washer, the fridge will be moved further away from the stove creating a better working triangle, and we’ll get a much deeper pantry cabinet. Win, win, win…win.

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