If you’re a cook then you understand when I say:
The kitchen was the most important room to me.
So, when we decided to rehab the house instead of tear it down, the opportunity to completely renovate it made me really excited.
Before we get started a few things.
- I am not Joanna Gaines. I have no experience and no style to speak of.
- The photography was all taken with phones, because well, I’m also not a DIY blogger who thinks about getting high quality photos.
- This project spanned nearly six months.
- We lived remotely that entire time.
- I could not have done this project without the help from our village and money.
- If you even think about doing a project like this while you still live in the house, then you are insane.
Ok have I scared you yet? Let’s get started.
Here’s a shot of the kitchen before. That’s me walking through going “holy moly”.
I dreamed about the kitchen for months as we planned this renovation from Tennessee. I put a good portion of my budget into the kitchen for the simple reason that I knew I would spend the majority of my time in this room for years to come.
Choosing the style
When it came to choosing a style, I wanted a mixture of modern farmhouse without being cold. I consulted with a friend, Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess. She’s no stranger to a remodeling project and has amazing taste. (You can view her latest kitchen project here.)
I paid her in wine.
I got the better end of the deal, obviously.
Elsie asked me a lot of questions about my style and what I like. She told me about some trends she felt would be around a long time and some she liked, but wasn’t sure of the longevity.
I mentioned white cabinets with open shelving and she suggested making the lower cabinets dark, even maybe a color. All in all she really helped me hone my vision and I realized how important it is to have a friend you can bounce ideas off of when it comes to these types of projects.
We truly live in our houses and they’re perpetually messy. I won’t ever be that person with an immaculate house.
If you ever come over and it seems clean, don’t open any closets.
For that reason, it was important that I have plenty of cabinet storage and a huge sink. Everyone talks about counter space, but quite frankly I don’t find that to be helpful. If I have counter tops, I have horizontal space to place STUFF on. I don’t need to attract clutter. I need storage solutions.
The space is fairly small. When we started there was a fridge by that trashcan, jutting into the space. So we recessed the fridge onto the porch, giving a lot more space.
Once we ripped out the cabinets and basically gutted the entire space, we got to work.
This is Dan working on the window while we have the kitchen gutted. This window was originally pretty low, so we made it bigger and shifted it up. It seems difficult to do these things but really when the house is gutted, I’m told it’s not as hard as you’d think.
Drawing up the plans
I’m lucky to have cabinet makers throughout my family. Not only is my dad a custom cabinet maker, my uncle owns a pretty big operation here in town where many of my cousins work. So, a few phone calls with some ideas and we got some drawings.
This is the pantry side which includes mostly cabinets and a 15″ depth counter top for a microwave and other stuff. We redirected a vent from the wall to come out the side of the pantry.
This side is the majority of the kitchen. It includes an island and a few cabinets. Mostly you’ll see the range oven, farmhouse sink, bigger window shifted slightly up and open shelving a la “dad’s masterpiece”.
Step 1: Sheetrock
First we hired a sheetrock professional to come in and put the sheetrock in. I was advised to not try and DIY this part. It was a good spend.
From this angle you can see the recessed portion for the fridge. It took away some of the porch and mud room but it was the best option and I love it tucked away rather than jutting into the room.
This is the opposite wall where the pantry cabinets will go. You can see into the living room/dining room from this angle. This is where she had the unused stove/oven combo.
Step 2: Cabinets and Countertops
Then my uncle’s shop Shamrock Cabinets, with my cousin Dion at the head of the project, built the kitchen cabinets and installed them.
My dad’s friend installed the quartzite countertops and we were on our way. I wanted something as white as possible so he suggested this quartzite which I love.
I purchased the sink online from Quality Bath. I spent a ton of time looking for one and learned a few things. First, you don’t want a cast iron, painted version because if it chips, it will show. Also, they can get really pricey. I googled and found one on clearance. It’s a Blanco Cerana Apron Front Sink, which I felt was a reputable brand, so I went with it. It was one of the bigger ticket items but really central to the look and feel I wanted. Plus, it’s super deep for my canner which I want.
Tip: You’ll want to order this and have it delivered directly to your cabinet maker so they can custom fit it to the cabinets. Something else I learned in this process.
Step 3: Finishing the cabinets
Next we covered the counter tops and the sink to prep for painting.
Notice how dark the floors are, the previous owners had painted it. No worries, that will be fixed!
We chose to finish the cabinets ourselves to save money. I mean, I have an experienced cabinet maker in my dad, we should be able to handle it right?
You see the problem with involving your dad is that he gets to have an opinion. When I said I wanted to paint the cabinets, he looked at me like I had two heads. Apparently as a wood purist, painting beautiful wood is not his favorite thing. So, there were a few weeks there when I wasn’t sure what the plan really was.
Ultimately he came around and we agreed to thin out the paint with water (1/2 water, 1/2 paint) to let some of the wood show through.
The other handy thing about having a professional is that he has access to all the fancy tools which make it much easier.
That’s me. I came in town specifically to do this part with Dad.
A layer of paint and a bunch of sanding. We used sanding sponges (you can see them in the lower right of that photo.
Then spray, sand, repeat.
Step 4: Shelves and Tile
Next Dad installed the floating shelves. He welded steel and then attached them to the studs before sheetrock and tile came in.
This is from Dad’s shop. This was the perfect project for him because he got to use his welder, which that’s like me getting to go purse shopping at Kate Spade.
He attached them directly to the studs to make them secure and be able to handle a good amount of weight. He says they will come down when the house comes down.
Now keep in mind, we are living in Tennessee so we aren’t there. This explains all the photos of Dad’s buddies congregating throughout the process. Also, some of them have mad skills so I didn’t care. As long as the renovations proceeded, use the house as a bachelor pad/drinking pad.
Next up it was tile time. Again, Dad came through and hooked us up with a friend, Travis the tile guy, who installed subway tile throughout the kitchen, around the shelf brackets.
I chose a dark grout for many reasons but the biggest reason was stains. I didn’t want to have to have high maintenance walls because for real… kids.
The subway tile choice was a combination of saving money, I liked the look and saving money.
Tip: I purchased all the subway tile from Home Depot. Travis the tile guy said he can’t get it any cheaper than that even with his discounts. So, good tip, Home Depot for the win.
Almost there! Are you still with me?
Step 5: Appliances and finishing touches
Time to start putting in the appliances. That’s my husband putting up the vent over the range. We chose a recirculating vent which didn’t require us to add a duct to the outside. It’s not great, honestly. I set the alarms off constantly, but the alternative was far more extensive. We did manage to plan for a water line above the stove so I have a pot filler.
This is my baby. My range. 36″ Eurochef gas range. I LOVE HER. I have used almost every function on her except the wok attachment. It was an extravagant purchase and Dan says I will never own another stove in my life, but seriously who would ever want another stove?
That’s Andy and my brother in law, Doug installing them. This was right when we moved from Tennessee, so I was there to grab these photos personally. Andy was our electrician throughout the project and Doug is our rehab expert. He’s redone houses more times than those fools on HGTV. He knows everything but most importantly, he was someone I trusted to tell me what we should and shouldn’t do. He also is handy with plumbing and replaced all the plumbing in the entire house.
Doug was the appliance expert. This is him installing the dishwasher.
We installed dishwasher drawers to the right of the sink. I love those too. Not as much as the stove, but they’re up there for sure.
Dad helped me out by making a beautiful butcher block top for the island. He use some wood he had “laying around”. It’s white oak. Who has white oak just laying around? Oh, a cabinet maker does…
And here I am after we actually moved in. Maybe I should use one where I’m dressed up but for real this is what I actually look like.
This is Arch the independent guy (third child life). Also, a shot of the recessed fridge side.
Phew. If you made it this far I applaud you. I’m exhausted. I’ll do some more detail photos later of all the finishings, as well as post the sources. That’s enough for now I think. 🙂