Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The BIG Kitchen Reveal

It's the moment you've all been waiting for.  The moment where I give you more information and more photos than you wanted about the project that took just a little bit of our souls.

Just as a refresher, we started here.  And then got crazy with some serious structural changes.  Behold, the finished project:

It just makes our kitchen and family room feel SO BIG.  The funny thing is that we gained ZERO square footage, and absolutely no additional living space.  Really, we just gained a countertop {which is AMAZING}, and some open space.  Proof that less is more.

For the color scheme of the kitchen/family room, I went with gray, light blue/gray, and navy with accents of coral, teal, and red.  It sounds busy, but I've been super happy with how it all pulls together.  Very soothing.

The pendant lights are from Lowe's, Allen + Roth.  They take the Edison bulbs, but other than that, we looooove them.  And at $50 a pop, they're a pretty good deal.

After great and serious deliberation, we painted the family room, hallway, and kitchen the color of our bedroom:  hidden cove.  The original plan was to go with the ever-popular Rockport Gray, but we got the sample pot {ALWAYS get the sample pot, guys}, and I didn't *love* the way it looked with our backsplash and granite.  And every woman deserves to love her kitchen, am I right?

I absolutely love the way a soft blue-gray plays off of our white cabinets and blends well with the cool undertones of our backsplash and granite.  I was pretty nervous about having a decisively blue living space, but I'm so glad we made the plunge.

Here's a shot of the laundry doors and countertop {and also shows how it is open to the family room}.  For the countertops, our long-term plan is to go with a solid white top {quartz or corian}.  For now, though, we just put a piece of white plyboard on top, and sanded and sanded and sanded.  Then added some trim to the edges, and painted it with our cabinet primer {Zinsser} and paint {Sherwin Williams' Pro Classic tinted to Benjamin Moore's Simply White}.  It looks great, and has held up really well all summer long.  We don't really use this counter space as 'prep space' in the kitchen, so that might help, but we think it's a fantastic short-term solution.

Aren't the laundry doors cool?  I Pinterested around {totally a legit word} and gave Nic some images of barn doors.  I wanted something with character, but not something totally crazy.  And he delivered!  I painted them with the cabinet paint and used simple window sash hardware as the closure.

They definitely swing wide when opened, but it's not an issue since they're only opened when I'm switching laundry loads.  One thing we love is that we can't hear the washer or dryer at all when the doors are shut {which is important because these puppies are literally in the middle of our living space}.

We did need to put these wheels on the doors to offer support since they are so big and heavy.  I love them though; I think it adds some character.

As for laundry storage {one of my top concerns}, we obviously could have quickly and easily built something that fit between the washer and dryer.  I was taking a stroll through Target one day, though, and found this 'desktop organizer' for like 12 bucks.  I added some casters and some cute hardware {also Target!}, and it works perfectly.

So here's what we started with:

And here's where we are:

We're just so happy with how it all turned out!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kitchen Wall Demo: The Blind Header

Yesterday I gave you more information than you wanted about the 'discovery' phase of our wall demo.

Now on to the juicy stuff:  the support system.  This is the meat of the operation.  Without the proper support system, our house would have *literally* fell down.  Thank goodness we took our time and took the necessary precautions.

When we talked to our contractor {the one who will eventually be adding on to our home}, he gave us a few ideas to make sure the wall was secure, and the weight of the house was evenly distributed throughout the ceiling.  Otherwise, it would cave in.  Holy nightmare, Batman.

I completely handed this leg of the marathon off to Nic.  Since he's closer to a professional than I am, and would be doing all of the work on this part, I figured he could just decide what was best.  He decided to go with a 'blind header'.  Basically, it's the same idea as a header {which is just a large support beam that runs along the ceiling, normally covered by drywall}, but it's in the attic.

Here's a mock-up of the header in AutoCad:

And here it is in real life:

In case you were wondering, all of that gross {and probably cancerous, at least in California} insulation was alllll over my house.  I guess that's what one should expect when cutting a hole in the ceiling.

So now for the moment of truth.  In the interest of full disclosure, I absolutely expected the ceiling to crack or cave in when we cut down the studs.  I really did.  And then when it didn't, I expected to find our ceiling on the floor the next morning.  But it worked!  Behold:

Sorry that these pictures are crappy and un-edited.  I really just wanted to get this all down so we can look back in 50 years and see how young and crazy we were.  That is, if the internets haven't imploded from that video of Miley Cyrus.  Seriously...what was she THINKING?!?  I didn't watch whatever it was live {not an awards-show type of girl}, but after seeing so much hype about it this morning, I watched the video online.  Poor, poor girl.

Annnnyway.  Studs are down!  Ceiling was still up!  The worrisome part officially over.  From there, we just had to frame out the area that houses the washer and dryer, and then drywall it.  Funny how it takes seconds to type that, and day after day after day to actually drywall.

Nic got the drywall hung right away {the gaping hole into the attic with heat pouring down was a lovely motivator}, and we had this sight:

Again with the terrible photos.  After those weeks of studs, insulation, and wires hanging out everywhere, this felt like heaven.  And after 7 years of the tiny, closed-off kitchen, we had our first glimpse of a tiny, open kitchen!

We really, really wanted to have someone finish the drywall for us.  Like, pay them {not really in our vernacular}.  I got three quotes, and that zapped us right back to reality.  It just seemed foolish to pay someone for a skill that we already possess, especially for something that while time-consuming, isn't difficult.  Here we are in the midst of the drywall madness:

It really didn't take too terribly long, and Nic did a fantastic job.  Dude's got mad skills.

Want to see the full reveal, complete with lights and paint and hear what we used for a countertop?  Spoiler alert:  we're cheap.  Come back tomorrow!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kitchen Wall Demo: The Discovery Phase

Well hello there!  Long time, no blog.  Busy summer for us, and lots of house projects!  I really wish I'd have kept up with it as we went, but thankfully we took lots of photos.  If you follow either of us on Facebook or Instagram, you've likely seen this, but now you can enjoy as I over-share the deets.

So when we bought this house in 2006, one of the first projects we wanted to do was tear down the wall between the kitchen and family room:

This wall has literally stared us in the face for 7 years.  We've ton TONS of other projects/updates {many of which we've chronicled here}, but this was by far the most daunting.  First off, one doesn't just tear down major walls in a home.  Especially those that could be load-bearing.  We'd had several people 'take a look', and the response was about 50/50.  Half of the people thought we could do it, and half of the people didn't think it would work.  All of them thought we were nuts.  I should mention that most of these people were just non-professionals who've done lots of home improvement themselves.  We did have Nic's uncle, a professional contractor, look once.  He didn't think it would be a problem.  We were really dragging our feet because we didn't know anyone who had ever DIY'd a project quite this big.

Another {less concerning} issue was the loss of storage space.  When you live in 1,000 square feet, every bit counts.  The space above the washer and dryer was super useful, and we I hated to give it up. Our recent kitchen reno {particularly the addition of the broom closet}, gave us enough extra storage that I was ready to take the plunge.

Large Disclaimer:  This is in NO WAY any kind of tutorial.  We had no major problems, and were super fortunate.  We could have totally ruined our house.  The obvious, and sane, choice is to hire this work out to someone who has a clue what they're doing.  If you want to do it on your own, you have been warned.  This is only for crazies.  But you also have our was so fun, and so so so so worth it.

When we decided to get serious, we chatted with the contractor who will be adding on to our house, and he was sweet enough to drag his cute little amish team over here to look in the attic.  He agreed with the only other professional who we had consulted:  we were in the clear.  He suggested, however, to create some braces with the other beams {kind of like a 'w' shape} just to make sure.

Before we could get to that point, though, we had some work to do.  First up, the fun {and extremely messy} stuff:  demo.

We really had no idea what was behind these walls.  This house has always surprised us, so we proceeded with caution and started tearing down the drywall.  This phase took a few days, maybe a week and a half or so.  In the end, we were left with this:

Now the real work begins.  This is where it really pays off to be married to an engineer.  Nic lives to figure things out, so he {with the help of his equally-equipped dad} sat down and mapped out how they would re-route the plumbing, wiring, and venting that were necessary to keep the washer and dryer functioning and safe.  We also factored in some light switches and useful outlets.

Let's just pause here and reflect on how much patience DIY home projects take.  We were so lucky, and didn't really encounter any real problems.  But if you know me, you know that living in a space like the one pictured above {remember, folks, this is in my KITCHEN AND FAMILY ROOM} is just pure hell.  I cannot function in an untidy, unorganized, or {the worst!} dirty space.  These weeks were thee worst.

So.  Nic and his dad worked tirelessly for a few days, trying to get the plumbing and venting {electrical was easy for them...Nic's dad used to be an electrician} done so that we didn't have to be without hot water {or water at all} and laundering facilities for more than 36 hours.  They're awesome.

We had a few small hitches with leaking joints in the plumbing that led to some laaaaaate nights and eaaaaaarly mornings, but we got 'er done.  I'm just glad Nic has the skills + patience to take it slow and do it right for the long haul.  Leaking pipes inside walls?  Not good.

After their hard work, we had this beautiful site:

At this point, the only thing left was the few studs we left up.  Just in case this was a load-bearing wall after all, we decided to leave some up until the supports were done in the attic.  Check out those pretty copper pipes!

So tomorrow I'll come back and tell you all about the support system we ended up doing.  Spoiler alert: it was totally a load-bearing wall...

Friday, June 7, 2013

DIY Mail Organizer + Broom Closet Organization

You know how it goes.  You get the mail, it sits in your car for 3 days.  It sits on a random table for 4 more days after that.  You move it around a few times.  Your kids draw some awesome pictures on the envelopes.  You then realize the cell phone bill is due tomorrow.  No?  Just me?

We've been over this, but our house is small for 4.5 people.  When we moved back here in July of last year, we decided to give the kids their own rooms.  I honestly can't remember the reasoning at the time, but there you have it.  So we no longer had an office space.

So we moved our filing cabinet and mail organization to the garage, right next to the door entering the kitchen.  Suuuuuper classy around here, I know.  Clearly, that doesn't work as a long-term solution.  When we finally add on that big room, it will either include a separate office space or a big ol' built-in desk area.

But I know me, and I know that the likelihood of carrying the mail from the car/mudroom/kitchen to the office area is about zero.  I needed some sort of holding area for that stuff that was convenient.  But not ugly.  And preferably not hanging out in plain sight.

Then, thanks to the devilish combination of Ana White + Pinterest, I found a plan to build one.  Holler. Nic wasn't totally on board {never stopped me before}, so I waited until he was out of town and then had my talented mother-in-law help me with her jigsaw.

I followed the basic plan, but altered it to use a frame I had laying around {originally from Ikea}.  It was so so easy, and I painted it to match the cabinets.  I used some fun label paper I had on hand {a good friend works at Avery and gives me some random samples} and made some labels for each slot.  Then I added some cork board at the top.

So much better than stuffing our mail in the garage!

As for the rest of the broom closet organization, I put some cork board inside another frame and use that for the extra keys we have.  Our plastic bags hand in there, as well as brooms and mops.  At the bottom are two baskets that hold outdoor things {sunscreen, bug spray, hats, kids' sunglasses} and trash bags/paper bags.

This was another one of those thoughtful updates that make staying on top of things a little easier.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tip-Out Trash and Recycling

One thing that we're really trying hard to do is install lots of thoughtful updates.  Things that, especially in the kitchen, will just make life a little easier.  I have a little note on my phone, and I add to it every single time I think "I wish this house..." or "In my dream house...".  You'd be surprised how many times we've found that we can add a certain feature to our current kitchen.

Exhibit A:  the tip-out trash can.

One thing that this house is sorely lacking in is a logical and convenient place to stash the trash and recycling.  Our city has a great curbside recycling program where we don't even have to sort the recyclables, and our recycling bin is the same size as our curbside trash can.  It's great!

But that means that we recycle everything we can, and I was spending a ton of time running out to the garage or to the recycling bin.  No buenos.

For a few years we had a standing trash bin, and then I decided that I hated the concept, and so we keep it under the sink.  When we remodeled our cabinets, I really wanted a trash system...some type of custom tip-out or pull-out trash and recycling.

I Pinterested around {totally a legit verb}, and found a few ideas.  This plan from Ana White {basically my hero} really caught my attention.  Rather than creating a standing unit, though, I modified it to fit our situation.

Really, it was simple.  Shopping for the perfect trash cans was honestly the hardest part.

So for starters, I installed the hinges on the bottom of the cabinet door, rather than the sides.  Had I just left it as-is, the door would fall to the ground when you opened it.  So I got super classy and busted out some child safety hardware that we don't use {because we like to live on the edge}.  I thought that it just might catch the edge of the cabinet, which would stop the door.  It worked!  Much better than having to find/buy/install some type of specialized hardware.

So at that point, we had two doors that tipped out and stopped, but we needed trash cans.  Like I said, this was the most challenging part.  Schlepping two kids in and out of Target, Wal-Mart, Meijer, and then Lowe's...I finally found the perfect size.

Next, we needed to attach the cans to the doors, so that the cans would tip out with the doors when they were opened.  First I tried Command Strips.  Sad to say, I use these things all the time and this is the first time they've failed me.  I guess the weight of our trash was just too much for even the heavy-duty stuff.  Enough said.

So Nic came up with this system of installing old brackets we had, and then hanging the cans on the brackets.  We used a screw that can be removed so we can take the cans out for cleaning.  Not exactly super-professional, but I think we get points for cost {free!}, and creativity.

We use a standard trash bag for the trash side, and then a leftover paper grocery bag for the recycling side.  Works for us, and makes life in the kitchen just a tad easier, and it makes everything feel a little bit fancier and more custom.  And it makes me enjoy being in the kitchen just a little more.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Backsplash!

Oh, this brings me such joy.  The backsplash in this kitchen has been a source of frustration since we moved in.  First, it was nothing.  Just painted drywall.  Then we hung beadboard.  Not bad, but got super dirty super fast.  Then we put up these stainless steel subway tiles:

Not terrible, and I liked the way they looked with the dark granite.  From day one, we've really just wanted white subway tiles.  7 years ago, though, they were brand-new and super expensive {at least for us}.

So I nearly fell off my chair a few weeks ago when I realized how inexpensive they are now.  And then, I fell in love with some marble subway tile at Lowe's.  Ohhhhh, I loved it.  It took a few days {and some googling of pictures} to convince Nic, but finally I got the go-ahead.

Once I saved up enough, we skipped into Lowe's, only to discover that they were sold out.  Cue the almost-tears.  On a whim, we went next door to Home Depot {so convenient!} and found that they had the same thing, only cheaper.  Win!

After a few days of tiling, grouting, and caulking, behold:

And because two pictures of the same room aren't enough...

I can't get over it.  It literally takes my breath away every time I walk into the kitchen.  Here's a before/after of when we started, to where we are now:

I get that this probably doesn't seem like a huge difference to most people, but dang it, we love it and are so proud of ourselves!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How to Paint Cabinets {The Legit Way}

Ok!  In a previous post, I discussed all the reasons why white cabinets make my heart sing, and why I just can't keep from painting every cabinet in my life.  And why the expensive cabinet paint is the ONLY way to go.

Obligatory before shot:

So after 7 years of learning, here's how you should *really* paint your cabinets.

  1. Talk to the pros.  Once you decide that painted cabinets are in your future, head over to a professional paint store {no, not lowe's.  or home depot.  or menard's.}.  I'm partial to Sherwin Williams, but in Ohio I loved the Benjamin Moore store.  Just find a few pros that you feel comfortable with, and hit them up for advice.  It's free.
  2. Prep.  This seems obvious, but take your cabinet doors off the cabinets, and remove every bit of hardware.  Set it all aside in a safe place.  We like to use clear ziplock baggies so we can write exactly what is included right on the bag {'upper kitchen cabinet hardware'}.  Make a note of anything that may need replaced.
  3. More Prep.  Since our cabinets were already painted a color that was close to our goal, our prep work was super easy.  We just had to lightly sand each piece with a fine-grit sanding block.  Our pros at Sherwin Williams said just take 30-40 seconds for each piece.  Super easy.  If you're starting with a wood finish, you'll need to do a little more.  Here's a good tutorial, but make sure you consult your local paint store!
  4. Fill the Holes.  If you're using the hardware that you just removed, you can skip this step.  For some of our pieces, we were replacing the hardware, though.  So for those, we just had to use basic drywall compound to fill the holes.  Lots of people love actual wood filler, but we've found that if you're going to be painting over the surface {instead of staining}, drywall compound works great, we always have a bucket sitting around, and it is cheaper.  Win, win, and win.  Wait for it to dry {usually a full 12 hours or more}, and then sand it smooth.  Sometimes more than one application is needed.  Yeah, this isn't a super quick project...
  5. Prime It.  Again, since our cabinets were already painted, a primer wasn't necessary for most pieces {too many coats of anything, even the good stuff = no bueno}.  For our cabinet fronts, though, we actually knocked out the existing beadboard panel and replaced it with a flat piece of wood.  So for those areas, I slapped on a quick coat of Zinsser Smart Prime.  It's a great primer, with fantastic reviews.  And it's pretty cheap.  For this, I just used a short angled brush so I could get all of the corners.
  6. Paint!  After the primer dries {not too hour or two}, it's time to break out the big guns!  This is important.  Most people swear by a foam brush {to avoid those ugly brush/roller marks that scream, 'I did this at home!'}.  Guys, that it soooo 2010.  The new tool of choice:  the mohair brush.  Yeah, they're a few dollars more than the foam rollers, but they are so amazing.  Paired with the expensive paint, they are the secret to awesome-looking cabinets for cheap.
  7. But Wait.  Before you bust out that mohair, use a short angled brush {any brand will do...just make sure it is angled with a 2"-ish handle} to get any ridges/cervices/inside corners.  By doing this step first, you'll end up rolling out any brush marks.
  8. Ok, Go.  While that paint is still wet, use the mohair roller to roll a nice even coat over the cabinet.  Don't go too thick, but get an even application.  You'll start swooning over the amazing paint.  Both the Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore cabinet paints are self-leveling, and just leave the best finish.
  9. Let Those Puppies Dry.  Before your second coat, wait a couple hours.  If you let the paint dry properly in between coats, the end result will last longer and resist chips/dings/scratches.  Then go ahead and put another coat on, just like the first.  You might even need a third coat {hopefully not}.
  10. And Flip.  We've found it works best to start on the back side, so if you would happen to smudge it a bit when turning it over, it's just the back side.  Just don't skimp out on painting the backs or sides or anything.  Even if you think it won't show {it will}.
After the front and back is dry, you're ready to hang!  Keep in mind that the Sherwin Williams paint {not sure about Benjamin Moore} takes 2-3 weeks to fully cure and harden.  It will be dry in a few hours, but you'll just want to be a little more careful that usual for a few weeks.  We considered waiting to hang them, but there isn't a safer place in our house than hanging on the wall.  If we had a guest room or basement or something, though, we would have let them fully cure before hanging.

Here's our after:

Of course, we also removed the soffit, replaced the cabinet inserts, painted the hardware, and replaced some of the hardware.

Overall, painting your cabinets is pretty easy.  It can be time-consuming and tedious, but absolutely worth it.

Anyone recently paint their cabinets or planning on painting cabinets soon?