Kitchen Progress

When we purchased our home, the kitchen was … well … let’s just say it needed lots and lots of love.

The stove didn’t work. The dishwasher aged back to the dinosaurs and was a fire hazard. The refrigerator was ti-ny for our 5-member family. The original dingy wallpaper hung from the walls, and lovely Robin’s Egg Blue laminate graced the countertop and backsplash. The garbage disposal was broken and I feel confident there were mysterious beings living under the sink. It’s part of what you get when you buy a fixer upper.

The kitchen, like the rest of the house, felt tired. It was also the room that needed the most work. See what I mean?




We wanted to brighten up the kitchen and make it feel less “blah” and more clean.

Simple farmhouse style was our vision – Keep the existing cabinets, but reface them or take the doors off completely for a semi-open shelf look; replace appliances; do some painting, and BOOM.

As with all old homes, things never go according to plan.

When an electrical issue needed to be addressed behind the wall we had to take the cabinets out to get to the problem. We discovered then that the cabinets had been handmade and were built on to the wall. They were not your typical box cabinet you can find in a store. Just pulling one panel of wood off caused the entire length of cabinets to dismantle.

Here’s a photo of the beginning of demo … bye, bye cabinets and hello anxiety.


And see the “lovely” blue laminate backsplash? As that was being taken off the walls, the plaster was just crumbling on to the floor. So guess what that meant? Yep, take two of our kitchen walls down to the studs and put up drywall. Sigh …


They (my husband and two friends) told me it was the only way, and that it would be so worth it in the end. I had my doubts … I just quietly sobbed in the living room as they ripped out the plaster and lath. And when they were done the kitchen looked like this …


And as we removed everything we noticed that a previous owner had installed the floor around the cabinets, so before we could put in new cabinets we had to figure out what to do about the floor. Because of the budget, we decided to put some plywood down where the cabinets were and then place new cabinets over that.

The walls were insulated and then drywall went up.


See the nasty plaster on the right next to do the door? That’s damaged plaster, too, but thankfully it was still attached to the wall. And it was just that spot, so we didn’t want to tear down the entire wall because of that spot. White beadboard seemed the most obvious choice for that wall.

The Mr hung the drywall and then I taped and mudded the seams. I discovered another house project I enjoy. It’s like a large-scale art project.


Putting The Kitchen Back Together Again

I found some brand new Shaker-style high end maple cabinets (and pantry) from a cabinet company (thank you Craigslist). The cabinets were a discontinued line so instead of paying over $3000 for a sink base, 5 lower cabinets and a pantry, we paid just $300 total.

Our stainless steel appliances were a steal from Sears. All 3 items were on sale, and then I combined my Sears Rewards with some online coupon codes I found on Retail Me Not and saved $2000! We had free installation and they hauled away our dishwasher and stove!

We decided to go with butcher block counter tops. We found maple butcher block at Lumber Liquidators for 40% off. We sealed it with Waterlox and topped with with a Satin Waterlox Finish.

We installed a new faucet, subway tile backsplash, and drawer/cabinet pulls. The walls were painted Sterling by Behr. The trim was painted Swiss Coffee by Behr.

as we save for each update

  • painting the cabinets white (to be completed this spring)
  • install open shelving above the countertop
  • some cosmetic work on the ceiling
  • install Formica countertops on both sides of the stove
  • install subway tile backsplash behind stove
  • some art and decor to give it personality

Here’s what our kitchen looks like now …

Kitchen 10

Ta-da! This is the wall that made me cry. This is the wall that was gutted, and now that it’s over I am really glad we did it. I can’t wait to paint the cabinets white this spring!

Kitchen 3

Window + sink + view = perfection

Kitchen 2

Our Craigslist cast iron sink (Kohler)

Kitchen 4

Maple butcher block sealed with Waterlox

Kitchen 5

I am super excited about this little nook that took shape as we worked on the kitchen. A cut-out in the wall and the pantry created this perfect little hide-a-way for our mixer. The shelves are hand-crafted and were super easy to built/install. I can’t wait to stain them! (scroll down for a list of the books on the shelf)

Here’s the before and after …


Kitchen 10


What To Do Next

Our only dilemma now is to figure out what to do with this wall in the kitchen. It’s looks so blank compared to all the wall opposite it (the sink wall). This wall is riding the struggle bus. Bless it.

Kitchen 9

We are definitely planning to install a subway tile backsplash spanning the length of the cabinets and stove (like what is on the sink wall). We plan to install Formica counters (that look like marble).

It’s what goes above all this on the wall that we keep going back and forth on.

We want either a range hood OR an over-the-stove microwave. I’ve been thinking some open shelves would look nice with either of those choices.

But would open shelves look better on the other wall, or will it be too busy on the sink-side of the kitchen. I kind of think the shelves will crowd out the nook/bookshelves and will also be in your face when you walk in the door.

Those with more reno and interior design experience than me & those that have a natural knack for figuring this kind of stuff out, what would you suggest?


For Those Trying To Read The Names of All The Books

Kitchen 7These are some of my favorite food books and cookbooks




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