Our House……A Before/After Kitchen Reveal

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So, it only seems fitting to sell our house and move once we FINALLY get all of our renovations done after 3 very long years! We have had our house on the market FSBO for about 4 months and have broken down and hired a realtor to give it the good marketing push we hope it needs to sell, so that we can move onto the next enormous renovation undertaking…….NOT!!! The great thing about giving up all that $ to a realtor (just kidding! I am truly grateful for her hard work!) is that you get professional pics of your house that I can use to finally reveal all of our renovations.

So the kitchen, I know what you are thinking…..GROSS!!!!!!! Those were my sentiments exactly with the kitchen as it was when we bought our house.  We had been renting the house for about 6 months when we were ready to buy after moving to town earlier that year.  Due to some minor life changes the 2 years before, I was somewhat of the proverbial gypsy moving from place to place in an attempt to find the right “home”, so I explained to Drew that either we buy the house we were in, or we rent it for another 1,000 years, or he could find me a home in a comfortable insane asylum  because I would be absolutely certifiable if we had to move again any time soon.  He was shocked and appalled that I would suggest that we buy the house as outdated as it was, so I explained that I thought it had potential and from that a very common phrase in our house was born……..

“It’s your vision, babe! I’m just living in it.”

No truer words could have ever been spoken and fortunately he got on board with me and before the ink on our closing papers was dry, we began an immediate renovation on the house, which started with the kitchen and ended with laying our hardwood floors a very short 3 years later.

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The very first kitchen renovation was to reface the HIDEOUS cabinets.  (Actually the very first renovation was Drew taking hedge clippers to the nasty “fence” on top of the cabinets and knocking out the dated skirting the very night we closed on the house.)  That was truly a labor of love.  It was most definitely worth the thousands of dollars it would have cost for a professional to do it and now there is this handy little kit with all supplies included that you can buy for $79 or something at Lowe’s, but I went old school method on those bad boys.  Here is a brief run down on refacing cabinets the old way.

  • Thoroughly clean all surfaces of the cabinets with an ammonia based cleaner such as Fantastik
  • Remove all doors
  • Lightly sand all surfaces of the cabinets and doors with a medium grit sandpaper
  • Prime all surfaces with a tinted primer (if you are painting them a color)
  • Apply 2-3 coats of paint to all surfaces of the cabinet
  • If you are going to “weather” your cabinets, get a paint stripping sandpaper and lightly sand the edges of the grooves where you would like the original wood to show through.
  • Purchase updated hinges and knobs or spray paint original hinges with a metal spray paint as some hinges are hard to match up depending on the age of your cabinets.  I purchased two different styles of knobs at Hobby Lobby to give it a little more character.
  • Apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane after you have completed the painting/weathering of your cabinets, lightly sanding between coats.  Look carefully for any drips and clean them up immediately while still wet or you will need to lightly sand them and reapply polyurethane.  It is important when sanding, painting and applying polyurethane to go along the grain of the wood for a consistent application.

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The light fixture was replaced and moved over the sink from the center of the room for better lighting while cooking at night and it was also more aesthetically pleasing than a big ceiling fan in the middle of the kitchen.

I don’t think that I need to elaborate on our appliance update,  because that is pretty self-explanatory.  Stainless steel was the most fitting for our kitchen with the black cabinets,  because we felt like black appliances would be too heavy.  Also we had friends that were renovating their house and had just purchased these appliances right before, but they wouldn’t work with their new kitchen layout, so we totally scored on great appliances at a much lower price than buying them brand new.

As outdated as the cabinets were, the laminate counter tops were just as icky.  We knew we wanted to update them with solid surface counter tops, but after getting quotes for granite slabs, we realized that wasn’t an expense that would give us a good return on our $, so we decided to go with marble tile, which you can buy for about $2.15/square foot at Home Depot as opposed to $30+/sq foot for granite.  It has the same “look” without breaking the bank or over investing in your kitchen renovation.  There was a bit of trial and error in removing the old counter tops that was coupled with quite a few explicit lyrics and the fear that we were completely screwed and would have to completely replace the wood, but thanks to a heat gun and a crowbar, we were able to lift up the laminate and salvage the wood.  We found this great product which was a little pricey, but totally worth the cost called Simple Mat that is adhered to the wood and will form a strong bond to the tile when placed on it.  This eliminated the messy mortar process, which made it TOTALLY worth it! Please note that this product is great for counters and walls, but is not suitable to tiling floors.  We also replaced the sink with a black sink to continue the flow of the cabinets.

Choosing the color of marble was a bit tricky, because at that time we still had the atrocious peel and stick laminate flooring that was this ugly gray color.  We had to keep in mind the eventual color that the hardwoods would be and keep the color of the counters substantially lighter but complementary as to keep the kitchen from being heavy and dark.

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Drew added some under-cabinet lighting to add more light at night as well as aesthetic appeal.  Under cabinet lighting is a very easy and inexpensive way to really give your kitchen an  updated and higher-end look.

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The light fixture over the table was updated to reflect the decor of the house.  I am a fanatic for Pottery Barn, but my budget isn’t always a fanatic of their prices when renovating a home we won’t stay in permanently, so I kind of “Pottery Barn Fake It” from time to time and find items at stores with a lower price point that will still give the same effect as a fully decked out Pottery Barn home, which might I add would love to have and plan on having one day………someday.

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The doorway was expanded into the living room to open up the space a bit more and give better flow.  That is a somewhat professional or expert DIY job, so I won’t get into that, but it made such a difference.  In a quick recap on how Drew we expanded the doorway, he removed the doorway casing and knocked out the drywall to next stud over and up to the ceiling from the existing doorway.  Since it was a load bearing wall, he reinforced the opening and removed the stud.  He then re-drywalled from the top of the new opening to the ceiling.  Since the doorway was not a standard opening, he used the wood from the side of the old opening to create the casing for the top of  the new opening and then replaced the sides with new wood and viola!!!!! we no longer had the world’s smallest kitchen doorway!!

Our final renovation in the kitchen was the hardwood floors and with that the kitchen was complete.  It is amazing to me how different one room can look!!!!  Stay tuned for more Before/After Reveals to come on the blog!

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  1. […] refaced the cabinets in pretty much the same manner as the kitchen cabinets, but opted for a white primer rather than a tinted primer and used a color called almond.  The […]

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