Tag Archives: kitchen renovation

On The Road to A Finished Reno!

After living without kitchen counters and a sink for several days, I can confirm that these are BY FAR the most important elements in a kitchen. Ovens and cooktops I can live without… running water, not so much. Late last week, after tackling the demo of our old counters on our own, we were working with a seriously function-less kitchen.



Luckily, our countertops were ready for installation, so we didn’t have to manage without counters for long. After not-so-patiently waiting for 3 hours, our counters were in place and ready for ogling. I’m head-over-heels for the Carrera-esque pattern (and the low maintenance. Hallelujah). The colors are perfect, and I’m so thrilled we went with the 4 cm edge instead of the 2 cm.




Although the new cooktop isn’t functional yet, we did have to put it in place for a test fit – so much more seamless and clean-lined than its grubby predecessor.


Of course, no installation could ever go off without a hitch. The square corners we requested were lost in translation, leaving us with 3/4″ radius corners. Not the end of the world, but the rounded edge compromises the modern look of the counters (in my opinion, anyway). The upside is, there is less chance that a wee person will poke an eye out on a sharp edge in our kitchen. So bring your kiddos over, friends!


We also kissed our “open-concept” (yep, that’s what we christened our wall-less kitchen look) goodbye. The installer that will be crafting our backsplash made a first visit to install some cement backer-board.


And for a super-productive finale, we gave our kitchen walls a coat of Benjamin Moore’s Simply White in a Matte finish (you can peep it in all the pics above). The color is perfect – a creamy but not-yellow white. The Matte finish is a flat enamel, which is perfect for folks like us that love a flat finish, but want the wipeability of a satin. We’ve used low VOC flat enamel from Olympia for both of our bathrooms, but for this project, we opted to upgrade to higher-quality paint. In today’s world, it didn’t occur to me to verify that the paint was low VOC (unless you’re using oil-based paint, it’s tough to track down any of these extra stinky paint concoctions). After cracking open the Ben Moore, I was totally aghast at the stench from this paint. After spending $150 on 3 gallons, we opted to use the non-returnable paint, but it reaaaaally offended my nose and my environmental sensibilities. We spent the evening sleeping with the windows open, in spite of the 90+ degree temps outdoors. I liken that evening to sleeping in a paint factory in Vietnam. All that to say, I absolutely don’t recommend this paint.

Still on the to-do list: installing our microwave, oven and cooktop. Plus, on the “observing but not doing ourselves” list, subway tile install. After that, it’s just having the cabinets painted and tackling some of the details (curtains, swapping out the light fixture, re-finishing my Craig’s list pedestal table, and finding some new chairs and bar stools). The upside is, the end to this lengthy upheaval is actually in sight. Hooray!


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The Sounds Of Silence

Although we’re still a few appliances short of a full kitchen, I do have two shiny new friends I’d like you to meet. Say hello to the new fridge – a sleek, stainless number with grey sides from Frigidaire.


In case you need a refresher on what used to live here – say buh-bye to Old A-Little-Bit-Yeller.


We snagged it at Lowe’s during a Fourth of July sale and with a 10% off coupon, so the price was definitely right. Our last refrigerator was also a side-by-side model, and we were happy to keep the same form-factor (and save some pennies – French door fridges all seemed to have seriously spendy price tags). I’m loving the stainless finish, although I have yet to see how it’s going to hold up to daily life with the Sirchios, since we’re keeping the plastic protector on until the kitchen construction is done. I like the contrast with the white cabinets and am totally wooed by the digital temperature gauge (ridiculous but true). Even though the new refrigerator is the same size as our old one, it feels way more spacious, and I’m loving the extra storage drawer.

But you know what the best part about this fridge is? It doesn’t make a ghostly howling noise 24-7. It just sits quietly in the kitchen, keeping our food cold and giving us water. Everything I could ever want from a refrigerator!

Also on the already-installed list is our Bosch dishwasher. This model earned rave reviews for being quiet, which was my number one priority. The old dishwasher was like having a “waves crashing” sound machine turned up to maximum volume for an hour. Excellent for enjoying conversations and for maintaining your sanity. Installing a dishwasher was definitely new for us, so we begged my dad to drive to Dallas and play foreman on the project. After a few hours of labor, Tony and my dad had this pretty new number in place and ready to test out. So we pressed the “Start” button and waited. After a moment of panic when we thought the dishwasher was broken, we realized it was just that quiet. I’m officially in love.

Without further adieu, the old (plus a cameo from my favorite furboy)…


And the new! (Also still rocking protective plastic. It takes the patience of a saint not to tear it off.)


On the docket for the next few weeks: putting in the new oven and microwave. Can’t say I’ll be sad to have a microwave back where it belongs, instead of camped out on our kitchen table!

Plus, with a little bit of luck, we should have new counters any day now. Adios, grungy laminate counters that hate fun (yep, those are red wine stains from the birthday soiree).

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Ready, Set, Reno!

After penny-pinching, planning, and not-so-patiently waiting for the last year, it’s finally time to tackle the rest of the kitchen. And (surprise) we’re taking a little bit of a different approach to this project. With the hubby and I both juggling intense work schedules, there’s not a lot of time left to manage a major DIY renovation. So although we plan to do some of the smaller elements in the kitchen ourselves – painting, swapping out light fixtures, connecting new appliances and plumbing – we’re leaving the big projects to the pros. Here’s the game plan, from the top down – plus a refresher on the design inspiration for the kitchen. Love that Tommy Smythe!!





1. Update the cabinets with a fresh coat of creamy white paint & some satin nickel hardware. I snagged my hardware on Ebay for a song – less than $70 for all the pieces we’ll need. And don’t worry – the colors actually match in real life.


Also included on the painting quote: taking my Craig’s List bookshelves from chestnut to soft white. Thanks to the scale of the kitchen project, I got a heck of a deal on the bookshelf paint job. Hello, visual calm!

2. Gussy up the walls and ceiling with – you guessed it – white paint. We’ll match the shade we choose for the cabinets.

3. Swap the scratched, dingy and hideous laminate counters for Silestone in the Lyra pattern. Love that it looks like Carrara but happens to be incredibly durable, antimicrobial and is guaranteed against scratches for 15 years. Plus it’s low risk for radon emission (admittedly, that’s per the manufacturer).


4. Install a lantern light over the kitchen table. I found this fixture on Wayfair for less than $100 a few months ago and it’s been waiting on our guest room ever since.


5. Replace our old appliances with sleek, stainless steel appliances. They’ll definitely be a visual improvement, and according to the specs, our new dishwasher is less likely to sound like a tidal wave than our current model. We chose Frigidaire appliances from Lowe’s for everything except the cooktop (Whirlpool) and the dishwasher (Bosch).

6. Trade out the old burgundy and white backsplash for timeless, white subway tiles… Something like this.  Swoon.

White subway tile backsplashSource

7. Have the floors steamed and the grout re-sealed. Why so soon? The installers used an acid wash to deal with the grout haze last summer, which ate away the grout sealer. And unsealed white grout + a family of four (including the wild animal that lives here) = recipe for disaster.

8. Upgrade the kitchen table to a painted pedestal ($50 on Craig’s List and just waiting for me to work some magic), find new kitchen chairs and barstools, and execute about a million other smaller-scale details.

We’ll be managing most of the demo ourselves, and we already got a head start. Now you see the burgundy backsplash…

photo (68)

Now you don’t!

photo (67)

Next up: floor cleaning/re-sealing and installing the new dishwasher and fridge. Stay tuned!


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Tommy Smythe Kitchen on a Home Depot Budget

When it comes to HGTV shows, Sarah’s House is a must-watch for me. While Sarah’s uncanny ability to pull a room together flawlessly is clearly my primary reason for tuning in, her second-in-command, Tommy Smythe, is a close runner up. In addition to his amazing design sense, he also happens to be hilarious. Anyone who can proudly stand atop a ginormous septic tank floating across a lake and pronounce, “I’m on the poop deck,” is a rock star in my book (check out Sarah’s Summer House if this moment is unfamiliar to you. You’ll thank me later).

Anyhoo, in my search for some inspiration for our kitchen remodel, I found myself scouring magazines, Pinterest, and what felt like the entire blogosphere for something that felt right. I kept coming up empty, until I stumbled across these images on Decorpad.

Swoon. The two-color cabinets and the herringbone floor rock my world. It was love at first sight, and when I happened to see that the credit for this fabulousness belongs to none other than Tommy Smythe, I figured it was clearly meant to be. Only one small problem, of course: how the heck can I re-create this kitchen on what is clearly more of a Home Depot than a Tommy Smythe kind of budget? In a few words: Thank goodness for the Internet. After lots of Googling, clicking, and zooming, here are some of the more wallet-friendly ways I’m thinking about turning this inspiration into reality – starting with tile, which will be installed in a matter of days (one word: amazing).
The perfect 6″ x 12″ charcoal tile, ready to get busy in a herringbone pattern. At $5 per square foot, it’s not dirt cheap, but will be durable and (sorry, Health Board) way better at hiding dirt than the current white tiles. It’s got the look of slate, without the hefty price tag or high maintenance demands.

When it comes to the cabinets, the game plan is to replace the door fronts and have the cabinets professionally sprayed – giving us a fresh new look, without spending $15K to replace the cabinets. Although I adore the two-tone finish Tommy’s kitchen is rocking, I’m thinking a classic, all-white finish will give us the longevity we’re looking for.
The carrera marble backsplash in Tommy’s kitchen is gorgeous, but our attic has been playing host to several boxes of plain white 3″ x 6″ ceramic subway tiles for a few years now. I scored them for $70 from Habitat for Humanity Restore, making this a super budget-friendly option. I love how this kitchen rocks the white subway tile with a dark grout for contrast!

Traditional Kitchen design by Other Metros Kitchen And Bath Gretchen T. Roach

Let’s bejewel the freshly painted cabinets with some cabinet pulls and knobs, all from Overstock. The cup pulls are $2.80 each, and the knobs are $2.50 each – plus no tax and free shipping!

We’ll also need to update the kitchen lighting. We could rock a lantern-style fixture like the inspiration photo ($139 from Home Depot)…

But I also adore these light fixtures from Lowe’s (Bronze Pendant Light and Antique Rust Pendant Light).

It would also be fun to bring in a graphic, grey patterned fabric to craft a faux Roman shade for over the kitchen sink. The Dwell Studio pattern I used to craft my pretty yellow pillow also comes in a grey colorway – a great option if I can find it for less than the $42 list price, gulp.

The pricier elements in the kitchen will be upgrading our appliances and countertops. We’re leaning towards Kenmore appliances, thanks to pretty affordable price points and a slew of good reviews from Consumer Reports, including low repair percentages. When it comes to counter tops, I’m torn between a solid black (think Absolute Black granite), and a lighter, patterned counter. Of course, there are plenty of other beautiful materials to choose from:

Blanco River (Silestone)

Lyra (Silestone)

Lagoon (Silestone)

Torquay (Cambria)

Bianco Carrara (Zodiaq)

With our wall texture updated, and plans to get our gorgeous herringbone floor in place ASAP, this kitchen makeover is finally on the road. As much as I’d love to knock it all out this summer, we’ll tackle this project in pieces. I’ve got high hopes that we’ll be celebrating the Christmas holidays in a fresh, new kitchen this year. Want a refresher on what our kitchen currently looks like? Check it out here.

Happy weekend, friends. Thanks for stopping by!


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