Sunday, September 14, 2014


After 6 weeks of measuring, cutting, installing, cursing, bleeding, hand washing, tiling, cleaning and exhausting ourselves to no end, it is DONE. We have a brand new, beautiful kitchen. It turned out better than imagined. We have the storage we needed, the counter space we craved and the beauty we dreamed of. Heck, I now even like cooking more and you know that's saying a lot.

Here are the FINAL pictures!

View entering the house from our front door.
Looking in towards the window seat. The cushion for the window seat is the very last thing on our to-do list.
Taking a step back but still looking towards the front door.
Building in the fridge makes a huge difference. 
Even our old appliances look nicer.
The vertical bamboo flooring helps to elongate the room.
With more floor space, dance parties in the kitchen will now be a weekly occurrence. 

Alright, friends. We've reached the end of our DIY journey. Hopefully we've inspired you to take on your own house projects. Or maybe you look at this and say, there's no way in hell I'm doing that. Either way, thanks for following along!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's all about the details

It’s been a while since this was last updated and A LOT has happened. We finished putting in all of the cabinets and doors. The appliances were moved back in. The countertops were installed. (Oh, it was a joyous night when the kitchen sink and dishwasher were useable again.)

The last few weeks have been all about the details. Since putting in the big stuff, our to-do list of small things was growing. For example, installing the window seat and the extra wood that was needed to fill a gap at the end (because it wasn’t shaped like a square.) The deco strip that was placed on top of the cabinets (to create that built-in look) had to be carefully measured and cut. Oh, and the tiles. They had to be carefully cut and laid as well. It was a time consuming process, but as usual, handy hubs and his handy dad did amazing work.

We have a few more things to do before the grand reveal, but for now, here are some detail shots that represent all of the blood, sweat, and tears of the past 5-6 weeks. It’s been HARD. But oh so worth it. Needless to say, our next house will have a move-in ready, beautiful kitchen because this is something you only do once in your life.

The pendant over the sink. 
Our new, enormously large sink.  
The dishwasher that blends right into the cabinets. 
Toe-kick drawers under the cabinets for extra storage.

The pull-out for pots and pans.

Trash can and recycling cabients that dog can no longer raid.

New lighting over the additional countertop space.

An organized and easily accessible pantry!

Quartz countertop and subway tiles. 
The deco strip that was added to the top of all of the cabinets.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The makings of a kitchen

With cabinets hung and drilled into place, it’s beginning to feel like we have a kitchen again. On Thursday, we painted the walls a lovely shade of gray. Then on Friday, we assembled the upper cabinets. We cranked out six in less than two hours. (We felt like champs.) We placed them in their respective spots in the kitchen and went to bed, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Saturday morning. (Well, D was at least.)

Painting the walls gray. 
Fitz is bored with all of the cabinet building. 
Derk’s dad came bright and early and they got to work right away. Ikea has a pretty cool system for installing cabinets. They have a steel suspension rail that you mount to the wall. You drill this into studs and ensure that it is perfectly level. Then using their hardware, you secure the cabinets with a few screws and they are in place. Those crafty Ikea engineers are so smart.  (Here’s a nice little step-by-step for those interested.) A difficult task was installing the new microwave and wiring it up correctly. But probably the biggest challenge was building in the fridge. We’re going for a completely built-in, seamless look and had to add side paneling to fill the gaps between the fridge. With the help of Uncle Ray and the magic of FaceTime, we were able to figure it out.  Getting the correct measurements was no easy-task, along with maneuvering such a huge piece of wood in and out of the house for cutting.  At the end of the night, we put together the pantry which is a massive structure that reaches the ceiling. The four of us (D’s mom was there too) had to build and move it into place, avoiding the collision of the pantry with the ceiling and other cabinets. By the end of the night we were exhausted, sweaty, and stinky, but guys, WE HAD THE MAKINGS OF A KITCHEN!

Attaching the rail.
Up close and personal with the steel that holds all of our upper cabinets in place.
The first cabinet is in!

Hours and hours go by and the pantry is in place!
Happy hubs!
On Sunday, it was just the two of us. We got the lower cabinets in place, including making the holes for the pipes in the sink cabinet. We even brought up the new dishwasher, but it won’t be working until the sink is in place. (Boo hoo. Washing dishes in the bathroom sink is NO fun.) The cabinet doors went on too, which really made it feel like the real deal. Seeing everything come together has been somewhat magical because it’s looking better than imagined.

Sink cabinet holes.
On Monday, we started to out together all of the little stuff – drawers, pull outs, shelves, etc. The neatest contraption we have is this lazy susan on steroids that fits into our corner cabinet. It swings in the cabinet and then pulls out straight.  I can’t wait to actually have all of our pots and pans organized and not in a heaping mess.
Assembling the lazy susan on steroids.
Lazy susan on steroids in action. 
So what’s left? Well, a lot. The biggest thing is the countertops. The measurement guys should be out Thursday. Then they will go in about a week later. We also have a shelves, etc. that need to built and installed, cutting and installing trim on the top and bottom of the cabinets, the installation of the window seat, adding under-cabinet lighting, adding another pendant light, creating a tile backsplash… the list goes on. We have the major stuff now completed, so now it’s all the little time-consuming things. BUT GUYS, WE HAVE THE MAKINGS OF A KITCHEN. Like we’ll be cooking again in a few weeks. Doing it ourselves is challenging, but so rewarding. And not to mention we’re saving thousands and thousands of dollars. And that’s a cause for some major celebrating. <Insert celebratory fist pump here.>     

Quite a change from the previous post's last picture. 

Even the dogs are impressed. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Walls, and floors, and lights, oh my!

I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it! … Can you say that about your kitchen? Whatever, that’s how we’re totally feeling right now. Here’s the lowdown from the past week:

Last Tuesday, we had an electrician come and rewire the kitchen. For two days and nearly 20 hours he worked his magic, moving all of the wires that were in the soffit, plus a whole lot more. We’re so glad we hired someone for this job because we would likely still be at it if it was just us (or let’s be honest, all Derk.) Afterward, we had someone install drywall. Again, we are happy that this was someone else’s job because otherwise this whole overhaul would take two months. As soon as he left, we painted the ceiling. My, oh, my, what a difference a crisp white ceiling makes. After that dried we could finally wire in the recessed lights. As soon as those went on it was like BAM! Let there be light! It was pretty amazing. We have all of them on dimmers so when we want to create a romantic mood in the kitchen, for say like washing dishes, it’s possible.  

We raised the cut-through by about six inches since we're going to have taller cabinets. Also, take a minute to admire those wires. They cost us a lot of money.
You spend your Saturday nights painting too, right? Riiiight?
Proof that I do more than just blog about this kitchen renovation.
Recessed lights that dangle - could be a future trend. 
But they do look much better in the ceiling.

The next thing to conquer was the hardwood floor. D’s dad graced us with his presence again and was such a huge help. All day Sunday they measured, cut and nailed each board into the floor. It was no small undertaking. We were under the impression that the floor would be basically one color. We soon realized that there were big variations in the wood color. We found this to be such a good thing though, and we absolutely love the finished look. We have enough to do the entire first floor and I have a feeling that after we finish the kitchen, we’ll be itching to do the rest of the house ASAP. The old crappy laminate next to the new, beautiful bamboo is like night and day.

Laying the first boards. 
Handling the nailer like a BOSS.
Getting close!
Well deserved exhaustion at the end of the night. 
Check out that beauty up close. 

This week and coming weekend our main jobs are paint and hang cabinets. (Yeah, just hang cabinets. No biggie.) We’re still on schedule (woot woot) and everything is turning out better than imagined. Here’s to that streak continuing.

Now excuse me while I go do another happy dance on our kitchen floor. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

Hasta la vista, kitchen!

So BIG changes happening of late. We officially don’t have a kitchen! The old cabinets, sink, and dishwasher are gone thanks to Craigslist. Friends took our bar top/stools and kitchen cart. The range, fridge, and microwave all have a home in our living room. Having everything crammed into the living room isn’t ideal, but we don’t have much of a choice. I did find one perk however – after napping on the couch I was hungry, and all I had to do was reach a little to get into the fridge. Compact living ain't so bad.

Welcome to our new first floor/studio apartment.
So here’s a breakdown of the work thus far. After we got back from Hawaii, we unloaded the rest of the kitchen. Most stuff is boxed up and crammed into our basement bedroom. Once everything was out of the cabinets, we started taking down the cabinets. We started with the uppers and then we removed the base cabinets. It wasn’t terrible work, but it was arduous at times. The big pantry was the biggest pain because it seemed almost built into the wall. Removing the cabinets was the moment when everything was like, okay, this is real. No turning back now. (Interestingly enough, the guy who took them from Craigslist was going to reuse them in his own kitchen.  I’m not quite sure how old, beat up cabinets are going to be successfully repurposed, but more power to him.)

One empty kitchen.
D vs. the cabinets. 
Even more progress!
Down to the studs!
Adios, cabinets. We will not miss you. 
After the cabinets came down, we began to tear up the flooring. The laminate flooring we had in there was so cheap and it came up like big puzzle pieces. Underneath the laminate there was early 90’s linoleum.  Truly classy stuff. Upon pulling that stuff up, the backing stuck to the underlayment. That didn’t matter too much because the underlayment was coming out as well. We saved that job until the next day though.

Next we removed the rest of the soffit and then drywall in order to rewire the kitchen. Most of the electrical was in the soffit and with that gone, now has to be hidden in the wall. Most of this happened during one day, and to say we were tired would be an understatement. Big thanks goes out to Derk’s dad for helping us BIG TIME. He’s a bit stronger and more able-bodied than me, and was such a huge support to D.

After a good night’s sleep, Derk tackled the underlayment the next day. He needed to use a saw to cut out tile sized pieces in order to fully remove it. Once that was gone, he realized that the old dishwasher had a leak and rotted out the floor. So that was completely removed which left a nice hole into the basement. That’s when I realized that nothing but thick slabs of wood support your entire house. Which is awesome yet scary at the same time. I really thought there was cement, metal, something besides wood. But nope, only wood to hold up every floor in your house.

Derk's text to me after making a hole in the floor: Oh hey, laundry room. 
After this crazy weekend, we spent Monday night pounding floor staples, patching the hole and getting ready for the electrician. Most of what we’re doing is DIY, but we are hiring a few professionals to save us time and energy. An electrician will be hooking up all of the new pendants, recessed lighting and speakers. Then a handyman will be putting back all of the drywall we tore down.  But that’s it. The rest is on us (and our dear family and friends who wish to help.)

So the good news is, we’re on schedule and everything is going according to plan. There haven’t had any more ER visits and Fitz didn’t fall through the hole in the floor. And our neighbors don’t hate us too much yet. (We're still waiting for the HOA to send us citations for the obscene amount of trash bags and saw dust in our front yard though.)

Three cheers for being on schedule! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Well, it can only go up from here?

Our kitchen renovation is not off to the greatest start but our determination is still intact. (For now.) It started last week when we were supposed to get our delivery of our cabinets and hardware. We scheduled to have everything arrive on June 25. By the end of the day, we still had nothing. A long and angry phone call to Ikea yielded no results except that June 25 was an estimated date, not the actual date. I called BS on that because they had over 2 months to prepare this order. Later on we learned it was because the handles we picked were recalled. HANDLES! The least important part of everything we bought. Because that was recalled, the whole order was stopped. Out of all of this mess, they did refund us the delivery charge. So hey, that’s something. We should be getting everything today, July 5. We’re crossing our fingers.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been moving things out of the kitchen. You don’t realize how much crap you have until you have to move it all. Not fun. Perhaps we’ll stay in this house forever so we don’t have to move anything else. Yesterday we started to take down the drywall around the soffit. We have to sort out the electrical work because we're getting taller cabinets and no longer have this extra space above the cabinets. That’s when we hit roadblock #2. D was taking everything down without a problem until I hear “WHITTTTTTNEY!” I rush downstairs and see blood everywhere. A piece of metal had torn into his knee as he was pulling stuff down. We rushed to the ER where we learned the cut was really deep but luckily it did not damage his knee joint. They had to get a consult with an orthopedic surgeon and that was pretty darn scary. But they stitched him up and sent him home 4 hours later. He has an appointment with a specialist on Monday, but we’re just going to hope that he says all is good. Our vacation is right around the corner, so this would not be the right time for some bad news.

Before the knee incident. 
But the soffit drywall is now gone, furniture is being shuffled around to make room for appliances in the living room, the lights, sink, and other kitchen-y things have ordered, and hopefully we won’t have any more major hiccups. It’s on the beginning of a loooooong journey, and it hasn’t been easy so far, but our spirits remain high. What we're low on is beer in the fridge. Gotta go work on that so we can last until the end of August. 

After the knee incident. But doesn't it look nice?