Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hammer time!

Well, not really…but oscillating tool time just didn’t have the same ring to it.  We are currently undergoing a minor kitchen remodel.  By minor I mean we are not changing the layout, just all of the surfaces in our kitchen.  But I’m finding that even a “minor” remodel is still a lot of work!

I may get a little long-winded in this post, but allow me catch you up to speed.  Here is how our kitchen looked during the first year we lived there:

A lot of people see our kitchen and ask “Why do you want to change it?  It looks nice.”  It does look nice, especially since our house was built in 1941 and it could be a lot worse.  But a funny thing happens after you’ve lived in a house for a year or two.  You start to notice every little minute imperfection, and if you’re me, it begins to gnaw at you.

First off, the appliances needed an update.  They all functioned just fine, but this is the exact same model refrigerator that we had at my parent’s house, I hit my head on that handle a few times too many, so yeah, I had a few bones to pick with this model refrigerator.  We needed to at least bring it into this century. 

A year and a half ago we bought a new refrigerator and dishwasher from Sears when that appliance rebate program was going on.  We kept the range and microwave since they still looked nice and were at least made in the last 20 years.  Slightly unconventional, we went with white, not stainless steel.  Shocker, I know!  Apparently stainless is not easy to keep clean, especially with a slobbery bulldog, plus the price tag is noticeably more than white appliances. 

We are very happy with our white, sleek French door fridge and dishwasher.  Jason and I also gained valuable plumbing experience hooking up both appliances, and we saved around $60 doing it ourselves.

AND our old fridge is enjoying its second life as a keg-erator thanks to Jason’s hard work.

Not only did the appliances need updating, I had plans for all of the surfaces in the kitchen.  The back splash was a simple bisque 4x4 tile, but this was one of those things that began to drive my crazy over the years.  The grout lines were terrible, messy, and not even.

The cabinets are also nice, but not great.  There are gaps between cabinets, obvious nail holes, and for some reason, no base board?  Also, they are pretty much the same color as our floor, which makes for a lot of wood in a very small kitchen.

The paint color is evolving, but I think I could safely say this for every room in our house.  “Hi my name is Charlotte and I’m a paint-aholic”.  Currently the kitchen is “Aqua Smoke”, which looked and sounded a lot better on the card.  Instead of a cool, toned-down aqua, I think I achieved "early 90’s country blue” which you may have seen paired with a nice mauve.  It might end up looking different with future kitchen improvements, but I’m pretty set on changing it to a nice gray.

We had laminate counters with a drop-in stainless sink.  This wasn’t terrible, but the counters stained easily since it was a light color and the sinks were not very big or user friendly, especially with the short faucet.  Big pots and pans were impossible to clean without getting water all over the counters, floor, and myself.

The week before Christmas we had a pretty major update done to our kitchen; new counters, sink and faucet.  We went with a dark granite (uba tuba) and a deep under-mount granite sink from Nebraska Furniture Mart.  And we didn’t get granite just to have “granite”.  I wanted to update our counters to a solid surface or stone.  After doing research into soapstone, quartz, Corian and Granite Transformations, it seemed that NFM’s granite was the best deal and it would hold up the best for our uses.  We waited until they had their $39 a square foot sale.  This ended up being fairly reasonable for granite since we have very little counter space to begin with. 

Even though we do a lot of DIY projects, we were not about to attempt a granite counter install.  We did however take out the old counters and install the new faucet ourselves.  The faucet was purchased from  We had found this model originally at Lowes, and before Christmas I got an email coupon from Overstock so we saved about $14 off list price, but more like $35 if we would have gone for the original one at Lowes.

Back to the present time, I spent the better part of my Sunday doing a little demolition!

Using our new oscillating tool (purchased at Lowes on a cyber-Monday deal for only $99!), I cut along all of the grout lines and pried off all of the old back-splash using a pry-bar and hammer.

This we pretty easy, just time consuming.  I started around 2:00 and finished removing tile around 5:30, with one short break for lunch.  The oscillating tool was awesome, made the job a lot easier; however it kicked up a lot of dust!  A fan for ventilation and a Shop-vac are a must for a job like this (thank you, Jason!).  Clean up took a good hour and a half due to the layer of construction dust that was left behind (and we are still finding more dust throughout the house).  Here’s what we are left with now. 

Since our house was built in 1941 the walls are made of plaster.  Unfortunately the plaster likes to crumble a bit when you pry tile off of it.  To remedy this, I bought some cement board that I will hopefully install in the next week or two so that I’ll have a nice, even surface to lay the new tile on.

So consider yourself officially up to speed on our kitchen remodel!  I’ll keep you posted as we make more changes along the way, which hopefully won’t take me 1000+ words to do from now on.


  1. I really like your white appliances. The house we bought came with basically all new stainless steel and I spent a good portion of the weekend bemoaning that fact--they are SO hard to keep clean. I don't think it's worth it at ALL, so you made a good call on opting out. (I think we may be the only two in the world to feel this way...shall we start a club or something?)

    And I don't know what you mean...Oscillating Tool Time sounds like the next big hit to me. ;)

  2. Thanks! That makes me feel better about our decision. Not because of your misfortune of scrubbing your stainless steel all weekend, but you know what I mean ;) I do think we need to bring the white appliances back, they've come along ways in recent years. I also feel like in 10-15 years they will start looking "dated", you know "so early 2000's", unless of course if your fortunate enough to be able to afford a Wolf or Subzero. You're blog is wonderful, by the way, and you've done an awesome job with your house so far! (love the dark stained floors in your master!)