Tag Archives: cabinets

Little Things Make a Difference {Kitchen Bits}


So a LOT of projects around here get done slapdash.  There are just so many things to accomplish, that sometimes it’s easier to just do the bulk of the project and then jump to the next thing.  Slowly, we’ve been trying to keep ourselves focused and actually finish stuff – or at least get it a little closer!

While the bulk of the kitchen remodel happened last January/February, we are still doing random little things to make it better.  What’s amazing to me is how little details really do tighten everything up and improve the entire experience.

Last November, we hit several smaller parts of the kitchen that took it from looking half-finished to actually looking like we had gotten somewhere!

One of the  most basic items – knobs.  I lived without them for months and got along just fine.  Part of the problem was that I really had trouble finding something that I genuinely liked. And since knobs are weirdly expensive, I wanted to find something I really liked before I parted with the cash!  While I like our white cabinets a lot – and they definitely brighten up the kitchen – I was hoping to find something with just a touch of color for the knobs.

424887_15After scouring all the home improvement stores (Menard’s, Lowes, Home Depot) and coming up empty, I was one day randomly wandering through Hobby Lobby and realized – they have tons of knobs!  And that’s where I found the ones I love!  They are blue and not too tiny or too big, they’re ceramic, and just plain adorable.  I love them!  I waited until they were 50% off and bought a slew of them, as I wanted them not just in the main part of the kitchen, but also on the pantry doors, the hutch in the dining nook, and the other shelves that were going to be built/remodeled along the north wall.

All in all, I still really like these knobs, now that we’ve used them for almost a year.  However, that little ring is made of very sharp metal, and they easily bend out of shape.  That means that they catch easily on clothes, and I’ve even cut my finger on them!  So I’ve been taking the knobs apart, removing that ring, and then putting them back together.  The knobs aren’t quite as cute that way, but at least they aren’t endangering lives any more.

Before installing the knobs, I also wanted to put a final coat of paint on all the cabinets.  Some of them had only gotten one or two coats, and they really needed three.  Because we started with unfinished cupboards, they had also been a smidge rough.  I really ought to have sanded them before painting them initially, but, you know, water under the bridge.  Instead, I gently 220’d them before applying the final coat of paint – it really made a big difference.

Generally, when people install cabinets, the cabinets all face the same direction.  However, because our kitchen is an island, I decided that in order to fully utilize the “dead” corners, we would use corner cabinets – that face out.  It’s worked fabulously, but one thing I hadn’t thought about (although Tom had, of course, and had already mentally solved the issue) was that this mean that all of the toe-kick space didn’t line up.

2015-11-07-1005You can kind of see from the picture, although there is a random roll of paper towels in the way.  The bottom of the corner cabinets sticks out and isn’t flush with the lower bit of the forward-facing cabinets.  (Incidentally, aren’t those knobs lovely??)

In order to fix this, Tom decided just to eliminated the usual toe-kick space entirely by faceboarding everything flush with the front of the cabinets.

2015-11-08-1805Initially, it seemed a little weird, but after they were painted, the boards blended right in.  I haven’t noticed any difficulty in using the kitchen without that extra space for my toes.



2015-11-07-0857Knobs, fresh paint, some putty/sanding/painting on other trimwork, and tidying up the bottom of the cabinets all made a big difference.  We also put in a shelf that was in a little dead space near the sink (perfect for the toaster and other items that tend to clutter the counter), put some trim around the tile behind the stove, and Tom installed a homemade magazine rack on the outside of the island (pictured here with Waylon damage lol).

I also had another project – refinishing a cabinet that I had inherited from the house I grew up in – but I think that that will wait for the next post…

Until then!



Kitchen Renovation {part III: it’s a kitchen again!}


Well, folks, I am giddy with joy over my new kitchen!!!  While it still needs some finishing touches, we are taking a weekend breather to recover and bask in the glory of what we have accomplished so far.  I am so happy about this kitchen!

So, when I last posted, the cabinets were leveled and attached to the house, and we were getting ready to start doing real stuff.  Tom and his dad worked like madness last weekend and made so much progress that I was able to move into the kitchen on Monday (oh happy day).

Where to even start?  Well, one of our “issues” with having an island kitchen was that the backs and sides of the cabinets, which are usually hidden against walls, are exposed in our kitchen.  We ended up buying some paneling that looks like beadboard to cover up the exposed backs and sides.  We were able to find some that was a glossy white finish, and I’m really pleased with the way it looks on the cabinets.


The beadboard really classes things up.

The beadboard was attached with contact cement, which we also used to put the laminate on the counters.


This piece is getting ready to be attached. Apparently, contact cement has to sit for about 15 minutes before you stick on what you’re sticking – rather counter-intuitive, as it felt like we should be getting on it as fast as possible!!

After sanding the counter top area (3/4″ plywood), which made just a horrific amount of dust, we were ready to start measuring the laminate.


Our laminate color is something like “distressed concrete.” The grays looks really nice with the white cabinets.

Originally, we were going to 45 the corners of the laminate, but because there is actually a decent grain, we ended up just blocking the ends so everything runs in the same direction.


Contact cement smells VERY VERY STRONG.

There was a bit of drama getting the laminate into place, but it all worked out in the end!  Once the laminate was in place, we were ready to install the sink.  I was more excited about the sink than anything else happening that day.


The hole was measured and cut – my huge sink takes up almost the entire cabinet!


Look at that beautiful, beautiful sink!

While Pop was working on the sink, Tom was continuing his microwave-stand project next to the refrigerator.


As with most of Tom’s projects, the key word is “sturdy.”

This is actually the backside of the cabinet, which is, of course,  bookshelves.  The front, facing the kitchen, houses the microwave on a shelf, and creates another workspace on top.

While Tom and I went in town for some supplies, Pop finished the two ends of the countertop.


Starting to look super kitcheny!

I spent most of the next day admiring my new sink.



We had a shorter day to work, as there was a birthday shindig at Dad and Mom’s that night, and we got a late start that morning.  Still, progress was made on the microwave cabinet, and Pop spent some time putting front edges on the counter (which you can also see in the picture above), filing down the overhanging laminate, and putting up some other trim.


Trim on the beadboard and front edge on the counter!!

After the birthday shindig, Tom and Pop went ahead and laid the laminate for the bar counter, making the kitchen completely functional.  Like the piece that had gone across the sink, it was very long and not without drama, but we got it laid and it is super happy.


It cracks easily and sticks immediately, making things quite exciting.

After spending all day Monday cleaning an incredibly messy house and moving things into the next kitchen, life felt normal again.  I’ve been super happy all week.  Like I said, there are still some finishing touches (like the backsplash) that need to happen, but those will come with time.  For now, the kitchen is fully functional and absolutely beautiful.  Everything has a home, and I am thrilled.  

Best of all, just like we hoped, the kitchen renovation has really finished opening the house up.  Everything is lighter and feels more spacious.  The bar counter is fantastic and it really helps make the kitchen feel like the center of the home.


Everything about this kitchen is wonderful.



We may never use our table again now that we have this great breakfast bar!!

Eventually, there will be beadboard in front of the bar stools, as well.


Even the microwave shelf is functional!

We have enough laminate to cover the top of the microwave shelf as well, so that will look nice.  For now, more of Mom’s seasonal tablecloths are at work!

More progress will be forthcoming, but for now we are happy to spend a couple of days kicked back, basking in the wonder of what we’ve accomplished so far.  Kitchen Renovation Stage I is complete!



Kitchen Renovation {so excite}


So, as you can see from the floor plan I posted the other day, the kitchen is basically in the center of the house.  You may remember that this house was originally a doublewide (and is now a “double and a half wide” as Tom says, thanks to the addition of the lower room).  According to Pop, who actually remembers the event, this house arrived folded up – tearing up the carpet has allowed us to see hinges that run the full length of the house from where the sides were folded up to the middle (there are also hinges along the walls and ceiling).  This meant that all of the plumbing and duct work for the original trailer had to run up the center of the home.  Hence, if you notice of the floor plan, the kitchen, furnace, and both bathrooms are along the middle of the house.

All that to say, our kitchen is in the middle of everything.  It’s a weird set-up, and several people have recommended moving the kitchen over a side of the house (the northeast corner would be the natural direction) and we really considered it.  But at the end of the day we decided to embrace the quirkiness (and avoid moving both water and gas lines) and make the kitchen the true center of the house.

The lines on the floor plan sort of show what’s going on.  You can see a faint line between the kitchen and the front room – that was a wall.  At the south end of that wall, running west, was another wall.  At the north end of the east wall was a counter (also running west), making a sort of u-shape of counters with walls on two sides.  The kitchen is in the center of the east counter.  The stove and refrigerator are both against the west wall.

This is the old southeast corner of the kitchen from the outside.

This is the old southeast corner of the kitchen from the outside.

Old view from the southwest corner.

Old view from the southwest corner.  You can see how narrow the workspace is inside the kitchen.

Old view from the north side of the kitchen, just inside the main door we use to go in and out of the house.

Old view from the north side of the kitchen, just inside the main door we use to go in and out of the house.

The walls made the kitchen feel small and weird and also dark.  Two people inside this kitchen was a definite challenge (and only worked if the two people really like each other).  The placement of the kitchen also meant that the front room was sort of dead space, as there wasn’t really enough room between the kitchen wall and the front doors for anything to happen.

And so, we decided to do what we do best around this house – take down some walls.

These walls were a bit more of a challenge.  We had quite a bit of electric to deal with, plus the exhaust pipe for the sink.  Luckily, we were able to play our favorite ace-in-the-hole:  Pop’s expertise.

Demolition began last weekend.

No cabinets!

No cabinets!

Some of a wall...

Some of a wall…

...no wall!

…no wall!

Yes, now we can see pretty much our whole house from almost anywhere in the house…  and it’s fantastic.

Next day, while we were at work, Pop worked on the lovely collection of wires hanging everywhere.  By the end of that day:



Besides knocking out the walls, we decided to expand the kitchen 24″ to the north by inserting another cabinet between the sink and the corner.  As you can see from the picture, in order to utilize the storage in the corners, I have those cabinets facing outside the kitchen instead of in.  A bit unconventional, but hey, welcome to our house.

At this point, I have to admit, the kitchen felt even weirder than it had felt before.  It really seemed like we just had a pile of cabinets sitting in the middle of the room for no reason, and we were a little nervous about the whole flow.  No time for second-guessing, though: onward!

The other big piece of the new kitchen was the decision to add a bar counter along the east side of the kitchen.  We’ve learned from long experience that people love to hang out in a kitchen.  Both our parents have breakfast bars in the kitchens, and they’re fantastic places to just sit – a lot of stuff is going on in the kitchen, and people like to be where the action – and snacks – are.


The kitchen feels way more legit with the bar counter in place.

We also needed posts to hide our electric and the exhaust pipe.  Adding the posts and the breakfast bar made the kitchen feel significantly more anchored and purposeful, and made us excited like whoa.

Mary Rose and I took an adventurous drive to Cincinnati to pick up the new bar stools on a great close-out deal!

Mary Rose and I took an adventurous drive to Cincinnati to pick up the new bar stools on a great close-out deal!

The next day was Friday, my day off.  We gave Pop the day off, too, and I spent the day catching up on life around the house.  All through the day, though, I couldn’t get over how much lighter the whole house is!


Every time I came out of the laundry room I got excited all over again!

Over the weekend, we made a lot of progress.

Assembling the bar stools turned into way more of a project than anyone expected...

Assembling the bar stools turned into way more of a project than anyone expected…

We ate our first meal at our very-incomplete breakfast bar!  (It's protected by one of Mom's seasonal vinyl tablecloths!)

We ate our first meal at our very-incomplete breakfast bar! (It’s protected by one of Mom’s seasonal vinyl tablecloths!)

Took time to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather by walking down to take some last pictures of the big bridge - they started demolition last week!

Took time to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather by walking down to take some last pictures of the big bridge – they started demolition last week!

I painted cabinets.  (We bought them unfinished on the cheap.)

I painted cabinets. (We bought them unfinished on the cheap.)

Tom worked on a new stand for the microwave.

Tom worked on a new stand for the microwave.

Pop worked on lights.

Pop worked on lights.

Originally, there was a florescent light in the kitchen, along with the small ceiling fan you can see above.  The ceiling fan is jammed against our weird drop in the ceiling, where it looks quite awkward and strange.  After living with 100% florescent lights in our last apartment, Tom and I really didn’t want any in our new house.  So, we replaced the center light with a new ceiling fan/light combo, and have two drop lights to put in on either side of the kitchen (you can see one of the new ones beside Pop in the picture – the other will replace the old ceiling fan).

Totally different view!

Totally different view from the north side now!

So spacious!

So spacious!

Things are really coming together, and we are super excited.  Hopefully my new sink will come in tonight.  Once it arrives, we can do the final plumbing and then set the cabinets permanently.  We are planning to put down laminate for the countertops ourselves – it’s on order, though, and won’t be here until the end of the month (which is why I borrowed an entire stack of Mom’s seasonal vinyl tablecloths!).

For now, I’m off to finish painting the rest of the cabinets – progress!