Tag Archives: kitchen

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!



Odds & Ends {ridiculously long post}


Greetings, friends!  Long time, no write!!  Sorry for the delay.  It’s been the usual combination of busyness and laziness.  😀  Things have been tooling along, but we haven’t done anything major since the kitchen overhaul.  It’s mostly been little bits and pieces here and there.  I don’t even know where to start!!!

002So, when we last saw the kitchen, it was functional, but still needed some little touches.  Things like the backsplash behind the (beautiful, beautiful) sink, finishing out the cabinet for the microwave (not in this picture), some trim work, and the like.

Once we were through the big push for the kitchen (the last weekend of January), we took our time wrapping up the details.  Still, over the last two months we have definitely made some progress!!!

First off, Tom got the microwave cabinet to about 99% completion.  It still needs to have screw-top holes caulked and that sort of thing, but it looks perfectly fine as is, all painted up with countertop laminate on it.





Like we had to do with the other countertops, Tom sanded down the top of the cabinet.  About halfway through the main sanding project, we figured out a way to attach the shop vac to the sander, and it actually did a pretty decent job of sucking up the sawdust during the sanding process, so that helped a lot.  

Once the top was (mostly) smooth, we were reading to put down the laminate, a process that was much easier on this small, square cabinet than it was on our long counters!!




After gluing down the laminate, we also painted the insides of the shelves.  As you can see, part of the sides are the same beadboard that we used for backing on the main kitchen cabinets.

On top, we wanted to set up a bulletin board area.  At our last apartment, we had a bulletin board in the hallway where we were able to post up various trails we wanted to hike and other little weekend/day trip ideas.  It was something that worked really well for us, as we often find ourselves, on a Friday night, trying to think of a good place to hike the next morning, and coming up blank!

Anyway, here at the new house we don’t have nearly as much wall space as the apartment (ironic), so the bulletin board had yet to find a home.  So Tom framed in and attached a space for it on top of the microwave counter against the refrigerator.  This also somehow has made the refrigerator feel more like it’s in the kitchen instead of the living room??  I’m not sure why, though lol.




Here is the side facing the living room, which also has bookshelves.  Tom, after 4 1/2 years of being married to me, has learned that it’s best to incorporate bookshelves everywhere.  

Around here, little projects are constantly starting and stopping, so at this point, the microwave shelf got a rest, and other projects stepped up instead.






Tom’s dad installed the backsplash, and we’re really pleased with how it came out.  In this picture, it looks darker than it really is because I took this picture while the stone was still damp from installation.  Slightly lighter now, it really blends into the kitchen nicely and is super happy.

Incidentally…  isn’t that sink the most beautiful thing you ever saw???




Valentine’s Day weekend saw plenty of romantic activities around the McCafferty house…  as long as you think puttying and painting woodwork is romantic (and I do!).

Here, Pop and Tom and puttying in the gaps in the posts.  These posts are actually hollow, constructed of angled 2×4’s.  Inside of one is the exhaust pipe for the sink while the other one (to the right of the sink; you can see it in the picture above) has the wiring for the outlets on either side of the sink.

While the hollow posts worked great, they needed a LOT of putty.

Random note – in the picture on the right, if you look in the beam above the sink you can see one of Tom’s favorite parts of the kitchen…  a little automatic night light.  I have no idea why, but he really loves that thing.




By the end of the weekend, we had nice white posts, cabinet doors on all the cabinets (also painted white), and a few other odds and ends tied up.

Technically, several of the cabinets still need a final sanding/coat of paint, but since they look fine, it’s one of those jobs that I keep not having time to do…





Here’s the microwave shelf all loaded up!  Is that bulletin board adorable or what?

And the bookshelf is the perfect place for the cookbooks I never use!!

Also, to the right of the fridge you can see our new stove.  That leads into my next story, a story about how important it is to listen to your husband.  😉

See, Tom and I had seen this awesome gas stove at Menard’s back in January, and we both fell in love with it.  It was just perfect in every way.  Five burners, white, and a purple interior!  How awesome is that!  Tom really wanted to buy this oven, but even though the price had been really reduced because it was a closeout, I was still hesitant.  Super hesitant.  Because our old stove still worked??  So it seemed wasteful, even though the old stove wasn’t that great and the new one was everything we wanted with about a third or more off the price.  After weeks of going back and forth, I finally came around to Tom’s point of view, and we went to Menard’s, money in hand, only to find this:




TRAGEDY.  SO MUCH TRAGEDY.  Seeing that empty hole made me realize how attached to that stove I’d gotten.  I was devastated.  How could someone else have bought our stove?!  We’d been visiting it for weeks!

We went home super depressed and moped for a couple of days.  However, Tom was very determined to own this stove, and got on Menards.com anyway.  And do you know what he found?  Our stove hadn’t been sold.  It had just been moved to the back.  SO EXCITE.






Oh my gosh, is that the prettiest little stove you ever saw in all your born days??  Guys, I’m in love with my stove.  It matches my sink.

However, because of my hesitation, we had to pay $40 more for it, so lesson learned: if the hubby things something is a bargain, go with it!!  😀







Here’s our first meal cooking in the oven.  It looks more blue in this picture, but trust  me, in person it is PURPLE.  The perfect fit for our quirky house.

So the whole oven adventure took place in late February.  Right around that time we also got a bunch of snow.  Like, legit snow!  After a super boring December and January, February was  making up for lost time.  I actually love snow (during it’s appropriate time of year, not late March, Ohio), so I thoroughly enjoyed meandering around our happy little town through piles of fluffy snow.







The walk to the post office is super happy in pretty much all weather.








Of course, all the old kitchen cabinets had to go somewhere, and Tom was super excited to install them in the garage, along with some other random cupboards we had inherited from goodness knows where.

Now the garage is organized and happy.  One of the just incredibly fun things about working on this house is creating homes for everything.  With all of moves over the last few years, we’ve gotten rid of a LOT of stuff, and the things we have left are pretty much the things we really use a lot.  So finding places to put all of it, where it’s accessible and easy to find has just been fantastic.







Tom’s clever labeling system means even I can find stuff in the barn.

Also pictured: our famous fox toilet seat, now hanging in a place of honor.  😀









Speaking of finding a home for everything, here is my freshly-organized junk drawer.  I’m immensely proud of it.  We won’t talk about how long it took me to paper all the boxes.









It hasn’t been all work the last couple of months, of course.  One evening, Tom and I realized that, as kids, we both had the same exact edition of Battleship.  The internet is an amazing place.  A week later, Battleship was ours.  And trust me, we do not take Battleship lightly.








Now that the weather is starting to break, we’re trying to get back out on the trail more.  This house sort of railroaded our hiking goals last summer.  Even though we still have a lot of projects we’re trying/planning to get done this summer, we’re hoping to have a better work/play balance, and get back into using some of our camping gear!!

This pic is the Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave on March 15.  Even though we had had a few warm days, there were still huge icicles everywhere, and it was so muddy.  We ended up hiking the rim trail more than the lower trail.







Wild Rose Lake still had quite a bit of ice, too.

Still, I love this time of year where, even when it’s still cold, it smells like spring.








On the home front, they finally got a section out of the bridge!!  Actually, we’re hoping to hike down there sometime this weekend, as it looks like virtually the entire structure has come down over the last couple of weeks (this pic was from March 17).

We are so ready for this bridge project to be over, as traffic has drastically increased through out little town, the unofficial detour.  However, it’s supposed to take over a year more to complete the project.  Good times.






The last few weeks have been pretty quiet, project-wise.  We got rid of our ugly brown fan (the one with, literally, 14 watts of light) and replaced it with one that matches the one we put up in the kitchen.  Even though Tom says our house looks like the ceiling fan section of Lowe’s, I have no regrets.  I LOVE CEILING FANS.


Well, that about catches everyone up to speed!  We’re looking towards outdoor projects now.  Last weekend we spent some time just walking around the yard/woods, talking about long-term projects and ideas and mentally mapping things out.  A chicken coop, a grape arbor, a small orchard, some hazelnut bushes and walnut trees, a vegetable garden, a goldfish pond, gravel for a real driveway down to the barn, screened-in porches, blueberries – just some of the ideas floating around.  It definitely won’t all happen this year, but hopefully we’ll make some forward progress on at least some of the ideas.  I’m working on an herb garden in the side yard, and am pretty excited about it.  What I’m actually really excited about is the fact that I’m planting perennials that I will hopefully actually see come back because we’ll still be living here next spring.  Like, two springs in a row!  Ha!  I’ll believe it when I see it.  😉

I’ll end this post with the usual promises to do better about posting regularly, promises that you all know are backed by the best of intentions, but don’t usually seem to get the necessary follow-through!

Hopefully all is well out there – stay in touch!!



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 {part II: the ongoing saga}


When I posted on Monday, we had made a lot of progress in our attempt to completely remodel the entire kitchen, which included, as you may recall, knocking down two walls, replacing/expanding the current cabinet/counters, and adding a breakfast bar.

Pop has been hard at work this week, but it’s been that kind of progress that is a bit hard to see, because it’s those small, aggravating, time-consuming, painstaking details that have to happen before the interesting stuff can go.

On Monday, I was super stoked because my sink finally arrived!!!  I went with a white, one-basin sink and it is huge – 33″x 22″ x 9″.  I am so excited about this sink.  I love everything about it.  We also got a faucet with a tall swan neck, so there should be plenty of clearance.

Isn't it beautiful?!?

Isn’t it beautiful?!?

Of course, part of my excitement may be due to the fact that I am way over washing dishes in the bathroom.

A rather small sink for the purpose.

A rather small sink for the purpose.

Still, eye on the prize, right?  And the new kitchen + sink is going to be fantastic, so it’s well worth the temporary inconvenience.

Throughout the week, Pop worked on installing the sink’s vent pipe, leveling cabinets, and building the half-wall that both cabinets and the breakfast bar are attached to.  Yesterday, he finished leveling and installing the plywood base for our countertops.

The leveling process can be a bit challenging when your floors are quite wobbly.

The leveling process can be a bit challenging when your floors are quite wobbly.

Not only has he had to work around the natural slope of the floors due to it being an old house that has settled, we also have the fun of a giant floor hinge (which you can see to the bottom left) that runs right through the middle of the cabinet stack.  (The floor hinge, incidentally, is because this particular double-wide arrived folded up!)

Coming along!

Coming along!

By last night, though, all the cabinets and countertops were level and ready to go.

The big plan for the countertops is to cover them with counter laminate, which we bought in sheets from Menard’s.  Originally, that wasn’t supposed to arrive until next weekend, but it’s already here, which means it should get installed today!

Tom and Pop are already hard at work today, and hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll have a lot more progress to report!

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!