I’m back talking about the kitchen remodel again!! I know it’s been a while – sorry for the delay in finishing these posts. Timing is perfect though since I just finished patching our kitchen ceiling where we had recessed lights installed!
Because we were cutting costs wherever possible with this remodel, we decided to do the demo ourselves. We felt confident we could handle it with all the carpet, linoleum and hardwood we had already ripped up ourselves. How difficult could unscrewing a few cabinets really be? Well, it actually proved to be one of the easiest demos to date. Everything came down/up pretty easily and much quicker than expected.
We gave ourselves two weeks to demo the kitchen and lay the new floors before Oscar was scheduled to be there to install the cabinets. We got home from the beach and were blessed by the site of full boxes and empty cabinets – my mom had packed up well over half of our kitchen while we were away. We were so incredibly grateful!
We spent the next morning boxing up the last of the kitchen and then the afternoon demoing. Fortunately that Monday was Memorial day, which we both had off from work, so we were also able to get a jump start on the flooring. The kitchen demo itself only took a few hours and the hubs did almost all of it completely by himself. He started on the stove wall by unscrewing the upper wall cabinets and taking them down, then he removed each piece of counter top easily be unscrewing them and they just lifted out of place.
The sink wall was a pretty more tricky because that sink was deceptively held in place by one drywall screw and some crumbling counter tops. Scary! This is what it looked like underneath that sink too…so so gross.
You can see the bane of our existence and reason for this early remodel here where the home-builder laid the original linoleum under the kitchen cabinets.
We got the room completely cleared out in about half a day because most of the floors were already up weeks before when we attempted to just lay new flooring in here and the old fluorescent light fixture was removed when we scraped the popcorn ceiling. So we pulled up the counter tops, removed the old faucet and sink, took down the microwave over the range, pulled out the cabinets, and removed the old dishwasher.
Then we proceeded to lay down the new hardwood flooring over the next week to prep for the new cabinet install – we managed to get it done over the course of a holiday off from work plus two weekends. The hubs chose not to run it all the way under the space where the cabinets would sit so not to waste good bamboo hardwood where it wouldn’t be seen, so we just left the plywood exposed there. We ended up with a room that looked like this (don’t mind the Corgi):
Oscar, our cabinet builder with CurvePoint Custom Creations, ended up being just 1 week behind schedule. but he was great about updating us and keeping us informed on the schedule. This was fine with us because it gave us more time to ensure we had the floor done. And it gave us time to add two things we had discussed as little additions – a recessed alcove/shelf above the stove and a pot filler!
At my behest, Remington cut a hole in our wall to create the alcove. Let me tell you – it is really scary to cut a big hole in your drywall when you aren’t one thousand percent confident in what you are doing. Well, we just went for it after he had several discussions with friends about how to tackle it. We measured the space between the studs we knew were in that wall so we could make it as large as possible and centered on the space – I’d have preferred it be more rectangular, but with the stud spacing as it were, it seemed illogical to cut out two studs for such a small alcove. After marking out the space on the wall, we just….kinda….go with it. Starting with a drywall saw, just hack away following along the pencil marks. Next step was cutting out the stud. Grab the trusty sawzall and be careful not to go through the other side because in our case that was the wall sitting on the opposite side in our half bath. After cutting out the hole, we had to frame it back in. Using some fresh 2×4, you just frame across the bottom and top into the next vertical stud. We then installed backer board back in along the edges and at the back of the alcove so that the back-splash could be tiled around it. Patch the drywall and then you’re ready for tile!
Setting up and installing the pot filler was a TON more work than that alcove. Remington said he would NEVER ever do plumbing again. First he cut another hole in the drywall exactly where the pot filler would sit on the wall and cut it just big enough for the pipe fitting to fit through. Then he drilled a hole in the floor at the wall where it would be hidden behind the stove so he could run the plumbing through the subfloor and up inside the wall. And then he spent an entire day crammed in our crawl space running the new pipes. With the half bath sitting behind the stove wall, we could fairly easily splice into the toilet line to access water without adding much new pipe. We did not want to get into the business of soldering pipes though and we only had a few joints/connections to make anyway. So he decided to use sharkbite connectors, which ensure a strong and lasting connection without leaks. Almost a year later and they are still holding up. The only scare we had with the pot filler was a small leak the night after it was installed and Remington realized it was just a pinhole leak actually caused by over-tightening. So, Remington ran out the next day and bought some pipe dope (thread sealant) and put everything back together. Lesson is: when they say don’t over-tighten, they mean it. Pipes are fickle things.
But lookit…so handy!!
Then the next miracle was that Oscar actually did show up 1 week later just like he said he would with our CABINETS ready to install!!
He said it would only take him two full days to get everything installed, which was going to be super impressive. However, he got a bit of a late start on day 1 and ended up having limited help when he thought his normal go to guy would be available. But he still managed to get just about everything finished.
He started the install on the shortest, easiest wall…where the stove sits. Those went up relatively quickly.
Next he installed the island and lined it up as even with the stove wall as possible. It was in 6 pieces when he delivered it – two 30 inch base cabinets, two 9 inch base cabinets, and two bookshelves. You might recall this drawing he did of how the finished product would look:
And lookit…pretty. It came out quite possibly better than I had hoped.
Then he moved on to the longest run – the sink wall.
That section was not quite so easy because our floor isn’t level – in fact it dips down quite a bit near the door to our garage. But the cabinets needed to be level for the counter top install.
He had to finish up the uppers the next day…
And then in went the sink. Finally a kitchen sink after 3 weeks without one at this point, well not quite useful without running water yet. BUT ain’t she a beaut? The sink might just be my favorite part. And just look at those feet on the cabinets…it’s the little things.
He sized the cabinet over our fridge wrong and made it too large, so he had to re-order the doors for it. The mistake was good for us though because he easily hid the extra space behind the molding that goes up over it, but we got to keep that extra storage room. Oscar was also awesome about noticing little imperfections and fixing them before we had to ask. For example, the glass cabinet doors ended up being too small (the gap around them was larger that the other doors), and before we even mentioned it he had already re-ordered them. :)
The final cabinet to install was our coffee station. Remember that picture from earlier of our blank slate with new floors…well here it is again to show you the location of our coffee station. It was going on the wall in our breakfast nook space beside the fridge.
We intentionally made the cabinet more shallow (less deep?) so it wouldn’t stick out too much in the space – it ended up being 18 inches deep versus the standard 24 inches for base cabinets. The opening is for our microwave. Also, the openings where the kickplate should be will house our doggy bowl drawers. And those shelves standing on end will go over the sink.
Now it was time to accessorize – as I like to call it. Time to install the knobs and pulls to really pull the look together. ;) Remember we chose to go fairly simple with round knobs and cup pulls in a satin nickel finish to match the other hardware (lights, faucet, and pot filler).
P.S. That is sooo not a box of donuts. I promise.
After that we had to wait about a week for the counter tops to be installed by Rocky Tops, but they managed to get out pretty quickly and two guys laid them in a few hours.
Now up to this point the whole installation process seemed to be going really smoothly. Too smoothly. We had cabinets in with a few details to be finished, a sink and counter tops in less than a month from demo. Is that even possible?
Well, I was right to be concerned. When I got home from work to gaze upon gleaming new granite and marble counter tops, something didn’t seem right. The black pearl just didn’t look like black pearl to me. And this was a BIG problem if I wasn’t going out of my mind because we had a tile guy coming the next day to install our back splash. So I quickly called up Rocky Tops who was closed, then tried the cell of our sales person to get her voicemail. I don’t even want to know how crazy I sounded in the message I left her. No word that night, so we had to cancel the tile guy and called Rocky Tops first thing the next morning. When I finally convinced someone to look at the paperwork for what stone actually got pulled and cut? I was right. They had cut the Black Absolute in a honed finish instead of our lovely Black Pearl. They are quite similar, but the flecks in the Black Absolute are smaller and more uniform so we thought it too resembled engineered stone and for that reason had gone with the Black Pearl, which is why it looked so off to me. And thankfully I had held onto my sample pieces of stone to compare and knew it wasn’t the Black Pearl we ordered. But how? How does that even happen?? It was extremely frustrating to be so close to having a finished kitchen and have to sit and wait another week.
Rocky Tops offered to refund our costs slightly if we kept the Black Absolute or to come out as soon as they could to install the correct stone. The discount wasn’t nearly enough for us to live with the wrong stone, so we opted for them to fix it with a re-install, which meant pushing the back splash out another week or so. I do have to hand it to Rocky Tops though – they came out in just under a week which fell over the July 4th holiday weekend to get it done – so they did fix it quickly. They also spent a couple of hours polishing the marble counter top because it had residual swirl marks from the initial polish that I could still see. In the end, we were really happy with our counter tops, but not so thrilled with the mistake that Rocky Tops made and the hassle to get it fixed.
With the counter tops in place, we could install the new faucet! We chose the Kohler Bellera in Vibrant Stainless (very close to satin nickel) – it was a good quality name brand and it was still affordable. We were shocked at how expensive a kitchen faucet can range – we got this one for $170. We wanted a faucet with a pull down spray nozzle and I liked the taller goose neck style. I really really wanted a bridge style faucet because I love that classic shape, but NONE of those that I liked from a reputable brand were under $200 or even $300. The pull down faucet is great, but in our large, deep sink it does tend to cause spray-back. Not a big deal, but we do have to be careful not to get water all over the kitchen and ourselves.
Finally we were able to get Oscar’s tile guy out to install the next finishing piece – a beautiful tile back splash. Again, we were digging the simple, clean finishes that would be classic over time and not lose their appeal. It just so happens that I was so in love with the white subway tile that has been in style for decades, but has made it’s way back to the top of trends in kitchens lately. Oscar’s tile guy came out for two days to install the back splash – one day for tiling and about a half day for grouting. We were amazed at how fast one guy could knock it out. We chose a medium gray grout to go with the white tile – pearl gray in the unsanded grout from Lowe’s. You can also see from the picture below that we took down the fluorescent light on the wall.
We did something a little different for the recess alcove above the stove to make it pop – and all we did was make a herringbone pattern out of the same tile instead of just tiling them horizontally across. We really love how that turned out, but felt bad for the tile guy because it took him the same amount of time to finish the entire wall above the sink as it took him to finish the recess alcove.
One thing I wish now that we had known or thought about then though was to measure the spacing so that where the recess sat would line up to have full tiles up to the border row – meaning that he didn’t have to cut thinner piece to fit in between. Oh well – you live and learn.
The last few details for Oscar and us to finish up included installing recessed puck lights in the shelf above the sink, hanging the two shelves on the wall above the sink, installing the crown molding, filling in holes and cracks, hanging pendants over the island, attaching the pot filler to the wall, painting the walls, and building shelves to go above the coffee station.
So stay tuned for a final reveal of the new kitchen post-remodel and our thoughts on the whole process, including a detailed source list. If you’ve got any questions until then, ask away! :)