Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Three years ago we lived through our massive attic addition (and we're still loving our new quarters upstairs). This year was time for an overhaul of the main floor.

We've already done countless projects down there, chipping away:

Spending months cleaning & painting when we first moved in, recovering the house from its years as a rental. Then, later, tearing out all the wood paneling and repainting the plywood underneath. 

Ripping up linoleum and asbestos flooring and installing beautiful new oak floors.

Still, the items on the agenda for this summer were pretty extensive. Big things, like:
* Ripping out all of the plywood walls and ceilings. 
* Removing all of the remaining interior walls in the living area, thus making the living room, dining    room, kitchen & stairway room one big open room. Installing support columns so the house doesn't collapse.
* Exposing the chimney, cleaning up & patching the chimney, moving the floor air vent, building a pad & installing a new wood stove.
* Installing new steel exterior doors. 
* Installing a large window in the dining room. 
* Re-wiring electrical wires to accommodate the lack of interior walls. Updating old existing wiring.
* Insulating the entire downstairs with spray foam (quite the adventure). 
* Installing drywall walls & ceilings.
*  Painting all of the walls & ceilings.
* Replacing some of the kitchen cabinets with open shelving. Painting all of the cabinets.
* Installing a tile backsplash in the kitchen. 
* Reinstalling and expanding our built in bookshelf in the living room. 
* Patching up the wood floors where the interior walls were torn out.

We're almost done! Still left on the to-do list:
* Finish putting up trim and painting the trim & doors
* Installing oak floors in the kids bedrooms
* Build a shelf under the dining room window for every day dishes & table cloths etc.

Phew! What a summer it has been. 
But our house is so open and light now, I am in love with all of the improvements.

I'm really in love with the new look in the kitchen. 

For a little perspective, here is some review. 
Our kitchen when we first moved in (feel free to imagine lots of grease & old food on the cabinets to get the full affect):

 We wasted no time in scrubbing and painting the cabinets and refitting them with updated hardware:

That update kept me happy for a long time. Especially when we got the dishwasher installed in the new island, an over-the-range microwave, a garbage disposal in the sink and a new faucet (chipping away over the years, one thing at a time).

Only Clay saw my pinterest boards (I know husbands just love pinterest so much...), the ones with picture after picture of gleaming white kitchens with butcher block counters and open shelving. Well, the butcher block counters may be a pipe dream, or at least way off in the future. But as for the rest of it, I'm pretty happy...

We took all the upper cabinets down in order to put up drywall. For a while we were down to the bare stud walls and this:

(...And yes, our kids often look like little hooliegans, especially when they have their fun daddy around to rough house with. Except when he's trying to protect his morning coffee. I believe this particular morning they were pretending to be sea monsters.)

It had a nice rustic cabin atmosphere and actually felt a lot more spacious. Which got us thinking, "Hey! While we're ripping everything out, we might as well make some drastic changes!"

But, first things first.... we had to have insulation and drywall installed:

Then....thank goodness for the final product.
A functioning kitchen is quite essential for a functioning household!

A craftsman friend from church installed the cabinets and built our open shelves for us. Clay installed the tile backsplash, a wine glass holder (using t-molding) and coffee cup hangers (thin steel pipe and figure 8 hooks) under the shelves. I chipped off the wood detailing on the front of the cabinets (they were such a pain to keep clean!), sanded and repainted all the cabinets.

It was a lot of fun re-organizing my kitchen cabinets & shelves. I know there will be more dust and grease to contend with in the open shelving design (especially in our house with a wood stove, kids and pets). So we will see how the maintenance is in the next year or two. However, I'm pretty optimistic that it will be worth any extra trouble. I love how bright and cheerful it feels. And I only put up dishes and kitchen accessories that we use pretty often, so nothing should be sitting in dust for months on end.

Clay also ripped out the rotting wood from the floor under the sink, solidified it and tiled it for me. A HUGE improvement. I wish I had thought to take a before picture, but the truth is that I just tried to avoid looking under there very often. No matter how much I scrubbed and painted that cabinet the warped and peeling wood just wouldn't get clean or look nice. It is still not perfectly pristine now, but it is actually flat and sturdy and I can wipe the tiles clean! A big success, in my book.

 Now we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor!


  1. Your kitchen looks amazing! I always love a good before-and-after post. We're in the process of buying a home, so I may be coming to you for reno tips! :)

    1. That's exciting that you are in the house market! Good luck with the search, you'll have to share pics when you find the right one. :)