Holy shit, you guys! I did it. Well, I didn’t do it all by myself. I had help from my husband Kyle, my Home Depot credit card (thanks for the mid-project limit increase/enabling, guys!), and my new BFF Shawn — who really gets all the credit and came over on the weekends to do all the things I thought I could do but actually had no business (or tools) attempting myself. With all that help, we renovated my kitchen in just about three weeks. I mean, I hardly slept, and I did mildly electrocute myself early on, but other than that, it all went fairly smoothly.
I could write The World’s Longest Blog Post about this kitchen renovation, but considering this is technically my first home decor post since my name change, and I’m still tired AF from all the renovation sleep deprivation, this is just the highlight reel. I’ll break down details for you later on. But if you have a question (like “What shade of black is that basic black paint?”), ask it in the comments and it could inspire a future post.
Now, before we get to the after, we have to start with the before. And we’re going way back — to when we bought this 1916 bungalow in 2013. The kitchen was a total shithole (almost bad enough to make us not want to make an offer) but I saw its potential and decided I could at least put some lipstick on that pig for a while. Lipstick in the form of paint, that is. Because paint makes everything better. Or at least look better. Of course, I didn’t know I was going to have a home decor blog five years ago — hell, I didn’t know I was going to have a home decor blog five weeks ago — so I wasn’t great about taking before pictures. But I did capture a few mid-paint-job shots before we moved in.
I managed to make it okay enough. And after that initial mini makeover (removing some of the cabinet doors and painting the cabinets a dark gray, as well as painting the walls a cool gray color I immediately regretted), I made some additional improvements along the way, like swapping out the stainless cabinet hardware for brass, painting the walls a warm white, and putting black coin-dot rubber flooring over the most disgusting tile I’d ever seen (which you can see above). Stop-gap measures, you know?
Still, it wasn’t nice. It remained my least favorite room in the house. The countertops were old and cheap and gross, the almond sink was scratched and stained, and the bulky upper cabinets didn’t do anything to help the feel of the room — which doesn’t get a ton of natural light to begin with (okay, yeah, white might have been a better choice for the cabinets from the get-go).
Not content with anything ever (I mean, the first home decor piece I ever wrote was called “My Design ADD” — who knew I’d get diagnosed with real ADHD a decade later?! — actually, anyone who’s ever met me), I needed to make it better, and prettier. MORE INSTAGRAM WORTHY. Plus, I got an assignment from the DIY Network: How to replace your kitchen cabinets with open shelving. Which I might have begged them to give me so I could convince Kyle that I had to do this. FOR WORK. (The piece isn’t live yet but I’ll update with a link when it is.)
Since my livelihood and future career prospects clearly depended upon this project, I DM’d Shawn and we hatched a plan! I should probably point out that four weeks ago, Shawn was just my high school friend’s husband. But 976 Instagram messages and three dust-filled weekends later, he’s basically the Jonathan Scott to my [whoever those blonde ladies are who boss around the construction dudes on HGTV]. I’m sure he’s about to get real sick of me and all my to-dos, but he’s launching his own renovation and restoration business, so at least I won’t be the only one telling him that my photo-worthy backsplash made of joint compound and paint will be JUST FINE.
Before I knew it, I was chiseling away at shitty white tiles and taking a ton of plaster with them. The plaster was so old it had horse hair in it! Horse hair! Obviously, repairs needed to be made, and Shawn taught me how to skim. When left to my own devices, I used an entire 5-gallon bucket (and then some) of joint compound to fix up the rather small area where the backsplash had been. I regret nothing.
So cabinets got ripped down, walls got repaired, the sink and faucet got replaced, and I painted more meticulously than I’ve ever painted in my life (more on that and my magnificent black half wall another day). By the third weekend, we were putting up shelves. I’m super impressed that we did it so quickly, and that it turned out so well.
To be honest, the sink feels a little small, and is smaller than the two-compartment sink we took out (I fucked up the measurement) but it’s nice to have the additional counter space. Plus, I can fit a sheet pan, stock pot, or baby in it. And the smaller the sink, the fewer dishes will pile up in it. I hope. We can always cut a bigger hole later.
Just when we thought we were finished, I decided that the spot where we do most of our prep was a bit too dark (black isn’t exactly the brightest color) and remembered I had this IKEA clamp light in a closet. I was worried about what to do with the super long cord, but I kind of dig my solution (though everyone else seems to hate it).
I made two snap decisions mid-renovation, and I’m so glad I did. One was spray-painting the shelf brackets a bronze-y gold (they were white to begin with). The other was getting a sexy black ductless hood to go over the stove — even if I can’t manage to get a sexy picture of it.
Here’s a little recap of what we did:
- Removed the upper cabinets and backsplash
- Patched and painted the walls
- Replaced the countertops (IKEA Karlby)
- Replaced the sink (Kohler Mayfield)
- Replaced the faucet (Delta Trinsic in Champagne Bronze)
- Replaced white outlets and switches with black ones
- Painted the ceiling (god, that fucking sucked)
- Replaced the light fixtures (Ceiling, Sink)
- Repainted and polyurethaned the lower (and only remaining) cabinets
- Installed a ductless hood (Winflo, 30-inch) which was the best decision ever!
- Painted and installed the shelving brackets (Closetmaid)
- Painted and installed the shelves (1″ x 12″ common boards)
Of course, there were lots of other little things, too but I’m trying to keep this from being The World’s Longest Blog Post. And remember: You can ask me anything in the comments, and I’ll write more about this soon. Just know that if you ask how much it all cost, I may curl up into the fetal position and put a blanket over my head like I do every time Kyle tries to talk to me about money. Honestly, I don’t even know how much I spent, but I’m guessing with all the overbuying I did (because who wants to rinse a fucking paint roller at 3 am) probably close to $2,500.
Totally worth it, right?! RIGHT.
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