Monday, March 25, 2013

Kitchen 90% Done!

Since the last time I posted anything a lot has happened with the kitchen.  Every weekend and a good chunk of our weekday evenings for the last month and a half have been spent doing something related to the kitchen.  I thought after we finished painting the cabinets, we would get to take a break and appreciate our hard work before starting the next phase of the remodel.  Apparently I was mistaken.  Updating one thing in the kitchen makes all the other unupdated things look really bad in comparison.  And Nate wanted to start the tiling ASAP.  (Warning: This post has lots and lots of pictures)

We did the tiling over Presidents Day Weekend, which made sense because tiling really takes three full days.  

We used 1" hex tiles again, which we are fairly comfortable with after tiling the bathroom floor.  But this time we used black and white American Olean tiles which had to be special ordered at Lowes.  It took a full (9AM until 11PM) day just to lay out and cut the tiles to fit.  This was me very tired at the very end of the day.  We numbered all the sheets so we could easily find the correct sheet when tiling the next day.  

Because our subfloor was in good shape in the kitchen and we didn't want the tile to end up being higher than the wood floor in the living room, we used this thin skin underlayment stuff instead of cement board.  It is just a roll of plastic coated paper that you lay down with the stickiest glue ever.  When we bought it, we didn't realize that you had to also lay a very thin layer of mortar over the top of it and let it dry before you could start tiling.  Waiting for that stuff to dry took way longer than anticipated, but once it did, the tiling went fairly quickly.  

The next day was grouting and buffing.  

One thing that made it turn out much better than the bathroom tiling job was that we took off not just the baseboards, but the moldings around each of the three door ways.  Here Harris is inspecting the competed tiling before we put the moldings back on.  There were definitely a few places where the spacing between the tiles was either too wide or to narrow, but most of those are behind the fridge or behind the stove and won't be visible.  We also luckily caught a couple of places where the pattern of black and white tiles were messed up before the mortar completely set up.  If we hadn't fixed those places they would probably have driven us crazy for the next 20 years. 

We were extra excited that once we finished tiling we could move the former wardrobe/entertainment center we bought off craigslist and painted and turned into a pantry into the corner in the kitchen.  It was really really heavy and it took Nate and I an incredibly frustrating half a day to just move it with forearm forklifts from the garage into the backyard.   After I refused to move it any further we got our friend Travis to help Nate move it the rest of the way into the kitchen.  Once it was in, it was clear that it was too big for the space.  I think we didn't take into account the molding at the top or that with a surge protector (we wanted to move the toaster oven and coffee maker into it) it wouldn't be able to go all the way up against the wall.  It made our kitchen feel tiny.  So the next weekend we got another friend, Jade, to help move it back to the garage again where it is still sitting to this day taking up room waiting to be resold on craigslist. 

The next thing we did was get a new stove and venting microwave, but I don't have a picture of those until the final reveal pictures so you'll just have to imagine.  We got both from Lowes.  The delivery people hooked up the stove for us with no problems and we love it.  It has five burners and there is no space between the grates so you can just move pans back and forth between burners without having to lift them up.  Also it is way more powerful and the quick boil burner boils water in probably half the time of our old stove.  Our fridge and dishwasher, which are both pretty new and in good shape are black, but we wanted to get stainless steel for the stove and microwave.  We got ones that had significant portions of black on them along with the stainless steal so they don't seem completely mismatched from the fridge and dishwasher.  

The microwave wasn't as simple as the stove.  First we got one that we realized was going to hang down so far that we couldn't fit a large pot on the stove.  So we returned it and got a slightly smaller one.  Lowes was going to charge us $100 to install the microwave, which seemed crazy for a less than $200 microwave.  So we decided to install it ourselves.  The instillation seemed like it went fairly smoothly, until a couple days later when we concluded that the microwave just wasn't venting properly.  So we had to take it down and fiddle with the tube that connects the top of the microwave to the exterior vent.  It was blocking the flap on the top of the microwave vent from opening.  After fixing that, it works great.  

We ordered grey silestone quartz countertops from Home Depot.  They were having a 10% off sale and our kitchen doesn't have a ton of countertop space so they ended up not being all that expensive.  We were originally going to have the Home Depot people remove our old sink and countertops, but for some reason they were going to have to do a lead paint test that would cost $400 before removing our countertops because our house was built before 1975.  But if we removed them ourselves we wouldn't have to pay that fee or the fee to have the countertops removed and hauled away.  

We had a plumber unhook the plumbing and then we just took out the sink and the countertops.  There were just a few screws attaching the countertops to the  cabinets and after removing them, they came off really easily.  We listed the sink and countertops as free on craigslist and within 15 min. someone came and picked up the sink and in a couple hours someone got the countertops.  Amazing! I like alley furniture and general free stuff more than probably the next guy, but what someone is going to do with our old formica countertops is beyond me. 

The next day they came and installed the countertops.  I love them.  We got the undermount sink on for only about $100.  I love being able to just wipe stuff into the sink. 

The plumber came back the next day to hook up our new fancy faucet (also from  There was actually a manufacturer's defect with the faucet so it was leaking from the top of the sprayer, but the plumber fixed it with just an extra washer.  

Here are some final reveal pictures of the kitchen in all its glory.  

Including the stove and microwave.

Also, to replace the giant cabinet, we bought a hoosier cabinet off ebay.  We painted it the same white as our cabinets, which probably ruined its value. But, the finish wasn't in great shape and now I think it looks great with our kitchen.  It doesn't hold quite as much as that other cabinet would have, but we were still able to get the coffee maker behind the tambour doors and will be able to fit a toaster oven if we get a smaller one.  We rearranged everything in our kitchen cabinets so most of our food is in the hoosier cabinet and we can now fit some of our larger kitchen appliances in the kitchen cabinets instead of in a crate in the dining room.  

The only thing we have left to do in the kitchen is install the subway tile backsplash and do some touch up painting.  We haven't ever done wall tile before so I'm sure that will pose its own problems, but it is nice to be in the home stretch on this kitchen. 

I know this post is already super long, but I wanted to show some pictures of a few other things that we have changed in our house while we were updating the kitchen.  


We replaced the ceiling fan in the dining room with this enamel warehouse pendant lamp from


We have lots of extra room for artwork in the front hallway now that the extra door to my office and the window into the kitchen are drywalled up. 

And we finally got a real door on the now only doorway to my office.  Also we replaced the brass lever door handles with these white porcelain door knobs on the doors to my office the two bedrooms and the bathroom.  Now Harris can't open the doors anymore.  Unfortunately he can still open the exterior door to the back yard and will let himself and Flynn our if we don't keep it locked.   That is a project for another day.