Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage

The Great Kitchen Caper (i.e. where on earth have Bird and Belle been)


I can’t believe summer has come and gone! First, a quick recap of our summer in bullet points:

  • We had company and company and company. I washed more sheets and towels this summer than ever before. It was epic.
  • I went to Murray, KY and San Diego, CA on business. The first was about as exciting as one might expect. The second was quite a thrill (zoos, three-state power outage, delicious beaches and fun times with colleagues).
  • We went to Birmingham, AL for a very dear friend’s baby shower. She was super cute and super pregnant.
  • We went to Birmingham again to help the same dear friend pick out paint for the baby’s room (and to visit, of course!)
  • Bird went to Pittsburgh for a math conference. He did a lot of math, bought beer through a hole in a garage door, and had fun times with other math people.
  • We went to PA to celebrate the 4th of July with my family. My awesome brother and dad also came. Sadly, my sweet mom could not join us this year. Hopefully next!
  • We helped the Hines’ build a huge deck in their back yard. It looks a lot like a stage. We might need to do some karaoke on it this fall…
  • I went to Chicago for a weekend with several super fun girlfriends. We had great food, listened to a rockin jug band and purchased mustache art.
  • Bird did a lot of math and made good progress on his dissertation. Go Bird Go!

Whew! It didn’t seem that crazy when we were living it, but WOW what a summer! While not doing the above, we were either: washing sheets and towels (see earlier comment on company), chasing our cats, cooking, selling junk on e-bay and remodeling our kitchen.

Wait, what? Yeah, between summer company and travels we decided it was a GOOD time to begin gutting the kitchen. The kitchen renovation is about 1/2 of the way complete and is making us so g0sh-darned proud of our abilities (Palin Speak). I think the best way to illustrate our progress thus far is through photographs. But first, I want to share some of lessons learned thus far (with bullet points to save time because OBVIOUSLY I’m a busy woman):

  •  Remodeling a kitchen is a lesson in patience.
  • Ikea cabinets are awesome. They are easy to build, super easy to install and look really good considering their price.
  • Spend the extra money on the automatic door and drawer closing mechanisms at Ikea. They are amazing and make for great dinner party conversation. (Ha! We are THOSE people!)
  • Wiring is never a “quick project.”
  • The Borescope we bought to locate the mystery “stink stink stink” is an amazing tool when trying to run new wiring. Buy one immediately if you are remodeling your kitchen.
  • The Borescope is also a hilariously fun thing to use to gross out your significant other (think up the nose…)
  • Don’t buy the paint/primer combo. It sucks. Spend the extra time and prime with Kilz and then paint with regular paint (Olympic is my favorite brand and believe me, I know after painting almost the entire house).
  • Invest in good paint brushes.
  • Prepare to have the contents of your kitchen strewn about the rest of your house for weeks.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to make coffee using water from the tub faucet when your kitchen sink is out-of-order. (All our house guests are now going, “Oh crap! Did they make coffee for me with tub water??? GAH!)
And now for some before photos. These were taken in January 2010 so some improvements had already been made, but not many.

We will call this Wall 1 of the kitchen. On Wall 1 we have our sink, several cabinets, one super crappy dishwasher (that was replaced this year), a "home-made" glass cabinet and a terribly rickety butcher block that held the microwave. There were several times this collapsed on me and had to be carefully reassembled. You can also see the frightening collection of knives on the wall that makes us look like we have a problem. A scary, potentially bloody problem. I am pleased to report that most of these have found a new home (Goodwill) and the remaining few live in a drawer... like normal people.

Wall 2: Door out to the sun room, old tiny fridge with way too much clutter on it (minimalist Belle cringes) and a framed box front from Scott's Porridge Oats. Bad. Ass.

Now we get to the real horror: Wall 3, also known as "That Freakin' Wire Rack Wall!" It held all kinds of crap. I'm pleased to say that a large amount of this junk has been sold on e-bay.

Wall 4: My personal favorite - the huffing, puffing, stove of doom. I'm still amazed it did not blow us all up. It was also huge. And no longer white. And ugly. Also noteworthy is the shelf of crap, the over-powering fluorescent light, and all the utensils hanging from the wall. Too. Much. Clutter.

Now some during photos:

Wall 1: After a lot of yanking and swearing Bird finally got this cabinet out. Behind it we could see the array of colors the kitchen had been before it turned into Primary Color Central. Mmmmm, harvest gold and hunter green.

The F-ing Wire Rack has new purpose: to hold the ridiculous number of tools we needed for this project. Also, the new fridge is all happy and wrapped up in preparation for The Paint.

Behind the cabinets on Wall 4 we found some delicious (sarcasm) and super clean (sarcasm) old wallpaper. Also, meet my new stove!

I steamed off the old wallpaper which revealed the first cheerful thing about this kitchen (sarcasm) - mint green paint. I also spent a day patching the myriad of holes in the walls. My new stove had been wrapped up and I decided it needed a painters tape bow.

Our help. They were lazy and lounged the entire time.

And now this brings us up to present day. Please forgive the really low photo quality. Better photos will follow when more progress is made.

Here we are at wall No. 1 with the fabulous new upper cabinet. The rickety butcher block is gone and has been replaced by a temporary drawer unit. This unit will go away once the other bottom cabinets are replaced. Also, because I know you are dying to know but are too polite to ask: Yes, the tacky blue counter and red floor will be replaced! The sink is also sporting a snazzy new faucet. Ours died a slow and mysterious death (hence making coffee with tub water).

Sigh. This is my favorite view so far. The wire rack and small fridge are gone. Now we have a larger Fridge with a smooth front (I can't stand how dirty the textured finishes get), low-profile cabinets that add storage while not taking up a lot of space and beautiful white shelves to hold my collection of dry goods. Swoon. So white, so pretty. The walls are painted a rich brown with gray tones. The color is hard to appreciate in this photo. Also noteworthy: the new toaster that toasts in record time and a wind-up rhino which you might not be able to see.

Wall 4 features new cabinets and a wall-mounted microwave with vent. The new stove sits next to a tall cabinet that holds utensils and bake ware. On the stove are the glorious new pots we purchased with our eBay earnings. The trashcan will eventually be relocated and a corner shelf will be installed to hold the Le Creuset. NOTE: the color of the wall through the door is like WAY distorted by my crappy camera. We DO NOT have pink walls.

Another new cabinet. The basement door will be replaced with a neat and tidy bi-fold door. The current door does not open all the way and has a hole cut out of the bottom by the previous owners. The lower cabinets on Wall 1 will be replaced soon and then new counters will be added to all the surfaces.

And finally, a swatch of our new kitchen drapery fabric. I'm still debating what kind of window treatment I'll make. Any ideas? Oh, and you can see where I need to add a new piece of molding and finish painting the trim and wood paneling. Like I said, this is a work-in-progress!

And there you have it, folks! A summer recap and a photo journal of our kitchen renovation thus far! Bird and I have lots of exciting bloggy things to post in the coming weeks, assuming we don’t get more company!


4 thoughts on “The Great Kitchen Caper (i.e. where on earth have Bird and Belle been)

  1. Don’t be frightened just because we had the same idea. The hardware shouldn’t cost much, should it? Whatever you decide to make, it would be a good idea to line it. That window seems to get a lot of sun and the lining will protect your fabric.

  2. It looks great Sarah! How exciting to see the progress! I like the paint color and the fabric swatch. For your window treatment (you did ask for suggestions), a Roman shade would look really nice. It would have a nice clean line and the geometric print should work well, I think for re-sale purposes it would be good to have a window treatment that can be closed for privacy, one less thing for the new owner to think they have to purchase. You could also make one for the French door, you know, in the event you don’t have anything to do one day. Can’t wait to see the finished project, you and Jay should be very proud!

  3. I am, frankly, astounded! I knew you were working on the kitchen, but I had no idea of the progress! I imagine you two are bursting with confidence now (or maybe you are just plain exhausted??). Tell me when you are ready to start the floor, and I will pray!

    And BTW, I am not letting anybody near me with a borescope.

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