Kitchen Reveal

Hi.  It’s been quite a while since my last post.  I had these grand plans to document my cooking during our kitchen construction and reveal bits and pieces of the reno throughout.  I did that to an extent but then life got in the way.  Jeff went to Amsterdam for a week, I was matron of honor in my bestie’s wedding, I was behind at work, and my mom came to visit just to mention a few things.  Plus…I kind of forgot.  There.  I said it.  Begging your pardon…

I went to a party on Saturday and several of my friends asked about the kitchen, reminding me that I had neglected to post my reveal!  So, without further ado, here goes!

First, remember the before…

couch1

And the after from roughly the same angle:

IMG_7707editedEveryone that’s seen the kitchen has commented how much bigger and more open the space feels!  I mean, that’s what happens when you remove walls, but still!

IMG_7706editedI am absolutely in love with my new kitchen.

Let me walk you around and introduce you a little:
IMG_7713editedOne of my most favorite parts about the space is our huge island.  I already hosted a party here thanks to Easter and it’s amazing how much easier it is to maneuver.  I generally do my parties buffet style and, in the old kitchen, I’d have to set up drinks in one area, the main course in one area, the sides in another, etc.  This island makes it super simple to have everything in one spot with extra space on the wall counter for things like condiments, drinks, extra food, etc.

One feature our contractor was kind enough to include was the plugs on either side of the island.  When I use my Instant Pot, it’s easy to use on this counter because of this plug and avoid the steam warping the undersides of the wall cabinets.  We also bought four stools that pivot (Friends, anyone?) and are quite comfortable.  We’ve found ourselves eating at the bar for most meals excluding dinner since it’s so easy to wipe any crumbs straight into the sink after.  With the dinner table, you have to get out placemats and then possibly sweep and use wood cleaner.  This is just easier.

IMG_7714editedSpeaking of dinner table, I love ours!  It’s a two toned wooden table with four gray cloth chairs.  I wanted our chairs to have cushions on them because after a long day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was sit on a wooden chair for longer than 5 minutes.  We used to rush through dinner just so we could get to the couch and be comfortable.  I have found we linger a little longer at this table because we are already pretty comfortable.

We kept the decorations for the table simple, opting to get a big glass candle holder and LED candle surrounded by wine corks.  I love that our candle has a 4 hour timer on it so that we can turn it on at 6pm for dinner and it shuts itself off around 10.  It gives the kitchen a nice ambience at night.

IMG_7721edited

Moving right along, we come to the double pantry.  In the original design, the designer had the left labeled a food pantry and the right an appliance cabinet.  I thought he was right on the money, so I kept the flow.  When I was first imagining my transition from the number of cabinets I had to the number I would have after, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t have enough space, but boy was I wrong.  Not only did I have enough space to hold everything that was in my cabinets prior, I was able to move some stuff up from the basement!  Furthermore, my pantry in the laundry room is currently empty, waiting to be filled with things like my bread maker, ice cream maker, and panini press all still chilling out in the basement.

If you can’t remember, this is what our pantry and wall we removed looked like before:

kitchen

I shudder every time I look at those crappy cabinets.  Ugh.

IMG_7724editedThese are the upper cabinets.  As you can see, they aren’t even all the way filled!  I have more than enough space and could easily add more shelves if I desired.  Let’s talk about the backsplash a minute…isn’t it GORGEOUS?!?!  It’s probably my favorite design element in the kitchen.  When we first got the counters installed, I thought they were a little dark.  They are a charcoal grey with specks of brown (see picture above).  I was really nervous that first night they were installed thinking I wasn’t going to like them as much as I had hoped.  But then the next day the subway tile backsplash was put in and I fell in love.  It just ties the whole kitchen together.  The backsplash is the same stone as the floor, just a smaller scale.

These are our upper drawers.  I bought some dividers at Home Goods (who could have easily sponsored this entire post), which helps significantly in keeping these drawers organized.  I love that I don’t have to have my utensils on the counter (and so does Jeff…let me tell you!) and each type of utensil basically has it’s own space.  It’s so easy to keep them organized, though every so often I have to follow behind Jeff and rearrange some things after he empties the dishwasher.  😛

These are our bottom drawers on the right side.  I no longer have to store my cookie sheets and other such items under the oven!  Plus I have all my plasticware in one spot with plenty of space for everything.  I have decided if it doesn’t fit in this drawer, it’s trash.  No one needs that many plastic storage containers anyway.

I love having a deep drawer for the cups too.  I can see everything, it’s easy to find a lid and a straw, and I can keep track of what I have too much of (or what I need to buy!).

IMG_7730editedThis is our cabinet on the left of the oven.  It comes complete with two pull out drawers that hold all of our pots and pans.  I added a lid rack for our pan lids.  The only lid I wasn’t able to include in this cabinet was the super sized one for the extra large skillet, which sleeps under the oven.  One thing I do miss about my old kitchen was how I had all the pans stacked in pan racks so I didn’t have to remove a stack of pans to get the bottom one out.  I didn’t have a good spot to put a pan rack in this kitchen, so I opted to store them this way.  It’s fine and really not a big deal, but if I had it to do over again, I might have considered other options for that reason.

Jeff was hardcore against “stuff” on the countertops thinking it would detract from the clean lines and aesthetics of the kitchen, but I fought him on some things.  You can see the full layout of the wall counter in a picture above, but here’s what eventually wound up being included on top.  I wanted a place for our most popular fruits (bananas and apples, which we always have) as well as my olive oil and knives.  For one, I don’t like to store knives in drawers.  Second, I already had my drawers organized the way I wanted.  Third, I use olive oil daily and don’t really want to walk to the pantry to get it out.  Fourth, they’re pretty.  So I win.  I also wanted to keep my cookbook holder out on the counters since I use cookbooks often.  Instead of having an empty holder on the counter, I picked a cookbook that was equally as functional as it was beautiful and fitting to the decor.  I chose Rachael Ray’s “Everyone Is Italian on Sunday” because she is one of my favorite authors and I agree with the title of the cookbook.  In fact, I need to start having big Sunday dinner where I cook homemade pasta and invite the whole family over.  I’m sure I wouldn’t have complaints.  😛

We also bought a few new appliances for our new kitchen.  Going into the renovation, we knew we wanted a new stove.  Our old one was white and obviously would stick out in the new space.  I opted for this lovely lady.  She’s a dual oven (convection on top, standard on bottom) that is WIFI enabled.  Fancy, I know.  I’ve tried her out a couple times now and have to adjust my cooking a little.  She’s a bit hotter than her predecessor and I’m not used to cooking in a convection oven.  It’s no big deal…I just need a bit more practice.  Unfortunately I used her for like the third time on Easter and ended up charring the brownies I made slightly.  They were still edible, but just had a little darkness to them.

Speaking of Easter, we decided to install the new microwave on Easter Sunday.  Now, you might have two questions:  1.  why did we get a new microwave to begin with when the old one was just fine?  and 2.  why on Earth did we decide to install a new microwave on Easter Sunday when the whole family was coming over for dinner that afternoon?  Good questions!

When we were looking at the old microwave, we noticed that there was a secondary charcoal filter on the top of the microwave that filters any nasty particles from the food cooked on the stovetop out before it blows the steam back into the kitchen.  Since we hadn’t changed this filter in over six years, it was blowing gross, greasy slime onto our cabinets.  We didn’t want to ruin our new cabinets, so we started searching for replacement filters.  Funny story…they don’t exist anymore unless you want to pay out the butt for them from a questionable source.  So after weeks of searching, we decided to get a new microwave and stock up on filters.

Jeff didn’t want me to cook anything until we replaced the microwave but he had to go to Amsterdam the last week of March and then we got busy with life.  We were talking about Easter dinner on Saturday and I told him I had to use the stove the next day.  We didn’t have time to replace the microwave on Saturday so, while I was at the grocery store on Sunday, he started to switch them out.  Little did we know it was going to take about 5 hours to replace.  This chick was panicking to the point of crying thinking my family was going to come over and all I was going to be able to serve them was chips and salsa!  Thanks to our brother-in-law, they were able to replace it and I was able to cook in plenty of time to host dinner.  But there for a minute I was considering ordering pizza…

Finally, we weren’t planning on buying a new toaster oven, but Jeff said the more he thought about it, the more he wanted a toaster with an automatic shut off.  I wanted one that had a digital timer and multiple settings for various foods.  So I bought my first Breville appliance.  If you know anything about Breville, you know they aren’t cheap.  It was the most expensive toaster oven I have ever purchased, but in my limited time using it, I can honestly say I’ve never had such a positive experience with a new appliance.  It does everything we want it to do and more!  I would recommend it to anyone who uses their toaster daily for more than just toast like we do. (We use it for toast, heating up side dishes, reheating leftovers, etc.  Basically anything we want to heat up in the oven without having to use all the energy the oven requires.)

Back to the reveal!

Another favorite part of the kitchen are the spice drawers!  I knew I was going to need substantial space for my spices.  Originally I was thinking I would need to dedicate a shelf in the pantry to them, but as I was organizing my kitchen, I realized I had three drawers with nothing earmarked for them.  Voila!  Spice drawers!  I topped them off with a new utensil holder from…you guessed it…Home Goods.  One thing I love about our drawers is they are fully visible meaning they slide all the way out.  In our last kitchen, there was about a 1- or 2-inch space that you couldn’t see and you just had to reach under to get what was stored there.  We ended up putting our small forks and serving pieces in the back of the utensil drawer because we rarely used those things.

Rounding out the last of the cabinets on the island are the trash/recycling drawer (LOVE!), the cutting board/Rachael Ray cookie sheets drawer (buy these RR cookie sheets and thank me later), and two “junk” drawers I haven’t decided what to do with yet.  Right now they are literally junk drawers, but eventually I’d like to dedicate them to something specific.

BTW, has anyone tried Blue Apron?  I was gifted a free week to try and I had mixed reviews.  I LOVED the Shiitake Mushroom Burger recipe I got (pictured on the recipe card in the far right picture), but the other two recipes were just meh.  I was so grateful to my friend, Shannon, for letting me try it though!  I am trying Hello Fresh next week and comparing the two.  We will see how it goes!

IMG_7746editedThe last design piece in the new kitchen is the sink.  First off, I LOVE the color.  It’s so dark and matches so nicely.  It’s awesome.  It’s a 60/40 sink which took a little getting used.  I was initially annoyed with the disposal on the righthand side, but I got used to it. We aren’t allowed to keep the soap on the counter, so it lives in the sink.  Honestly I haven’t even noticed it and I love the clean look of the counters.

IMG_7745editedOur sink has a pull out spot for the sponges, which is pretty typical these days.  We also bought a holder for the paper towels to hide them from view as well.  I am still planning on getting some sort of storage for under the sink so it’s not as jumbled, but for now it works.  We did, however, get a plastic mat for under the sink in case we have any chemical spills.

We were able to finish our laundry room as well.  Most of the work had been done already, but we had the counters installed, the outlets raised above the counters, and a new sink put in that matches the kitchen sink.  We wanted the two rooms to be complimentary since you can easily see them from each other.  We had our flooring flow from the laundry room into the hallway and throughout the kitchen as well so we didn’t have to worry about keeping the hallway clean, which was a huge challenge.  To be honest, I would love if we had tile throughout the main living area.  When we get to the point of replacing our existing flooring in the family room, I’m definitely going to consider it.

You’ll notice my Keurig is now in the laundry room.  It’s the whole maintaining clean lines and limited counter “stuff” initiative.  It was basically my compromise for being allowed to have what I have on the counters now.

As I mentioned above, we now have a nearly empty pantry in our living room.  Initially, we put this in to serve as an overflow for our kitchen, but I realized I’d rather have my overstock food in the basement and put kitchen tools in this space.  I still have to move some appliances up from the basement, which I plan to do when I put the basement back together in the next week or two.  I had to disassemble parts of the basement to make it functional for our cooking during the renovation.

The rest of the cabinets in the laundry room include my cookbooks (I have a problem), the cleaning supplies under and above the sink, and the laundry supplies/coffee cabinet. So far, it’s been extremely functional and I wouldn’t change anything.

Finally, we’ve been working hard on decorating.  In the last 6 weeks, we’ve probably made 15+ trips to Home Goods and have purchased and returned more than I care to admit.  Some of our receipts have three or four additional receipts stapled to them from where we have returned multiple items.  But out of all those trips, here are some pieces we are keeping.

As you can tell, we really like ironwork.  I think the iron decorations add a design element of whimsy and fun to the space.  We have a subtle Italian theme throughout the area, so I wanted to have some sort of wine bottle holder included.  I found the top middle piece and fell in love.  It’s a wine holder made from the sides of wine barrels.  In addition, I love the map of Italy carved into the top of a wine barrel.  It’s hard to see because I took a head-on picture, but if I were to show you the side, it has a metal band around it and you can tell it’s from the top of a barrel.

We didn’t want to have our toaster on the counter, so I found this rack to put on the end of our appliance cabinet.  It was the perfect fit and exactly what I was looking for.  I bought a couple wicker baskets from Michaels to hold our bread and the extra cooking sheets for the toaster.  I’m not super thrilled about the sheets being in the basket as they don’t fit well, but for now it works.

IMG_7766editedFinally, when my mom was visiting last week, our project was to finish the top of the cabinets.  I’ve got to say, coming from someone who doesn’t really feel like decorating is one of her strengths, I love what we did.  It’s kind of hard to see in this picture so I took a couple closer shots (click on them to enlarge them):

I wanted there to be a lot of wood and rustic touches included as well as some plants and greenery.  I love the metal of the candle holder (which I turned into a vase) as well as the wooden WINERY plank sign.  And I fell in love with the tray on the lefthand side the minute I saw it.  This whole setup came from Home Goods and Hobby Lobby.  I wasn’t a huge fan of either of those stores before this process, but now I’m bought in!

Here is my overdue and extremely long winded overview of our new kitchen.  I hope it was worth the wait!

(BTW, I was not sponsored by any company…I just wanted to share where I got my items and talk them up since I had such great experiences with each company.)

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The Floors

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.  It’s really nerve-racking when your not that great at decorating and you’re forced to choose all the materials for your kitchen months in advance of the renovation.  Luckily, our designer has a pretty good eye and could tell what I wanted after we spoke with her for an hour or two.

We knew we wanted brown cabinets…apparently a huge deviation from the white ones that are so popular these days.  Call me old school, but I hate white cabinets.  So hard to keep clean and just not warm enough for me.  Jeff and I wanted a warm, inviting environment and, to me, that meant Italian-inspired.

After we picked out the brown cabinets, we chose the countertops and floors.  Speaking of countertops, we should be having them installed this week!  Here’s a sneak peak of what that material looks like:

IMG_9042The first tile Carrie, our designer, picked for us was OK, but the matching subway tile was too big for what we were looking for.  We poked around the showroom looking for exactly what we wanted and, finally, we found it!  It was gorgeous.  Cream colored, with brown veining throughout, it was perfect.  It had that old world charm and just modern enough to fit what we were looking for.

IMG_9381Tom, our contractor, called me on Thursday morning to talk about a couple things and then let me in on the news:  our floors were being installed that day!  He told me there would be areas we wouldn’t be able to walk on, but which would be clearly marked.  Unfortunately, it was my late day at work, so knew it would be a long time before I saw the results.

That evening, Jeff called me, frustrated.  Apparently, they had laid the tile in rows instead of staggered like you normally see tile.TilePattern2

Our tile is like the top left diagram.  We were expecting 50% offset like the top right.  I was talking with a coworker who informed me that that was an option but we had to specify it was what we wanted.  Jeff and I were a little annoyed because we were never asked what our preference was.  I told Jeff to pull the contract to see if it specified in there, which he did.  Wouldn’t you know it…it says straight in the contract.  Actually it says “pattern: none”.  Regardless, neither of us remember them asking us what we’d like.  Fortunately, we still like it enough.  Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if we do or don’t…we’re stuck with it!

They did 80% of the floor Thursday and came back to finish the rest on Friday.  They also installed our washer and dryer Friday.  Thank goodness because the laundry was starting to pile up!!  Three guesses what I did all weekend…

IMG_9403They added door pulls to the cabinets too.  I love them!  They look silverish in this picture, but they are more bronze-y in real life.

IMG_9404Oh, and they plumbed for our kitchen sink.  I’m so ready to not have to do dishes in Jake’s bathroom!

IMG_9405Finally, on Friday, they installed our new sliding patio door.  It arrived with a chip in the handle but Jeff called and took care of that in minutes.  Our new handle is on the way!  I really like our new door.  It has internal blinds, which means we won’t have to have curtains in our kitchen!

Two weeks down and two to go, supposedly.  Fingers crossed they finish on time!  It’s really not a super big deal if they don’t…I’m just anxious to start cooking in my new kitchen!

 

Kitchen Update | Construction

I have struggled with what I want to share about our kitchen project after the demo happened last week.  I want to share, but I also want to have a big reveal at the end of all this.  There have been a ton of changes this week and every day I still rush home to see what new bits and pieces have been accomplished.

Here’s a run down of what’s happened so far:

cabinetsMonday
Probably the most exciting day so far, I walked in to the house to see my cabinets installed!  I actually squealed when I saw them!  Not only were the wall cabinets installed, but the cabinets for the island were in place too.  They weren’t anchored, but they were in roughly the right spot for me to stand behind and picture myself cooking.  Teaser picture of the cabinets above.  Please ignore the tools left behind by the contractor.

I have always had this desire to be cooking in the kitchen and have friends and family sit around my counter watching me cook and talk to me.  I grew up with this type of kitchen atmosphere, watching my mom and dad cook since before I can remember.  It’s where my love of cooking came from.  I remember standing on a chair next to my mom helping her put the pepperoni on the annual Christmas Eve pizza.  I remember forming my favorite sausage balls with her because it wasn’t Christmas day without them.  I remember making chocolate pudding for my older sister’s friends when they stayed over on the weekends.  I remember whipping up chicken sandwiches for my friends after a school dance when everyone came to my house after.  Cooking for friends and family is a feeling I have a hard time explaining.  It is one of the most special things in the world to me and I love it.

Now that I’ve gotten all mushy…

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 9.40.34 AMTuesday
The biggest change we noticed on Tuesday was the paint color.  They painted the kitchen and hallway in our color of choice:  Sherwin Williams Familiar Beige (pictured above from their website).  I wanted a color that was easily accented by a wide array of colors so we could change the feel of our room with various textiles.  I was a little worried about the wall color when I first saw it because I thought Jeff might think it was too pink.  There’s a touch of red in the color, but luckily Jeff really liked it.

We also got a door ordered from Home Depot to be installed by our contractor.  Plus they installed the microwave over the spot for the oven.  Finally, the rest of the cement board was installed in the laundry room.  It was another one of those “little things” days where it’s harder to tell what they accomplished.  I know there is a ton of stuff they have to do that I don’t see.  I just patiently wait until those “wow” days!

tileWednesday
Another one of the “little things” days, but with a bigger impact than normal.  Every day when I walk in, the first thing I do is turn on all the lights so I can see as much as possible. Today, I was pleasantly surprised to find they installed the can lights!  We had regular lights beforehand that were covered, making the light diffused and soft.  Not that that’s a bad thing, but in a kitchen you need to see what you’re doing.  You don’t want to accidentally cut off a finger because you thought it was a carrot or something!

They also attached the island counter to the floor.  Finally, I’m pretty sure they are going to start on the tile soon because one of the tiles was placed up against the cabinet.  I was able to see what the two looked like together and I have to say I’m excited.  Our tile is a grayish white with cream and beige veining throughout.  I added a picture of it above and whited out the cement board on the sides so you could get a clear picture, even though it looks a little funny!

We used to have a fan over our kitchen table but decided we’d rather have a chandelier instead.  But John, our designer, suggested we keep the fan in the kitchen, but move it over the oven area.  We have faulted ceilings, so it would be very high, but that would give us even more air movement.  What a nice option in the summer!

I noticed when they installed the lights Wednesday, they marked the location for the chandelier but, when I stood under the mark, I realized it wasn’t centered over where the table was going to be.  So I left Tom a message about it and he called me Thursday morning to discuss it.  During that conversation, he mentioned before the weekend they were going to start the tile, install the granite in the laundry room, replace the door, add hardware to the cabinets, and begin plumbing the kitchen sink!  Yay!  It’s only been a week and a half and I’m already in love with my new kitchen.  I can’t wait to share the finished product with you!

But for now you must wait…muah ha ha ha.

Small Changes, Big Results

Every day I came home last week, I eagerly opened my garage door to see what changes came about in my kitchen during the day.  The first two days it was very obvious what they did considering when we left our kitchen it was in tact and when we got home it was…well…not.  Before is on the left, after is on the right (obviously):

 

The first two days, we saw the cabinets come down, the wall disappear, and the floor vanish.  Day three the only thing we really noticed was different was more of the floor was missing.  Day four brought a new little turn of events to us.  Black mold.mold

When they removed the floor by our patio door, we saw the dreaded black stuff.  We also noticed how corroded the wall and floor were.  You can actually feel the wind coming in from the outside, which makes sense why it was always so much colder when we were eating dinner!

Our contractor, Tom, asked us if we had considered replacing the door which, oddly enough, we had been talking about.  We were going to wait to do that until the kitchen was done since we were making so many changes at once, but now it looks like we might need to proceed with that change sooner rather than later.

The other thing they did on Thursday was fix our half wall.

Originally, we had a “beam” going from our cabinets to our half wall but, when we removed the beam, we just had a wall sort of hovering in mid air.  (You can kind of see what I’m talking about in the left picture.)  We wanted to fix the wall and take it all the way up to the ceiling so it looked like it was built in, which they completed.  Other than those changes, we didn’t notice a whole ton.  I’m sure they did more “behind the scenes” work that we don’t really notice though.  We also received a note saying the electrician had been sick but would be back to work on things the next day.

cement-floorFriday came and, much like the last few days, it was tough to see what all they did.  I have a feeling until we start seeing cabinets and floors being installed, I won’t really notice as much as I expect to.  We did notice they put down “cement board” on our floors in preparation for the tile to be installed!  I’m really excited to see that part.  You can only imagine so much when you pick items out in a showroom.  They also removed the plumbing from where the sink and dishwasher used to be and cut the carpet so it was straight across.

They are supposed to work on the floors as well as the laundry room this week.  I had to turn in our paint color last week, so I’m thinking they will be painting sometime this week too!  They say it should only take 4 weeks and we are 1 week in already.  It will be interesting to see if they are really able to deliver on their timeline!

To pass the weekend, I headed to Kentucky for my best friend’s bachelorette party.  I was in charge of the weekend and spent most of Thursday night making “survival” bags for the bridesmaids.  I even used my Photoshop skills to make custom champagne bottle labels!  I have to say I’m pretty proud of those bags!

We had a great time.  We started the day with a painting class, headed to Seviche (an upscale restaurant) for dinner, and then ended the night at a club!  We even convinced our limo driver to stop for Starbucks!  It was a great night but I sure was ready to get home to my guys.

parkIt was such a nice weekend we went to the park for hot dogs and smores!  Who’s ready for summer?  I know we are…

Destruction

Days 1 and 2 are in the books.  Our kitchen renovations started Monday when we met with the contractor and his assistant at our house at 8:30am.  He asked us several questions including where to put the fridge, what we wanted done with our oven (which we are giving to charity), and other things of that nature.  I left for work with an eagerness in my step.  I just wanted to get to work so I could come home and see the changes!

First, however, we had to attend a kindergarten parents information meeting.  I cannot believe my kid will be old enough for kindergarten in the fall!  I bet this mama is gonna cry big, ole crocodile tears!!

I tried to keep my speed in check and not race home after the meeting.  I knew there would be some changes, but I seriously didn’t know what I was in for!  Here’s what we saw on night one:

I couldn’t believe how much they had gotten done in one day with just the two of them!  All the cabinets were completely removed and they had taken down all the walls we were eliminating as well.  They ended up having to put a wooden post in temporarily until they could take the rest of the framing down.  They were very neat in their removal too.  No debris.  No dust.  Great work so far!

When we got home, Jake and I headed down to make our dinner, which ended up being delicious!  I posted about our French Dips yesterday.  After dinner, Jake and I spent some quality time with one of our favorite games:  Candy Land.

Then my little carpenter decided he wanted to assist the guys.  Ugh!  I love him!img_9188edited

The next day was more of the same.  Get up, get ready, go to work, try not to get a speeding ticket on the drive home.  I was even more impressed when we walked in that day!  They didn’t waste any time getting the room back to basics for installation of everything!

img_9197editedThis is going to be my view from the kitchen.  I’ll have the whole expanse of the living room before me as I cook.  It will make it easier to look at things when Jeff shouts, “Honey!  Look at this!” from the couch.

img_9196editedThis is how the kitchen will appear if you’ve viewing it from the front door.  An island is going to be right about where the black part stops in the lower part of the picture.

img_9208editedYet another view of the kitchen looking from the fireplace.

You can see the difference a little more in this picture.  This is looking from the patio door towards the laundry room.

One thing you can’t tell in these pictures is just how LARGE the space feels!  It’s echo-y and roomie to say the least.  I know once we get the cabinets in, it will feel smaller, but I can already picture the finished product and if it’s anywhere near where my brain is putting it, I will be a happy mama.

After admiring our day two results, Jake and I went down to make dinner.  He still loves helping and finds cooking in the basement even more fun than I do.  Probably because he doesn’t need a stool (or stoove as he calls it) to see what he’s doing.

We went easy tonight.  Grilled cheese and bacon with baked Cheetos.  It might be simple, but it was delicious!img_9198editedI keep a little plastic tub downstairs and while I’m making dinner I throw the dirty utensils and cooking things in the tub.  Then when we’re done with dinner, I take the bin upstairs and wash the dishes.  It keeps the basement tidy and gives me a place to put my dirty stuff so it’s out of the way while I finish dinner.img_9206editedSo far I am very pleased with the renovation process.  Granted, it’s only two days in, but as far as the cooking goes, I can’t complain!  It’s really not too much different than cooking upstairs.  Except I have no stove and I have to wash everything by hand.  But a month of “sacrifice” will be worth a lifetime of cooking memories.  I just cannot wait!

It’s Like We’re Moving

Once I got the date for our kitchen renovation, things got real, fast.  Jeff got the call that the other fan and the light fixtures were in at the light store, so he picked those up Saturday morning.  Also Saturday morning, my new baby arrived!oven

I took Saturday off to get to work on the rest of the kitchen.  I spent most of the day cleaning out the remaining cabinets and organizing our workspace in the basement.  I can already tell it’s going to be an interesting few weeks!  I’m going to get a lot of stair credit on my Apple Watch, I’ll tell you that!

The first, and probably most important part, we tackled was the pantry.  I started by removing all of the food and organizing it into what I knew I’d need (oils, sauces, etc) and what I might not (waffle mix, lemon curd…you know…those non-everyday items).foodNo, this is nowhere near all of it.

Jake was a HUGE help!  He removed the items he could reach and put them on the counter for me.  Then I went through and organized things.  Eventually we switched and he started “organizing”.jake1I had tons of plastic bins from over the years (I told you I liked containers!), so I organized things into bins where I could.  Jake loves thing organized (unless it’s his toys), so he really enjoyed helping! jake2Once we had everything pulled out of the pantry and organized, it was time to haul the stuff downstairs to set up.  I have a bunch of these shelving units in the basement with bins of things on them, so I was able to clear off and stack the bins and move one of the shelves over to my work area to act as a pantry.jake3I have had “overstock” (yep…you can tell I work retail) in my basement for years (on the lefthand shelves).  When I see a good deal on something, I stock up.  So adding another shelving unit of food just seemed the right thing to do!

I will be cooking in a “make shift” kitchen throughout the process.  My personal challenge is to only eat out once a week.  The boys might eat out twice because I work one night a week, but other than that, we are STAYING IN!  The more money we save, the sooner we can take on the next project!

cooking-setupI’m pretty proud of my little “kitchen”.  I can’t really have the fridge items downstairs with me, which is the only thing I’m really not looking forward to, but I’m pretty sure I have everything else I need!

toasterI love my toaster oven.  It’s good size and I can cook a small pan of lasagna or stuff shells in it.  I’m pretty sure I won’t have to use it nearly as much as I would have before I got my Instant Pot though!  It would be pictured, but I’m making Mississippi Pot Roast for dinner, so it’s up in the kitchen currently.

olive-oilMy “workspace” has my most used items within arms reach.  My olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and DLM spice rub is right there as well as some small mixing bowls and measuring cups.

cooking-itemsThe rest of my utensils and important accoutrement are in the stacked drawers that sit on the table. Ignore the labels…these were from my very brief days of scrapbooking.  I was too lazy to remove them.  The bottom drawer has various baking things in it.  The next two drawers are filled with my spices…I told you I was addicted!  The second to top drawer has measuring cups and spoons, whisks, spatulas, mixing spoons, etc in it.  And finally all the tall bottles are at the top.  You never know.  I might actually like this set up!  I won’t have to bustle around the kitchen quite as much!

coffeeOf course I couldn’t forget my coffee maker!  I’m not really looking forward to going downstairs for my morning cup of joe, but we all must make sacrifices.  Maybe it will get me in the habit of exercising first thing in the morning!  (Wow…I sound lazy!)under-tableUnder the table, I have some larger mixing bowls and other kitchen items on the left, my big bin of baking things in the middle, and all the plastic wrap, bags, etc on the right.

jacobAt this point, I had spent a good few hours in the kitchen and basement.  Jake was tired of helping so he decided to drive his truck around and pout, waiting for me to play with him.  I should have sent him to his buddy’s house so he wasn’t so bored!

Finally the kitchen was cleaned out and our basement kitchen was assembled.  Here is our final look at the kitchen I’ve been cooking in (and wishing to update) for over 7 years:

ceilingThis is the main space I’m in when I’m in the kitchen.  I spend most of my time cutting and prepping my food on both of these counters.  One thing I love about our house is the tall ceilings.  Our new kitchen is going to have cabinets that go all the way up to the crown molding above our fridge.kitchenThis is the opposite side of our kitchen.  You can’t tell in this picture, but the space between these counters and the previous counters is too great.  It was too small for an island and felt bigger than necessary.  Our new kitchen will be straightening out the counter and removing pretty much everything thats not attached to the counter.  Our upper cabinet (complete with its crooked door) and pantry will be gone and the counter will be turned into an island.  I’ll be very excited to get rid of the “bar height” counter. No one could ever use it because the builders made it way too high.barThis will all be gone!  So long, ugly bar stools!sinkGod, I hate our white cabinets and blue counters.  So dang ugly!  We are going to have a medium brown cabinets and grey/black counters.  It’s hard for me to describe the color, but it’s very pretty.  We love it.  We will also have creamish colored tile on the floor and the same color subway tile as our backsplash.fanYou can baaaaarely see our cabinets and counters on the left side of this picture.  In the new kitchen we will be extending the cabinets by TWO pantries!  The cabinets will go nearly all the way to the windows!  And there’s another one of those ugly fans!  Good riddance!  We will also be parting with our kitchen table.  Jeff got this table when he was in college so it’s a good 15 years old!  It’s a nice table but won’t really go with our new “look”.

So that was my Saturday.  I feel accomplished and excited, though I am a little apprehensive to see how this whole cooking in the basement thing goes.  It’s kind of like camping!  Wish us luck!  Now to go see Fifty Shades Darker.  😛

 

 

Declutter

T-4 days until the renovation starts.  I’m overwhelmingly excited and nervous at the same time.  I’m trying to imagine what a month (or more) of cooking is going to look like.  Not only do I cook at least 6 nights a week, but I also make breakfasts and lunches at home too.  Especially with us trying to save as much as possible and not going out to eat hardly at all, this renovation is going to be a challenge.  In truth, I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge…I think.

This past week with emphasis on the weekends that bookended it, Jeff and I (but mostly Jeff) have spent countless hours looking at fans and light fixtures.  Apparently most lighting companies don’t bother to create fans and light fixtures that coordinate because it’s rare to have a fan and a chandelier in the same room.  Since we are having an open concept kitchen with both in the same room, we wanted them to look like they went together.  Even if we just got the same color fan blades and the same color metal, we wanted them to coordinate at least somewhat.  He seriously spent all day Sunday scouring the internet for the perfect fixtures.  Every time we would think we landed on a decision, something would change our minds.  They were too expensive, one of us didn’t like the design, maybe it’s not the right color, it’s not big enough, it’s too big.  On and on and on.

Jeff had President’s Day off and wound up at a local shop to discuss our dilemma.  We had decided we liked one brand in particular,  Kichler, which apparently is quite popular.  The local store had a whole catalog of Kichler products and, turns out, they make coordinating pieces!  Score!  Within a couple hours, Jeff had decided on a couple options and sent them to me for the final decision.  We were finally done!  Signed, sealed, delivered.  Well, at least one was delivered Wednesday night.  And we couldn’t wait to install it!

But first, we had to remove this gaudy monstrosity: fanUgh.  Vomit.  I apologize to anyone who has fans like this is your house.  You do you.  This is not me.  It took Jeff and I three hours to remove this fan and replace it with the new one, but it’s up!  And I love it!  fan2And yes I helped in more ways than reading the instructions and handing Jeff screws.

Since I am off Thursday mornings, it was my goal to get as much of the kitchen packed up as possible.  I decided to turn on This Is Us while I worked.  (Side note: isn’t that show amazing?!  I had missed the last five episodes so over the last few days I decided to catch up on it.  What a tearjerker!!)

Slowly but surely I made my way around the kitchen going through cabinets and drawers, systematically packing things up, throwing things away, and saving things for use until our renovations start.  I have discovered a couple things about myself through this process:

I enjoy spices.  I mean really enjoy spices.  I remember my friend, Chrissy, came over to get some tips on how to make a lasagna and she was saying how she had to go buy some spices like garlic and onion powders.  I chuckled and opened my spice cabinet (yes I have an entire cabinet devoted to spices) to pour some of mine into little baggies for her.  When she saw my spice cabinet, she about fainted.  She could not believe how many I had!  What’s funny is that was several years ago and I think my spices had babies since then because the collection has at least doubled.spices3I couldn’t bear to part with them quite yet and i couldn’t decide which ones I was going to need next month.  So my solution is to look for a box at work tonight that allows me to keep the spices together and easily reachable next month.  Until then, they live here now.

plasticI have a soft spot for plastic containers.  This is in no way a surprise to Jeff.  He actually complains about this on an almost daily basis.  He says I have too many, but we always have leftovers that I want to keep.  I also take my lunch to work and it’s normally not something I can put in a baggie.  Whatever.  He likes them.

I like gadgets.  This isn’t even all of them.  I got rid of several a while back.  By “got rid of”, I mean I moved them from the kitchen to a plastic container in the basement in case I ever needed it again.  I mean, when does one “need” an avocado slicer?  Isn’t that just called a knife?

As I was going through the kitchen, I was reminded just how many shortcuts they made when building!!  Jeff had a door guy over to look at our patio door and he commented quite a few times on how they shortcutted a ton.  I really do love my house, but I have noticed things ever since day one that they could have done differently.  Our windows in the kitchen look like they were put in by a kindergartener.  It’s just sloppy work.  Hopefully this company we hired is much more professional.  I can tell you right now if they aren’t Jeff will raise holy hell about it.

After about three hours of work, my kitchen is at least 75% packed.  I didn’t touch the food in the pantry (mainly because I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to do with everything) and I still have some dishes we will use between now and Monday.  But the rest of it sits in boxes on my kitchen table.

I decided to take a well deserved break after to relax and write this blog post.  Now I have to convince myself to move those boxes to the basement so the boys have a place to eat dinner tonight!  Maybe this can count as my cardio…

 

Cooking Through Construction

We are ½ of the way through February.  Can you believe it?  I certainly can’t.  But I also can’t wait for March because…my kitchen is getting renovated!  Not just new paint and cleaning out a couple cabinets.  I’m talking removing walls, y’all!  I’m beyond excited!  Here’s what we’re working with right now:

kitchen

Ugh.  Ugly.  I hate it.  It doesn’t look terrible in the picture, but what you can’t see is all the scratches on the countertop lip, the “paint” coming off the cabinets, the crappy quality of the product, the cabinets not staying screwed into the frames, and basically just the general disfuctionality of the kitchen.  My house was one of those development houses where they were just trying to get the work done in as quick of a time frame with the cheapest stuff they could find.  Not anymore!

kitchen3

Like I said, we are taking down walls, adding cabinets, getting a new oven (EEEKKK!!!), painting, new countertops, new sink, new backsplash, EVEN MORE counter space and cabinet space, raising the height of the cabinets, new floors, the works!!!

Basically everything in this picture will be gone or moved:

kitchen2

The one thing about this whole process I’m not really looking forward to is the whole being without a kitchen to cook in thing.  I cook dinner at least 6 nights a week, but most of the time I cook every night.  Even on the nights I’m not going to be home, I try to leave my boys with something they can heat up.

I’m combatting that by making a dinner plan for the month of March (they think our reno will take about 4 weeks) which will include a LOT of freezer meals and Instant Pot recipes.  I’m planning on starting a new series on here called “Cooking Through Construction” which will focus these oven-free foods.  Follow along with me while I experience this adventure!

Step one?  Replacing our couch.  I know what you’re thinking…how is the couch part of the kitchen renovation?  We are basically redoing our main living space.  Our house is open concept already and, with the removal of the wall separating the kitchen from the living room, that openness is going to be even more vast.

Our old couch was in sad, sad shape and we were looking for more “adult” furniture.

couch3

So we upgraded to this beauty:

couch2

She’s so comfy! We are still working on side tables, lamps, fans, decor, etc for the space, but step one is complete!

couch1Stay tuned for step two! (Ugh…we have so much work to do!)

If anyone is great at decorating, let me know.  I suck at it.