I have to make a confession. I HATED this house when my man first took me to go see it during our house hunting process. It was one of his favorites, and I was a total betch rushing through the floor plan trying to get to the next house on our list that had been recently renovated. His pick wasn't horrible, it had an open layout and a pretty cool bonus room, but I was wasn't totally convinced.
Well, clearly we see how this turned out. After some heated discussions, I agreed to move forward with his pick under the condition that we would redo the kitchen within the first year, because DAMN that thing was OOGLY. And almost 4 years later... jokes on me, and here we are four months post renovation. I'm excited to break it down for ya!
** I will list all contractors, materials and colors at the bottom of this post **
Here's what we started with. Terracotta meets wannabe Tuscan, with a nice greige formica countertop to really polish things off. Barf popsicle.
The process began with taking up the existing fake travertine and replacing it with wood-look porcelain tile. We contemplated laminate, and loved the look, but since we anticipated putting the same flooring in the bathrooms, we wanted something water-proof and resilient. After bringing several samples home, we chose a slightly distressed looking 9"x36" tile in medium walnut. The tile store mentioned that the RWC brand we chose offers a blend of different grain prints within their batches so that it mirrors the variation in wood flooring. Definitely something I didn't realize made a difference, but I'm clearly an expert now.
Demo day. Now, we were forewarned that this would be a dusty process. But, OH MY GOD, no amount of advice will ever prepare you for the amount of DUST and SHIT in EVERY crevice of your house. Even months post demo, there's STILL excessive dust that appears out of nowhere.
baseboards & cROWN mOLDING
Just like your mom told you, "be careful who your friends are because you are a reflection of who you hang out with," blah blah blah. The same goes for good contractors recommending other contractors for jobs they're unable to do themselves. When the flooring was done impeccably well and on-time, we asked for a recommendation for baseboard installation. Holy shit, we were about to get our world rocked and didn't even know it. In a good way.
Ron arrived to our appointment with the flyest grandpa swag I've ever seen, with a walk to match! Not that he's old, but in fact, a grandpa with legit style. He showed me pics of the little dudes to prove it.
After reviewing a gaggle of samples, we decided on a 8" style with lots of grooves and detail for both the baseboards & ceiling molding, and a 6" crown for the cabinets. The bigger the better; insert penis joke here.
The original island left a lot to be desired, especially the "bar area". If someone was using the sink in any way, shape or form, this caused a wet & wild tsunami for anyone trying to eat or work within a 6" proximity. There were a couple close calls with the laptop I'm still trying to repress. Don't ask.
Because of these near death experiences for our electronics and general annoyance, we were determined to make the island more usable by extending the countertop. To ensure support, we needed to install wood posts on either side of the extension.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go to big box stores for decorative wood accents. They're overpriced and have very few options. The photo below is just a snippet of the available posts at our local lumber store. Did I mention that most of these were $40 compared to the ONE available option at Lowe's for $80? Like, stop. Is there even a comparison? Don't get pigeon-holed.
Then came refacing the island's dry-wall sides. Ron and his wife, KC, were up for the challenge. They began by covering the existing facade with plywood then creating deep framed boxes and installing small corner pieces on the sink side for a more custom look. Lots of caulking and couple coats of paint later, the former loathsome island was unrecognizable.
Ron and KC were absolutely impeccable at every project they completed for us. They were able to install all of our baseboards, crown molding and transform our island in several weekends and were our absolute favorite contractors to work with. Like they're now on the Christmas card list now, kind of thing.
I was lucky enough to have my best friend fresh off her own kitchen renovation with tons of advice on what she loved or wished she had done differently. What she said that resonated most with me was that she wished that she had done a different countertop edging for the island to set it apart from the back cabinet area. Thanks for the advice, gurl.
With two similar quotes for material and installation, we decided to throw in the speciality edging as the deciding factor of which contractor to go with. OH MY GOD. There was a $50 per linear foot difference! Not over exaggerating, one guy wanted $3 per linear foot and the other wanted $53 for the edging alone. Clearly it was a no brainer for us after that bullshit, but guys, you NEED to get multiple quotes. We would have had no clue we were getting ripped otherwise.
As for material, we chose quartz over granite for the following reasons:
It's slightly overwhelming by the amount of "white" paint selections there are to choose from. Just like traditional lamp light vs. LED light, pure white can be very harsh and unforgiving. That's why I went with the tried and true, Irish Coffee. It's bright to look like a true white, but has an unnoticeable yellow tint that's easier on the eyes. Once the moldings and doors were painted to match, that shit was on fleek.
As for the painting process, a good painting company will tape and plastic wrap your floors and walls to look like a scene out of Dexter. I wish I had taken better quality photos to show the outrageousness of it all, but it gave me a true appreciation for folks brave enough to paint their own kitchen cabinets. Hats off to you, genuinely.
My one non-negotiable for backsplash was to install tile not only between the countertops and cabinets, but to extend it to the ceiling line to create the illusion of higher ceilings and really dress up the dead space above the cabinets. But because of the added square feet, we really had to choose tile wisely to stay within budget.
Deciding on a shape is quite difficult with how many gorgeous and eclectic tile styles there are out there. But, I knew that subway was the winner when I remembered a recent trip we had taken to Indiana where we stayed at my man's brother's home. It was built in the 30's and had the original subway tile in one of the bathrooms, still looking kickass. Even though quite popular now, it's clear the subway tile is timeless and has a very basic beauty to it without being too trend heavy.
When the great subway pursuit began, I was convinced I wanted a white and potentially distressed tile. But when comparing any white colored option with the white paint and quartz samples I had in tow, everything just looked dull without much distinction. After about an hour at our third store of the day and getting quite discouraged, my man pointed out a taupe option that matched the existing wall color we have throughout the house. Did this dude just make an effortless design decision without breaking a sweat? GAHD DEHMN IT! Throw in that it had a subtle bevel detail, and I was fackin' sold. What can I say, my man likes a little brown in his life (I'm Mexi, for those who don't know me personally).
Now that it's installed, I'm so grateful for the contrast. White on white just wasn't for us. Proof that even the best intentioned plans may not always turn out the way you thought, but it's truly for the best.
The Final Product