finishing the tile! (kitchen, pt 9)

It’s been a while… we misplaced the camera cord, and then my favorite free photo-editing website  became part of  the “Google+” social network and went berserk, losing some of the best features in the process, which made me dislike Google+ more than I already did. Yes, I’m a little bitter. And to think all this frustration took energy that should have been channeled towards house projects! For shame.

Well, the last recorded kitchen update had us with half the tile laid and no grout, like this:
We grouted it right away, and then had to take a little unscheduled break in the tiling for a minor freak-out while deciding what to do about  Aaron’s job offer in New York, but we got busy with the rest of it on another sunny weekend. And when I say “got busy,” I mean that I spent hours chipping out the old cork flooring and ended the night with five blisters on my hand. There are no pictures of this process. I was in a hurry, and my goal is always to get the project finished, not just get a good blog post out of the whole deal. I also have no pictures of Aaron with the tile saw, but rest assured that he slaved away to get everything cut correctly while I spread the thinset adhesive and laid the tile in place. As usual, we are modeling superior footwear safety measures during all construction projects.

It was so fun to see everything start coming together. I’m amazed at what a difference the new streamlined flooring made! You can see that the first half is already grouted while we’re laying the second half.

I started talking about my dreams for the bathroom overhaul on the schedule for this fall. Aaron looked at me like this:

Finally, we got all done:

The tile floor was a little higher than the previous cork/linoleum/carpet combo from before, so we had to make the back door shorter.  This was the perfect opportunity to use the antique plane Aaron’s grandpa passed down to us earlier this year.
 And then, just when the dining area was completely tiled and we could shut the back door again, we proceeded to cover most of the new floor. This is where things got, if you’ll pardon the pun, a little rugly. Since we don’t want our table or chairs to be scooting harshly along the floor, we decided a rug was needed right away. First, I got one rug that was the perfect style, but was a foot too long.

Then I couldn’t find anything in the right size that looked good. Rugs are expensive, and I have West Elm taste with a dumpster-diving/hand-me-down budget. As we often say to ourselves, “Wal-Mart clearance shoppers can’t be choosers.” After driving all over looking at what was available, I picked up this yucky, boring, dull, “off,” brownish one because the price was right ($19.99) and I have some DIY ideas up my sleeve to jazz it up in the future.

For my records just as much as sharing with you, for the floor we used “Rialto White” 12′ and 6′ tiles to make this pattern. For the counter’s back splash grout, I used a mixable recipe and I thought I just hated the grouting process. I would not recommend the Spectra-Lock Stain Proof mix-it-yourself grout to anyone. It was sticky, it made the tile shiny, and my hands are itchy just thinking about it.
 Because I was unhappy with that experience, I shelled out an extra $6 and tried a different  pre-mixed style for the floor and I really LOVED IT. For the kitchen floor we used TEC Sanded Premixed Grout in Vintage White. It went on and wiped off smoothly without adding any unwanted shine to the tile themselves. I think there was a lot less waste with this kind, too. If we do more tiling, which I’m hoping is the case (hee hee), I’m getting this kind again.

This “Vintage White” color is a little “yellower” than I would have chosen, but the tile has a slight gray tint and they balance each other out to mimic the carpet, which was our goal! We are so happy it’s done!

(If you want to catch up on our kitchen project from the start, you can see all the posts HERE!)

And on another house-related note, this week is our 3 year homeowners anniversary! Our potential moving scare gave us a chance to pause and reflect about what we have going on with our house, so we have culled a little furniture and finished a few other “little” projects that have been waiting around forever. We also did a bunch of spring cleaning, gardening, and organizing. It’s such a good feeling… and there are pictures to share, so stay tuned!

painting, staining, and tiling, oh my! (kitchen, pt. 8)

We have put our noses back to the grindstone and accomplished some great feats in our DIY kitchen remodeling progress. I think by condensing picture updates I’m telling myself the project isn’t taking that long. Right… 

Anyway, this weekend we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. This is great, because I love St. Patrick. (Here’s a quick recap of his life from last year.)  However, I couldn’t summon the strength to get excited about corned beef and Irish-style fine adult beverages this year. While this might be because it’s been unseasonably warm in Iowa, I’m guessing it’s because I exerted myself laying tile.

Yes, I was tiling. We have done a lot of work in the kitchen lately. This update is way overdue! Do you remember the blue wall? It’s no longer offending us with it’s brightness. We’re all cream, all the time now. Aaron’s height comes in very handy for painting rooms with vaulted ceilings.

All the backsplash tile is installed and grouted. The new wood around the island is in the middle of the stain-and-seal process, and the brackets are ready to install. (We also desperately need trim here. I know, I know.)

And what is this? Our garage looks like the tile department of a hardware store!? Get out of town! 

In order to get started on the tile project, we had to clear the whole kitchen floor. This means Aaron had to disconnect the stove and shuffle the appliances out of the way.

 We ripped up the carpet (a two-person, four-hand job, so no pictures), chipped up the cork and linoleum floors underneath, and started laying down concrete backer boards.
Incidentally, I was in a tank top the first night we did this and got concrete and fiberglass from the boards scratched all over my arms and neck. I was entirely miserable for about 24 hours, but then the real work began. Aaron says his thinset mixtures look like milkshakes.
True to our usual form, we would start these projects after dinner and work into the night while wearing clothing that’s pretty much inappropriate for the job at hand. (For further examples, see my skirt and bare feet in Part 3 and Aaron in part 7.) I’m also in flip-flops:

As frugal and responsible homeowners, we found encouragement to continue improving our home while listening to the Dave Ramsey radio show playing in the after-dinner time slot. It was motivating to yell “We’re (going to be) DEBT FREE!” every time one of his callers gave a debt-free scream. (Aaron, however, called the debt-free-except-for-the-house guests “cheaters.”) Our resolve to work late would wane about 10:30, when we both found ourselves really, really annoyed by the host of the next show. We may have just gotten tired then. The late hour may have had something to do with it, too, but we would get really cranky and complain about the radio programming while wrapping up our work for the day. Anyway, this was basically what we did every night from last Saturday until now, when we have ended up with this:
 I really wanted to find rectangle tiles to make a herringbone pattern, but tiles of that shape were out of our budget, so we used Rialto White tile in 12′ and 6′ squares. Since we’re extending the tile into the dining room – I mean, even two educated adults can’t manage to keep white carpet under the table clean – we’ve only laid half the tile, and I’m going to put the grout on for these tiles this afternoon. We won’t have the fridge and stove back up until Monday afternoon at the earliest.

Since I was laying the tile while Aaron slaved at the tile saw, I ended up in all sorts of strange body contortions trying to protect my knees and spent several hours a night doing the equivalent of deep lunges and squats. So I feel like the lower half of my body might fall off at any point today. And like I said… we have more than half the total square footage to go.

Installing the tile has been a much bigger project than we expected, but it’s pretty enjoyable and it looks AMAZING. Every time we walk past the work already completed, one of us says “This is unbelievably better!” Considering that the previous kitchen flooring was dirty, ugly, dark, thin carpet, I bet anything could elicit this response from us. But for now we’ll just revel in the excitement of an upgrade!

(PS: Wanna catch up on the kitchen work from the very beginning? Read all about it here.)

the deer is here

There are many potential “first post of the year” ideas floating around in my head: reflections on 2011? goals and dreams for 2012? pictures from our holiday road trip? practical financial tips we’ve implemented lately? fun plans for visiting cousins soon? favorite books from the past six months? important life lessons? telling everyone about all the free books I’ve agreed to read and review here? fun crafts I made for Christmas presents? our new fish tank? the delicious meals we’ve eaten on a ridiculously small grocery budget? finishing one of the 12 half-written articles floating around my draft folder?
I’ve never ever had a problem coming up with ideas for any project in my life, writing online included. Instead, I have serious problems with procrastination and letting myself get too overwhelmed and paralyzed thinking of all the things I could do without actually doing anything. It’s been an issue my whole life. But the paralysis of pondering this year’s first post, which is not that big of a deal in the first place, was ended when a very noteworthy event took place in our home last night.

There is a back story here. Last November, Aaron shot a trophy 10-point whitetail buck scoring almost 150 inches (*CORRECTION: 154 1/2 inches*) with his then-new bow. He wanted to get the head mounted, and I agreed to this idea on the condition that we would remodel our kitchen before it was finished. I also stipulated that the mount would have to go in the basement or a “man room” of our next house. I can’t put it in the hunting-themed room of our current house, because it remains the potential nursery if we were to have children while living here. What if the head fell off the wall and an antler speared our baby? Like I said earlier, I think too much and it causes problems sometimes. Well, in case you can’t tell from the lack of updates, the kitchen progress has seriously halted, and I think I’ve been unconsciously avoiding anything that gets us near completion as if I could hold off the inevitable. But now the day I have dreaded is here: the deer head is back from the taxidermist and in our house. Since Aaron didn’t tell me he had picked it up, when he brought it in the house I thought (for just a moment) he was bringing an actual mature buck into the living room. I actually screamed and covered my eyes for at least 30 seconds.  Then Aaron hauled it upstairs, so I’m guessing he’s using one hand for typing a paper while gently, gleefully stroking the fur with the other.

First photo of the deer was with a cell-phone during the post-mortem river rescue…
Then a recovery shot on dry ground
And now, after waiting a year for the necessary drying-out and whatever else it is those taxidermists do, we have a deer head ready to mount. Discussions regarding the actual placement are ongoing.
I just want to know… why does his nose have to be so shiny and lifelike?

He might go in the living room or the kitchen. I’m hoping for the kitchen, as it would be less visible to my piano students. Either way, we will see it from the dinner table, so I hope we have actually finished the meat from this specific animal already. I fully believe hunting is one of the healthiest activities my husband could have, and I’m glad for so much free-range, lean, red meat. But I will still feel a little strange slurping my venison chili underneath this deer’s blank, glassy stare.

punctuated equilibrium (kitchen, pt 7)

The way we move forward on this kitchen project is rightly compared to the theory of punctuated equilibrium evolution. The idea with PE is that the world evolved inconsistently, with long periods of stasis and rapid evolutionary change occurring at various points along the way. This is supposed to account for the gaps in the fossil record. Of course I’m not on board with this in regards to life and origins, but it’s definitely a great analogy how things are progressing in this DIY kitchen adventure.

And before I get started, I need to get something off my chest: We have a whole room in the back decorated with a hunting theme. Deer skulls, turkey  talons, rustic art, signs that say things like “We interrupt this marriage to bring you HUNTING SEASON,” antique rifle ads, etc.  While this isn’t something I mention often,  I can’t deny it after sharing the following pictures.

In order to move the refrigerator, we had to reconfigure the funky kitchen pantry, which was just a big hole in the blue wall. That hole took space from the closet of our hunting-themed back bedroom/office/potential-nursery-if-we-had-a-baby-here-but-the-poor-thing-would-probably-get-speared-by-antlers. It looks like this:

closet with pantry cut-out

And Aaron, working hard as usual, took off the lid to that wood box, which was basically the pantry ceiling.


There are a million skipped details here about moving outlets, ripping up carpet, and splicing wires. Basically, Aaron is a wiring and outlet-moving champion. He did require the use of an assistant, which means there were no free hands for taking pictures. After lots of this beastly wiring was finished, we cut up into the drywall and made space to move the fridge to it’s new home.

wall cave, sweet wall cave

Yes, that blue wall is indeed hideous and it will not be like that forever. But for now, I’m really glad the fridge is safely where it belongs – a cave in the wall. Before the project is complete, we will create built-in shelves on both sides of the fridge, put trim around them and stain it to match the woodwork. I have some great inspiration for this area’s final look. I’m really excited about painting the wall (obviously), adding a clock, and using the built-in cabinet shelves for wine storage and baskets!

fiat lux (kitchen, pt 6)

This might be a cheater post, since I’m calling it a kitchen update, but… oh well. I’m not going to apologize for that. There is definitely more progress than just what I have written here, but this is all I have pictures of so far. With the big job switch up, I’m mildly underemployed for most of this summer and we’re hoping this will speed up some of the kitchen work. I should have more time to blog about it, too. We all win!

We had one puny can light above the main part of the kitchen. We love that the ceiling is super dark, but this cool effect is totally lost without effective lighting. In this picture, it totally feels like the darkness is overtaking the whole room instead of sharing awesomeness with the whole room.
I knew I wanted a track light there, and when we were stove shopping I noticed a sleek 6-bulb unit in the clearance rack. Since I anticipated a little over $100.00 on this, there was no shock at the sticker price of $127.00. But you know, I’m not one to pay full price for that kind of thing. It was marked down to $23.00 (yes!) in satin nickel, which is the wrong color  (it’s pretty, but in our kitchen – no!). No fear: I knew I could spray paint it (double yes!), so we put it in the cart and grabbed some oil-rubbed bronze spray paint for my cheap-o DIY transformation.

This is the silly explanation on why I really wanted to spray paint this track: For our house, my rule of thumb is that light fixtures match the color ceiling they touch.  So the stuff in the main living area with dark ceilings will always have oil-rubbed bronze metal fixtures. Any hardwired lights we replace for bedrooms, bathroom and the back of the hall would have white or lighter silvery metal to flow with the normal white ceiling. This just seems the most streamlined way for us to go and I’m happy with our plan!

So, after we got sick of the boxed lights laying around forever, Aaron used his man power to turn off some of the electricity to the house. I should probably mention that when we turned off the lights, it was the middle of the night on Friday. Some people stay up late and get drunk on the weekends, we choose to work on house projects. In this case, with the help of a head lamp.

Aaron claims this headgear will be handy for his many future spelunking expeditions.

And after Aaron spent a half hour of finagling with it, I went to the garage and sawed some wood to create a brace for the fixture box while he was still holding the light up to the ceiling with his arms. He’s basically Atlas. Or, as he would mistakenly call himself, “Achilles”. (Nice heels, babe.)

statue of a greek god, cropped for obvious reasons

Finally, at last, we got everything up securely and connected all the wires and installed all the futuristic curly fry light bulbs. In our kitchen, it was like the first moment where God cried out “Let there be light!” Suddenly we knew this was how it was supposed to be in here all along.

before, with just the one can light

after, with six lights on a track

the view from the dining room. don't worry - the blue color and weird curtainy thing on the pantry are practically history!

just for today

It feels like there is so much going on right now! Or maybe it is more accurate to say that my to-do and to-finish list is so long that my blood pressure rises when I think about it all. I actually feel much like I would in the midst of a stressful semester at college, with papers, tests, social commitments, and personal goals pressing heavily on me all at the same time. Of course I know these things will somehow all come together – or that if they don’t, my life won’t fall apart – but they create this sense of burden and obligation over me anyway.

Here is an annotated list of what I’m feeling like I need to get taken care of this summer. I’m not kidding, I have edited some things off this list for the sake of brevity and privacy.

have Aaron help replace light fixtures in hall and kitchen
have Aaron help with redoing the whole freaking Kitchen
find art and hang the rest of the wall collage in the hallway, which includes scraping and painting the rest of the frames.
organize yarn collection that quickly spiraled out of control. Probably give some away.
have Aaron get rid of the big computer
have Aaron get rid of his books
get rid of a bunch of my books
OMG how do I have EVEN MORE CLOTHES I NEED TO GIVE AWAY!?? Do the less-cool clothes just asexually reproduce in my closet while I am at work?
Sort piano music
finish mirror collage on fireplace
paint brick fireplace
one more coat of stain on the outside brick
one more coat of paint on the garage door
finish the retaining wall
re-lay the stone walkway in the backyard
toss half the stuff in the linen closet
the laundry room. the garage. Oh my gosh. I know at least half of it is Aaron’s (stuff) too but I don’t know how this stuff spirals out of control so quickly.
sew covers for living room throw pillows
(gift project 1, started)
(gift project 2, planned but not started)
refinish a few places on the trim where it got scratched/dented/scraped
refinish the big dresser in the back room
try to get rid of junk from kitchen… I defs don’t use all my gadgets.
find out how to get important signature on retirement account paperwork
find out how to get my windshield replaced b/c of the crack
paint canvases
have a wine-and-cheese party
repaint some of the deck furniture
find a cheap lounger so I can lay out and work on things while getting a tan in my own back yard.

This is just the things I could write down while sitting here and not looking at anything. Does this make you feel stressed?

Anyway, in the midst of this all  I’ve been thinking so intently about things like “taking it one day at a time” and working on trusting God each day for daily bread, that is, in some way surrendering my innate craving for a preplanned weekly, monthly, yearly “menus” of what God will provide.  Not that I have already achieved these things by any means, but that I recognize the importance of striving for growth here.

Lacking time to record any further insights on this topic, which is hopefully more interesting than my outrageous homeowners to-do-list, here are a few articles and blogs from some great bloggers that have shaped my thoughts about accepting each day from it’s maker:

Wendy writes on Godliness with Contentment.
Ann writes about Hopes and Dreams.
Jen has some guest authors sharing about The Lord’s Prayer, word-by-word “This” and “Day

i pity the fool (kitchen, pt 5)

If this is where we are for the fifth installment of the kitchen project, I am a little scared about how many posts this will take up. However, things are now looking hot and lovely along one side of my kitchen. For this I am glad.

looking over the island

Wow! What a difference. I don’t wish to misrepresent myself here: I couldn’t fall asleep the first night the sink was in because of how awesome the faucet looked. Joy bursts over in my heart every time I glance at it. The towel is behind the sink because we haven’t caulked between the counter and the backsplash tile yet and I’m trying to keep water from getting in there. Hopefully that helps.

it looks so much brighter in here!

This picture is a more accurate representation of the color now. With a shiny stainless sink in place of the grimy pink one, and a white-based countertop instead of the yellow one, it really looks like we added more lights already!
We were a little surprised at the way the tile looks after being grouted and sealed. Maybe you remember from the video that they looked a little powdery and grayish? They are definitely more yellow and brown than we originally thought, but I love the textured look and we’re still really happy with the tile we chose.

looking good!

The tile was remarkably easy to install. I am mildly allergic to the adhesive we used, so Jenny did that part of the job to avoid aggravating my rash further. Both the big mosaics and the border had a mesh backing, so we just lined the tiles up and squished them onto the tile glue. After Jenny left, I spent nine hours laboriously grouting 3/4 of the backsplash. It was awful. Then I realized I had the wrong tool, which was making my life miserable and wasting lots of grout. I purchased a $3 grout floater at Lowes and finished the last section in 15 minutes.

still need to cut out the tape and caulk the edge!

How do I feel after making these huge accomplishments? What do I want to say to anyone who might come against me in these conquests? I feel like a warrior, like a mighty champion, like a powerful and conquering victor. More specifically, I feel a little like Mr. T.
And I pity the fool who would undo what we have done here.

gift of self (kitchen, pt 4)

We made quite a bit of kitchen progress this weekend. The internet may not have enough room for me to write everything that happened at the Hummel house during those few short days, but we have the highlights here. If you are bored and only care about my kitchen progress, just scan down and watch the video at the end.

Of first importance, our lovely friend Jenny came. Taking extra time off of her job at Hillsdale, she drove hours and hours alone to help me with hard manual labor for the whole weekend. When we first met in a freshman dorm, Jenny and I knew we were kindred spirits because we both grew up helping our dads build things. Our friendship deepened on a ride to Wal-Mart where we discovered other mutual passions like hot tea, well-raised children and traditional hymns. From there we led a small group Bible study together and served on a Christian students leadership team before living in the same dormpartment for senior year. So yes, we dissected various aspects of the royal wedding (the folds in her skirt extending to the train of the dress! trees in the church! such a tasteful bouquet!) and chatted about life and love while sharing deep thoughts and feelings during our visit, but we both have know-how when it comes to things like hammers, circular saws and power sanders so we made the most of our unusual similarities with my kitchen project. I don’t know many women who would take time off from work and spend a full day driving to help a friend demo and rebuild part of her kitchen! Jenny is truly one in a million.

Our first adventure included a trip to Lowes on Friday night… Finally! After  six years of friendship we could do a project together! All the male employees asking if we needed assistance as we filled the cart with materials needed for our weekend plans. I suppose it’s not every day they see two giggling girls loading a cart with porcelain tile and comparing circular saws, so we can’t blame them for offering to help.

having the time of our lives

We bought everything we needed for installing my tile backsplash. There were a few things that needed to happen before the tile could go up, but these challenges seemed more exciting than insurmountable.
The old countertop? Oh, we’ll rip that bad boy out, easy.
The sink? It gets a little tricky, but Aaron can help us.
What else could stand in our way?
Please, try to stifle your laughter.  We were doing the best we could and our first evening of ignorance was blissful.

It was pretty easy to remove the laminate from the countertop, which made the kitchen look like this:

so easy! I could demo kitchens for a living!

Then we had to start pulling the wood countertop off the cabinets. This was more difficult than the ease with which we pried off the laminate cover. There was a little swearing (all me) and for a time I tried to convince myself I could leave the counter as-is, add some oil and call it butcher block. But the lovely faux-granite counter was already sitting in the basement and we were at the point of no return, so somehow we managed to press ahead with the demolition. The wood was secured with glue and finish nails, so Jenny dug around with one of my little tools and got the practically-headless nails removed… What a woman.

nails in the counter

After the nails were out, it was time to remove the pink sink (oh happy day!) and get the counter up and out. We were planning to use my car jack to get extra leverage since the counter was so heavy and long. Aaron customized the length of an old, splintered axe handle for this undertaking.

look at him go

He wanted to hold it while watching hockey. Perhaps it felt like a stick in his hands, making the game all the more real to him.

Aaron watching hockey

So with Aaron’s help we disconnected the plumbing, ripped out the sink, and then we were able to pry up the old counter. I’m not going to lie, it was a difficult and crazy job. Jenny was a demolition beast. She has such a way with crowbars.

What a classy lady

You will see behind her the jack from my car. We used this to pry the counter up and it was amazing. We used the custom-length axe handle and got it right up under the edge of the counter. Twist, twist, twist, pop! The counter creaked off and we were able to take the whole thing out to the backyard in one piece. I imagined this process taking fifteen minutes. It actually took a whole day.

this was an excellent trick!

It was a very busy weekend, but we were so blessed to have Jenny with us. We are so grateful for the self-gift that she was to us during the quick trip. There are very few things as precious as time spent with a dear friend!
Overall the weekend included:
lots of splinters
3 trips to Lowes
2 trips to Ace Hardware
2 trips to grocery stores
2 hockey games

I will have more pictures of the finished counter and tile backsplash soon! I pity the fool who tries to take off the counter we so laboriously installed!

Here is the basic gist of this post in video format. I love how Aaron turns on the circular saw as if on cue when I’m talking about the support and shims he was cutting. There is also a preview of the tile we chose, and I mention that Aaron found our sink on the side of the road. That’s right folks, somewhere in the UP of Michigan, he got this baby for fa-REE.  We are unashamedly frugal. Unashamed!

717 days of waiting… (kitchen, pt. 3)

It has been 717 days since we closed on this little house in the woods. Okay. It’s more like a little house that has some trees, right next to a bunch of other little houses but is near some  woods. Basically, we’ve had it a while and I have been waiting the whole time to do something like THIS:

Yes, that’s right. Starting to deal with some of the kitchen issues that add to the current “fug” factor. We have already done some of the painful parts of this kitchen project (like purchasing a range and counters), but a certain someone else is very busy and I have had to take these matters into my own hands if progress is to be made in the near future.  I came home from work today determined to get started. I did not waste time. Okay, I will admit, I did waste a little time because I was working in Des Moines and stopped by Trader Joe’s. (Oh fresh goat chevre, oh almond butter, oh apricot stilton, oh sugar snap peas: I love you.) But when I got home, I got down to business. Please note my oh-so-appropriate construction attire.
After I started pulling this stuff off with the back end of a hammer, we realized that a crowbar might be a necessity when I need to pull off the window trim. (Some to save, some to toss and replace later!) Aaron said something like: “We’re going to need some more tools. You could go to Lowes before they close if you want…” I love it when he talks to me like that.
(Side note: I got an orbital sander for my birthday last year and we still have to pick out my circular saw for this year. It was that, a jigsaw or a compound miter saw. Something about spring really makes me itch for power tools to use during the warmer months.)
Braving the rain, I drove to the hardware store and picked up two petite crowbars and attacked the rest of the laminate backsplash. Now it looks like this: In case you are wondering, this notebook paper on the side of the cabinet has the Nicene Creed written on it, for a daily dose of Church history and affirmation of our core beliefs as Christians. I wrote a research paper on the first council at Nicaea during my first History of Christian Thought class in college and I truly loved the whole process of accomplishing that project. Anyway, here it is:

And when that was all said and done, I scrubbed the sink. It has never looked better. Or maybe it has never looked worse, because at least when there is a little grime over the porcelain we can’t tell what a fugly color the peach actually is.
Now I have a big bag of trash to take out. Aaron says he wanted to try selling the laminate on ebay because it is, quote, “vintage.”
I am too lazy to follow his suggestion, so I will make a friends-and-family only deal here: If anyone wants scraps of “vintage” laminate for any reason, please let me know because I will be taking them out to the trash whenever it stops raining. Don’t all ask at once. 😉

decisions, decisions (kitchen, pt 2)

The whole cost/benefit of the kitchen project is something we’ve spent months agonizing over. I’ve heard that $15-20,000.00 is the average price of a kitchen overhaul and we are definitely not going to spend that much. But we also need to sell the house in a few years when Aaron graduates, so a frugal update should benefit us when we are courting potential buyers. I’m guessing that leaving this project undone will make anyone interested in the house automatically deduct the average cost of a kitchen remodel from their highest offer.  It seems like making a (comparably) small investment here will reap big dividends on our final selling price. This probably won’t increase our home value by $20k, but it might bring it up by about $10k, which is still more than we will pay! So after firming up in our minds that it was worth it to spend money here, we needed to get out of our hypothetical pricing and crunch exact numbers for the counters, stove, tile, lighting, and shelving that I’m dreaming of.

First we had to check out the counter top options. We are going with cheap-o laminate because it’s pretty sturdy and fits into our budget. If we were going to live here longer, we would probably spring for some sort of solid-surface counters. This laminate counter top will look MUCH better than the 53-year-old laminate counter we have now! And we were happily surprised by the cost, too.

Which one is best?

This one was our favorite!

We’re going to go with a surface that looks like Santa Cecilia granite on our dark reddish cabinets. Here is a picture of that combination with the real stuff. We’ll do a tile backsplash instead of the solid one here:

Inspiration Kitchen - Cabinets, appliances and counters

We also had to check out ranges. We desperately need a new stove and oven. Ours our separate right now and they barely work. We would probably need to replace them within the next year even if the rest of this wasn’t happening. Our criteria for the range were to have a black ceramic flat-top for the stove and a stainless steel front for the oven.  We could get a very basic one at Lowes for a list price of $649, but we checked out the scratch-and-dent section in search of a better deal.

look at that scrape!

We found this one on clearance for $599.00. It was originally almost $900.00. Unfortunately, it was truly scratched-and-dented. There were several other dents… it looks like it was dropped on its front! This was a very unfortunate appliance. We talked to someone with the thought that we might be interested in this stove for $450, but it was a no-go. We had to come back later in the week to get final pricing on counters and saw a thing of beauty sitting next to this scratched up beast. It was another black topped stainless steel range with two ovens – originally $1300 something, but on sale for $949. This was still quite a bit more than a basic range, but we kept talking about the utility of a double oven. Really, any oven is going to be an improvement since the one we have now has just one rack and the size prevents any good cookie baking. Aaron and I started talking about what we would be willing to pay for this luxury. I used words like “cookies” and “pizza” when explaining that I would definitely use and enjoy the double-oven feature, and this sealed the deal in his mind. $949 was a great deal since the stove had no scratches, but it was still well above our budget. We decided I would come back later and find out about getting a better price. Our goal was to get a range with a full warranty (since we could advertise that when selling the house) for less than $900. Imagine my joy the next day when I talked to the assistant manager and paid $700 for the range of our dreams!  We paid a little more to extend the warranty, but we would have done that for any appliance.

I also daydreamed about new (totally unnecessary) cabinet pulls that would give us a totally sleek modern-meets-“Mad Men” look:

Sleek, not sterile.

I also brought home some tile samples. We have ruled out the one in the middle. I’m leaning towards the one on the right and Aaron likes the color on the left. This is actually one of the last things we’ll do, so we can make a final decision after the counters are in.

tile options

So that’s where we’re at. I’m ordering the counters this week and then we’ll be able to set up our time-line for completion!