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!

the view from here (kitchen, pt 1)

Our kitchen is kind of awkward. It’s like it can’t decide if it’s a separate room from the rest of the living area or not. This is the view from the entry way.

the twin towers

the two towers

We’ve had plans to revolutionize the kitchen for over a year. When I told Aaron his trophy deer head would not cross the threshold of our home until the project was completed, he groaned. But the leathery face of Bambi’s dad has been drying for months and soon he will be done. I hope this means the kitchen will be done soon, too.

the galley

We have a long kitchen, and it’s great for one person at a time.  Here’s a little pro and con list for what we have going on right now.
We like:
The cabinets. They are in decent shape (especially for being 53 years old) and they look super modern. There is quite a bit of storage in the high cabinets, too. We have lots of space!
A double window over the sink
The light and pot rack over the island. We put this in when we first moved in. I know they are immortalized on uglyhousephotos.com, but Martha has one and so do I.
Dishwasher. We put this in over the summer and we fight a lot less now. I’m not kidding. Worth every penny!
A stainless steel fridge.
It’s right next to the garage door, so it’s very convenient for bringing in the sheaves groceries.
We have a hard time loving:
The tiny pink oven that isn’t as hot in the back as it is in the front.
The half-working cooktop
The funky pantry
The weird metal protectors keeping the grease splatters from the stove away from the living room.
The peachy laminate countertops
The matching peachy laminate backsplash
Not much lighting – it’s very dark.
The brown carpet in the kitchen (clearly the original designer was on crack)
The white carpet in the dining area (same)
The blue wall. We painted it this color. I take full responsibility here. It’s just a little too… blue and shiny.
Two words: pink sink.

so weird

Of course we have so much to be grateful for, but we’re really looking forward to this project and hope it’s lots of fun!

kitchen sink

Okay, I’m excited and looking forward to it. Aaron is a little terrified.