It’s mid-January, and we thought we were going to be eyeballs deep in kitchen renovations and drywall dust – but nope. We’re not surprised (eh, it’s to be expected and there have already been a few minor setbacks), but we are off to a slower start than we would have liked. The contractors will actually begin their work at the end of this week – moving electrical, gas lines and installing a pocket door! – which means that this coming weekend, Scott and I will begin our drywall patch and repair work! I can’t say we’re excited about that, exactly, but we are excited to move forward. Onward!
While we had hoped work would begin last week, we took it as a sign to relish every minute of this past weekend and relax (somewhat), you know, before this kitchen takes over our lives. Instead of our usual monumental to-do list, we did normal, everyday things – cleaned the house, watched a movie, and slept in – but we also spent a day tile shopping and thrifting (the best way to spend a day, we think!).
We came home feeling inspired and excited for what’s to come, and better yet, our wagon was loaded up with this:
Our new kitchen layout will allow for a skinny island in the center of the room, and to the right of our soon-to-be wall of windows, we’ll have space for a small hutch! We’ve been on the online hunt for a while now, but a sporadic stop into The Brown Elephant (during a 50% off sale, no less!) had us hauling home this tiny cutie for all of $62. $62! It’s super petite at 34″ wide and maybe 5′ tall; in other words, it was made for our kitchen.
Now, it’s going to need work. The finish is too orange for our tastes, but we want to warm things up by keeping the wood alive with a really thorough refinishing job. Up close, we can tell that it was already someone’s project at one point, as there are telltale drips of polyurethane and door pulls that are just ever-so-slightly crooked. This will be a test in patience, for sure, but I’m going to attempt to strip the poly and re-stain.
The inside of the hutch is a bizarre two-toned finish, the glass panels are chipped and the drawer knobs look as though they were installed a half inch above the original knobs (what?). If we don’t forgo the glass altogether, we’ll have new panels cut, and we’re thinking of smoothing out those zebra stripes with paint – but only on the inside shelving! The whole thing will get finished off with new hardware, and whew!, are we excited to see what a difference that’ll make.
In other ‘Things’ news, we got ourselves a kitchen runner! With a lot of our finishes being white and gray, we wanted to bring in saturated color with a vintage rug, and after making the eBay rounds (like, every day) for months, we fell in love with this beauty. She was so, so pretty online, but my goodness. In person? She is drop. Dead.
It’s 2′x10′, which will run perfectly along our sink wall, and while we know that there are two sides to the whole rug-in-a-kitchen thing, well, we’re willing to take that chance. Plus – it’s red! It’ll hide our two favorite foods: pasta sauce and wine. (I mean, right?) It’s taking everything I’ve got to keep her folded up in storage, but the day she sees the light will be a happy one.
As for our tile shopping, we have fallen in love with matte white subway tile, and although we like the look of a classic install, I may or may not be trying to convince Scott to throw in a framed pattern above the sink. We will see! We have time to noodle on that, but it was thrilling nonetheless to land on a look we’ll love for the long haul. And about that countertop debate? We’ve collected a few more estimates on other options, but at the very least, we are now leaning towards a white/gray stone, so, we consider that huge progress.
Baby steps, people. That is, until it all starts crashing down. Yeah, kitchen!
Aside from the pocket door, one of the things we really wanted to hash out over the holiday break was deciding on paint colors for the kitchen walls and cabinets – and sticking to them! When it comes to paint, I’m truly a waffler, never really trusting my own gut and changing my mind daily. I spent an embarrassing amount of time cutting out swatches, holding them against our current walls, squinting at them at arm’s length and nixing those that were too blue, too green or too pink.
We’ve mentioned that our intention with the kitchen is too keep things feeling classic and clean, and we really want to brighten things up with the big back door and all white cabinetry. The walls will be painted in a super pale shade of warm gray (I think we’ve got a winner picked out!), and we’ll continue that same color into the living room – finally repainting the walls that have consistently felt too cold. (We always say, it’s just paint! You can do it again!, and while it’s a pain to ‘fess up, it’ll really be worth it.)
But back to those white cabinets! Our cabinet maker has already taken down our existing uppers to begin the refacing process, and everything else will be rebuilt. We thought we could salvage one or two of the lowers, but as he began to take them apart, they were in sad shape; we’ve been watching the budget go up (as is par for the course), but for a long haul kitchen, we want to do it right. After deciding on simple shaker style cabinets, pull out lowers and all those nit picky upgrades, our only job was to choose the white. I mean, we don’t even have to paint them ourselves! This is the easiest cabinet upgrade ever!
Well, that is, until we hunkered down and really started sifting through whites. It’s no secret that choosing white paint is an art form, and we began by looking at swatches that are consistently the most popular for cabinets and trim (Simply White and White Dove, and moving forward, all colors are Ben Moore). It wasn’t long before we spiraled, and found ourselves considering everything from Decorators White to Vanilla Milkshake, Cotton Balls and Chantilly Lace. To name a very select few.
BUT. Our white appliances are ever-so-slightly cool, and they’ll dictate the direction we go so that the room palette stays cohesive. In the end, we picked up four samples to test: White Dove, Distant Gray, Super White and White. (Which, by the way, did you know that such a color existed? It quite literally is named White!)
We brought these colors home, and using Julia’s tip, painted them on foam core. This would give us the mobility to move the whites around the room, hold them up against our appliances and watch them change in the natural light throughout the course of the day, as well as note the changes under artificial ceiling lights.
Above, from left to right, we have Distant Gray, Super White and White. Immediately, White Dove was nixed for being incredibly yellow against the appliances, and White was removed for being a little too flat. (On a side note, I do think that had we gone with stainless appliances, our paint options would’ve opened up.) And now, 2 weeks into swatch hell? We have a winner, and it’s Distant Gray! It’s never felt too cold, and against any of our stone counter options, it just works.
We’ve since taken down the foam boards, in the off chance I’ll waffle. You know, I can see myself now – stirring pasta sauce on the stove, a glass of wine in hand, thinking, come to think of it, maybe we should go with Super White after all. Scott, what do you think? (Silence.) Scott?
Distant Gray, it’s a go!
Are we all out of the holiday fog yet?
We’re getting there, although Scott has always been much better about getting back into the swing of things than I am. Maybe it’s because I read too many blogs with lists and resolutions, and maybe it’s because I feel that we should have those, too? In any case, we have nary a resolution (although every year, we do promise to say and do things with love, which works out! Mostly!), and we spent almost our entire holiday break eating and drinking, eating more and drinking more. We binge watched television, the days went by in a blur, and I’m not totally sold on entering January – yet. Perhaps jumping back into routine will help?
But! I say almost because we did check off our holiday homework – the pocket door! Our kitchen contractor suggested that we should have our pocket door ready to go with hardware before they begin, at which point, they’ll swoop in, add the brackets, and most importantly, hide it in our walls:
Our old door was picked up from Rebuilding Exchange, and we moved forward with our refinishing under the assumption that somewhere, sometime along the way, there would likely be lead paint in the existing finish. Not wanting to go through the process of stripping again, we decided that we were totally okay with a slightly weathered finish (charm?), and so we chose to go the encasement route – simply meaning that the current finish would get coated in clean latex paint.
We did, however, (want and) need to caulk the door panels (on the left, below), close up the holes from the doorknob, and lightly spackle any deep cuts. The previous knob was remedied with a paint stick on the edge, and repair putty + scrap wood filled the gaping hole. I went over only the touched-up areas with our orbital sander, but I do pinky-promise that I did so while outside, wearing a full suit, respirator and glasses. And, most importantly, you bet that the sander was attached to a HEPA filter on our shop vac.
The door was brought back inside to get primed and painted, and having had such great results on our closet and front doors using Sherwin William’s Peel Bonding Primer (neither door has a chip or scratch!), I used the same here. For the color, we chose a very, very soft minty green: Swept Away by Benjamin Moore in a soft gloss finish.
We wanted something that felt classic and clean for the hardware, and after going back and forth, we ultimately decided on these New Yorker pulls in oil-rubbed bronze. Scott used a Dremel bit and chisel to prep for install, and we are in love with the results!
You may have noticed in the first side-by-side photo that we also swapped the clear glass for this textured, frosted panel. We had originally thought that we would use frosted film on the existing glass, but wanting something more permanent, we had Ace Hardware replace the glass completely! It was a $50 fix, and we definitely made the right choice by going this route instead. We’ve tossed around the idea of adding painted gold letters that lead you into our first floor Work Room (saying, get this, Work Room), and with the kitchen-facing-side being smooth, we’ll have the option to do so! Note: We had the glass replaced before we painted the door, and we taped it off to do the finish work.
Okay, to be fair, I suppose we did a little more than just prep our pocket door over the holidays. We also emptied our cabinets and stashed everything away in boxes so that our contractors can do their job more efficiently. They start – fingers crossed! – this coming Monday, and our cabinet maker has already taken down our uppers and has begun the refacing and building!
We’re on the hunt for an island, we’re still waffling over counters, and we’ve been debating wall colors for the kitchen and living rooms, which’ll be the same once we’re done. My goodness, we cannot wait to see everything fall in place.
Alright, 2015! Let’s go, let’s go!
PS: The Pet Shop is now accepting custom orders as usual! And a big, huge thank you for being amazing – with your support, we donated more than $2,500 to our animal rescue partners in 2014. Yes!
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