That’s what Scott and I said to each other this week, because you guys, we have counters! I was hoping to get this update out sooner, but if this kitchen re-do has proven anything, it’s that things don’t always work on our ideal timeline, and every step takes ten times longer than anticipated. In regards to counter and cabinets, there are still things that aren’t complete – trim is needed under the counters to hide leveling shims, we’re continuing to tweak the cabinets to align just so, and we need to touch up paint where we caulked the tiniest of gaps along these old uneven walls. Scott calls this the remaining 5%, but it’s that 5% that we think escalates any project from pretty good to impeccable. The cabinets are in? The counters are installed? Great! Those checklist items are 95% there. It’s that 5% that drives me absolutely batty, but it’s worth it. That 5% makes a room.
But rather than hold out until we’ve nitpicked our way through that remaining percent of cabinet and counter install, let’s just celebrate how far we’ve come since our last update!
We’ve also installed a large single bowl sink and touchless faucet, both of which have changed our entire workflow in the best possible way. We’ll share more details on that in a separate post, but these counters! We had no idea that there would be such a heated debate on black vs. white countertops, and you all raised some great points on the pros and cons of each. In the end, we switched gears entirely and chose white macauba quartzite (be still my heart) from MGSI and had them installed by local fabricators. Once the hard part of choosing the stone was behind us, working with our fabricators has been, hands down, the smoothest part of our kitchen journey. They not only had me come in to help with layout, but because the veining on our slab ran diagonally, they agreed to make their cuts on a diagonal as well. This resulted in a pattern that ran parallel along our wall, helping to ease our obsessive minds. Bonus: we had enough leftover from our slab to cut a small round tabletop that – eventually – we’ll be using in our living room!
On a side note, I just realized the above stove photo was taken at 1:37. Who loves Empire Records? And just because.
Also, that unfortunate refrigerator surround was resolved! A new, wider panel was put in place, and as a result, all those cabinets bumped out. The difference is everything, as is the filled-in gap above our stove with the microwave. On the same day as the fridge tweak, the microwave was installed by our contractors – a necessity for proper ventilation (because in no way did we feel comfortable cutting a hole to the exterior of our house). We’ve since moved all our stuff back into the kitchen and made a big, legitimate grocery run to celebrate! Even after putting everything away, there’s a lot of empty space for room to grow. That felt momentous after months of digging through boxes for plates, forks and coffee.
The sea of white cabinets will get some contrast once we add dark hardware, and our island (so close) will add oomph! as well. You’ll notice that our drywall isn’t perfect above the counters, but it’ll do for tile installation. Our under cabinet lighting wire is still exposed, but we’re making progress there, too. Our biggest hold up so far is that back wall, as we’re still stunted by the non-existent sidelights and transom, leaving that project at a stand still. (“Back order” is a dirty, dirty word, and to say we’re frustrated doesn’t cover it!) In any case, our weekend to-do lists keep growing instead of shrinking (why! how!), but the dominoes have been tipped, and now we’re full steam ahead.
PS… We’re sharing our best tips with Bali Blinds on what to look for when buying vintage. Take a look!
This little home update officially kicks off our Ace Hardware partnership this year, and for that, we are so happy and thankful! We’ve always had such a great time working with the team behind that name, and we love that although they provide us with month-to-month post guidelines, they allow us to choose the projects that are relevant to our home and current projects. To start, they’ve asked us to share a seasonal maintenance task around our home, and being that it’s February in Chicago (and because we’re still picking up on this old house’s quirks), we have a quick tip that has made a huge impact in keeping our rooms just that much warmer.
Having lived in our well insulated condo for 7 years prior to this home, we were absolutely, hands down, spoiled by our low cost gas and electric bills. (Last year, our friends that live in that yellow-brick-building never, ever turned on their heat – at all. Living on the third floor, they reaped the benefits of the rising heat from the units below them!) But since moving into this home, we’ve sprayed foam in every crack and crevice, patched up old cable holes, and as we update every old outlet and switch, we’ve been cushioning them with little coats – at least, that’s what I like to call it!
A house of this age is full of winter weather surprises, and I was surprised by the amount of cold air that was working its way into our rooms. An electrical plate on its own won’t block all that freezing air.
With our kitchen electrical now complete, we first used these foam outlet seals (aka outlet coats, ha), cut them to fit, and snugged them onto all the exterior wall plugs. The seals come in any shape – rocker panels, single switch, and so on – but we picked up the standard outlet seals to cut down to size for rockers or the circular outlets, the two common sizes in our home.
With the plate in place, we capped the outlets for extra credit, and my goodness. Drafts? Gone. No more. Coming from a well insulated apartment to a drafty home, I’ve never understood just All the Ways cold air was able to slip through the cracks (literally), but it’s a small cost update that, simply put, works. Side note: These foam seals are not recommended on dimmer switches, but they work like a dream in every other scenario.
We have a bigger kitchen update to come later this week (so many scraggly ends before we can check another item off the punch list!), but to welcome another year with Ace the right way, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like. Giveaway runs through Friday, February 20th at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post. Good luck and happy entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own.
It’s starting to look like a kitchen in here! The cabinets are installed, and what a difference. This is true for every step in this renovation, but really, what a difference! The color (Ben Moore’s Distant Gray) is so perfectly white without a hint of blue or yellow. These old, crooked walls of ours have caused the installation to take a bit longer than expected (who’s surprised?), and throughout this update, you’ll notice blue tape marking imperfections and a couple missing and uneven doors, but we’re thisclose to putting our dishes back behind closed doors! Yes, there’s still a lot to do, but it’s worlds away from where we started.
Below, you’ll see our view from the back door. The first photo is still sans trim at the top, but you can see how it looks in the second photo. We landed on a simple 3″ trim, which was dictated solely on the obnoxious furnace soffit we have to work around; by dropping the upper cabinets 3″ to make them accessible, the trim was added to snug them up and give a taller appearance. And speaking of soffits, we’re so happy you all spoke up (loud and clear!) about leaving out new soffits – they really weren’t necessary, and we don’t wish for them in the slightest! Thank you, thank you.
Above, you can see that we plopped down our old countertop until the new one is installed (same sink and faucet for now, too), and this also shows how much more counter space we’ll have! The cabinets on this side were extended by an additional 2′, which will accommodate a dishwasher on the bottom and provides us with more storage up above.
But how about the mistake that cost us? Whether it was miscommunication on our end (which is highly possible) or just one of those things that we assumed was a given (never, ever assume!), our fridge surround fell short, leaving 6″ exposed on the side:
The good news is that the surround can be extended, and with it, the cabinets above and to the right of the fridge will also bump out for a more sleek and cohesive finish. The bad news, besides delaying the install in its entirety, is that the additional materials and man hours cost us. More than we would have thought. While we could have dwelled on this (and I did for a good hour or so, but wine helped!), we decided that this visual change was important to us. What’s the point of hiring a custom maker if it wasn’t going to be, well, custom? We’ll pay for it, but it’ll get corrected – and it’ll be worth it.
But on to the fun stuff! Since we were having (mostly) new cabinets built from scratch (with the exception of the uppers on the wet wall, which were refaced), we added a few bells and whistles that’ll help with workflow – plus, it’s just so exciting. A pull out spice rack! Pull out trash and recycling! At one point, it was mentioned that a spice rack isn’t ideal next to the oven due to heat, which had us re-researching – you guys are always so great with your input and ideas! – but perhaps this is true with older ovens? With the oven set to bake, the sides stay completely cool to the touch, and almost every example we saw showed the spices next to the oven – and so, we ran with it. To be honest, we don’t exactly have the most exotic spices in the world, so we’re content and happy.
And look! Pull out trays on the lowers! And a tall pantry next to the fridge! This slim pantry will extend completely once the cabinets are all in line with the fridge, which will allow us to easily access everything. The pull out trays were added after all your input for bottom drawers; for us, this was a price-compromise, since deep lower drawers are significantly more expensive than a tray.
One little trick that has us crazy excited is the tip out tray beneath our sink. Once the quartzite counters are installed, we didn’t want to display our scouring pads scrub brushes out in the open, and since this is typically a useless space, we added this tray. You can get them as doubles or singles, but preferring the single, we ordered ours from the Rev-A-Shelf website (which is pricier than Amazon, unfortunately).
Our cabinet maker is wrapping up the final touches this week, which includes leveling the doors and drawers, finishing the trim and, most importantly, addressing the refrigerator surround. The fabricator has already measured our counters, our new sink and faucet have arrived, and we finalized all the hardware and lighting for the room! Hopefully the counters will get installed within the next week, and then we can tile! We recently found out that our transom and sidelights – which should have been installed by now – are on back order, which, I don’t know, is definitely a bummer. Even still, I sort of feel like every sentence in this entire post should end with an !! (yes, even the mistake that cost us), but I’m doing my best to spare you. With every up and down (and there have been our fair share of downs – aka pretty passionate, um, disagreements), we always find ourselves going back to excitement in the end. (!!)
PS… We love you! Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day (er, week?) with 14% off anything in The Print Shop with code PRINTSHOP14. XO.
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