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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!

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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!

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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!

  • Traci - February 19, 2015 - 7:16 AM

    I LOVE the counters, and everything will look so beautiful with the dark hardware added. I’m currently searching for a place to rent in a new city, and the number one thing I wish I could choose & fix is the kitchen, so I’m especially lusting after yours right now!ReplyCancel

  • jordan - February 19, 2015 - 7:51 AM

    The countertops look great! I personally wouldn’t normally gravitate towards ones that light, but I’m really loving them! Excited to see the dark hardware on the bright white cabinets :)ReplyCancel

  • Brenda - February 19, 2015 - 8:29 AM

    You do all the things right. I love how you have the time and patience to make it classic and perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey d. - February 19, 2015 - 8:37 AM

    Oh, but that last 5% is the hardest… The kitchen looks amazing and I LOVE the counters!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - February 19, 2015 - 8:43 AM

    Those counters have me drooling!ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne J - February 19, 2015 - 8:52 AM

    Oh my goodness. I just posted about my new kitchen but now I have kitchen envy! I love all the white, white, and white!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 19, 2015 - 8:59 AM

      Yes, it IS very white right now! This is basically the first layer (the subway tile too), but then we’ll be bringing in contrast with the island, art and runner! All those pieces will (hopefully!) bring it together in the end.ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 19, 2015 - 8:55 AM

    I just love your countertops! Seems like a perfect balance of color and texture without being overpowering or impractical.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 19, 2015 - 9:00 AM

      Thanks, Laura! Yeah, after first wanting white counters, then switching to black and THEN going back to white, we are so in love with these. The base is more of a warm gray, so it doesn’t feel too sterile, and it’s a soft contrast against the cabinets.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Bee - February 19, 2015 - 10:07 AM

    You don’t need to share your specific cost… but was the quartzite significantly more expensive than the similar white granite options?

    I ask because we initially wanted a white quartz but the one we want is about $5,000 compared to about $3,000 in a similar toned granite. I’ve heard quartzite is even more pricey than quartz, but your choice is beautiful and similar to what we are looking for!

    Thanks for your input. We have some pretty lame laminate counters to replace…ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 19, 2015 - 10:15 AM

      No problem! The thing we learned about stone countertops is that the price REALLY varies by region. The first white granite option in our countertop post was by far the “cheapest” option, but we just couldn’t get past the speckled look that we thought could look dated in a few years. So when we switched gears to Black Orion granite, we really, really struggled with this decision (especially after there was a LARGE outcry from readers that claimed they loathed their black granite!).

      Finally, we found the white macauba (which a reader had actually suggested), and it was a mid-range priced quartzite. There were quartz options that were much higher in cost to the quartzite, but they weren’t even as durable as the quartzite! We even took a bunch of samples home and put them to the test with lime juice and cleaners. And to answer your question, yes, the quartzite was almost double the cost of the granite.

      All that to say, our quartzite was the single biggest splurge in our kitchen, but we knew they would make us happy every time we walked in the room with NO regrets.

      PS… have you chosen a fabricator yet for your countertops? We shopped around, and while some were able to offer a better price, we really wanted to work with someone in our ‘hood to support local business. We straight up told the local biz the better price that another fabricator gave us, and without hesitation, they went LOWER than their competition. We already loved their reviews and customer service, so it was a no brainer!ReplyCancel

      • Ashley Bee - February 19, 2015 - 11:31 AM

        Thanks so much for the detailed reply!

        We are just in the initial planning stages at this point, but we will definitely be shopping around! Thankfully our Indianapolis-area tends to stay pretty budget friendly compared to larger metro areas on the coasts.

        Our big splurge in the new kitchen is the fridge. It’s like a French Door and Side-By-Side mated and had a perfect love child. Can. Not. Wait. :DReplyCancel

  • Emily - February 19, 2015 - 10:14 AM

    I LOVE how your kitchen is coming together – that countertop/cabinet combination! We have white cabinets and are getting a white marbled countertop, which had me second-guessing how white the kitchen was going to be, but your pictures are re-boosting my confidence. The finishing touches will most definitely bring everything together :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 19, 2015 - 10:17 AM

      Yup, this is still the base layer. It’s that last 5% that’ll change everything! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - February 19, 2015 - 2:17 PM

    I think the question is, “who doesn’t love Empire Records?”
    That being said, the countertops are amazing!!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 19, 2015 - 2:25 PM

      Haha, thanks! It’s a passion that runs deep.ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Adventures of a Dog Mom - February 19, 2015 - 3:15 PM

    It looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Clever Girl Reviews - February 19, 2015 - 5:27 PM

    I really like the counter material.ReplyCancel

  • Layne - February 19, 2015 - 6:01 PM

    Excellent choice on counters! We have black counters, and I honestly hate them. Every little crumb and speck of dirt shows and makes them look filthy when they’re not. I’m looking to replace them in the near future, and I’m loving yours!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 19, 2015 - 6:06 PM

      Thanks, Layne! We love the look of black counters, but that was the overwhelming consensus when we shared our options last months (and we weren’t expecting that!). The counters in our condo were ALMOST black (dark, dark brown granite with flecks), and we never had a problem. But even still, this kitchen will have a lot of light coming in once the back wall is complete, and we realized that could enhance any dust/crumbs visually…ReplyCancel

  • Melanie - February 19, 2015 - 9:54 PM

    Love it! I am going for an all white kitchen too (including appliances) which should be getting installed in a few weeks! This makes me feel so much more confident in my choices. We can only afford laminate bench tops though and Im a little worried that white laminate might stain, especially when my boyfriend does the cooking but we’ll see. Can’t wait to see it done with all those finishing touches!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 19, 2015 - 10:07 PM

      Awesome! White appliances aren’t something we would have ever considered until we looked into them a little more. They’ve come a long way! So shiny and glossy and every bit as luxurious as stainless. Good luck during your reno!ReplyCancel

  • Monika - February 22, 2015 - 10:56 AM

    Swoon! It all looks fabulous. While I was always in favor of the whole white thing, it’s turned out better than I imagined. Well done guys!ReplyCancel

  • Jodi - February 23, 2015 - 12:46 PM

    ZOMG, it looks SO GOOD!!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - February 24, 2015 - 11:12 AM

    They look amazing! And yeah the fridge bump out definitely makes it look more purposeful and finished. (And hooray for Empire Records!) :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - February 25, 2015 - 6:27 AM

    Looks amazing. I adore the countersReplyCancel

  • Terra J - February 25, 2015 - 10:03 AM

    The kitchen is my favorite place in my house. It’s bright and open, and most importantly clean. I do love your slide out racks under your sink. I’m definitely going to upgrade this weekend.ReplyCancel

  • Alexa~FurnishMyWay - February 25, 2015 - 11:57 AM

    Wow! I love that counter top. It’s absolutely stunning and totally swoon-worthy! Everything looks great. And that sink faucet– My word! What a timeless, clean piece! Great pick!ReplyCancel


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


  • Roxanna - February 17, 2015 - 6:59 AM

    AWESOME giveaway……thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - February 17, 2015 - 7:05 AM

    Ugh the draft from my outlets has been killing me too. But of course our pet doors don’t help either ;)ReplyCancel

  • Meg - February 17, 2015 - 7:27 AM

    This is such a genius idea! My husband and I bought our first home a few months ago and it has been shocking how many ways cold air can get into your house without even realizing it. Our quick tip for winterizing our home has been a simple fix of putting up curtains – it seems like such a basic thing, but it actually works quite well to insulate our super drafty old windows.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - February 17, 2015 - 7:46 AM

    LOVE what y’all are doing in the kitchen and can’t wait to see the next update / finished product. Thanks for this practical and oh so easy top by the way! I live in a renovated 1930s house and while it is well insulated and retains warm / cool air, I think this would make even more of an impact. Good fortunes to you both!ReplyCancel

  • Erin F - February 17, 2015 - 7:48 AM

    wow, didn’t even know these existed!ReplyCancel

  • Harper - February 17, 2015 - 7:49 AM

    What is the reasoning behind not using them on dimmer switches? I’ve never heard that before. Also, I’ve never been able to find them for the decorator outlets like you used above. I know you cut yours to fit but do you happen to know if they make them in this size already? We can’t be the only ones needing them!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 9:22 AM

      Yup, you can get them in the rocker panel shape! For the dimmer switches, it was a CAUTION on the back label – I would definitely just read the package of whatever you end up purchasing.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - February 17, 2015 - 7:49 AM

    I used those and put foam sleeves on my water pipes in the basement at my old home. I’m about to do the same to the new (very drafty and cold) home we just bought!ReplyCancel

  • Giuliana - February 17, 2015 - 8:04 AM

    Thanks for the giveaway! I can’t wait to see your kitchen!!ReplyCancel

  • Nate - February 17, 2015 - 8:06 AM

    Switching ceiling fan directions, wrapping pipes, and shutting off unused room ventsReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 9:24 AM

      YES a thousand times to all of these! Changing the direction of our ceiling fans helps immensely.ReplyCancel

  • Kris - February 17, 2015 - 8:24 AM

    We use those foam outlet covers downstairs. Even though our house is newer, having an exposed lower level seems to let the drafts in or they insulated poorly.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Gatalica - February 17, 2015 - 8:27 AM

    WE actually never realized how drafty a home could be until moving into our rental! We’ve had to add extra insulation underneath the sink to stop our pipes from freezing and are still having difficulty blocking the draft from our mail slot!ReplyCancel

  • Lucy - February 17, 2015 - 8:36 AM

    I’ve been meaning to do this and with the NE winter raging on. I’m going to stop procrastinating and get this done tonight! Thanks for the inspiration.

    On the topic of insulation, can you/readers provide recommendation on how to add insulation to the base of the windows? Is it as easy as drilling a small hole and filling it with foam insulation?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 9:32 AM

      Lucy, we’ve been (slowly) redoing the window frames and ledges around every window in this house, so we started by taking off whatever was there (if anything), and filling the gaps with the foam insulation. I think the trick is to get a nice line all along the bottom and sides if necessary, rather than small areas here and there. HOWEVER, if you don’t want to take apart your window ledges (who would?), then any little bit helps! I will say that seeing the bare window will help you to see where the gaps are and what the best course of action would be.

      Does anyone else have any recommendations?ReplyCancel

  • Chloe - February 17, 2015 - 8:42 AM

    Moving into a new drafty house this week–definitely planning on doing this!ReplyCancel

  • Loryn - February 17, 2015 - 8:47 AM

    I have the foam thingies, but haven’t tried the caps. The air just pours through our uninsulated walls, so I’ll have to get those, too!ReplyCancel

  • Allison - February 17, 2015 - 8:51 AM

    these are great! we just re-caulked around all of our windows. we live in an older home and are working to make it more efficient, so until we can replace the windows we settle for re-caulking and leaving towels on all the windowsills. not super glamorous but it does make a difference! that is until our bloodhound takes the towel to play with.. :/ReplyCancel

  • Amy Lynn - February 17, 2015 - 8:51 AM

    And we have yet to turn our heat on this winter. It’s fantastic, but it’s also making me very leery of that first winter time gas bill once we move out of our cozy condo. When the time does come, we’ll keep this tip in mind … thanks for sharing! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 9:27 AM

      That is incredible. There are definitely times when we miss our condo for these simple little pleasures! Hope to see you SOON (we missed you this past weekend!).ReplyCancel

  • Nicole S. - February 17, 2015 - 8:56 AM

    What a genius idea! We just replaced several outlet covers and never thought of this. Will be sharing this post with my handy hubby!ReplyCancel

  • AnnMarie - February 17, 2015 - 9:07 AM

    That is such a genius idea – I’ve never even heard of something like that before. The extent of my winterizing is shoving a door mat under the drafty front door. I live in an older home, but I rent. We just keep the house fairly cool and wear sweaters, ha. It helps that the winter out here in the West has been ridiculously warm and easy!ReplyCancel

  • MB - February 17, 2015 - 9:12 AM

    I did this in each of my last 2 homes and it may have been the single best comfort improvement I made. Totally eliminated that little winter chill that I’d notice while just sitting and watching TV at night. LOVE this solution!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin Traniello - February 17, 2015 - 9:24 AM

    This is SO perfectly timed! We live in the TUNDRA west of Boston and although we have a pretty well insulated house we noticed last weekend that there is a little draft from the light switches next to our front door and the door in our kitchen. The one in the kitchen is 3 switches..1 of which is a dimmer. So these would be a no-go for that switch plate?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 9:28 AM

      We have a dimmer in our entryway too, and it’s part of a 3 switch panel. We used the “coats” on the two switches that were NOT dimmers, which helped a lot! Just make sure to read the package of whatever outlet seals you buy. Ours had a word of caution against dimmers.ReplyCancel

  • Deborah Hayes - February 17, 2015 - 9:31 AM

    We are very diligent about winterizing our sprinkler system. We don’t know what we would do if it broke since it is so helpful to have it working when we are trying to grow grass!ReplyCancel

  • Brittney - February 17, 2015 - 9:35 AM


  • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 9:38 AM

    Boy do I feel you! We moved into a 2,000 sqft home (built in 1911) and it is SO drafty – even with all new windows! I’ve never heard of these before, but I’m definitely going to look into them. Thank you! :)ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - February 17, 2015 - 9:39 AM

    Ah! This is so helpful! We have just a 500 square foot apartment and our heating bill has been far higher than it should. I’ve been painting every room and as I removed all the plates, I couldn’t believe how much cold air was coming in. I’ll definitely be using this.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - February 17, 2015 - 9:41 AM

    Until we can replace our gigantic 1950 picture window we are using plastic for an extra layer. During the past few blizzards you can hear and see the plastic bowing inward from the drafts.ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 17, 2015 - 9:44 AM

    Ooh, what a great tip. We’re about to schedule an energy audit of our (entire) house, and this is a small effort that probably has a good-size impact on energy conservation. Thank you for sharing! (and for the giveaway!)ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen - February 17, 2015 - 9:52 AM

    Your tips and tricks never cease to amaze me! And coming from someone who is always cold but hates to see that heating bill climb, this is so great to know!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle V. - February 17, 2015 - 9:53 AM

    Man, I live in an old house, too, and I never would’ve thought of doing this!ReplyCancel

  • Hailey - February 17, 2015 - 9:55 AM

    All I know is we plan to completely renovate our kitchen this year and we could use this gift card!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 9:59 AM

      Oh, how exciting! I better see photos, woman!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - February 17, 2015 - 10:03 AM

    We just had the power company come out and give us a free audit and some swag to help with winterizing – those power covers were in the kit! We need to get on sealing cracks around the doors and windows!ReplyCancel

  • susan soule - February 17, 2015 - 10:09 AM

    it’s c-c-c-cold in maine as well. i’ve used these little outlet ‘coats’ and they do make a difference!
    thanks for the great give away…ReplyCancel

  • Carley - February 17, 2015 - 10:10 AM

    I used to live in a “sandwiched” apartment and I rarely turned my heat on either. I bought my first house during the summer last year and I’m fortunate that – even thought its an old house – it’s small enough and well insulated enough that my heating bills have been reasonable.ReplyCancel

  • Kaitie - February 17, 2015 - 10:15 AM

    I have an old farm house in WI that my husband and I are renovating need to but coats on my outlets too.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - February 17, 2015 - 10:15 AM

    Not quick – but we replaced our windows & front door this year and it has made SUCH a difference, and I was so surprised at how affordable it was!!! Especially with the rebates from our local utility company!!!!ReplyCancel

  • LaVonne Sanchez - February 17, 2015 - 10:16 AM

    Since moving into my 1960’s home, I have also learned about the benefits of outlet coats.ReplyCancel

  • Kayla - February 17, 2015 - 10:27 AM

    That’s a great tip! I’m always trying to find all the little ways that air gets in, and I didn’t know that this was one of them!ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa S - February 17, 2015 - 10:28 AM

    We’re in Texas so the cold never becomes too much of an issue. I had no idea outlet coats were even a thing!ReplyCancel

  • Alex - February 17, 2015 - 10:31 AM

    What a clever tip! Would never have thought to do that, but it makes sense.ReplyCancel

  • Erica Wolff - February 17, 2015 - 10:38 AM

    This is such a great idea! I am looking to replace our windows on our 110+ year old home. Looking forward to seeing that change.ReplyCancel

  • Liz - February 17, 2015 - 10:40 AM

    Ah, drafts…our 7 year old windows were falling out of their frames for the past 12 months, and we FINALLY got new windows about three weeks ago. Amazing how much easier it is to get out of bed in the morning when your bedroom isn’t 50 degrees!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Brown - February 17, 2015 - 10:42 AM

    we change the heater filters and run ceiling fans reversedReplyCancel

  • Nathan - February 17, 2015 - 10:50 AM

    I put these throughout our house and they do make a big difference!ReplyCancel

  • erica p - February 17, 2015 - 10:50 AM

    Im very bad in this area. Our home was built in 1923, so we should do something for sure about better insulation. Thanks for the awareness on this.ReplyCancel

  • Bethany Wellman - February 17, 2015 - 11:03 AM

    We block all the vents in rooms we hardly use to direct the heat to our bedroom and living room. Also a space heater is our best friend! Thanks for the giveaway :)ReplyCancel

  • Emily - February 17, 2015 - 11:10 AM

    What a perfectly timed article! My husband and I just became first-time homeowners and are completely renovating our house that we just bought. We’ve actually JUST started on upgrading the electrical in the kitchen.. I’ll have to suggest these to him as the house is quite drafty!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 11:59 AM

      I’m taking a peek through your blog and can’t wait to follow along on your adventure! That house was BRIGHT. Wow!ReplyCancel

  • Trilby C - February 17, 2015 - 11:41 AM

    We now live in a very nicely built house that’s already heat & energy efficient, thank goodness! But, one trick we do is close the blinds on the windows each night to give ourselves just a wee bit little extra insulation – keeping the warm air in our rooms just a little bit longer!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 11:51 AM

      That’s a good tip too. We keep our blinds closed in all the rooms we’re not using, and we close the others before we go to bed at night. Makes a big difference!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - February 17, 2015 - 11:50 AM

    We did this when we moved into our new house. Every little bit helps!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - February 17, 2015 - 12:02 PM

    We called our energy company for an energy audit and they included so many wonderful little things to make our home more efficient, and “outlet coats” were one of them. Seal any cracks, our home is less than 10 years old but they did a poor job on our bonus room above the garage. We sealed a 3 in x 10 ft gaping hole under our heat registers.ReplyCancel

  • Bridget P. - February 17, 2015 - 1:01 PM

    That’s cool. Living in Southern California, I’ve never even thought about this.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - February 17, 2015 - 1:14 PM

    Great tip! I am moving from a one room apartment on the 2nd floor to a 3 bedroom townhouse in a month – winter in Minnesota! So any ideas to save money on utilities are great! The only thing I’ve come up with so far is to wear a hoodie and slippers everywhere!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica E - February 17, 2015 - 1:16 PM

    Since we have a wood burning stove, we don’t use our propane furnace in the winter. I put plastic under all the heating vent covers. Keeps out so much cold air!ReplyCancel

  • Laura C - February 17, 2015 - 1:24 PM

    Those are great – I’ve never seen them before. I’m definitely buying these – we can feel the cold air blowing in around the outlets in our house.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - February 17, 2015 - 1:44 PM

    My husband put these in our house and they definitely help with keeping the air out!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - February 17, 2015 - 2:14 PM

    We lived in an old home for 7 years and it was terribly drafty! It would be interesting to see how big of a difference this would make in that house.ReplyCancel

  • […] 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…Read On » […]ReplyCancel

  • kathyg - February 17, 2015 - 3:11 PM

    Love ACE! I used these years ago in my older home, and totally agree how much difference they made. Thanks for the reminder!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon - February 17, 2015 - 3:15 PM

    this seems like a fire hazard, but i’ll trust you :) i’m so scared of anything electrical, but i’m gonna go for it!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 3:27 PM

      I honestly thought the same thing when Scott first showed them to me. But they are UL listed, so they’re doing something right!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - February 17, 2015 - 3:47 PM

    Is it worth it to do this on interior walls or just for outlets that are on exterior walls?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 3:53 PM

      Just exterior walls. The walls that allow that cold to get in! Interior walls are fine without the little coats :)ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - February 17, 2015 - 4:03 PM

    We don’t do anything to winterize our home because winter is the nice time of year here, but the summer? Think everything you can possibly do to keep the cool air IN and the hot out (including putting the little outlet coats on.)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - February 17, 2015 - 4:06 PM

    We did this last year in the upstairs of our old house. I really think it helped a lot and plan to finish downstairs soon!ReplyCancel

  • Anna J - February 17, 2015 - 4:23 PM

    Great idea! Our old home has lots of drafts. I need to this to our outlets. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth G. - February 17, 2015 - 4:47 PM

    We use window winterizing kits for our drafty windows.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Flasche - February 17, 2015 - 4:49 PM

    Good idea, we’re always looking for ways to keep the chill out.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - February 17, 2015 - 5:59 PM

    My husband and I just bought our first home a few months ago and since we live in Colorado, winterizing is a pretty big priority! We have two dogs and we used to leave them access to a doggy door all night, but since this winter has been particularly cold we’ve had to switch to getting up to let them out when they ask! More work for us but it has made the house so much warmer.ReplyCancel

  • Sabrina - February 17, 2015 - 6:43 PM

    My favorite winterizing tip? Live in Texas. It’s discouraging otherwise though…it’s been back and forth between 28 and 80 degrees in the same week so many times already in the last 3 months!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2015 - 7:04 PM

      That’s what our friends did last year! Chicago lost a lot of good ones after that last one…!ReplyCancel

  • Kyley & Ammo the Dachshund - February 17, 2015 - 7:25 PM

    we always make sure to drain all our outdoor hoses and turn off the water to any outdoor spicketts. I also bring my rain barrel inside. Nothing worse than things freezing and breaking!ReplyCancel

  • Natasha - February 17, 2015 - 8:10 PM

    This is genius! I have seen plates like that but I had no idea what made them different. Glad to know!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - February 17, 2015 - 8:37 PM

    Winterizing in FL isn’t quite as dramatic but we do most of the same things – I put up heavier drapes and close them when the sun goes down to keep the heat in.ReplyCancel

  • Haley - February 17, 2015 - 9:35 PM

    Seeing as it is 10 days until we close on a house I have little experience. Most of my experience is insulating pipes and letting faucets drip. I am going to be a learning a lot soon, I am sure.ReplyCancel

  • tammigirl - February 17, 2015 - 9:36 PM

    I end up using lots of plastic over windows, for the big one. It really helps a lot.ReplyCancel

  • Kara - February 17, 2015 - 9:53 PM

    Curious about not using the foam in dimmers… is there heat produced from the dimmer switches, is that why?ReplyCancel

    • Kara - February 17, 2015 - 9:54 PM

      Ooops… just saw one of your earlier posts that talked about this. Thanks for the great tip – learn something new every day.ReplyCancel

  • Drasa - February 17, 2015 - 11:56 PM

    I check the caulking and add more as needed around our old windows and also have draft rugs that I add to the bottom of our doors.ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - February 18, 2015 - 12:32 AM

    Oooh, I’m in the midst of a home refresh and could use a gift card!ReplyCancel

  • Heather B. - February 18, 2015 - 6:37 AM

    Can’t wait to see the next kitchen update!ReplyCancel

  • Alex - February 18, 2015 - 8:24 AM

    Curtains make such a big difference in keeping the cold out!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - February 18, 2015 - 9:07 AM

    Our house is so drafty! We’ll have to take a day and do this to our exterior outlets.ReplyCancel

  • Haley - February 18, 2015 - 9:19 AM

    What a great idea! We live in an old apt building and this can definitely come in handy. When I lived in an old house a couple of years ago, I sealed the windows with the seran wrap type stuff (I wish I knew the actual name) and it made a huge difference. Also, buying a heater with a remote control was really helpful. I’d turn it on the second I woke up and wait in bed a couple minutes before i got ready for the day.ReplyCancel

  • Terra J - February 18, 2015 - 9:34 AM

    I recently moved from the heat of the desert to the cold north, winterizing a home was never anything I thought about or even knew about. But I am learning, the first thing I did was cover all my windows with insulated window coverings then covered my floors with area rugs. This tip is great, never even thought about my outlets.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - February 18, 2015 - 10:10 AM

    We have started using the shrinkwrap window treatments for our older windows. Feeling a breeze when the window is closed, is always a bad thing!ReplyCancel

  • Katherine J - February 18, 2015 - 10:25 AM

    We bought a home built on a slab foundation. Boy does the downstairs get freezing! Double honeycomb pleated blinds have helped, although they were a bit pricey. I figure they might take a few seasons to reap the harvest financially, but we will be a lot warmer in the meantime!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica M - February 18, 2015 - 11:05 AM

    We live in the ‘snow jackpot’ zone north of Boston, and we’re currently trying to figure out whether the 8-ft snow banks around our house are helping or hurting in terms of insulation! Our tip for winterizing is to hang heavier drapes. Like others said, they definitely help absorb the chill from drafty window frames.ReplyCancel

  • Ellen Tillery - February 18, 2015 - 11:30 AM

    How have I never heard of these before? I think I’ll be counting outlets and switches tonight when I get home. My circa 1954 house is poorly insulated, so my heating bills are high! I hope these make a difference.ReplyCancel

  • Dani Perkins - February 18, 2015 - 11:31 AM

    I just replaced our very old round honeywell thermostats with new programmable ones, and it helps so much that we don’t have to worry about forgetting and leaving it turned up too high during the workday or at night!ReplyCancel

  • Jenn Cooley - February 18, 2015 - 1:37 PM

    We were just planning to do this to our outlets. Your blog posts are always so timely. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 18, 2015 - 5:44 PM

    Close the door quickly! An easy one for sure, but somehow the kids like to leave it open for the next person no matter how far behind they are.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - February 18, 2015 - 7:45 PM

    We’re caulking around all the window and door frames to help winterize our home. I think we’re going to try to cap off our outlets too – thanks for the idea!ReplyCancel

  • AshleyM - February 18, 2015 - 9:23 PM

    I was just telling my BFF about these last week! We added them to the exterior wall outlets of our home and they do make a giant difference! So awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Michele P - February 18, 2015 - 9:52 PM

    we seal off rooms we are not using and close the grates (we have forced hot air) to keep the heating costs to a minimum. We also put plastic on the windows that are not energy efficient.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer C - February 18, 2015 - 11:15 PM

    This is a great idea. I’ve gotten replacement windows and did a lot of caulking in the process. And got 2 new storm doors for doors that did not have them. I have a lot left to do unfortunately-the doors drafty-I can see light through the edges and my attic door doesn’t exactly fit in it’s spot.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline Bedard - February 19, 2015 - 12:46 AM

    Ok, I’ve had the little coats waiting for a couple of years – we live in California, so it’s not a dire situation, but still. You’ve inspired me to get on with them! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Marita - February 19, 2015 - 6:26 AM

    How timely (once again)! I noticed quite the draft coming from an exterior outlet in our living room. Thank you for the reminder to install the outlet coats. It’s been added to the to-do list. Now, as to spraying insulating foam into all the cracks…ReplyCancel

  • Mary - February 19, 2015 - 8:33 AM

    Actually, I think those outlet covers are genius (I did the City of Chicago weatherization program, which included tons of fun stuff like that!). Right now though, the moving mat my husband hung over the doorway to an old porch (with terrible winterization) is making the biggest difference for me!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - February 19, 2015 - 8:58 AM

    Waking up in the south to 10 below zero this morning (with wind chills about 20 below)sure does make one think about keeping the inside of the house toasty warm. One thing I’ve always done in the winter is to keep my blinds and/or curtains drawn over the windows. It’s crazy how much draft you can keep out just by doing it. Kitchen is looking great. Can’t wait to see the finished product!ReplyCancel

  • Christa - February 19, 2015 - 9:25 AM

    Honestly we don’t really do anything to winterize here in southern NM. Lucky us!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - February 19, 2015 - 1:26 PM

    Luckily here in SoCal there’s not much we have to do (although friends in the mountains have to!). But when the Santa Ana winds blow in this time of year, it certainly points out any spots in the window frames that need fresh caulking!ReplyCancel

  • Amber - February 20, 2015 - 5:03 AM

    i never remember to close the flue. If we have a fire in the fireplace, the next morning our room is freezing. I need a sign to remind me.ReplyCancel

  • Erin@Suburban Bitches - February 20, 2015 - 2:49 PM

    Thank you! I’ve had a draft coming from the outlet in my office and I keep meaning to do something about it. Now I know just what to do! BTW- those kitchen countertops are so beautiful!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly C. - February 24, 2015 - 11:19 AM

    I’m curious how you decided on the single bowl sink, instead of the double basin? So far, are you happy with how it is functioning? We currently use one side of our double basin for a drying rack, and I was worried with a single basin we would have to move the drying rack to the counter. Do you place a drying rack on your counter, or are you responsible enough to dry and put away immediately? ;-)

    You’re kitchen is looking amazing! Can’t wait to see the final touches!ReplyCancel



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.

kitchen-cabinets-02 kitchen-cabinets-03

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.

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 10, 2015 - 8:55 AM

    Looking so good! We’ve got one of those tip-out drawers in front of our sink too – when the former owners renovated the kitchen in our house about 20 years ago (and had custom cabinets made), they must have specified one of those. It was kind of a fun discovery when we moved in.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 10, 2015 - 9:28 AM

      Awesome! It’s normally such a funny little waste of space. Love that we’ll be able to hide some of the uglier sink supplies now!ReplyCancel

  • krystal - February 10, 2015 - 9:48 AM

    It looks awesome. I love the picture of the dog too… mine also sits at the garbage to make sure nothing goes in that can go to her.


    • Kim - February 10, 2015 - 9:54 AM

      This is so true. Just scraping the tiniest crumb into the trash breaks Jack’s heart. Which then breaks mine. I’m a sucker.ReplyCancel

  • Helen - February 10, 2015 - 10:38 AM

    That’s a bummer about the fridge depth issue. I’m curious – would it have been cheaper to craigslist your existing fridge and maybe get a counter depth fridge?

    The cabinets look great – and you will never regret the rollout shelves and storage!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 10, 2015 - 10:48 AM

      It was cheaper to fix the surround, for sure. Plus, we love our fridge so much! We got it not that long ago, and our friends with a counter depth fridge are always saying the lack of internal space is pretty drastic. We did consider that for half a second, but in the end, we think it’s worth it to fix the issue.

      And thank you!ReplyCancel

      • Helen - February 10, 2015 - 11:20 AM

        Counter-depth fridges are also really expensive so if the cabinets can be changed for less that totally makes sense to me. I’m so excited to see your counters!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany - February 10, 2015 - 10:50 AM

    What a difference, all right! Your original kitchen is the kind the makes me nervous in homes, with all the appliances just floating around untethered. Your new space is so functional! All the magical hidden whozits and whatsits are amazing. Secret storage is the newest must-have on my list for my ever-distant (but still so real and near in my mind) kitchen reno. Can’t wait to see it with the counter tops!!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - February 10, 2015 - 12:16 PM

    It looks SOOOO good! Sorry the fridge surround fix was costly, but my goodness what a gorgeous kitchen yours is shaping up to be! I LOVE my pull out trash and recycle drawer, it is so nice to not have it out in the open. I think you guys will be pleased with that addition.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - February 10, 2015 - 1:34 PM

    My spices are right next to the oven (I think they have been for about 2 years now), haven’t had a problem if that gives any peace of mind ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kari - February 10, 2015 - 2:57 PM

    I’m so glad you’re getting the fridge situation figured out! We were just gifted a brand new fridge and we are over-the-top blessed and excited. The only drawback is that it’s much deeper than our previous 30 year old fridge and it extends beyond the doorknob into our laundry room (with which it shares a wall). Functionally, it’s not a problem, but my heart sinks every time I go into the laundry room now.
    Seeing you fix your situation satisfies a lot of my desire to fix ours. I’m living vicariously through your solution!ReplyCancel

  • Clever Girl Reviews - February 10, 2015 - 3:25 PM

    I love counter depth refrigerators and made it a point to get one when I had my house built in 2005! I’ll probably get something similar in my next home as well!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 11, 2015 - 9:34 AM

      People seem to have strong opinions on counter depth refrigerators! Glad it’s working out :)ReplyCancel

  • Trude - February 11, 2015 - 9:29 AM

    Hooray for things that make navigating the kitchen so much easier! Loving that tip-out under the sink, genius.ReplyCancel

  • Jordan - February 11, 2015 - 10:16 AM

    Great job! All of the extra space you put in the lowers is amazing.ReplyCancel

  • qlkowa - February 17, 2015 - 3:45 PM

    This vintage cupboard looks great with this simple furtniture!ReplyCancel

  • Premium Lifestyles - February 20, 2015 - 4:15 AM

    I love the rustic simplicity here. I’m taking kitchen inspirations right now for our kitchen redo. You have touched the most basic concept of renovating, but you have presented your points very well.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - March 9, 2015 - 6:45 PM

    Love it!Could you tell were did you get these upper 3″ simple trims and lower(close to floor)? I must be blind cause I could not find something like that in Home Depot and I really need these…ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 9, 2015 - 10:48 PM

      Those were provided with our cabinets, but they look to be as simple as 1x4s cut down to size!ReplyCancel