When $&!t got ugly
Ok. Phew. So much to unpack as we have had a lot of ground still to cover (hence the 2 part posts)! If you haven't been following along, you can read about everything up to this point here in Part 1.
A quick recap of photos: 1) Kitchen was ugly 2) But maybe not quite that ugly 3) And we ended our last post here. MAJOR PROGRESS!
As I mentioned at the end of Part 1, we finally got our kitchen to a place that looked like some real progress. Just as soon as that happened, however, things had to get kinda ugly for a bit so that we could finish out the home stretch. Each project was now dependent on the step before it, so I couldn't really jump around as much from here on out.
The Tile Removal
So the ugliest thing that happened was removing the tile backsplash. Our old tile was, again, just your basic builder grade cream tile. Better than some horrific choices out there, but part of me just wished there was no tile at all so that we could have skipped this super messy step. I will say, in all honesty, I probably still "coulda/shoulda" skipped this step and just had the tile guys cut out the drywall when they did the new tile. I thought it would save us money and Covid had just begun so I clearly wanted something to do. This room was going to be covered in tile, I wasn't about to just stop under the cabinets and call it a day, so I decided I would much rather hire the professionals to tackle this step for me. But we also weren't comfortable with outsiders coming into our home in the very beginning of Covid (still aren't really), so once I removed the tile it stayed that way for what felt like eternity. Eternity = 3 months. So things sat realllly ugly for a while when they could have just cut the tile out the same day. Oops.
The Wine/Beverage Fridge
One thing that never made sense to me in this kitchen was that the upper and lower cabinets just stopped well before the door leaving a substantial amount of unused space. I knew that I wanted to extend the new counters all the way down, but decided that rather than having more cabinets, I would rather add a wine and beverage fridge below. So I constructed an end panel out of wood (you'll see that later) and we purchased two side by side wine/bev fridges that fit the space exactly.
Then for the uppers I really wanted to do open shelving but I wanted the shelves to be between the cabinets rather than just an extension on the end. So I removed the shelves that were there, separated the current uppers and just reinstalled them down at the very end which left a nice open space in the middle. I added new crown moulding and they now looked like they'd always been this way (minus the ugly business on the drywall!
The Shelves, Counters, & Tile
Once I had the cabinets separated I was able to build a frame for the shelving. I wanted them to tile around the frames rather than needing to drill into the tile later, so I built the frames and then waited for them to tile before I finished the outer portion of the shelves. BUT... we needed to install the counters before we installed the tile, so these next few steps were a bigger chunk of change and needed assistance from the outside. I continued with the same counter tops that we used for our island around the perimeter of the room and went with a beveled white subway tile since so much of the wall would be covered. There are so many gorgeous tile options out there, but I didn't want anything that would look too busy since we were covering such a large area and I loved the beveled edge vs. the flat tiles to add just enough dimension. An added bonus is that subway tile is always affordable, which is helpful when you need 150 sq feet!
I took my boys to my sister's beach house while the guys came in to do the work. Being away while they did it was KILLING ME! I was itching SO BADLY to see this massive step, but it was so worth coming home to it done!
Now I was able to add the outer portion of the shelves (think frames with a top, bottom and front "cap" that then translate to a chunky wood shelf). I have to say, they turned out even better than I imaged and I saved hundreds of dollars making them myself! I think I spent about $50 on supplies and had been quoted $750 for custom shelves! This is now one of my favorite features in the room and this side looks so much more balanced using the full wall!
You guys. This was such a big piece of the puzzle for me. Everything was a shifting moving part to a large puzzle and I just KNEW that I really wanted to anchor the space with a beautiful hood over my stove. But in order to do that, I would need to remove the microwave that was once over it as well as the cabinet above. Then, by separating out the cabinets I would need to re-crown the top and paint the sides of the cabinets that had never seen the light of day (the same way I had done with the uppers I moved for the open shelving). I had to detach the wiring as the outlet box was installed inside the upper cabinet rather than behind it (so that the microwave would reach an outlet) so this just took some figuring out on my end. My husband had just had a terrible cycling accident and subsequent surgery on his wrist, so he wasn't able to help me lifting or lowering anything heavy. Somehow I managed on my own... I'll spare you the details but boy that microwave was MUCH larger and heavier than it looked installed! Obviously I had to do this step before they tiled so that they could then bring the tile all the way up the back wall. What a difference it made opening up this space!
Now I have to say... I saw this hood and immediately loved it. And while there are even pricier hoods out there, this one wasn't exactly cheap when we were already paying a larger chunk for the new counters and full wall of tiles at once. I began to wonder if it would make as big of an impact as I imagined, but I also knew that I would kick myself if we went for some cheaper basic hood that just didn't give that same feel when you looked into the space. So we went for it and yep... totally worth it! Honestly it's even better in person.. but absolutely makes that space look SO MUCH BETTER!
*We did have to reroute the vent so I went ahead and had my contractor hang the hood and take care of the vent system for us which he worked out before they tiled.
So this last side of the room gave me some stress for a while, just figuring out exactly how I wanted to utilize the function of the space while still making it beautiful, and also figuring out the order of each step that I would need to tackle. I knew that I wanted to build in the fridge. So let's start there. When we replaced our appliances upon moving in years ago, we just basically wanted to fill the space that was there (a small fridge in a large opening looks dinky and just feels off in terms of scale), and I think we probably took the "go big or go home" approach while not really thinking about how far that would stick out into the room. Or maybe we did consider it and just did't care... it's hard to remember now.
Cut to now. I knew that I wanted a built in fridge, but once I built it in, there would be no changing to a counter depth fridge at a later date. So this ate at me as I weighed the pros and cons. Our fridge worked perfectly well, and it feels a little strange spending money on downsizing to something smaller. One major con, however, was that if we were to keep our current fridge and build it in, then we wouldn't be able to move it out down the road without first taking all the doors off due to its' depth and the width of the new island. Ew. Not the end of the world, but I knew that would be a major pain when it came time to replace it. So... we decided to take advantage of a 4th of July sale and went ahead and got the counter depth option. We had another older fridge in the basement, so we decided to get rid of that one and keep our big daddy fridge down there so that we would still have all of that extra storage we had come to enjoy.
One more glimpse of the "before" with that big clunker of a fridge:
So I removed the upper cabinets above and to the left of the fridge along with the little desk area exposing that amazing blue that was back there!
Next, I purchased two sets of 22" base cabinets from RTA Cabinet Store where it was super easy to find an exact match to my existing lower cabinets. I assembled and painted them (grey at first but I'll get to that later) and placed them in the space so that I would know my exact measurements to work with for the fridge surround. I then constructed a built-in for the fridge with a new upper cabinet (also from RTA) that fit the exact dimensions that I needed.
Thankfully it fit like a glove and already looked SO much better than the huge one we had previously!
To the left of the fridge we just had your standard little random desk area that seemed to come with all kitchens in the 90's and early 2000's. I always kinda hated that thing as it was just a dumping ground for papers and Lord only knows what else. We all have our "catch all" but I didn't love it smack in the middle of my kitchen. So I decided to build a hutch there that would now house our microwave as we didn't have a new home for it yet. I knew that I wanted a lot of drawers for the little things.. the pens, the scissors, the stamps, the batteries etc. So I designed a hutch that would fit our needs perfectly. As I said, this side of the room definitely stressed me quite a bit, as this piece was by far the most difficult thing I tackled in the space.
One last view of the "desk" that became our "microwave spot" since we didn't have anywhere else to put it after we installed the hood. Notice the sensory bin storage for the boys underneath. Definitely not the prettiest area in the house!
So I installed the base cabinets and then had another slab of quartz added to the top. I originally planned to paint this hutch in the same grey color as the island and use a butcher block countertop to make it feel like it's own piece of furniture in the room, but once I had it in the space I quickly scrapped that idea and decided I wanted it to be cohesive with the rest of the perimeter counters and cabinets.
Once I had this part installed I was ready to build the upper, small drawer and open shelving portion. This thing was much bigger down on the floor with me than it looks installed!
It took 2 grown men and myself to get this huge thing up there and drilled in. I ran into SO MANY problems along the way but that is a whole other blog post for another day! Once it was in, I was ready to finish off the edges with veneer strips, add moulding, caulk, and of course paint!
I ordered custom little drawers from cabinetparts.com and then added a little trim to make them look a tad less basic. We installed the microwave, added drawer hardware, and of course I couldn't wait to style it with all the pretty things. Voila! Lerve it!
The Pull-Out Trash
THE VERY LAST AND FINAL THING that we needed to complete in the space was the trash! Now that we had extended counters/cabinets all the way down to the door and built a hutch on the other side of the room, there was no longer a spot for an external trash can. This step makes me chuckle a bit about how excited I was to convert a lower cabinet and drawer into a pullout trash. And wait, it had not just one, but TWO 50Qt bins! Yep, apparently #thisis40 ! No more trashcan in a random corner of the room. We're movin' on up in the world, y'all. Ya know, becoming "those people" with pull out trash cans and all. Anyway, I just removed the lower door, drawer, inner hardware, and crossbar, and ordered a custom full length door to my exact specifications from Barker Cabinets. Again, I was able to select every little detail and it turned out perfectly! I purchased my trashcan pull-out system here. I didn't want short little trashcans that just fit under the cabinet door space, so these 2 50qt tall boys and their soft closing gloriousness are just perfect for our needs!
And that's it! Holy moly you guys... you made it to the end! I'll leave you with some shots of the whole shebang...