Kitchen. Beautiful (small) kitchen!Posted: April 7, 2012
Hallelujah, my kitchen is finished. It only took a year… that’s all. For what, 100 sq ft? But whatever. It’s done and I love it. I also feel a huge load off my shoulders with this major milestone complete. It’s funny how a large project in your home makes you feel like you can’t do anything until it’s finished. Or is that just me?
When I fist sat down with my friend and handy-man, Luke Pinnow, over a year ago, we discussed a ton of options for how I could update my very dated multi-decade kitchen, without spending a lot of money. I had a clear vision of what I wanted. White cabinets, robin’s egg accents, butcher block counters and a tiled back splash. I also wanted to increase my counter space and felt had the room to do it. There was some dead space katty corner to my sink, next to a window where I stored my garbage and recycling. We decided that by purchasing a skinny Ikea pantry and installing it in the dead space between the window and the electrical box (just past the edge of the lower right hand corner of the photo below), the smaller counter across from the sink could be extend and attach into the pantry, increasing both my storage and counter space, and hiding my garbage. huzzah!
It all seemed simple enough, but dancing around my budget was a little trickier. Replacing the cabinets was not an option. Too expensive. Luckily, the counters appeared to be easy to pop off the existing furniture so we went with a piece-mail solution. We thought I could potentially replace just the doors to my cabinets. Paint the bases and purchase doors at Home Depot or Ikea. Well, Home Depot cabinet doors were ugly and cost a fortune. They’re freaking particle board! how much craftsmanship am I paying for? And, Ikea had funny sizes that didn’t fit my bases (those damn Europeans). So paint it was. I could deal with that. Paint isn’t expensive and Benjamin Moore is less than ten minutes from my house. To give the kitchen some architecture, I had the idea that we (i.e. Luke) add some trim around the borders of the doors to give the impression of Shaker style moulding. It looked great. It was also a pain in the ass. That little idea increased my labor threefold. Not only did the doors have to be primed and then given two coats of white paint, but before that could even happen, the trim had to be sanded, nail holes and seams filled with wood filler, then sanded again. That’s for 18 cabinet doors. All the bases took a long time as well. But by December all my tasks were accomplished with the help of parents who probably thought that if they didn’t come to help me paint, it would never get done.
Anyway, after the New Year, Luke and I took a trip to Ikea where we “bought” (there’s a funny side story here that I won’t publish online) my lovely, coveted butcher block counters, toekicks and the skinny pantry cabinet. Over the next month Luke demo-ed my kitchen and installed above mentioned items, while also working on an emergency project for some other friends of his. I won’t lie, I was a little frustrated that what was suppose to take two days took close to 4 weeks, but I also realize the fee Luke charges me is partially based on my ability to be patient. And, let me note, there is no value higher than a friend who comes to works on your project with the same passion that you yourself have for it, and always with the warmest smile. Luke, without you, I would not have my amazing kitchen. Thank you!
My renovation would also not be complete without a shout to one of my best friends. Shala helped me out of a jam, and vice-versa, by moving into my spare room for a few months after my most recent roommate decided to move out right before the holidays. Shala had just moved back home from Costa Rica and the situation was mutually beneficial. She also gave up a day of her weekend to help me tile my back-splash. It was such a laborious process. My hands had scrapes and scratches from cutting tile and the tile has tons of nick from me just not caring by the end of the day. But we finished and after spending three hours the next day trying to grout only a third of the tiles, I hired out the remainder of the work to my co-worker’s boyfriend (Luke didn’t want the job… nor do I blame him). Can you tell yet that do-it-yourself home improvement is not my thing?
Anyway, the kitchen is finished and I was able to really personalize it in a way that I am especially proud of. I had the idea that I wanted all the knobs to be different and spent the last year collecting fun knobs. I also wanted contrast on the back splash, so I used a grey grout to offset the white subway tile. This was inspired by Bastile, a French restaurant in Ballard. Finally, I added a navy curtain along the new, extended part of the counter to hide all the garbage and recycling.
The final challenge I had was priming my wood counter tops. I love them so much, but the process is so much more involved than just four coats of oil. Perhaps that is a story for another day however.