After: kitchen

Kersten - January 29, 2008

The kitchen changed the most, and required the most work. (Demolition pictures here, subfloor here and here, tile here, and cabinets here.)


The kitchen was divided in half by the peninsula in the photo above. The oak cabinets were nothing exciting, and the appliances were serviceable but ugly.

The parquet flooring was a mess. It bowed, waved, rolled and curled because it was rotten underneath.


You’ve heard quite a bit about our grief with the floor. We used the same slate tile for the kitchen that we used in the entryway (and bathroom), and finished it with the enhancer that considerably darkened the color.

Cabinets are Ikea, naturally. Cabinet handles, backsplash system and shelves also are Ikea.

We replaced both lights, adding a track in the work area and a basic Ikea fixture closer to our dining table.

We closed off the walk-through from the living room to the kitchen in the name of claiming a bit of useable space. We added a massive cabinet to the kitchen side of the new wall (with a bookcase on the living room side).

Still to come: this mess. This is the washer-dryer cubby hole that needs a plumber’s soft touch before we can finish up. Right now it’s holding our leftover paint cans, the tile for the cubby floor, some drywall and Miscellaneous Crap We Have Not Cleaned Up.

(We have an appointment with a plumber Thursday.)

It’s not quite an “after” picture…

Kersten - January 3, 2008

…but I hope it tides you over for a while.

iphone slide lasagna.jpg

Tai took this Christmas Eve on his iPhone while cooking us a delicious lasagna for the holiday. The kitchen is fully functional but still not fully pretty.

We are about 98 percent unpacked and done with the renovation, but the remaining tasks sort of stick out (as in, gaps in the wall, unfinished book shelf, no fireplace cover, etc.). So we’re waiting to do a full spate of “after” photos until we are more done.


Kersten - December 18, 2007

As Kersten said in an earlier post, I chickened out on the concrete countertops. Time was running short, and trying to learn a new technique on such a tight schedule was giving me panic attacks. Instead we opted for the Numerar countertops from Ikea (pronounced “eee-kay-ah” in our house because it’s more fun that way).

Because the walls are as far away from being square as you can imagine, I had to scribe the ends and cut them at strange angles so there wouldn’t be any gigantic gaps between the countertop and the wall.

Once the cuts had been made I dry-fit the countertops in place to make sure that everything fit right before moving on.

Now it was time to cut a gaping hole in the countertop for our sink. We had originally intended on doing an undermount sink, but with the change in countertop and the nearly impossible task of finding an undermount that would fit our 30″ sink base cabinet, we ended up with a top mount also from Ikea.

Making that many cuts to the countertop made a big mess.

Final step was to fasten the countertop to the cabinets and call it a day (except I probably kept working until really late)

Concrete confession

Kersten - December 14, 2007

We’re not doing a concrete countertop.


Now that I’ve got that out there, this is what happened — we ran out of time. Making our own concrete countertop would have taken the better part of two weeks. We were ready for a countertop about a week ago, concrete would have taken longer, and I wasn’t about to delay our move-in date of TOMORROW — GASP! — because we really need our own space during the holidays. I hope you all still love us.

Some day — some day soon, we hope — when we are running on more than a few hours of sleep and when Tai hasn’t been up the night before until 4 a.m. installing a tile backsplash, and when I’m out from under a bit of stress from quitting one job and starting another and selling a car and packing up our life in the middle of it all, we will show you pictures of this place. If I don’t say so myself, it’s looking mighty fine. Even without a concrete countertop.

Kitchen, part 3…

Chris - December 7, 2007

As I said in the last post, because the kitchen is pretty small I wanted the materials in the kitchen to have a clean, modern character - and thus the unadorned cabinets and the beautifully-simple concrete countertops. But in order to give some life to the space, I wanted to do something special with the backsplash.

After looking at plenty of stone and porcelein tile - none of which really had the character of what I was looking for - I ended up on glass tile by Daltile. I love the reflective quality of glass tile, which in a small room adds an element of light without being ostentatious. I chose a combination of blue colors - 3″ x 6″ field tiles as the primary component of the backsplash, with 1″ x 1″ tiles as an accent above the sink. And, like with the countertops, I got a discount on the expensive glass tile which brought the cost down to nearly-reasonable levels.

The following photos show the tile installed, along with the painted walls and light fixtures from West Elm. Also, I splurged a bit on the faucet - opting for a restaurant-style combination faucet and sprayer. The appliances are all new, and from the same Frigidaire Professional Series. And the lights are pendant fixtures from west elm. And with the exception of trim and a couple outlets, the kitchen is complete. So nice to have a place to cook again…


Kitchen, part 2…

Chris - December 6, 2007

I had decided early-on, after I’d planned to buy this house, that I’d like to check into concrete countertops.  The kitchen is a pretty small space, and I wanted clean lines and a finish to the counters that was undistracting yet distinctive - and that meant no granite.  I went so far as to get a quote from a local fabricator - but when it came back at $120 a square foot, I revised my focus.  I just wasn’t interested in paying that much for countertops, no matter how great they were…

Just when it was time to get an order in for Silestone or some other product, my uncle approached me.  This uncle does high-end home renovations for a living, and he and a friend of his had decided to start a concrete countertop fabricating business.  They’d done a ton of homework and had made many samples, but hadn’t yet made a full countertop.  And while they originally thought that cast-in-place counters were going to be their focus, they were considering the option of precast.  It was perfect timing for me, as the cabinets were just about ready to go in - and because it was a test job for them in a way, I got a really great discount.  So I dove in…

The process was surprisingly quick for the fabrication, and I’m very happy that we went with precast - it meant no mess for me, and I didn’t have to deal with the unusability of the kitchen during the fabrication (not that I was using it, though).  And I am absolutely thrilled with the way thay turned out…


The sink is a black granite sink from Home Depot and does a really nice job (I think) of not distracting from the clean lines of the countertop and cabinets.  Again, because the space is small, I wanted the the quality of the materials and surfaces to be relatively subdued - with one exception.  I wanted to the backsplash to sparkle.  And that’s the subject of the next post…

Kitchen, part 1…

Chris - December 5, 2007

By the time the floors were complete, it had been eight solid weeks that we’d been without an operable kitchen. Dishes were washed in the small bathroom sink, meals were eaten in restaurants, ordered as take-out, grilled on the grill, or microwaved in my bedroom. Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to get to the kitchen…

I had actually ordered the cabinets prior to closing on the house, taking into consideration the delivery time and as an impetus to really get to work right away (weaving through over a dozen large cabinet-boxes is plenty of motivation to begin work!). This was a tricky proposition because, while the kitchen grew in size by a foot, the remodel actually eliminated some storage in the space - in order to bring the refrigerator into the kitchen, the pantry had to go. And I knew that I wanted to open up the kitchen more to the dining room to make the space feel larger, which meant losing yet more wall space. I toyed with the idea of eliminating the wall between the kitchen and dining room completely and doing more of an island - but this would have left me very short of cabinet space. So ultimately, I decided to open up the entrance to the kitchen by providing a 30″ “window” adjacent to the former narrow doorway entry.  (In the photos below, the first picture is essentially taken through the opening, and you can catch a glimpse of the opening on the left of the second picture.)

The cabinets went in fairly easily, considering the majority of them were connecting to a plaster-over-brick wall. The cabinets are a simple, clean design from Home Depot - maple with a spice finish. For food storage, I bought a full-height pantry cabinet with pull-out shelves which actually functions better than the old closet pantry. And while I accidentally ordered a cabinet to hold a microwave (rather than hang the microwave from), I decided to keep it and use the intended microwave space as storage for cookbooks and such. As it turns out, I actually have a bit more cabinet space than I actually need (although I’m sure I’ll end up filling it up)…

Next: concrete countertops!

It took a while to sink in

Kersten - December 4, 2007

We’re adding quite a bit of storage to this kitchen by ripping out a pantry closet and adding space where a pass-through between the living room and kitchen used to be. When Tai and his father worked on framing and adding drywall to that corner of the kitchen, they specifically measured out a spot for a tall Ikea cabinet that we knew would add a lot of space to a tight room.

Fast forward a month. As Tai tries to muscle the cabinet into the cubby hole, it’s apparent that something is horribly, horribly wrong. The space was built to be 30″ wide and the cabinet is 29 7/8″ wide. It was too tight and the old wall on the right wasn’t square (like so many things in this place) — it all made for an impossible fit.

The sad solution was to pull off the new drywall, shove the cabinet in there and hope that we’ll have time to repair the damage before moving in.

An angel named Becky

Kersten - December 3, 2007

We hit a snag in our enthusiasm last week and decided to spend a couple of nights shopping for stuff for the condo instead of killing our knees with more baseboard work. After we hit up a few places (I can offer solid recommendations for inexpensive Salt Lake-area appliance shopping now, fyi), we ended up at Lowe’s in Murray on a lark. We never go there; we try to avoid shopping in suburbia in general.

We are reformed. Because of this woman:

…who is the friendliest, kindest appliance saleswoman we have met. Such a joy. Also? She sold us a kitchen oven/stove combo for one-third of its retail price, meaning that we got a stove worth three times our budget.

We bought a microwave-hood and a dishwasher from her, too. The microwave-hood combination came with a little snack:

It’s all beginning to come together quite nicely.

As you can see, part of what we worked on this weekend was putting doors on the cabinets. The color is off in these pictures because the doors come with a protective layer of plastic. Once you remove the plastic, you have to immediately wash the doors and then let them “cure” for 24 hours without touching them. That will be the last thing we do before putting on the handles.

But the kitchen is really starting to look like a real kitchen.

Cabinets the Ikea way

Kersten - November 28, 2007

(Another post from Tai, since he’s doing all the work lately.)

Now that the flooring is in, our attention has turned to the kitchen. The Monday before Thanksgiving we spent the evening in the deep recesses of a gigantic blue building in Draper where we picked out the different cabinet pieces we needed to make our kitchen. About 3 hours later, the Element was absolutely loaded to the hilt with flat-packed cabinets and we were on our way to having a kitchen.

After an entire evening Tuesday and a trip back to Ikea to replace a tall cabinet that came pre-shattered, we had our cabinets assembled.

Wednesday evening after work I set out to install the cabinets, starting with the upper cabinets. Given the fact that there are no right angles in the kitchen, it took some time and a lot of fine tuning to get them installed just right and leveled.

Thursday we took the day off to consume the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes but we were back at it Friday and Saturday. After the upper cabinets were installed it was time to get going on the base cabinets.

The sink base cabinet was especially fun because the plumbing comes out of the wall in exactly the wrong place, so I had to do a bit of work with the jig saw and then reinforcing everything.

We picked up the cabinet doors last night and this weekend I am going to start working on the counter top (more to come on that later). Things are starting to feel like this could be a home someday.

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