Friday, January 27, 2012

Kitchen Remodel Part 4

In case you missed the exciting other posts about our remodel: Kitchen Remodel Part 3, Kitchen Remodel Part 2, and the first one Kitchen Remodel part 1

Well, we are at the end of the remodeling process for our kitchen. There are a few minor things that need to be done, but hopefully you don’t notice them in these pictures.

AFTER: Lots of light with white cabinetry, turquoise tiles,  and Carrera marble countertops.

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BEFORE: Plenty of darkness: dark cabinets, dark counters. And this photo below is after I dressed her up! See the end of this post for what it looked like when we bought this house. Warning, it ain’t pretty.

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BEFORE: 30” range, and awkward corner to left of sink that “jutted” out and ruined that counter space as anything but useable. (Not of big fan of lazy susans, which is what was in this corner.) In this photo you also can’t see where I melted my solid-surface countertops by the KitchenAid. Don’t forget to turn off your electric pancake griddle unless you want a replica of the San Anrdreas fault line in your countertops.

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AFTER: 36” dual fuel range, nice square corner to left of sink makes that spot very usable for prep work now. Oh, and those are my same utensil crocks. I took the old ones outside and sprayed them limey green with a $3 can of spray paint. Super happy with how they turned out.  I liked my stainless hood but love the cabinetry holding the hood insert way more. Of course this is vented outside as well. I’ve never understood hoods that are not vented--that just ‘recycle’ the air and spit it back into your house. That does nothing. I like to roast butterflied chicken at 500 degrees. And for that, you need a vented hood,  unless you like the sound of smoke alarms. Done that before.

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Before: An awkward island that had only two big sections meant always getting on my hands and knees to dig out pots and lids. Always a treasure hunt. (I did paint the island white last summer in an attempt to pacify my need for white cabinetry. It didn’t work.

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After: An island made of quarter-sawn oak that looks like a piece of furniture, full of drawers and pull outs for a super efficient use of space. Room to grow!

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Before: The pantry did provide lots of storage, but our fabulous cabinet maker, Ben Blackwelder, threw out the amazing idea of removing the pantry and adding a cabinet style pantry. Yes, I would lose storage, but gain counter space and make the kitchen tons better. (I have another pantry under the stairs.) I thought about it for a day or two and realized I would love that extra space for the kitchen instead so adios pantry! My yellow walls didn’t look this garrish. See this post for the etsy article feature that shows how nice the yellow actually did look.

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After: The cabinet style pantry is eye candy and our same refrigerator looks like an expensive built in. Oh yea! The tile in the pantry and entryway from the garage was removed and is now all hickory stained a medium brown. (I don’t like natural blond hickory. Gag.) The arched drop ceiling leading out into the garage was removed and a lovely chandelier added.

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Okay, that’s it for BEFORE and AFTER shots, now just some more after shots.

I’ve always hated the look of microwaves. I don’t think there is anything pretty about them. I’ve always had mine hidden in a pantry and luckily our cabinet maker agreed to keep it hidden because he too hates the look of microwaves. It’s just personal preference people, if you love your microwave, good for you!

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The cabinet maker suggested we use big drawers like the ones below to store all the everyday dishes that we unload 1-2 times a day from our dishwasher. Once again, super efficient idea. Everything is easily accessed for the children now as well. It’s always a bonus when my 8-yr old can unload the dishwasher without needing to reach high up to put heavy plates away.

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I’ve always loved subway tiles. This is the third time I’ve used them in my house(s). See this post with cream subway tiles in my last house. The soft turquoise tile is the perfect compliment to the Carrera marble counters. (And no, the green apples are not a prop. I am going to make a German Apple Pancake for breakfast Saturday morning.) Yes, I know, one of the outlet covers is white and not stainless. It’s on back order.)

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l didn’t want a white island as I know from experience the island gets pretty beat up from the children sitting at the counters and just general wear and tear for being in the center of the kitchen. I asked Ben Blackwelder to suggest something. He suggested something timeless like quarter-sawn oak. It’s so classy. It looks like a piece of antique furniture from the Arts & Crafts era. And because it’s not stained, it will age over time and get a gorgeous patina. Ben says it is treated in an ammonia tent which naturally changes the color of the wood. Ooooo, chemistry is magic indeed!

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I wanted contemporary pulls and knobs in polished nickel to go with the more traditional/transitional cabinetry. DSC_0124 copy

Speaking of polished nickel, these are the pendants that just make the kitchen pop. I spent hours and hours looking online for the perfect pendants. They needed to be contemporary, a little bit glam, and still look kind of vintage. These are the only ones that made me gasp with happiness when I saw them. (Do you like my reflection in the shiny pendant?)

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I knew I wanted a one-bowl sink again. I put one in in my last house and I have missed it for 5 years. There’s nothing like hiding dirty pots and pans in a big sink. Great for soaking the crusty junk on said pans as well. The faucet was a tricky one to find. I insisted the control be normal—meaning hot is left, cold is right. I do not like the new faucets where the control is attached to the right of the faucet and therefore back is hot, forward is cold, or something confusing like that.  And I already had a kitchen faucet before where hot/cold where two separate knobs and hated it. They are gorgeous, but completely impractical when you have raw chicken or enchilada sauce on your hands—hmm, let’s get the temperature correct, a little turn of the knob on the left, a little turn of the knob on the right, nope too hot, let’s try again. That faucet was the first thing to go in this house. This faucet (pictured below) is  the only one that fit my requirements. I wish I could’ve found one a bit more contemporary, but in this case, function trumped fashion. I love the dish soap dispenser on the left too.

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An open shelf was suggested by the cabinet maker to break up that huge wall of solid cabinetry. I think it’s the perfect place to add some bright colors, show off my mom’s china (that she recently gave to me—my Dad bought her this china in Japan in 1970 while he was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war) and store a few cookbooks. Some have asked why this little cabinet doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling. I don’t think it would look like a piece of furniture then. It would look like another cabinet. I love it as is.

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There you have it, my dream kitchen. Demolition began December 27, and today is January 27th, 2012, so not too bad. Living without a kitchen was no fun. At all. I think I’ll write another post about all the microwave meals that were a hit/bomb from Costco.

I believe in living better, not bigger. I have no desire to have a bigger house. Our house has good bones and we love it here. I just want it a bit more personalized to our liking. Please don’t think I am bragging in this post, I really am very grateful for all of this. My husband Paul and I worked really, really hard to save our pennies for this project. Paul is the happiest accountant ever and I run my own embroidery designs website. We have no debt (well, a few years left on the house) and we live frugally to avoid a few little luxuries like this kitchen. It took 5 years of living here to figure out how we wanted the kitchen and almost as long to save. That’s the bonus to remodeling vs. moving. With remodeling you can live in the space first and decide how to change it later.

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Oh, and by the way, one of my new favorite color combinations is gray walls and green furniture. In case you can’t tell.

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All homes have potential so don’t move, remodel! This is how the house looked when our realtor took us through way back in April 2006. I kept telling myself, “the house has good bones…..we can change all this…..”old kitchen2

And change it we did!

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Contractor: L&D Construction, Provo Utah.  801-836-3560. Leah Passey is the best. She always goes the extra mile for us and her prices are super fair. We’ve used her company before and we surely will again.

Custom Cabinets: Benjamin Blackwelder Cabinetry, Orem Utah. This guy has vision. His crew was awesome and they were super easy to work with. Cabinet color is ‘White Dove’ by Benjamin Moore Paints. (Jones Paint & Glass in Provo is the only place locally to get BM Paints.) Ben is the one who let me know that custom cabinets are only about 10% more than regular ones you’d get at Home Depot. Giddy-up!

Range: Kitchen Aid 36” Dual Fuel Range.  I paid $2,000 less than MSRP at Mountainland Supply in Provo, Utah. I’ve only seen comparable prices on Ebay. The hood insert and sink are from Mountainland Supply as well. Good deals at that place!

Hardwood floors: Pioneer Hardwood Pleasant Grove, Utah (801) 830-2115. Bobby re-finished our floors last year as well. He is a perfectionist, and it shows.

Pendants: Benson Pendant in 7” size in polished nickel from Restoration Hardware. Chandelier next to refrigerator is from Lowe’s, click here. Gorgeous at night all lit up! Knobs and Pulls are “Strande” also from Restoration Hardware in polished nickel. Gray wall color is “Whipporwill” by Millenium Paint. Just tell that to the friendly folks at Lowes and they’ll mix it right up. I love that you can get ANY color in small $2.50 samples at Lowes. Way better than buying a whole quart to sample. This is the perfect gray—it has just a touch of green to warm it up so that it doesn’t look so, well, gray.

Tile Backsplash: This is a 3”x6”glass tile by Dal Tile. The color is called Whisper Green but I would rename is Dreamy Soft Turquoise.

Kitchen Faucet: Delta Single Handle Pull Down with soap dispenser

Countertops: Carrera Marble through MGS Countertops. BJ is the owner and he is great to work with. He made sure I knew all about the pros and cons of Carrera. He even gave me a sample to take home and stain/etch so that I would have no regrets. I “spilled” raspberry jam, lemon juice, oil, and milk onto it to see the effect. He said it will take a year or so to develop a patina. Until then, some of the minor scratches/stains may bug me. I’ve never been fussy about having something look perfectly clean so I doubt I’ll be bothered. Ask me in a year if I feel the same way. In this last week we’ve already made some marks on the marble but they just leave a gray cast, which hello, the countertops are already white/gray anyway. There are no white granites (less maintenance than marble) and an engineered quartz stone (Silestone, Caesar stone) was $1,000 more than the Carrera. Gulp. Natural stone is less than engineered? Yup, I was shocked too.

Yes I know, the black barstools don’t go with the room anymore. But it’s January and it’s too cold to paint. I’ll spray them a fun color this summer when my Dad visits. Or better yet, purchase these.

Bon Appetit!



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kitchen Remodel part 3

It’s coming along! We’re so close to being done.

The cabinets are in now.  Here’s a little timeline of photos. The time between the first photo and the last is about 9 days.



Doesn’t Paul look happy to be standing in the construction zone?


The kitchen was masked off and ready for painting. The painting of the cabinets took place Friday and Saturday morning. I’ve smelled paint before—but this was lacquer, as in the smell of nail polish. The fumes were so bad we had to go stay with a family member Friday the 13th (appropriate day for bad luck) because it seemed as if a thousand bottles of nail polish were shoved up our nose for our enjoyment. Not exaggerating. At all.


The island is quarter-sawn oak. I didn’t want it painted white as I figured it would be hammered by this family of 5. Something classic like quarter-sawn oak was suggested by our cabinet maker. That made me happy. I used to have this piano pictured below  in my house, which is an antique made of quarter-sawn oak and I loved the grain. Timeless. Oh, excuse my adorable niece sitting at the piano. The piano now belongs to my sister-in-law Ilene. She had to send me this photo as I never took a picture of the piano when it lived in my house for many years. Gorgeous huh? The piano too.

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During the last two days Carrara marble was installed.

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Along with the hardware.DSC_0070_a_copyI was so excited last night I started loading up my dishes.


Final post next week after the backsplash, plumbling, and lighting is finished.


Friday, January 13, 2012

How to Make Pleated Drapes

I needed a project to complete while my embroidery machine was getting a check up at the shop and while my kitchen is STILL under construction. As part of the kitchen remodel I decided to nix the yellow walls and go for gray in the great room.

Did you know you can make pleated drapes without having to sew the annoying pleats? Super easy. Probably the easiest curtains I’ve ever made. No joke. I made these drapes in one afternoon. It took me maybe 3 hours total to make 2 very long drapes Probably more like two hours because I am a super fast sewer.

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You’ll need pleater hooks, pleating tape and rings (not clip rings). The pleater hooks come in packages of 10 which is enough if your panels are being made from 54” wide home decor fabric. The four-pronged ones are for the pleats. The fish hooks ones are for the ends of the drapes.


To make the drapes, I cut my fabric and lining 7-10” longer than the finished length. That gives me more than enough fabric for a header and for a nice wide hem. My drapes needed to be 89” long so 5.5 yards of fabric was exactly enough for the fabric and lining. No waste at all.

Place your fabric and lining right sides together and sew the sides, as seen below. My fabric was 54” wide and my lining was 52” wide which is exactly how I like it. I want my drapery fabric to be a couple inches wider than my  lining fabric that way the fabric naturally ‘wraps’ around to the back after it is sewn. You’ll see what I mean. Yea, I know it looks like the edges are not even, but the fabric slipped before I took this ph0to with my camera. They don’t have to be 100% even on the sides anyway, as long you sew straight that’s what matters.

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Slide your drapes over the ironing board and iron seams open. What else is new? In the world of sewing you always iron your seams open as that yields the best looking product. I’m all about cutting corners, but sometimes you can’t.

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Turn the drapes right sides out. Because the drapery fabric is wider than our lining by 2 inches, you’ll get a 1 inch “wrap around” on the sides. Iron in place with lots of steam.  (No photo but you can scroll down to see how the sides naturally folded towards the back.) I chose not to do this next step, but if you want to, you can sew a topstitching seam down the sides of the drapes now. I didn’t. That’s the whole purpose to having the drapery fabric wider than the lining.

Now you’ll fold the raw edge top down 1-2 inches. Iron with lots of steam. The pins were only used to hold the fabric in place until I could steam into place. This is where using the pleater tape saves loads of time over just making flat panels that you’d use with clip rings. You don’t have to worry about the raw edge because it will be covered by the pleater tape. (Obviously straight panels would require you to fold the raw edge over once and then again, iron and sew.)

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Sew on the pleating tape within 1/8” inch from the top, making sure you do not sew shut the ‘slots’ for the pleating hooks! Do your math to figure out how you’ll need to space your pleats.  Four slots are needed for one pleat so ideally you’ll have multiples of 4 ‘slots’ on your pleating tape but in reality you’ll need to skip 1-2 slots as I did.

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Slide your hooks in.  Once the drapes are hung and “smooshed” to the side of your curtain rod you’ll never notice that they are not spaced 100% evenly. And even if you do draw your drapes closed I bet you still won’t notice. (I don’t) The hardest part about inserting the pleating hooks is getting all four to slide in nicely without ripping through the slots. I poked through quite a few slots, but I just backed up and tried again. Easy! You’ll have to play with the drapery fabric after each pleat is inserted to get the pleats just right in the front.

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Hang one of your drapes, measure for the hem, remove drapes from curtain rod and sew hem with a blind hem as seen below. I always hang first to test for the hem length. It’s the only way to get the perfect hem 1/2” from the floor.  If you do not know how to do a blind hem, google it or look it up on you tube. It is by the far the most invaluable stitch you’ll ever learn. Hands down.  It is the difference between a home made look and a professional look. Because I didn’t topstich the sides and because I did a blind hem, the only stitches you see on my finished product are for the pleating tape. And even that you can hardly see because of the pattern of my fabric. Not to mention nobody is 89” tall and will see the tops too much. Why is seeing stitches a bad thing? It’s not, I just think it is a more professional look. But it all depends on the project. Sometimes I love to see topstitching.

Perfect blind hem as seen from the backside of the drapes. On the front you see no stitching.

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Total cost:

Premier Print damask fabric from Hancock Fabric store was $9/yd x 5.5 yards = $50.00 (I’ve seen this same fabric at for $7/yd)

Pleater tape from Hancock Fabric store was $2.50/yd. Since my drapes were 54” wide I purchased 3 yds. $7.50

Lining was the El Cheapo stuff as I didn’t need any of the good black-out stuff. $3/yd at Joann $16

Pleater hooks were $4 and I needed 2 packages $8 (Joann)

Rings were $4 and I needed 2 packages $8 (Joann)


I bought all my supplies by noon and the curtains were hanging by 6pm. Way to go me!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Kitchen Remodel part 2

Missed Kitchen Remodel part 1? Click here

Living without a kitchen is the worst. These pictures tell the sad tale.

Six months ago our dishwasher leaked and ruined our hickory floors. It took months for the hickory to dry out so that they could be resanded/refinished, but by then we were close to starting out kitchen project so we thought we’d do it all at the same time. Lucky us, our subfloor got ruined as well and had to be replaced. Thank goodness for homeowner’s insurance.



The above picture is the gaping hole when the rotted subfloor was cut out. The below picture is after it was replaced with new plywood and new hickory floor. The peachy stuff is the wood filler drying before the sanding occurred.


This is how we eat these days: frozen food galore.


This is my makeshift kitchen. Really, all one needs is a microwave and toaster to maintain survival. Happiness is not maintained, but survival is.



We took the kitchen apart before Christmas and stashed its contents into three rooms and one hallway. For crackers, spices, and baking products you’ll need to enter the office. Sadly, we never found the cinnamon last night for arroz con leche.


For fine china, a rolling pin, and a teapot,  you’ll need to enter the master bedroom:


Is living this way as fun as it looks? Nope.  Just look at Hallie’s face.


Thankfully it will all change this week as the cabinets are being installed. Sadly, 10 more days after that is the normal time for marble countertops to be cut and installed.  Kill me now.


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