Tag Archives: remodel

Kitchen Reno Week 9: “Substantially Complete” is Music to my Ears

Welcome to week 9 of our kitchen renovation. This is the week we moved our stuff back in and I put my appliances through their paces – despite the fact we’re still not technically “done.”

Are you ready?


I wasn’t ready.

Everything is just so lovely. Jason remarked that this is the kitchen our house always wanted to have.


Cooking in the kitchen is a delight now. There is room on either side of the stove for bowls and utensils, and Jason and Hazel are frequently parked on those green stools, keeping me company while I make dinner. We have a speaker located near the fish tank, so I can listen to music or podcasts while I’m working. It’s just so pleasant to be in a space that functions so well.


So what’s left? Painting, for one thing, and the cabinetmakers still have some adjustments to make (like installing the trash pull-out). The transitions from the kitchen to the rest of the house need thresholds, and the doors to the laundry closet and storage closet need to be trimmed down and re-hung.

In the words of the contractor, we are “substantially complete.”

I won’t post again until those items are done, when we can have a big before-and-after party. Huzzah!



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Kitchen Reno Week 8: The Home Stretch

Most of the week was spent waiting for the counters to be fabricated and delivered. We even started leaving piles of mail and keys on the peninsula, since that’s an inevitability.

In the meantime, all the shiny knobs and pulls were installed on the cabinets.


It was like adding the right jewelry to a little black dress. Now the cabinets look finished.

On Monday morning the counter tops arrived. And there was even more rejoicing!


They are glorious and I love them.


On Tuesday the tile setters got to work on the backsplash. Because the rest of the room has so much texture, I chose a simple white subway tile. I was inspired in part by the “downstairs” tour we took at The Elms in Newport, Rhode Island a couple of years ago. Most of the behind-the-scenes spaces in that home were tiled floor-to-ceiling in white subway tiles, to reflect light and keep surfaces easy to clean. For example, here’s the kitchen at The Elms:


Notice a few familiar elements? Black lower spaces, white upper spaces, touches of copper…. when it comes to kitchens, I definitely have a type.

Here’s the tile in progress:


It will be grouted on Thursday, with a medium-gray grout. The plumbers are scheduled to be here today, to install the sink and hook up the dishwasher, and then this battle station kitchen will be fully operational.



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Kitchen Reno Week 7: Countertops

The Griner brothers tackled cabinet adjustments this week – one upper cabinet had to be re-hung, and one lower cabinet re-configured.

In the meantime, we moved on to selecting a counter top.

I will not bore you with the ins and outs of choosing a counter top material. Suffice it to say there are dozens of options and lots of price points. Lucky for me, I already knew what I wanted. When we involuntarily remodeled our kitchen after our last house caught on fire, we chose quartz counter tops (the existing counter tops were quartz, so it didn’t cost any more to replace with the same material). I LOVED those counters. They were beautiful, durable, and maintenance-free. And sparkly.


(That’s Silestone Stellar Night, if you’re curious.)

As much as I loved my black sparkly counters, I knew I didn’t want to repeat the color if the lower cabinets were also going to be black. I went back to my original inspiration photo for, um, inspiration.


I liked the idea of white counter tops with a little bit of “movement” (which is apparently the technical term for “fancy squiggles”). I finally selected this:


The contractor installed temporary counter tops so we could get used to the width of the peninsula and adjust it if necessary.


The end of this week saw a dramatic increase in activity as we push for the finish line. On Tuesday, the electrician arrived and put in outlets, switches, and light fixtures, AND the appliances were delivered.

APPLIANCES. And LIGHTS. All the pretty things!

By the end of Tuesday, the kitchen was a giant beautiful mess:


And now it’s time to introduce you to the very first thing we bought for our kitchen, the oh-gee-wow piece that is the literal center of the whole thing.


It’s a giant old copper wash tub that some enterprising soul flipped upside down and turned into a light fixture. Jason and I bought it at the Westside Market, our favorite antique/vintage shop in Atlanta, on our way home from Thanksgiving weekend. I have been patiently waiting for it to be installed.

And now it has been. And there was much rejoicing.



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Kitchen Reno Week 6: Cabinets!

The cabinets began arriving Friday afternoon, and honestly I couldn’t have been more delighted if they had been delivered by a parliament of Hogwarts owls.

Here’s where we’ve been since last Wednesday:


Our cabinets were made by the Griner brothers of Havana, who are always slightly grumpy. They keep a pay-by-the-minute phone, and when it runs out of minutes, you are SOL if you need to contact them. Our contractor once drove to Havana and left a note on their car when he needed to talk to them.

They are national treasures. But they make nice cabinets at reasonable prices, so we’ll let it slide. They arrived with a trailer full of awesomeness.


They worked most of Saturday afternoon to install all the cabinets, and now the kitchen looks like a kitchen again.


I am so impressed by the work the Griners did. I love all the details – the side of the fridge enclosure, the back of the peninsula.


I am deeply relieved that I love (LOVE LOVE) the matte black finish we chose for the lower cabinets. It looks great with the floors.

But my favorite thing in the whole room is this beauty right here:


It’s a giant, floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinet whose proportions match the original butler’s pantry you can see over in the back right corner. The Griners repeated this proportion on the panel that encloses the fridge, too.

The cabinet hardware arrived, as scheduled, on Valentine’s Day. This seemed like the logical next step:


The next week will involve a few cabinet tweaks and then on to counter tops.




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Kitchen Reno Week 5: The Final Flooring Chapter (Honest)

The floors are, finally, done.


Butterbean Sparkleface approves.

The tilesetters (from J&J Carpet in Cairo, GA) worked all day Thursday to finish laying the tile, sealing it, and applying mortar. This picture was taken before we swept up about a pound of mortar dust, so the color looks better in real life.

It’s amazing. It looks like it’s been there for 90 years, which is just what we were going for.

The next big phase will be cabinets. I ordered the hardware today. I picked these knobs, because they match all the old glass doorknobs in the house:


(Not actual size!)

And for pulls, I chose simple bars in the same champagne bronze finish. I went with the larger, 5 1/16 center-to-center length.


Yes, these are all over Pinterest. But I like them. SO THERE. And they’re arriving today! What better way to celebrate our tenth Valentine’s Day together?



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Kitchen Reno Week 4: Wait for it….

Week four began with a pause. The original tile crew took one look at job and tapped out. “We usually only do spec houses, slab on grade stuff,” they said, and left.

This was frustrating.

Our contractor quickly found a replacement from Cairo, Georgia, who started putting down cement board on Friday. He left our house at lunchtime, drove to the hospital, and was promptly diagnosed with pneumonia.

This was unexpected.

A backup from the same company arrived Monday and finished the cement board, then spread a level layer of mud over the small concrete slab by the back door, so that it’s flat with the rest of the floor.

The dog managed to screw that up in about an hour.


Le sigh.


On Tuesday, the backup-backup tile guy began laying the tile, and oh my stars is it beautiful.




I am 100% in love with these floors. And I know, we’re not supposed to love things, but hot damn. LOOK AT THEM.


He got about a third of the room done yesterday, including the difficult bit by the laundry closet, so I am hopeful the floors will be completely done by Friday.

After that, it’s just a matter of cabinets, countertops, backsplash, appliances, and lighting. No big deal.


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Kitchen Reno Week 3: Going Vertical

Week 3 got off to a slow start. The subfloor was 90% finished, but we were waiting on the HVAC crew to reroute duct work and cut new holes for floor vents, so all floor work was put on hold until that happened. Since the walls were about 50% opened up, we decided to add insulation to those portions. Every little bit helps!

On Thursday morning, the drywall crew descended. In one day, they’d turned the kitchen from this:


To this:


In addition to replacing the missing drywall, they smoothed out the heavy texture on the remaining walls and ceiling. Now they are like butter.

Monday morning, the HVAC guys arrived to do their thing, which took all of two hours. Since then, not much has happened. The tile setters should start putting the floor down later this week, and the cabinet guys have been sending pictures of the cabinets in progress.

We’re surviving well. I am working my way through a backlog of freezer meals, and I’m grocery shopping in the old style – buying just what is needed for a day or two, with no leftover ingredients.

Until next week!

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