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Kitchen Reno Part III: The Renovation

Happy Sunday everyone! I'm loving this rainy weather. It's still hot and humid, but it somehow doesn't feel as miserable. It's also the perfect day to stay inside and get some projects done! Today I'm going to try and figure out how to take in a few pairs of my jeans that are too loose. This could be a disaster. I have no idea what I'm doing. Pray for me.

Before I tackle that project though, I want to share the next installment in my Kitchen Renovation saga. So far I've posted about our kitchen before the reno, and I've told you all about how we prepped for this renovation.

Today, I'll be talking about the renovation itself! There was a LOT to do, but our contractor predicted he could have it done in just over a month.

Here is a full list of the work to be done as provided by our contractor:

  1. Demo of cabinets, plaster on walls and ceiling, removal of most trim to be re-used, order dumpster

  2. Electrical work will include changing circuit that still has old knob and tube. Add 2-3 outlets as required. 4 recessed lights and a ceiling box for light over sink

  3. Insulate 2 outer walls

  4. Plumbing work will include changing the washing machine drain in basement, also drain for new sink and hook up of disposal

  5. Build out space next to refrigerator to 25 inches

  6. Sheetrock and plaster walls and ceiling

  7. Make a small pantry closet right outside kitchen. Add pine door and 5-6 shelves

  8. Install new kitchen cabinets, fillers and moldings

  9. Trim work will include re-installing old window and door trim, new trim for kitchen window and new base trim, calk and fill trim so its paint ready

  10. Add 2 pull out drawers to 27 base cabinet

  11. Patch in small area of oak flooring, match stain, and poly floor

  12. Have granite counter tops and sink installed by KB surfaces

  13. Install customer supplied Faucet, knobs and handles, light fixture over sink.

  14. Install subway tile backsplash ($120 tile allowance)

  15. Install customer supplied Microwave and vent through wall, install dishwasher, range Refrigerator with water line.

Step 1: Demo

Our renovation started just after Christmas of 2016. Any of you who watch Fixer Upper know the renovation itself always starts with DEMO DAY!! Sadly, we did not get to take part in the fun of demo. I would have loved to rip off some of those gross cabinets, but we left that to the professionals.

I had sooo much anxiety about the demo, because this would be when we found out if there were any hidden surprises behind the walls that would cost us more money than we had planned.

Right before demo started, we had a huge dumpster delivered (that our contractor ordered for us) and it took up our whole driveway. That meant we had to park in the road for a few weeks. We planned poorly and this demo was taking place during the winter months when our city has parking bans every time it snows. We got REALLY lucky that there wasn't a parking ban while we had the dumpster in the driveway. I don't know what we would have done! If you live in similar circumstances, make sure you have a parking "plan B" during a winter demo.

Anyway! Demo started and finished in no time. After just a day or two, our kitchen looked like this:

Yikes! Scary, right? Our beautiful wood floors are under all that dust (but covered in heavy-duty paper to protect them, don't worry.)

After all the walls were exposed, we got some good news and some bad news.

The good news:

1. The soffit above the cabinets was just for show - it wasn't hiding any plumbing or electrical like we feared, so we'd have no problem bringing the new cabinets all the way up to the ceiling. Wooohoo!

2. The electric was NOT knob-and-tube like we thought, so we wouldn't have to have that replaced after all!

The bad news:

1. The kitchen had no insulation. This isn't that big a deal since we planned to replace the insulation anyway, but we realized that probably meant our entire house had no insulation. (Turns out that was true, which we've since had repaired, but that's a story for another day.)

2. The main water pipe for the house was seeping, so it would need to be replaced. Because of the way our bathroom was redone, they couldn't replace it from inside the house so they had to take siding off the outside to get to it, then replace the siding. Ouch! Luckily, this wasn't as expensive as it sounded and balanced out because of the money we saved on the electrical.

So all-in-all, the anxiety I had leading up to the demo was not worth it. Everything turned out better than I expected! So far, we were still right on track with our budget.

Step 2: Insulation, Electrical, Plumbing, and Counters!

Once demo was done, our contractor brought in the electrician to make small adjustments such as the location of the switches and outlets, and to add pot lights to the ceiling.

He also adjusted the plumbing once the new stack was installed so that we could center the sink under the kitchen window, and move the location of the dishwasher. They ran a water line over to the new location for the fridge so that we would be able to use the built-in water dispenser. Yay!

The new insulation was installed in no-time, and I already felt like the house was a little warmer.

While our contractor did all the work, we got to go pick out our granite counters from a store in North Smithfield, RI called KB Surfaces. We knew we wanted granite because it's durable and beautiful, and it's something we knew other people would like when we someday sell our house.

When we got to KB surfaces, someone took us around to show us all the slabs that fit in the granite budget our contractor had set. I'm such a picky person, and I just wasn't seeing anything I loved. I really wanted something simple and neutral and everything seemed so busy. Suddenly I spotted a slab of stone so beautiful I wanted to cry. (Yes, I'm super over-dramatic.) It was called "super white" granite, and it looked just like marble. It was a very soft white with a greyish tint, and had these really lovely dark grey swirls and stripes through it.

The bad news was, this granite was not in our price range. We'd have to spend an additional $900 to get the super-white granite. We had a few other slabs picked out that we thought were ok, but we decided to go home and sleep on it before we made our final decision.

After a good night's sleep, it was clear to us that we wouldn't be happy with the counter choices that were in our budget. We are in that kitchen every day, so we just wanted something we both really loved. We decided to just spend the extra $900 for the counters of our dreams. Look how lovely:

Step 3: Sheetrock & Plaster

There isn't much to say about this part of the reno except that it happened SO quick! One day I left for work and the kitchen was still dark and dreary. I came home the same day and was so happy to see the progress! The drywall was up - we were getting there!

A few days later, and all the plaster was done. I couldn't believe how light & bright the kitchen looked! I had never seen it like this - it had always been brown and drab and sad. The difference was unreal.

Step 4: Cabinets & Trim!

Only about a week later, all the cabinets and trim were up!! The cabinets looked great and I loved the new layout. (I'll talk about the layout in detail in my final post.)

The cabinets also went all the way up to the ceiling now, so the entire room looked bigger. The soffit no longer covered part of the window which helped with natural lighting too!

We were able to save some of the original trim from the house for the doors, and the rest of the trim work was done to match the original trim and keep that historic charm. You'll see some photos with the trim in the next step.

Step 5: Paint

We had a little bit of time before the new counters would be ready, so our contractor gave us the go-ahead to paint the walls & ceiling. We had decided to do this part ourselves to save money. We spent one full weekend painting with the help of my AWESOME parents (thanks Mom & Dad!!!)

We started by priming everything, and spent some time stripping the old paint off the original trim because it was in rough shape. We wanted it to be smooth and nice before we painted it so it would look good with the new trim. The paint proved to be VERY difficult to strip, and I almost think it wasn't worth saving that old trim. It was SO much extra work, and I think we should have just replaced it. But oh well, it's better for the environment and plus it's ORIGINAL which is cool.

The wall color we chose was Sherwin William's Requisite Grey, and the trim was Valspar in Whisper Softly. We chose Requisite Grey because it's a nice neutral "greige" color that's all the rage right now, and we thought it'd be great for resale.

I'll be including some better pictures of the paint color in my final post!

Step 6: Counters, Appliances & Floors!

Once we finished painting, our contractor came back for the finishing steps. First, the counters and sink were installed by KB Surfaces.

Next, he installed a nice neutral white subway tile backsplash. We chose white grout ass well, just to keep it nice and clean and neutral.

After the backsplash was done, our contractor moved in our new appliances. The fridge, microwave, dishwasher & garbage disposal went in no problem. My favorite appliance, the range, did cause some issues! The space between the counter & wall was a fraction of an inch too small for the range to fit. After struggling to fit the range in it's place for quite some time, my contractor ended up having to call KB surfaces back in to shave down the counters slightly. Once that was done, the range finally went into place! Hallelujah!

The final step was the floors. These were saved until the end since no one could walk on them for a day or two after they were done. We were lucky that we didn't have to have new floors put in. The wood floors in our kitchen match the rest of the house, and the floors ran all the way under the old cabinets. A few spots had to be patched where the old dishwasher was, and then stained to match the rest of the floors. Once that was done, our contractor put a layer of poly over the entire kitchen floor.

They are still (2 years later) the best looking floors in our house! Probably because the dog is too scared to go in the kitchen. What a weirdo.


So, there you have it - the kitchen reno was DONE! We were away on vacation for the last week of the project which was perfect since we couldn't walk on the floors anyway. We came home from an awesome vacation to a GORGEOUS kitchen.

In my next kitchen reno post I'll be sharing all of the before and after photos of the kitchen! I'll also share a before/after floor plan so you can see how we changed the layout.

I hope I covered everything here! Are you getting ready for a renovation? Is there anything I didn't cover that you want to know more about? Let me know in the comments below!

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