Kitchen Renovation | Drywall It Up

The room is officially drywalled.  We added insulation to all the exterior walls, (a small luxury that we're very excited about) and with the help of a couple guys, and a drywall lift, the ceiling was installed, then the walls were added.  We even went as far as to texture and paint the ceiling.  We did it the same way as we did the basement, Mike rolled and I textured.  Mike then went back and smoothed it all out for the same knock-down texture we have through-out the house, well every room we've updated which is all but the living room, (crazy to think of how much we've done!).  I painted it with some white flat paint and made Mike install the LED lighting so that I could pick a paint color.

The reason I took a photo of mostly the ceiling was because this has already started:

We received our big Ikea shipment last Tuesday and Mike was so excited, (cough, sarcasm, cough), to start building all the cabinets.  Probably because we had the delivery guys load up the dining room with all the boxes.

We've been using that as our work space, so it was imperative that we get the space back.  Even with some of the bigger boxes gone, the room still is tight on usable space.

It's nice to see the room finally look like a room again.  And, with some of the cabinets built, it's starting to come together!

Our Ikea Kitchen | Design Phase

Up until the 2 weeks before we actually bought the cabinets, Mike refused to put Ikea cabinets in the kitchen.  Like, "I will not have Ikea cabinets, end of discussion." statements were a regular.   I was set on having a 2-toned design, with black lowers and white uppers, and figured Ikea would be the cheapest option for this.  Mike was concerned with quality.

I told him we would explore all our options.  And, since I was in charge of the design, I chose to use Ikea's 3D kitchen planner to design it, and then use those measurements to get quotes for other cabinets.  Spoiler alert: we ended up with Ikea!  We got two other quotes, one was low but only had wood toned cabinets, (not really what I wanted), and the other was painted/stained combo to get the look I wanted, but was above our budget.

Since we we're limited on space, and there are multiple windows, doors, and openings, there wasn't that much actual "designing" involved.  When you add the things you have to have: sink, dishwasher, range, and refrigerator, there aren't that many configurations of cabinets you can place around them.  Here's what our old kitchen looked like for reference:

The wall between the kitchen and dining room was gone, but we had the opening into the living room and the window with the window seat across from it that gave us our ending points.  The windows in the kitchen also made some decisions on placement for us.

The sink would stay in front of the window, and the dishwasher would stay in the same spot as well.  We definitely wanted to move the range to the wall opposite the sink now that that was available.  Having that next to the door was always a pain in the ass.

The refrigerator would go on the same wall as the range, with some cabinets between.  We knew we wanted to add a peninsula so the edge of the window seat dictated the edge of the bar.  With all those requirements/restrictions, here's what I came up.

This is actually like the 5th design, but the changes between each of them were minute and usually related to measurements being finalized.

I started in the top left corner adding a corner cabinet since there's only so many ways to do that, (like only 2 different types of cabinets).  Then added the sink base, dishwasher, second corner cabinet that would create the peninsula, then the other cabinets on the ends.  The uppers were the same, corner then fill around the windows.

The other wall was tight and the fridge, range and 2-18" base cabinets just fit.  We have about 4" left to play with on that wall. 

I added RAMSJÖ black-brown fronts to the lower cabinets, and ÄDEL off-white to the upper cabinets.  I read multiple reviews, and saw in person, that the RAMSJÖ white has a pink tint.  I didn't care for the wood grain effect in the white either.  The ÄDEL has a different profile, (which I prefer over the RAMSJÖ), but since they are different colors, no one will ever notice.

We also chose 39" wall cabinets so that they extended all the way to the ceiling.  Mike will build a simple crown molding that I will paint to match the cabinets for a built-in look.

We did have one major design decision to make, and that was the range and refrigerator placement.  They both fit on this wall, but we didn't know if we wanted the refrigerator closest to the dining room or switched.  Here's the other option we looked into:

Before I added the black to the base.
It makes the view from the dining room more open, but the basement and backdoor feel closed off now, and since we finished the basement, we use this path a lot.  Not to mention the back door is what we use as our main entrance.

After going back and forth, we decided to put the refrigerator closest to the dining room.

We added a full size panel to the refrigerator cabinet, so that it will look built-in.  The only issue this caused was the fridge was directly across from the peninsula.  Not ideal, but I'd rather block the path for a second getting into the fridge, than block it by cooking in front of the stove.  We did want all the space we could get so we chose a counter-depth refrigerator.  It adds to the cost, and reduces the storage, (how does that make sense), but we felt the extra 5" in the path was important.

Once we had our plan finalized we drove the 1 1/2 hours to the nearest Ikea.  I had already been there a couple weeks before and asked a kitchen specialist to review everything so I knew we were good as far as that went.  We still had to make some decisions while we were there, mostly how many panels we wanted and the available sizes to fit the back of the peninsula, etc., and we came up with a better shoe storage solution near the back door which I'll go into further after it's all install, (hopefully it works out).  It was really nerve-wracking for me, mostly because Mike sort of refused to help since I was set on the Ikea kitchen, but we got it done, ordered on the last day of the 20% sale, and set up delivery.   

What took weeks and was a very stressful process, (on my part since I had to design, get quotes, then convince Mike that Ikea was the way to go), seems so simple wrapped up in a little blog post.  I did appreciate the fact that I was able to design everything on my own, and to be honest when I had a professional designer come out as well, she had the same ideas, and didn't bring to the table anything more than I did, which gave me confidence that I was capable of doing it.  Now, we just have to make sure that I designed everything right when we install everything!  Keep your fingers crossed! 

Sweet, Sweet Honey

Back in July, before the insanity of the wedding, we harvested some honey.  It was really exciting since we've had the bees for 2 years, but the hive was not strong enough to take any honey, until this summer.

Mike started by suiting up, (me too), and brought a cart, along with a homemade comb hanger thingie.  This way he could remove combs, switch them around, and pick the best for the honey collection while safely hanging them to the side.

We ended up taking 2 combs, (not necessarily the ones above).  What we were looking for were combs with a majority of the cells filled with honey and capped.  You can see some caped honey cells in the photo above in the top right hand corner.  The orange filled cells, (seen in towards the center of the comb) are filled with pollen.

We realized we had a very strong hive, (maybe a little too strong), because they were trying to create more queens.  This can be a sign of swarming, which means the old queen leaves with about 60% of the worker bees.  They create queen cells in preparation of this.  These are the little dangling-looking sections on the bottom of the comb. 

It's not necessarily a bad thing, and it could just be that our hive is getting too big and running out of space.  We've discussed switching to a langstroth hive which has the capabilities of expansion, unlike our top bar hive.       

Back to the honey extraction.

We removed the combs we wanted and moved them away from the hive.  Mike also fed them around the same time so that they would be drawn to something besides the honey of their combs.  He let it sit out until all the bees had gone back to the hive.

We did some research about collecting the honey from the combs, since our hive structure we actually remove the entire comb, (unlike a langstroth which has a base that the bees build off of).  We found that placing the comb in a strainer, then cutting the comb up to break all the honey caps was the most suggested method.  We placed the strainer over a large pot and let gravity to all the hard work.

As the honey slowed down, we would use a knife to gently chop up more of the wax.

Doing this process for both combs yielded about 1 1/2 gallons of honey!  We poured the honey from the pot through a mesh bag, (wrapped around the strainer for support), which was much finer than the strainer to remove any small pieces of wax or anything else.  We poured straight into mason jars and when we ran out of those, we used whatever jars we had on hand.  Mike was a little crazy about getting every last drop, (he may or may not have wiped up some honey that fell on the counter and licked it), that he set up a contraption in the kitchen so that we could get all the honey, but not force our arms to turn to jelly in the process.

The overall process went pretty quickly, and we got so much honey!  But the kitchen was left with sticky honey practically everywhere, probably the worst thing to have to clean-up.  But in the end, we we're just so excited to have finally have gotten honey from our own hive that we really didn't care!

Kitchen Renovation | Demo Phase 2 and Behind the Scenes

After the first phase of demo was complete it was time for the nitty gritty.  We were left with a shell of the old rooms, but we still needed to remove the plaster and lathe.

Mike again worked nights and weekends until it really was down to the studs.  The saddest part was when he ripped up all the hardwood flooring in the kitchen.  We were pretty sure it ran throughout the kitchen, but with all the crappy flooring on top it was unsalvageable, not to mention the holes where the wall and chimney were didn't have any flooring.

Between the demo and when I took these photos Mike had already started some of the improvements that I'll describe in more detail, but right I'll show you the fully demo'd room:

Not only did he remove all the ceiling and lathe and plaster in the kitchen, he also went to town on the dining room.  Unfortunately for Mike's brother, this was around the time he asked for a favor.  Guess how Mike said he could repay him.

While it was open, we took the opportunity to move the light over so it would be centered more towards where the table will sit after everythings complete.  It always sat in the middle of the room, but with the new peninsula the dining area is smaller and shifted.

Mike also added denshield tile backer to the kitchen floor.  This is the same material we used in the upstairs bathroom and he was really happy with it.

One of the most noticeable improvements was the addition of lights.  We had one overhead light in the old kitchen, and since it was so small actually was just fine.  We wanted different types of lighting so we added 4 boxes for led recessed light in the center of the room, we'll also have 2 pendant lights over the peninsula, and 1 over the sink.  For right now, Mike added some temporary lighting until we're done with the ceiling.

Another task Mike had to complete before drywall was reworking the duct that feeds our guest room, as well as the one that will provide air for the kitchen and dining room, (right now the hole in the floor).  This one sits under the peninsula, so after we build the cabinet bases, we'll route this one to vent out on both sides.

The one to the guest room was a little tricky since ideally you don't want duct work to run on an exterior wall.  This literally kept Mike up at night.  He finally found thin enough insulation that would give enough R-value to protect the duct.  He had to get some fancy turns in there to fit under the cabinet base as well as up in the ceiling joists.

The water lines that feed the upstairs bathroom that ran through the chimney cavity got replaced with pex and routed through the ceiling.  We also wrapped them with insulation for less energy loss.  Mike also added a water line for the ice-maker in the fridge (the blue line coming from the floor) and moved the gas line for the stove, (behind the buckets).  

The last major improvement was upgrading the old cast iron drain from the bathroom to PVC.  It went pretty smoothly until someone forgot to tell their wife they were working on it and she used the bathroom upstairs while it was disconnected and plugged.  It was not a happy moment.  Without being too gross, it was only #1, but as punishment Mike made me hold the bucket when he remove the plug.  There wasn't really a mess, but we both cleaned up and showered really well afterwards.

The only problem was there was a bump out in the old kitchen because the pipe was too big.  It was always hidden behind the cabinets and the stove, but the tile backsplash, (behind the utensil container), was a couple inches from being flush with the wall with the window.

Try as he might, Mike wasn't able to get the new PVC stack to sit flush with the new wall.  To prevent uneven cabinets again, he had to fir out the entire back wall to hid the additional space needed.

The window frame will be a little beefier than usual, but it shouldn't look very different when's Mike's done, (at least that's what he tells me).  The door was another issue and Mike finally determined that along with a beefier frame, the hinges will have to be replaced with ones specially made to push the door out further to prevent it hitting the new frame.  I'll show updates when he starts making the frame. 

Mike added electrical boxes as well and has since fed all new wires throughout the rooms.  One step closer to completely eliminating the knob and tube in the house.  Since all the improvements have been made behind the walls, the next time I give an update will be drywall!

Inspire Me | Kitchen Edition

Since we're officially in the middle of the renovation, I should probably share the vision I have.  For years I was pinning a lot of all white kitchens.




Then about a year ago, my pins started to change and these were what I was more drawn to:




 And, finally the one that sealed the deal for me.

That herringbone!

I realized the two-toned look was what I wanted.  Black on the bottoms and white uppers.  It was modern, yet timeless. 

I knew the look I wanted but I actually just made this mood board even though we're on the downhill of the project itself.  I've been shopping around for all the pieces individually as they came up in the renovation and I finally have most of them finalized.

1. I always used Ikea's cabinets as a model for what I wanted.  I've always liked the ADEL doors, with it's simple shaker style.

2. Since the Adel doesn't come in a black, I found the RAMSJÖ black/brown to be pretty similar.  I also liked that a slight wood grain could be seen.

3. We're still deciding on counters, but I recently came across this granite called 'River White' that has gray veining as well as tiny reddish specs.

4. We'd like to keep the lighting a little modern/industrial and since we have pendants over the peninsula for the first time, I wanted a simple clear globe pendant that wouldn't compete with any lighting that we pick for the dining room.

5. I wanted a herringbone pattern, but wanted a 12"x24" tile.  I also thought gray would look better in our space.  It was during a quick trip to Lowe's that I found a really inexpensive gray tile that will work perfectly.

6. To add some color I want to add a rug to the kitchen area.  I haven't decided exactly which one, but I'm liking this one from ebay.   

7. I want a light griege color to make the white and black pop, and 'Pediment' from Sherwin Williams looks both gray and beige depending on the lighting and time of day.  I actually like it at about 50%, just to make it a little lighter.

8. To complement the hardwood floors in the dining room and throughout the house, I want to bring in some wood accessories.  I've been eyeing this Nate Berkus tray from Target for awhile now.

9. I'm also going to try my hand again at some greenery in the kitchen.  We had a couple succulents that grew like crazy, (I didn't know what I was doing and planted in them in some cups of top soil).  I'm hoping a do better this time around.  We'll even have space on the counter for a legit planter!

So, there it is!  I've had these items in my head for so long that it's nice to see them together.  The hardest part for me is picking materials without having any other materials.  Like how to I pick a paint when I haven't decided on a countertop?  Luckily, paints relatively easy and cheap to replace.  Tile, not so much!

Kitchen Renovation | Demo Phase 1

The first official Kitchen Renovation post!  Back in November, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, we started demoing the kitchen.  And when I say we, you all know I mean Mike, right?  I'm way to cautious too be helpful during demo.  I'd hurt myself, then distract Mike causing him to hurt himself.  It's better if I just watch.

The kitchen that we've been living with for the past 4 years never worked for us, it was too small and not effective use of the space.  We were happy to see it go.  Here's a look at what we bought:

And, after our $89 makeover:

But, that was only makeup covering much bigger problems.  We started by removing the appliances and all the cabinet doors and drawers, (I actually did help for this stage).  We donated the dishwasher and all the pulls and hinges to ReStore and sold the oven on Craigslist. 

Mike even let me take the first inaugural sledge hammer swing.  I chose this offensive cabinet as my victim.

Once that was out we were a little surprised at what we found.

Bright orange linoleum tile underneath. Ick.

After the cabinets and appliances were out, Mike went to work.  It was messy and loud and he worked nights and weekends until everything was out.  The most important being the wall dividing the dining room and kitchen.

The wall housed a closet, (with a mirrored door that also went to ReStore), the patch from the chimney removal, electrical work, water lines, and HVAC duct work, (the whole on the bottom right).  Even with all that, it's still awesome seeing it gone.

It was still dusty, but I was so excited so I just snapped some shots on my phone.  Below is standing in front of what would have been the refrigerator.  

I did get a sneak peak while Mike was knee deep in the demo, from the safety of the porch.  Mike's not messing around: respirator, goggles, gloves, and ear protection.  Who knows what's in 87 year old plaster. 

We have 2 trashcans that get picked up by the city, so we were able to throw away everything over the course of a month of so without getting a dumpster.  We had a little help from our neighbor when the kitchen demo trash left no room for our normal trash.

Once everything got cleaned up a little bit more, I sneaked back in for some more shots.  I also got all fancy with a panoramic shot showing what once was 2 rooms is now 1 big one.

Next up is re-routing the water lines, ducts, and removing the drywall!