Sunday, August 2, 2020

Kitchen Update: Giving the "Builder Grade" look the boot!

Since we moved into our new home, just over a year ago, I have been updating the kitchen little by little. We started out with very dated light fixtures, tiled countertops, and a whole lot of oak. Also, while the original oven that came with the home looks nice, it was a samsung with fried wiring, and once it finished preheating, it would shut off. We both prefer a gas oven & range over electric anyway, so the first thing we did was took the opportunity to switch over from electric to gas.

Next, I tackled painting the cabinets.  We opted to keep the existing cabinets because they're in excellent shape, and we just couldn't justify ripping them out and trashing them. Plus, I knew I could make them look great 😉

I removed all of the cabinet doors & hardware, and then gave the frames a light sanding. For the doors, I used liquid sandpaper in order to get a good de-glossing prior to priming. I used valspar bonding primer, topped with valspar cabinet enamel. I had the enamel for the bottom cabinets tinted to , and opted not to tint the top, at first.

Next, I updated the light fixtures. The pendent lights off to the right in the dining room are the Pottery Barn Donovan 5-light pendant. I made the matching single pendant over the kitchen sink and the three pendant light in the kitchenette using a second Donovan 5-light pendant set. I just ordered the single and triple base's on Amazon and rewired the lights so that everything would match.

Finally, I replaced that awful florescent drop lighting in the kitchen. I happen to be pretty good at electrical work, so this was pretty simple for me. I shut off the power and ripped out the current lighting. Mapped out the location of the new LED recessed lights, cut the holes, ran the wiring, and did some patch work.

Ta Da - we have recessed lighting! I also installed TP-Link smart Wi-Fi light switch dimmers and we love them. We have TP-Links smart switches all over the house now!

Next up: Crown Molding! I prepped the top cabinets by adding an additional 1 inch of wood along the perimeter of the top of the cabinets, to give the crown molding more support.

My molding was pre-primed, so I just measured (twice!), made the cuts, nailed it in with my Ryobi air-strike nailer, and caulked it.

I didn't have any more of the plain white cabinet enamel for the molding, but I wanted to tone down the bright white anyway, so I purchased another can of valspar cabinet enamel and had it tinted to "White Label" by Sherwin Williams. I wiped the cabinets down with mineral spirits, and then went right over the previous coat of cabinet enamel and it adhered just fine. I did remove all of the doors and hardware again since painting the doors while laying flat helps them to coat evenly. I also have great success with those little foam rollers.

Next, we selected and ordered our new counter-tops. It took a while for them to be prepared for install after we placed the order, as the COVID-19 shutdown hit shortly after we placed the order. Once we received confirmation of the install date, we ripped out the existing counter-tops.

Ripping them out ourselves was a lot of work, but the DIY removal was also a pretty big cost savings.

The new countertops are LG Viatera Minuet Quartz and were installed by Desert Eagle Stone Yard. They did a fantastic job!

That cost savings on the DIY countertop removal made me feel a little better about splurging on the Kraus workstation sink, accessories, and matching faucet,

How awesome is it that the strainer, cutting board, and drying racks sit in that lip in the sink? We make use of this feature all of the time!

We waited until after the counter-tops were installed to commit to our backs plash. We went with MSI Greecian White Arabesque Pattern Polished Marble. If you're installing your own backsplash, do yourself a favor and spend the time taping plastic down to protect your beautiful new counter tops. Things are about to get messy!

With marble, there is a lot of color variation in each sheet, so you really have to plan your layout and make sure you don't have a sheet that is too heavy or too light in its color variations. We ordered a bunch of extra so that we would have room to play around with the pattern, and select the sheets that we liked the best.

I used a cheap SKIL 7-in Wet Tabletop Tile Saw to make the cuts. It's all you really need when working with small mosaic marble tiles. Once I was done installing the tile, I had to wait a day to caulk and grout. I also took this opportunity to update all of the outlets as I had to cut the power anyway to add the electrical box spacers to account for the thickness of the tile. I also used screw-less face plates, as I pretty much installed them all over the house, each time I updated a light switch or outlet. They make for a really clean finished look against the back splash. 

When working with marble, you want to use unsanded grout. I went with MAPEI white, and added Grout Maximizer in place of water. I also have stone sealer which I still need to apply.

So far, we  love how the kitchen is coming along. We have quite a few things left on the "to-do" list. Eventually, we plan to replace the floors, as we don't love the color of the current floors. We also want to paint the walls and ceiling, but we will probably need to hire painters whenever we do that, as we have 30+ feet walls in the dining room and living room, and the back kitchen wall runs all the way through into the living room. During a pandemic, we're not really interested in hiring people to come into our house to do work. We ordered the counter tops back in February, before any of us knew how bad things were going to get.

One of our upcoming projects, however, will sort of tie into the kitchen, as we got rid of our second dining room table have all of the materials that we need to convert the half wall in between the kitchenette and the living room into a breakfast bar. We will be giving the back of the peninsula and breakfast bar a ship lap look with updated trim. We're looking forward to hopefully starting that project next weekend!

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