Friday, August 29, 2014

Kitchen reno is OVER!

I should be writing about our summer, the kids' camps, hanging at the beach, or, wait for it . . . wait for it . . .


. . . but instead I'm going to type about a crazy big project that we are so very proud of . . .

our AMAZING new kitchen!

Oh, wait.  That's old funky kitchen.  

Not the worst I've ever seen and so grateful for its size and cabinets and functioning appliances.  Let me take that back . . . grateful for the parts that were functioning.  The garbage disposal laughed at me when I tried to turn it on, and the bottoms of some of the cabinets said, "Are you kidding me?" as I gently placed heavy iron skillets on its crumbling old boards.  The main floor of the house did not have central air, so the window on the far right was holding a disgusting old window AC unit that had seen better days.  Shelves were falling in the fridge and lights were saying buh-bye on a daily basis.  The electrical was so old school and weak that lights blinked at us every time the microwave was turned on.  I know it was just flirting, but, y'all, our kitchen was tired.

Here's another angle the day before she was laid to rest.  Don't mind the little dude in the corner working away on reports.  Needs that umbrella in case the kitchen springs a leak.

And another angle so you can see the dining room through the really cool old butler's swinging door.  The previous owners were pros at entertaining and loved to keep the kitchen closed off from their gorgeous dining room.  The Darbys must entertain to a much more casual crowd (usually kids with popsicles and magic markers), so we have only used the dining room once or twice.  And that was for storing mail and such.

And this was the sad excuse for a mudroom and pantry.  The door on the right was originally a very narrow broom closet, but it was the only space we could use as a pantry.  It held about two boxes of cereal and a few packs of applesauce squeezers.  If you live in a cold weather area, you understand how painful it is to dress your littles in snow bibs and big coats and boots and hats and scarfs and backpacks while they are all on top of you and then they fall and bang their heads on the corner of the pantry and then one opens the door to the garage and you're just so freaking claustrophobic and burning up from your own wool scarf that you want to scream!!!  If you don't, then consider yourself lucky.  This. Space. Sucked.

Clint and I knew this kitchen had more to offer, so we searched through Houzz and Pinterest and zillions of copies of Southern Living (because this Mississippi girl wouldn't dare take decorating tips from, say, Midwest Living.  Ew.)  and finally came up with a plan.

But have you ever seen the two of us attempt to put a nail in the wall?  It's painful.  After some interviews and research, we settled on a local contractor named Joh Proeh who helped us make those pencil sketches on the back of a letter from Mimi's school a reality.


drumroll please . . .

I promise it's the same space . . .

Hard to believe, right?

Remember the big wall that was between the kitchen and dining, room?  She's gone now, and I love feeling like we can stretch out.  Ahhhhh . . . 

It's wonderful to have family visit, and we can all sit in the dining room and kitchen and still have a conversation.  But chances are we're all talking at the same time and not listening but at least we're all together :).

My favorite little spot of clutter.  Baskets for junk and cookbooks along with some fun books. 

The view my children have when sitting at the island.  Play-doh and markers and Legos and mess stays on that side and Mommy stays on the other.  Amazing.

Oh, how I love that pot filler.  I've only used it a couple of times, but it is just so pretty.

Just a quick note -- we chose man-made counters that look similar to marble because marble in a kitchen is gorgeous but just stupid for my family (so I put the pretty marble tiles on the backsplash instead).  I chose the giant apron sink with no divider because I loathe cleaning a huge serving dish while banging it against that unnecessary divider.  

Mommy's space.  Do not enter.  Unless you are getting your own plate and snack and cleaning up your mess.  Then you're totally welcome (but make it quick, right?).  See the dining room in the back.  Looove how it is open to the kitchen.

I'm in super deep love with my appliances and we didn't spend a fortune on them.  GE refrigerator, stove, and microwave and they have all the features that I had on my insanely long list.  I loved seeing the Abt salesman's face when I listed off everything I needed in an oven and stove.  He turned to Clint and said, "Is she always this high maintenance?"  But, y'all, gas stove with removable griddle and electric oven with warming drawer that is totally like having a second oven?  I can't believe so much fits into such a tiny space.

My perfect little triangle of preparation.

Now you can see the dining area a bit better.  Look at all that natural light.

And remember that stupid excuse for a mudroom?  We fixed her.  And I think little black puppy loves the cool tile floor (that will hide all the funky mud and snow and sand that is tracked in my house).

Looky at all that storage for all of our crap!  And we have a lot of unnecessary crap.  The cute little bench opens up to hide all of our yucky shoes.  There's nothing I love better than a place to throw clutter when guests are coming.  You think I'm clean?  Just don't look in my cabinets . . . 

The new and improved pantry.  She and I are BFFs.  
And she is NOT EVEN FULL.  Plenty of room to hide things!  Woohoo!

Oh, and we had this precious secret garden behind our house that was difficult to access.  We couldn't be happier that we tore out this wall (remember it was three small windows) and added this huge sliding door and patio.  If the kids and doggy are bugging me while I'm drinking my coffee and stalking social media (come on, you do it too), then out the door they go.  Fantastic.

In the end we updated electrical, added central air conditioning to the main floor and basement, tore out a wall and added sliding doors, added a brick patio, tore out the kitchen to the studs, added new wood floors, and removed the wall between the kitchen and the dining room.  WHEW.  Thank God that's over.

All of this took about seven weeks (pretty quick, right?), and we were smart enough to get the heck out of town for the first two weeks of demolition.  I can't emphasize enough that this was not easy -- it was ROUGH on us with the children.  We ate an insane amount of take-out, used a fortune in paper plates (I'm sorry, Earth), and had to wash dishes in a tiny bathroom sink.  There was a lot of dust and a lot of clutter, but once we actually had appliances, running water, and a counter top, I decided that I wasn't going to kill anyone.

If you're about to embark on a kitchen reno, pun-lease feel free to ask me anything -- why I chose the appliances I did, the counters, the lighting, whatever.  Why do the crazy research when you can just ask me?  If I had the time, I might write a small book on this whole process because I learned so much invaluable information.  Oh, wait, the kiddos are in school full-time so maybe I do have the time . . . nah, on to project Sew Until I Go Crazy.  More on that later . . .