We’ve lived in our house for almost 6 and a half years and while I loved the original kitchen as-is (though to be fair, I rarely cooked in it…), we agreed early on that we could make better use of that space, since the kitchenette was never used and the “kitchen” part was shaped (and sized) like the galley of a small boat.
Oh, and as we were buying the house, Bart recalls saying “As long as we can redo the kitchen.” My selective memory has edited out that comment – I just wanted the house.
In addition, with a wall between the kitchen and living space, we couldn’t feasibly make sure the small children were not harming one another (or themselves or others) without a divide and conquer approach. Or having them in kitchen with us, which at their ages has shown to be equally dangerous.
And so, in May of 2016, Bart and I agreed to undertake the huge project of remodeling our kitchen – with a cat, a five-year-old and a one-year-old being clear and present obstacles to progress. We agreed that since Bart was the only one of us who could actually USE a kitchen, he was in charge and (as much as it would kill me), I would follow his lead and weigh in only when/if he wanted it. This was my idea.
After much “consideration” on the part of my husband (read: 103 different kitchen layout drawings with items shifting literally inches from one drawing to the next, 5,627 samples of flooring, tile, countertops, and more shipped to our house – enough to floor the entire house), demolition began on February 16, 2017 (my mother’s birthday, ironically, and yes, 9 months after we agreed to remodel). I think he was giving birth.
But that’s not the point of this story. Focus on the kitchen, right?
Let’s start with the BEFORE pictures.
All the pictures below are pre-move-in photos (3 are from the original Zillow posting) and include original furniture (and a really cool rug) that was not ours. The dining room table IS still ours and the black storage unit and huge bookcase with orange doors are (well, were) built in and therefore also ours.
To make the shift from what you just saw to what you’re about to see, we had several fun moments:
- We had to pack up the kitchen… You have no idea how much “stuff” you have in the kitchen until you have to pack it up. Goodwill definitely benefited from our adventure and thanks to our contractor we bought banker’s boxes (which I highly recommend for such a purpose) so we could neatly stack what seems like 1,000 boxes of stuff we “really need” around our house.
- Setup a makeshift kitchen. Our office/laundry room also became a kitchen, and honestly, Bart did an AMAZING job with that. Other than having the refrigerator in the living room and the microwave / small cooktop / dishes in the back, it was really not that painful. Plus, we got an extra 52 steps per trip to go from kitchen to fridge to kitchen again (78 if you came back to the living room – bonus!) If not for the extra eating out, we may have even lost some weight! (We did not.)
- We had to remove a wall (the one with the bookcase above).
- Though a structural architect provided drawings on what we had to do to support the house and remove that wall, thankfully our contractor noticed (before taking down that wall) that a section of foundation we THOUGHT was there was NOT.
- We had to pour foundation before installing posts and beams and THEN remove the wall, going through various stages of “false frame” and zippered plastic “wall” enclosing our empty kitchen space. Still, dust, oh and extra cost of pouring foundation and another permit.
- We had to remove huge windows (you can see them in the 4th picture above with the orange and yellow blinds) from the corner of the house and enclose with exterior walls. Part of me was sad about this BUT windows make for useless wall space and honestly, the morning sun in those windows makes it intolerable to sit in there anyway. Windows, gone.
- We had to make 4,382 unexpected and random decisions along the way. USB power outlets in the wall? Speakers in ceiling (“now’s the time”)? Tile grout color? Kitchen sink? Kitchen faucet? How many drawers vs. cabinets? Cabinet handles? Kitchen counter stools? Final window sizes? Tile flooring in entryway – where/how should that meet kitchen flooring and hardwood floor of living room?
And so, after beginning construction on February 16, we left for Europe with a 98% completed kitchen (missing only a few cabinet fronts) on June 13. I think that’s a HUGE win! Strangest part was coming HOME to a brand new kitchen. It was like returning to someone else’s house… but that’s not the point of this post.
Next Wednesday we will pass official inspection (so excuse the stickers still on our windows), but I’m thrilled to share our new kitchen.
Drumroll, please. The AFTER pictures.
If you’re detail-oriented, you likely noticed the Snowman & Santa spatulas and the bag of prunes in the fruit bowl in the background (don’t worry, we also eat fruit, but that’s in the fridge and these kids like prunes, go figure). If you didn’t notice, you’re welcome ;) Now you can be certain it’s actually our kitchen.
In addition, the black storage on the far left (which has two photos hanging on it) is still intact. That’s controversial, but given the cost/effort required to make it a different size (and my desire to keep it intact), it remains.
And finally, Bart has his very own coffee nook in what used to be our tiny, useless pantry.
So the Johnsons are officially ready for visitors! If you were holding off because you were concerned about construction (or lack of coffee), your wait is over. Come on out and see us!