6 Day Kitchen Reno // Construction


We renovated a whole kitchen in 7 days. Seven days! It feels like quite a feat considering what a major remodel project a kitchen is. And yes, it took us one more day than we anticipated, but who’s counting…right?!

So how exactly did we renovate the #6daykitchenreno in 7 days?  The simple answer is: a lot of late nights, early mornings, upfront planning (check out the design plan here), and a whole lotta hustling. The homeowners, Julia and Garrett, who happen to be some of our very best friends (and yes, Julia and I both married Garretts, which is totally confusing), worked along side us for the entire renovation. Plus they called in favors with family and friends so we had even more help during the weekend. For the record, it’s totally true what they say. Many hands make for short kitchen remodels!


As I mentioned last week, the homeowners demo’d the kitchen before we arrived, which was awesome because I hate demo. Plus it saved us at least a day in the schedule. A win-win!


We purchased most of the finish materials ahead of time and stored them at Julia and Garrett’s house so they’d be onsite when construction started. This included the cabinets, the Rejuvenation sconce, tile flooring (which we ended up not using), appliances, and the french door. Another advanced planning item were the Quartz countertops, which Julia and Garrett picked out and scheduled for install on day 3 of construction.

Julia and Garrett also decided not to mess with the ceiling lighting, which kept our renovation scope trimmed down. They’ll have to go back and add some more ceiling lights at some point, but it wasn’t in the budget right now.


Construction followed a pretty traditional sequence: demo (done by the homeowners), subfloor, door install, electrical and plumbing repairs, drywall/hardiboard, lower cabinets, countertops, upper cabinets, wall tile, grout, finish lighting and electrical, floors, trim, caulk, and then appliances. More or less. I’ve included a day-by-day schedule at the end of this post in case you want to know more.

Here’s what that the construction looks like as a gif (note: you’ll have to view the video in a web browser, so if you’re reading this post in an email, click through to the Grit and Polish or head over to Instagram for a version with tunes!)

There were a few notable things that slowed construction down. Mainly: the amount of wall tiling, painting the cabinets, shopping trips, and kids. You may have noticed that there is subway tile on every wall. What exactly possessed us to tile every single wall when we were trying to renovate this kitchen in only 6 days, I’ll never know, but at least it looks pretty. Painting the cabinets also added a lot of man hours to the project, but was totally worth it! The original cabinet color was a warm white, which Julia likened to “coffee-stained teeth”. Painting the cabinets bright white and navy blue really took this kitchen from ‘nice’ to ‘great’. Julia, Garrett, and/or I went to a store almost every day, which was a huge time sink. Purchasing the tiles, picking paint, swapping the stone floors for wood, and 6+ trips to Home Depot really slowed us down. But in the end, the single biggest delay on this project was… our kids! Between us and Julia and Garrett, we had 4 young children around, and we were in over our head trying to entertain the bunch.


Now I don’t want to blame our kids for turning the #6daykitchenreno into a #7daykitchenreno, but the kids absolutely turned the #6daykitchenreno into a #7daykitchenreno! Brooks was teething, so he wanted me 24/7, which meant I wore him in a Ergo a lot (even for naps…a heavy load at 11 months). But he wasn’t super happy with the Ergo, or anything really (teething is hard!) and he also just started walking so when I did put him down, he was off into everything! Wilder was easier, but I tell ya, just feeding that kid is a part-time job. Don’t get me wrong though, I love having our kids with us, even while we work. I think they learn a ton from being around their parents and being included and watching us work. But if you’re going for a quick reno, kids will slow you down. Period. We definitely could have left our two at home with grandma, but Brooks is still nursing, and I’ve never left him overnight let alone a week. So along they came. But my advice to anyone looking to renovate quickly is get a babysitter! I am 100% sure that if we had left our kiddos at home or had a babysitter onsite we could have finished this job in 6 days.  But of course, without the kiddos, the pictures would have been a whole lot less cute!


As promised, here’s the rundown of the work we did each day:

Day 1. wall demo and french door install, subfloor install, first of many Home Depot trips + lumber store

Day 2. install base cabinets, sink drain repair, Home Depot trip, pick up backsplash tile

Day 3. countertop install, upper cabinets, start backsplash tile, remove cabinet doors in prep for painting, fix small electrical issues, pick up new flooring, Home Depot trip

Day 4. paint store, finish tiling, first two coats of paint on cabinet boxes, first coat of paint on doors and drawer faces (spray application)

Day 5. grout tiles, second coat of paint on cabinets, replace electrical receptacles and fix a couple issues, hood vent ducting and roof jack install, Home Depot trip

Day 6. hardwood floor install, install cabinet doors and drawers, finish electrical, appliance install, install sconce light, Home Depot trip

Day 7. Trim, open shelves, caulk, paint touchup, cabinet hardware install, french door hardware install, hardwood treads and stair landing install

Can’t wait to share this finished space with you on Thursday!

In the meantime, any tips for renovating with kids?! I’d love to hear them



p.s. this is just so upsetting. amazing what a few lies about sugar can do the health of a nation for half a century.

p.p.s. I really loved seeing Ginny’s dining room. Dark blue is kind of my bag right now and I’m already thinking where I can use it at the farmhouse!

p.p.p.s. a few of my favorite pins this week: an antique map, kitchens and babies (two of my favorite things!), cardamom in a cake (!!!),  I want all the wood-framed couches/day-beds.

p.p.p.p.s. my friend just started an interior design firm in Seattle/Portland and I’m super excited for her! Check Carrie out on IG!


Our Tuxedo Kitchen Progress


It’s funny how completely my focus has shifted from the Dexter House renovation to the baby.  He’s now 8 days overdue and needs to come immediately, or I will go insane.  I’m all about walks, squats, acupuncture, and anything else I can do or eat to get this kiddo moving.  Wish me luck!!!

So the kitchen.  You might remember that I went in a decidedly-not-white direction for this kitchen, as opposed to the Ravenna and Bryant remodels (you can read about those here and here).  After hours of Pinterest “research” and daydreaming, I came up with a tuxedo kitchen plan that is primarily black and white with some natural wood elements thrown in to soften the overall results.  The kitchen has white upper and black lower cabinets, butcher block countertops, and a cement tile backsplash, ala this:

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Progress 6

But let’s rewind a bit and look at the work that got us here.  We bought inexpensive stock cabinets from a place in south Seattle and painted them.  Painting cabinets is nothing new for us, but it’s always a bit of a process.  First we gave all of the cabinets a good sanding with 150 grit sandpaper and a palm sander.  Then we removed all the doors and drawers and lined them up in the basement.  I made sure to label all the hinges I pulled off so we could rehang them in the right place when the paint dried.

The Grit and Polish - Kitchen Sanding CabinetsThe Grit and Polish - Kitchen Paint Prep Cleaning

After a good cleaning, we masked off the countertops (I know, I know…I haven’t even shown you those yet, but they deserve a post of their own!) and the backsplash and primed everything.

The Grit and Polish - Kitchen PaintThe Grit and Polish - Primed Cabinets

Looking good right?! Yeah, not so much.

Next came the paint.  We started with the uppers since those cabinets are the same color as the trim (Benjamin Moore’s Simply White).  We didn’t worry about masking the lower cabinets and walls since those would be painted later.  After the uppers dried we masked them off and painted the rest of the kitchen, notably the lowers in Benjamin Moore’s Onyx, high gloss.

The Grit and Polish - Cabinet Masking The Grit and Polish - Wall Paint Kitchen Paint

When we pulled up all that floor masking there were a few spots where paint had soaked through onto my newly-refinished hardwood floors.  After trying a number of products and putting in a ton of elbow grease, we finally tried Goof Off, which worked like a charm.

After another good cleaning, we put the cabinet doors and drawers back in place, and Papa hardwired my swing arm lights.  Gorgeous, right?!  I bet you already figured this out, but a couple of open shelves will hang under those lights.

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Progress 7The Grit and Polish - Dexter Progress 10The Grit and Polish - Dexter Progress 9

I’ll tell you what, we have the worst luck with appliances (I wrote a whole post about it at the Ravenna House here)!  When we finally installed the dishwasher that we had bought at a warehouse sale last March, it had a hole in the main compartment and leaked all the way through the floor to the basement.  I got on the phone with customer service, and they got us a replacement dishwasher in a couple of days (happily a dishwasher with a custom/panel front!) but it showed up with a dented door.  We were able to make it work, but still frustrating.

For all our appliance woes, I’ll tell you that Blue Star range and Bertazzoni hood vent (both bought for a steal at the warehouse sale) make up for it.  They are AMAZING!  Garrett and I have been fighting over who gets to put the oatmeal on every morning.   It is just that much of a pleasure to cook on these appliances!

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Progress stove and potfiller

Next up for the kitchen: finishing the countertops, installing hardware, and hanging those open shelves.



p.s. Have any good suggestions on how to get a baby moving? Send them my way and I will be eternally grateful!!!!

p.p.s. These guys are downright awesome!  I love the idea of building a little house on a trailer and adventuring full time!

p.p.p.s. Want some eye candy??!  Check out the Cooper Lounge in Denver!  Seriously unbelievable!


Reader Question: Kitchen Reno Costs


I know you guys are going to be really surprised to hear this, but we’re still (STILL!) working on the backyard at the Ravenna House.  The shed is getting close-ish to being done and we’ve started planning a fence.  We’re also still waiting to hear from the lien-holders to find out if we got that mysterious new house I keep hinting at (we’ll call her fixer #4 for now).  So with nothing much by the way of progress to share, I thought it would be a good time to answer a reader question.

I received this question from Miyuki last week:

“My husband and I own a small home in LA, and are looking to remodel our kitchen.  I love what you did on the Bryant house kitchen and I’m wondering if you can tell me about how much it ran you and in general, how do you budget for a kitchen remodel? 

“We have a galley kitchen with very poor storage space.  Our cabinets are old, but I think we can salvage some of them so long as we can find a way to make the new ones match the old which is why I like what you did with the Bryant house.  Was it hard to make the cabinets somewhat match each other?

“And using butcher block is exactly what I want to do in ours too (my husband thinks I’m crazy).  Is Maple the standard wood you would go with, or would you suggest other wood qualities to consider?”

Great question, right?  Since it is such a detailed question, I’m going to split it into three parts and tackle one a day – today we’ll focus on budget.  But first let’s get reacquainted with the Bryant House kitchen reno.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant House White Kitchen Renovaiton.jpg

We completed this renovation in March 2013 when I was 6 months pregnant with Wilder.  It was a gut job besides keeping a wall of existing cabinets.  We added appliances, custom cabinetry, lighting, tile, fresh hardware, and painted everything.  You can read more about it here.  This is the finished product:

The Grit and Polish  Bryant House Kitchen Renovation with Subway Backsplash Floor to Ceiling.jpg
the Grit and Polish - White kitchen renovation with classic hardware.jpgThe Grit and Polish  Original 1926 Cabinets with New Clamshell Pulls.jpgthe Grit and Polish - kitchen renovation with built-in dining nook featuring West Elm lighting.jpg

I’ve said it before, but this kitchen/dining space is one of my favorite rooms that we’ve ever renovated.  It’s so light and bright and just plain happy.  We spent more time in this room than anywhere else at the Bryant House.  And I will always have such sweet memories of  holding 1-day-old Wilder at that table, introducing him to family and friends, as we drank coffee and ate apple cake.

Okay, now let’s get back to the topic at hand.  Money.  Luckily I kept really good records when we remodeled the Bryant House, which unfortunately is not a trend I continued at the Ravenna House.  I’m going to blame it on the birth of Wilder and the strange void which I used to call spare time.  Anyway, the Bryant House kitchen remodel cost us $9,700.  It was a 100% DIY job, so we didn’t pay for any labor.  We did get plenty of help from family, especially my father-in-law who happens to be an electrician and is cool with being paid in beer.  What is family for after all?!

Here’s what the cost breakdown looked like:

Custom Cabinets                $2,266
Appliances                           $2,875
Lighting                                $900
Vintage Table and Hutch  $640
Countertops                         $460
Tile and tool rental             $400
Electrical                               $248
Plumbing & Fixtures          $513
Building materials              $610
Misc (paint, etc)                  $788

Total                                      $9,700

The pair of sliding doors, which we installed ourself, were an additional $1,540.

Of course every renovation is unique and so is the budget.  It depends on your scope, how much work you plan to do yourself, and the level of finish.  Our budget for the Bryant House kitchen probably won’t work in 90% of kitchens.  I’ve read that the average kitchen remodel runs somewhere in the $15k-45k range.  Based on that, an average remodel breakdown would look more like this:

Cabinets                             $10,500
Labor                                  $6,000
Appliances                         $6,000
windows                             $3,000
Fixtures                              $1,500
Fittings                               $900
Other                                  $2,100

Total                                   $30,000

And then add contingency.  I usually use 10-15% of the total budget, but I’d recommend 20% for a novice renovator.  That would equal an additional $6,000, in this scenario.  If you don’t use it, great.  But I find that the unexpected always happens on an old-house remodel and it’s best to be prepared.

Back to Miyuki.  I think a $36,000 budget is a good place to start.  Yes, that’s a ton of money.  But you can subtract from there (or add if need be), based on size of the project, work you plan to do yourself and the how nice of finishes you’re planning.  Obviously we subtracted a lot in labor but didn’t have to scrimp on the finish level much (sure I’d love a pro-range, but we really didn’t need it).  Quality cabinets were really important to me, so we spent the extra money on custom shaker-style cabinets, but saved about 10% by painting them ourselves.  I also think we got a lot of “style mileage” out of the inexpensive white subway tile backsplash, installed floor to ceiling.  Renovations are about compromise, just make sure to keep your goals in tact!

What about you guys?  Any budget advice for Miyuki or feedback on our renovation?  I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!



p.s. “Children’s menus are the death of civilization.” An interesting look into the recent history of kids and food.

p.p.s. Did you guys know the Pioneer Woman renovated a commercial property?  It’s beautiful!

p.p.p.s. Have you guys seen Jersey Ice Cream Co’s renovation work?  I’m obsessed with these guys!


December Progress on the Backyard


I sure hope you are all have a great start to 2015!  But before we delve into the new year, I want to get you caught up on all the work we did last month on the backyard of the Ravenna House.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Work Wilder 1

Despite the rainy weather, we made some good progress on the backyard.  And yes, by we I mean Wilder and his “hammer”.  Plus a little help from Dada 😉

In December we poured a concrete curb at the patio, laid the foundation for a shed, and installed pipping for a future hose-bib.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Patio Edge 1

That’s a picture of the concrete curb on the edge of the patio.  We put this in to keep the pavers from settling over time.  Unfortunately we poured the concrete just before a massive downpour and we didn’t get a chance to finish the top of the concrete.  So yes, it will always be this rough. But since it’s outside I really don’t care.  Besides with a little landscaping and the right outdoor furniture on the patio, I’m hoping you’ll never even notice the concrete!

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Work Wilder and DadaThe Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed Form

Someday there will be a shed in this corner of the backyard, which will provide some much needed storage.  The picture above was taken while Garrett was forming the concrete pad that will sit beneath the shed.  He used 3/8″ rebar (on the edges) and mats (in the interior) for strength.  We poured the concrete the next day, just as the elusive winter sun was passing overhead.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed Garrett pouring concreteThe Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed PourThe Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed Handprints in Concrete

We all managed to get our handprints in the wet concrete as it was drying…a first for Wilder!

The pictures above also give you a good shot of the fencing at the Ravenna House.  We plan to replace the green falling-down fence at the back of the shots with a new cedar fence and continue it in front of the chain link fence at right. And with Wilder’s skills with a “hammer”, that fence will be up in no time!

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Work Wilder 2

Oh and one more photo, because I just don’t know when to quit.  These are Garrett’s shoes after pouring the shed’s concrete pad.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Concrete on Shoes

Up next, a shed!  And a potty-trained toddler.  Okay, I’ll settle for either one of those…

More on the patio here and backyard inspiration here.



p.s. I’ve been trying to feed my Serial addiction with other podcasts and this Ira Glass piece is the trick!

p.p.s. Who knew Richard Gere had such good taste in real estate?!

p.p.p.s. This Cape Dutch renovation does not disappoint.  I am loving all that white…of course I am!


An Antique-Quilt Teepee for the Little Guy


Happy 2015 everyone! We had a great holiday full of food, kiddos, and celebrating in the mountains of Oregon with my sis and her fam.  It was a great start to the new year!

But before we left town for the mountains, Wilder and I got to spend a couple of days hanging out between Christmas and New Years.  And with extra time on our hands, I wanted to do something special for the two of us during the holiday break.  So I planned out a DIY project that we could build together.  DIY is extra special, right?  Right.

So this holiday break, Wilder and I built an antique-quilt teepee in his bedroom!

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee with Antique Quilts

I’ve wanted to get Wilder a teepee for a long time now, but after seeing the price of some cute options at Land of Nod and Pottery Barn Kids, I decided we’d build our own.  And since I happen to have an abundance of antique quilts laying around (thanks Mom!), I decided our DIY version would be an antique-quilt teepee.  I’ll share a DIY tutorial next week, but for now, here are some pics of our new favorite play space:

The Grit and Polish - Antique Quilt Teepee with WilderThe Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee Inside

And how about those antique quilts…aren’t they beautiful?  Here’s a closer look:

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee antique quilt The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee antique quilt 2

The first quilt, a hand-stiched double-wedding-pattern quilt, I bought off Craigslist for $50 a few years back.  And my mom, an avid quilter herself, scored the red-white-and-blue lovely from a quilting retreat she attends every year.  It was a real battle with my sis to see who would end up with it, but I guess mom just likes me better! Just kidding of course…;)  But I did promise my sis joint custody of the quilt…so I may need to part with it for a few weeks every year.

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee with Wilder 3

Building this teepee turned out to be a really fun and easy project for Wilder and I.  He is really proud of it, and I’m really happy to have a special little nook all our own.  Plus I’m already excited about the other places we can set this teepee up, especially this summer.  Like maybe outside, with an animal skin floor, hanging lights and a garland.  But that’s getting a little ahead of myself!  For the time being, you know where this little family will be hanging out!

Resources: Large stuffed bear, Pottery Barn Kids | teepee quilts, antiques | quilt on floor, made by my mom | all other room resources, here and here



p.s. Loving the sink in this classic meets utility meets old house bathroom!  Okay and their entry is pretty awesome too!

p.p.s. I bought this William Wegman kid’s book for my dog-loving niece,Winnie.  It’s awesome!  And yes, William Wegman really does kids books.

p.p.p.s. In case you missed it over the holidays, I posted about my favorite projects from 2014 and a by-the-numbers year end recap.  Writing those posts sure made me feel like 2014 was a productive year for us at the Ravenna House!  Thanks for following along!


It’s a Patio…in my backyard!


Well guys it’s officially rainy season here in Seattle.  You know what that means.  We expect a lot of wet weather, day in and day out, for about six months.  But  this year has been different.  We’ve gotten a spell of cold that’s had the sun shining bright and the falling-leaves dry.  So far, it’s actually been a beautiful fall, and we’ve taken full advantage of it to make progress on the patio.

After we got back from New Orleans, we rented a plate compactor and leveled out the gravel base we had laid in the backyard.

The Grit and Polish - backyard patio prep

Disregard the mess along the sagging fences.  Some day Garrett is going to build me a storage shed.  And than a fence.  🙂

We wanted the patio to be long – about the length of the parking pad – and 12′ in width.  That way we can use it for overflow parking if need be.  We prepped the patio area with gravel and after we graded and compacted it, we started laying pavers.

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 3

I scored some free granite paver left-overs from a commercial plaza downtown through a connection at work.  The pavers are generally 1’x2′ in size but we also got a lot of miscellaneous-sized cut pieces.  So we fit them together like a puzzle.  I think it looks pretty cool plus they were free.  And free is my favorite price 🙂

To lay the pavers, we set down a couple inches of sand in a small area – about 10sf- and leveled it using a 2×4 and some old yard-tool handles.  Here’s Wilder stepping in the leveled-sand on the first day of laying pavers:

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 1

Wilder didn’t actually get to lay any pavers due to the fact that they weigh upwards of 50lbs.  Per piece!  But Wilder did get to throw the small cast-offs around.  Plus he helped by “digging” and picking up leaves.  This kiddo loves to help. When he sees dada put on his work boots, he starts jumping up and down and squealing, knowing he gets to go outside and help dada work.  And when I come out to inspect the work (someone’s got to do quality control after all), he loves to tell me about it in giant hand-gestures and babbled-sentences.  It’s really the sweetest!

Here we are about half way done laying the patio:

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 2

And here’s the finished product, Wilder-tested and approved:

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 4

I’m noticing our concrete driveway is looking a little lackluster these days.  While I doubt we’ll get around to repairing the concrete, hopefully it gets a good power wash.  Or maybe just a good rain.

We swept sand in-between the pavers.  After a rain storm or two we’ll probably have to lay some more, but for now it’s done.  We still plan to lay some kind of border around the patio – not sure if it will be concrete or just a flower bed.

Well it’s nice to be able to say (finally) that the patio is done.  Done, done, done!  Next up: a shed for mama and a fence for Bubba!

More on the backyard renovation here, here, and here.



p.s. This New Orleans house is amazing.

p.p.s. Have you guys been listening to Serial?  Get on board…it’s awesome!!!

p.p.p.s. I would live in this NYC apartment.  Oh yes, yes I would.

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Sometimes New Windows Just Make Sense


Happy Halloween everyone!  On this freaky Friday, I want to talk about…windows!  I know, not very scary, but it’ll have to do.

You may remember that last month we finally decided to replace the original, non-functional and poorly-maintained windows with vinyl.  It was a hard choice for this old-house-lover to make, but it seemed like the right thing to do for all sorts of reasons: condition, sound, safety, heat, time/cost of repair, and longevity.  As Garrett likes to tell me, “you have to pick your battles.”  And with a to-do list a mile long at the Ravenna House, fixing the old windows was just not a battle we were prepared to take on.  So we ponied up for new vinyl windows and scheduled them to be installed while we were in New Orleans.

We came home from vacation to these…

The Grit and Polish - Window Replacement Bench

And…I love them!  Yes, I’m saying that I love vinyl windows.  Surprised?  Me too.  But the house is so much quieter (we live on a busy street) and the windows actually open now and you can no longer see through our bathroom window into the shower and I don’t even worry when Wilder leans up against the window above the kitchen bench because it’s tempered!  Now, if they could just make finger print-proof glass...

The Grit and Polish - New Window Collage

When we started this whole “let’s replace the windows” thing, I was excited about one thing.  Getting rid of the front windows.  At some point in the 88-year history of The Ravenna House, someone replaced the matching two double-hung windows on either side of the front door with single vinyl sliders.  Downright monstrocities.  

The Grit and Polish - Old Front Windows Before

They look awful, right?  Well I figured this was my big chance to change the windows back to their original configuration.  So we did.

The Grit and Polish - Window Replacement Front Window

Okay, they aren’t exactly what used to be.  They’re plastic, not wood; single-hung, not double-hung; and they don’t have divided lights in the top pane.  Plus the post between the windows still needs paint.  But the idea is there.  And they look a whole lot better.  Right?!  I think so.  I am really, really happy with this change!!!

So am I a convert to new windows?  No.  I’ll still keep every old window I can.  But I am happy with our decision to replace the windows at the Ravenna House.  Sometimes it just makes sense.



p.s. Home as a haven…this made me tear up!

p.p.s. I’ve never seen ‘fish scale’ tiles before, but I am officially obsessed!  How much do you love this tile in the bathroom!

p.p.p.s. I’ve been getting back into cooking lately (okay, I’ve made 2 real dinners in the past couple weeks) and this recipe has me really, really excited it’s fall!


Ravenna Kitchen: Before and After


Guys, I’m a little embarrassed.  We’ve been pretty much done with the kitchen for a good four months now and I’m just getting around to doing the big reveal.  Of course in order to do a reveal, I had to photograph the kitchen, meaning I had to tidy it up first.  Which really shouldnt be a difficult task, but it kinda was.  See we use this space all the time and finding a time between dish cycles and meals proved tricky.  But I finally, finally got this kitchen shot with the help of my excellent photography assistant, 13-month-old Wilder, and today’s the day.

It’s been so long since we talked about the kitchen last that you may not remember what the space used to look like.  It was teeny and inefficient and completely walled off.  Let me remind you…


That picture was from day 2, just after we removed those nasty, stinky, pink carpets (and before I started this blog).  The kitchen is behind the wall on the left, just beside that cute little dining room nook.  And what we found behind that wall was an original kitchen, mostly untouched since 1926:


We tried to save the cabinets (you know, because I love all things old), but I just couldn’t make the layout work.  So those came out on the big demo weekend.  It turned out to be a good thing because the wall behind the sink was completey rotted out from a leaky pipe and needed to be replaced.  We were also disappointed to find mismatched pine flooring below the kitchen’s original laminate. This too came out and we feathered in oak hardwoods consistent with the rest of the upstairs flooring.

Here’s what the kitchen looked like after all that demo:


And after we started to put it back together:


Notice the pine plank ceiling is in (is that what you call it…plank, clapboard, bead board?) along with the lighting rough-in, plumbing rough-in, and drywall.  I know it doesn’t look like much, but we’re about halfway done here – no joke!

So let’s jump to the final product:

Kitchen from Living RoomKitchen Bench and FridgeKitchen - Wilder in the Middle

We did a lot of work to this kitchen.  New cabinets, electrical, heat, plumbing, appliances, lighting, countertops, ceiling, crown molding, backsplash, hardware, sink and faucet, flooring, open shelves, and framing and drywall where needed.  If it sounds like a lot of work that’s because it really was!  We did everything ourselves except the plumbing, countertops, and refinishing the hardwoods. And it took us the better part of six months.

That’s six long months of pizza delivery and gas station beer.  It was a rough one, I tell you.  Thank goodness the God of all pizza places, Zeeks Pizza, is in Seattle (get the Kitchen Sink pizza–you won’t be sorry)!  And that Seattle gas stations sell local microbrews.  I should put up a sign like: “this kitchen fueled by Zeeks Pizza and Two Beers Brewing Co“.  

Kitchen Open Shelves on Marble Backsplash

Our kitchen is still small at 120sf (the dimensions are 8′ x 15′).  It has limited counter and storage space but so far it’s working for us.  I find myself grocery shopping a little more frequently for food that’s a little fresher and eating out more.  Plus we still order a lot of pizza…

Kitchen Window ViewKitchen Details CollageKitchen Cabinet Hardware

One thing I get asked about a lot are the marble countertops.  Yes, we love them, and no, they’re not high maintenance…at least not yet.  It’s a little embarrassing how often I find coffee, tomato sauce, or butter sitting on the counter.  But so far, no stains.  We definitely have mild scratching and one chip near the bench, but none of it is obvious unless you’re looking closely.  Besides I’m one of those “a little scratch adds character” people, so it really doesn’t bother me.

The marble herringbone backsplash was a DIY special by your’s truly.  It was a big project.  It took two days to tile and that’s with Garrett’s help.  It was a lot of cutting, sore fingers and hard thinking, made a bit easier with tips from Young House Love.  I love how it turned out, but I’m not sure I’d tackle this big of an area again.

Before we talk about the little kitchen bench (by the refrigerator), let me warn you that there’s a preponderance of Wilder photos coming.  When I said he was my photography assistant, what I really meant was that he likes to walk in front of the camera.  And good luck keeping him out of the shot.  Some would say he’s stubborn, but I say he’s just like his dada🙂

Wilder at Bench Collage

The little bench/window-seat is my favorite spot in the kitchen.  Wilder and I trade off using it.  I like to work there.  And he likes to read or put up stickers (removable) on the window or cook alongside dad, “mixing” his ingredients with a wooden spoon.  He really is the sweetest, so I don’t mind sharing.

Kitchen - Wilder and his stickers on his bench

Kitchen Resources: Cabinets: Custom | Countertops: marble, GS Cabinet | Large cutting board: Hardwood Industries | Range: American, Albert Lee Warehouse Sale | Vent: Viking, Albert Lee Warehouse Sale | Dishwasher: Viking, Albert Lee Warehouse Sale | Fridge: KitchenAid, Albert Lee Warehouse Sale | Backsplash: marble laid in herringbone pattern, Home Depot | Chandelier: Hanging Capiz, West Elm | Ceiling Lights: Home Depot | Blinds: Home Depot | Sink: Amazon | Faucet: Katom | Table: Crate and Barrel (discontinued) | Chairs: Industry West | Oak floors: Hardwood Industries | Blue printed bowl (with cherries), West Elm | Mercury Glass Candle: Anthropologie | Drawer pulls: Home Depot | Cabinet latch hardware: Home Depot |

You may have noticed that I started this post by saying the kitchen was “pretty much done”.  Well I’d still like to install molding below the kitchen windows and there’s a giant empty white spot over the vent calling for a pair of antlers.  But even so, this room is 99% done and that feels pretty damn good.


p.s. What an amazing tent for overflow house guests.  Who wouldn’t like to stay here?  I’m pretty sure Wilder would like to move in!
p.p.s. Best beach house ever.  Really!

p.p.p.s. Fifty cities to see before you die.  I’ve been to 7, how about you?


What I’m Loving About My House Lately


I had a pretty stellar weekend.  Luckily most of our tools were still at Gramma and Papa’s farm after building the wedding arbor – so Garrett couldn’t do any real work.  Meaning we got to spend the entire weekend together as a family, doing things besides working on a house.  It was amazing!  We played at the park, grilled club sandwiches, hung out with my mom, and had a long drawn-out three-refills breakfast at our table.   And to top it off, my sis came to town with the kids so it was like a giant family love-fest around here.

I suppose it’s no surprise that what I’m loving about my house lately is spending quality family time in it.  Especially in the kitchen, now that it’s pretty much done and almost off the punch list.  You have a nice long kitchen post to look forward to on Thursday, but until then, here is a sneak peak of the final product.  Just don’t be distracted by baby Wilder’s giant belly.

Kitchen - Wilder reading at Bench

The belly is amazing, right?  Even more amazing is that my son ‘reads’ encyclopedias…he’s brilliant!   😉

What about you guys?  What are you loving about your house lately?


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Eech! There’s Carpet in My Basement (and Paint too)


The basement family room is done.  Done.  Done.  Done!  Okay, not exactly 100% done, but somewhere around 98% done.  And I’d say that’s close enough.

We wanted to finish it in time for Wilder’s first birthday party, and it was a mad dash to the end.  We painted earlier in the month and carpet came last week.  Between a trip to Chicago and an impromptu offer on a house (yes, we are crazy; no, we didn’t get the house), we were scrambling to get the handrail up, the lighting installed, and the doors hung in time for Wilder’s first guests to arrive.  But we got it done.  We even got the essentials moved down there: a couch, the kegerator, and lots of toys.

Here’s a look around the basement family room the day after Wilder’s party:

Basement Paint and CarpetBasement Paint and Carpet View 1Basement Carpet and Paint - Balloons and Exposed BeamBasement Paint and CarpetBasement Paint and Carpet - StairwellStairwell

There’s lots to chat about in this room – the exposed beam, the stairwell, the polished concrete wall, the millwork – but I want to talk about the most exciting thing first, so let’s talk carpet.  Carpet!  I know, I can hardly believe it either!  This is the first time Garrett and I have had carpet.  I mean besides the nasty shag stuff we found covering the original hardwood floors at the Wallingford House (aka the carpet you avoid touching for fear of hepatitis).  And we love it!  It’s cozy and comfortable and beautiful.  We picked out the cheapest, berber-weave carpet that Home Depot had to offer.  It rang in at $2.30/sf, including the pad and installation.  

And before we had the carpet installed, we painted.  So let’s go back to where I left off in the basement last week(ish).  The paint was up and the masking was just about to come down…and then we flew to Chicago for a little family celebration (more on that trip here).

Well, we made it back home and that masking came off in short order.  Turns out it’s approximately one million times faster to take masking down then it is to put it up.  Who would of guessed?

We went with light colors to help the space feel bigger and brighter.  It’s a basement (obviously), so has a couple things working against it.  Mainly that it’s below grade so the windows are short and the ceilings are only 7′ tall.  So to avoid it feeling like a dark cave, we picked out the following colors:

  • Ceiling, trim and staircase walls: BM’s Simply White
  • All other walls: Sherwin Williams’ White Duck

I originally bought the White Duck paint 3 months ago, planning to use it upstairs.  But Garrett hated it.  Somehow it seems to work in the basement.  Could be the different lighting.  Or perhaps the price tag was just too good to pass up, especially at the end of a renovation – what’s better than free when you’re strapped for cash?!

Anyway, the whole job took us 18 gallons of paint/primer.  Basically a shit ton and our basement is only 600sf.  At $37 to $56 per gallon (including a 30% off coupon from Sherwin Williams),  this little basement paint job of our’s cost us north of $800.  And that doesn’t even count the paint sprayer, brushes, and masking supplies.

Basement Laundry Room - PaintedBasement Paint and Carpet and Kegerator

Our family is enjoying the heck out of the family room.  Wilder has been walking around and around the basement in search of doors to open and balloons to pop.  Bubba has rolled all over that carpet and claimed the third bedroom as his.  It’s amazing to have this space done!  And it turns out that carpet – the non-hepatitis kind – is pretty damn nice!

Here’s a quick look back to what the family room looked like a few months ago.  I don’t have a true “before picture”, but this one is an early progress shot:

Ravenna House Basement Bathroom Photo 1 1-31-14

Now, time to turn our efforts outside…


p.s. My sister and brother-in-law recently inherited the family cabin.  It’s in need of a little refresh, and these wood ceilings are the perfect inspiration.

p.p.s. Glad I’m not the only one with a massive backyard project this summer!  If only I could work this wrap-around porch into the patio design…

p.p.s.  I’m really obsessed with the salvaged door we put in the bathroom.  It came out of the creepy black-room in our basement pre-renovation.  I’ll share some more pics of the bathrooms soon as we wrap it up, but here’s a sneak peak of that door for all those salvage-enthusiasts like me:

Bathroom Door - Salvaged Wood with Glass

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