Tacoma Converted Garage // Moody Kitchen: What It Cost (+ Budget Tips)


Now that the Tacoma kitchen renovation is done, we’re breaking down the budget. And I have to admit, even I was surprised at the final number. It’s much less than I thought, considering what a big transformation this was.

psst: Pin this post for later reference

Kitchen renovations are expensive. We’ve all heard it before. And while it’s usually true, Garrett and I are firm believers that beautiful kitchens can also be reasonably priced. And here’s proof:

Budget Breakdown

$3,700 Appliances*

$2,244 Cabinets

$500 Granite Countertops

$790 Live-edge wood countertop

$50 Cabinet hardware

$199 Sink

$135 Faucet

$415 Lighting

$150 Electrical

$100 Plumbing

$1,000 Concrete Floor refinish

$100 Paint

$100 Incidentals

$9,483 Total**

*Appliance total includes Kitchen Aid gas range, which is a stand-in for the electrical range Naysa has on order

**I didn’t include the staging items in the budget (rug, art, etc) since they’re not part of the renovation, but they’d be in the range of $500-$750.

I’ve linked to a few of our other kitchen budgets at the bottom of this post and there are definitely a few consistent ways that we’ve saved money on all of these renos. Read on for 8 tips for saving money on a kitchen renovation.

Tips for Saving Money on a Kitchen Renovation

One // DIY Everything You Can. You probably saw this one coming a mile away. Garrett and I are big believers in doing work ourselves because it saves money, teaches valuable skills, and controls the end product. The only thing that was hired out for this kitchen was sanding and polishing the original concrete floors.

Two // Splurge on one High Impact Item and Save on the Rest. I’ve talked about this philosophy before (at the Porch House powder bathroom), but it’s done well by us. In this space, we splurred on the live-edge countertop and saved on stock cabinets and inexpensive hardware, among other things.

Three // Lighting. I like to use a mix of sconces and overhead lighting and use my high-low philosophy here. The lights that are the most visible and impactful are worth spending on (we often buy from Rejuvenation and the sconce on the post here came from Pottery Barn) and the rest of the lighting can be pretty inexpensive (basic can lights for this kitchen).

Four // Look for second-hand, refurbished, or out-of-the-box Items. We like to buy our appliances at scratch and dent sales. Sometimes that means a literal dent (did you notice the big one on the fridge?) but often times there’s nothing visually wrong with the appliances they’re just out-of-box or display items. We also look for sales, items that are refurbished, or materials that are original to the space (like the tongue-and-grove paneling on these walls).

Five // Backsplash (or lack thereof). Speaking of the tongue-and-grove panelling, we saved big time on money and time by skipping a tile backsplash. Instead, we clad the backsplash with salvaged tongue-and-groove paneling and spent $0 on it. Another option: use the stock 4″ stone backsplash from the countertop supplier and skip the tiles (like we did at the Porch House kitchen).

Six // Stock Cabinets. I’d love to splurge for custom cabinets, but it’s often not in the budget, especially for a rental. So we try to make stock cabinets look better with a few tricks, including adding a beefier toe-kick, painting the cabinets, and adding a soffit. You can read all of our tricks in this post.

Seven // Keep the Design Simple. This tip is pretty intuitive: having less things in your space means spending less money. Simple, minimal spaces simply cost less to build. I’m not sure this kitchen qualifies as minimal, but it is certainly simple, both in the layout and the design.

Eight // Plan Ahead! Planning ahead can save you a ton of money in shipping fees, rush order, sale prices, and well, everything. While this kitchen came together in 5 weeks, the planning started months before and it helped us flush out what was worth spending money on and what wasn’t.


Sources are all linked here.

Related Posts

Tacoma moody kitchen reveal (with sources) // Bryant House Kitchen renovation budget // Dexter House kitchen renovation budget // Porch House kitchen lessons // 6 Day Kitchen reveal + resources //


Tacoma Converted Garage // Moody Kitchen: Reveal (ORC, Week 6)


Today we’re sharing the FINISHED moody kitchen renovation! You can catch up on previous weekly updates here: week 1week 2week 3, and week 4, and week 5.

psst: sources are at the bottom of this post

Yup, we went green! Sherwin William’s Jasper is a rich and moody green that is so dark it almost reads black. We love it! And of course, I’m dying to show you the rest of this kitchen reveal, but the ‘after’ photos won’t be quite as beautiful if you don’t know where we started from. So here’s a look at this kitchen during demo.

This kitchen has come a looong way! We don’t actually have a photo of the original kitchen, but trust me when I say, it was bad. The layout, the aesthetics, the functionality…none of it worked. So we were happy to help Naysa (Garrett’s sister and the homeowner, pictured above) renovate it. There’s an awesome story behind Naysa buying this triplex and it’s all about student debt, house hacking, and improving one’s financial situation through real estate. You know, the stuff Garrett and I can’t shut up about 😉 You can read Naysa’s story here.

Okay, now for the finished space…

Garrett put together a video of the reveal, which you can see here:

DIY Renovating on a Short Timeline

Five weeks is just not a lot of time for a kitchen, especially when you’re doing all the work yourself. But, it’s done! Everything in this kitchen (besides the floors) was a DIY endeavor. Garrett even honed and fabricated the granite countertops. Thankfully we don’t have 9-5 jobs anymore – you can read how we swung that here – so we were able to devote a lot of time to this project. Plus Garrett’s dad is a retired electrician and Nana watched our kids a lot, so we had great help.

But make no mistake, getting this project done on the ORC timeline meant a lot of long days, short nights, and sacrifices elsewhere in our lives. Thankfully we’re still happily married, our kids are no worse for ware, and we’re really proud of the kitchen we built for Naysa.


Let’s talk about that big chunk of tree cascading over the island. Garrett found this 12′ live-edge wood slab at an architectural salvage shop in Seattle and it brings in all the warm, woody Pacific Northwest vibes to this kitchen. It’s definitely an unconventional countertop choice, but that might be exactly why I love it so much. We kept the wood natural with a simple butcherblock wax seal.

Not to be outdone, the honed black granite countertops are pretty lovely too. They came polished from GS Cabinets in Seattle in 8′-long slabs. Garrett honed the surface, cut them to length, and added the sink and faucet cutouts. I should mention that the granite countertops haven’t been sealed yet. Which means they’re soaking up everything we put on them – even the natural oil from those wood candlesticks. Ugh. We’re planning to use a stone/tile/grout sealer next week and Garrett assures me it won’t change the look.

Making Stock Cabinets Look More Custom

We almost always use basic stock cabinets, like we did in this kitchen, and we made them look more custom by adding a soffit, creating storage nooks in the awkward space between cabinets, and beefing up the toe kick with 4″ base molding.

Floor-to-ceiling cabinets look much more custom than ones that stop 10″ short of the ceiling. At least we think so, so Garrett built a soffit with a shaker panel front to match the cabinets. We also added a 4×1 piece of trim as a toe kick and ran it around all of the cabinets, even under the dishwasher (we screwed in that section so it can be removed if the the dishwasher needs serviced). The continual, beefy trim helps the cabinets feel more built-in.

The Perfect Moody Color

Finding the color for the cabinets took almost the entirety of the One Room Challenge. I originally planned on painting them black or charcoal and then considered all sorts of lighter greens (including the original retro green color), before circling back to a darker hue. Color. is. hard!

But I’m so glad we kept at it, because this deep shade of green (SW Jasper), which I originally saw on Mandy’s front door, was worth the search.

Built-in Hood Vent

I’ve shared my love of built-in hood vents before, but I’ve got to say, the love has grown stronger. Garrett built this one in a weekend and shared the tutorial here. I especially like that this hood vent is boxy and modern, which feels appropriate for a 1950’s converted garage.

When a Post Lands in the Center of Your Kitchen

Perhaps the biggest struggle we had with this kitchen was the post that lands in the center of the island. It’s load bearing and couldn’t be moved without replacing the entire beam above (ahem, not in the budget). Garrett did replace the original sandwiched-2×6 post with a fir 6×6 that he found at a salvage shop in Seattle. So the post itself looks a lot better, but even so, I struggled with how to make the post feel intentional (and dare I say, cool?) instead of awkward and arbitrary. I’m hoping you’ll agree that the adjustable sconce light did just that. It gave the post a function and a reason for being there (besides, of course, holding up the roof ;).

And if you’ve read this far, I’ll let you in a little secret. We forgot to add an outlet for the light on the island. It’s required by code and we had talked about where it would go multiple times, but in the rush of finishing this kitchen, it just go missed. Ha! So that’s the other item on the punch list.


These days, metal hardware is the norm, but we opted for painted wood shaker knobs instead. There is certainly nothing profound about shaker knobs except perhaps how simple they are, and inexpensive (these were about $0.75/ea). But I really love these knobs. So much so, in fact, that I’m already planning to use them again in the next room we’re updating at the Farmhouse (more on that soon).

The Art and Other Finishes

I’ve been dreaming about putting art in this kitchen since we started the renovation. Art a great way to add in some mood, interest, and old-worldliness. And the best thing about these pieces is that they got to come home with after we wrapped up construction!

I tried to keep the rest of the finishes moody and simple as well. There’s a ceramic bowl full of hearty vegetables, a crock full of wood spoons, fresh flowers, a loaf of sourdough, cookbooks, soap and a brush for dishes, and a vintage-inspired rug.

Thank you

A big thank you to you guys for following along on this renovation and our other projects too. The Grit and Polish blog is sneaking up on 5 years and we wouldn’t still be sharing these projects (and enjoying the heck out of it) if it weren’t for your likes, comments, shares, and kind words. THANK YOU!

And in case you are wondering what Naysa thinks of her kitchen…well, she hasn’t seen it yet. Ha! Fingers crossed she loves it as much as we do.


Sources are listed below (affiliate links included). Things not shown: cabinets from GS Cabinets in Seattle, the fir column and live-edge countertop are from Earthwise architectural salvage in Seattle, and the tongue-and-grove paneling is original. Appliances all came from Albert Lee’s scratch-and-dent warehouse sale in Seattle (fridge – Jenn Air, dishwasher – Viking, range – Kitchen Aid), except the hood vent, which we provided a tutorial on here. We’ll be sharing the cost of the renovation next week (if we can round up all the receipts by then) so stay tuned for that.

Sources: 1. SW Jasper / 2. SW Snowbound / 3. surfaces: polished concrete, honed black granite (from GS Cabinet in Seattle), live edge (found at Earthwise Architectural Salvage in Seattle) /4. sconce over windows / 5. rug / 6. fruit bowl (similar) / 7. cake stand / 8. sconce on post / 9. landscape art (c/o)/ 10. horse art + vintage frame / 11.the Minimalist Kitchen cookbook / 12. candlesticks (c/o) / 13. crock with flowers (c/o) / 14. dish brush / 15. faucet / 16. knobs (similar)

That’s it for another successful One Room Challenge! Check out all the ORC featured and guest participants room reveals here…there are SO many good ones!


Tacoma Converted Garage // Moody Kitchen: Eeek! (ORC, Week 5)


Catch up on previous weekly updates about this moody kitchen renovation here: week 1week 2week 3, and week 4.

Eeeek! It’s week 5 of the One Room Challenge and this is the point where panic sets in. Panic, excitement, relief, and everything else. Just. One. Week. Left!

Landscape (c/0), art print (free download) + vintage frame, sconce

Check out the video update below.

We’re actually on track to finish up this kitchen renovation with a couple of days to spare because we had an insanely productive week last week. The soffits got finished (with a shaker-style panel to match the cabinet doors), the island countertop was installed and sealed, we picked hardware, and the cabinets got repainted. I’ll be saving the final color selection for the reveal (I’ve got to keep something secret 😉 ), but if you follow us on Instagram than you already know it was a hard choice. I was back and forth to Lowes and a nearby hardware store multiple times, grabbing samples, trying them, and then grabbing some more. In the end, I’m confident we made the perfect moody color choice, but you can be the judge of that next week. Here are the colors we tried:

The existing cabinet color is Behr Boreal. I liked the color a lot more in the darker, moodier stormy light we had on the day I took these photos, but it still read a bit retro for what we wanted. The samples we tried (from left in the picture above) were SW rock bottom, SW retreat, and SW Jasper. And not pictured, we tried our g0-to black, BM Onyx. Can’t wait to share what we picked.

Garrett paneled the soffits to match the shaker-style cabinet doors. I love how ‘built-in’ they make this wall of cabinetry feel, or at least it will feel once it’s all painted in the cabinet color.

That’s all for this week. Check out all the featured and guest participants here.


Tacoma Converted Garage // Moody Kitchen: Countertops and More (ORC, Week 4)


Catch up on previous weekly updates about this moody kitchen renovation here: week 1week 2, and week 3.

Somehow we’re already to week 4 of the One Room Challenge and it feels like we’re cruising now. This week was all about countertops – honed black granite and a live edge slab of wood – replacing the post, installing the plumbing, and starting on the soffit. Phew! Here’s what the space looks like as of yesterday.

And here’s a video update:

Honed Absolute Black Granite Countertops

First let’s talk about the honed black granite countertops. I love them. You too? They’re matte and lovely and look kinda like soap stone. These slabs of granite actually came polished and it was 100% the wrong vibe for the space. So Garrett honed them for me and it made all the difference.

Can you believe that Garrett also fabricated these countertops himself? Sure there’s a little wonky-ness around the sink and we had to get a little creative at the corner, but dang. They’re not bad! This is the second kitchen that Garrett has DIY’d stone countertops for – ironically neither of which is our kitchen – and I’m amazed by his skills. Cutting, honing, and polishing stone countertops is just not something I thought one could do at home. But apparently it is, although admittedly it is not easy. Every time Garrett finishes an installation, he swears he’ll never do another one (psst: Garrett’s planning to create a video of the honing and fabrication process later). We still need to epoxy the seam and do a final clean, but here’s a peak.

Finding a Live Edge Slab

Probably the coolest thing to happen this week was finding a 12′-long live edge slab at a Seattle salvage store (Earth Wise in Sodo for you locals). Garrett facetime-ed me while he was at the store and I couldn’t believe our luck. I’ve been telling Garrett that ideally we’d find a live edge slab to waterfall over the island, but I didn’t really think we’d find one. I am pumped that we did! Can’t you just imagine what they’ll look like? No? Here’s an example.


Okay ours won’t be so polished or perfect, but hopefully it will provide a similar feel to our kitchen. The slab we found is so rough that Garret had to rent a power planer to level it.

Replacing the Posts

One other big update this week was swapping out the post that hangs out in the middle of the kitchen. It’s been earmarked for replacement since this renovation started. The main reason was for structural support (the previous post was just sandwiched 2x6s and not connected to the beam).

Garrett found the new post (and a couple of others) at a salvage shop, sanded them down, and got them up this week. You can see the new post in the first photo, along with the beginnings of a soffit. More on that next week!

Check out all the featured and guest participants here. Just two weeks left…eeek!


Tacoma Converted Garage // Window Treatments with Lowe’s (+ Our Favorite Option for Rentals)


This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.

Bamboo Shades // Curtain Panels // Curtain Rod // Curtain Rings

The Tacoma Converted Garage has two large windows in the dining nook that get lots of south-facing light. We looked for window coverings that were durable (this is a rental after all), attractive, and would fit our off-size windows. And we found a great, customizable solution at Lowe’s. Read on for how we covered these 41 1/8″-wide windows and a few of our thoughts on window treatments in rentals.

Selecting Window Treatments

When it comes to window treatments, I like to keep it simple. That usually means bamboo shades or solid-color, natural-fiber curtains. At the Tacoma Converted Garage, I decided to use both. Bamboo shades to block the light, give privacy, and add a natural note to the room. Cotton curtain panels to bring in a warm and homey feel and accentuate the height of the room.

We started at Lowes.com. They have a ton to choose from, but we settled on Levolor bamboo shades, Allen + Roth curtain panels, and an Allen + Roth curtain rod. We had everything shipped to store and bought rings (one pack per panel) in the store as well.

Because of the odd dimensions of our windows (which seems to be an issue in every old property we come across), I originally thought we’d have to mount the bamboo blinds outside the windows. We’ve done that in the past (here), and it usually looks fine, but with such big windows and a narrow space between them, I really loved the idea of inside-mounting these blinds. So imagine my joy when I found out that Lowe’s can custom cut blinds to the exact width you need right in store!

Pro tip: Lowe’s can custom cut blinds to width in store. 

Cutting Bamboo Blinds

Once all of our window coverings arrived in store, Garrett and I picked them up and walked the bamboo blinds over to the window coverings department. An associate was happy to cut our blinds (something, we gathered, Lowe’s does a lot of). And thankfully, she was willing to chat us up about the process. We shared a few things we learned below.

Tips when cutting bamboo blinds to width:
  1. Cut your blinds narrower than your window opening to give the blinds some play when opening and closing. Somewhere around 1/4″ per side is appropriate (a Lowe’s associate can help you settle on a dimension for your blinds).
  2. Cutting blinds is one of those, you-can-always-take-more-off-but-you-can’t-add-more-back-on situations. So if you’re not 100% sure on how wide you want your blinds, start a little wider. You can always take the blinds back down and have them cut again.
  3. Some blinds are cut in the box and some out-of-box. We had mistakenly removed one of our blinds from the box before getting them to the cutter (I wanted to double-check the color) so one blind had to be cut out-of-the-box and one was cut in. Our cutter told us that in-box is much easier.
  4. Call ahead. Not every employee is trained on the cutting machine and some are more experienced than others. So ask your window coverings department who you should see and when they work.
  5. Blinds can be cut within 1/8″ accuracy.

Garrett actually filmed the cutting process at Lowe’s and included it in a video of this entire project. You can check it out here:

Installing Window Treatments

Once our blinds were cut to width, it only took an hour or so to hang up all of our window treatments. We started with the curtain rod. Have I mentioned how much I love this curtain rod from Allen + Roth? It’s black, industrial, and perfect for the Tacoma Converted Garage. We’ll use it again in here if we hang more curtains, but Lowe’s has a ton of other great options too.

In general, we like to place curtain rods in the upper half of the space between the top of the window and the ceiling. Of course the exact height of the rod is based on the curtains (our’s are 8′, but I would have gone longer if there hadn’t been a beam in the way). We held up one curtain panel and a curtain ring to determine exactly where the rod needed to be placed in order for the curtain to just kiss the ground. Then we measured that, marked the same dimension on the other side, predrilled holes, and attached the brackets with the provided screws. Easy peesy.

Pro tip: hang curtain rods in the top half of the space between the top of the window and the ceiling to help draw your eye up and make ceilings feel taller. 

If you don’t happen to have 1″-thick fir paneling on your walls like the Tacoma Converted Garage, it’s best to locate studs to attach your brackets to. Sheetrock anchors work too, although with children like our’s, I feel much safer attaching curtains into studs 😉

The bamboo blinds were quick to install as well and we just followed the inside-mount directions that Levolor provided. We only needed a few tools for this project: a tape measure, our DeWalt drill and bit and impact driver.

Window Treatments In Rentals

Since Garrett and I are landlords, I wanted to mention our thoughts on window treatments in windows. Our favorite choice are bamboo blind. They’re inexpensive, natural, attractive, incredibly durable. We’ve been landlords for 10 years now and had with all sorts of window coverings, but bamboo shades have held up the best. They’re in the Ravenna House and even after we lived in that home for 2 years and had tenants living there for another 3 years, the bamboo blinds look as good today as they did on day 1.

In the houses where we have cotton curtain panels, we just throw them in the wash between long-term tenants. We hang them up damp and give them a quick steam if they’re wrinkly after they dry. The only negative we’ve seen with drapery panels is that animals occasionally cause damage to these.

On the other end of the spectrum, cellular shades have caused us the most grief. These were in the Bryant House when we bought it and we’ve had to replace 2 so far. Considering they’re more expensive and less attractive than bamboo blinds (in my opinion) we won’t buy these for rentals.

This post was sponsored by Lowe’s. All content, ideas, and words are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support the Grit and Polish!

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Tacoma Converted Garage // Moody Kitchen: Cabinets + Countertop Prep (ORC, Week 3)


Catch up on previous weekly updates about this moody kitchen renovation here: week 1, and week 2.

We’re half way through this One Room Challenge and our moody kitchen is finally taking shape. This week we installed cabinets, prepped for countertops, fabricated the countertops, and ordered all the remaining pieces. I’m getting excited to finally see this space starting to come together!


Installing Cabinets

The install on these cabinets went pretty quickly, and Garrett did it by himself. Thankfully these floors are pretty level (for a change!) so that made the job go a lot smoother. We also added a 3/4″ plywood surface on the cabinets for the countertops to sit.

We decided to hang our upper cabinets at 18″ above the countertops (a pretty standard dimension these days), but I usually like my uppers another couple of inches higher. The reason we kept them to 18″ this go around was to match the top of the pantry cabinet.

I wanted to add one note about stone countertop prep for you DIYers: 2cm stone requires a plywood underlayment and 3cm does not. So the savings you see from buying 2cm countertops often washes out when you consider the expense and time to apply the plywood. We always choose 3cm when it’s available (sadly this black granite only came in 2cm).

Building in a Fridge Cabinet

I like the look of a built-in fridge. Ideally we’d have a paneled-front fridge in here, but a cabinet around the fridge will do. We ripped a piece of plywood to cabinet depth and will attach a short upper cabinet to the top of it. Then we’ll trim it out, paint everything the cabinet color, and install the fridge. I think it’ll look pretty good!

Here’s a video of the backsplash, cabinet and underlayment install. Garrett solo’d all the prep work… How did he hang those uppers by himself!? Talented guy ; )


To Soffit or Not to Soffit

Our big debate this week was whether to build a soffit above the cabinets or leave them open. A ton of you guys weighed in on Instagram (thank you!!!) and gave us a lot to think about. We’re still not 100% decided, but I’m leaning towards a paneled soffit that matches the cabinet style and painted in the cabinet color. I think that may help the ceilings look taller in here, plus a wall of cabinets from floor to ceiling will feel more built-in. Hopefully by next week we’ll have a decision on that.


We also fabricated the countertops this week…actually, today. I don’t have all the photos ready to share, but I thought I’d leave you with this one. We bought pre-cut slabs (in 8′ lengths) from a local supplier and cut and honed them. Honestly, stone fabrication and install is a tough DIY (especially when dealing with corners and sink cutouts) and it never turns out as good as the professionals. At least a few times, Garrett and I questioned why we took this task on ourselves…again. But alls well that ends well and these countertops turned out pretty good. I’m excited to share more next week.

That’s all for this week. Check out all the featured and guest participants here.


Tacoma Converted Garage // Moody Kitchen: Floor Plan + Finishes (ORC, Week 2)


Catch up on previous weekly updates about this moody kitchen renovation here: week 1

Welcome to week 2 of the One Room Challenge! We have officially made zero progress on our moody kitchen renovation – we were on vacation in New York City – so we’re sweating a little bit. But I suppose if we can put together a kitchen in 5 weeks, then we can do it in four. Probably 😉 Today we’ll be sharing a floor plan as well as many of the finishes we’ve picked out so far.

The Floor Plan

The Tacoma Converted Garage has an open living, dining, and kitchen space that forms an “L” shape. We shared this plan before, but have since updated the kitchen to show our big-post-in-the-middle-of-the-island situation. It’s a doozy, but we have a few ideas up our sleeves. Hopefully the post will look like a cool architectural feature when we’re finished and not an awkward post in the middle of the island. We’ll share more about the island when we start working on it.

Garrett and I are used to renovating small kitchens in our old homes, so this one actually feels spacious in comparison. There’s room for a pantry cabinet, full-size refrigerator, a deep kitchen sink, a respectable island and a dining space nearby. But what I love most about this kitchen/living/dining space is how livable it feels. I can totally imagine myself enjoying this finished space.


Now about those finishes… Last week we talked about all the black we have planed for this space, but we’re also bringing in lots of wood, brass, and stainless steel. Have a look.

Sources (affiliate links included): 1 // 2 Polished Concrete // 3 Absolute black granite // 4 // 5 // 6 GS Cabinets (Seattle) // 7 // 8 Dark paint (this one is SW Black Magic) // 9 SW Snowbound // 11 // 12 // 13

Obviously this isn’t all of the finishes, but these are the ones I’m focused on right now. The art options (I’m leaning to 11 or 12, what about you?) and rug are definitely not major components of this kitchen renovation, but I included them since they’ll be prominent in the finished look. It always seems like the final touches in a space are what pulls the whole room together. Ya know? When we’re renovating on a normal schedule, I usually collect these final items over time. But because I really want this kitchen to feel warm and inviting even though we’re on this accelerated ORC schedule, I’ve been thinking about these final finishes from the start this time around.

That’s it for this week. Over the next 7 days, we’ll be working on getting cabinets installed and the countertops prepped (Garrett is cutting and installing them himself!). Looking forward to sharing more next week!

Check out all the featured and guest participants here.


Tacoma Converted Garage // Moody Kitchen: Before + Inspiration (ORC, Week 1)


In a classic last minute move, Garrett and I decided to jump into this Fall’s One Room Challenge. We’ll be joining the other guest participants as we tackle the Tacoma Converted Garage’s kitchen. Yup, an entire kitchen renovation in just 5 weeks. Eeek!

Before we get into the details, I wanted to share a quick introduction. My husband, Garrett, and I are DIY renovators and landlords living in Washington state. We grew up together in the small town of Ellensburg, WA and spent a decade in Seattle renovating old homes. And working. And going to school. And having babies. By 2016, we had bought, renovated, and rented out enough homes to quit our jobs and move our 3 young kids to an old Farmhouse near Ellensburg. Early retirement is good, although it’s probably no surprise that all these kids, houses, and renovation projects mean we’re busier than ever. Ha! We wouldn’t have it any other way. You can read more of our backstory here.

Some of you may remember the Tacoma kitchen looking almost done in last week’s hood vent tutorial (pictured above). But the funny thing is, the only thing done in this space is the hood vent. Everything else – cabinets, countertops, etc – were propped in place for our video.

Of course we’re not starting from scratch in here either. The demo is complete, the concrete floors have been polished, and the plumbing and electrical are roughed in. I snapped a few pictures on Tuesday to show you what the space actually looks like right now.

Embrace the Dark Side – Cabinet Color

Before we talk inspiration, I wanted to mention the cabinet color. Those who follow us on Instagram, already know that I’ve been debating the color for weeks now. One thing’s for sure, the current green (Behr’s Boreal) just isn’t working. As one of our IG followers pointed out, it looks retro 70s, and I just can’t un-see that.

I narrowed down the new cabinet color to charcoal gray or a deep, hunter green and after lots of time spent debating, I think we’ve finally made a decision. We’ll be re-painting the cabinets in a dark charcoal gray. Ultimately I’m just more inspired by a black-on-almost-black color palette for this space plus black seems less particular than green for a rental.

In case you guys are scratching your heads, wondering what all this black will look like, I’ve collected a little inspiration for you:

Image Sources: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

So good, right?! I think dark cabinets and countertops will look really fresh yet also classic and simple. I’m especially digging black for this more modern space with an industrial vibe.

The kitchens in the mood board are everything we’re aspiring to at Tacoma, but we’ll also be adding in a wood (plywood…?) waterfall island. Like with all of our kitchens (Bryant, Ravenna, Dexter, #6daykichenreno, and the Porch House Reno), we’ll be sticking to real materials (granite, wood, concrete, etc), pops of vintage, and an overall feel that’s simple and welcoming. But unlike all of our other kitchens (which are in turn-of-the-century homes), we’ll also be brining in a rustic, industrial, garage-y vibe to the space. It’s us but different and I can’t wait!


In order to give you a better look at our process, we’re going to share this kitchen renovation in a few short videos too. Our goal is to take you behind the scenes through all that goes on in a 5-week kitchen renovation. There will be exhaustion, excitement, and a whole lot of decisions. Here’s the introduction:

Let us know if you have any specific questions or topics you’re curious about (like design, schedule, how we divvy up work, specific DIYs, etc) so we can make sure to cover them.

That’s it for this week. This is definitely the most ambitious ORC project we’ve taken on to date (links to our other ORC projects are below) and we’re scratching our heads, trying to figure out how we’ll actually get it done. There’s nothing quite like the ORC to put the pressure on a schedule 😉 And that’s good, because we’re eager to be done with the 2+ hour drive to Tacoma.

This is going to be fun! Thanks for following along.

Related Posts

An Introduction to the Tacoma Converted Garage // DIY Hood Vent Tutorial // ORC Fall 2016: Master Bedroom // ORC Fall 2017: Porch House Bathroom // ORC Spring 2018: Daphne’s Bedroom

Be sure to check out all the featured and guest participants here.


Tacoma Converted Garage // DIY Built-In Hood Vent Tutorial


This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.

There are few things I love to see in a kitchen remodel more than a built-in hood vent. They’re beautiful, simple, and lend a feeling of old-worldliness that I love. But best of all, they’re easy to build. Even if you’re a novice DIY-er, these custom hood vents are do-able and we’re showing you how today. Read on for the Grit and Polish’s guide to built-in hood vents.

It probably goes without saying that built-in hood vents have become a staple in our kitchen renovations. We’ve built two drywall hoods (here and here) and dreamt about a tile hood (#6daykitchenreno, anyone?), but we haven’t created a paneled hood before. So when it came time to tackle the Tacoma Converted Garage, I tasked Garrett with creating a boxy, oversized hood vent, clad in salvaged tongue-and-grove (t&g) paneling. Boy did he deliver!

Built-in hood vents will naturally vary from project to project, so think of this tutorial as a roadmap. Our steps will guide you through your own project, but the dimensions, placement, and cladding material of your kitchen will determine your destination.

If you do use this tutorial, we’d love to hear about it! Tag us on Instagram or leave a comment below. pssst: check out the video version of this DIY tutorial below.



GE Ducted Undercabinet Range Hood Insert

2×4 lumber for the framing

Cladding, we used salvaged tongue-and-grove but drywall and barn wood are common

Construction screws, we used type-17 point

16-gauge finish nails

Construction adhesive, *optional




Ducting, we used a 90-deg elbow, short section, and vent cap in 8″ diameter

Aluminum tape


Dewalt Impact Driver

Dewalt Chop Saw

Porter-Cable Cordless Finish nailer

Irwin Clamps *optional but helpful

Dewalt Reciprocating Saw *optional, necessary only if your exterior wall requires a new hole


Wire strippers

Step 1 // Build a 2X4 Frame

Building a frame is fairly simple once you decide on your design. We opted for an oversized hood that stretches 42″ between the windows, but most people pick a dimensions closer to the width of their range and vent insert (usually ~30″). Once you know your overall dimensions, begin by building a frame out of 2x4s. Start with a box at the bottom of the hood vent, making sure your dimensions account for your cladding material thickness.

One note on dimensions: our vent sits at 36″ above the stove top, which was our manufacturer’s max recommended distance. Make sure you check local code and your manufacturer’s recommendations when deciding where to place the hood. Pro tip: placing your hood on an exterior wall makes venting easier. 

We were lucky that our walls and ceiling are covered in thick fir boards because we could attach our frame directly to that with screws. But absent thick wood on your walls, you’ll want to find studs to attach your 2x4s at the walls and ceiling. The hood vent will be heavy when complete and requires a strong attachment.

Keep building your frame to the ceiling using 2x4s and make plenty of attachments with screws.

Before you can move on to the next step, all of the outside edges of your frame need to be on the same plane in order to attach cladding. See how our vertical members were sitting inside of the 2x4s at the bottom of our frame in the photo above? That won’t work. S we added additional 2x4s to fur them out.

Before moving on to the next step, verify that your frame is secure by pulling on (or hanging from) the frame.

Step 2 // Add Cladding

Once the framing is in place, you can clad the exterior. We started this process at the corners. Since we used tongue-and-grove and not drywall, we opted to install a corner piece of trim so we could butt the t&g edge up to it. This would not be necessary if using drywall. After the corner members are secured, attach your cladding using brad nails and construction glue (or drywall screws if you’re using drywall or tile backer).

It’s good to keep the final vent insert installation in mind before completing your cladding. Garrett opted to create an access panel on one side of our hood in order to connect ducting and electrical later on. He created the access panel by securing a small section of t&g with screws rather than nails. This way we can remove the small panel with a screwdriver to access the vent and then screw it back into place afterwards. If an access panel doesn’t work with your design, make sure to install the vent insert (and make electrical and ducting connections) prior to finishing the cladding. 

Cladding the bottom of the hood is best done with your insert on hand. Cut a rectangle from a piece of your cladding the size of the insert and then attach it to the underside of the framing. pssst: Since our hood was significantly larger than our vent insert, Garrett added two 2×4 supports across the bottom of the frame to attach the vent insert and cladding to. 

Step 3 // Caulk, Prime and Paint

This step is pretty self explanatory. Put the finishing touches on your hood with whatever finish you have dreamed up. For us, that meant caulk and then primer and paint, but it could also involve drywall mud, plaster, tile, or polyurethane.

Step 4 // Install Insert and Hook up Electrical and Ducting

Now that the hood is built, it’s time to install your vent insert and hook it up. Start by addressing the venting. All the seams in the ducting need to be sealed with aluminum tape. Since we’re working on an exterior wall, we cut an 8″ hole through the wall behind the hood in preparation for venting.

Next install the vent insert by holding the insert in place and screwing it to your 2×4 frame. This is a job best done with 2 people. Make sure the vent insert is securely attached to the frame of your hood before removing your hands.

Now you’re ready to hook up the power and ducting to the unit (this is where the access panel comes in handy!). Make sure to consult your insert’s manufacturer instructions before hooking up your unit. To power our GE unit, we brought a dedicated circuit from the panel using 12-2 wire. Make sure the breaker is turned off when you make the electrical connection to the unit. Next we ducted the insert through the hole in the back wall using (1) 90-degree elbow, a short transition piece, and a vent cap.

Pro Tip: the larger your ducting and the shorter the run, the quieter your fan will be. 

Turn your breaker back on and confirm the insert works. Once it’s booted up, you can place your access panel back on. You’re done! I hope you love your new vent hood as much as I love this one! Thanks Garrett 🙂

*This post is sponsored by Lowe’s. All content, ideas, and words are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support the Grit and Polish!

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Tacoma Converted Garage // A Proper Introduction + How to house hack like a single lady


We’ve been working on the Tacoma Converted Garage project for 5 months now (including this dining nook makeover), and we’ll be spending lots more time over there this Fall. So I thought it was time to do a proper introduction to the project here on the blog.

Tacoma Converted Garage // from our dining nook makeover with Metrie

About the Property and the House Hack

The Tacoma Converted Garage is the third unit of a victorian triplex in Tacoma, 30 miles of Seattle. While I wish Garrett and I owned this old beauty (1890s…swoon), alas, we do not. But it is in the family. Garrett’s sister, Naysa, bought this triplex back in 2015 and moved into the third unit (aka the converted garage) while renting out the apartments in the main house. There’s a lot to unpack about this property so let’s get to it.

How to House Hack Like a Single Lady

This was Naysa’s first home purchase and she made it as a single woman. I wanted to point that out because what Garrett and I do is always about ‘we’ and ‘us’ but there are single people taking on just as much and they’re doing it with only two hands. I’m immensely impressed by this (as an identical twin, doing things by myself is far from my comfort zone) and can only imagine how daunting it is to buy, renovate, and rent out a home by oneself. Naysa is fearless and awesome and a total #rolemodel.

Second, Naysa has taken on ALL of the landlord duties herself. Or, I should say, landlady duties. Of course Naysa has a mentor in her brother who’s just a phone call away, but Naysa has become a landlady in her own right. She advertises vacancies, writes leases, maintains the property, and deals with the finances on her own.

Also of note, this property is in a great neighborhood of Tacoma and Naysa probably couldn’t have afforded a home in here without the added benefit of rental income. Speaking of rental income, Tacoma has seen a healthy increase in rents over the past 3 years and Naysa’s renters (in the main house) now pay the mortgage for the entire property. This is the goal of house hacking and Naysa has nailed it. Also, apparently house hacking runs in our family 😉

The Story Behind the House Hack (aka $150,000 in Student Loan Debt)

While house hacking was a necessity for Garrett and I, Naysa’s back story is a little different. Naysa went to school for 8 years to become a veterinarian and came out of college with $150,000 in student loans. Her student loan payment is a huge monthly burden on her budget. So when it came time to buy a home, she looked for a property that could help with her finances. In the end, this triplex made it possible for her to pay down her loans and own a home in an awesome neighborhood. Impressive for anyone, this feat is especially notable for a single lady coming out of college with six figures of debt.

One more note: we’ve never shared someone else’s house hacking journey before but I think there’s a lot of value in it. So we asked Naysa if we could share her story on the blog in hopes that other’s can get something from it.

Tacoma Converted Garage renovation // Cathy, Garrett, and Naysa

Now back to the renovation…

The #TacomaConvertedGarage Renovation

The original finishes in the garage apartment were rough to say the least. It’s unclear when the garage was converted into an apartment, but regardless, it needed renovated again. This year, Naysa finally pulled the trigger. And because life is always throwing curveballs, Naysa got a new job in Ellensburg shortly after starting on the plans. Ha! Renovating now requires a commute, but on the plus side, Naysa now lives near us and coaches our son’s soccer team (did I mention how awesome Naysa is…?!).

Unfortunately I didn’t get any shots of the Tacoma Converted Garage before demo began, but these at least should give you a feel for the architecture and flow of the space. And if you get queasy just looking at rough spaces, scroll ahead for the floor plan and design board.

Like I said, it was rough.

Floorplans and Design Boards

Every square inch of this unit is being renovated. Not only are we gutting the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry space, but the entire unit is getting new electrical, plumbing, and heating. We’re opening up the kitchen and living spaces and carving out a second bedroom from a defunct corner. Here is the ‘before’  floorplan:

And here’s what the floorplan looks like after framing:

As far as the design, we’re working with the existing industrial, modern vibe and bringing in a bit of the Grit and Polish aestethic. That means bright whites, timeless appeal, and natural materials. We’ll be keeping as many of the original character-rich elements as possible: concrete floors, tongue-and-grove walls, wood beams and posts, and sloped ceilings. Bella (our intern from the Spring who  graduated and took a full-time job…miss you, Bella!) put together design boards for Naysa’s, and I’m including them below. A couple elements have evolved (and surely more still will), but the overall look and feel is spot on.

What’s Next

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that we’ve been working on the Tacoma Converted Garage for the better part of 5 months now and believe it or not, we’ve accomplished a few things: demo, electrical rough-in and service change, framing, drywall, plumbing rough-in, dining nook makeover, and the original concrete floors were polished. And now we’re to the fun part – putting the place back together! We’ll be bringing you guys along as we wrap up this space over the next few months.

First up: the built-in hood vent that Garrett crafted this weekend (we have a DIY tutorial coming later this week!). Can’t wait to see this unit take shape!

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