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!

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  1. Your house is beautiful! Love the view through the kitchen into the mudroom!! Major heart eye. Hope the baby comes soon best wishes!

  2. hi! LOVE your blog- it’s an awesome resource and inspiration for me as I renovate my own house. Curious – what kind of paint sprayer do you use? Did you use BM Advance paint on the cabinets, and did you have to thin it for the sprayer? I know you might be having a baby right now so no worries if you can’t answer! 😉
    Best of luck!

    • Thanks Brooke!!! We used BM Advance on the cabinets, which we sprayed on. We didn’t have to do any thinning of the paint, but we did spray on a primer first. I noticed that the high gloss paint had a tendency to run, so if you use that, I’d recommend a couple of REALLY thing coats. More about our paint sprayer here. Good luck on your renovation!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Acupuncture works!

    Love the kitchen and you may have convinced to go with real wood stock cabinets rather than Ikea. It would be good to know how different it would be in price. Are you worried about not having a back splash between the countertops and wall? I like the look but I am curious how the wall will hold up.

    • I did price out Ikea cabinets and the wood stock cabinets turned out to be a bit cheaper, but pretty comparable. As far as not having a backsplash, I’m not concerned about wear. We’ve had exposed walls before, and it hasn’t been a problem.

  4. Did you seal the brick?

    • No, we didn’t touch the brick. It was closed up behind a wall for 100+ years before we exposed it so it looked really good. I’ll keep you updated if we run across any issues with it!

  5. So pretty! I hope everything continues to come together smoothly. With baby, after six of my own, there’s not too much you can do to force them out…but you can have fun trying! Walk a ton (I used to like going walking at IKEA…indoors with a/c, lots of places to stop and rest, and food!), get a really good pedicure and make sure they really massage your feet and ankles, which are said to be acupressure points to put you into labor. I always had some good contractions after that…and if it doesn’t make you go into labor, at least you’ll have pretty toes and feet! You could also try a recipe that has cumin in it…cumin is said to bring on labor as well. Good luck!

  6. Other than the perk of having an electrician in the family, I don’t believe either you or your husband work in construction. I was wondering how you taught yourself to renovate without major errors.

    • Garrett and my foray into home renovation was born out of necessity when I was laid off in 2009 (you can read about that here). We jumped in with two feet and were just young and naive enough to think we could do all of the work ourselves. We borrowed tools from our parents and bought or rented everything else. Of course this was all before the days of Pinterest and YouTube (or at least before we used them), which would be really great resources if you wanted to get your feet wet in the DIY renovation field now!

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