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!


Moving into the Dexter Living Room


Renovations are a lot like pregnancies – unpredictable, messy, usually past-due, and totally worth it when they’re done.  As I mentioned on Tuesday, the Dexter House renovation has been Garrett and my favorite project to date and considering we got ‘er done and moved-into before the baby arrives (yes, still future tense) has me counting our lucky stars.  I’m really excited to show you everything we’ve been up to in the last few crazy weeks, so let’s get to it!  Today, we’ll focus on the living room.

Last we left off, the living room looked like this.  Remember that the photo below was taken only 4 days before we spent our first night at Dexter.

The Grit and Polish - Wall Paint Prep Living Room

Yikes!  Crazy what a giant mess the house was.  And it’s crazy how much work we can get done in 4 days when we’re motivated 😉

So. The living room.  This space gets tons of natural light, especially in the afternoon. I love how big this room is too (at least by my little-old-house standards – it’s 160sf).  I’m purposely only showing you about half the room, since we still haven’t finished the fireplace to the right of that archway.

Here’s the earliest photo I can find of this room.  It’s from way back in May when we found out the roof was leaking and had to tear open the plaster ceiling.

The Grit and Polish - Demo Living Room

Sometime in-between tearing open the plaster ceiling and painting the room, I ordered a brand new couch and rug for the the living room.  We’ve been living with a college relic futon, hand-me-down couches, and questionable Ikea rugs for far too long.  So I made the decision to budget these bigger furniture purchases into our renovation estimate up front.  And come June, I was pretty giddy to plunk down our credit card.  Buying a new couch and rug actually felt like a right of passage – kinda like Garrett and I officially made it to adulthood!

So why did I order the couch 2+ months before I wanted it?  Well turns out that couches are often considered custom orders and require months to assemble and deliver. So to have the couch by the time we moved in, I had to order it two months early. And even though the rug wasn’t a custom order, I decided to order it early too because it was just such an amazing rug that I worried it would sell out (I just checked and it’s no longer available).  Plus, I knew that if we waited until the end of the renovation, we’d be at the end of our budget, and it’d be all too easy to forgo the new furniture.  So I pulled the trigger early and haven’t looked back since.

Last Friday the couch was finally delivered.  We had just finished painting the interior of the Dexter House a couple of days before, so showed up on Friday morning to remove masking and clean, clean, clean.  Here’s what the furniture install looked like after we got the room ready.

The Grit and Polish - Living Room Move-In Collage

That lovely cobalt-blue rug had actually been sitting in a closet at the Dexter House for over a month.  I couldn’t totally remember what it looked like when I pulled it out on Friday afternoon.  Luckily, when Wilder rolled it out (yes, in his underwear), I was just as in love with it as when I ordered it!  The blue is so vivid and beautiful that I just can’t imagine having a blue day with it in my house (sorry, I couldn’t resist!).  It warms my world 😉

The Grit and Polish - Living Room Rug and Pad

Now I know rug pads seem kind of boring and totally unglamorous but I was thrilled about the pad we used under this rug because it’s a really nice one.  RugPadUSA reached out to me back in July and offered me a free rug pad in exchange for a full report (aren’t they nice?!) and I was happy to oblige.  I picked out the mac-daddy of rug pads, which is actually called the Eco-Cushion, Non-Slip Rug Pad and costs about $75 for a 5’x7′. I opted for a bigger size and trimmed it down to the dimensions of my rug since the rug was a nonstandard size (plus I wanted to keep some extra pad to put down below entry mats, etc…I’m sneaky like that).

I’ve never owned a nice rug pad before – I think we’ve always picked them up at Ikea – and let me tell you, it is amazing!  Seriously, the rug hasn’t rolled up or moved an inch since we laid down the pad.  Plus the pad adds a nice amount of cushion, making this space way more fun for Wilder to play on.  So thanks for making my life better RugPadUSA!

Okay, enough about rug pads.  Let’s get to how this living room is looking now.  Back when I ordered the couch and rug, I really didn’t know if they would go together.  But thankfully they look great!  Take a look.

The Grit and Polish - Living Room Move-In Rug and Couch

Obviously we still need curtains, cushions, a coffee table, and more stuff like that, but that will all come later.  For now, we have a new couch and a new rug and we’re tickled pink about it.  After all the hard work we’ve put into this house over the past few weeks (heck, past five months!), I think we’re just happy to have a spot to sit down.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are CRAZY to be finishing a renovation and moving while I’m this pregnant.  But I really do like our kind of crazy 😉

The Grit and Polish - Living Room Move-In Garrett and Wilder

In case you guys are interested in upgrading to an awesome rug pad, RugPadUSA is offering the Grit and Polish readers 15% off.  Just use the code “PR15OFF” when you check out!

Resources: Rug Pad, RugPadUSA | Rug (Mirabelle in Cobalt), Lulu and Georgia | Couch (Rose in Narwahl velvet), Interior Define



p.s. this would have been good to read before we got pregnant!  The article blew me away.  Thank goodness I was into those kale seaweed salads the first trimester!

p.p.s. I’m pretty sure that this is the coolest house boat in the history of house boats.  Wow!

p.p.p.s. Breaking up with stuff…in a good way.  It’s amazing how much stuff Garrett and I have accumulated over the past three years (during which we’ve moved four times…!!!).  This move, we’re focusing on paring down.

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Ravenna Marble Kitchen: Before and After


Guys, I’m a little embarrassed.  We’ve been pretty much done with this marble 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 // Marble: GS Cabinet // Large cutting board: Hardwood Industries | Range: American, Albert LeeWarehouse 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: West Elm | Ceiling Lights: Home Depot | Blinds: Home Depot | Sink: Amazon (similar) | 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?

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