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When Life Hands You Lemons, Plan a Kitchen Renovation

Hey y’all. I figured you might want an update from “The Handy Home.”  There have been so many changes, you won’t believe it! I have some amazing Before and After pictures for you. (Because I know how much everyone loves to see drastic changes.)

Kitchen Before:

Monotone cabinets and appliances. No visual interest.

Kitchen After:

 Ahhh, much better! Many different colors and textures. Polka dot pattern on the wall and stripes on the floor! TRENDY. This picture is so Pinterest-worthy I can’t wait to see those repins. 

Breakfast Nook Before:

Peninsula, trash can, and table blocking traffic flow and the view.

Breakfast Nook After:

Clear line of site, no tables or counters to block your sight line.  I love the open feel, don’t you?

Kitchen Sink Before:

Cluttered appliances on countertop. Tile backspash, very booorrrriinnngg. Tiles and the mat are a bit busy. My eyes don’t know where to rest.

Kitchen Sink After:

 Ahhhhhh, minimalist design at its finest. The eye focuses right on that beautiful window — or maybe not.

Don’t you like my minimalist design decisions? The kids are loving their scooter rink. But, I’m ready for change. Progress has pretty much reached a standstill. Last week we failed our post-mold remediation test. 🙁  I was not very happy to see our previous house guests return:

If you’ve never had the pleasure of having your head 10 feet from a jet engine, you can’t fully appreciate the mind numbing qualities that this beast can exert on your brain! We have four of these air scrubbers running in our home right now.

Honestly, after Sandy’s devastation, I am incredibly thankful for what we have.We have power, we have running water and although we can’t run our heat, those annoying air scrubbers put off enough heat to keep us warm. (We can’t turn on our heat until we pass the mold test?)

While we’ve been living in purgatory, we’ve made some life altering decisions:

I’m going back to work…

…on the kitchen that is! I was having a hard time relinquishing power to the contractors who are lined up to restore our kitchen and laundry room back to it’s previous state. I need to have control and get my hands on the process of rebuilding our kitchen. And, we’ve decided to make lemonade out of lemons by renovating our kitchen.

I also realized that one of my dreams of buying a fixer upper just came out of left field and blind-sided me. I have the opportunity to truly rebuild a gutted kitchen.

After the mold discovery and going through several stages of grief:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Acceptance

I’ve now arrived to the next stage: SHOPPING

A recap of this past week:

I escaped the whine of the HEPA filter fans to my favorite haunt and started exercising my creative muscles. I bought a kitchen desk and slab of glacier white granite from the Habitat ReStore for…wait for it…are you ready…$55!!! I have big plans for them in the new kitchen plan.

The boys and I suited up in safety goggles, gloves and ear muffs to rip out the existing backsplash. We had a lot of fun prying out the old tiles.

Handsome Guy and I spent a romantic Halloween afternoon in the crawlspace jacking up the house. We have one low spot (thanks to a previous leak) that we needed to push back up into some semblance of level before the flooring can go back in. There is nothing quite like the rush of “jacking up your house” and hearing wood creak and groan. I felt a little bit like Mike Holmes. Hoo Rah!

I spent half a day learning about tile. Floor tile, back splash tile, marble, glass, penny and even copper tile! The choices are endless and I’m not sure how I will ever choose. I might have to ask y’all to weigh in.

 The hubs and I made paper templates of our appliances out of craft paper and boxes. Every night after the kids are in bed we move them around and around searching for the perfect layout. I had three designers and my sister drawing up potential plans for our kitchen layout. We have yet to finalize our plans. But, I’ve been having a blast using this amazing FREE iPad (and iPhone) app called Magic Plan. I have DIY Diva to thank for introducing me to it.

Using the iPad camera, within 10 minutes I had accurate plans drawn up of our kitchen and have been playing with layouts.

I think the final plan may be a Frankenstein type fusion using bits and pieces from each.

I’ve created a Pinterest board with my kitchen ideas and several things are a definite (in my mind at least).

Butcher block countertops. Farmhouse sink. Light blue cabinets. Glass cabinets. With 148 pins, you’d think I’d be able to make a decision. Sadly I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Do you have any kitchen ideas for me? A bigger window? Open shelves? OR windowed upper cabinet doors? Granite, quartz, butcher block or marble – oh my! I need some advice. Have you renovated your kitchen or mudroom recently? Any regrets? Any must have features? I’m in serious need of a speedy kitchen renovation course because I know next to nothing about renovating a kitchen. Gulp.

You can read more about our kitchen disaster and renovation in these updates:




30 replies
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      • Felicia
        Felicia says:

        Yes, we were lucky to have the space we did, and we choose to put in an “L” island because we wanted to define the kitchen space a little bit more. The house has no walls between both living rooms and the dinning room, so it was just so open! The island does a nice job of breaking it up 🙂
        Hey I wanted to also let you know I just built a website http://www.ttpcloset.com where my readers can know shop some of the home decor items they liked within in my home. It’s still a work in progress, but something I am trying to do to be more interactive and helpful for the people who always ask where I buy all my accent pieces!!

        The Tiny Professional

  1. Tors
    Tors says:

    Lots of drawers! Biggest tip I can think of, it’s always the one thing I wish I had put in more of in my kitchen. Good luck with it all, can’t wait to see your progress and final decisions!

  2. Pine Tree Home
    Pine Tree Home says:

    So exciting. I can’t wait to look up that app because I’ve been known to bring graph paper and pencils on vacations.

    When we were doing our kitchen remodel I had my heart set on an apron front farm sink. The kitchen designer told me to think twice because you can get wet while washing dishes. I ignored her. I love my sink, but I can vouch that I do get splashed with water all down my front side when scrubbing big pots. So pull on the rain poncho! Knowing this, I still would have bought the farm sink. It just looks so darn cool.

  3. Jeff Patterson
    Jeff Patterson says:

    Can’t wait to see what you choose to put into the kitchen. It’s awesome that the boys are helping out with this project. They will be super experts by the time they’re teenagers.

    Thanks for sharing the MagicPlan app. I already installed it and am looking forward to tinkering around with our master bathroom.

    Keep us posted on all the updates 🙂

  4. Barbara in CT
    Barbara in CT says:

    You really are being such a good sport about a miserable situation.

    Start your decision making process with what you definitely know–butcher block counters, blue cabinets, farmhouse sink and get samples of the possibilities and see which work well together. You have lots of good choices pinned. Basically, you need flooring and back splash that work with your must haves. You can’t have too many “stars” in the room.

  5. Katie
    Katie says:

    I have butcher block counters from Ikea and I LOVE them. We’ve had them for almost a year and they’re great. The place I use the most for food prep is developing a really nice patina and is super smooth. I originally thought I wanted to use them for a while and then get stone, but I love them so much I never want anything else.


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