I took a bit of an impromptu blog break last week. I came down with a cold on Wednesday evening and just wasn’t feeling like doing much. But I am back! And as promised, here is an update on kitchen progress thus far. Please note we still have the cosmetic things to do, but right now the kitchen is functional again.
A couple things: I am not Young House Love. I don’t know how to write a blog about renovating. Also, most of my photos are dark and/or crappy.
This is the first true renovation I have ever really been through. Painting is pretty much the extent of my experience prior to this. I mean, I used to hang all my pictures with thumbtacks. So completely gutting a room and redoing it is very new to me. Especially a kitchen with all of the plumbing, appliances, cabinets, counters, tiles, etc. It was an invasive process. It was not like redoing our bedroom.
One thing I noticed about myself was that I couldn’t stop asking questions. I would get home from work and be like “This looks great!!!! …but what’s happening here? Is this going to look like this? Why is this here?” Even though I KNEW it wasn’t complete yet. It was like my boss asking to see the rough draft of my marketing plan or something before I was finished it. Like “DRAFT! THIS IS A DRAFT! Please don’t judge!” And I have seen Evan and Brotherman’s work so I know it’s good. But because of this I can see them getting harassed by homeowners walking into the middle of a reno.
Anyway, here are some kitchen before pictures to freshen your memory:
Probably should have taken the recycling out first… This is probably the messiest our kitchen has ever been actually, and I promise I’m not exaggerating.
They’re not the best. I took them really quickly before I left for work one day because I had a feeling that Evan and Brotherman might forget to take before pictures (when they redid our master bathroom they forgot to take before pictures and it looked sooo horrible before, so I’m sad to not have those to compare the redone bathroom to). They did forget the before pictures. So it’s a good thing we have these.
Anyway, the kitchen was ugly. It’s fine, you can say it. We’re well aware. The chevron wallpaper, the gross linoleum (which always looked dirty no matter how much you scrubbed it), the mismatched cupboards (because they had started to replace them, so a few were updated), the unfinished wall behind the counters and sink…the list goes on. Not a dream kitchen.
The kitchen was originally your standard narrow condo/apartment kitchen. Nearly every apartment I have been in has this same, small kitchen. A few years ago the boys knocked down the wall that separated the kitchen from the rest of the condo. I never saw the condo with the wall still intact, but I have seen the kitchen’s of other people who live in our building and I am going to say it was a very good move on their part. I love open concept, and there is so much more space with the wall gone.
Ignore the state-of-the-art telephone, it is to buzz people in only :)
Those wires/pipes is where the wall used to be. Those need to stay there, and there is also exposed concrete and other weird things across the ceiling where the wall used to be, so to fix this the guys made their own beams out of knotty pine.
They measured and cut the wood to fit, and then they enclosed all the wires/weird things with it. They also added it to the edge of the wall behind them in the above photo, and the half wall beside the fridge, in this photo:
They secured the beams with wood glue and staples, and clamped it to keep it in place while it set.
They also added the beam along the top.
And will add another along the top of the cabinets. Eventually we will stain all the wood.
After the beams, we removed the wallpaper. Ugh, is all I really have to say about that.
The wallpaper smelled like old musty cellar when it was coming off. And it was so messy.
This is when I started to understand the attention to detail that is required in renovating. When I was removing the wallpaper I would think I was done, but then Evan would point out that there was still glue on the wall so I’d have to go over it again.
Can you see the vision?
Next we got to demo-ing. I got to do the first hits, which was very exciting.
I felt like such a beast ripping off that cabinet door!
Evan and Brotherman pulled out the rest of the cabinets while I was at work. They also built out the corner wall so it would be flush with the new cabinets that were going beside the fridge. They did this purely to make the cabinets look custom and built-in.
Once everything was out of the kitchen, it was floor time.
Evan has had this natural stone tile for a long time. He has been saving it just for this.
He found a pattern he liked online, and then just added to it and made it work with the tile sizes we had.
I love it. The stone looks awesome.
He added a metal edging around the stone, where it will meet the laminate when we put it back in, and he also extended the stone to build a little foyer area around our front door (he told me to mention that for this kind of tile it was important that he “back-butter” the stone – ie: apply the adhesive to the back of the tile as well as the floor).
I love that he added the area around the door, it looks so good! We ran into a bit of a snag with the grout – the colour was not added in the store somehow, and it was plain white between the tiles instead of a colour that would match the stone. Luckily the guys only grouted a small section that would be under the cabinets and appliances before they noticed. I didn’t realize grout colour was important until this happened, but they really were looking for a colour that would match the stone since the stone itself is porous and has nicks, holes, etc. that need to be grouted as well. So when it was the wrong colour it was REALLY noticeable.
I need to just take a moment to again mention how messy renovations are.
It was chaos in here until this past Sunday. Just such a mess. I told Evan that the main reason I would not want to be a contractor is because of the cleanup. The cleanup though, this is Evan’s thing. Evan and Brotherman did some work for my Dad and Mona, and Mona was telling me that she has never come across contractors more clean than them. She said when they were done everything was pristine and they even vacuumed. This does not surprise me of course, Even is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning.
After spending about a day fixing some plumbing issues, the guys were ready to install the cabinets (these ones from Home Depot).
(You can kinda see the wrong colour of grout under the cabinets there – we fixed this later with the new grout)
And the “custom” cabinets surrounding the fridge.
Eric on the fridge, continues to judge.
You should always make sure you have a spot for your box of wine. This is very important.
By the way, we did not bother painting the wall behind the cabinets or the appliances. No one is ever going to see it so it’s all good. Once the cabinets were in, it was time for the countertop. We chose this silver travertine laminate from Lowe’s:
We liked this particular one because it had a straight edge, not your typical laminate countertop with a rounded edge. Again, no granite here because it would not be worth it in the condo. As long as it looks nice, all good. I definitely checked out a bunch of silver travertine kitchens on pinterest for inspiration.
With the cabinets and the appliances and the countertops all in, you can see it really coming along!
We will have a custom shelf above the fridge – but not the one that is there now, that is actually one of the old cabinets and doesn’t quite match. I know it looks good there, but it will look even better with one made for it.
And I already mentioned this, but last Sunday we finally grouted the floor.
You take your trowel and you get that grout into every little crevasse and corner, between the tile and on the tile, because it is natural stone and has tons of little crevasses. And then you wash it. And wash it and wash it and wash it. So much washing. Until there is no “film” left on the tile.
Grouted tile. It still was not the colour we were hoping it would be, but close enough.
Can you imagine if there was still a wall where that beam is? How narrow of a space would that be…
And then the sink, which was a bit of a headache. But Evan cut into the counter with a jigsaw, with a special laminate blade so it doesn’t damage the surface (masking tape as well for that)…
And then he plopped the sink in and set it all up (that was the headache part, but he got ‘er done).
And one last pic of countertop with floors.
The lighting is terrible here, so that’s pretty washed out, but you get the idea. I will get some good daylight pics eventually. I feel like I am never home in the daylight anymore.
So that is the progress so far! The boys had another job they needed to do last week, but are really hoping to finish the rest this week (still need backsplash, paint, cabinet knobs, bunch of other finishing touches).
I am super impressed they were able to accomplish all they did in a week. I was reading an article the other day about kitchens taking months and thousands of dollars to complete. We were lucky that Evan and Brotherman can do all the labour and installation themselves, including the basic plumbing that was required. And we have an electrician friend (hi Dustin!) that we paid in beer and the promise of Evan’s tiling services in the future.
I am very, very excited for it to be complete.