We moved into our house a little over 4 years ago. I fell in love with it as soon as I first laid eyes on it, but it may have taken a little convincing to get Brent on the same page. We started looking for a house near the end of 2013, just around the time that the housing market in Seattle started to get crazy. The market was nowhere near what it is like now - at that point, you were still able to find a decent house for $600,00 - $800,000 within the city - but now, you're lucky if you can find a decent condo for that price on the outskirts of the city. It is really insane.
Our initial thoughts were that we wanted a house with good bones in a good location, and everything else we were willing to be flexible on. I had always dreamed of owning an old craftsman style home with a lot of character, but preferably something that wasn't haunted or going to fall to the ground. For 4 months straight we spent every waking hour consumed by looking at houses. During that 4 months we toured so many homes with structural and plumbing issues, we thought that the chances of finding a decent house just seemed so impossible, we started to become discouraged.
One Saturday evening while we were out driving, I was browsing the Zillow app on my phone and a house popped up, in our price range, and in the neighborhood, we were hoping to buy. The people who owned the house were trying to sell it really fast, so we knew that we had to act quickly. The house went on the market Saturday evening. The open house was on Sunday, and then offers had to be submitted by the following Wed, which really left no time for a house inspection, which is super risky. Luckily, our real-estate agent asked her inspector if he could come and take a look at the house to see if there were any red flags we should be concerned about. Despite the growing lists of things that he mentioned would need fixing immediately for safety reasons - cracked chimney, decommissioning the oil tank, installing an access to the sewer line , and a new roof, and the fact that the house is over 100 years old, and we didn't have a formally documented house inspection, we decided to put in an offer. The following Wed we became homeowners.
Now, I'll give you a little backstory on the house. Prior to 2007, our house was owned by an older gentleman who prided himself on being a home renovations guy. I'm not sure how long he owned the house, but I'm guessing it was around 10 - 15 years. Sometime prior to 2007, he built a master bathroom, which just a few months ago started leaking into the wall, the main floor bathroom, which looked like a shipping container attached to the back of the house. I mean, I could go on for hours with the things that he tried to do himself. To make a long story short, he eventually couldn't pay his mortgage, and the house foreclosed. In 2007, two guys bought the house for a really low price with the hopes of flipping it in under a year. Unfortunately, the economy crashed right around that time and they weren't able to sell, so the house became a rental unit for 7 years. In 2014, they decided to put the house back on the market, which was perfect timing for us!
In April of 2014, we moved in. We first created a list of things that we wanted to do to the house, ranking in order of importance. Getting the landscaping in order was important to me, because gardens and plants and trees take time to grow, and I knew that the sooner I planted the faster the garden would look amazing. Our back deck was falling apart and we love spending the summers outdoors, so that was also high on the list. The main floor bathroom that looked like a shipping container had to go. It took up half of the deck space, which we could reclaim for lounging. And finally, the kitchen.
A few of you may be looking at this kitchen thinking that it is fine, that you might not have prioritized it as something that needed to be fixed so immediately, but it was actually a nightmare to cook in. The kitchen island, which was the biggest issue, was placed diagonally in the kitchen, with a gap of roughly 7 feet from the stove/fridge/counters. The space between the island, which is the main working counter, to the stove and the fridge was just too far. So, the first order of business was to build a new island, parallel to the counters, and seeing as we're changing the island, it seemed like a good opportunity to address the aesthetic issues that I didn't like about the kitchen. Also, some of these before pictures I took from the real-estate listing, and they did a really good job of making the kitchen look better and brighter than it actually was.
Aside from the location of the island, all of the kitchen hardware was cheap and plastic and falling apart. The cupboard door and drawer handles were plastic and losing the paint finish, and most of them were cut too short for the thickness of the door and drawer fronts so they spun in place when you grabbed a hold of them, which was ever so frustrating. The stove had a giant metal backsplash which was supposed to be used as a plate warmer, but to me, it just looked like something out of a fast food restaurant, so it was important that we take that off. None of the outlets on the walls were aligned, which drove me bananas. I wasn't fond of the granite countertops, which had a lot of chips and cracks in it. The kitchen cupboards were the same color as the floor, which visually gave no separation, and the two sconces hanging above the island just looked funny. We were fortunate that all of the kitchen appliances were fairly new and functioned well, so I didn't want to change them out. Also, appliances are really expensive.
We had tossed up the idea of either hiring contractors to remodel the kitchen versus doing it ourselves. At first, I was like - where do you want me to sign? - but then after careful consideration and a look at our budget, we decided to tackle the project ourselves.
As for the kitchen cupboards, we painted them using Farrow and Ball Pavillion Gray in Estate eggshell with the Interior Wood Primer and Undercoats in Mid Tones. I removed all of the cupboard door fronts and drawer fronts and gave them a light sand. I then used one coat of primer and two coats of paint. We've been using the kitchen for over a year now and the paint has been holding up perfectly. This was something I was definitely worried about. I painted the cabinets using an angled brush and a small roller brush with my absolute favorite roller cover, the WHIZZ velour. It made all the difference in ensuring the paint went on smoothly, which no streaks.
We added a standard white subway tile backsplash. We bought the tiles from Lowes and used a gray non-sanded grout in the color Pewter. We used Simply White from Benjamin Moore for the kitchen paint as well as the trim.
I really wanted marble countertops. I had been dreaming about them for years, but I know how neurotic I am, and how messy we can be in the kitchen, and for the sake of my mental health and sanity, we decided to go with a man-made quartz with a similar look to marble. Something that is easy to clean and doesn't stain. We bought our countertops through Home Depot, from Silestone. We opted for Silestone Lagoon with an eased edge. I am so happy with the countertops. We have had no staining, marks or chips this far.
The kitchen faucet was by far the biggest splurge. I have somewhat of an obsession with faucets, therefore, finding the perfect one was important to me. I came across the brand Water Works and immediately fell in love with everything they sell. We chose the Easton Classic Two Hole Bridge Gooseneck faucet with metal handles and sprayer in polished nickel. The waste disposal button is from Rohl in polished nickel.
I knew that I wanted an enamel single basin sink in white, and hummed and hawed over a farmhouse sink, but in the end, we decided to go with the Kohler Cape Dory due to its size and great reviews. Besides, I couldn't convince Brent on the farmhouse sink.
We added glass to three of the cupboard doors above the stove, just to give the kitchen a lighter feel and to break up all the gray. We ordered the door frames online and had the glass cut and installed at a local glass shop here in Seattle. The cupboard door knobs are from Rejuvenation Barlow Knob in polished nickel and the drawer pulls from Rejuvenation as well Vernon Bin Pull in polished nickel. We also added soft closing hinges to most of our drawers and cabinets.
When we started this kitchen renovation I had no idea where to begin. It took me ages to finally pick a paint color for the cabinets. I really should have started with a mood board or some sort of plan. But all in all, it was a really fun process, and also a tad stressful at times. The most fun, I would say, was designing the kitchen island with Brent. I love the Devol kitchen cabinetry, so we based a lot of our inspiration from them. Brent built the framework himself and then ordered custom cabinet and drawer fronts online which he later installed. Still to this day, I can't he believed he pulled it off. It is so beautiful.
We started by demolishing the island. We took off the granite countertop, which had to be smashed in half because it was just too large and heavy to remove by ourselves.
After the countertop was removed, we took apart the island, leaving the sink and dishwasher intact. This was probably the most annoying stage of the process. We built a cardboard replica of the new island and tweaked and adjusted it daily, just so that we would have the dimensions and layout perfect.
It took a few months to build the new island. Brent was working on it on the weekends, so we didn't necessarily have a lot of time to devote, and we also had a small baby to look after. Once the island was built, we got our new countertops installed. The remaining months were dedicated to painting and picking hardware. All in all, I would say that the renovation took around 16 months to complete. Of course, if we had hired someone, it probably would have taken a month or so, but we really wanted to save that extra money.
Thank you for following along with our kitchen renovation. This post has been a long time coming, and I'm really excited to share it with you guys. Below, I have included a list of links to the paint, faucets, and hardware we used.
Cabinet Primer - Farrow and Ball Interior Wood Primer and Undercoats in Mid Tones
Cabinet Paint - Farrow and Ball Pavillion Gray
Wall and Trim Paint - Simply White from Benjamin Moore
Countertops - Silestone Lagoon
Kitchen Faucet - Water Works Easton Classic Two Hole Bridge Gooseneck
Waste Disposal Button - Rohl in polished nickel
Kitchen Sink - Kohler Cape Dory
Cupboard Door Knobs - Rejuvenation Barlow Knob in polished nickel
Drawer Pulls - Rejuvenation Vernon Bin Pull in polished nickel