Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It is finished (in more ways than one)

The kitchen is finally finished.

I feel like we moved.  Not only does the kitchen look totally different, but most of our stuff is still packed in boxes in the basement.  I may just leave it all down there, because it's nice to have less clutter.  In case you can't remember what the kitchen looked like before the renovation, here is 1965 with a little 1990 thrown in -

Fast forward to 2013 -

Just in case you are renovating and want to know all of details, this is what we chose (after much deliberation) -

Kitchen cabinets - KitchenCraft Lexington doors in Alabaster (uppers) and Gunmetal Blue (lowers)
Dining room cabinets - KitchenCraft in Weathered Slate
Countertops - Caesarstone quartz in Pebble Gray
Dining room countertops - Statuarietto marble
Backsplash - Bianca carrara marble
Grout - Platinum by Polyblend (You might think it odd that I include this small detail, but if you have ever chosen grout, you know that it's a big decision.)
Range - KitchenAid
Refrigerator - KitchenAid
Mini-fridge - U-line
Floors - Red oak stained in Minwax Classic Gray
Paint color - Misty Moonstone by Glidden (color matched by Sherwin Williams)

To give you more information, I'll take the liberty of interviewing myself -

What was the most difficult part of the renovation?  By far, the constant decisions.  Also constantly cleaning up dust and finding nails on the floor all over the house (but this wouldn't have been an issue if we had isolated the renovation to the kitchen.)  Being without a washer and dryer for certain periods bothered me more than not having a kitchen.  And people showing up at our house every morning at 7:45.

What was the easiest part of the renovation?  Hmmmm....

What turned out surprisingly good?  The paint color.  My husband wanted to go this light all along.  And he was right.  Oh, and the cove ceiling, which I thought was a waste of money... until I saw it finished. That was also my husband's choice.

What was different from what I expected?  I thought that once I made a decision, it was done.  But I was constantly told - "We can't do that because - there are studs here, that's out of stock now, or this wallpaper has a selvage edge."  Yes, you will notice that the wallpaper was not used.  We couldn't find anyone to hang it, because it has edges that have to be cut off in a perfectly straight line.  I learned that you have to be able to switch directions in the design at any moment.

What do I wish we had done differently?  I wish we had decided to replace all of the doors and remove the paneling from the living room walls at the beginning of the project instead of in the middle.  It delayed us a lot.  My advice is that if you are doing a major renovation, you need to go ahead and renovate everything that is visually connected to that space at the same time.

Would I do it again?  I don't know.  The kitchen is beautiful, but the process took a toll on our family.  I was so consumed by the renovation that I couldn't focus on anything else, and I feel like my relationships suffered.  Ironically, the physical displacement and inconvenience didn't affect me as much as it affected my husband.  I think because he went to work everyday, it was always a shock to come home to such chaos.  However, the chaos and workers just became a part of my life.

What is my main advice to someone starting a renovation - Pick out as many items as you can before the construction starts, because there will be so many things you didn't even think about.  But always be willing to change - see above.  But don't be afraid to stick to your vision and tell your contractor to "make it work".   (At one point everyone was telling me we had to put our main light switch in this odd location because of the placement of the studs.  I kept insisting on moving it to a more logical spot, and they figured out a solution.)  Also, pick a contractor with a lot of experience in your type of renovation on your type of house, because his/her knowledge will come in handy (like knowing where to find used brick that matches your house when you brick in a window and door).  

With the completion of the renovation, I also feel a sense of completion with this blog.  I am ready to move past the computer into more flesh and blood.  I want to move past planning and documenting and analyzing to more doing - sewing, painting, reading books, talking to people face to face.  I am ready to move beyond myself into better relationships.  I may be back on the Web one day.  But I don't know. This has been a blessing to me...and I hope to you.  So, for now (with misty eyes but no tears), I leave you with the greatest lesson I have learned through writing this blog -

You can only find soul balance through Jesus.

(Ok, now there are tears.)

With happiness in moving forward,


maryanne said...


It sounds like a similar process I have been through: realizing with nice things/experiences, etc...the richest I feel is when I am serving the Lord. Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful...love how light and bright it makes the house feel. Happy for you all that it's over!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures and a beautifully said.

My Love Wedding Ring said...

What a stunning apartment, you have made such an amazing job!

Anonymous said...

Meredith! Hi, Awesome Project and beautiful house. I'm going through these pains of renovating myself. Nobody seams to co operate. The floor guy said give me stain name without even helping to chose everything he says looks good kept saying remember it's red oak that you are refinishing. Now I'm so so scared! It has yellowed over 15 years. I love your floors. I did tell him gray and driftwood but now I'm doubtful. Hope he paints some samples for me. I love the classic gray on your red oak and first time I have seen it on a bigger scale and that's exactly I want subtle with no reds showing throw a grayish softer still a little soft brown look. Hope it turns out like yours. I was even thinking of going natural. But family wants a change not too drastic. Please advice. Also, are there too much variations in different planks of red oak? I don't like the reclaimed look. Please HELP! Asap if possible. They start soon.

Best Regards,

Meredith M Howard said...

Ohassan -

I think the gray stain will look really natural. The color shows through just enough to give it richness. You don't want the floors to be completely gray or else they will look like dead wood. We just used the Minwax Gray. I hope that helps.

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