Westland Kitchen

The kitchen overall is a large space, but was originally planned as an eat-in kitchen, so the space was very under-utilized in terms of cabinetry and counter space.  After placing our dish drainer and microwave on the counter, we were left with about 2 sq. ft. of counter space.  🙁  We lived in that environment for 5 years, until finally deciding to bite the bullet and do a full renovation.  We took the kitchen down to the plain drywall and plywood floor, and built it back up from there, utilizing every square inch of space!

BEFORE                                                                                            AFTER (in progress!)

Here's the whole process...

When we first bought the house, a full kitchen renovation wasn't in the budget.  Since the room was functional as it was, we decided to make it work for the time being, so we gave the walls and cabinets a coat of paint to warm things up, and swapped out the appliances.

We despised the baby blue cabinets, so we knew those had to go.  The appliances that came with the house were fairly new, but the black and white didn't match as well with our warm red/brown combo.  We were lucky enough to score a complete set of appliances for FREE when a local extended-stay hotel was renovating.  The almond color was perfect!  We added a small rolling cart from IKEA for a little extra counter space, and voila!  The paint color on the walls is Behr Almond Toast.

Tearing down the wall to the living room, and mastering the art of drywall mudding....

Painting all the cabinets and doors, and yes, even stripping the paint off every hinge and screw so we could spray paint them.....

The resulting kitchen:

At that point, the kitchen was more-or-less on hold.  It functioned, so wasn't as high on the priority list as some of the other areas in our house.  Unfortunately, because of all the space, it became a catch-all for any extra junk lying around....and trust me, there is plenty of junk around!  Like extra dressers, book shelves, all my pottery, a filing cabinet.....you name it!  It was functional, but still not very pretty.  :o) 

Five years later, we decided we'd had enough!  After renovating virtually the entire rest of the house, the kitchen was seriously lacking, and it was time to make a change.  We purchased new stainless steel appliances first to ensure that we could order cabinets to fit them (especially the fridge).  Next we installed the 6 new pot lights, since we could get a head start on them without having to demo anything.  Of course, this involved crawling around the attic for a while, yay!  😉  We got them into the ceiling, but did not hook up the electrical yet.


In the meantime, our cabinets arrived!  To save money, we opted to order RTA (ready to assemble) cabinets online.  We found that the off-the-shelf stock cabinets in most local stores were very poor quality, but our small budget couldn't get anywhere close to ordering cabinets, whether they were "stock" or "custom".  After much research, we chose the Vanilla Shaker cabinets from RTA Cabinet Store (http://www.rtacabinetstore.com/).  Since we ordered around New Year's, we were able to take advantage of their sale to get 15% off!  They arrived in a large truck load, and we assembled them over the next few days.  Assembly was SUPER easy....even easier than Ikea, and better quality!  (Thank you Beckie!)


Then it was time for demo!  There wasn't much about the existing kitchen that was worth saving, so we started by tearing out all the cabinets and the flooring.  Because most of it would be covered by cabinets/backsplash, we opted to keep the existing drywall, even though it wasn't in the best shape.


We put up plastic sheeting for the rest of the week to contain the dust and dirt as much as possible.  After we tore up THREE layers of peel-and-stick linoleum, we were left with a combination of glue and deteriorated tile left stuck to the subfloor.  We ended up having to rent a floor sander in order to clean things up and get down to the actual plywood.  (Sorry, no pics of that part!)  We also found a section of missing plywood under the sink area, so we patched that back in.


The half wall by the stairs had a strange angle to it, so we cut it back so that it was squared off again, filled in the gap left by the old shelving unit, and built it up another 6 inches.


See all those brown squiggles on the drywall around the window?  That is leftover construction adhesive from when we removed the old paneling.  We originally planned to remove all that drywall and replace it, but realized that we could make it pretty smooth just by sanding off the adhesive.  Another problem was the cement wall flanking the staircase.  A previous owner had coated the cement with some sort of thinset, and had put faux bricks into it.  They had since started falling off, and we had chipped all the faux brick pieces away, but were left with a wall full of sharp, jagged thinset.  We tried chipping it away with a chisel, but could only get a portion of it removed.  Ultimately we resorted to sanding that too.  A belt sander made relatively quick - and very messy! - work of the leftover thinset.


Then, we moved on to electrical.  Oh boy.  The existing kitchen had 2 lights - one over the sink, and one ceiling fan.  It also had three double-outlets.  Considering that it's a 10x14 room, it was ridiculous.  We had resorted to using a lamp on the counter for extra light, and had added a 6-outlet expansion to one of the plugs so that we had somewhere to plug in the fridge, stove, lamp, coffee maker, etc.  So we devised a new plan that better utilized the 3 existing electrical circuits, and we ran 3 NEW circuits to bring more 'juice' into the new space!  Here is the electrical plan:

The 6 gray circles are ceiling pot lights.  The 2 yellow circles are pendant lights over the peninsula.  The red strung-bead-looking things are under-cabinet lighting.  The green circle is a light over the sink.  All the white circles with double lines through it are double-outlets.  The S figures with a line through it are switches.  We now have 8 accessible double-outlets!  Weeeee!  (The other outlets are dedicated to appliances and will end up hidden in or behind cabinets/appliances.  We will also have more lights than we know what to do with.  No more lamps on the counter!  🙂

So with the plan established, next came the fun part.  We had to turn the drywall into swiss cheese so that we could explore the existing electrical circuitry and figure out how to expand the wiring to the new outlets/switches.  We also ran three new circuits from the basement over to the kitchen.  Tyson learned to love his time in the attic, playing in the insulation....in sub-freezing temperatures in January.


Eventually, the deconstruction turned into reconstruction, as we installed all the new switches and outlets, and patched up all the holes we made.


With everything patched back up, we could finally remove our "quarantine", and start priming and painting!  We were lucky to have some of our original living room/kitchen paint leftover from when we moved into the house, so we were able to paint the walls back to the original color without buying more paint!



We didn't bother to paint ALL the walls in the kitchen since most of it will be covered by cabinets / backsplash / appliances.  On the two walls flanking the staircase, we opted to go with a lighter, more neutral color to help make a smoother transition to the gray paint color in the basement.


Painting the ceiling was next.  One coat of some leftover ceiling paint left things looking a little blotchy, so we bought a new gallon of "white ceiling paint" to do a second coat...only to find that it was really off-white, and would have forced us to repaint not only the kitchen ceiling, but the living room, dining room, and hallway too.  Ugh.  So at midnight, we ventured out to Meijer and got a gallon of a third brand of ceiling paint.  The good news was that the new paint was one of those that starts off purple and dries white, and was SO much easier to put on!


Then we had to clean up to prep for the floor, which involved patching some fun little tetris pieces like this one:


And then we were FINALLY able to start installing the new floor!  Because we wanted the new floor to be level/flush with the existing hardwood in the living room, we opted to go with vinyl tile.  It's not your grandma's vinyl though!  🙂  We got Armstrong Alterna Reserve, which consists of 16x16 inch tiles that can be grouted to look like real stone...but they are warmer and softer on your legs than ceramic or stone.  First, we had to spread the glue (which looked just like vanilla pudding), then wait for it to become dry to the touch.


Next we laid the tiles with spacers, and then used a 100lb roller over the top.  It was very easy to install, with the only annoying part being all the waiting while the glue dried!


The following night we laid the flooring down the basement stairs.


Then it was time to grout!  


Exhausted, but done with the floor!  At last, we could finally start installing the cabinets!


We hid the cabinet screws underneath where the door hinges will be, so very few of them will be visible in the end.


We got more than half of the cabinets installed, but then had to wait for some replacement pieces to be shipped from the cabinet company.  In the meantime, we used the time to install our new over-the-range microwave!


We also had plans to mount a light fixture to the bottom of the cabinet over the sink.  However the bottom of the cabinet wasn't very pretty, so we cut a piece of thin plywood to fit inside the under-cabinet area to hide the wires, camlocks, etc, and glued that sucker in place!


Then the rest of our cabinets arrived!  And our bright orange stools!

Installing the rest of the base cabinets was easy, but the pantry was another story.  First we had our HVAC peeps com out and extend the heat register so that it would run underneath the pantry and come out the baseboard.  The cabinet itself was supposed to be the same height as our 8ft ceiling...however in reality, the ceiling wasn't the same height everywhere, so to make it fit we had to notch out a section of the ceiling to fit the pantry into.  Ick.  Not pretty now, but we'll patch it up later!


Once the cabinets were in, we had Home Depot come out and measure for the counters, and then we played the waiting game, again.  While we waited for the counters to be made, we worked on wrapping up other odds and ends like cabinet hardware, stair treads, and baseboards.


We also got our under-cabinet lighting installed.  We ordered the lights from inspiredLED.com, and they are super thin, self-adhesive strips that you just stick up under the cabinets.  They provide a surprising amount of light for how small they are!


After 4 weeks, we finally got our counters installed.  Unfortunately, we were very disappointed with the quality of the construction and with the installation.  Even more unfortunately, it took Home Depot another 6 weeks to get it fixed (2.5 months total).  Turned out that the ONE part of the kitchen that we hired out ended up tripling our timeline.  🙁


Eventually the counters were replaced, and we moved on.  The worst part of the delay is that we were now into our busy season at work, making work on the kitchen even more challenging.  Slowly but surely, though, we managed to continue to make progress.  We wired up two pendant lights to hang over the peninsula...


...and finished installing baseboards down the stairs...

...and finally got the backsplash installed!  We chose ceramic penny tile in a neutral "caramel" color.


We decided to bring a plumber to install the sink, faucet, and disposal because we knew it would take us days to finish what they could do in a matter of hours.  Thankfully, we finally had our sink back!  Once the sink was in, we were able to install the dishwasher ourselves.