Random Thoughts on Our Kitchen Reno

kitchen remodelpatiently waiting

This week our kitchen work has reached a feverish pitch. After passing inspection it’s finally time for installing the floors and the drywall. Next week they come measure for our white quartz counter tops and then it could be only 7-10 business days before installation–it’s possible we could have a working kitchen by…



Here’s right after we tore down the old kitchen walls. Remember?


Late night floor laying the other night.

These are 1/2 inch thick, 12 inch wide pine floors milled from trees that grew on the property here and cut here at the sawmill years ago. The kitchen was the only floor downstairs that isn’t wood so when we noticed that the mudroom was planked with the same wood, we sacrificed its walls in order to use the wood on the floor. They are tongue and groove and we installed them the same way they were installed in the rest of the house. Simply nailing them in by hand with cut nails. This is my favorite part of the kitchen!


And now, a ceiling!!!

DSC_8749Shawn & Chad making the ceiling & walls!


And walls!

It’s so fun to finally get a feel for the real shape and size of the room. Back there where the fridge is was a closet with a washer and dryer, to the left of that was a pantry with a big closet door. That wall is phase two of the kitchen, I still haven’t decided if I want white or grey cabinets on that wall and I’m not forcing myself to decide until I get a better feel of what we have. Once it’s complete that refrigerator wall will have a pantry and be a place for the mixer, making pizza dough and storing stuff.




This is the wall where the range will go all tucked into that inset part.


There is some discoloration where the ends of the wood were covered up on the walls of the mudroom so the sunlight didn’t darken them yet. We can sand and address that in the future, for now it’s nice to have floors almost done. Plus, I secretly LOVE the imperfection and story of it all.


We had one super yellow board, he’s down at the threshold to the kitchen now, a perfect spot to show him off.


This week I’m not really even trying to make dinners, our kitchen is covered in plastic and dust and I’m not stressing over it. Mom & dad have brought dinner over a few times and we can live with take out a few more days.



This will be an inset shelf one day. The backside is the stairs to our basement. So it was a wall that had to stay.

DSC_8792southern living

We’ve never planned a kitchen before and I really don’t know what I’m doing. Funds are limited, we are paying cash for everything and we didn’t plan on doing the kitchen until after we closed on the house. That’s the long way of saying that I am and was unprepared to do a new kitchen.

However, I have lived in 13 other houses with kitchens that had lots of pro and cons. I knew what was important to me (I wrote about it here: natural light, lots of counter space, & a place for people to gather) and made sure I could incorporate it. I’m sure I’ll have some regrets– but if I waited until I knew I had the perfect design I’d never be able to start. And now that we are knee deep in it, I’m so glad we won’t have to deal with this mess in the future.

When it came time to plan the kitchen, the first thing I did was find some good inspiration. I really needed a plan for the space once we knocked out the walls. Southern Living to the rescue with their July issue. I also pinned kitchens like crazy to my Kitchen Pinterest board.

Here are the steps I took in planning our kitchen, I’m sure I did it all wrong but so far it’s working:

1. plan the shape that would allow the kitchen to open to the rest of the house and use all the space we had (removing two walls and two closets and incorporating a hall almost doubled the size of the kitchen)

2. find a layout that works within said shape (thanks Southern Living!)

DSC_7264a mock up of the sink placement. I ALMOST purchased a really tall faucet but after using my umbrella to visualize the height, I felt like it was too much for the space

3. make at least ONE big decision

I’ve found when I’m doing any creative project that once I have one decision made, all the other decisions become much easier. It’s a Lovely Limitation really. I don’t always get to choose what this decision is. But I KNEW I wanted white cabinets. And I KNEW I wanted to use the walls for the wood floors. Once I had those decisions made it was really easy to pick appliances and counters and other items for the kitchen.

wes priddy lake norman Wes Priddy & Kent from Total Renovations of Lake Norman, if you need an honest review of their work, email me, I’m happy to share our experience

4. hire smart people to help

My husband is SUPER handy. But he doesn’t care to learn about electrical wires and plumbing. We hired out for that. Chad’s done drywall once years ago so we are paying a family friend to come teach him how and work with him.

workers with Wes Preddy contractor lake normanJake & Josh, thrilled to have me take their picture

5. assume it will take twice as long as you imagine

a45213f033fb6eb95cf8c05d7593b517southern living, see more of the kitchen here

This kitchen layout was exactly the push I needed to move forward. At first glance you can hardly tell it’s a kitchen! But see how the island is parallel with the range wall? And the range wall is inset? That’s how our range wall will be in relation to our island. In our kitchen, the range wall is smaller due to the basement wall on the left. Also, our range is larger. So we’ll have the range flanked by two 15 inch cabinets and that’s it on that wall.. It will be offset compared to the center of the island. I’ve had to deal with that.

Our island will be considerably longer than my muse at 10 feet. We’ll have a big hood over our range that takes up most of the wall, so no long expanse of shelves. But, I think I’ll be able to have 4 counter stools instead of three, plus two cabinets on this side of the island flanking the stools. Win!

floor and cabs

We went with Ikea cabinets and the Adel fronts. Here’s a door front next to our floors. Once the kitchen is done and I actually use them, I feel like I’ll have a better place to talk about them from. But so far I’m really happy with our choice.

I haven’t picked out the hardware yet because I want to feel the space once more things are installed.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 9.47.39 AM

Here’s kind of where I’m going. But I can’t afford any of that lighting so in the next-ish post I’ll fill you in on how I’m thinking about lighting.

I’m really happy with the progress so far and mostly, I’m secretly thrilled and surprised that I’m confident in my choices. I KNOW I’ll wish I did things differently or made different choices but that’s not stealing any joy from me about having the privilege of creating my own kitchen–and that kind of shocks me. I am THOROUGHLY enjoying getting to do this! I think I’ve just reached a place in my life where I know that done is truly better than perfect and no matter which shade of white I choose for the tile, this kitchen will look so much better and serve our family well.

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  1. Yes! Part of the enjoyment of such a project is the creative process, right? So getting there is half the fun. It looks like it’s going to be perfect (enough). I really like the white backsplash with dark grout. Very graphic.

  2. So excited for you and totally enjoying your kitchen adventure! Have you checked out CB2 for lights?

  3. You are making progress for sure…Your new home has such character and I love following along and seeing the progress. You are such a talented lady and I have no doubt your kitchen will look amazing.

  4. It seriously looks like it is going to be a dream. I swoon every time I see that range!

  5. I love posts like this!

    “Done is better than perfect.” Good line.

  6. Looks great- I am loving seeing the progress. I love your attitude- need to adopt it. Done is definitely better than perfect (which is never going to happen anyway- right?)

  7. Love all of these tips! We’re entering a full kitchen rehab and I’m excited/nervous for it to begin and end. I just hope there aren’t too many surprises!


  8. I have been waiting for a kitchen update because that stove is so gorgeous!! I had a dream I found the same one on good ole CL for 200 dollars, ha.
    Love your inspiration board, can’t wait to see more.

  9. I have the Adel cabinet fronts and I love them!

  10. Oh, how this post sounds completely familiar to me. We were truly in very much the same place last year, designing and doing a kitchen ourselves for the first time– making the most of what we had space-wise, knocking down a few walls, and getting creative about design. I cannot wait to see what yours becomes…and I wish I could bring you dinner. :)

  11. It’s coming along! I’m glad you passed inspection. I can tell by your words that you seem to be getting out of the funk you expressed in your last Podcast with Tsh. (Look at me talking like I know y’all.) Anyway, kitchen looks great! PS, we did a kitchen reno recently and also did white subway tile with dark grout. My husband is pretty handy but he had never done vertical (backsplash) tile before. He used the sheets of subway tile from Home Depot, along with a nifty stainless edging we didn’t go to the ceiling) and pre-mixed grout. It turned out great and saved us a ton of $. Here is how ours turned out – http://thecyclistswife.blogspot.com/2013/05/kitchen-remodel-phase-2-bye-bye-betty.html

    • oh THANK YOU for the link!!!

      And yes, still in-ish the funk but seeing changes helps so much!! I’ve just accepted the fact that right now my house is supposed to be in chaos HUGE chaos, like ladder and saw in the bathroom along with dirty dishes and a child vomiting in the basement chaos!!

  12. The Southern Living island is also a bit offset. I bet nobody even notices or cares that yours is, since you enter the kitchen from the side. Anywho, formal symmetry is overrated and only intensifies scrutiny of the entire room. Looking beautiful and expansive!

  13. Oh I just can’t even WAIT. (Maybe slightly less excited to see the end result than you are.) :) I love your inspirations! I think the colors and finishes you’ve chosen so far are going to be SO fab, and even if you end up regretting little things later, you already have a beautiful canvas to try different things. Congrats on getting the big decisions out of the way!

  14. Love what you have picked out so far!! We renovated a few years ago and I wish I had done certain things differently but overall I am happy and very satisfied!! You will be too!! How special and fitting to celebrate Thanksgiving cooking in your new kitchen and home!! :D

  15. My kitchen is the bane of my existence. So, here’s my question for you…

    When I first saw your new kitchen, I said to my husband, “her kitchen is shaped like ours! I can’t wait to see what she does with it.” Then you (so wisely) knocked down walls. Now I can’t relate with the layout, but I want to knock down walls, too!!!!! How do you know what walls to knock down? I feel pretty trapped if I’m being honest.

    • Sarah, I think being on a time limit helped me decide, I knew we were tearing things out and had sinks and appliances that didn’t work anyway so it just forced me to make SOME decision. We had an engineer check things out (he was out anyway for structural work) and hired a contractor who had to look at the upstairs floor joists and roof lines and fancy stuff like that before we could tear all the walls down. So an expert opinion is a must!

      After that what really convinced me is that we couldn’t have a large refrigerator in our space (a must with 3 boys) so I KNEW I had to make that work and an existing hall and closets were redundant because the washer and dryer had already been moved to the back porch/mudroom and we had two hall closets. So it just worked for us.

      Hope that helps, if you have a designery friend or a contractor friend, have them over and ask them!

  16. It’s coming along nicely, and hope you have real food in those pots by Christmas! You will LOVE your quartz counters! We put in Caesarstone, and it is worth it as there is minimal care needed and it can stand up to heat, doesn’t stain, and is nice looking. Best wishes for a wonderful reno and happy holidays.

  17. Love how everything’s coming together! I can’t wait to see th finished project! Our kitchen island is seen feet long and I have four stools there (it’s a little tight, but still works) so I’ll bet you’ll have plenty of room with a ten foot island. All that counter space will be awesome!

  18. I can’t wait to see the next kitchen progress update ! And When I think about how impatient, I am, I can only begin to imagine how YOU must feel :-)

  19. It is going to be lovely. Kitchens are such a lot of work and so expensive but when you consider the amount of time a family spends in the kitchen it is well worth it.

  20. I can already see the turkey coming out of that oven. The kitchen is progressing so well and I can really get a sense now of where you are going. I know when your are trying to prepare a meal for your family it may seem a look way off but now that the walls and ceiling are up it is just a hop, skip and a jump away.

  21. Straight up pumped to see the transformation, know it’s going to be a sweet lil kitchen!

  22. I don’t follow many home decorating blogs but for some reason I always get excited when I see a new post of yours! Your home process is exciting. We are renting for now and I am taking notes!

  23. Just wow! Inspirational.

  24. Love what you’ve pulled together and how it works together! It’s going to be beautiful! And you are so right, done is better then perfect every time – even in a kitchen!

  25. Peggy Zortman says:

    I am so excited for you! We moved home a year ago to the family farm and are still trying to get moved in! You are my inspiration. In the end the joy of having family and friends for good times and good food will far out way the uncertainties of whether it should have been done differently.

  26. A whole big post on you kitchen progress and my favorite part is that your parents have been bringing you meals. I also love that you have friends helping you. What incredible blessings!

  27. Months later, I still cannot believe you got that range!

  28. Oh, I am so excited for you! I love the imperfection of the floors and all that wood with the white! It will be stunning.

  29. SO exciting. You know we are all on the edge of our seats waiting for this to be finished. I’m sure you’d like it to be done, too! ;)

  30. Oh, M! kitchens are so fun and yet exhausting to figure out too. I’m a year ahead in living with mine & I totally love my Ikea Adel kitchen too. I think you will as well. I have no regrets so far about any of my decisions and had to work within my footprint, no knocking down walls for me. But, I really ended up with a beautiful and functional kitchen. I can’t say enough about Ikea and how well it all works. You’ll love those pull out drawers so much and the soft-close thing. So cool!

  31. This post makes me so happy for you! I listened to your latest podcast with Tsh yesterday and totally would be in a funk too. In fact, I was a little impressed you had positive energy in you enough to do the podcast. I think I might have been in my closet. Sounds like you’re starting to see some of your vision come together. And I’ve seen tons of people use Ikea for cabinets. Can’t wait to hear how you feel about them!

  32. Brittany Rae says:

    Awesome. Cannot wait to see the end.
    If any of those walls are still unfinished you guys should all sign them. We did that in the house I grew up in. Its almost like writing your name in concrete but on a hidden inside wall. I have little things about me all over that old house. I wrote poetry on the inside door jambs where no one would look.
    I continued the tradition at my home now too. And I think kid height marks are awesome and should be prominently displayed. Our height wall got taken down but we saved it and put it somewhere else in the house…
    Have fun!!!

  33. I’m seriously in love with that mood board. Have you visited restoredstyle.com? The mood board reminds me a lot of her kitchen. Can’t wait to see the “done”, I’m sure it will look “perfect”!

  34. Looks great! I’m looking forward to hearing your take on the ikea cabinets. We’re planning a massive tear down/rebuild renovation next spring, and are debating using Ikea cabinetry.

  35. It looks wonderful so far! So thrilled you could use the walls for floors!
    Pretty please, could you do an architect’s sketch of the floor plan of the kitchen (or whole first floor) showing the before and after. I really like those to help visualize where walls changed and to see how you incorporated the old closets and halls. You could just sketch it on a napkin for us–doesn’t have to be fancy! But it would help me so much to visualize the space and changes.
    Thank you for all you share with us!!

  36. It’s not so easy to live through a renovation, but the stories and the results afterwards – how fun! I think the kitchen is the most rewarding space to reform. I can’t wait to see the results!

  37. So exciting to see you going for it with your kitchen!! I think it’s the nature of things that we always come up with new ideas later and wish we’d had them sooner — it’s so smart of you to recognize that and make peace with it now. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out. And congratulations on your house!!! So exciting.


  38. Way to go- you are doing great!!!!

  39. yes, yes, yes leave the imperfect, the irregular, the stories…Oh I love the stories. Our house too, is old and has stories…like the ceiling beams were taken from an old antebellum home that was up for demolition along with the lamp posts outside. Did I mention that I LOVE redoing old homes? We went with a Bungalow look…1/4 sawn oak and all of that. This is so exciting! I’m looking forward to seeing more!

  40. Wow, so much hard work and planning. Love the story behind the floors. That will be told and retold for countless years and put so much meaning behind them. Awesome work!

  41. You will absolutely love the versatility of white cabinets! So happy for you!

  42. Wow! You are making great progress and I can see your vision for the kitchen too! I’m so excited for you to be able to get this done in the beginning…and to think you’ll be cooking in it for Thanksgiving! Awesome!

    I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that I haven’t second guessed myself on immediately…in the end…I realize that was wasted effort.

    You are on your way to a fabulous kitchen. And I know you’ll enjoy it every night. ;)

  43. Your kitchen is going to be awesome! Love the floors, so much character! I hope to someday have a kitchen to plan and want to get that issue of Southern Living. Just to make sure, is it the July 2013 issue? Thanks and best wishes.

  44. Shoppin4Sophia says:

    Dear Nester – Thank you for saying phrases like “that is too expensive” or “pay as we go.” It gets so exhausting reading about dream kitchens that have $60-75K price tags attached. I appreciate you being real about your finances and having to make compromises here and there – but you are still excited about the process. Wishing you a home filled with love and laughter – because that really is what is all about…..not pricey fixtures.

  45. Wow. Wow. Wow.
    First, I LOVE all the colorations/imperfections in the floor. You will always remember the first day you saw the house when you look at those floors (even though they were walls that day).
    Pay as you go, what a great way to live. That’s the way my parents lived. The only think I can remember them making payments on was a car. “Mortgage” payments were to family members as they bought family land and slowly built the home they added onto over the years.
    I COVET your range…. Will find your board and follow. Y’all are doing a fantastic job.

  46. Dear Nester- I thought about writing you an email but your blog posts have even enlightened me about that… I simply cannot thank you enough for sharing your story through this blog. I was stuck in the middle of a reno-stump and reading this blog has given me a new perspective on the purpose of my home and what really matters. Thank you, thank you thank you!!!!!!

  47. I love how the kitchen is coming along! The floors are great, and I can’t wait to see the finished kitchen. I’m sure you can’t either!

  48. OMG can I just tell you…I love your perspective sooooo much! The part about putting that mismatched yellow board at the threshold, rather than hiding it under an appliance? It made me smile. Been following your blog for years, and this one line made me realize why I enjoy it so much!! ~Kerri

  49. Reading your post today reminded me of where we were just this time last year….the chaos (we found mold and had to deal with that in the midst of the kitchen remodel), the dust, the decisions, decisions, decisions, etc. I appreciate your healthy perspective as you are navigating thru this season of your life with your family, especially challenging with the holidays coming. Knowing I couldn’t bake for four months, and there was nothing really to decorate (no horizontal surfaces!), I decorated a 6 ft. aluminum ladder with what I had on hand….lights, yellow caution tape, hand tools, Home Depot hats, and a Scripture chalkboard. It may go down as our most memorable Christmas because we could only focus on the true meaning….there were no other distractions :) Looking back, the adventure was worth it and we came out stronger and closer because of going thru it together. I thank the Lord everyday for the gift of our new kitchen and I desire to use it with an attitude of joyful hospitality. And like others have posted, if I were close by, I would love nothing more than to bring you a homemade meal!

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