Works in Progress

Grandma’s Kitchen Remodel: Cabinets + Fixtures

Monday, October 27th, 2014

What a weekend! With the help of some volunteers, many of them teens from the local high school, on Saturday we were able to paint 2,200 square feet of walls and ceilings for the work clothes closet project. I spent my weekend evening hours enjoying each and every inning of the World Series games, it continues on Tuesday, c’mon Giants!

Last week, we made some final decisions on Grandma’s kitchen remodel and placed orders on cabinets, tile, and fixtures. Our goal is to keep costs down and make timeless choices for finishes and fixtures, especially since this kitchen remodel is for resale.

Our first step was to evaluate whether we should replace or reface the kitchen cabinets, we went back and forth, and discovered it was more convenient but more costly to reface the cabinets, which was initially appealing because it meant repurposing the old frames but we were limited by finish choices and deterred by the cost for just a cabinet facelift (over $12,000!). In the end, we decided to replace the cabinets instead of reface them, especially because new cabinets include modern amenities like lazy Susan corners and soft close drawers and with a promotional discount they fit our budget.

Kitchens require a lot of thought but eventually you’ve just got to make a decision, trust your gut, and go with it so that’s what I did! Here’s a reminder of what the kitchen looks like now, the cabinets are 40 years old and the appliances are decades old too. All the cabinets and the flooring will be removed in the next two weeks.

grandmas kitchen before

Matt met with a few neighbors with the same floor plan about their kitchens and also a contractor who has remodeled over a dozen of the same in this retirement community. He toured a few upgraded kitchens with the same layout, here’s an example of one recently renovated with all wood cabinets.

wood cabinets same kitchen

In this kitchen, they moved the refrigerator and pantry to the far wall which we’re not doing. We’re keeping the same layout for appliances, I prefer the range as a focal point on that far wall and the fridge/pantry on the far right side of the kitchen (see sketch below). Also I think the recessed lights should be more centered, but the thing we really liked was how the contractor raised the ceiling and took down the wall between the family room and kitchen (bottom right of above photo) and created a peninsula, so we decided to do that too so the kitchen is open to the family room.

We discovered that all the electrical panels and outlets need to be upgraded so with that in mind, we opted for a range instead of a cooktop/wall oven combo to create more counter space. This is the latest cabinet plan for the range wall with closed cabinet storage above, the bottom plan shows how we tweaked it a little more to include a cookie tray cabinet to the right of the range.

new range view

gma revised 1

Replacing the cabinets meant I had to go shopping for new ones, I considered IKEA but since I’ve worked with my local Home Depot’s kitchen designer before with great success for our previous COTS projects (this kitchen and this kitchen) it was an easy decision to work with Christine again and we met several times.

kitchen design

I love designing with someone who will sit with you for hours and discuss with you about choices and finishes, suggest half a dozen different layouts, and not get upset when you say “Okay let’s go back to the original plan.” Which totally happened. :)

With this kitchen, I purposefully chose a neutral palette; I’m mixing warm wood tones with cool chrome fixtures and a marble lookalike laminate countertop. I’m going for contemporary but not cold, modern but not trendy, mixing pale gray, white, and wood tones.

gma kitchen finishes

I agonized over the cabinets at first, I really liked a wood and white mix I mentioned here but with the simple layout of this L shaped kitchen I decided to add dark and light contrast between the wood vinyl plank flooring and white marble lookalike countertops instead.

The backsplash is Jeffrey Court (source below) combining pieces of glass and shell and some iridescent dark tones too, it’s so pretty in person and will add an elegant touch.

backsplash up close


The cabinets will be a shaker style in the new Chai color by Kraftmaid but with no glaze. The hue is very close to Martha’s Sharkey Gray but a hint warmer. Taupe and gray are a sophisticated and a warmer neutral than white and a kitchen cabinet finish that is here to stay. I love a white kitchen but want to try something different in here especially with white countertops and a mostly white backsplash. Here’s a look at the old kitchen cabinets now.

side view

The new sink/refrigerator wall will include a tall pantry and a refrigerator cabinet with a panel to hide the gap (not shown) so we can reuse the existing shorter refrigerator but it allows for a future homeowner to purchase a taller one if they wish. The tile will go up to the ceiling behind the wood shelves which are the same stain as the vinyl plank floor. The opened up wall will connect the family room to the kitchen with a peninsula with a countertop (not shown) and counter height stools on the other side. We’re also adding glass front upper cabinets to this wall.

gma new kitchen plan

We’re purchasing a new white hood, dishwasher, and range, I love the double ovens they fit inside a standard size range now, my sister in law has one and loves it. Below are the links to the products were using for this project.

gma kitchen remodel plan

double oven range / chai painted cabinets / mosaic backsplash / polished chrome pulls / vinyl plank flooring / marble laminate / polished chrome faucet / chrome pendants over peninsula

I watched the Home Depot crew and their method for installing a vinyl plank floor last Friday so I feel we can tackle it ourselves after the cabinets are installed in a few weeks. This kitchen won’t be finished until January but we’re excited that the remodel is underway, and I can’t wait to share the final reveal!

Master Bathroom: Vanity Makeover Plans

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

I’m headed back to Las Vegas this week to work on the fixer house and the next project I’m starting is a remodel of the master bathroom vanity. Right now it’s one of those builder grade specials that has been there since 1989 and a refresh is so happening. This is the kind of project that’s manageable to update with a reasonable amount of money if I don’t let my starry eyed dreams of pricey marble mosaic tile send me over budget (see below and you’ll see how I’m in danger).

Someday we plan to sell this place so the goal is to not over improve it but at the same time we want to make it stand out with all of its modern upgrades when compared to similar properties. Here is the space right now, as you can see it’s that golden oak and ceramic tile combo that’s not awful but definitely dated. Everything will go except the vanity and flooring.

master vanity before

I had dreams of purchasing a new contemporary floating vanity for this space but I think it makes more sense to salvage this one because the base is solid wood and fits the space so I save a bundle by repurposing the vanity which also means I can spend more on a solid surface countertop and gorgeous tile on the wall which is really where I want to spend my cash.

A few months ago, I experimented with liming wax on a similar door from the kitchen to see if I could pull of a Restoration Hardware style gray/whitewashed look and at first it looked promising but when complete leaned too pink for my taste (dangerously close to 1980s pickled oak, yikes) but I believe that was due to the yellow undertones present in this kind of oak or perhaps first time error and not the liming process itself so I live to lime another day.

So now I’ve turned my thoughts to either a restaining process (dark of course) but I’m not crazy about the way oak takes stain, it’s very grainy so I’m thinking of having new cabinet doors made in a full overlay shaker style and staining the base and frame to match which could prove tricky but I think it could be done.

vanity cabinet

This door style is traditional which is fine so I could paint it and add new hardware but there is that lingering “oak is grainy” fact and even after two coats of primer and two coats of paint you can still see the grain which okay but in my head I have an intense desire to see a smoother finish so again I’m back to the idea of having new paint grade doors and drawer fronts made to accommodate hidden hinges.

I could live with it as is and patch the holes where the external hinges are and instead install hidden Euro hinges which doesn’t look too difficult. All of these things I’m considering. And perhaps overthinking.

bathroom vanity side view

And did you notice the floor tile? Of course you didn’t because it’s the definition of plain in the dictionary but here’s what happened with that. When we bought the house we found a few leftover boxes of this tile in the garage. This little vanity area used to have stained icky carpet and truth be told I think it’s a major crime to have carpet under a vanity so when we replaced all the carpet upstairs in August and installed the new tile downstairs, I had the installers add carpet back inside the closet and bedroom but not the vanity and we used the remaining 12 x 12” plain porcelain tile we found in the garage to fill in underneath because it matches the adjacent shower and toilet area (not shown) so now it all flows together and makes sense.

And let’s face it when you throw down a plush bathroom rug who’s really looking at the plain white floor tile, not me. As much as I adore a patterned tile floor I’m not about to rip this out for something fancier and expensive so it stays. Because again I plan to spend my cash on the countertop and wall tile and light fixtures, so let’s discuss.

First, the inspiration. These sink vanities I just love because of their dark stain on the vanity cabinet and paired with a white or marble countertop. Divine!

sarah richardson bathroom vanity

sarah richardson

warm wood gray tile bathroom vanity

vinci hamp architects 

dark stained bathroom vanity

mcgill design 


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