Kitchen Makeover | Part 2: It Takes A Village

Thursday, November 21, 2013

 After sharing Part 1, we're back with the next phase of our kitchen makeover.  After having my demolition outburst out of the way, Brian and I were left with a completely un-workable kitchen.
No appliances, no counter top, no kitchen sink and no game plan.  So that week, Brian and I started coming up with ideas, setting a budget and making a plan.  But those were quickly put on hold as we were moving into the house the following week.  Looking back, I laugh out loud thinking about how completely absurd the situation was.  Here we are moving into a complete fixer upper with no real experience, and rather than being stressed we were over-the-moon excited!  There's one reason, and one reason only, as to why we've had the luxury of enjoying the process rather than becoming completely overwhelmed by it:
Brian and I are both extremely blessed to have an amazing support system that we call our family!  None of our immediate family live in Atlanta, let alone the state of Georgia.  Brian's from Portland, Maine and I'm from Charleston, SC ~ how we met and ended up in Atlanta is a story for another day ~ but the fact that both sides were excited for our first house and willing to make the trip down to help out, speaks volumes to the people they are!  Our tiny apartment was located on the third floor with no elevator and had amassed quite a bit of stuff, large and small, so when my parents offered to help us move we were thrilled!  Even my brothers made the trek ~ two coming all the way from college.  Everyone drove out of their way to move a lot of items down 3 flights of stairs then have to unpack it all elsewhere ~ doesn't sound like fun,  but no one complained:  I mean look at these smiles...

 With so many extra hands on deck, the move ended up being extremely fast and cheap.  None of that was possible without our family.

Now that we were officially moved into the house, it was crucial to get the kitchen in working order.  We knew we wanted to replace most everything: the ceiling, the floor, etc, but wanting to stay on budget, we decided to start our makeover with the essentials.  And after eating too much take out that first week, we knew it was time to buy appliances.  So after doing some research and signing up for a ton of new home buyer coupons, we found a great deal on a GE set at Lowes.  (note:  I'm working on a post to highlight all sources for our kitchen makeover, so I won't include specifics here)  With appliances ordered, we came up with our game plan.  Salvage the existing cabinets by painting them, add a budget friendly counter top and a sink to make our kitchen functional.  The idea of painting cabinets seemed simple ~ you just slap a coat of paint on, right?!  Those days, ignorance was bliss!  Upon further inspection we noticed our cabinets needed much more than a coat of paint!  Not only were they filthy, but due to the significant ware, they needed to be full-on restored.  And when mapping out our kitchen design, we really wanted to move the placement of the dishwasher closer to the sink.  Case in point:
We quickly realized the only way to accomplish this ambitious task was to call in the pros!  Lucky for us, once again this was family.

Brian's parents have a boatload of experience when it comes to restoring houses, so when they offered to fly down one week after we moved in, we were beyond grateful.  And oh-my-goodness, they are the unsung heroes of what are now our beautiful kitchen cabinetry!!  Not only did they help remove every single piece of cabinetry, they sanded, and cleaned, and sanded and cleaned, and sanded and cleaned until those things looked brand spankin' new!!!!  And all of this while I was away at work!  I know, they're awesome, right?!  And thank goodness they were down during this process, because with any fixer-upper there's always those unexpected projects.  And unexpected projects means extra time and extra money.  Side Story:  The hands- down best advice we ever received from buying a fixer upper came from a guy at Lowes ~ he told us no matter how much you think it's going to cost and no matter how much time you think it'll take, multiply by 3!  So if you think a project will take 1 hour and $100, plan for 3 hours and $300.  This sounds crazy, but owning this home for 3 years, this concept couldn't be any truer!!  Ok, back to what I was saying:  When the bottom cabinets were removed we were given an unexpected surprise.  A slew of unmentionable critters had made a comfy little home right there under & behind the cabinetry.  And apparently this had been a very desirable place to live as there was a history of past tenants.  Seriously? In a kitchen? Gross!  Here's the photo after all the really awful, graphic grossness had been cleaned:
Once all was clean, and the source of the problem was determined, Brian's dad helped seal off any holes to the outside and then helped sheet rock behind the cabinetry:
Before they left, Brian's Dad helped re-install the cabinets and left us with one more gift of greatness.  In an inspiration photo I had shared with Brian's parents, there was this super simple trim on the top of the cabinetry.  Brian's dad had secretly done it for me when I was away at work ~ it's a little thing that made a huge impact!  Again, none of this was possible without our family.

So with Brian's parents now gone, we were finally back to where we started, wanting to paint the kitchen cabinets, add a budget friendly counter top and install a sink.  But once again, life seemed to get in the way, we were both working full time and had started a plethora of other home improvement projects throughout the house. So over the next two weeks, we slowly started priming the kitchen cabinets.  
For a counter top we decided to go with butcher block.  We loved the look and warmth it brought to the space and the price tag was very appealing!  To save money we opted against having a custom piece of butcher block cut ~ in order to accommodate our very long counter, we needed to piece together two slabs of butcher block purchased from Ikea.  Having only been in the house for a months time, our arsenal of power tools was minimal.  Once again, my dad not only offered to let us use his tools, but also to teach us how to use them!  Before installing the counter tops, my dad helped hook up our dishwasher and water connection to our fridge. When we bought our fridge, having a water hookup didn't even cross our minds ~ because the automatic ice and water dispenser magically makes it's own ~ Duh!  So once water was flowing and a dishwasher connection re-wired, we were finally on our way to a functional kitchen.
Looking back, this entire situation is humorous, I mean, how ignorantly stupid were we?!  Our families were so supportive and patient with us during those early days, kindly pointing out all the things we had overlooked, but never making us feel stupid for doing so.  They've cheered us on when things get hard and have assured us they're a simple phone call or plane ride away ~ teaching us the true meaning behind It takes a village. in our case, to make a house a home.

Part 3 tomorrow...I promise this time:)


  1. We are in the throes of trying to find a fixer upper and all are either too "finished" and therefore priced too high or way too unfinished and a little too much of a project for us as a retired couple, or rather, I am retired and my husband is 3 yrs shy. Anyway, I would love it if you would post a pic of the outside of your house in the before stage and the after stage too! so we could get an idea of the scale of your reno. I am loving your blog. You two are very creative and I love your taste in decorating.

  2. Yay! Looks great so far! Three cheers for the guys who came to help! We had to have 4 guys come and help us move our concrete countertop molds (they were poured in our garage) into the kitchen- the slabs were giant and around 600 pounds each. I was so grateful to have them!! I love the white cabinets too! :)

  3. So sweet! Ya'll are truly blessed.


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