the kitchen marathon

it hit me yesterday when i got home that my kitchen no longer looks like my kitchen. as i looked around, standing in the middle of this mess i had created with cabinets doors lying all over the floor & the counters filled with various things & paint supplies, i felt so proud. i still have a lot of work to do but it's time for an update because so much progress has been made.

it's no secret that i'm not a huge fan of the holidays. they trigger my mental health issues more than any other time & although i'm still feeling that black hole (that watching lady bird did not help), having a large project to focus on during christmas week seemed to really help me deal. i was fortunate enough to get 11.5 days off work & i had a hard time deciding whether or not i should start right away or wait until after christmas. well. our heater broke on the 21st (because something ALWAYS seems to happen right before christmas) & while we were waiting on the technician to fix it, i "got curious" & started messing around with the counters. before i knew it i had ripped off the trim and started chipping away at the tile. 

the counters on this side had to be completely replaced. the tiles have been coming up for years around the sink so i knew that water had definitely gotten underneath them & was a little terrified of what i'd find. fortunately for us, there was a little mold underneath a couple tiles but it didn't appear to have ever spread to the wall or into any of the cabinet (pretty much the only thing that worked in my favor during this). 

one thing i didn't account for was just how hard chipping those tiles off would be. i couldn't remove the counter without tearing up the cabinets unless i did it so over several DAYS, i worked hours & hours to remove them one at a time. what made it more painful was realizing WHY it was harder than it should be...

just one more reason to add to the list of "i hate everyone who ever lived here before me". that is paper. someone thought it was a good idea to use counters made of paper around a kitchen sink. i sat there staring at this for so long. i am still dumbfounded.

the best day i had was the day i pulled out the old sink, managed to find a way to move 4 ft. x 8 ft. boards, used a jigsaw for the first time in 15 years, cut new counters using 23/32 inch plywood & cut a hole for the new sink all by my goddamn self. i felt like a queen. it was challenging & i loved every second. i had no idea how much fun i would find in something so tiring.

now. the counter resurfacing was another story. the only thing enjoyable about it was just the fact that i was trying something new & working on the house. the actual process of concrete overlay was not really enjoyable. it was messy & frustrating & i might have cried thinking i'd made a huge mistake halfway through. is the process itself hard? eh. no. you mix concrete & spread it on. would i do it again? maybe. i'm glad to not have to look at the tile. i'm glad to have not spent several hundred dollars on new counters. i'm glad that i tried. but am i proud of my work? not really. 

this is what it looks like after the first couple of coats & it was a little terrifying. you kind of just cross your fingers at this point.

i put a lot of effort into it. i followed the directions. i watched videos & read blogs. turns out, i just wasn't very good at it. it took 4 boxes of henry feather finish skimcoat & a bazillion sanding discs on my orbital sander. the concept is pretty easy. you mix up very small batches of concrete at a time, spread it on your surface in very thin layers & sand them once dry. i think my mistake was not doing thin enough layers or not sanding enough in between. i don't know.

all i know is that about 3/4 of the way through i cried to ryan that "i was sorry for ruining the kitchen & i hope he's okay with rustic concrete". they've grown on me but i can't help but be so disappointed in how they turned out. i was not expecting as much color variation but i am so happy with how smooth they are. they feel like stone counters (so hey, something went right)!

when i finally gave up my efforts of smoothing them out, i sealed them & opted not to put a top coat on for now, as i really don't want them to have any shine. i'm also just being cheap if i'm honest. ;) so far anything that's gotten on them has not soaked in & has wiped up pretty easy. we are still babying them though. ryan keeps reminding me that we have to start treating them like normal counters at some point. ha! 

i also installed a new sink that almost killed me. this is something i'd also never done before & i went in feeling pretty confident that i could figure it out. i eventually did but only after having a screaming/crying meltdown while i was laying under it trying to put the mounting clips in. the plumbing had to be completely reconfigured to account for the extra depth of the new sink & from going from 2 bowls to 1. i even threw in the towel at one point & asked for suggestions for plumbers. a couple of hours later i was sitting on the couch, had an "aha moment", went to home depot, & bought almost every plumbing part i could find; determined to find something that worked. i did. & it was way too easy for how hard i had made it. 

the new sink is a dream. i don't know that i'll ever opt for two bowls ever again. it's so nice to be able to emerge our largest cutting boards & pans in there. also, praise jesus for having a sprayer again. & a faucet that's tall enough to actually fit shit under. AND THAT I DID IT MYSELF. when i turned it on for the first time & had zero leaks, i cried... & then ran around the living room with my hands above my head. that's the kind of shit that gets me excited, guys. i think that's the reaction my mother wanted me to have on my 16th birthday when she handed me keys to my first car, instead of the smile & "awesome, thanks!" that she got. if you really want to see the only time i will act like a fool from joy, let me have a day to myself to accomplish a new task.

in the last 2 weeks, i've been focused on paint. it would've made more sense to paint first but i didn't have time in order to get the counters done while i was on break. i'm opting for painting the backsplash white for now & it's made a huge impact! down the road, i'd like to do a classic subway tile above the sink & the entire stove wall. it's only been primed so far because, in true jana fashion, i got distracted by another project before i finished.

the base cabinets got painted last weekend & the doors just need one more coat before i can hang them. it'll have to wait though because i hurt my spider knee crawling around on the tile.

paint is so satisfying. i can't wait to get the doors back up. even with the uppers not being painted & still having the old hardware on, it'll be so good to see it almost there.

& maybe one day i'll have a normal leg again that won't constantly ruin my plans...

 

 

kitchen remodel inspiration

i have a plan. it started innocently enough. like most of them do, it started with reading a blog. blogs & podcasts, man. the amount of each that i consume on a daily basis is a little frightening. anyway, i've recently been back-reading jenny's blog & though her style doesn't line up with my own a lot of the times, i find a lot of inspiration in her projects. i came upon her laundry redo in 2013 & i've read many blogs over the years about the ardex concrete counter technique but i never gave it much thought since our counters aren't a smooth surface. for some reason i got the inkling to do a little more digging around for anyone that's tried it on tile & found this! so i'm hoping that over my christmas break our countertops will be getting a complete overhaul & we'll end up with beautiful concrete counters. our plan has always been to replace the counters & i think this might just solve that problem! all i know is that i personally HATE tile counters & i can't wait for them to be gone.

just like i did with my bedroom inspiration, i turned to pinterest to help hone in what it is that i really love in a kitchen's aesthetics. i wasn't surprised at all by the results. apparently, i prefer simple kitchens with white walls, two-tone cabinets, open shelving, light stone or wood counters and black details/accents.

sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

one thing i've also noticed is that my favorite kitchens are small, one wall european style kitchens which work for me because i don't enjoy cooking & when i do, it's minimal. we don't require much kitchen cabinet space so my first thought has always been to take out our upper cabinets but my growing love for saving old homes has made me realize that i probably don't want to. enough of the character from our house has been destroyed over the years; i don't want to contribute.

if i look at these enough will it motivate me to start? other blogs i've read over the years have acted like repainting cabinets is no big deal but i think they have to be either lying or they did zero prep work. the dread of all the prepping is what's making me drag my feet on this one. please, people who have repainted their cabinets, exactly how much prep did you do? did you sand them all the way down to wood? did you just do a light sanding? did you just say fuck it & prime right over those bitches?

all i know is that i'm really ready to say goodbye to our tile counters & backsplash. i want to start the demo right NOOOOOOW.

 

will 2017 end soon?

i won't lie. this year has been the shittiest i think i've ever had. it's been emotionally, physically, & financially draining & there have really been no signs of it letting up. the spider incident ruined my summer, the hospital bills took our savings, we lost our smallest dog suddenly, the vet bills took our credit cards, the work on our house that we thought was exciting has turned out to be a nightmare that won't go away & my depression hit full force (of course!) during all of it.

i say that to say; bare with me. there have been a lot of things i’ve wanted to come here to say & update on but also, if i'm being honest, it's been a real struggle to get out of bed to work on any house projects myself. i've just now gotten motivated enough the last week. so. a few things.

the first being that after our contractor offered us a price on our house i realized just how much i care about the integrity of it. between realizing how much i truly love my little piece of shit, it’s also not a realistic time for us to even consider moving. i will always have that spirit in me that wants to leave, that wants to start over, that looks for change & wants to experience new things. it’s a part of who i am. but i’m also not a dumbass. ryan is in a really great place professionally & really loves what he’s doing right now. i want him to see it through & really, i want to see our house through. the changes i make, i want to make for us, as if it's for the long haul, whether it is or isn't. that means that my list of goals just got a shit ton bigger. oy.

second, we’re not painting the exterior of the house. if you want to know why & don’t care to listen to me go off on a tangent, you can ask me why sometime. in the long run, as exciting as i thought that was for our house, i’m glad it’s not happening. turns out, no matter how arrogant you are, you really shouldn’t paint old bricks. soft-fired bricks (generally bricks before the 1960s) need to be able to breathe. when you paint them, moisture gets trapped inside & eventually, the paint will peel & the bricks will deteriorate. so, educate yourself! instead of paint, come spring, i will be power washing the exterior & redoing the mortar. i feel really good about it & i feel really confident about that decision.

third, we’re still waiting for the insurance work on our house to be done. it’s been a very good learning experience for so so many reasons & i honestly hope i never have to deal with a contractor ever again, although, i’ll be much better prepared next time if i have to. it's been a much longer & more frustrating 3 months than i expected but our gutters finally went up this week and holy. shit. i was not prepared for how happy pieces of metal hanging off my house would make me.

it's funny how things can change so much in a year. one thing that hasn't changed is my dedication to the house. to make it right. to honor it. so that when we do leave it, somebody doesn't find it a worthy candidate to gut the entire thing, rip out the original windows & vault the ceilings.

oh, & happy thanksgiving!

 

new roof

we came home last month to a brand new roof. turns out, our roof had 4 layers of shingles on top of plank sheathing, not decking. apparently, it’s way too much to ask for the previous owners to do anything correctly. our contractor said that the amount of weight on our roof was more than a dumpster could even haul. WHAT THE HELL PEOPLE.

our old, sad, sagging roof is now so very happy & up-to-code. we went with a “storm cloud” patterned shingle at a recommendation from our contractor who has used them a lot & seen a lot of positive feedback when it comes to resale (always a plus).

the roof is exciting & all but DUDES. the next part is so much better. like the answer to so many of our nightmares. all the fascia is being replaced next week. i know, it doesn’t sound all that exciting. but in our world, this is huge. part of the reason that our roof was out of code was that there was no drip edge (or flashing) between the roof line & the fascia. this means two things. one. our gutters were useless. there was no point in ever having them. cue all our tears after realizing all the time we’ve spent cleaning them. (okay fine, we didn’t clean them all that often but it still stressed us out.) two. every time it rained the water was just running directly down the side of our house, slowly rotting all our fascia. rotted fascia makes it super easy for squirrels to eat huge holes into your attic & live up there for 8 years, driving you insane in the middle of the night & haunting you with nightmares of creatures coming down into your bed while you sleep. rotted wood on the outside of your house is also ten million times more embarrassing than a roof that has too many layers. that work will hopefully start this week & then PAINT.

fuck-ing paint y’all. like the entire house. bricks & all.

i know people have very strong opinions on painted brick. there are definitely strong camps on each side & i get them both. i love brick… if you have pretty brick. our brick is in horrible condition & apparently, nobody thought it was important to tape off anything ever before painting the gutters, windows, shutters, etc. there are literally old gutter outlines running down our house all the way around. the previous owners will never stop amazing me.

we picked paint colors last week & i’m so goddamn anxious.

 

so before long, our little house is going to go from this (so sad, so overgrown, so swallowed by trees, so shitty)...

to this (new roof, trimmed trees & everything else still shitty)...

to this! just use your imagination & add some new landscaping & grass...

the color we picked is called "barely white" which i love. i didn't want to do stark white even though i love an all white exterior. i felt like i needed to pay my tudor style house some respect & go with the traditional three color scheme. 

now. on to the debate. those windows. my plan for two years has been to paint our window frames black; just the frames, not the trim. traditionally, the window frames should be darker than the trim but i also just really love the look of a light house with dark windows. my contractor thinks they need to be white to match the trim. so tell me. who is wrong?