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...



tour: part III, the living room

next stop on the tour is the main living space(s). you open the front door into a huge open room that i find to be a little awkward in size. because of this, it has been rearranged a million times & i’m sure it will never stop.

2009, from the appraisal


the fireplace doesn’t work & i have no clue when it was last in working order. i think it would be really awesome to get it running again. i vaguely remember the realtor saying that something was wrong with the gas line running to it. that horrendous faux-texture paint job above it KILLS me. i have no clue why anyone would paint anything in that way, ever. i’ve always been curious what’s behind the drywall. is there a beautiful brick chimney? i’m also guessing they covered it for a reason. or is this like the desk situation, part 2?

2009, previous owner's shit

the picture window is one of my favorite things about the house. it’s an original single-pane, inefficient, steel window with side casement windows (covered by the curtains in the picture). the problem is that the window-seat seems to make a really great place to dump things. it’s currently full of tools & paint as you’ll see below. i’ve always wanted an upholstered cushion for it but at 11′ long & 2′ deep, i would have to have something custom-made which is way more than i’m willing to spend. i could try & make something myself but i haven’t sewn in several years, so is that smart? i don’t know. i just want to cover up the tile countertops (same ones from the kitchen). then again, when i get wood to replace the counters in there, should i just get a piece for here too? but will it hold the weight of people sitting on it? or more realistically, several 5 gallon paint buckets?


let’s just pretend that the early days of over filtering & focusing your pictures for instagram never happened. i’m acknowledging how horrible it is & now let’s never talk about it again.

the first year in our house we did what every young couple does needing to furnish an entire house on a budget. we let ikea & target throw up all over the place & thought it was so awesome. six years later & only two items remain from this time. our style has changed so much since then. i didn’t even mind the green paint on the walls.


in 2013 i painted the walls “grey” with teal accent walls (gross). the grey was really more blue than anything else but it really helped to lighten up the space. i never really liked the tv mounted above the fireplace either so i was happy for that change. i was starting to understand at this point that i don’t like feeling like i live in a cave.


the next year i got creative & moved the living room to the back nook. i think it’s my favorite furniture placement to date. notice that the window seat was collecting piles back then too. it’s never-ending. we ending up getting two 8×10 jute rugs from west elm (similar here) on clearance for $300, which i felt i couldn’t pass up that kind of deal at the time. i loved that green rug when we first got it but it has not held up well. it is unraveling in many places & is extremely stretched out.

i seem to have zero pictures of the other side of the room from this time. sorry!


*please ignore this mess. i specifically remember taking this just to send to my bff to show her that we got our new couch.

at the beginning of 2015, we made our first “adult” purchases. first, we replaced our beloved ikea karlstad with the peggy from west elm (mistake #1) & then we bought a fake eames lounger (mistake #2). within a year, the sofa has probably 10 missing buttons, the fabric has dulled significantly & it’s very wobbly. i’ve been so disappointed in the quality of the product. i can’t believe that our ikea sofa held up better than this one. it already needs to be replaced, whereas the karlstad withstood 6 years of 6 different dogs jumping all over it, a million house parties & dozens of sleep overs. we even got a couple hundred bucks out of it in the end. we won’t be so lucky with this one. the lounger is.. well.. beautiful at first glance but i do feel a little guilty about buying it now. not to mention that the leather on the seat ripped at the button within 6 months. live & learn or some shit?

but then this happened! ryan’s back went out while he was in the attic & he ended up straddling a beam because of it (ouch!). i had to move our living room back to the other side so this could be fixed. it turned out to be a good thing because it’s what finally motivated me to tackle painting the whole house & finally paint the woodwork in here. it also made it impossible to ignore that horrible light fixture.

my wonderful, professional painter of a step-dad came & patched the drywall for us, while also re-texturing the entire ceiling so it would all match. it had been patched in several spots over the years. it was incredibly nice of him & if you ever need a painter in the state of oklahoma, i’ll be more than happy to put you in contact with him.

2015, february

the plastic came down & i decided that now was the time to get to work on the woodwork. this is the worst project i’ve ever done. it took so long just to prep one stupid window for paint. it pretty much went like this: sand until my arms died, cry, wipe clean, patch wood, sand, sand, cut off my arms, sand, cry, clean with deglosser, sob. it didn’t take me long to realize why i had put it off for so long & i’m embarrassed to say how long this took me.

2016, january

in eleven months (ELEVEN!) i had gotten this far. in case you couldn’t tell, i hadn’t even painted the entire room. you can see where i stopped above the hall door. but dammit, it just felt so good to have those windows done. i was obsessed with the walls being white too (i still am). what happened was that my laziness kicked in hardcore after i got those windows done & it was almost impossible for me to motivate myself to pick up a paint brush.

2016, march


in march i finished painting & dropped everything in place. i was happy because i loved the way the white completely transformed the feeling of the entire house but i wasn’t satisfied with the placement of anything. over the last year, i’ve kept taking more & more things out of my house. i got really into the KonMari method, right along with the rest of the world, but it bled into something so much deeper & more important to me. it has really changed my life. i started realizing that by removing all of the stuff from my physical space, it started making my mental space less anxious. i did some serious purging. soon after, i started listening to the minimalists podcast & it has taken me even further. i started getting rid of everything. minimizing physical & mental clutter has become something i need to do for myself. i've started living so much more intentionally because of it & now try to focus my time only towards what is really important to me, what i value & what my goals are.


2016, august*

i started by getting rid of things like our dining room table that was seldom used. i don’t want a table just because that’s what you’re “supposed” to have, nor do i want things on my wall for that same reason. it’s also why i don’t have a guest bed or a dresser in my bedroom. i’m glad that i could pass those things along to people who can get some joy out of them. i’d encourage everyone to only keep things (& people) around them that truly bring value to their lives. otherwise, what is the point?

*the window seat pile keeps growing. there are so many paint cans on there. and tubes of caulk. and gutter repair kits. and grass seed. and a donation pile. how do i stop this madness?


a few minor things left on the to-do:

  • finish painting ceiling / second coat on entire ceiling
  • find a better storage solution for my home repair tools that doesn’t include putting them in the garage
  • drop off our donation pile
  • refinish coffee table in seating area (craigslist find for $20)
  • replace brown rug with 9×12 rug (this or this)
  • fix fireplace
  • fix the wiring on one of the recessed lights
  • change door knob & lock?
  • finish prepping hallway doorway (i removed the door & popped off the trim) for paint

today, i feel pretty good about the space. a room is never done but i feel totally okay with where we are now. one day we’ll get the floors refinished. they are original which i'm thankful for, but they're in pretty rough shape. i have no idea what kind of wood they are. how do people even know these things? i’m hoping that it's pretty enough to just seal them once they’re sanded down & not stain them.

just talking about purging is making me itch to get home & add to my donate pile.