Five Year House-A-Versary: The Kitchen

It’s amazing how fast five years will go by.  It feels like ages ago that I moved into my fixer-upper condo, and at the same time, it feels like just yesterday.  The scariest part about all of it is that I think I am done renovating.  All the projects I set out to take care of when I bought this house are done.  Never thought I would say that.  Time to take a trip down memory lane.

kitchen2This was me five years ago: 21 years old, a first time home buyer…bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to take on the world along with all the bad wallpaper that goes with it.  Yes, believe it or not that was what my bathroom looked like five years ago…a sea of green and red.  It gave me vertigo whenever I went in there.  So that was the first thing that had to go. And then it was a downward spiral from there.

Since then, I have made quite a home for myself here.  The best things I have learned from trial and error, and I don’t think I could have picked a better home to practice with renovating.  It is “small” yet spacious so I had plenty of room to experiment but didn’t have to put $10,000 to $20,000 into it to make it livable.


Here was my kitchen five years ago.  I was going through a huge Italian/Julia Child phase, thanks to Julie/Julia that I had seen that year.  At this point in time, I was pretty confident about being to take care of the kitchen in a few months with just a little bit of paint and pixie dust.  Little did I know that my taste would eventually change.


It also didn’t help that this monster mirror was sitting in the kitchen, too.  Hideous thing isn’t it?  That was the first big project I got to undertake whenever I moved in was ripping the mirror out.  As you can see, it took a butt load of blue tape and a hammer.  Good times…

DSC_0568Eventually the kitchen morphed into this.  Perfectly fine, in my opinion, but I was still having to use a rolling cart for a counter top, and I had a pot rack hanging over it.  The thought process was there, but the execution was just off.  The kitchen felt mismatched and out of place, so I continued working out a solution.

DSC_0569It didn’t help that the counter tops were not only short, but they had been botched a few years ago from the undertaking of painting them the night before I had a dinner party.  When I pulled the plates off to put into the sink that night, holes and bumps had already formed.  There they stayed for about 3 years.  Yep, I looked at that crappy counter top for three years.  Mistake #1 made in the kitchen?  Epoxy counter top paint.  Just don’t do it unless you have a week to let it dry to be on the safe side.  Just don’t.

The cabinets, though they look pretty in the pictures are pretty deceiving.  I didn’t prime the first or second time I painted them so the latex stuck to itself and left ridges and more holes in the finish.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  I sure am.  Mistake #2 made in the kitchen: Not using primer.

housepic2Here is my kitchen now.  Totally synchronized and gorgeous with a simple southern feel to it.  I decided to take the doors off their hinges in the upper cabinets, with the exception of one, and I painted the insides to add a pop of color.  And check out my new counters, guys, aren’t they swanky?  I did have these professionally put in with my contractor.  The final bill once everything was said and done was around $700, materials and labor included.  And that also means the installation of my new sink!  I purchased the sink at Home Depot along with the faucet which was a gift from Tim for my birthday.  The guy wouldn’t have me settling on just any kitchen faucet.  Dawwwww….

I did rip out the old imitation tin backsplash, as well and put up beadboard wallpaper in its place.  The roll cost me $25 at Lowes and I also got an installation kit.  The backing of the wallpaper was already prepasted so all I had to do was squirt it down with a water bottle and hang it.  There’s a tip for you, use a water bottle and don’t submerge the paper in the tub.  The wallpaper, even when I used the spray bottle, was extremely delicate.  Once the wallpaper dried for a day or two, I was able to paint it the same color as the upper cabinets, Hushed White by Behr.


A little close-up shot of the beadboard wallpaper and the beauty that is the inside of my cabinets.  I always dreamed about having a kitchen with open shelving.

housepic1Here’s a shot of the other side of the kitchen.  I sold off the old rolling cart and purchased a wine rack, base cabinet, and pantry.  Is it not gorgeous???  The counter extends all the way to the pantry, so I now have more than enough space for food prep and setting out food at dinner parties.  It’s like a shorter version of a buffet, but it works so well.

housepic4My own stroke of genius…a built-in wine rack.  When I moved in, that was on my list of absolute wants.  I had dreams of being a wine aficionado when I was younger, and it took a few years for me to finally get it done, but it is amazing.  The rack is Perfekt from Ikea.  Tim put it together for me, and my contractor fit it in so it flowed well with the existing and new cabinets. This also gives you a closer look at the counter.  Sorry about the ketchup.


Finally, I wanted to have some nice open shelving over the cabinets for my cook books.  I don’t have many, but having them piled up on top of the fridge made no sense to me.  I used IKEA shelves, pretty cheap, if I do recall.

The key to this kitchen renovation was to keep costs down as much as possible by adding new to the “old” and updating the “old” with fresh paint.  122813105454And you remember my sweet coffee bar, right? It’s still here and the convenience is amazing.  I can feed my babies and make coffee without having to track across the kitchen to do so.

Finishing Touches That Need to Be Done:

  • Paint the fridge
  • Paint the toe kick under the new cabinets
  • Install framing for the beadboard backsplash
  • Add hardware
  • New curtains

I think once everything was said and done, this kitchen renovation was just North of $1500 spanning over about 3 months.

It took me five years to finally get the kitchen of my dreams, but having everyone in my house on Sunday night, hanging out in the space, being able to cook with two other friends and not having to fight over counter space was beyond amazing.


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