Finally, A Kitchen for the New Year

Happy 2021! Last night I made sure to stay up and open the door at midnight to kick 2020 out of here. Sounds silly, but it’s the truth. I’m not one to stay up late, ever… but I made it, just for that purpose. To start our new year off right, we finished our kitchen today. It only took 2yrs and 31 days. It was actually the first project on my to do list when we bought this house… yet it somehow became the last. We started with a hilarious mash of old cabinets and cut up countertops precariously perched on them in a makeshift mess with busted up flooring and water lines going up through the middle of the room… Not even joking!

Once cleaned up, we were left with this for a couple months.

I quickly realized that it was futile to wish for the kitchen first. Functioning bathrooms, wall removal and drywall repair, flooring that didn’t give you splinters we’re all important things. Some of that required contractors, so while they were here we had them also do the back deck and various other projects… all of which pushed the kitchen further away. I did decide to improve it and make it function. Painted the old cabinets and built wood counters for temporary purposes. That kitchen lasted almost a year.

She wasn’t pretty, but she worked.

Then, frustrated at the slow process, we took out a small loan and bought the new kitchen and installed the cabinets/counters/appliances in Jan of 2020.

And that’s how it sat all year. I simply could not make up my mind on what kind of backsplash tile I wanted. I struggled with this decision in both the upstairs bathrooms too. I searched through the local tile shop and the only things saying “buy me” were $20 a square foot… laughably expensive when I wanted to tile a 20’ long wall to the ceiling. I didn’t want to go with predictable subway tile. Not that it looks bad, but sometimes it looks dated the minute it’s finished and I need this kitchen to last. I don’t want to do it again!

I knew it had to be a white or light color, it had to be shiny to help reflect light… my kitchen is at the back of the house and only gets a couple hours of sunlight through its windows. It’s always felt narrow and cave like. I needed light to bounce around. Some shiny texture maybe so when you walked through it would reflect light from different angles. I just couldn’t decide. I kept falling in love with these beautiful teal colored tiles that really wanted to be in my home somewhere, but never made it.

Finally I decided on a 2×10”, “handmade” looking tile from Wayfair. 25 boxes ordered. It arrived with only ONE broken tile. I was so impressed. But then I lost motivation. For a couple weeks those boxes sat neatly wrapped on their pallet and waited. If you have ever remodeled a house this size, every room, maybe you’ll understand the extreme burnout that can hit. I really just wanted to hire someone to finish everything. We actually tried, but they did such a crap job that we decided to do the rest ourselves anyway. I was just so sick of it.

There they sat, waiting to be loved.

I’m a very creative, artsy type of person. If it’s a cool, colorful project, I throw myself into it 120%. If it’s a boring, tedious, all white type of thing, just kill me. I probably need to add that Daniel left me on my own to tile the first bathroom upstairs. By the time I finished I was crying and ready to move. Dramatic, I know. But it required climbing in and out of a deep tub one million times and cuts I never seemed to get right. I was so grateful to finish it, I never wanted to touch tile again. Then Daniel pushed me to finish the second bathroom. It was ridiculous of me. We had the glass surround and faucet sitting in the garage for 8 months… 😂 I just didn’t want to do it. It turned out to be more of a pain than the first bathroom, but at least Daniel didn’t leave me on my own. I refused to let him. So you can imagine my look of dread as I walked past that stack of tiles waiting for the kitchen…

One day though, I decided to be motivated and do the corner section. It took a bit of debate and a Facebook friend poll to decide brick lay or herringbone for the corner. I had 100% decided herringbone for the long wall, but the corner isn’t the focal point. Did I really need to be matching? Could I make it easier on myself? Yes, yes I could. Brick lay won. Had it up in an hour.

Pre-grout.

And got it grouted the next day. Once it dried I realized I had a bit of a disaster on my hands. The grout might have been too wet or didn’t dry evenly. I’ve never experienced this before but it ended up splotchy in color. My “clean white grout lines” looked splotchy yellow.

Blotchy, yellow/white grout.

I wasn’t sure if I did a grout colorant in white if it would all come out an even color. I was so frustrated and burnt out that it sat that way for a month. The last thing I wanted to do was tile the big wall and screw it up too. But Daniel had some time off for Christmas… The slave driver that he is, convinced me that we really needed to get this kitchen done. Ugh. It took us hours to get the first small section done. I’ve never done a herringbone pattern before. Getting your angles set up right was a lot of work. Soooo many cuts, not helped by my hidden shelf brackets I did and electrical outlets. Not to mention old walls that were not “perfectly” flat anymore.

Seriously, this small section took us 3.5hrs…

I do not recommend a herringbone pattern for DIY, especially if you’ve never done tile before or might be OCD. This made my brain hurt. We certainly have a couple blooper pieces in that wall, but I know guests won’t notice them. It’s just me. This house has taught me to overlook the little things that drive me nuts so I can keep my sanity. So three days of work later and we got to this point right before my parents came down to stay with us a few days. No grout, but the tile was up.

The wood box on the wall above the stove was the start of the range hood framing.

This house has also taught me to get over embarrassment of unfinished home repairs when guests are here. I was honestly just grateful to have all the bathrooms working this time. 😂. Their last visit only had one full bathroom downstairs working and one toilet upstairs. My in-laws have been here when we hardly had any drywall or flooring in. Matter of fact, they were also here to see the kitchen in its first glorious state in the first kitchen picture at the beginning of this post.

Anyway… it took me a couple days after the parents left to get some motivation to grout. Or better yet, to figure out the grout problem I had going on with the corner too. After much debate we decided to go with a light gray grout instead of white and picked one with a matching grout colorant/renew to fix the bad side. My big 20’ wall took me 2.5hrs to grout all by myself. Painting the corner section to match also took me 2.5hrs to finish all by myself. Ugh. I don’t wish that job on anyone! I’ve got a post on that here: Fixing Discolored Grout.

And today Daniel finished the range hood cover. For the first time since we moved into this house, I have a range vent! No more opening windows and blasting the fans! So without further ado. Here is our wonderful kitchen!

She took her time getting finished, but I’m pretty happy with her. It sure feels good to start the new year off with a FINALLY finished house.

Update: Some questions about our flooring. It is Flooret Modin Rigid, Sutton Signature color. I did another post about it here: Flooret Modin Rigid Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring Review – Sutton Signature

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