As my son and I stood in the kitchen making our pumpkin pie the other day, I began to reflect upon what that space looked like two years ago at this time – completely gutted.
We tore out our old kitchen and dining room the first week of November 2017. Doesn’t everyone tear out their main cooking, eating, and living space right before the holidays? We also had a 9-month-old baby. We were probably nuts, but it seemed a time to do it, as my husband had vacation and parental leave time available. Needless to say, we didn’t host any gatherings that holiday season and anything we took to other people’s houses was store-bought!
We had been planning this remodel for months and dreaming of it ever since we bought the house. The kitchen hadn’t been touched since the 80s. It was dark, cramped, and falling apart. Ironically, it was the only room in the house with carpet. The walls and range hood smelled of old cooking grease, there was a rusted-out microwave above the oven, the cabinets were being held together with duct tape, and we had to set the oven 20 degrees hotter than we actually wanted it.
We lived with it for 2 years until we were ready for a complete gut job. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very thankful for our house, but we were ready for a fresh space! Living through a kitchen remodel is no small undertaking, and doing it all yourself is an even bigger task, so we wanted to be sure we were good and ready before tearing it all out!
In light of all this reminiscing, I thought it would be fun to share some before, during, & after photos with you all!
(Just a note – those recessed lights you see below were not there when we moved in – my husband put those in about a year before our remodel because I couldn’t see to do the dishes in the evening. They stayed when we did the remodel.)
This photo gives you a little better idea of how dark it was before the recessed lights:
The dining room was through that door next to the fridge. The door to the garage is next to that.
That space was SO narrow (see below) – it was literally about 20 inches between the fridge and oven. We had to turn the baby carrier long-ways to get our son in from the garage!
The dining room – just a plain room with a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. We had taken down the old chandelier for fear it was a fire-hazard (the wiring looked pretty iffy). This is how our dining set looked until recently – you can see the makeover in The Dining Table That Could.
Then, the first week of November…bam! Gutted! Thank you to our family and friends who helped rip everything out! (You’re looking at the door to the garage below.)
We tore down the wall between the kitchen and dining room (non-load-bearing of course!). (You’re looking at the dining room window below.)
Below is the bay window where our antique church pew now sits:
Our living room became a hotel-style eating area. It wasn’t pretty, but setting it up like this worked well – we had our basic pantry items, a microwave, disposable plates and utensils, etc. We washed dishes and baby bottles in plastic storage tubs set inside of the bathtub.
Our old refrigerator took up residence in our family room.
My husband rigged up our old stove on top of the dryer in the basement so I could still cook simple stovetop meals. No one ever said kitchen remodels were glamorous! 😉
In the weeks leading up to our remodel, I would often double or triple recipes and freeze the extra, so that we could pull it out later and just heat it in the microwave. It worked well! Two of our favorites that reheated well were lasagna (cut into portions and wrapped) and white chicken chili. We also had a few convenience foods on hand just to make it easier on ourselves (me!). I think we went out to eat maybe 2 or 3 times during this whole process. Eating out can get so expensive (and old!), so I highly recommend the tips above if you’re planning a kitchen remodel.
Our whole main living space became a construction site – it was cramped and often loud! Shout out to my parents for letting baby boy and me crash at their place frequently!
My husband never ceases to amaze me. He is a tremendously hard worker. He was working a full time job, occasionally traveling for work, and rebuilding a kitchen from the studs up. He was able to use some vacation time as well as holiday time-off to get a lot of the work in on this kitchen. We designed it together, and he did just about everything himself with help from family and friends. There were two things we had professionally done: granite countertop installation and floor re-finishing (my husband laid the new wood floor, but we had it all professionally sanded and stained).
Things began coming together. The dining room already had hardwood, which we kept (it’s under that cardboard) and we laid wood in the kitchen. We would later have it all refinished to match.
Oh, and did I mention we were replacing our entryway floors too? The tile that had been there was old and chipping, so we decided to replace it with hardwood and have it refinished with the rest of the space. Our house was such a mess!
A HUGE thank you to my father-in-law who assisted my husband with so many different aspects of this project – everything from electrical to drywall to cabinets and more. Thank you so much!
Our little guy LOVED watching them work!
It was starting to look like a kitchen!
We made it through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. (Note the shiny new fridge in our family room – Woohoo! – and the high tech plywood gate to keep out the mobile baby!)
Finally, by mid-January the kitchen was functional enough that I could start cooking in it! It was still far from complete, but it was sure nice to have a kitchen again! In case you’re wondering, it took a little over 2 months to get from demolition to this point.
We left our new refrigerator in the family room until we had our floors refinished in May. So our fridge spent a good 6+ months in the family room! It kind of became a joke after we moved it into the kitchen, because I kept going into the family room to get milk and butter!
We hosted our son’s 1st birthday party in February with cardboard on the floor, no window or door trim, no backsplash, no outlet covers, and no cabinet hardware! It was still a good time and one to remember for sure!
Fast forward to May (these are the floors before refinishing – and the old curtains!). This is the view from the dining room into the living room. You can see how the kitchen flows into the dining area, which flows into the living room, which flows into the entryway. We decided to have all these floors refinished at one time to make it cohesive.
(You can see the new hardwood my husband laid in the entryway below.)
Just for fun – this is how the entryway used to look – wood screens and old chipping tile. Please excuse the mess. This was the only picture I could find.
Fun story – I snapped this picture as we were decorating our Christmas tree back in 2016. I was pregnant with our first child, and my husband and I randomly just decided to tear out those wood screens in the middle of tree decorating!
So with floor refinishing, we were back to our house being in more chaos. We stayed with my parents for a week because of the fumes. Thanks, Mom & Dad! (Just FYI – this is before we redid the family room!)
I’ll never forget that day in June – 7 months after demolition day – when the fridge was finally moved into its proper location, we finally installed a dining room chandelier, and our last building inspection had been signed off. We took that building permit sign out of the front window and breathed a sigh of relief!
And about a week later I found out I was pregnant. Life is never boring!
I never really thought I would get the white kitchen I had always wanted – but I did, and I am so very grateful! This really is a dream come true. It’s a space in which I love cooking while visiting with loved ones. It’s a space which my husband and I designed and built together as a team. It required hard work, patience, perseverance, and teamwork. It was hard, but so worth it!
Our house was a constant construction site for 3 years with project after project, culminating with this kitchen remodel, which was our largest project.
Even after the kitchen was done, we spent a few more months replacing trim throughout the house, converting our office into a big boy room before baby #2 came, and so on. I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally be done with major projects.
I felt like I could finally start decorating our house after living there for 3 years! It hadn’t really been worth it before as things were in constant upheaval.
I am so very grateful for the experiences we have shared as a family through all this, the memories we have made, the ways we have grown, and the enjoyment we now get to have in our special space. We have truly shaped it into our home.
Wall Color: “Urban Raincoat” by Behr
Trim: Ultra Pure White
Flooring: White Oak stained in Minwax “Provincial”
Cabinets: Custom Wood Products through Callier & Thompson – Soft White finish
Cabinet Hardware: Combo of Home Depot & Amazon
Countertops: River White Granite from Arch City Granite
Dining Table: Fusion Mineral Paint “Lamp White” & Minwax “Coffee” gel stain (makeover post can be found here)
Appliances: GE (refrigerator is counter-depth), except Dishwasher (Maytag)