I’ve never owned a house and had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to make it mine when it came to renovations and painting. Renting does have some advantages, but being creative is not one of them. While I still don’t own the house I live in now (unless something happens to Ray — you know that thing that’s certain like taxes!), I have the freedom to have it ripped apart and revamped.
In the fall of 2009, when I moved in with Ray and Gretel, the first thing I did, in lieu of a down payment or a security deposit, was have the entire interior of the house painted. I’ve always wanted a home with every room painted a different color. Ray gave me free reign and the place looks so much better. This is how the kitchen looked when he moved in four years ago.
We did more renovations by having the old windows replaced in the house and on the sun porch. We also added a heating and cooling system to the sun porch and that is now the only room we eat in and it’s also my favorite room in the house.
This spring, we decided that we wanted to gut the outdated kitchen and start over. While we were at it, we decided to add a new floor to the sun porch and the spare bathroom.
With a budget in mind, we went out and started pricing cabinets, appliances, counter tops, and floors. Our first reality check was that new cabinets are expensive. The first set of cabinets we looked at pretty much cost what we wanted to spend on the entire renovation project! So, we talked it over and realized that with everything else being new and updated, our current cabinets would not look so outdated.
So, we bought new appliances (stainless steel refrigerator with an ice maker, gas stove and oven, microwave, and dishwasher), we picked out the counter tops, and the new floor and back splash. We were ready to take our kitchen out of the 1970s and modernize it 40 years!
Our new counter tops were going arrive first, so about three weeks ago, Ray and I turned into he-men and ripped out the yellow Formica kitchen counters and took them outside.
The plumbers came in and did some prep work of taking out the kitchen sink and dishwasher, the commode and sink from the spare bathroom, and turning off the water in the kitchen.
The next day, the new counter tops and the new sink arrived and they are beautiful. While that was only the first phase of the renovation, the whole feel and look of the kitchen started to change.
Walt, the plumber, came back and made some repairs to the floor in the bathroom and ran a new gas line from the basement upstairs to the kitchen for Ray’s gas stove. Gretel’s Father’s Day feast would be the last meal cooked in the old kitchen.
However, that night and several afterwards, we had to wash dishes downstairs in the sink in the basement which was so primitive! Without a stove, we did some grilling to avoid eating just salads and sandwiches.
Along with ripping out the old appliances, floors, wall features, and counters, we had to do some electrical work in the kitchen and update the wiring and replace wall socket covers. Luckily, Josh, an electrician friend of ours, did that for us.
Out of the blue, Gretel asked if the kitchen was going to be big enough for the refrigerator. And, like know-it-all dads, we shook our heads and said, “yes”. However, that got us to thinking and we measured. Sure enough, the kitchen was big enough for the width of the new refrigerator. However, it was a beast in height and the new fridge was going to be too tall since there was a cabinet above the old one.
We then had to have our friend, Shawn, come over and use his carpentry skills to remove the old cabinet that sits above the refrigerator.
Luckily, for us, it ended up being a separate piece and we were able to restore the cabinets and make it look like there was never one there with several new coats of paint.
While all these projects were going on, Griffin’s Floor Crafters in Moline, Illinois, was also there ripping out the old back splash along the kitchen walls, the dirty linoleum floor in the kitchen and the spare bathroom, and the tiles out on the sun porch.
After about a week of sharing my house with strangers and listening to more classic rock than I would ever want to do again, their work was done. The trim and new floors in all three rooms look incredible and are so cool, in chic design and temperature, to walk on. Here is the empty renovated sun porch and the completed version.
Here is the updated guest bathroom.
And, here is our fantastic new kitchen. We are very proud of the choices that we made and it came together very well. From the back splash that compliments the counters that glisten next to our shiny appliances that sit stunningly on our new glazed porcelain floors.
Ray put his final touches on the kitchen yesterday when he installed two new light fixtures that perfectly match the new decor. This is the one in the kitchen and the other is the one over the dining room table.
As for me, since I’m not a handyman, my contribution was artistic. Our kitchen walls are yellow and the motif is pears, so last week I photographed pears and we framed the pictures and hung them on the wall by the dining room table. Mission accomplished!
So, while Gretel didn’t get her trip to Hawaii this year because her two dads decided it was more practical to get a new kitchen, I think she will be very thrilled to see the new, improved kitchen when she returns from her summer break vacation Thursday. It’ll also thrill her to know that we’re still planning on going to Hawaii next summer.
And, now that the new kitchen is finished, it’s time for me to start channeling my inner Julia Child and stop talking about making homemade cheesecake and just do it!
Anthony & Ray & Gretel