Thursday, August 6, 2015

Our New Kitchen... Finally

I am so excited to write today's post. This week has marked the end of a very long and frustrating process - our kitchen renovation.

First, let's start with the before photos:

(Excuse the arrows and logo off these first two pictures - I had to grab them off a realtor website)

This is how the house looked when it was listed.

And here's the empty kitchen as we moved in.

The first thing we wanted to replace were the counter tops. The formica just wasn't doing it for me. We worked with a local granite shop and picked out the new counters before we even closed on the house.  Our goal was to get as much of the remodeling done as possible before all of our stuff (i.e. everything we owned except for a few suitcases) arrived from the Lower 48.  What a funny joke - as we've been in the house almost a year and just finished the kitchen.

The granite installation went smoothly until we realized they didn't configure the counter tops for our new under mounted sink (even though they had it while fabricating.)  We came to an agreement to have a pseudo undermount as it would save everybody time and headaches. We got a great deal on having our bathroom vanities redone so I was happy.

Next we focused on the cabinets, because the honey oak color wasn't doing it for us either.  We got bids to put in all new cabinets but decided in the end we would rather work with what we had.  I got painter recommendations from Sherwin Williams and on the third attempt, finally found someone who would paint the cabinets. There were no problems with that process other than it taking a while rendering the kitchen unusable and being scared of how it would turn out.

 Everything taped off.

I was terrified when I saw the cabinets as they were being painted. They looked streaky and I was scared we made a huge mistake.  They turned out great.  We added hardware to them after the painting was finished.

Next we wanted to replace the large fluorescent light.  It should have been an easy fix but when Nathanial took it down, he realized there was no junction box, i.e. nothing to support the tract lighting we wanted to put in.  Several trips to Home Depot and Lowe's, several hours of guess and check later, and we finally had the right support in place.

We also had the kitchen painted. That was a challenge because of our open floor plan and how the kitchen flows into multiple rooms.  I knew I didn't want everything to be the same color so we had to pick a wall to be the transition point.

The last thing (or so we thought) thing we had to do was pick out a backsplash.  I scoured Pinterest and Houzz to find inspiration kitchens and found a few I loved that had our granite and also light colored cabinets. I took the pictures in to a few consultations with stone and kitchen contractors in town.  Turns out we were looking at tumbled travertine which was traditionally sourced from Turkey. The stone would take a while to arrive in Anchorage and the contractors we met with wanted a pretty penny to install it.  We were frustrated with the estimates and the whole remodeling process so we decided to take a break for the winter.

Here's  how the kitchen has looked for the last 9 months.  The painter knew we wanted to put in a backsplash so he didn't finish painting the wall.

At least the white stripe around the wall went with our New Year's decor.

At the beginning of May, before the start of our busy tourist season, we decided to look at the backsplash again. We found stone we loved at Lowe's and Nathanial was able to negotiate a great price.  Everything was set until we got a call saying the stone had been recalled and couldn't leave the store despite already being purchased. We were assured the recalls only lasted a few weeks and that it would be back on the market soon.  We waited patiently until the last week in July when we gave up hope and picked out a new tile.  The manager was awesome and didn't ask us to pay the price difference for the much more expensive new stone we picked out.  We finally got on the installation calendar and everything was looking good. 

Until... our refrigerator went out.  We didn't love the white appliances that came with the home but didn't want to replace them since they worked perfectly fine. We were blessed to have the refrigerator covered under our Homeowner Warranty. Unfortunately that meant we were at the mercy of the process. After a week of waiting, they offered us a similar model as a replacement. We decided we would take the opportunity to upgrade to a version we liked better and be reimbursed. After arguing with Sears (because our options in Alaska are Lowe's, Home Depot or Sears...) over getting the online price (which involved paying online from a store computer), our new refrigerator was installed an hour before work started on the backsplash.  Whew. What a week.

Once the work on the backsplash started, it was a smooth and quick process.  We were so impressed with the contractor (other than setting up on our beautiful lawn.)

And now for the final reveal.

It wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it.


  1. It is amazing how just updating a couple of the major items in a kitchen can transform the whole kitchen, and really, the whole house. Lighter cabinets really brighten up the space and make it a more cheerful room where you can gather with friends and family. The choices are also quite neutral and traditional so you will be able to enjoy this look for years to come.

    Essie Reed @ Valley Home Improvement

  2. Oh my goodness! What an escapade! I don't know if I would have handled the experience as well as you did. It really did turn out beautiful though, you have really good taste in what you picked out and the final result is gorgeous!I love, love, love the new refrigerator! Really great move upgrading the refrigerator and was definitely worth the trouble! Great job!

    Fred Richardson @ SGK Home Solutions