We probably spend more time in our kitchen than in any other room in our home, but we've never given it the same amount of attention, design-wise, that we've given to our other rooms. It was high time to redecorate, so we embarked on Project Kitchen Remodel on November 21, 2011. We hired a contractor to refinish our kitchen cabinets (and that's the subject of a future post!) , but Alfie, the kids and I did everything else. We reframed the windows. We painted the walls, the baseboards, the cabinets and the windows. We changed the light fixtures. We restored the wooden butcher block on our center island. (I say "we", but in all fairness I have to give most of the credit to Alfie; the kids and I were the supporting cast).
Except for choosing a piece of artwork for one of the kitchen walls, we're finally done. It was a long, slow, difficult process, and it has taken me a while to recover from the trauma, but I'm finally ready to relive the experience, so over the next couple of months I'll be writing posts about the various areas we transformed, starting with the area around our kitchen sink.
I'm forever forgetting to take proper "Before" photos, but here's a shot to give you an idea of what we started out with:
Aside from the mess, it doesn't look too bad, but here's what you may not be seeing:
* The white cabinet doors are warped and sagging and peeling due to years of wear and tear (not to mention water dripping from the sink). We also wanted a door panel style with fewer fussy details and more of a square Craftsman look and feel.
* The paint is peeling off the windowpane.
* The faucet is leaky. In fact, it was wasting so much water by the end of its life that we had to keep drip pans in the sink as well as under the sink.
* The plastic faucet spray is cheap and tacky, and the handle keeps snapping off. It's not set into the sink properly, so whenever you rinse off the sink, water seeps in the cracks and into the cabinet underneath the sink. And I won't even go into the dirt and mold that collects in its crevices!
* Honestly, 70's track lighting in a vintage kitchen? That's wrong. Just wrong.
With all these shortcomings in mind, we got to work.
The first item on our list was the ancient double-hung window above the kitchen sink. It would have been so much easier to replace the window, but we just didn't have the budget for it, so we decided to repaint it and hope for the best.
The contractor who refaced our kitchen cabinets suggested ripping out the white trim framing the window and replacing it with new trim, but we didn't want to run into more trouble if we messed with it, so we decided to leave it alone, and sand the trim along with the windowsill and frame.
Stripping the paint from the wood was a long, arduous process that involved lots of sandpaper, chemicals, chisels, and sanding machines.
The window had cracks everywhere, as did the thin strip of lathe-and-plaster wall between the window and the cabinets. Every time we touched the window we were terrified of splitting the wood even more, but it held up (with the help of a few well-placed screws).
Alfie smoothed the wall down with plaster, and we painted it a deep amber color to set off the white window frame and the cream cabinets. We're no painting experts, so getting the paint to go on smoothly in all those tight corners, without smudging everything else, was not easy, but the results are worth the effort. The fresh coat of paint makes it look almost like a new window!
Next up: we said bye-bye to our old faucet. It did its job well and I will miss the clean look of chrome, but it was just too old and leaky, and we needed an oil-rubbed bronze finish to match the new oil-rubbed bronze cabinet hardware anyway.
Alfie played plumber for the day, taking up residence underneath the sink as he removed the old faucet and installed the new one. We were somewhat nervous about what we would find once we removed the old faucet, but fortunately, we didn't need a new sink. All it took to prepare the sink for the new faucet was a bit of scouring powder and elbow grease.
It took us ages to find the right faucet. We wanted one that matched the look and feel of our Craftsman home, so we pored through kitchen design books and product catalogs. We found one for about $280, but when it arrived Alfie just couldn't warm up to it, so we returned it. I had just about given up hope, but we finally found one. It cost over double the previous one, but there's no denying that it's exactly what we were looking for.
Finally, Alfie replaced the 70's light fixture with a vintage schoolhouse pendant, and the transformation was complete:
We're very, very happy with the result! We love the square Craftsman look of the cabinets and cabinet hardware. We love how the oil-rubbed bronze finish of the cabinet hardware, the faucet and the light fixture match so perfectly. We love how the white tile countertop and window frames contrast with the cream cabinets and the sliver of amber wall. When the sunlight streams through the window, it looks so clean and bright and pretty, it never fails to lift my spirits.
The pride I feel at everything we've accomplished, combined with the pleasure I get from looking at the results, certainly makes washing dishes much more enjoyable. Almost pleasurable. Almost.