Taking the kitchen to new heights

You know how sometimes one project leads to another and the next thing you know you're in the midst of a full kitchen remodel? Just me?

 We live in a typical builder grade home that we bought new in 2013. Over the years I have done little upgrades here and there, but left the kitchen untouched because technically there was nothing wrong with it. I personally selected the cabinet color, counter tops and floors. Nine years later I am sick of the dark color and wanted something brighter and fresher. It all started because I was doing the dishes one day, staring at the plain unfinished window sill. It was time to frame out all the downstairs windows with wood casings. This project only took a few days for 6 windows. Once those were done, it was obvious that the whole kitchen needed new life. So down the rabbit hole I went....


The Before

Nine years ago I went to the showroom to select our finishes. We were moving out of an apartment that had white cabinets and formica countertops. My head associated white cabinets with apartment living, so I went with the exact opposite color scheme. Because we were on a tight budget, I kept the builder selected granite countertops, but paid for the cabinet and floor upgrades. This is a decision I have regretted ever since. The busy granite has never been my favorite. I should have gone with a solid color, but it is what it is. 

The second issue I had with with the kitchen is that the cabinets have massive dust collectors above them! The few times I peeked above the upper cabinets revealed 9 years of dust and grime. So gross, and so much wasted space. Mission One: Extend the cabinets to the ceiling. 


Raise the roof

Pinterest had lots of ideas on how to extend the cabinets. Most suggested just building a fake wall above them and painting them the same colors as the cabinet. I decided against the plain wall look because I had a whopping 18" of space up there (we have 9 foot ceilings). Some ideas used pre-fab cabinets from Home Depot installed above the existing ones. This would've been great if I could find ones that lined up to the doors below them, but alas that didn't exist. So I went with custom open shelves for display cubbies. 

I drew out a rough sketch and went to Home Depot for supplies. I came home with 3/4" MDF and lots of trim. In hindsight, I probably could've gotten away with 1/2" MDF, because that crap is heavy! 

The basic construction is just open boxes. The largest one included 2 dividers that lined up with the middle of the doors below. The section on the left is a solid box because I felt it would be too much clutter to make that a display shelf also. It was actually a simple process, but the trick is to measure every step of the way. Nothing is square, not even in a new build home. As I mentioned before, these boxes are heavy (hubby had to help me lift them into place), so I secured them to the studs in the wall instead of relying on the strength of the cabinets. 

Next up is the trim, and there was a lot of it! I started with the longest pieces and filled in from there. The vision is finally coming to life!
No going back now
Here's where the fun really starts. The paint. I chose Sherwin Williams Origami White because that's what I used on the fireplace, window trim, and built in bookcases. I used a semi gloss designed for cabinets and trim. 
All the doors came off and went to my outside 'Painting Station". They were painted with a sprayer I got off Amazon. All were scrubbed clean, sanded, and painted with a layer of primer and two coats of paint. 
Here is the point where I was regretting every decision I've ever made! I had to hand paint all the cabinet frames inside because I didn't want to make my house look like a Dexter room with all the plastic wrap. This was by far the most painstaking process, and if I had to do it over, I would've done the extra work and sprayed them too. The first coat of primer looked so bad! 
I think they call this "First Coat Regret"! It can only get better, right? Or not.....
What felt like an eternity later, everything was painted and reinstalled. I slowly started adding the hardware that was purchased off Amazon. There was a long debate between black and gold hardware, but gold won because it doesn't read farmhouse to me. Farmhouse is definitely not my style.
The gold hardware also picked up the warmth of the granite, which I did not want to replace at this time. It's a big budget item, so I decided to work around what I had. I actually think the warmer white with the gold makes the granite work a little better. 
Everything AND the kitchen sink
Truth be told, the kitchen sink was the very last thing I put in. It was the most daunting and I planned on hiring a plumber to put it in. I ordered a sink that matched my old measurements, but was a single basin instead of two. It is so much bigger! But there were some unknowns. I didn't know if the sink would fit correctly into the existing hole, and I didn't know how to drill holes in thick metal for the extra attachments we have. I called around, and the quotes were high, but did NOT include the two things I was worried about. So we jumped on You Tube and taught ourselves how to install a sink! Luckily we did not have to cut the granite, it fit perfectly. We went though 3 different specialty drill bits to add the additional holes for the drinking water faucet and cup rinser. Three days later, and with lots of help from hubby, we have a new massive sink and faucet. Lots of room to pile those dirty dishes! 
Is it real or an illusion?
My Dad and I made the kitchen island almost 4 years ago. It has a wood top that has been dinged and scratched over the years. I priced out how much it would be to put a quartz or marble slab on it's 7 foot length. The cost started at $3000! That's when I discovered epoxy. A company from Oregon called Stone Coat Epoxy seems to be the leader in the medium, so I watched dozens of tutorial videos. You can make literally any type of stone look from their easy two bottle method. I won't go into details here because that almost deserves a whole post of it's own, but I am very happy with the result, and at a tenth of the cost!
Here is a before pic of the island surface. 
And the after....
You may have noticed I also painted the island blue. It's called Aegean Teal by Benjamin Moore. I'll admit that it took me a while to get used to it. I am definitely more comfortable in a sea of neutrals, but decided to step out and live a little! 
The after pics
I'm going to add a few more pics below of the final decor and design. There were so many details put into this space. From the baskets on the island shelves to the new bar stools. 
New bar stools from Target. They were a steal! 
I added small shelves to the end of the island to display a cutting board my Dad made and to give it more visual interest. My baking supplies and mixer are tucked away on the island shelves in their new baskets. You can also see the Target washable rug I picked to highlight some more of the blue color in the island. Matching gold hardware was added to the trash bin door. 
LED strip lights were put inside the cubbies to highlight the display. The best part is they are run by Alexa and can be put on a timer. These lights also run under the cabinets for extra counter top lighting. I can't wait to change the displays seasonally and have fun with it. 
One of the changes that goes largely goes unnoticed is the ceiling lighting. I changed all 9 compact florescent can lights to more modern LED. This took a few days and a lot of patience. It's hard to get your hands in a small hole in the ceiling! I also changed the can light above the sink into a semi flush mount fixture. I think it gives it more character and a focal point. 
I hope you enjoyed this make over and feel some inspiration to do your own. Feel free to ask me questions. 

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