Jul 22, 2013

Kitchen Reveal: Plaid to Rad

Now that I've shared the tale of our little lady's birth, it's time to get back to business! And before and after photos! When I last left you, we had just done a ton of updates to our old house, sold it, and moved into a new house in our dream neighborhood.

Luckily, a few months in, we are still totally in love with the new place and feel not a shred of regret. But that doesn't mean it was easy to say goodbye to our beloved little rancher. After we finished working our magic on it, that house looked pretty darn good, if I do say so. Since there was a chance the deal wouldn't go through on the new home, we made sure to do updates that we personally would love and enjoy if we stayed put for another year ... or five. That meant slightly more money invested, but I think it paid off big time in the form of selling our house FAST (5 days on the market) and getting the price we were hoping for (just enough to recoup what we put in and to cover the cost of our realtor).

Let's first take a look at the winner of most-improved room in the house: the kitchen! You may remember that we started with this (or maybe you blocked these shocking images - harvest gold appliances and plaid wallpaper - out of your mind):

With the help of new hardwood floors, lots of paint, and a carpenter to remove those cabinets over the peninsula (I talked about it in more detail here, here and here), we progressed to this:

And with the motivation of getting our house listed for sale, we leaped into the world of modern kitchens. I really wish I had photos to share with all our stuff still in it; it looked much warmer and cozier. But the best I could do was a photo from move-out day, so just imagine it with cute tea towels and colorful accessories:

She was a beauty, that kitchen. I was able to cook in this lovely space for about a month, and I may have shed a tear when we bid her farewell. What kind of crazy person am I to create my dream kitchen and then leave it behind?! 

We installed gorgeous granite counters, a deep, stainless sink with a tall, pull-down faucet, a smooth-surface cooktop and a new stainless range hood. Oh, and the lighting all got updated too, although we had installed those little by little along the way. We went middle of the road for most items, just in case we ended up re-financing instead of moving. And well, it turns out Ben and I believe in quality, and we had a hard time cheaping out, even just to sell the house.

See that luxe, high-end granite? That's what I'm talking about. Yeah, we got lucky with that part of the renovation. After lots of deliberation, we chose a white finish that was a step up from the most basic black we'd initially planned on. When I went to the warehouse to choose my slab (apparently this is what you do when buying granite - I had a lot of fun with this part of the project!), I couldn't find a piece in our selected finish that looked just right, and the options were a bit limited on the day I went in. I kept ogling another lovely hunk of rock that was in the next price point up, and that, my friends, is what the salesperson ended up giving us - for no extra cost! It's called River White, and it looks a lot like marble - but without the high maintenance and constant fear of ruining it. The creamy and gray tones and natural variations in the stone are stunning in person. I never understood what the big deal was about granite ... until I got this lovely slab in my kitchen!

Our new cook top was beautiful and sleek, but keeping it spotless for the new homeowners was nerve-wracking! We are messy cooks and not always the best about cleaning immediately after we cook (read: the kitchen may be a mess for a day or two - ok, three - before anybody deals with it). But with a glass cook top, it's vital to wipe off messes ASAP, so using this for the long term would definitely have taken some getting used to. We decided to spring for a stainless framed cook top with stainless, dishwasher-safe knobs. For an extra hundred dollars or so, we felt like the stainless finishes gave it a much more high-end look ... and it turned out that those frames also protect the glass from shattering or chipping around the edges as easily. Luckily for this clumsy cook.

One thing that surprised me was how much I LOVED the new range hood. I mean, not only did it look 1,000 times better than the previous mustard-colored incarnation, but wow - who knew how great it could be to actually see what you are cooking? The halogen lights in this hood were such a huge improvement - and one of the things I now miss the most in our new kitchen, which has woefully poor lighting.

The range hood and deep sink probably tie for my favorite improvements. It's the little things that make a kitchen so much more fun to use! Sadly, our shiny new refrigerator did not come with us. The buyers asked for it, and to keep the deal moving smoothly along, we agreed to leave it behind. It seemed to belong in our old kitchen anyway.

Here's one more before and after comparison:

If we stayed, I would have put in a white subway tile backsplash and added a colorful valance over the sink. Oh, and I'd remove that awkward cabinet that still sticks out over the peninsula and build in some open shelving on the wall instead. But that's not up to me anymore! I'm pretty sure this kitchen plus the hardwood floors (our two biggest investments) are what sold the house. Here's a rundown of our sources (I was surprised to find the best deals for most of our appliances on Amazon.com). I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the items we purchased, they were all high quality and wonderfully functional during the month or so we got to use them:

Counters: River White granite, Granite Direct Store
Paint (cabinets, walls & trim): Delicate White, Porter Paints
Pendant Lights: Home Depot

Hope you enjoyed this peek at our very own extreme home makeover :) (At least that's what it felt like at the time!!) It was really great to learn the ropes of kitchen updating, and get a good sense of our style and needs from the space - it will make it much less daunting when we decide to tackle our new kitchen.

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