Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kitchen Renovation

When we first bought our house I was fairly sure I could live with it in its current state (except for the bathroom). What a joke! With my love of design and Dave's love of construction work we encouraged each other through one project after another. For the first time in our lives we owned our own place, had two incomes, and could change anything we wanted to (provided we were smart with our money). We at least had the permission of the homeowners to make we did.

Our kitchen came complete with a stack washer/dryer and an under the counter water heater (around 20 gallons...or maybe a ten minute shower). While I was thankful that we had these items, I wasn't too fond of having them in the kitchen. We got a Rinnai tankless gas water heater on eBay that mounted to the exterior of the house.

That was one of my favorite items that we bought. Not only did it open up space in our kitchen; it made our hot water showering time limitless. Every girl's dream! We had two awkwardly deep hall closets on either side of the bathroom. We converted one into space for the bathroom built in and a hall linen closet and the other was the perfect size for the stack washer dryer.

With a little elbow grease from "the man" (Dave), and the removal and reinstallation of the door casing, it was a perfect fit.

Once we got around to gutting the kitchen (walls, floors, and all once again) we were hit with the reality of how much kitchen cabinets cost. We wanted something sturdy and preferably not particle board. The reason for the removal of the original cabinets in addition to the fact that they were oddly placed and gave little storage room was that they were incredibly warped particle board. One of my co-workers told me that her husband built their kitchen cabinets with another of our co-workers, Lee, and that he might be able to help. Lee was a lifesaver! Not only did he welcome us into his wood shop and let us use his tools, he also worked side by side with Dave for a year on our cabinets and counter tops. A year may sound excessive but we were juggling two full time jobs, church, me being on the worship team, being youth leaders, and Dave being in grad school. In our "spare time" we were working on the house and trying to get over to the wood shop at least once a week to work on the cabinets. Oh and did I mention we had a 30 minute commute to all of this? Looking back I don't know how we did it but I guess we were just used to the pace. Now having a child I can't imagine living like that again. We basically spent the better part of two years running around like crazy people and camping out in various parts of our 1,000 square foot house while tearing out the other parts. I used to tell Dave that since we were only really living in about 500 square feet at any given time, once we got the house done it would feel like a mansion. Even though it was a crazy time we loved it and we got to work on it together!

Ok, back to the point. After a lot of hard work Dave transformed our kitchen from this:

to this:

Here are a few more before and after shots. In the next post I'll show the evolution of the kitchen construction process.

Transformation Thursday

Alabama House Overview

Praise the Lord our house in Alabama sold after six weeks on the market! It's hard to think of another person living there and that we won't be able to really enjoy all the work we put into it. However it's a huge blessing to be down to one house and we never even had a month of double mortgage payments!

Before I go through the details of the rest of the rooms in our Alabama house I thought I would do a quick, big-picture, before and after post. Later I'll break the rooms down and share a few more photos of each.



Living Room:


Dining Room:


Our Bedoom:

Stuff and Nonsense

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bathroom Blues

I guess I will have to actually start posting if I really want to have a blog that will ever catch up with what is currently going on in our lives. I think I'm a better blog stalker than blogger but maybe there is some chance that I can change.

I wanted to post about all of the changes we did to our Alabama house before moving on to our current house (which is very much under renovation, though of a less serious degree). I guess I'll start where we started: the bathroom. Before we moved in we needed to make sure the bathroom was up and running since there was only one. The previous owner had covered the walls with bead board which wouldn't be a bad thing if we weren't afraid he might just be hiding problems like he had done several other places in the house. We were also suspicious of the floors. He had installed vinyl tiles but we thought there might be damage underneath. We were right. Not only was the subfloor damaged, instead of using any backer board or moisture barrier under the vinyl tile he had simply glued down a piece of bead board upside down.

We realized not long after moving in that there was an extra window on the outside of the house that we didn't see on the inside...because the previous owner had covered it up with a fiberglass shower surround which he installed above the cast iron tub. The tub wasn't in the greatest shape either.

The main problem was that one of your knees hit the vanity if you sat on the toilet. In addition, the toilet, sink, and tub were all different colors. So, after some deliberation as to how much we should redo, we took out everything: walls, floors, subfloor,....well, we kept the ceiling. Dave busted up the old tub with a sledge hammer, we used crow bars to pull down the old plaster walls after removing the bead board, and I pulled up the damaged pine flooring. Once Dave removed the subfloor planks we had a clean slate:

Dave moved the plumbing for the sink to the left side of the room so that we wouldn't have our toilet/vanity space issue anymore. We chose a pedestal sink to make the space feel larger and less cluttered and bought a new chair height toilet.

Dave installed a new tub and we had our tile guy install subway tile around the window. We ordered a frosted glass window and added a built in shelf in the shower (

We found that even with the frosted glass, we could still see a pretty detailed silhouette from the outside. Only the inside pane of the window was frosted so we remedied this by using a product from Lowe's that you spray onto glass to achieve a frosted effect and spraying it on the exterior pane.

The floors we chose are a faux slate ceramic tile from Lowe's. I liked the dark color since I'm big on contrast. The shower fixtures are Delta Victorian in oil rubbed bronze. The blue on the walls was a custom color I had matched to a pillow sham. It coordinated well with the shower curtain we got from Bed, Bath, and Beyond as a wedding gift (which I later lengthened). The mirror was one that a friend gave me. She paid $15 for it on a clearance aisle at a local home decor shop. We also added a new ceiling light/fan that went well with the fixtures we chose.

We had a friend custom build a cabinet for the wall opposite the sink. On the other side of that wall was an awkwardly deep closet. We took the back part of the closet and used the space for the recessed bathroom cabinet and turned the awkwardly deep hall closet into a more functional linen closet (which I sadly can't find a picture of).

We installed a Rinnai tankless water heater that we bought off ebay so we had endless hot water. Before, Dave and I had about ten minutes worth of hot water in the mornings for showers because we had a tiny under-counter water heater which was located in the kitchen. It was great for running shower after shower when we had guests stay with us and our gas bill (it was our only gas appliance) was about $12 a month.

Even though we only had one bathroom and it was small by most people's standards, we loved it. It never felt cramped and it suited all of our needs. Overall, I think it turned out pretty well.