Kitchen Before and After

Our old kitchen was the worst. It made me super sad when we walked in and saw it. It was old, ugly, and worst of all, inefficiently laid out. The tile, ugh, the tile was hideous! It had only one side of cabinets that could be used along the left side (with the ugliest appliances and handles/pulls), and then on the right side, well, it made no sense.

the old kitchen from the listing photos

the view of the left side

the old kitchen (right side view) from the listing photos

the view on the right side

the back right side of the kitchen

the back right corner

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another view of the left side

You can see on the right side the accordion doors which led to…wire shelving and a stackable washer/dryer! It was awful. No room for storage, yet this monstrosity of a closet took up nearly half of the right side of the kitchen.

And the back corner…omg, the back corner made no sense. The only thing we thought it was used for was a breakfast nook. However, if you sat on one side, if you stood, you’d knock yourself out on the cabinets above. If you sat on the other side, you were basically in the oven. And that light fixture was just a beaut.

I could not wait to tear this motha out.

The first thing I wanted gone was the stupid closet. The original idea was to get rid of the entire right side to make room for nearly wall-to-fridge cabinets. But when we tore out the back wall of the closet, looky what we found.

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This random wall in the kitchen had all our electrical wiring, so we couldn’t get rid of it. Yay!

Yeah, read that caption again. ALL THE ELECTRICAL WIRING. WHO DOES THIS??!?!?! This was the very first thing we demo-ed in the house, and boom, immediate huge problem. And you can see in the very back, the amazing wallpaper we uncovered when we took down the upper cabinets. Soooooo pretty…

This kitchen was just awful. But we obviously couldn’t replace everything in it because we’re not millionares. So the first decision was to keep the existing cabinets on the left side. They are in decent shape, and with some new paint and hardware, they would look amazing. We also had to keep the closet for the most part. We had to pay our contractors to put that wall back up, but we did get to demo the wall between the washer/dryer and fridge.

The open space above the closet also had to stay. This townhouse design is so odd. But we did get to get rid of most of the upper part to give us more room for larger cabinetry.

Word of advice: if you’re going to demo, make sure you have all the right tools.

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This is after we ripped everything out, including the backsplash that literally dissolved the sheetrock behind it (which in this picture, was repaired). There were gaping holes everywhere, and when we tried to remove the countertop, we found we couldn’t remove it from around the outlets without a saw (and when I tried, I got myself a little shock that reminded me why getting electrocuted is frowned upon).

Another word of advice: if you’re going to paint cabinetry yourself, do it while you live in the house. Or just hire someone.

Using Rustoleum DIY paint kits for the upper and lower cabinets, I thought this would be an easy enough project. Take the doors down, clean them, remove the gloss coating, paint, and finish. Easy, right?

It wasn’t.

IT TOOK FOREVER AND MY SANITY.

You have to wait at least 3 hours between coats. The upper cabinets required 6 coats (and even then they looked like shit). We didn’t live in the house at the time, so I had to go during lunch breaks and after work to apply coats. The lower cabinets only needed the recommended 2 coats so that worked out great. But those uppers killed me.

I tried to be green and got an environmentally-friendly paint stripper to remove the gloss off the old cabinets. It didn’t work. Just use the super corrosive stuff and it’ll be fine (but your lungs won’t be).

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I finally had to ask my designer for another paint brand because I just couldn’t use the kit paint for yet a 7th coat on the uppers. She recommended Valspar and dammit, it was the winner from the start. Only one coat and it was beautifully hiding all the stuff the 6 coats of the other paint couldn’t do. And don’t forget, you have to do not only the front of the doors, but the backs. And in between the doors. And around the cabinets. And the toe kicks. Which required more time.

All in all, painting these cabinets took almost 2 weeks. Never. Again.

Obviously, we had the contractors do a new backsplash, countertops, and flooring. After living in my old apartment for 3 years, I had come to hate granite countertops. It stained like whoa, and once it got a wet spot, forget it, it’s never coming out. I have no time or patience for high maintenance stuff, so when we found quartz, I was done. Yes, it’s more expensive, but not having to reseal it every year, the durability, and how pretty it is…MORE than worth it.

The right side of the kitchen is the biggest transformation. After patching up the hole we made, we decided to use the space next to the fridge for actual, useable cabinetry.

 

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redoing the wall we tore down and new flooring

Home Depot actually still had the same stock cabinets that matched our cabinets from 1994 so we were able to fill out that previously oddly used back right corner with more storage and a space for a wine fridge we received as a wedding gift.

More storage, more countertop, pantry space, and a completely hidden new, stackable washer and dryer? The right side of the kitchen, which used to be horrible, was now a dream.

 

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new cabinets in the back corner

We did have to get the new cabinets custom made (and I of course had to paint them again in order to save money) but the result below is just too gorgeous.

We unfortunately couldn’t move any of the electrical stuff into the garage (like the washer and dryer, water heater, and AC unit) because of flood zone requirements, so that does take up space I’d like to see freed up on the main living floor. But all in all, for our first home and first renovations, we are in love with our space.

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custom cabinets installed with new fridge

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All of the appliances we got from a Sears scratch and dent outlet for a killer price. I have always wanted a gas range, and have only been able to use one in my first townhouse with my roomie Lyndsay in grad school. We were ready to price out how much it was going to be to convert the old electric stove to gas when lo and behold, behind the old oven, A GAS HOOKUP!

Culinary dreams do come true y’all.

The only real design decision we made here for the kitchen was the two-toned cabinets in white and gray and the countertop. Everything else stemmed from that. Our designer picked out the backsplash tiles and cabinet pulls. There are literally millions of choices out there, and by this point, my brain couldn’t handle any more decisions. She picked, we liked, end of story.

So here it is, the final kitchen reveal. A space that can fit people to mingle, space for EVERYTHING, and yet, clean, modern, and up to date.

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walls painted, towels hung, liveable kitchen

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insert behind the sink

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this backsplash and countertop!

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back right corner

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custom cabinets

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pantry custom cabinet! SO MUCH SPACE

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Totally hidden washer and dryer

Just for recollection sake, before and afters.

So that’s the kitchen, a space that has seen us sweat, bleed, receive a light shock therapy, cry, and love. It’s a space that’s so us and it makes me happy to cook there every time I walk in. That’s exactly what kitchens should be like, right?

Next up, the rest of the house, and no more renovations to come.

♥, VB

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One Day at a Time

Ok, so it’s obvious that I have kinda given up on blogging. Life since getting married suddenly picked up speed and lately it has felt like I’m on a runaway train and it’s taking me everything I have to stop for milliseconds to look up and glance fleetingly at my surroundings.

It’s all going by so fast.

And we’ve decided to take on even more major life choices since our wedding, which has only lended itself to making me feel like I’m participating in my own life through fogged up goggles and ear muffs. It’s the weirdest feeling, to be making super adult decisions yet inside feeling like, huh? what? where? who? what are we doing?

Is this what happens for everyone after getting married? Because if this was some big secret that married couples have been keeping a secret from everyone, I’d like to send a big F you to y’all for leaving me so unprepared for and unaware of the next steps.

This blog was the first to get the ax for a while there. I have so much that I want to share (and at the same time, don’t want to share) but I just didn’t have the time or energy to put it all out here like usual business. So now, I’m going to try to retrace my steps and keep you in the loop of our lives here in St. Pete.

It’s been a doozy of a few months to say the least.

Timmy and I have now celebrated nearly 4 months of marriage. We’ve seen each other in person about half that time. His job takes him on the road to Atlanta, Jacksonville, Pensacola, Miami, and anywhere else in GA and FL just over half of the month. Our only real time is the weekends, which used to consist of us frolicking at the beach with beer and football throwing followed by seafood and sleep. Those weekends have since been replaced by hour after hour of demolition at our new house in south St. Pete.

Work has been really crazy for me, which is unusual, because in the almost 4 years I’ve worked at USFSP, I haven’t once felt like my plate was too full. But now, I’m teaching my class, working full time, advising my student group, and at the same time preparing to co-chair a strategic planning committee for our entire division, grade papers, see students for consultations, and preparing to teach a 2nd class in the spring.

Needless to say, we’re exhausted about 120% of the time.

And it’s been a struggle for us to maintain a sense of connection when nearly every night, we wait so long to Skype each other that we’re too tired to really talk and catch up. The majority of our marriage has been: “Hey love, what are you doing?” “Driving and then I have to…oops, I have a call from [insert name here]/I have a meeting to go to. Gotta go!” “OK love you.” “Love you.”

But honestly, I married this person because of the lifelong challenges he and our decisions together would have me face, in order to make me a better person. And all the decisions we’ve made up until this point have absolutely had the “is this is the right decision for us” question right at the heart of them. So while for now, our life seems like chaos, all day, every day, and we’re like passing ships in the night, afternoon, and morning, we’re going in the right direction.

It all started with our wedding weekend, which now, looking back, seemed awfully dramatic and hectic. While every moment I could control was filled with hope and laughter and honest joy at the thought of marrying Timmy, the other moments were also filled with other people behaving badly. I have since gained enough time away from that weekend to realize that I can selectively filter out those moments and remember only the love.

There was so much love. It makes me happy to remember it that way. And it was so much fun because there will never be another time we can have those people in the same room at the same time ever again. Not to mention our photos and videos are the BOMB.

Where are the photos, you may be asking right now. I know, I know, I’ve only shared about 4-5 photos out of the almost 1000 we got back. I have gotten MANY requests to share those photos. There are a number of reasons why I made the executive decision (and yes, it was just me and not Timmy and I) to not share them, but the main reason is this: I don’t want to. Ok hear me out…

Don’t get me wrong, that weekend was crazy fun. But it was also a weekend that happened to spin a little out of my control and left me feeling like the most private moment of my life happened in the most public way possible. At least, what I had wanted to be private turned out to be shared with nearly 280 people, lots of whom know me not at all.

So the jokes I cracked in my vows, only a small percentage understood them. The super personal declarations of love and our ability to rise beyond our history was only really understood by even fewer who knew about that time in our lives. And the rest of our audience didn’t have a real sense of our lives because they hadn’t lived it with us. Not by anyone’s fault, but simply because that’s how life is.

So for that reason, I choose to keep the photos private. They’ve been shared with the people that matter, the people that spent hours and time and money on us and our weekend, but that’ll probably be about it. I may choose to share a photo here and there, but don’t expect much.

And that’s that.

We haven’t been able to sort fully through the wedding videos, because while time kept moving for us, it didn’t for one of Timmy’s groomsmen. James unexpectedly passed away in his sleep about 2 months after our wedding. And it has only added to the feeling of our lives being one step ahead of us and we’re just running after the train, trying to get back on it.

Timmy has been struggling. I’ve been struggling. Adjusting to the death of a friend is difficult (to put it lightly), but something has shifted since being in our 30s and this death has taken on a new significance and sadness. It’s just different losing someone in your 30s than your 20s or younger. Sure it affects you back then, but you’re just a baby. You have no real concept of life, of how wonderful it can be, or how much life can surprise you if you let it.

You get it in your 30s. You’ve seen enough of life to understand that you can rise above the hardships and get lost in the wonder. When you lose someone now, it’s sadness on a level you didn’t know you could go. When Jake passed, we at least had time for closure. We knew his death was coming for a long time, so when he did die, it wasn’t this huge sense of shock. There was almost a sense of relief at him being released from the pain of cancer.

James just passed. Period. End of sentence. No opportunity for goodbye. None. Timmy didn’t handle it well. And I wasn’t handling this new space of marriage well. And it was all I could do to just let him be in the middle of grief and give him space to move through it. He’s doing slightly better, but there are still moments of tears, moments of true sadness as he misses his friend.

So thank you to everyone who reached out to the both of us, expressing your condolences and sadness. Although we couldn’t get to everyone, it meant the WORLD to us and especially to Timmy to know that you also thought James was ridiculous in the best way possible. Know that your love to Timmy was felt and appreciated.

And did I mention that we bought a house? Yea, how much can we pile on??? Our lives at this moment remind me 100% of this scene from My Cousin Vinny.

Except our lives right now are about 1/3 as funny.

Anywho, that’s about it for right now. Next time, I WILL RECAP OUR REHEARSAL DINNER. I’m screaming that to myself to keep me accountable.

Till next time!

♥, VB