March 2010

The Smith family has totally pimped my kitchen out, electrically speaking.

Anywhere you could want to mix up a cake, or use an immersion blender, or food-process (that’s a verb) something, why, go right ahead!

Wait for your toast while sitting at the bar?

Don’t mind if I do.

Use an immersion blender to creamify  vegetable soup on the stove?

I don’t have one of those, but if I did, then I sure would!

How about boiling water in a fancy kettle right next to the sink?


I think I’ll move the kettle to the other side of the sink.

Yes, I like it better there. But it’s nice to have options.

I can’t see all the food particles that I didn’t wash down the sink…

until I flip on these handy under-cabinet lights! (More to come)

They are so cleverly hidden by an extra piece of top trim, too.

I even have a garbage disposal.

I love the dimming flood lights…

…so much more than my one measly light bulb.

But my favorite are the two bar lights.

Perfect for a romantic dinner for two at the bar. Stop gagging!

…that finding your camera does not necessarily make it easier to blog?

I figured that since I was down to my last pair of unmentionables, I should spend some time in my scary laundry room instead of blogging.

Please forgive me! I’ll have a meaningful post up soon!

I found my camera. It was not lost because of the mess, but because my brain cannot remember where it makes my hands put things.


It was in my computer bag.

A crappy cell phone picture you wanted, and a crappy cell phone picture you shall get.

I quite like the “ridiculous mess of tools” look, don’t you?

It is coming together, but there is still sooooo much to do.  Like…

  • Caulk and paint
  • Make the fridge look more built-in
  • Backsplash
  • Threshold between tile and wood
  • Wood floors- eegads.
  • Stain back door
  • Finish up electrical
  • Bar lights

But before we get carried away with all the to-dos, let’s take a look at how far things have come, shall we?

Before move-in:

After making it livable:

Really opens the place up, huh? Thanks so much to my wonderful personal renovation team! Stay tuned for more…

PS- Last night we put all the crap in the cabinets, and I was sure I would find my camera- but no! This is getting ridiculous!

I spent a good many hours researching granite counter tops for my little gem of a house. I learned some surprising things! Did you know you can buy granite for as little as $6 a square foot? It’s true! Granite itself is not that expensive.


Did you also know that the beautiful piece I found for $6 a sq ft was 72 square feet large and you have to buy the whole thing? It’s true. My kitchen would have required less than 30 sq ft. Yes, I could have done a bathroom later, and a nice laundry counter top, and possibly even sold the rest. But here’s the major catch: the material is not the expensive part. No, it’s all the labor that goes into making the nice edges, cutting it to perfection, installing seamless undermount sinks, and attaching them to your dang cabinets. I got a peek inside the shop where they do all that stuff. There’s some major equipment going on, with water squirting every which way and stuff spinning around, and I can understand why it’s so expensive.

So, after I got one quote for $1600 and another for $1800 (for my teensy kitchen!), I did a little more research to find out if I should spring for the shiny beauties despite their high price tag, you know, for resale. I searched home listings in my end of town. I searched in the price range of what I think my house is worth, and I searched in higher ranges too. Guess how many houses I found with granite counter tops? One.  My gut tells me that maybe in about ten or fifteen years, my ‘hood will be nice enough that people will start looking for things like granite counter tops and stainless appliances (assuming both of those things are still all the rage). My gut also tells me that in about ten years, I had better be making more money than I am now, so if I cannot sell my house due to its lack of granite counter tops, then I will buy them then. Or I’ll buy volcanic rock, or whatever the heck is going to be so totally in at that time.

Thing is, if I really, really loved granite counter tops, I would probably just bite the bullet and get them. I do like them and think they are stunning. However, with my dad knowing how to do laminate, there would be about a $1400-1600 price difference between the two. No thanks! I can think of approximately 648 things I would rather do with that much money. I would love to be brave and try concrete, but I’m soooo ready to have a kitchen back, and I don’t think my feeble heart could handle any mishaps. I would love to try pouring a concrete slab for an outdoor work table at a later date, though.

So all in all, I would venture to guess that I spent around $200 on my laminate counter tops. My dad knows how to do them and we were able to round up the tools we needed, which helps a ton. I’m not sure how much it would cost to have them installed. Maybe twice that? Even still, that doesn’t even begin to approach the cost of granite. Our house in Colorado had laminate counters, and I think they’re pretty dandy- easy to clean, smooth… I mean, you can’t set hot pans on them, but does anyone really do that anyway? I mean, if I had a granite counter top I would not set a hot pan on it. Maybe I’m weird. Seems like I would pick up the pan, and then right away I would forget and lean on the spot where the pan had just been, and scorch the crap out of my arm. So yeah- I think I can handle using a hot pad for setting down my pots.

The laminate I chose is a pretty simple design. The sample from the website looks pretty drab.

I like it because it doesn’t try to look like anything except laminate. I’m not a huge fan of laminate that tries to look like stone. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I’m not really a snobby purist (in fact, I recently purchased a pretty fake-looking but entirely awesome gas log for 50% off!) but counter tops are just one area in which I think it’s pretty obvious if it’s granite or not, so who you tryin’ to fool? I dunno. Plus I’m trying to go as minimalist as possible for the major surfaces of the kitchen. Here is another crappy cell phone picture.

Check out my enormous faucet. Oh well, too late to change it now!

I tried to pick a counter that was similar to my floor tile, but lighter. According to my grandpa, I did a great job. (Thanks, grandpa.)

That being said, Formica has a new line of verrrry convincing laminates that mimic the patterns and “movement” of granite really well, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So what’s the consensus? Am I crazy for settling for laminate? Should I have tried harder to make granite or another solid surface work? Is laminate the unfairly under-rated underdog? C’mon, I can take it.

Things to ignore:

  • Dowells on the stove
  • Dust
  • Clutter
  • Lack of paint
  • The fact that I still haven’t found my camera and am therefore resorting to weak posts with one crappy picture

Things to admire:

  • My beautiful stove
  • My lovely lovely lovely cabinets
  • Cool floating shelves
  • Tile and counters
  • High levels of light thanks to new recessed lights
  • The awesomeness of Amanda’s personal renovation team

This is a quickie blog post- no time for my usual ramblings. (Don’t cry.)

First we had to finish ripping out walls. This old ironing board/spice cabinet thing was right in the way of where the fridge needs to go.

Here is the skeleton kitchen, all stripped bare. You can see the little “platform” where the fridge will go. It’s not ideal to have it floating a foot above the floor like that, but trust me in this tiny space I’m pretty sure it was the best option. The platform is raised because the stairs are right underneath, and I couldn’t afford to lose any head clearance.

And here is my lovely family dressing the skeleton kitchen! Or, sheetrocking. Don’t worry, Jonny cut that nasty mullet soon after this picture was taken.

Although my beautiful cabinets are in, counter tops on, and appliances in their places, these really are the most up-to-date pictures I have at the moment. So stay tuned and I will show you more (honest)!

I know, how could I lose my camera during the most exciting house project to date? (Carrie quote.) I have been taking pictures with others’ cameras, but those cameras left my house before I could USB the pics off of them. But I promise you this: we have been working hard.

The walls are sheetrocked and patched.

The floor is tiled (and I love the tile even more than I did when I picked it out).

Every single room in my house is a disaster.

Lots of laughs have been had.

A few tears shed.

Lots of food consumed.

So this week we will be painting, grouting, glazing the brick wall, and cleaning up in preparation for the cabinets to come on Friday. Wahooooo!!!!

Sorry for the lame blog post sans pictures.

Tonight is the night my lovely sister arrives in SLC! Isn’t she cute? (She’s on the left.)

Do we look alike? Some say definitely, some say not at all.

This lean mean ex-gymnast hard-working machine is coming out here sans kiddos to get some serious work done on my kitchen. She pretty much rocks.

In fact, I’ll let you see for yourself. Here is their house in Houston when they bought it. She always says that it looks like a trailer (sorry Kami but you’re kinda right!)

Here is how it looks now:

Check out that yard! Pretty great what some paint and landscaping can do for a place.  They’ve done great things on the inside too. I wish I could tell you to check out her blog to see more, but I think she hasn’t updated it in about 7 months (it’s the one called “Sister” over on the right).

Don’t I have a nice sister?

I never realized how important (or fun!) electrical work really is! Probably because I’ve spent the past few months with just this measly sorry piece of hud to provide me with light when I’m mincing garlic. Yeah I’m talkin to you, single bare light bulb (no, I never bothered to put a fixture on it- my laziness astounds even me sometimes).

You can see my cute apron still hanging up!

So. Here is our new plan for the kitchen lighting. Lights are a circle with a plus sign. Outlets are a circle with an equals sign. It includes five recessed can lights (We “can” do it, get it??) and two hanging bar pendants, plus some under cabinet lighting on the sink side. We staggered the can lights off of the hood, which has its own light.

Since there are no uppers on the stove side, we did the lights more directly over the counters. We did the other three closer to the middle of the room, since we’ll have lights under the uppers on the sink side.

After some measuring and drawing on the ceiling, and crossing some things out and measuring again, we cut the holes for the can lights. You can even see where one of the pendant lights on the bar will go- where the blue circle is on the right.

We connected the five can fixtures on the floor- nice to get as much done as you can not in the attic. You can see how they make a loop and are all connected to each other.

I was really proud of myself because I helped!

Then Stan and his dad, bless their hearts, spent a good amount of time up in the attic fussing with getting the cans to line up with the holes, etc. Occasionally I would poke my head up there and inquire if my services were needed. Just those couple glimpses were enough to give me black boogers (I guess that means they’re doing their job). Sorry guys.


After all that work for the cans, we then ran wire to all the future outlets and switches. As you can see, there are a lot! Turns out that when people invent things like dishwashers, microwaves, disposals, and blenders, people like me need lots of outlets to power them!

We also ran a 220V for the stove. Wait, you say, I thought you got a super sweet gas stove? I did. The 220V is for resale- if any (crazy) future home shopper comes in and hates gas stoves, I can simply inform him/her that it’s already wired for an electric stove too. That 220 cable is BIG. We got rid of the old 220 cable in the other spot which was hanging down too.

Although it’s not quite like shopping for fun things like throw pillows and wall stencils, electrical work is quite fun and interesting! I sure feel like I know my house better, now that I have had a “behind the scenes” look. I definitely appreciate flipping on a switch more now.

Has anyone else ever braved any electrical work before? Not that I braved anything- I was working with (and sometimes staring confusedly at) a real-life electrician and his son so yeah I kinda had that advantage.

How about stoves? Does anyone out there hate a gas or electric stove so much that you would ask the seller if it was prepped for the other kind?

And lastly- a huge, HUGE, jumbo-sized THANK YOU to Stan and his dad, Brad (who have already helped me before). My heart is seriously swelling with gratitude. And a giant thank-you to Duncan too, who made us the most amazing heavenly meal that night.

My sister is coming on Wednesday and my dad is coming on Thursday to join the fun- look out kitchen here we come!

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