As of this morning, when Marcus put the last of the touch-up paint on the walls, the kitchen/family room renovation is complete. I'm very happy with the result, not because of the way it looks (although I do like the way it looks), but the way it feels. Is that a strange thing to say? The rooms feel like us. Rather than feeling "brand new," it feels like "we're home." And that's all I would ever want out of a kitchen, for sure.
Because I love a good before/after picture story, I thought I'd share those images here so you can see how much has changed. I won't talk too much detail (other than the cabinets are IKEA, and I'll share a bit about the floors at the end), but if you want to know any more, just drop me a line.
God, I hated that eyesore.
We removed the brick on the walls of either side of the fireplace, and then built a full-on mantle, placing the old one. We covered the brick above the mantel with drywall, and stone-clad the brick below. It's funny, the fireplace still seems huge, but it's nothing like the Massive Wall of Painted Brick Intimidation that it was before.
(The little spindly garland on the mantle is our Thanksgiving garland. It will be removed to the Christmas tree when we put it up this weekend.)
Food Prep Area
The old kitchen was divided by a cooktop peninsula, and a very annoying set of upper cabinets that you had to duck under to speak to anyone who might be trying to keep you company in the breakfast area.
We took the peninsula out (and I did the Cabbage Patch as it came down, much to the horror of our contractors). We replaced the old electric cooktop with a dual-fuel range against the wall (and Marcus did the Cabbage Patch the first time he finally was able to cook with gas). We also moved the fridge to the left wall (where the oven used to be), and replaced the fridge area with cabinets and counters.
See? I told you the ducking was annoying.
We added more storage, and moved our pantry to this end of the kitchen. Also, because we have a window that drops lower than cabinet height, we installed a little desk/computer area in front of the window (We still need to move the family desktop computer over there, and I still need to get a new chair. Baby steps.)
This was another area of the family room/kitchen that used to drive me nuts.
Since we lost the area for our breakfast table when we added the desk/pantry, we decided to get rid of the passthrough by removing the column and turning it into a breakfast bar (and additional worktop). It has worked out great.
When we started this, everyone kept telling me that even though I love the look of hardwood floors, tiles make more sense in the kitchen, in case of spills and/or major plumbing issues. Since God knows we'd had enough of plumbing issues on this go-round, the argument was persuasive; however, I really love the look of hardwoods. So I was planning on just getting some cheap hardwoods -- or laminates -- and then just praying that we had no more leaks.
And then we discovered porcelain tile that -- get this -- actually looks like wood:
Crazy, right? The best part is that they were within budget (although we did pay extra to have them installed herringbone-style). So we installed them in the kitchen and family room, and I was so happy about them, I had them continue on through the entryway to the front door, as well (covering up the old, cracked terrazzo tile that was there, in the process):
(In case you're interested, these are the tiles we used.)
So that's it -- thank heavens, right? Now we can return to our regularly scheduled Chookooloonks. Thanks for holding my hand through this process, friends. Here's hoping that the bug to renovate doesn't hit me again for a long, long time.
(One last thing: if you're in the Houston area and are looking for a contractor for your renovation, you really can't do much better than Brent Mikeska of Champion Contractors. As I was thinking about what I wanted to say about him for this shout-out, I think the ultimate praise that I could give him and his people are that I trust them completely. Brent is a straight-up professional, and when I asked his advice, he never pulled any punches. I unreservedly recommend him.)