And We’re Back to a Fully Functional Kitchen (and hosting Book Club)

Last month I agreed to host my September book club, which was just the kick in the pants we needed to get our kitchen fully functioning once again.  It’s not done (not even close!), but it’s functional.  Yippee!

cooking in progress

new 48 bluestar vent range hood

We had a long list of things to do to make the kitchen both more functional and less dangerous to the unwary guest, most of which we accomplished.  A couple of big steps were getting the rest of our appliances installed.  When M was out of town, I surprised him by hiring out installation of our 48” vent hood.  A few hundred bucks was well worth avoiding standing on a two story ladder or hoisting a super heavy vent over my head all the while trying to keep two kiddos out from under our legs.  No one wants to hear the swearing that likely would have accompanied that task.  But the pros I hired had it done in a day and it’s perfect.

installation 48 vent hood

new 48 bluestar vent range hood

In return, M came back to town and installed our dishwasher and hooked up our sink, which is a dream I tell you.  No more dishes in the bathtub, no more paper plates, no more asking myself whether quenching my thirst is really worth having to hand wash yet another glass.

I also finished constructing all of our drawers and moved into them.  Seriously, they will never look this organized again.

organized bowl drawer

organized cutting board cabinet

organized pot drawer

organized pull out cabinet

Moving into our drawers and cabinets meant we could finally get rid of our temporary kitchen, which was spread all out in the living room, dining room, and breakfast nook.  Here’s a look at how things were during the kitchen reno and how we got all the old cabinets emptied and cleared out of the house.  Goodbye particle board – I hope never to make your acquaintance again.

old kitchen cabinets in living room

cleared out living room

cleared out old cabinets

cleared out kitchen remodel

Once we got through those basic tasks, I had the girls over for our book club dinner last week.  It was pretty awesome to see how our new, open layout really made for a much better entertaining area.   All the months of dust, dirt, sweat, decisions, and general agitation at living in a construction zone were all totally worth it.  It is so great to have more counter space to prep meals, an island for apps, and  dessert.  Let’s just say, the night did not suck.

cooking in progress

strawberry basil sangria

cheese apps

flourless almond lemon ricotta cake

saucy napkins

We’ve still got a bunch to do to finish the kitchen (lights, backsplash, floating shelf, custom cabinets, deciding on hardware, trim work, etc.), not to mention the rest of the house, but it feels freaking good to have our kitchen up and running again.  I just can’t stop cooking in there…

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Fall Plantings

Believe it:  I actually did something other than work on the kitchen (but thanks so much everyone for all your help on our hardware decision!).  I went outside to enjoy some of our last few days of warm summer weather and did some fall planting – ironic, I know.

fall plantings

fall plantings with mums, pansies, and leafy plants

When the dudes were installing our marble, I may have been a slight basket case of nerves just imaging at every moment that the marble would break as they were heaving it onto the counters.  To distract myself, I went outside and tore out my dying summer plants.

end of summer petunias

Last year I did my fall planting a few weeks later and still had a ton of leftover summer plants that survived and really made my fall planter full and happy (here).  But this year, all my summer plants died a slow death toward the end of August.  After ripping these suckers out, I just ignored the planter box until the kiddos bugged me into bringing back some flowers.  So this past weekend I loaded up a cart with plants and one very cute girl fresh from ballet class.

mum shopping

Then I used child labor to get our new plantings done.  The kids were great about helping and for some reason they even enjoyed finding bugs during the process – I so cannot relate.  I used my favorite planing tricks to lay out my plants and flowers and ended up with this:

fall planter box

Much better than a box full of dirt greeting me at the beginning and end of every day, but it will be even better once those plants plump up.  Next I trimmed the plants in our industrial planters and added a couple little purple plants in there, as well.

industrial planters with fall plantings

I really like the combo of green, purple, and harvest colors.

fall pansies

Overall, I think we are good to go for fall.  And what better way to kick off a new season than with a weekend getaway without kids?!  You know I’ll be talking about them the whole time so they might as well be there – ha.  Eventually we’ll get back to working on the kitchen…

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Brushed Brass or Matte Black? (aka Which Way Should My Cabinets Swing)

I’ve been debating about cabinet hardware for sooo looong, but didn’t feel like I could make a decision until I saw the cabinets and counters in our space.  Now that the marble is in, I think I’ve got our cabinet hardware narrowed down:  brushed brass or matte black drawer pulls.

matte-black-brushed-brass-drawer-pulls

Let’s be clear:  I want them all.  But it’s time for me to overcome my fear of commitment and pick one.  While our blue and green tape handles are super classy, it’s time for something a little sturdier.  I’ve checked out lots of hardware in person, searched online, and browsed my favorite kitchen photos to see what I like, but I still haven’t made up my mind.  The only thing I’m totally sure about is skipping something in the nickel/chrome/silver range.  I had that in my last house and just want something different.  Plus I have plenty of those colors with our appliances.  So I ordered samples of matte black and brushed brass.  First up, the brass.  Oh you brushed, beautiful, brass.

brass hardware

The drawer pulls from Schoolhouse Electric are dreamy.  They also feel amazing – such a nice weight and shape.  These pics just don’t do them justice (side note:  now that summer is over, there will be a real dearth of all natural light photos – prepare your eyeballs).

brushed-brass-drawer-pull-on-upper-cabinet

brushed brass drawer pull

I ordered a 6″ drawer pull because they were in stock and I wanted to see a sample, but I would consider going bigger.  M and I both love them, but no one else we’ve polled in real life does.  I know internet people feel otherwise.  In the past week I’ve seen them around in this kitchen and this bathroom, and they look amaze.  But I am a little worried they are just too fancy for our entire kitchen.  In short, brushed brass drawer pull pros:  beautiful, fancy, fun with metal mixing, and they might class the place up a bit.  Cons:  too fancy?  Too much going on with all our stainless appliances, white, wood, slight industrial vibe, and chalkboard fridge?  And pricey!  I’d probably mix the handles with these ridiculously awesome knobs to curb the costs a bit.

Next up is matte black.  I’ve narrowed it down to two options for these and each option comes in various lengths.  In favor of a longer drawer pull is that it can just look so great in a kitchen (such as here).  Dra-Ma.  But is it too much drama?

matte black appliance pull on cabinet

long matte black appliance pull

Maybe not if I mixed in a neat little black knob.  But then I really like the other (smaller) handle too – it is a little wider but still sleek.

matte black drawer pull on upper cabinet

wide black drawer pull

Decision overload.

Funny how some things are so easy to decide and others just take forever to come together in my head.  So if you have a vote –  clearly my mind’s not made up yet…

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Kitchen Progress Report

When the counters showed up on Friday they finally (finally!) tipped the scales in favor of our kitchen looking more like an actual, habitable kitchen rather than a cracked out construction zone.

marble waterfall edge

marble kitchen island

kitchen progress marble

Please ignore the holes in the walls, shims sticking out under the cabinets, no backsplash, no vent hood, tape-instead-of-handles, the unfinished back of the island, and a whole lot of crazy construction going on.  All that is relatively minor compared to the fact that we’ve moved on from living on paper plates and bathtub-dish-washing to having a semi-functional kitchen.

honed carrara marble close-up

kitchen cabinets installed

Yeah, that’s right, you saw a little sink sneak peek in there.  I’ll update more on what we did to get to this point, but for now we are enjoying having counters, a sink, and even taking the cardboard and protective plastic off of our oven.  Progress.

carrara marble close-up

kitchen progress marble counters

marble counter edge

Eeek!  It is just so fun to see your my vision coming to life!  I must say, I enjoyed my first happy hour in our new kitchen, and it was amaze.  Now I feel like we’re getting to the super fun part – picking hardware, installing the pendants, and adding some edginess to the kitchen.  I really hope I’m not over-promising on the edginess here – I probably am.  What I’m going for on top of the white-on-white-on-white background is just something that feels like us – a little quirky and a lot awesome.  I am so leaving out the dork part of the equation.

Anyone else in the middle of a never-ending project?  It’s gotta be done by Christmas…

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Oh My Marble

I tried not to like it.  I really did.  And Matt did too.  But we failed.  Mis-er-a-bly.  Seriously.  I would add more -ly words if I could think of them.  And hyphens.  Moving on.  I had a vague thought that we’d go for marble counters  when we re-did our kitchen, but I tried to keep an open mind.   Ahhhhh, so hard to resist this!

carrara marble polished

We checked out all sorts of counters, from butcher block, to granite, to quartzite, to soapstone.  And I loved so much about each of those counters (and others).  Character?  Check.  Easy maintenance?  Check.  Awesomeness?  Check, check, triple check.  So after doing lots of internet research, we went to several warehouses to check out all the counters in person.  The minute before walking into our first stone yard I really thought we’d end up going for the Super White Quartzite.

super white quartzite

After all, it is durable, beautiful, and durable and beautiful.  We saw several slabs and there were two big downsides for us (and I emphasize that these our are thoughts only, maybe it would work for you!) –  first, these slabs were very, very expensive, and second, there were very few slabs available in warehouses for us to see in real life (after looking at a bunch of warehouses) and the slabs we saw were way more gray than we really wanted.  So disappointing.  But all was not lost.  Next we looked at various types of granite:

white granite

We liked them.  And really considered them.  But then we came across this aisle.  And it’s like the clouds parted and the sun shined down.  And it was glor-i-ous (couldn’t resist more hyphens).

seattle marble warehouse

calacatta carrara white marble collage

M-A-R-B-L-E.  Sorry – I kind of do a lot of word-spelling with two young kiddos in the house and just can’t break the habit.  Instead of saying “sucks” I now say “S-U-C-K-S”.  But I digress. We spent some time in the marble aisles and picked our fave.  Calacatta Caldia.

marble calacatta

Dreamy, dreamy, dreamy – and I’m not just talking about those cuties in the pic.  We went so far as to pick out slabs that would be pretty much amaze in our kitchen.  Or any kitchen.  I mean hello, Matt and our girlie even posed with them!  We put the slabs on hold and got some bids.  Waaaay expensive!  This stone ended up being three times the price of our second favorite choice, Carrara marble.

carrara marble polished

Three times!  Let’s just say, three times the price was not worth it in our minds – so that sucker was out.  (But now that I’m looking at these pics, did we make the right choice?!  Was the calacatta marble worth selling our first-born?!  Kidding.  Maybe.)  We ended up picking our second favorite choice:  honed carrara marble.  We found carrara marble really varied from slab to slab. Some were gray, very gray.  But the one we picked had a whiter background and had interesting veining.

polished carrara marble

S-O-L-D.  I mean, sold.  And SURPRISE - we are planning to have it installed on Friday!  That means we’ve been secretly finishing installing our lower cabinets.  Can’t wait to share…

Anyone else deal with a counter hunt?  Or lose your marbles over the price of marble?  #imadork

Side note:  marble isn’t for everyone, but we’ve got it in our family bathroom and it is working for us.  So we’re willing to gamble on it for our kitchen and I’m willing to share whether that gamble succeeded or failed down the road.  Get ready for the truth.

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