Kitchen Vision: Cabinet Design and One Big A$$ Floating Shelf

Aaaaaand, I’m back.  Back to regular life and blogging thanks to the judge randomly kicking my trial to March.  So that means instead of working it in a courtroom right now I’m working it on my kitchen (and even sneaking in a little reading on the deck).  I’m finally doing my first blog writing outside after work whilst listening to Summer Hits of the 90s on Pandora (should I be embarrassed to admit this?) and checking out the view.  It’s the end of August.  Where did summer go?!

Okay, enough about me.  Onto more of me.  And my kitchen.  While our whole house is in remodel hell, getting our kitchen done is priority numero uno – life sans sink is getting old.  Real old.  Last you saw we had just one cabinet installed.  So let’s go all big picture on this kitchen and talk cabinet design.

rendering 2

Yeah, that looks kind of crazy, but that’s our kitchen design.  Luckily it looks much better in person.  We got this rendering from our cabinet store, so I really can’t blame them for knowing we don’t like random crap on our counters.  When you go to order your cabinets you will probably get a rendering of the cabinet layout.  I ordered my cabinets through The RTA Store (no affiliation, just liked their cabs).  As part of the process, I designed my own cabinet layout and then had a designer from the website whip us up a rendering.  The rendering was great to visualize our kitchen cabinet design, but not so great to visualize anything else about our kitchen.  So ignoring the random stuff on counters, floor and wall colors, appliances, and basically everything except the cabinets, you can see what our kitchen cabinets will look like some day.  Here are a couple of overhead shots showing the layout and specific cabinets:

  cabient overhead

cabinet dimensions

One of the biggest design questions in our kitchen has been whether to go for the world’s longest floating shelf.  You think I kid.  Fine, I do.  But at 14 feet it is huuuge.  The floating shelf is that huge brown line in the rendering (first pic, top of post).  I have really been digging the lone, long floating shelf look in kitchens and have devoted way too many brain cells to thinking about this (mostly with my like-minded-DIY-gal-pal at work).  Anyone check out this photo on the Domino Instagram site the other day?   In all my pins, this photo has been one of the primary inspirations for the single shelf design.  But I’ve got lots more on my Pinterest Remodel Ideas board  - clearly, I’m obsessed.  A shelf over the stove isn’t for everyone, but I think it will work for us.  Or I’ll chicken out.  Or I’ll do it and then hate it so have to move.  One of the two.

Back to the design.  Despite how off everything else is in the cabinet rendering, the cabinet layout itself is pretty awesome.  You can see how the kitchen is fairly symmetrical and how it will all take shape.  Lots of drawers, lots of storage, a big pantry cabinet, plenty of walking/working space, etc.  We’ve been spending lots of spare time building and installing the cabinets and I think we’ll be done soon (fingers crossed).  Whenever it is, I’m sure we’ll like it.  Maybe you will, too?

I’m so excited to be back on the train of more frequent updates!  Get ready to get totally sick of seeing our kitchen take shape.

signature Brit pale heart

We Hung One Cabinet and I’m Calling it Kitchen Progress

We’ve just hit the magical moment that happens in every remodel where you go from “I will never do this again” to “IT IS SO AMAZING I CAN’T BELIEVE WE DIDN’T DO THIS YEARS AGO!”  And it’s all because we hung one, single, solitary, lonely, yet simultaneously awesome cabinet.

close up white shaker cabinet

That photo was ridiculous.  Moving on.  To hang that cabinet, we first had to have a floor.  Did it.  So let’s talk about the two big things (floors and one cabinet) that we are calling kitchen progress.  Plus one bonus item to cheer about:  gas – and I mean that in the best way possible.


Let’s break it down now.  First, we finally finished installing the floors in the kitchen and the breakfast nook.

engineered hardwood floors

Hellooo gorgeous.  We had gotten pretty close to finishing the kitchen floors last week but  shortly before midnight on a weeknight, we just couldn’t torture our neighbors with the table saw to get it done.  Then after finishing the kitchen floors, we started on the cabinets.  Cue the angels singing.  I mean, cue me wielding my power drill.  I super duper love these suckers.

white shaker cainet

They are simple, classic, bright, happy, and cheerful.  Did I say bright and happy yet?  Installing that first cabinet was no quick feat.  Especially not while I tried to adjust the cabinet doors.

leveling cabinet doors

That pink tank with black bra strap action has been my summer uniform.  It is so high fashion, feel free to be jealous.

Now that I can see the cabinets in the space, I feel like they were always meant to be there.  I love all sorts of different kitchen cabinet styles (northwest, super dark, rustic, tuxedo, or bright and crazy) but I just feel like these white shaker cabs are the right ones for this kitchen.  The cabinets have been pretty easy to build but I still have a few more to go until they are done and we can get them all in.  For now, we’ve hung our first upper cabinet and have set out a few others to work on leveling/securing so we can get in our sink and dishwasher soon.  In the meantime, M is all over doing dishes in the bathtub (he so knows how to romance me).

We also spent a chunk of the weekend hooking up our stove.  M did that and you can check out his legs here.

stove install

Be jealous ladies.  He does dishes in the tub and also poses behind our stove.  End result:  we have gas.  In a good way.

hooked up gas stove

I’d like to say we are totally going to have all the cabinets in by next week, but that just isn’t happening with end of summer craziness, M traveling for work, and me going to trial in less than two weeks (day jobs seriously interfere with our fun house progress).  But we are excited to get a glimpse of where this kitchen is headed.  And we like it.

kitchen progress

Anyone else turn the corner on a big project?  Or throw up one cabinet and feel like your accomplishment is totally on par with climbing Mount Everest?

signature Brit pale heart

Random side note :  I can’t decide which is more lame:  me watching Bachelor in Paradise or the creator of Bachelor in Paradise.  Probably for sure me.



So We Picked Engineered Hardwood Floors

It is ridiculous how much time I spent thinking, worrying, and trying to pick the perfect flooring.  As if such a thing exists.  And even if it did, it wouldn’t stay perfect for long in this house.  But I’m pretty sure all our effort in searching for the perfect floor paid off.  We went for dark brown, wide plank, oak, engineered hardwood floors.  They are from Build Direct and are the Jasper Engineered Hardwood Floors in Mesa Brown (here).  Even though we’ve just started on the install, we already think they are dreamy.

engineered hardwood floors

Initially we were debating between unfinished hardwoods finished on site, prefinished hardwoods, or engineered hardwoods.  Since I last shared my flooring dilemma, I got more samples.  A lot more samples.  Side note:  Build Direct says you get 5 free samples but I ordered 5 free samples time and time again without a problem, which was so necessary to seeing my options.  These are just some of the samples we got.

hardwood floor samples

We ended up narrowing down our choices to engineered hardwoods for several reasons.  One reason is because we decided to lay them on top of our existing hardwoods (and plywood subfloor in random spots).  The engineered hardwoods we chose allow other hardwoods to be used as the subfloor.  Also, they are 9/16″ thick which is better for not adding too much height to the room.  But even choosing between the engineered hardwoods was tough.  We are such picky floor pickers!  We wanted floors with some character but not too much.  Matte but not too dull.  Character but not too crazy.  Engineered floors but a thick enough wear layer so that the floors could be refinished in the future.  Not too soft so we wouldn’t dent them up in a half a second.  Longer than the average pre-finished length.  And on and on and on.

So many of the flooring samples we got were too shiny, too plastic.  Check out this comparison with a bright light shining on both floor samples – the one on the left was like so many of the samples we received and the one on the right is the floor we chose.

shiny versus matte hardwood floors

For my top contenders, I tested the finish by scratching them with a knife and dropping various tools on them because, you know, that kind of thing happens around here a lot.  Some had finishes that just chipped right off.  Others were too smooth so that any scratch was super obvious.  Those were a no go.

banged up floor sample

On our very last sample order before I thought about giving up, we found our floor which is matte, wide planked (hello faster install), has great variation but isn’t crazy, and a thicker wear layer.  Once the sample showed up, it was the clear winner.

flooring close-up

So now we’re onto install and we are working our way into the kitchen in hopes of actually having a kitchen again someday.

partly installed wood floors

I’ll do a separate post about install, but so far it has been pretty straightforward.  It is so fun to get a sense of how our whole main floor will look once it is finished.

Anyone else go through the endless rounds of samples before making a decision?  Or just about give up before finding what you were looking for all along?  Eek, can’t wait to get more of the floors done!  But oh yeah, that will have to wait until we get back from a long weekend vacation with friends – the suspense…

signature Brit pale heart

Finishing up Floor Removal (Particle Board, Tile, and Concrete, Oh My!)

There’s nothing like a delivery of boxes upon boxes of fresh, beautiful wood flooring to kick you into high gear for removing all the rest of the ugly old flooring in your house.

boxes of hardwood flooring

Yep, 59 boxes of flooring ready to be installed.  So while I was busy finishing up our planked ceiling in the kitchen, M was all over tearing out more of our floors.  We had two main areas left on our ugly-floor list:  1) the tile in front of our french doors; and 2) the shiny faux wood floors atop particle board in our breakfast nook.

old tile flooring

white table banquette breakfast nook

While we’ve removed hundreds of square feet of carpet, linoleum, and lots of other floors in this house, for some reason these last two areas were the worst.  First up, the tile.  The tile was laid on top of concrete backerboard, which had been glued down and screwed into the plywood underneath.  We tried a bunch of different removal methods (using the royal “we” here) and the winner was renting a jackhammer to get off the tile before unscrewing the backerboard.  Over 350 screws later, the backerboard was ready to come out.

torn up tile

Luckily, the glue they used to adhere the backerboard was all dried out and had minimal sticking power, so a little jackhammering got the rest of that job done.  Note to all DIYers, don’t use glue to stick backerboard to plywood – use thinset.  Although thanks to this shoddy workmanship, removal was easier.   Now we’re left with plywood covered in some remaining glue, which we are in the process of patching to prep for new floor installation.

plywood floor patch

As for the breakfast nook area, this thing was a beast.  Particleboard is thy enemy!  Am I even using the word “thy” right?  Questionable.  First we had to tear off the sticky, shiny, gross wood-floor-lookalike product, to expose the particleboard.  Again, a million screws awaited us.  Efforts to remove the screws or to pry up the particleboard just resulted in a sawdust mess.  This stuff disintegrated without coming out – it was the weirdest thing.  So we ended up using a circular saw and a crowbar, along with a dremel for the edges.  Oh wait, and then a chisel to get up some random sections of particleboard that had fused with the floor underneath.

removing particleboard

particle board torn up

Now we’re down to bare plywood (again with a few spots to fix).  While plywood may not be exciting for most people, just getting rid of the last of the old ugly floors in our house is a dream.  A dream I tell you.

uncovered plywood floors

Let’s get real.  That old stuff was gross.  And ugly.  And shiny.  And now we are one step closer to our new floors.  Most importantly, all this was accomplished by my jackhammer-wielding husband – my main job was to stare and glare at the floors while he worked on removing them.

We are hoping to finish up patching and prepping so we can start on the new floor installation next.  I mean, come on, we’ve got cabinets to install!

signature Brit pale heart

DIY: How to Paint a Planked Ceiling for a Perfect Finish

After installing our planked ceiling (here), I finally finished all the filling, caulking, and painting this weekend.

before and after ceiling

My hands hurt from the caulk gun, my legs are bruised from the ladder, I am still finding paint in my hair, but it is all worth it to have the planked ceiling I’ve been wanting for ages.  I loved it as natural wood but that just isn’t the vision for this kitchen.  After being painted, our new kitchen ceiling is all bright and happy and interesting, kind of like how I want to be … on a good day.  Enough about me – here’s how to paint a planked ceiling for a perfect finish.

how to paint a planked ceiling for a perfect finish

Step One:  Fill and Sand

These particular boards require lots of wood fill, and that’s even before addressing all the nail holes.  I wanted a less rustic ceiling, so spent a ton of time filling every single knot, gouge, and imperfection.  And nail hole.  I used a spackle knife and a large container of wood fill (and afterwards I totally used this great tip from Sarah to keep my wood fill lasting longer).  Here’s how the ceiling looked after the wood fill but before sanding – all the darker spots are the wood filler, pre-sanding

wood fill planked ceiling

To speed up the sanding process, I used my orbital sander and went over the entire ceiling, paying particular attention to smoothing out all my wood fill.

Step Two:  Prime

Knots can bleed through white paint, so to avoid that, I used Zinsser’s shellac-base primer over the entire ceiling.

Bin shellac primer

This stuff was a lot thinner than I expected, so I rolled it on lightly.  Even then, I had a few watery drips drop on the floor.  Luckily, our floors in the kitchen haven’t changed much from this.  Here’s how it looked after one coat of primer.

first coat primer ceiling bin shellac

Step Three:  Repeat

After priming, you will see spots you missed when filling and sanding.  Or in my case, an entire row of spots you missed (it must have been late…).

missed sanding spots

You will be pretty discouraged at this point.  Swear words come to mind.  Loudly.  But it gets better!  So put on your big girl pants and launch into another round of filling, sanding, and priming.

ryobi orbital sander

re-sanding ceiling

re-sanded ceiling close-up

first coat of paint planked ceiling

The process goes so much faster the second time around and really helps improve the whole ceiling.  Before the next step, take a final look around for any knots that still show through the primer, like this.

knot bleedthrough

Give those a third coat of touch up primer so there is no chance of bleed-through.

Step Four:  Paint

I tried a new paint for this and went with Sherwin Williams Cashmere in Extra White in low lustre (which is in between satin and semi-gloss, so probably similar to eggshell).  It is supposed to go on really smoothly and have a nice silky finish.  I thought it was fine, but nothing exceptional.  I applied it by brushing the grooves and then rolling over the entire ceiling.  Make sure you only paint a couple of grooves at a time before rolling over the area so that the finish stays smooth and uniform.

white planked ceiling

Step Five:  Caulk

I waited to caulk until after painting because paint fills so many of the cracks.  More paint fill = less caulking, which is a win in my book.   But some gaps need more than paint.

gaps in wood planks

If your hands are wimpy like mine, and if you are cool with gaps, feel free to skip the caulk.  I prefer that look for things like my white painted floors, but for this particular ceiling I wanted a more finished look.  So caulk and hand pain it was.  No tricks to this, just use paintable caulk and keep the caulk opening small so that you don’t overly fill the grooves.

Step Six:  Final Coat of Paint

Finish off the ceiling with a final coat of paint (with the same brush-then-roll technique) and that’s it.  Done.

perfectly painted planked ceiling

close up white painted planked ceiling

Here you can really tell the level of sheen, when the sun was shining directly on the ceiling – pretty sweet.

ceiling sheen

I finished on Sunday afternoon and then celebrated with a late outdoor lunch and then fun with the kiddos in the backyard.

backyard celebration

This planked ceiling is the first thing we’ve completed in our kitchen (other than demo) and it feels sooooooo good!  I love the look of progress.

signature Brit pale heart

Linked:  Home Stories A to Z; DIY Showoff.