Archive for the ‘kitchen renovations’ Category

We have moved.

The historic farmhouse that sheltered us, consumed our thoughts, weekends and wallets, is now in the loving care of another family.  My boys occasionally ask to go back to the “yellow house”. And there are times I find myself taking the long way home to drive past the place we called home for the last 8 years.

But its still too painful to share why we left Sunnyside Farm. I promise to tell the story with you as soon as I am able.

For now, I want to focus on our new house.  Its fabulous.  We settled  in the fall.  The little suburban home set on a little over an acre is nestled in a quiet neighborhood across the street from the middle and high school.  Within walking distance from the schools and a short bike ride to the elementary school, we have lowered our carbon footprint.  It’s good for the earth.  And therefore, it’s good for my soul.

As we cleared the counters for this year’s Christmas cookie baking extravaganza in our new home, I realized there is one corner of my kitchen that doesn’t get cleaned as much as it should. And it keeps attracting random stuff.  Days later I may find a clean dish that was never put away, a random plastic bag or a piece of celery masked by dark counters and no lighting.  Since I am the master of this domain, I am the only one who sees this dark space behind the juicer.  So I could let it go, but that doesn’t sit well with me for too long.  After a couple of days, I start to obsess about clean counters.  And the dark corner gets a good scrubbing.

Cleaning this area reminds me how much I loved my farm house kitchen.  There were no hidden corners.  Every counter in that kitchen was out in the open for all to see.  Lights shined down into all the nooks and crannies.  I like my kitchen corners that way.  It’s also how I like my life to be lived.  Let the light shine into every corner.

So until I can tackle my next kitchen renovation, this hidden corner will haunt me.  Each time I move the juicer to reveal what was left behind, I will be reminded to keep the hidden corners of my soul clean.   The dark corners no one else sees.  At the end of the day, not only will my kitchen be clutter free, but He can shine His light all the way through to the deepest recesses within me.

Is anyone accumulating needless clutter in the darkened corners of your “kitchen”?

I know I do.


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I am so excited to announce that our kitchen renovation is featured on Remodelaholic today!

Remodelaholic is a great DIY website that features many projects big and small.  I love checking in with Cassity weekly to see what other projects she is highlighting or currently working on in her own home.  With plenty of step by step information and lots of pics, their website is a great resource when you are interested in tackling your next project on a budget.

Thanks, Cassity, for spotlighting our kitchen renovation!Image

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A wall in my kitchen is begging for personality. Its a wall that is hard to dress up, because its plaster covers stone and an old doorway.  It’s also a wall that runs along a high traffic area.  Artwork would have to be bolted into the wall (because of the stone), and I couldn’t find anything that I was willing to commit to by putting huge gouges into the wall.

Almost two years later, we now have our house on the market, and I wanted to find something that could fit the size of the wall but did not cost a lot because we didn’t know how long we would be here.

Inspirational Wall Ideas

Modernized traditional wallpaper

I love how they took a traditional wall paper and modernized it with silver and chocolate brown.

vinyl wall art inspiration 2

vinyl wall art inspiration A designer used this vinyl wall graphic in a high traffic area just like mine.

This unexpected touch gives this kitchen a rock and roll vibe.

I found a great deal on vinyl wall words over the holidays ($20.00) and added them to the wall for now.  G really likes it, and it’s a great way to teach my preschoolers their letters and words while reminding them of the house rules.

What do you think?

DSC_0403 It took a few days to get the layout and then touch up the paint.  I think I need modge podge to make sure they stick as some of the letters have been pulling away from the wall.


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The upstairs bathroom served as the main bath for the house when we first moved into our home.  The inefficient layout housed a 1950’s cast iron tub and a toilet that was caving in the floor below.  On one side of the tub stood a half wall for the tub’s plumbing and hand held shower. Within a few weeks after settlement, my younger brother took pity on us and built up the wall around the tub and added plumbing for a stand up shower.

My husband turned an oddly placed outlet on the wall into a wall sconce.

Fast forward to our first floor renovations–as the  kitchen was fully demo’d, we discussed the 2nd floor bath layout with our contractor. On paper, we made changes to the bath entry and the locations of the vanity, toilet and shower.  The plumber ran new drainage pipes and water lines to accommodate the updated bath layout while the ceiling below was open.  

(Notice the toilet in the doorway)

More before and demolition pictures:

Tile falling from tub surround

Wall of new entrance- previous toilet location

New “master” entrance looking into old bath entrance

The bedroom view from entrance partially obscured on right by closet wall.

Toilet in the doorway. Fun!

Bedroom with old, narrow closet. Future site of new bath entrance.

Old closet removed, new entrance to bath added. Narrow bedroom entrance.

G and I had to remove a narrow closet in the bedroom to accommodate the new bath entrance (see above).  When we created a new hall bath a few years before, we built a new hallway wall.  This left a few feet between the new hallway wall and the now master bedroom wall.  G and I decided to add a closet on each side of the wall.  This would give us his and her closets and still have enough room for a chest of drawers in between to house the beloved television (see pics  below of closet demo).

Widened entrance. Removal of plaster wall for closets and electric

Doorway added for new closet.

New plywood sub flooring in bath.

The walls go up

I searched craigslist and found a guy who stored small lots of tile in the back of an old warehouse.  He said he had enough 12 x 12 white marble tiles to do our bathroom. His warehouse was located on the border of PA and N. Jersey on the ‘other side of the tracks’.  We decided to check out his inventory on the way home from spending the holiday with Gs family.  On New Years Eve, my husband and I took the exit off the main route and made our way through a forgotten town on the west side of the river .  After making a few turns through worn neighborhoods on potholed roads, we pulled into an industrial area and parked in front of an old brick warehouse.

I remember thinking it was a good idea to call mom to tell her we were taking a look at some marble and we would call her when we were finished.  How do you tell your mom “if you don’t hear from us in 30 minutes, call the police” without worrying her?

I jumped out and knocked on the door of the unmarked warehouse.  About a minute later, the man I spoke to on the phone unlocked the door for me. With my cell phone on speed dial in my hand, I followed him to the back of the bone-chilling, dark building.  He made small talk as he began turning on the overhead lights, and as the far lights lit up the back of the warehouse, I saw massive amounts of eye candy.   There before me stood two dozen crates of various sized tiles all in perfect condition.  I found white with various veining, grays, tans, and even found some amazing “couture” wall tiles.  Tiles that sold for over $50 a square foot were stacked here for as little as $5. I asked if I could get my husband, and the nice man agreed.  I ran to the door full speed as if I had just won the lottery.  Months of research looking for something beautiful for around $3 a square foot finally paid off! I couldn’t wait to show G.

Back inside we found beautiful white 12 x12 polished marble in a lot marked 150 feet.  We asked the price and he gave it to us for $1 a square foot!!! I could not believe it. Prior to this, all of my shopping found similar marble at $10 a square foot. We told him we would take this lot, and he disappeared.  He came back on a forklift and picked up our crate and carried it to the garage area.  G backed our SUV packed with two toddlers, our dog, all of our gear and holiday presents toward the door.  We knew it would be tight, but how could we resist a great deal?  As we loaded up the car, it was clear the dog would have to sit straight up for the two hour ride home. Tiles were under all of our feet and stacked up tight behind our pooch.  We said our goodbyes and made our way home with our loot.

Here is some inspiration:

Sarah R.’s sparkly master piece.

Love all the white with chrome. Inexpensive subway tile on wall.

Furniture like vanity paired with classic marble. Perfect for a farm house renovation!

Another view of a Sarah R. bath. All the marble, white cabinetry and frameless shower.

Soothing colors

Love the blue and gray together.

G installed the recessed lights and began adding more outlets to the bedroom and bathroom.

G added the marble over a new sub floor. Here is our $1 a sq ft marble tiles:

Love, love, LOVE! Luxury on a budget!

Our new budget master bath:

My ‘sunny’ mirror

Weekend project of adding subway tile to the ceiling in shower stall and floor to ceiling behind the vanity ($1.76 sq ft.).  The vanity came with the marble top and the chrome fixtures were found at closeout prices.

off to the right is the previous entrance to bath.

I dreamed of the morning sunlight coming in from a window on the wall where the shower is located, but could not fit an east facing window into the budget . On the bright side, I found this sunburst mirror in one of my favorite online stores.  I bought it when it went on sale, and it makes me smile every day.  Now, I don’t even miss the morning sun!

In the bedroom, the flooring was also in bad shape.  We priced out hardwood and carpet for comparison.  The nature girl in me searched for 100% wool carpeting on the cheap (the synthetic stuff can be toxic).  After I received various rug samples from a company, we asked a local contractor to install the carpet we found online.  He was able to get an even better ‘contractor’s price’ and forwarded the savings on to us.  The carpet and installation ended up being the same price as the closeout hardwood, only it would save us a ton of time because someone else is doing the work.

We had to replace the ceiling in the bedroom and decided to use wainscoting (lighter than drywall) and it gave the room a cottage feel.  G finished the room with crown molding.

I found coordinating fabric in a NYC shop to reupholster our headboard and sew drapery to conceal an off centered window behind the bed.

Our new bath entrance.

Our new bath entrance.

Our new ‘his and her’ closets

It is still a work in progress, but most of the work is behind us.  I hope this inspires you to update a room in your home and score a great deal of your own.  If we can do it, you definitely can!

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Our first floor renovation left us with a clean slate to create our new kitchen.  We took measurements of all of our existing appliances, windows and room dimensions, and I drew a rough sketch of our future kitchen layout.

Rough sketch of floorplan

Next I sketched out different ideas for the perimeter layout.  I needed to incorporate a built in pantry and work around the large windows.

Refrigerator next to sink.

Refrigerator on north wall.

We had the best chance of utilizing every inch of our kitchen with custom cabinetry.  Our friend, Tim, owner of Flegel Woodcraft is a fantastic cabinet maker who created our double vanity in our bathroom the year before this project. Tim agreed to take on our kitchen renovation as a favor, and thank goodness!   We met to discuss cabinet door styles, wood choices, paint color and layout.  I sketched out my ideas prior to our meetings so Tim could understand our needs and give us an accurate price.   To help us stay on budget, Tim allowed us to help install the cabinets,  and we installed the trim and hardware ourselves.

With the cabinet measurements and placement nailed down, it was time to add the lighting.  This side of the house backs up to a hill and is surrounded by mature trees, and we needed plenty of light to brighten up the room.  G added 17 recessed lights, 4 pendant lights and chose under cabinet lighting for additional task lights.

Ok, time now for some inspiration:

Love all the marble and white cabinets. Love bling pendants, and  all the upper cabinets. Dark wood island and big chrome hardware, too!

Candice O. does it best. Combining modern and classic elements for an elegant yet comfortable kitchen. And all the lighting makes a big impact.

Dark floors, marble island, stainless steel and white cabinetry. Elegant lighting

Classic kitchen with farmhouse appeal.  Homeowner worked within a tight budget and she inspired me to bring a few beautiful elements to add personality. Soapstone perimeter with creamy white cabinetry and a yummy marble island. Chrome hardware throughout.

This above kitchen truly inspired me. The homeowner was successful in creating a one of a kind kitchen on a tight budget.  Her choices on finishes prevents it from looking like a kitchen you would find in a big box store catalog.

I liked the idea of the island counter being different than the perimeter counters, and I knew that I would have to spend less per foot for the perimeter so that I could go for a sweet island counter top.  We chose to use soapstone counters for the perimeter and we will always recommend Scott at Bucks County Soapstone.


Tucked on a quiet country road in Bucks county, Bucks County Soapstone is a must see for anyone who is thinking of renovating their home.  Don’t let the unassuming building fool you- as you walk through the showroom door, your eyes are drawn to hundreds of beautiful soapstone masterpieces. Raw stone counters with drain boards create  beautiful and efficient work surfaces. Polished stone work spaces showcase the natural veining details of the exquisite material.  Beautiful stone tiled wall murals  made me giddy with excitement and prompted me to ask my hubby how we could incorporate a masterpiece into our future bath.  My budget office (aka. husband) quietly shook his head and smiled, knowing our monetary limitations. Vessel sinks, wide basin sinks, polished floor and wall tiles, and hundreds of inspiring specialty items  filled their showroom and lined their hallways.  As he guided us through his showroom sharing his creative process, it was clear Scott Seuren and his coworkers are gifted artists who are passionate about their work.

After we shared our kitchen floor plan and our ideas with Scott, we walked outside to the stone yard to pick our slab.  Each piece is unique, with shades varying from greenish gray to blue gray to a deep, dark charcoal. Each slab has a unique veining, and after narrowing it down to a few choices, Scott explained how our floor plan layout would include certain veins.  Scott offered his expertise on how to cut the slab to offer the most dramatic veining and showcase it in a way to be fully appreciated.  His attention to detail is infectious. After our name was written on our stone, he offered us a personal tour of the factory.  I was amazed at the state of the art facility and detailed work he was currently working on for loyal customers all over the country.


Next project on the list was selecting an island counter top.  My husband runs the budget office and gave me a tiny amount for the “showstopper” island counter I was looking for.  After visiting a handful of stone yards, my very pregnant body forced me to make my decision after I found a few slabs of white marble with more veining than I had in mind.

I haggled relentlessly with the marble owner over a slab of Manhattan Calcutta. After we decided on a price, we got to work making sure the cuts were perfect to show off the movement through the stone.

Just days away from moving in, we took a look at our second floor and realized it needed a major cleanup before we could return. A layer of plaster dust settled on top of every. Single. Thing.  I did not realize how plaster dust gets into EVERYTHING.  It was awful.  I cleaned closed boxes to open them to find dust coated every thing inside the box.   It was deep into the fibers of clothing, sheets, blankets, pillows, and I was just days away from bring home a newborn.  I remember crying as I cleaned because I truly believed I would never be able to get anything clean again.  Ahhhh, hormones!! But it was just awful!

Three days of constant cleaning allowed us to move our toddler back into his bedroom, and our bedroom and bathroom were clean enough to feel comfortable.

Our favorite part of this whole renovation:

Baby boy is here!!

Our perfect little boy is finally here and we are so excited to meet him.  We carved out a corner of our bedroom for him and all of his belongings, and took time to settle into our new roles as parents to two little perfect men.

As I returned from the hospital, the next phase of discomfort began: using our only working bathroom as our temporary kitchen.

I was quickly fading into baby blues without the convenience of  plumbing on our main floor. Fortunately, the first set of cabinets were being installed and the progress calmed my nerves.

First set of cabinets being installed.

I am sure I was not easy to work with during the days of cabinetry and plumbing  installation.  I was not sleeping through the night, and during the day I was busy chasing around my toddler and trying to keep him out of the construction zone.

Over the next two weeks most of the cabinetry was put in place and ready for counter top measurements. No pictures were taken during this time because I was not feeling it (I wanted to run away from it!).  Here are some pictures after the counters were installed.

It took a few weeks to collect all of the drawer and cabinet pulls.  I searched for modern pulls and found them at RH.  I had to buy 38 pieces, and couldn’t afford to pay retail. I stalked their outlet stores until I found all of the pulls at close out prices.

Island with counter

One of the big splurges is my pendant lighting.  I had a certain look in mind and I had to coerce the ‘budget office’ to spend the extra few bucks as my birthday present.  Because these pendants are technically a present for me, I am taking them with us if we ever sell our house!! 😉

Here is the finished product.  Let me know your thoughts!

Our new kitchen.  I saw these stools in an inspiration kitchen and they reminded me of seating you would find in a Midtown apartment.  Since my husband worked on Wall Street for years, I felt these chairs added his personality to the room.

Close up of back splash. I found this marble mosaic and fell in love. It was a little expensive, but we didn’t need much, so we were able to afford the splurge. I asked G to put the outlets on the cabinetry so it did not disturb the look of the back splash. I treat it like art.

My wonderful and perfect hubby built a little seating area on a weekend I took the kids to see their grandma. Easy weekend project that adds additional personality and plenty of seating.

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