The Kitchen Project.

Eight months ago, my husband & I bought a new house.  And by new, I really mean 250 years old and in need of restoration.  While structurally sound, parts of the house needed to be rebuilt, others merely updated.  The kitchen fit into the latter category.  It was from the 1950s, the oven didn’t work well, but everything else was fine for the time being.  We made the decision to postpone the kitchen until spring, when our tax refund could cover improvements.  Last month it arrived.  Our refund wasn’t huge, but it would be enough.  And in true If You Give a Moose a Muffin fashion, one thing inevitably led to another, and…

Here are BEFORE shots of the galley kitchen & keeping room.

In combination, these two rooms provide efficient space for cooking as well as ample dining.  But they seem disjointed.  The 50s kitchen feels completely out of context tacked onto the colonial keeping room.  And although the kitchen gets great light, the adjacent eating area remains dark.  We wanted an open, unified space.  We set to accomplish this goal -first, by removing the large wooden cabinet dividing the two rooms.  We planned on keeping the structure intact, altering it slightly to fit in a corner.  But once we began dismantling it, we realized the cabinet had been built, piece by piece, in place.

There was absolutely no way to move it, save for disassembling it completely.  And so we did.

The former owner had built that cabinet himself from wood he’d found in the attic.  We understandably wanted to preserve it, but the question was.. How?

Although the kitchen cabinets themselves are 50 years old, they are solid and sound.  Much better, actually, than any of the cheap replacements we could afford to buy.  So we decided to keep them in place, and simply clean and repaint them.  Not only were we saving money, we were keeping all this stuff out of a landfill.  Win-win!  We removed all of the cabinet doors, along w/ hardware.  I looked online & found a way to remove the old paint from the hinges, so we didn’t even need to replace them.  Bright & shiny, like new!

I sanded all of the surfaces, cleaned and readied them for painting.

We tested a lot of paint colors on the cabinets before deciding which we liked best.  I cannot stress how important this is.  You’re going to be living w/ this decision for YEARS.  Custom colors are non refundable, so you’re out the money if you change your mind.  And there is waaaaaaay too much work involved, having to go back and re-paint everything.  How do I know this?  I just do.  And we will never speak of that again.

Once everything was dry, the process of reassembly began.  Beautiful brushed nickel handles and knobs for all the cabinets and drawers.  Colonial in spirit, but also fresh and new.

The old countertops had been removed before painting; now it was time to cut & install the new ones.  My husband & I had purchased solid oak butcher block.  Functional, natural and incredibly strong.  NOT TO MENTION UNBELIEVABLY HEAVY!  Egads..  We custom cut each slab to fit.

Taking a little time, in between, to celebrate a birthday.  (PS: Birthday girls make great helpers!)

My superhusband also spent time re-wiring.  New grounded outlets for the back splash, appliances and island.

Speaking of island..  We’d decided to use the remaining cabinetry as a foundation for our kitchen island, 9 x 3 1/2 ft, complete with professional grade cooktop.  Be still my heart…

Once the counters were cut, it was time to install the tile backsplash.

And sink.

Next up, finishing the island.  A perfect way to blend old and new.. wood, that is.

Then comes the floor.

Install the microwave and appliances.

And FINALLY!  Our new kitchen is DONE~!!

24 thoughts on “The Kitchen Project.

  1. OMG, Christy I LOVE IT!

    we have got to get up there and get some inspiration from you guys – we want to do our kitchen this year as well.

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  2. totally just drooled all over the keyboard (IT dept isn’t going to be too happy about THAT)

    No, really.

    I, I don’t even know where to begin with how awesome this project is/was.

    The Hubs is quite daft at these projects… I may have asked before, but is this talent by trade or sheer grace from above?

    The ceiling beams are 100% more noticeable now, the natural light, the *swoon* appliances, the reuse of like everything, the chopping block countertop, the girls’ cameo, the colors (the permanent ones)… seriously looks like it fell out of better homes and garden.
    For reals.

    Damn House,
    You lookin’ fiiiinneee.

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  3. How did you decide to get butcher block countertops? Love ‘em! In the kitchen we’re currrently renovating, we’re considering the idea of using a white marblesque granite throughout but throwing in one small area of butcher block for an effect of a sort. Decisions, decisions.

    Christy – here’s my critique: this is a dream kitchen that smartly combines the old with the new. Taking down those cabinets really opened up that space. And that island with the reclaimed wood has a LOT of character. Is there a story behind the wood that was found in the attic by the previous owner? You’ll always look at it and wonder about the days it has seen. Also love the cabinetry’s color and the splashes of other colors as they unify the entire space!

    Thumbs up!

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  4. Christy, What a great job. Rewiring was a must. Thank goodness John is talented. But isn’t it necessary for the work to pass inspection and have a permit? When it comes to selling the house, in the distant future, you will need to show those permits; I think so from what I’ve seen on HGTV’s ‘First time Seller.’ Before the kitchen was the gray you saw on the cabinets, they were yellow. Not the bright you have, slighty softer, but the inside of your cupboards are bright with the soft moss green exterior. Thank goodness you removed the dated red counters. Now your home is truly yours. What are you folks doing with the laundry situation? That’s a puzzle I couldn’t figure out, unless you’re using the upstairs guest bedroom. The cellar is out of the question because of the water problem. Having such a record-high water table is a constant problem that kept us on our toes until Dad just had to give up and moved his workshop up to the attic, using the cellar only for storage of stuff above water on benches, shelves, and under the arch. I’m sorry for what you’re going through for water problems in the backyard as well as down cellar but glad it’s no longer ours, as we girls each have our own homes with problems that need our full attention. I can now let go of the Dole house that I grew up in. I will continue to check your blog to watch for your changes. You folks tackle the home’s problems as they appear and do so magnificently. Kate

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  5. Wow! Incredible! Love love everything especially how removing the large cabinet opened up the area. Smart of you to reuse the kitchen cabinets and just give them a facelift. So many people gut the kitchen and trash perfectly good cabinets! Cool that you used the old wood for the island. Another A++ on your home renovations! I think I’ve got kitchen reno fever now.

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  6. Wonderful job, although I miss the pewter cabinet that Dad built. I thought you liked the red counters and the retro style of the kitchen. Oh well, nice renovation. I too, was wondering what you did with your washer and dryer.
    The wood with the writing on it was from many, many, many years ago, when barley and wheat, nails and rum were shipped in barrels. Abbie

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  7. WOW!! What a great job you two did! I have decided that you should be on television with a renovation program for normal people who are on a limited budget for improvements. The butcher block counters and tile flooring are just great. I also like the appliances, but actually all you did is very nice!!!
    XOX
    Mom

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  8. Two questions. I find the openness a nice change from what I remember for the 30 years before you bought the house (my wife is Abbie), but I was wondering if someone had to check the load-bearing capabilities of the long beam before the cabinet was brought down? It seems to be a long span for what is the support for the second story and the roof for that side of the house.
    Also, my daughter was wondering what happened to the height chart that was on one of the sides of the cabinet? Was it saved? Several of us family members have memories tied up in that and we’re hoping it survived. We wanted to take it with us before the house was sold, but it would have involved hacking out a piece of the cabinet — not a good look.
    I also like the the new cabinet colors. They tie in well with some of the other colors Ab’s father had used in other parts of the house.

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  9. first, amazing job you guys! i continue to be impressed with your mad skillz. i can’t believe you actually sanded and painted the cabinets. what a nightmare job. i entertained the thought (for about 3 seconds) when we moved into this house. instead, i waited 6 years to install a new kitchen. i’m just too sloth-like to do all that manual labor.

    second, i adore the back-and-forth comments of the kids (now adults) who grew up in your manse. we bought our house from an older couple and they used to drive by (and sometimes stop in!) for the first year or so. they had so many family memories tied up in the house that they couldn’t part with it.

    after many of the updates we did, i mailed them photos so they could see just what was going on. they loved the pics and i imagine kate and her sister like seeing all the progress that you are making.

    xox
    ps. hope you’re feeling better

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  10. HOLY BEJESUS!!!! Christy, you guys are amazing. I can’t wait to show this to my muffin when he gets back from volleyball.

    Meanwhile, your muffin has a wetsaw? And mad building skills? Tiling? He’s like the swiss army dude to your swiss army dudette.

    Awesome.

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  11. Looking at the photos posted today, I DO love your kitchen, and the living room (great place for the plasma TV). Isn’t it great to open the door at the bottom of the stairs? Have you hooked on the screen door for there? When things warm up enough, you’ll want to leave the heavy inside door open all night, and the attic door with attic windows open (having screens placed in those windows) to allow the cool night air to exchange air throughout the house. It’s neat to listen to the night sounds, especially the peepers. Everyone is your household just beams with the joy of relief from dealing with rain problems-cause & effect. Isn’t it a delight to see the sturdy jonquils bloom & sway in the breeze? Y’all had excitement hunting for Easter eggs out in the dooryard. Great finds for Georgia & Maddie. Bravo!!!! Thanks for sharing picture of neighbor’s garage roof work. Kate

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  12. I quite enjoy the commentary from the former owner’s grown children etc. I love how you’ve managed to marry the old with the new and make such a GREAT space for your family. You guys make a great team! love love love love this house! must go talk nicely to my shanty now :)

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  13. p.s. we got to know the former owners of our home and the funniest thing I remember is their daughter looking at our Christmas tree and telling us that is NOT where the Christmas tree goes!

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  14. wow what a amazing job! that is gorgeous! Im Blown away! you could have ur own show in that kicthen… JUST LIKE MARTHA! Congrats just goes to show hard work pays off! love you guys

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  15. Hi Christy and John! LOVE the kitchen! Here on Beaumont Scott and I are getting ready to do our kitchen… but it surely won’t look as awesome as that. I love it. Your home looks great. Hope you’re loving Maine! We miss you guys on the block

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  16. Christy,
    I enjoy reading your blog, though this is my first comment entry. The kitchen looks great. We sold our apt house on Pine and I’d like to use some of the cash to update our kitchen here and some renovations at the cabin. You and John are inspirational!
    I’m gonna try the bag balm and see if Maria (Mike’s Mom) might like it for her hands.
    And lastly, after seeing your guinea pigs, I wanted to get a couple as well; but Buddy & Jack will have none of that. Oh well.

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  17. I’ve just learned of a 1700′s house that went through renovation. When the owner pulled down the old plaster, he found a pair of baby shoes between the walls. Inside the shoes was seed for fertility. The shoes, for good luck. It’s an old custom. Maybe you will, yet, find such objects between walls rather than rat skeletons. If I were restoring walls I would consider continuing the custom by placing baby shoes with seed in them, between the newly boarded walls. You have proven to me that anything is possible, can be learned if one desires to make home improvements. I don’t build houses, just encourage/coach the little guy to be all she can be. You have shown to the world that you have unbridled lust for life & its challenges in spite of you Meniere’s. I am envious of your energy. Kate

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