Kitchen Ketchup

I would say forgive me for that pun in the title, but let’s be honest, I love puns. Even bad ones.

It’s safe to say the biggest project we’ve tackled in the house so far – and the most we’ve blogged about – is the kitchen. I realized that there were a few things in the kitchen that changed during the time I dropped the ball on blogging, so I figured I would play a little ketchup (alright, last one) and share the progress.

If you remember, the kitchen looked like this when we moved in:

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We lived with the kitchen this way until we were able to rip everything out and start from scratch. You can read more about that here, here, here, here, here, and here. (I told you we basically only blogged about the kitchen…)

And so we were left with this beautiful – albeit empty – kitchen:

from screen porch

And are you ready to see where we’re at today?

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There are a few areas where we’ve added some new stuff – quite a few new counter-top appliances – and there are still a few more things we need to take care of, but it has definitely come a long way!

First, Matt and his brother added some white subway tile. We toyed around with the idea of adding some color in the tile, but ultimately I was afraid anything like that would become dated sooner, and really I just love the look of a clean, white kitchen (when it manages to stay clean that is…). We choose gray grout for a little contrast.

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The tile helps add a finished look to the kitchen – where before we just had white walls – and it’s much easier to keep clean than the plain walls were.

The other most noticeable step we’ve taken in the kitchen is to add the pegboard. We tossed a few ideas around for the blank wall, including open shelving, artwork, or painting it some color, but we settled on hanging up some pegboard to serve as both functional storage and an interesting visual.

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I chose a soft, buttery yellow color for the pegboard because I thought it went nicely with the blue on the other wall, was subtle enough to not completely overshadow the room, light enough to help keep the room bright and airy feeling, and sort of goes along with the vintage look I’d like to incorporate more of into the room. For now, we’ve added our most colorful or interesting looking items to the pegboard (Except for the pots and pans up top, that was pure function) and we’ve even added our spice rack. We were really excited about that since we wouldn’t have to drill more holes in the wall to mount it again. (We took it down when the tile went up and really didn’t want to drill through the tile to hang it up in the same place where it used to be.)

Finally, one smaller project I added to the kitchen was a DIY paint chip calendar. I’m pretty certain saw this on Pinterest (where else?). I got the paint chips from Home Depot and picked up a cheap frame from Michaels. This was actually a mistake – the frame came with a flimsy plastic insert instead of real glass, so dry-erase marker was really difficult to erase at the end of the month. Eventually I got a replacement piece of glass, also from Michaels, to swap out and it has since been much easier to write on and erase.

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I choose yellows, greens and greenish-blues for the colors I would use. I cut the paint chips into small squares, about 2″ x 2″, I believe, and then simply mounted them on the back of the paper that came in the frame using scotch tape. You could probably use some poster board or something else to mount the chips on, but it didn’t seem necessary. I left myself a little more room at the top than on the side and bottom so I would have room to write the month.

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Overall it was a pretty simple project that has proven to be really functional and beneficial.

So, that’s about where we are with the kitchen. We still have a blank spot above the calendar we’d like to fill, we need to choose a pendant light to hang above the sink and the door to the screen room will have to be repainted eventually, but we’re pretty happy with the way things are looking these days!

I also promise that we have made some other changes and upgrades outside of the kitchen – stay tuned.

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It’s finished (kind of) and we’re exciiited!

Alright you guys, we have a kitchen! Are you ready to check it out?

Well, first we’re gonna go back and reflect on what the kitchen used to look like.

Yes, lovely hunter green walls. And you see that little spot on the bottom shelf that’s empty right now? In between the microwave and stove? That was exactly how much counterspace we had. Which led to a lot of cursing anytime someone (I) was cooking.

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Just dropped in to see what condition our kitchen was in

One of the things we’ve crossed off our kitchen to-do list that has made a huge difference is painting the walls. After the walls were sanded, we primed the walls and let them dry for 24 hours. The next day we painted three of the walls white and one of the walls the same color blue as the living room. The reason we had to paint one of the wall blue is because the way the header in the living room connects to the kitchen wall, there’s mo logical place to stop the blue color and start another. So instead of trying to figure something out, we were perfectly fine painting one wall blue and calling it an accent wall. We love that color anyway.

But we are very excited to see the other walls nice and bright white and clean. If you recall the kitchen used to be a dark hunter green, and the white walls and white cabinets are going to be a nice change of pace when the kitchen comes together.

Oh, and Matt also did what has to be his least favorite activity of all time – painting the ceiling.

And somewhere in the middle of all the painting I was apparently feeling goofy:

We’ve also started construction on the kitchen cabinets and it is definitely exciting to see them start to come together. We’re assembling the upper cabinets first since those will be installed first. We also called in some reinforcements for cabinet assembly and it seems to have made the job a little more enjoyable.

Maybe too enjoyable…

The Ikea cabinets came together like any other piece of Ikea furniture.

Step 1: Unpack the piece of furniture with a wealth of confidence.
Step 2: Locate the directions and start to feel your confidence wane.
Step 3: Position all the pieces exactly as they are laid out in the directions and try to figure out which holes you’re supposed to be putting dowels and where you’re supposed to be attaching hardware. (You are encouraged to flip the pieces and the directions around several times during this step while trying to figure out what to do.)
Step 4: Curse the Swedes.
Step 5: Finally figure out the directions and how to assemble the furniture and proceed to do so in about 2.76 minutes.
Step 6: Fly through the rest of the pieces wondering why you were ever so confused by this intuitive furniture. At this point you may also feel confident that you will never again have trouble putting together another piece of Ikea furniture.

After we were finished with the 6 Ikea steps, our basement looked something like this:

Over the weekend Matt, his Uncle Boob (which by the way is actual nickname and not an unfortunate typo like some of you thought after our last post) and his dad also spent time finishing up the work on the outlets and installing the face plates. They also screwed down the subfloor to help eliminate squeaking and then nailed down the luon flooring to help level the floor and provide a surface for the Pergo flooring to later be installed on.

Having the luon flooring installed and covering up the subfloor has already made a huge improvement in the room.

But perhaps one of the most exciting events of the weekend was the beginning of the installation of the cabinets! We have cabinets on the walls people!

The first step to installing the cabinets was to screw the J-track to the wall.

Once the J-track is installed all you have to do is lift the assembled cabinet up to the track and bolt it on. (These explanations were given to me by Matt and while they sound fairly easy, I’m certain it was more work than he’s giving himself – and his uncle and dad – credit for.)

So those cabinets went up on Saturday, and then today Matt’s uncle took a well-deserved break, giving Matt and I the day to ourselves. Buuuut, we still spent the time working on the kitchen. In true Central New York fashion Saturday was cold and windy, and today was bright and sunny and even warm. It was at least nice to keep the windows and doors open while we worked and get some fresh air into the house.

When we moved into the house the light fixture in the kitchen looked as if it had been in there since the day the house was built, and for me it was love at first sight. But the light fixture had definitely seen better days. While it had a great vintage look, it looked like it was on its way out. But Matt spent a little time and used a little elbow grease and got the fixture looking like new! We both love the idea of keeping an original piece in the house. Matt keeps calling it an “homage to the house.” I just think it looks cool. Either way, we’re both happy.

Don’t worry, this is not the entire fixture. I just neglected to take a better picture of it. We’ll save some things for the kitchen reveal though. 😉 While Matt was doing that, and some other little things around the house, I touched up some of the painting in the kitchen.

Someone else also enjoyed the nice weather today. Since Cormac has recently completed his training and we have an electric fence installed in the backyard, we’re looking forward to just leaving the back door open and letting him go in and out as he pleases. So today while we worked inside, he worked on his yoga skills outside. This is probably the best downward facing dog pose I’ve ever seen:

But apparently it’s also very tiring:

And just to round out this post, a few bonus pictures of things I will definitely not miss when this is all over. Since work on the floor began yesterday the refrigerator also had to be moved into the living room. At least it was reunited with the stove.

And while it may be obvious, in case you were wondering how we were doing any dishes without a kitchen sink:

Bathtub dishes. The worst.

But I guess I really can’t complain, especially now since it’s getting easier and easier to actually see the kitchen coming together! What do you guys think? Should we start taking bets on how soon this will all be finished?

P.S. Bonus points for anyone who understands where the title for this post came from!

Cooking without a kitchen

Matt and I usually eat pretty healthy. I don’t eat meat and since we’ve been living and cooking meals together Matt tends to eat vegetarian fairly often now too just out of convenience. (That’s not to say we don’t have days where one of us yells “I just want a burger!” Ok, maybe we both yell that at times…)

With the kitchen completely torn out and the stove sitting in the middle of the living room it’s become a little difficult to cook meals in the house. Our neighborhood also leads out to a main road with almost every fast food place we could desire. When those things combine it’s like the fast food perfect storm and we’ve been eating way more junk than we intended or wanted to this week.

So I had the idea to make some meals ahead of time, freeze them and then warm them up as we needed them, but with the stove sitting in the living room they would all have to be slow cooker meals. I spent some time searching for a handful of vegetarian slow cooker meals or meals that I could prepare as vegetarian by using imitation meat.

I wrote out each of the recipes (BBQ “chicken” and vegetables, honey garlic “chicken,” ratatouille, mango “chicken” curry, no-noodle vegetable lasagna, quinoa corn chowder and a cheese tortellini dish) and then made my grocery list. I even separated my grocery list into sections, like produce, frozen foods, canned goods, etc. Yeah, I was not kidding around with this whole slow cooker thing. But actually I found that separating my list like that was really helpful and I might just do that from now on while shopping.

(As you can tell this post is a little lacking in pictures. I neglected to take any pictures yesterday, so sadly you don’t get to see what my super organized grocery list looked like. And yes, I most definitely would have taken a picture of it had I thought of it at the time.)

After I had stocked up on all the foods I needed I went to my brother’s apartment to prepare all the meals. I used 1-gallon freezer bags and labeled the outside with the type of meal, the cooking setting and time and any other directions. (Some meals were recommended to be thawed first and some recommended adding a certain ingredient toward the end.)

Then I just spent several hours chopping, dicing and mincing food until my hands were about to fall off. There were some other logistical things I decided on, like not adding sauces or liquids to the bags. Once all the vegetables and other foods were added the bags were almost full and I still had to transport them back to the house. The last thing I wanted was spaghetti sauce or vegetable stock all over my floor mats. Instead I just labeled the jars and cans with what recipe they correspond to and set them aside for now.

Not all of my cooking ventures are successful, but everything went according to plan yesterday and our freezer is now filled with at least a week of dinners, although I’m sure it will last us longer than that. So, if there’s anyone out there that needs some tips while renovating their kitchen (although I am pretty positive I know everyone who reads this blog) I would definitely suggest going the slow-cooker/frozen recipe route. Or actually, if you’re stove doesn’t end up in your living room you could also do casseroles and other dishes that can be heated up in the oven too.

Hopefully you guys made it all the way through a post without any pictures! Remember, I’m still new at this blogging thing, but I’ll try to remember to snap some pictures with whatever I’m doing from now on.

I wasn’t the only one busy yesterday, obviously. Matt and his uncle and his parents were here all day working on the electrical. They got a ton accomplished, including running a new line for the stove, figuring out and planning where all the switches are going to be, placing all the outlets, etc. They also decided to hire an electrician to take care of some things – like I said before, the electrical in the house makes no sense. They are still finishing some stuff up this morning and may be ready to start sheetrocking this afternoon! Very exciting!

Goodbye Kitchen

Well, there’s no turning back now. The kitchen process has begun for real now, and as of a few days ago we no longer have a working kitchen. So far it hasn’t been as bad as we thought it would be, but talk to me in a few weeks and see how I feel about it.

The other night I left to run some errands and Matt’s brother came over to help rip out our cabinets. For a refresher, here’s what the kitchen looked like before:

Before the demolition began, Matt and I took the first step and emptied out all the cupboards and shelves and set up a makeshift kitchen in our dining room/front room (I still don’t know what to call that space).

Look, an action shot!

Here’s a shot of part of our makeshit kitchen. We set up a long folding table against one empty wall and we’re also using the kitchen table since we never actually eat at that table anyway.

We ended up setting up this table almost like a buffet of sorts. All of our smaller appliances are on the table and we use it mostly in the mornings so far. (We’ve already taken advantage of not having a kitchen and gotten fast food for dinner.) We’ve made it so all the utensils and paper plates and whatnot are all set up like a buffet. So I think for the duration of these renovations I’m just going to pretend like this is a nice continental breakfast buffet or something. Except we’re not on vacation, there’s no one to clean up after the mess I make, and still there are never enough bagels.

But anyway, the cupboards came down:

And the shelves:

Soon followed by the sink:

So this is the state of our kitchen right now. Like I said, we’re trying to stay positive about it though. So far it really hasn’t been a terrible inconvenience and has only resulted in one somewhat moody argument between Matt and I. Let’s cross our fingers that we keep this positivity throughout the next few weeks!