When Michael and I were searching for a home, the process was fraught with ups and downs. We literally looked for years. I expected it to be frustrating, but I didn’t expect it to be so emotional.
When he showed me the listing for our current home, my heart had just been broken over a cute bungalow with hardwood floors and original, 1920’s moldings. To this day, I get lost in reveries of the orange tree in the backyard and the steam shower. (My memory is helped by the fact that it’s only two doors down from our current home and our friends live there.)
I begrudgingly glanced through the pictures for the new listing and said, “I won’t look at it unless you agree that we’ll renovate the kitchen and that outdoor patio area.” He agreed and we ended up buying the house.
Over the next seven years, when I brought up renovating the kitchen and patio area, he would roll his eyes in resistance and I’d say, “You promised!”
Finally, last Spring he made good on his promise and agreed to renovating the kitchen. (We’re saving the patio fight… I mean, renovation… for later.)
I soon found out that maybe the only thing more emotional than buying a house is renovating one. It’s traumatic. Every decision feels like life or death. The money flies out of your bank account at warp speed. Inevitably, your partner disagrees with you about things that feel non-negotiable. No matter how well you plan, there are delays and mistakes. Adding insult to injury, is the annoyance of living in rubble.
Still, somehow you get through it. One day the clouds part, the last worker leaves and you are left with your beautiful, new space! Similar to childbirth, amnesia sets in and you forget all the pain and hardship you endured to get there. It doesn’t matter anyway. That’s in the past. All that matters is enjoying your new life in this space that is finally, truly yours.
Hats off to anyone going through a home renovation. Here are some before and after pictures to inspire you onward toward your finish line.
The old kitchen had a French country vibe. The counters were granite. I don’t mind granite, but this particular one was very busy and colorful. I used to joke you could hide a dead body on it. The cabinet doors had more elaborate detailing than I prefer.
I replaced the granite with honed Carrara marble and chose a simple Shaker cabinet front to replace the old one. Luckily, the appliances and layout were good, so all of our changes were cosmetic.
The bookshelf above the toaster oven was actually a spot for the microwave. One day, the microwave broke and instead of replacing it I stuck some books there. I kept thinking I might get another microwave, but I never missed it.
I decided to make that entire space a bookshelf when we renovated. I love books of all kinds and I’m always in need of more spaces to stick them.
Another big change we made was removing the step-up and making the peninsula one level.
I’m so happy with the result. It makes the entire space feel so much bigger and more modern. We sit there more now because we don’t have to climb into a tall stool. It’s funny how the slightest expense in energy will prevent you from using a space. For us, making the counter lower was the difference between hardly using it at all and using it all the time.
The tile detail behind the stove was pretty, but not my taste. Again, it was much more ornate than I prefer.
I replaced the old tile with Heath Ceramic’s Antique White and added a pot filler. Besides loving the aesthetic of a pot filler, I love the functionality. It makes cooking chicken stock, pasta, and boiling eggs so much more convenient. It’s silly, but I get excited to use it.
I continued the backsplash up to the ceiling, added sconces and replaced the metal sink with a farm sink.
The sconces are from Schoolhouse Electric and the shades can be changed out. That really saved me because I went through white and navy before I finally got it right with brass. A pop of color was needed in midst of all that white. The sink is pretty and I love that I can fit all the dishes in it when I don’t feel like washing them right away. The runner is from Dash & Albert. I’m trying to bring a little more of the traditional into my home after having been on a big mid-century kick. The plaid serves that end perfectly. The bold size of the pattern makes me so happy.
I chose Heath tile for it’s variation and earthy, California feel. I’ve been obsessed with Heath Ceramics for as long as I can remember. I knew that I would want that tile anywhere I could justify it, so I decided to cover the wall between the dining room and the kitchen in it.
I love the way it adds interest.
My mom did the top painting. The Dutch scene on the bottom used to be in the house Michael grew up in. It’s wonderful when art has sentimental value. There used to be a phone jack here. We covered it with dry wall. Our only land line access is now in the laundry room, which feels appropriate for 2018. Taking that down made this wall clean and easy on the eyes.