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Looking back at all of our DIY projects we’ve done, the kitchen I would say was definitely our favorite.  I remember walking in our kitchen and just getting depressed. It was a brown nightmare. It took us about a year to completely finish our kitchen and the results were absolutely worth it.  Here are the before pictures, please enjoy these low quality phone pics!

When I took this “before” picture, we had already removed a huge pot rack over the island. We thought the pot rack was really charming when we first moved in, and it provided great storage.  I decided it had to go.  It definitely cluttered the kitchen and made the room seem smaller.

I had no idea what I wanted my kitchen to look like.  All I knew is I hated it!  I spent months and months searching websites and looking through magazines until I finally had it.  I wanted a light and bright kitchen.  I was totally crushing on white subway tile.  My kitchen was cluttered and completely lacked character.  So my journey began.

One of the first things to do was get started on the cabinets.  I’ve painted cabinets before long long ago in our first house.  I knew this would be the quickest and easiest (ok not easy) way to get going.  Honestly, I really was dreading this part so I did get an estimate from a painter.  It was $2,200!  Once I heard that I knew without a doubt I would be the painter.

Replacing the countertops was also going to be a must.  In the photos the black granite looks really nice doesn’t it?  The reality was that it was a nightmare to keep clean.  It showed every finger print, every smudge, and was basically reflective like a mirror.  So I picked out my countertop, brought a sample home along with some white subway tile, and then I got to the fun part which was picking our perfect shade of white paint (and seriously obsessing and driving my husband nuts).  I’ve learned the hard way you can’t just grab any old white paint.  Some whites looked off against the subway tile, some were extremely harsh, some looked to creamy and warm.  In the end TADA I ended up with Benjamin Moore White Chocolate.  We had a winner!  Now for the sucky part, I mean fun part.

I began by removing (or telling my husband to remove) all cabinet doors and hardware.  He seemed a little fussy afterwards so I immediately offered him wine.  Luckily I had not started our future guest room upstairs, so I had a nearly-empty room upstairs to set up shop. Yay!  I didn’t have to go sweat in the garage!  Texas.  Summer.  You get it.  I actually began first with the cabinet frame.  First washing, then using TSP, then sanding by hand to remove the gloss, then just as a precaution I also rubbed everything down with liquid sander.  Then I primed and painted, letting each coat dry 24 hours before lightly sanding, vacuuming, and adding a few more coats.  My plan was to completely paint the frame and finish before starting the doors.  The contents of the cabinets were all over the house so that was top priority.

It took me about a good month to finish everything.  Every night I would go upstairs and have an assembly line finishing the doors.  See helpful wine bottle in the corner.

I wanted a way to dress up the island. I decided on beadboard and I knew I wanted the island to be a different color, either green or black.  I also decided to add a fun pop of color to all the cabinet interiors. This is Benjamin Moore Dill Pickle.  I love it.  Isn’t it funny my cabinet paint colors are both food names?  It must be because I love eating so much…Ok moving on.

Looking at this photo here I remember thinking how I really liked the clean look of white cabinets with a black countertop. I had the new countertop already ordered so it was a done deal.  I reminded myself that even if it looked nice and crisp it was nightmare to clean.  So off came the black granite countertop to live happily on a farm.

Once I finished with the cabinets, then right along came our countertops.  Luckily we have a stone countertop place nearby and they were extremely helpful.  I knew I wanted a neutral countertop that would look clean and not give me any hassles.  I ended up with Santa Cecilia, a very popular granite, and I absolutely loved it.  Our countertop guy had left me a piece of Santa Cecilia, and I straight up tortured it.  Red wine, ketchup, coffee, and a nice variety of liquids were all left on it over night to see how stain-resistant it was.  The red wine left the faintest pink hue so I knew with the sealer we would be good to go.

No turning back now. The granite guy said we would get a better result if he removed the old countertop first, then he made a template.  So we pretty much had no countertop for a week, maybe 2.  Talk about awkward when your trying to balance your coffee maker on top of your silverware drawer.

You can see my daughter being a lot of help during this process.  My husband also had the awesome idea to wire in some under-cabinet lights, which you will see in the next post.  So we took advantage of this opportunity with the countertops off to hide the wires underneath.

I decided to sacrifice a drawer and cabinet for a trash compactor.  Totally worth it!  We decided to upgrade all our original appliances that were about 10 years old but felt like they were from the 1800s.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time looking for the perfect cabinet hardware, obsessing over chrome, nickel, or bronze, making sure everything felt comfortable on my hand, debating over knobs or pulls on the drawers, and choosing the perfect width for the drawer pulls. In the end I decided to go with the bronze Hanson knob and drawer pull from Restoration Hardware.  I love them.

Now for Part 2