A Kitchen Reveal

Evan and I wanted to do something really special this year to celebrate his mom’s birthday, which happens to be around Christmas.  Fortunately, we were able to ask for the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, so we decided to make use of that time by completely renovating his mom’s kitchen as our birthday gift to her.

This was a project that my mother-in-law had been talking about since I first met her.  Evan and I took mental notes each time she mentioned kitchen details that she liked, until finally we had a picture of the kind of kitchen that she would love.  
Before we left for her home, we hit Home Depot and Lowe’s.  We purchased everything that we believed we needed for the week. Once home, we disguised all of the supplies with birthday wrapping paper, packed the truck with power tools and presents, and we were on our way!

For Mother’s Day last year, we renovated her main entryway and powder room in a similar fashion, so as soon as my mother-in-law opened her first present, she knew what she was getting in for.  A day later, we cleared the kitchen and began the remodel.  Here is what the kitchen looked like before:

Since we had installed board and batten in her hallway and powder room last May, we decided to carry it into her kitchen, as well.  Therefore, we bought 8′ long, 2″ wide, thin strips of molding and 8′ long, 2″ wide, and approximately 1/2″ thicker strips of molding.  These are called lattices.  
Using a miter saw, I cut the thin strips of lattice to 41″ each.  Then, after measuring the room, we determined that each of these lattice should be 14″ apart.  I measured the walls again and marked an X where each of the 14″ took place.  Once marked, I took each lattice, lined it vertically with the X, used a level to ensure that it was straight against the wall, and nailed it into the drywall using a brad nailer, air compressor, and 1 1/4″ brad nails.  I repeated this step along the wall until all of the vertical slats were in place. To cap off the board and batten, I installed the thicker molding horizontally on top of the vertical lattices. 
With the board and batten completed, it was now time to paint.  I finished the board and batten by puttying the nail holes and then priming them with two coats of Zinsser primer.
Once dry, I finished the board and batten with two coats of Olympic’s “Crumb Cookie.”  While I was at it, I decided to freshen the ceiling, pantry doors, and trim with one coat of it, as well.

To continue with the beach theme, my mother-in-law chose Olympic’s “Misty Surf” in semi-gloss as the primary wall color.

Meanwhile, we fancied up the kitchen peninsula by converting the two overhead recessed lights into two pendant lamps.  This quick lighting update took all of 15 minutes to complete, and we used the same tutorial that we used for our own pendant lights last July.
The following day, we began the hardest part of the renovation: refinishing the kitchen cabinets.  Sanding the cabinets wasn’t necessarily difficult, but it was certainly time-consuming and created a bit of a mess.  
Once all of the doors and handles were taken down, we duct-taped garbage bags into the doors of each cabinet.  We also blocked the entryways to the kitchen by taping drop cloths from the floor to ceiling. This significantly reduced the amount of dust around the house.
To strip the cabinets of the original dark gloss finish, we used a combination of 60-grit and 220-grit sandpaper.  Then we sanded…
And sanded…

And sanded.
Our random orbital sander did the majority of the work, and then we used bits of scrap sand paper to get into the corners and other hard-to-reach areas.

He’s a keeper.
With all of the cabinetry stripped bare, the kitchen already looked like a completely new room!
After a good vacuuming and dusting, next came the fun part.  We stained the cabinet skeletons, doors, and drawers with one coat of Rustoleum’s “Sunbleached” stain in a satin finish.
The stain covered the cabinets easily and immediately brightened the room.

To seal the cabinets and protect it from everyday wear and tear, we used one coat of Minwax’s Fast-Drying Polyurethane in clear satin.
The next step in our kitchen renovation?  A glass tile backsplash.  Evan and I had never installed tile before, so this was the part that we looked forward to the most.
We first taped off the areas that we wished to set the tile.  Then, we measured the tile for the first section and cut the sheet, as necessary.  
To cut the tile itself, we used a hand-held mosaic tile cutter and a pair of glass nippers.

Both of these tools cut the tile perfectly and easily.
After lightly sanding the wall, we scraped on a coat of thin-set mortar to the wall using a trowel.
Then, we began applying each sheet to the wall by gently pressing them into the mortar.  Due to corners, outlet covers, and windows, we installed each sheet one at a time, and often had to cut the sheets to fit.

Then we slowly continued down the wall, applying mortar and cutting tile as we went.

By this point, we had gotten the hang of it and considered ourselves pros.  🙂

Thin-set has to dry for approximately 24 hours before grout can be applied.  The following day, we used a bucket of pre-mixed grout in “Delorean Gray” to finish the backsplash. 
We used a rubber float to push gobs of the grout into the cracks of the tile.

We had to wait four hours after grouting in order to buff the tile.  This was done simply with a few polishing cloths and wet rags.  We also installed peel-and-stick lights underneath the cabinets to help showcase the backsplash.
Then, to finish the kitchen, we added a little hardware to the cabinets.
Remember the before?
Well, here’s the after!

In little under a week, we truly transformed this kitchen.  My mother-in-law couldn’t have been any happier with the results.  We all were absolutely thrilled with what we had accomplished.


7 thoughts on “A Kitchen Reveal”

  1. Tiny and Evan, what an awesome example of a Labor of Love….just BEAUTIFUL…and to think you two don't even do this kind of stuff for a living and work two VERY FULL TIME jobs!!!!! Congratulations to you two for a job well done and to Jeannie….I hope this will motivate Jeff to continue to work on transforming our storage room on the second floor to livable space!!!


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