Kitchen Installations and What it looks like Finished!

I left you all with the last post of the hollow empty spaces that were our kitchen/pantry and bar area.  I’ll skip the boring stuff like moving the plumbing from the old island to the window and bar area, electrical changes (adding outlets, moving/adding pendants and adding can lights) and setting up the venting for the hood over the range.  Who cares about all that anyway right?!  (just FYI we hired professionals to handle these jobs, had to be sure it was all done right, up to code and passed inspections!)

Now for the fun stuff!  Once the boring things were taken care of and our flooring installed, we brought in all of our cabinets and set them up where they were supposed to go (trying to help out the installers).

The fridge was just hanging out right there on the left while they were getting the cabinets all put up.

Apologies for the bad pic, but this shows the cabinets almost done being installed!

 The installers spent a couple of days getting everything installed, leveled and trimmed up.  They did an amazing job!  It was so much fun watching everything going in, but I felt like a creepy stalker just staring so I tried to intermittently “find” something else I needed to do.

Once those bad boys were up and ready to roll we had 2 countertop guys come out and take measurements.  The reason for 2?  We purchased our island stone from a stoneyard in Denver and had it cut and installed by a shop locally.  The soapstone we purchased directly from M. Teixeira soapstone out of Denver, they do all their own fabricating and installing.

So there was one guy from the local shop who came out and we designed the island countertop on a tablet, (which was really cool) then we went and picked out the area of the slab we wanted to use.  Since our countertop was so big we got most of it, but I was heartbroken that we didn’t get the whole slab, choosing what to keep and what to let go of was like asking me which of my children I love more. (impossible to answer)  Ultimately the hubs narrowed it down to one area and I just nodded in agreement, as I shed a tear or 2 on the sly.

Now I realize I have a rather unusual attachment to some things, my hubs reminds me of this regularly.  However in my defense I had  been thinking about, dreaming about (literally dreaming, having dreams!) researching and planning every detail of this kitchen, I was/am invested 100%.

While we were waiting for the first of our countertops to come in, which was the island (soapstone was going to take 2 weeks, as they make the sink and submerge it for waterproof testing for a number of days), we tackled the bar and pantry countertops.  Remember when I mentioned we had picked up the old “boxcar” boards from a local wood shop?  Well we had been storing them in our garage until we were ready to use them.  We started by using wire brushes to really scrub the dirt, grime and buildup off of them.  After a good cleaning we needed to sand them.  They were smooth, but not smooth enough for countertops.  You would get splinters if you ran your hand along them.  So we each took a hand sander with a low grit sandpaper and started sanding, and sanding and sanding and then we sanded some more.  We, and the garage and everything in it, were covered in sawdust.  But we got them smooth and gorgeous.  I didn’t want to sand off all of the pretty aging so we stopped when it was smooth enough not to get splinters.

Next up was installing them.  This was SUPER easy.  The boards are designed to fit together, with a tongue and groove on either side. We had some boards that still had these intact which made it simple to do.  We cut them to fit exactly between the walls and put silicone underneath (same stuff they use for stone) and fit it into place.  The second board, which covered the other half of the cabinets and overhangs the stool side, we lined up with the groove and fit it together (along with more silicone to keep it in place).  Then all we had to do was seal the freshly sanded wood.


We used a product called Vermont Natural Coatings, it’s made from whey protein (leftover byproduct of making cheese).  I love that it had no harsh chemicals, made from a food grade product and the finish it delivers is amazing.  No altering of the color of the wood, dries quickly and easy to apply.  I gave the counters 3 good coats (drying time in between coats) and it has held up perfectly.  (We repeated this whole process for the pantry counters!!)

Installation of the copper hood was next.  We fit it up in between the upper cabinets (that were already installed) and had to fit the exhaust tube into the hood that connects to the vent and the hole in the wall where it goes outside.  That was the hardest part, the tube kept slipping off one end or another as we tried to lift the vent into the hood and secure it.  Alas, we persevered and there she sits!

Soapstone arrived and is installed, I was so excited about this!!  The first thing I saw was the sink, my beloved sink and she was as beautiful as I always hoped she would be and the perfect size! My enthusiasm was quickly tempered when it was discovered that one of our big pieces had broken on the drive up and they had one shot at recutting it from the only remaining slab in our bundle.  (scary)  They installed what they had and we waited another 4 days for them to bring up the last piece.  2 guys and the hubs worked together to get it into the house and on the cabinets, people this stuff is HEAVY.  And since they had one chance to do this they couldn’t mess it up!!  I held my breath the whole time, I think it must have been a world record, it’s a miracle I’m alive. It made it and it was perfect and beautiful and amazing and smooth and I wanted to alternate sleeping on the soapstone and sleeping on the island.  I was brought back to reason when my hubs talked me out of it.

We hooked up the plumbing and installed the dishwasher, microwave drawer, bar sink and faucets and were in running order!  Oh Happy Day, oh happy DAY!!  And the fridge was sitting at the edge of the kitchen, as we were already using it so it was just a matter of moving it into place in the kitchen.  Cabinet guys popped off the old panels and popped on the new ones and voila built in fridge!

The backsplash was the last piece of installation.  We had considered installing it ourselves, as we have some experience with tile previously, however I decided to err on the side of caution and hire a professional.  The reason for this, it’s an arabesque pattern which is very curvy and tough to work with for cuts and angles, etc.  It was also marble and I only had a certain amount of it, so if we messed up we would be screwed.  I couldn’t take the chance.  Our tile guy was a super cool dude and did a phenomenal job, we have several corner areas where he had to cut the tile and he lined it up PERFECTLY in every single one, the guy is a rockstar.

I told him I wanted to install it around the windows with no border.  He wasn’t sure about that and tried to talk me out of it several times, as he had never seen it done and thought it would look unfinished.  I had a vision and I was sticking to it.  So he agreed to install some of it, we would take a look at it and decide then.  It was exactly how I wanted it and it looked amazing! I had him taper the natural edging at the end of the counter instead of a straight line down.  The goal was to keep and highlight the shape of the tile as much as possible.  It’s one of my favorite details in the kitchen. The tiler even took pics when it was done to show other clients that had a similar pattern.

Everything was done by the end of May when I found out that our stove was going to be another couple of months.  When it finally showed up it was the final piece of the puzzle, the piece de resistance, the cherry on the sundae, the frosting on the cake. The appliance guys carefully got it up the stairs in the door and into the kitchen when it was discovered IT DIDN’T FIT.  That’s right, it didn’t fit into the opening that was there for the stove.  The soapstone fabricators had cut the soapstone a little too far into the opening.  OMG!!! I totally panicked, as in almost had a mental/physical/emotional breakdown.  Here it was, the end of August and the stove had FINALLY arrived (ordered it in March) and it DIDN’T FIT!!  They left it in the walkway right in front of the opening, what else were they going to do?!  They left and I called my hubs at work (which I never do unless it’s an EMERGENCY) and relayed the situation in a horrifyingly awful voice (which I’m sure wasn’t that bad, he does embellish sometimes) when he reminded me we can sand the soapstone.  Oh thank you lord!  I had forgotten one of the things I love about the soapstone.  You can sand it down with a hand sander!!  When he got home we both took sanders at a medium grit (didn’t want to do too much) and slowly sanded along the sides until we were able to fit the range into place.  It was  a victory of epic proportions I tell you.  The heavens opened, the angels sang and a halo of light appeared above it.

It was done.  The kitchen renovation was finally over.  The range was here and IN.  The soapstone, the parana white, the boxcar counters, the copper hood, the new floor.  It was all in and it was done and it was perfect.  Relief and happiness flooded through me and I immediately began to enjoy it.

Renos are rough.  Messy, unorganized, displacing, disruptive, expensive and so much work.  BUT, so worth it all in the end.

I started out with a $50,000 budget for the whole deal.  I came in under at around $45,000.  That includes everything I mentioned, as well as all labor costs we hired out, all materials from the laborers, city permit (which was spendy), odds and ends things like screws, nails, countertop sealer, trim, etc.

I didn’t mention it earlier, but we had to re-stucco the outside of the bay window when we replaced those windows and we ended up having them do almost the whole back of the house while they were here.  All of that is included in the total we spent.

So folks, according to our consultant, we now have an over $100,000 kitchen/bar area and I managed to do it all at less than half that cost.  If you employ some of these tips including DIYing what you can, sourcing your materials, negotiating (get at least 3 estimates on everything!!) and researching you can have everything you wanted ALL within your budget.

In the last post of the this kitchen series/reno adventure I will share with you all how the soapstone and marble are fairing and what I think of them now, as well as the microwave drawer and boxcar countertops!

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