The Great Kitchen Refresh–Complete!

It all began in October 2015 when we stepped into our temporary home in Agrigento, Sicily.

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The tile inspriration.

The tile inspriration.

The bright sunlight and openness, the simple beauty of the materials, the IKEA-ness of it all. We knew this was what we were going for.

We’d talked about redoing the kitchen someday, but after seeing that kitchen, we knew where we were headed.

In December we began talking with ModerNash, a local company that will install IKEA kitchens for you. Nick at ModerNash connected us with an online designer and with Weston, Contractor Extraordinaire.

The design part took a couple weeks. We had a strong vision of what we wanted, but having a professional get it onto paper with measurements made a huge difference.

The "Before" picture.

The “Before” picture.

Actually liked this stove, sold it to another couple doing a remodel, too.

Actually liked this stove, sold it to another couple doing a remodel, too.

The plan was for Weston to take a week to demo the kitchen, get the new plumbing and electrical roughed in, then Tim and Travis from ModerNash would arrive to take a week to install the new cabinets.

During the build up to the beginning, and while Weston demo-ed, Buds and I were picking out flooring, finding our dream tile, selecting paint, etc.

Weston’s part went smoothly. One hiccup was us buying the wrong size for the window. It turned out the window was an unusual size, so I ended up getting a bid to do the window, which led to a bid on all the windows, which led to us deciding to keep the original window and eventually replace all of them.

Weston beginning the demo on April 15, 2016.

Weston beginning the demo on April 15, 2016.

Weston had to do some serious demo.

Weston had to do some serious demo.

Turns out the cabinets were custom built for the space.

Turns out the cabinets were custom built for the space.

A little wrinkle when we discovered the bulkhead from the stairs.

A little wrinkle when we discovered the bulkhead from the stairs.

And the cupboards are now a pile of kindling.

And the cupboards are now a pile of kindling.

Cats liked looking out at the world while they were locked in our bedroom every day.

Cats liked looking out at the world while they were locked in our bedroom every day.

Plastic shield up, ready to hold in the dust.

Plastic shield up, ready to hold in the dust.

Then, I received an email from Nick. They had had a death in the ModerNash family; could they push back the beginning of our installation to accommodate their attendance at the funeral, etc. Of course we could, and did, and in the midst of the scrabble of the remodel, it was a good reminder to us that our kitchen change was a minor inconvenience.

Travis and Tim began the creation of our new kitchen on April 26.

What a new kitchen looks like in the back of a truck.

What a new kitchen looks like in the back of a truck.

So many parts.

So many parts.

Countertops

Countertops

A decent-sized mound.

A decent-sized mound.

We did not get to keep the IKEA cart.

We did not get to keep the IKEA cart.

All the bits and bobs ready to be used.

All the bits and bobs ready to be used.

Once Travis and Tim settled in, it went smoothly. Travis and I would generally have one or two decisions to make each day. There were a couple parts that were damaged. The wrong dishwasher got installed. The kitchen sink was shattered when the box was opened.

Since ModerNash makes trips to IKEA in Atlanta every week, and they have a fair amount of stock at their warehouse that can be swapped out to keep the current jobs moving forward, none of it ever became a problem.

We saw forward progress each day:

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The big pantry

The big pantry

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Then we hit the biggest wrinkle of the entire process. We had ordered butcher block countertops from IKEA. We believed ModerNash would install those. Turns out they weren’t going to.

Weston is used to remodeling kitchens where granite or marble countertops are used, and those take a couple weeks to be measured, ordered, cut, and installed. He had planned other jobs during that time, understandably.

Thus began my quest to find someone who could install our countertops. I was even watching youtube videos to see if it was a weekend project Buds and I could swing together.

The final outcome was that the Awesome Weston agreed to give it a shot. We didn’t want any difficult cuts, and he had installed countertops before, just not butcher block. He really saved us because the project would have been on hold for a couple more weeks if we had had to wait on the one company I found who would answer my emails, and could get us on their schedule eventually. Weston really is the best.

He installed them, and they looked great!

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The cats were still spending their days locked in the bedroom.

Window lounger

Window lounger

When we’d let them out at night, they enjoyed playing in the plastic hanging from the ceiling and laying on the boxes of items waiting to be installed.

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In the midst of all of this, our beloved cement, hand-crafted tile was delivered. The pallet was in the garage, and when Buds got home from work, we went down to open it up and look at it together.

It was so beautiful, I cried. (I also cried because it reminded me of Italy, but we’re all tired of hearing me pine for Italy.)

I actually cried when our chosen tile arrived and we laid it out.

I actually cried when our chosen tile arrived and we laid it out.

Once Tim and Travis were done with what they could complete, Weston came back for his next steps:

Won't ever be this clean again.

Won’t ever be this clean again.

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Correct dishwasher

Correct dishwasher

Weston was coming the next day to install the wall tile, and we knew we needed to have it laid out where he could easily find what needed to go where. We spent the evening in the basement, laying it out, reorganizing, looking at it from all angles, and looking at each other with happy, contented faces at how much we loved it.

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Weston and I got into a bit of a habit of having iced coffee, and he definitely deserved a toast on the day he got all this gorgeous tile on the walls.

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It took literally ever piece of tile we had to fill in all the necessary spots. Phew…

The tile photos above were taken on May 6.

As these things do, we kept moving forward, slowly, but forward.

The stovetop wouldn’t work, so we had to wait for a new one to be shipped in. Weston and his family had a trip planned. The kids and I were headed to the Kalihari. Buds had a work trip. Lots of moving pieces.

Getting a kitchen faucet with running water was a joy.

Getting a kitchen faucet with running water was a joy.

It takes lots of parts to pull it all together.

It takes lots of parts to pull it all together.

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We had a week of no one working for various reasons, which gave Buds time to get the counter tops oiled, and me time to get the tile sealed.

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No stove yet.

No stove yet.

We like the new color.

We like the new color.

He's so excited to get dishes put into drawers.

He’s so excited to get dishes put into drawers.

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Can lights going in.

Can lights going in.

Then, last week, all the planets aligned. Weston was in town, we were in town, the new stovetop was in town.

It all came together:

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The bench and table work even better now.

The bench and table work even better now.

All the pretty, pretty lights. We've not had under-cabinet lights before.

All the pretty, pretty lights. We’ve not had under-cabinet lights before.

Floor transitions really make it look complete.

Floor transitions really make it look complete.

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Coffee on the counter?! All must be well.

Coffee on the counter?! All must be well.

Friday, June 3, Weston and I shook hands and off he walked into the sunset like the hero he is.

We cleaned, unpacked, and restored the hearth room to its comfortable set up.

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Buds made our first meal in the new kitchen:

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We have loved the comfy bench:

Both kittens love the bench, too.

Both kittens love the bench, too.

And on Sunday we hosted friends to celebrate birthdays and the new kitchen.

Laughter around the table. Good times ahead.

Laughter around the table. Good times ahead.

Closing with this picture for a variety of reasons:

I love how it shows my boys snuggled in together reading. I love the soft glow of the light in the hearth room, with the bright cheery glow of the kitchen behind. And I love that the chaos of the kitchen counter and table shows how completely settled into the new kitchen we are.

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I’m sitting on the bench in the kitchen as I write this, looking out the French doors at the green, beautifully sunny backyard. In this moment, all is right with the world.

9 thoughts on “The Great Kitchen Refresh–Complete!

  1. The kitchen turned out great! Y’all were awesome to work for! Thanks for the maple syrup and all the homeschool help. We had a little syrup with our pancakes the other day, and it was delicious!

  2. Did you describe the appliance garage anywhere? How does it open and what did you use? What an amazing adventure!

    • Hey, Susan.

      If you look at the picture above captioned “All the pretty, pretty lights. We’ve not had under-cabinet lights before.” the appliance garage is on the right of the picture in the corner, under the strip of blue paint.

      It has a push latch to pop it open and we house the coffee making supplies we use every day in there. “Appliance garage” ends up sounding more grandiose than it actually is. We love having the space for our coffee cupboard though.

      Thanks for your questions.

  3. Hello there! I saw your kitchen described on IKD, and we are considering an IKEA kitchen for our new home. I’d love to know how the kitchen is holding up for you after a couple of months of use. Are you still liking the butcher block countertops? And I saw that you didn’t recommend the IKEA appliances, but you did like the cabinets? Thanks for any help you can give us!

      • Hi Becca,

        The kitchen is holding up great. Everything is basically the same as new after one year. We tried to linseed oil seal the countertops for the first few months and that basically never worked. After a while we used Waterlox to seal them and they’ve been great ever since. Don’t wait! Do that right away.

        We’ve been enjoying the induction cooktop but we found out later that Ikea’s model has very poor reliability. We’d get a different one if we were doing this again.

        Finally, we highly recommend using a service like IKD to do the plans. They are pros at making sure everything you need ends up getting ordered. If you try to do it yourself, you’ll probably wind up missing something.

        Best,
        Team2zs

  4. We just had an IKEA kitchen installed. We had a designer at IKEA who made some great recommendations, helped us tweak our design and put together the list of everything we needed. I know she was one in a million and we totally lucked out. If you can, make multiple trips and consult a few different people in the department. Some are definitely more helpful and knowledgeable and if you can find a good one, work with that person on putting your kitchen together. Do as much online first so you have a starting point.

    We aren’t handy or strong so had a contractor put it together. It was still a lot of work planning and shopping but I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. IKEA is the best bang for your buck if you’re on a small budget.

    Thanks for detailing your process and encouraging others to tackle this daunting project. Your kitchen is a great example of how to create a very unique and personal kitchen even without pricey custom cabinets.

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