MMDH: Before & After Kitchen

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So... this is a major post!  It's one I started thinking about before I even had a blog.  Our first floor renovation was something that I dreamt about documenting at some point, although in the depths of it, while I was working for my old firm nearly full time and living remotely with an infant and a toddler... documentation of our renovation did not feel like a priority... LOL.  Luckily, I took at least one photo from the same vantage point every time we visited the house, just to see how progress moved forward between check-ins. 

I've already shared the before and after renovation details of the family room and porch that are adjacent to our Kitchen, here and here.  I was waiting patiently until this post to share construction photos, as there was so much to take in during this thirteen week first floor gut renovation.  Here are a few before shots of the kitchen splendor we were working with when we moved in:

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I mean, the wallpaper, the ceiling fan, the wood grain laminate, the valance above the sink... SO MUCH!  There were a few keepers for the time being, like the white appliances, hardwood floors... and... I guess that was about it.  We knew the walls would eventually come down in their entirety, so the cabinets would need to be painted to get us by and not feel like we were living in a time warp. 

We were living in my very supportive sister and brother in law's basement for two months before we found and closed on this house, so what was another month under their roof in order to get a few projects done in this place before we moved in?!  [They actually do still talk to us, AND they let us move back in with them WITH our two kiddos when we decided to gut what felt like everything!]  

This vantage point shows the wall to the right that would come down to create a seamless open floor plan into the family room.  The wall to the left in this photo actually shifted into the kitchen to make the powder room a foot larger, and a new mudroom possible. 

This vantage point shows the wall to the right that would come down to create a seamless open floor plan into the family room.  The wall to the left in this photo actually shifted into the kitchen to make the powder room a foot larger, and a new mudroom possible. 

This is a slightly shifted vantage point of the construction photos below.  The doorway on the right became more of a headache to remove than any walls were.  The basement door would soon be more a part of the kitchen than the family room it is shown in here. 

This is a slightly shifted vantage point of the construction photos below.  The doorway on the right became more of a headache to remove than any walls were.  The basement door would soon be more a part of the kitchen than the family room it is shown in here. 

Our initial refresh of the house included finishes only... no construction necessary to make the house livable and somewhat updated feeling.  We started removing wallpaper with our loving family members the weekend following our closing.  We had painters and floor refinishers scheduled to come in before we moved in.  Every square inch of the interior was painted, including the cabinets.  We kept all cabinet hardware, wood trimmed laminate counters and even the ceiling fan... LOL... it was a MONSTER in this space. 

We lived in the house with these initial updates for almost 4 years and two kiddos... I never actually took completion photos after that round of updates, as I knew there were more to come!  When Maizie was about 6-months old, we decided to start investigating the cost of our dream renovation.  We started budget spreadsheets and talking to contractors, thinking that this was still a bit of a pie in the sky project.  As we got further into the budget, we were starting to get attached to the new layout and benefits of having an open-plan first floor with little kids.  A month or so of budgeting went by and we decided to bite the bullet and make it happen.  We moved into my sister and BIL's basement with the kids, and didn't look back for 13 solid weeks! 

First few weeks of demo revealed a structural beam that had been cut short and was supported by a doorway... this doorway became the bane of our existence for MONTHS!  You will see it became the focal point of this vantage point until flooring was ready to go in. 

First few weeks of demo revealed a structural beam that had been cut short and was supported by a doorway... this doorway became the bane of our existence for MONTHS!  You will see it became the focal point of this vantage point until flooring was ready to go in. 

It took what felt like forever to get to the drywall phase of closing the walls up and installing the widened porch door... we finally had a locked house!  From there, things started to feel like we would make it through this process.  I still remember thinking that we may never have a finished home again.  It is easy to empathize with my clients going through any scale renovation!

It took what felt like forever to get to the drywall phase of closing the walls up and installing the widened porch door... we finally had a locked house!  From there, things started to feel like we would make it through this process.  I still remember thinking that we may never have a finished home again.  It is easy to empathize with my clients going through any scale renovation!

We enclosed some of our vertical plumbing lines on the left, our new structural column on the right!  Our medium walnut stain went on to match the floors throughout the rest of the house that we had refinished when we moved in.  

We enclosed some of our vertical plumbing lines on the left, our new structural column on the right!  Our medium walnut stain went on to match the floors throughout the rest of the house that we had refinished when we moved in.  

Our marble countertops were measured and installed with a 15" overhang for stools; appliances were delivered; painting was completed, and that bane of our existence structural doorway condition was still staring us in the face.

Our marble countertops were measured and installed with a 15" overhang for stools; appliances were delivered; painting was completed, and that bane of our existence structural doorway condition was still staring us in the face.

Once all existing HVAC was insulated in exterior walls new structural lintels were added at family room and dining room openings; plumbing was roughed in and modified to meet code; and electrical was roughed in with a freshly added sub panel, it was time for DRYWALL!!  

Once all existing HVAC was insulated in exterior walls new structural lintels were added at family room and dining room openings; plumbing was roughed in and modified to meet code; and electrical was roughed in with a freshly added sub panel, it was time for DRYWALL!!  

Just in the nick of time, that structural doorway was removed to make way for new hardwoods throughout the back two rooms.  Our kitchen had hardwoods when we moved in, although they were installed on a few layers of tile, so we removed them, patched in a good portion of sub flooring and installed all new hardwoods at the same level as the mudroom and foyer tile. 

Just in the nick of time, that structural doorway was removed to make way for new hardwoods throughout the back two rooms.  Our kitchen had hardwoods when we moved in, although they were installed on a few layers of tile, so we removed them, patched in a good portion of sub flooring and installed all new hardwoods at the same level as the mudroom and foyer tile. 

This stage of the process felt surreal... cabinets were the one major investment of this project that I knew could make or break the whole scene. Clearances, profile details, overall layout... this was a big installation to get under our belts and feel good about!

This stage of the process felt surreal... cabinets were the one major investment of this project that I knew could make or break the whole scene. Clearances, profile details, overall layout... this was a big installation to get under our belts and feel good about!

The original drywaller never showed up again, so our painter pulled through with a late night patch job to get our final inspections completed for us to move back in the week of Christmas!  

The original drywaller never showed up again, so our painter pulled through with a late night patch job to get our final inspections completed for us to move back in the week of Christmas!  

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The moral of this long story is now what I tell my clients before kick-starting any renovation project:  as excited as you are to start demo, the luster fades a bit as you are living in or visiting a project over the course of a 10-12 week construction lead time.  Time feels like it stands still at moments; anxiety kicks in when rooms within your house hit an uninhabitable state; you ALWAYS start with a contingency of funds that will cover any unforeseen conditions or alternates that turn into higher priorities as you get deeper into the project; and you will 100% think it was ALL worth it in the end.  

 
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