Kitchen: 90% DONE

So, I wanted to wait until we were actually 100% done with the kitchen before posting an “AFTER”…but we started this kitchen way back in August and I just can’t wait any longer. I want to show what we’ve done! 🙂

For those that need a refresher, here is our kitchen BEFORE:

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And here is our kitchen AFTER taking down wallpaper, painting the walls, sanding, priming, and painting the cabinets, replacing the cabinet hardware, ripping out and replacing the flooring, replacing and painting trim, whitewashing the wood paneling, replacing the light above the sink and removing the wood stove!







All we have left to do is:

– Replace the trim and window sill on the window above the sink and paint white

– Replace the faucet (I HATE THAT FAUCET)

– Patch the hole in the ceiling from where we installed the insulation

– Paint the ceiling

– Decorate above the mantle (right now it is a catch all)

– Find a new durable yet comfortable rug (that one was pulled in before we started gutting the living room),

– Find a table

– Find window coverings of some sort?


I can’t wait for the shopping part!!! 🙂



This little corner of our kitchen has been through a lot the past 7 months. To be honest, it is hard to remember how far this space (and the house as a whole) has come since we live here every day, but seeing these pictures side-by-side makes me feel really proud. We poured our blood, sweat, and tears (literally..I’m not even exaggerating.) into this kitchen and I think we are both really happy with the results so far.

This is the original real estate listing photo :


And this is from after we moved in:


We decided to take out the paneling so that we could flip the boards over and whitewash them. In the process of doing that, we realized we had to rip out the floor, as well. This is that stage of the project:



After we took out the floor and white washed and re-installed the paneling, we prepped for tile (and then covered the hardi-board with paper for our housewarming party (picture below):



Then, we deglossed, sanded, and primed the old baseboards and chair rail and re-installed it. We also replaced all of the trim surrounding the doors and windows so that it all matched. The room originally had four different styles/sizes of trim. Oh, and we added another tiny tiny detail-270 sq. feet of tile on the floor.


All of this time, the baseboard heater covers were tucked away in a distant corner in our garage. We lightly sanded the rust off, spray primed, and spray painted the covers over one really nice weekend at the end of January (when we painted the door yellow), thinking we’d install them the next day. The next day, we realized we didn’t have all of the parts painted. So, then we waited…and waited…and waited for another warm winter day. Meanwhile, we painted our hallway, installed our pantry shelves, painted the dining room, etc.


Finally this past weekend, we got a warm enough day to spray paint the rest of the pieces, and we got everything installed! We also moved our former pantry shelf in to the kitchen and hung a piece of artwork to tie in our cheery yellow door.




!!!!!!!!!!! That’s all I can really say right now about that. I do want to find a small table and some chairs to put in here and the shelf may not last forever in this spot or may get painted or may get moved due to a table coming in, but it works for us right.this.second. and it will stay until it doesn’t.  But really, PROGRESS! 🙂 YAY!

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Also, I just want to say Thank YOU to everyone who reads along with us on this journey. I went to Mason Homecoming a few weeks ago and was completely blown away by everyone’s support of our little bloggity corner of the internet. (See what I did there? CORNER.) Ya’ll are the bomb and we love ya. 🙂

Pantry: Done

This afternoon, our pantry shelves looked like this:


Yesterday, Tucker decided it would be an awesome idea to eat everything off of the shelf-previously-known-as-the-pantry-shelf (which was located in the dining room) while we were not home. Included in his treats were a small bag of Trader Joe’s pecans, a packet of McCormick’s Alfredo mix, and a jello box (not the jello, just the box). He also moved other items and hid them throughout the house, which we found later in the night when he was whining at where he left them. Those included a bag of pine nuts-not opened and another Alfredo mix.

We took that as a sign that he was completely OVER not having a pantry. Oh, and we know pecans are kinda poisonous to dogs-we monitored him closely, but there were probably only a total of 10 pecans left in the bag, so we decided not to be super concerned unless symptoms came about.


So, since we were worried about our sweet puppy’s health if he kept eating our food, we started building the shelves. After Josh finished installing the panel above, we realized our level was too big for the sides of the closet. Boo. So I went to my sweet little phone and downloaded a level app. WHO KNEW that existed? Not me until today. Go technology!


(And yes, I know my shirt is on backwards..don’t judge.)


When installing the fourth round of framing, we came across these awesome screws. Seriously?! I didn’t even know things like that could exist. (After the level app + this, my mind was just blown, so I sat down and watched some Olympics figure skating..just kidding, we kept on trucking!)

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All of the frames up..basically we installed those ‘frames’ around the perimeter, then the boards were cut to sit directly on top of the frames. We also nailed the boards in after to be extra secure, but it isn’t completely necessary..

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Lots of tomatoes!! See..I wasn’t lying!

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On another note:


Since we’ve been going going going on the kitchen, we neglected to install our spice rack, so we’ve been using an aluminum pan from the dollar store to hold our pile-o’-spices (Remember we started the kitchen in AUGUST?? Ugh). Since we were on an organizing streak, we decided that now is the timeeee!

I got this spice rack from an awesome little consignment store in Yorktown with the goal to paint it, but after a scrub down, I decided I actually really like the wood. Plus, my original plan was to paint it red and I think it would be too much with all of the spice labels having red on them..
IMG_2653 It’s amazing what a bit of organization can do, right?! I feel like a new person! Maybe now I can start putting my shirt on the right way…Or not.

Planning the Pantry

Doesn’t everyone have a pantry that looks like this?


Nope? What about this?:


Or my favorite:


I’m pretty sure everyone at some point in their life has had a pantry that looks like mine and we all wish we had ones that look like above:

image scrawny little shelf, with a bunch of crap on it. That is…embarrassing.

Funny story: Every time a recipe we wanted to make had canned tomatoes, we bought canned tomatoes. If we didn’t end up making said recipe that week, the canned tomatoes stayed in the pantry and the next time a recipe called for canned tomatoes, it was added to the grocery list and bought again. Since we couldn’t see what we had in the pantry…we accumulated like 12 cans of tomatoes.


While looking for pantry inspiration that is actually ATTAINABLE for real life people who don’t have 100s of matching glass jars, I found this gem:


Holy yes. You can see everything, I am always looking for excuses to buy baskets, and it is totally doable for any real-life person without dropping a huge chunk of $$$ into it. We had a plan.

The next day, we measured our space and went to Home Depot to get the materials we needed for the project, which included:

  • Wood for shelves (We bought 1x4s which will hold the boards up, and 10 foot boards, which we will cut in half to create the shelves. Unlike the above picture, the two shelves on the bottom will be deeper so that we can fit some small appliances like our waffle maker, rice cooker, etc.
  • Stain and sealer for shelves (We bought Minwax Weathered Oak, decided we didn’t like that shade next to the normal oak doors, then bought Minwax Ipswich Pine)mwf_ipswichpine
  • Paint for walls (We ended up buying Behr Ultra Premium Plus in Pale Cucumber and painting the hallway + pantry walls before I took a before picture)


And now we are in the process of staining and sealing all of the boards which will become shelves here in the next couple of days! I am so excited to get our pantry items OFF of our dining room table and organized! Hoping to have a post on that by this weekend (crossing fingers!).

Are you going to put doors on these?

That question was the bane of Josh’s existence. I think he died a little inside every time we invited a new person into our house. He knew it was coming. The question. Dun dun dunnnnn. “Are you going to put doors on these or leave them open?” This post is about our upper cabinets.


Now, our dishes are adorbs. Our aqua countertops match our aqua fiesta ware. I mean, it works. So I can understand why everyone asked us that question (most people actually wanted us to leave them open as shelving rather than add the doors). After the question, we went in to how we installed the lower cabinet doors because of the dirt/dust that got all over everything and how we just hadn’t gotten to the top ones yet.

But really, the reasoning behind the delay in doing our upper cabinet doors was that Josh remembered how crappy/annoying/terrible/torturous it was to notch out portions of the door and door frame in order to use our awesome hidden hardware and he wanted to delay the reoccurrence of that pain/torture as long as possible. That was, until I cracked the whip. (Just kidding- I think the excitement of almost being done with the darn kitchen outweighed the fact that he just really didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to do it either because..well…he’sjustbetterthanme. and I didn’t want to mess it up.)

After he had a few doors installed, I marked for where the hardware holes needed to go, he drilled (because again, I was afraid to mess it up), and I installed the pulls.

Now, we are the owners of some brand new, freshly painted cabinets WITH DOORS! 🙂


Now, for our next project…stay tuned (OMG, this picture is so embarrassing):


Sunshiny Door

Well, the lack of posts around here can be explained by a few things happening around our house.

1-We are taking a well deserved break from projects and making a conscious effort to create a balance between projects & having fun. Speaking of that, we went out of town this weekend to a friend’s cabin and had a great time! We got our redneck on, went on a hike, & I even shot a gun (Well, actually three different guns..who am I?).



2-We are painting trim, which wouldn’t make for a very exciting blog post. Seriously, it is totally boring, but it really does make such a difference. We can see the room coming together really nicely and I cannot wait until we can get some artwork hung up and put all of the finishing touches together.

The good news is..we are about 93% done with the kitchen. While painting the trim, we realized that to paint the trim/door frame surrounding the door, we would need to remove it for a day or so. Since it has been so chilly, we had to wait until we got a warm weekend. Last weekend was our best shot, so we decided to take the plunge in painting it a pretty color at the same time (kill two birds with one stone!). We have had several paint chips taped up on the door for about 4 months, so we just chose our favorite one, bought a quart, and started priming and painting.

We left Home Depot feeling very confident in our choice and spent Saturday carefully painting. It was one of the first decisions in this entire project where we didn’t fully think through it, so that was a refreshing change! While painting, we loved the color and how it popped next to the tile color.

Well, once we installed the door, we decided we don’t exactly love it. I guess you can’t win ’em all! We are keeping it until spring, but will likely paint it either a more saturated yellow or red or turquoise or something we haven’t even thought of yet. I think we’ll agonize a bit more over our second door color decision. 🙂




Over sink lighting!

One thing we were glad we accomplished before Thanksgiving was the over sink lighting. Washing dishes for 10 people after a big meal would NOT have been fun with this oh-so-bright light over the sink-:


Long story short, we ripped the other light fixture out when we started sanding the cabinets and didn’t have a fixture for a few months. On one of my trips to Lowe’s, I took my obligatory “Hm, I think I like this!” picture so that I could text it over to Josh. Turns out he liked it and a few days later on another trip to Lowe’s, we bought it!


The great thing about it is that you can choose your own glass shades to suit your style (or when you get tired of a set, you can go buy another set without having to get a whole new light). We initially chose a clear glass shade, then decided we would rather go with a frosted glass so that we could get the energy efficient light bulbs.

YAY for little changes that make a big impact!

Mortar, and Tile, and Grout-OH MY!

It took us a few trips to several stores and lots of samples for us to come to an agreement on the kitchen tile.

One of our first “we love this” tiles was a special order tile from Home Depot that I cannot hunt down online. It was a dark grey (almost black) tile that was very textured and came in the long rectangular tiles that I really, really wanted. Those tiles were ~$4 per square foot, so it was on the high end of our budget AND was a bit too dark/modern looking for our little rustic home.

The second one we loved was from the Floor Trader. The man who assisted us at Floor Trader was amazingly helpful and truly helped us narrow down what we like/dislike/etc. We took a few samples home with us and really fell in love with one in particular called “Fitch Rainbow.” It was a really beautiful gray colored tile with a bit of brown/taupe mixed in. We weren’t sure why it was called Rainbow, but we decided to take our search to google to hopefully see the tile in action in a room. This is what we found:


Uh…what? The tile on our sample board looked nothing like that, although it did have a note on the board that said the color variation between tiles is ‘high.’ We determined this one was definitely not for us. It was too busy for such a large space and again, was too modern and too expensive at ~$5 per square foot. Plus, it just kind of looked weird to us. I don’t know. (Fitch had some really beautiful lighter colored tiles, so I am by NO means talking bad about the brand..This particular tile just wasn’t the right fit for this room right now.)

This is when I had my ‘a-ha!’ moment with the long, plank-like tiles. They were definitely what I had my heart set on after seeing many, many inspiration photos on pinterest. They are lovely, but they just aren’t the right fit for our house and they were far more expensive than the more widely available square tiles. So, we went back out on another trip.

This time, with our eyes re-opened to the possibility of square tiles, we stumbled upon this little gem at Lowe’s:


Heyyyy. It is gray and has a little bit of beige/taupe in it AND was under $1.50 per square foot. We bought a sample to take home and finally decided that this one was definitely a winner. Plus, with the price and the fact that it is an in-stock tile = major winner.  After doing all of the prep work, we were very excited to get started with the installation process.

The measuring/planning process was the hardest part of the entire installation. Our instructional book (we call it “The Bible,” and it was a gift from my dad for our housewarming party) told us to center the tiles on doors, sinks, or other focal points in the room. Uhh…it has four doors, a sink and a huge fireplace/brick focal wall. To make the planning process simpler, the book told us to create a ‘Guide Stick’ so that we could mark where cuts would be in the corners of the room without having to literally place tiles in each configuration during the planning process. Below is Josh making the guide stick.


We ended up deciding to center the tiles on the brick wall/fireplace because it required the least amount of awkward cuts and in our opinion is the star of the show in the room (after my baller gourmet cooking, of course). After coming to that decision (four hours after we started!), we snapped a chalk line to mark the center of the room so that we could start placing the tiles!



About five hours later, we had completed the installation of over 100 tiles!



Where the hearth was previously, we poured several batches of self-leveling concrete to make it level with the rest of the cement board in the room. We debated using a different tile or natural slab to make the hearth different, but decided to save time and have one less decision to make that we would install this tile all the way up to the fireplace.

While Josh was out of town, my friend Taylor and Josh’s brother Aaron (who really should just be a freaking character in our blog from now on. I might put a picture of him on our ‘about us’ section) came over to help install the rest of the full sized tiles. I think Josh was totally worried the whole time we were working on it, but our section ended up pretty okay, other than a few things that the grout ended up masking a little. haha! We’ve never said we were professionals!


When Josh came back home, we jumped right in to the grouting process. Josh went around the room to scrape off any extra mortar that smooshed up between the tiles so that the grout would evenly distribute and I made sure the tiles were vacuumed and cleaned really well.



For the grouting process, Josh mixed and spread the grout and I wiped everything down with the grout sponge. YAY. We love it. It is awesome. I want to do snow angels in the center of the room and snuggle with it.

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Now all that we have to do to completely finish the floor is seal the grout! Merry Christmas to us!!! 🙂

Cabinet Hard(erthanwethought)ware

The Monday following our housewarming party, my sweet husband came home to a package on our doorstep!!!!!


Wahoo! Cue the excited fist pumping and holding them up to cabinets/drawers to make sure we liked them. We definitely loved the style, although we did decide to buy the knobs for the bottom cabinets, as they were a bit awkward to open with the pulls. We jumped right in on Monday/Tuesday night to install the pulls on the drawers. Cue even more excitement and high fives. We were on a DIY high and feeling very confident that we could get the doors completed before my vacation.


On Wednesday night (the night before I left for vacation), Josh started to install the first of the doors with the new hinges. Turns out, we didn’t take into account the fact that the hidden hinges we ordered would also take up a few mm of extra space in order to make the doors close fully. Womp, womp. Cue Josh being angry and me feeling guilty about going on vacation and leaving him with this hellish we-thought-this-part-would-be-easy project.

After making this discovery, we realized we had two options: 1. Order new hinges that screw in to the face of the cabinets. or 2. Chisel out those extra few mm to install the ones we already have/prefer.


As you can see, we ended up deciding the chisel option, thus causing our perfect application of primer and paint to look imperfect. Hmph. IF ONLY WE HAD THOUGHT OF THAT! No one notices it in person except for us (and now the three or four people that read this blog now that I’ve mentioned it. Hi Parents!) and repainting those imperfect spots will be an after the-rest-of-the-kitchen-is-finished project.

While he was doing that, I was enjoying my time in San Diego with my girlfriends for our BFF Lauren’s baby shower.


I think choosing to go this route, though more difficult in the short term, was a very good decision and the cabinets look great and the doors close, which is awesome!


Our focus was shifted to the floors when I came back from San Diego to get it done prior to Thanksgiving. Spoiler alert: We didn’t, but we were close! Haha-this is definitely a developing theme here at The Whole Damn House! Better get used to it, ya’ll. because we have about 11 more rooms to go..

P.S. If anyone is wondering what the thing is on the second drawer from the sink, it is a Scrap Trap. Best Christmas present I ever bought myself (and my mother in law… and my sisters in law). Just saying, it is amazing. Add one or 15 to your Amazon shopping cart today.

Preparing to party..

We (aka, Alison) had the crazy idea to host a housewarming party for ~40 people on November 2nd and Thanksgiving for 10 people in the middle kitchen renovation. In my defense, the floor was NEVER in the plan for our kitchen AND we hadn’t taken in to account the fact that both Josh and I had vacations/business trips in the middle of the month. Nonetheless, we made it through both alive, although the blog has definitely taken a back seat to trying to get some vital projects finished (or at least finished enough to where we weren’t COMPLETELY embarrassed of our house).

So, let’s pick up where we left off, eh?

After we finished white washing the wood paneling, we started painting the top half of the room Chocolate Froth. This color is a great neutral shade that plays well with the paneling and doesn’t compete with the bright aqua countertops. This happened so fast (over the course of two nights with bad lighting), so I don’t have any pictures to prove that it happened. It looks good though, I promise.

After ripping up the existing flooring, Josh took a day off from work and he and his mom put down a layer of luon on top of the subfloor. That night, Josh, his mom, and I did a dry fit of cement backer board. I completely forgot to take pictures of these steps, but basically we used as many full 4×8 pieces of backerboard we could (making sure no four corners met, which could cause the floor to become uneven in places or make a weak spot where the tiles on top could break). Then scored and snapped pieces to fit around the corners where full pieces could not be used.

The next day, we installed the cement backerboard with a layer of thinset and screws. I loved putting the thinset down and called it ‘playing in the mud.’ Josh got the lovely task of screwing each piece in every 8 inches, so we went through a ton of screws and his hand was blistering by the end of the night.




Here we are putting the last piece of backer board in – it was about 10pm at this point.


At this point, we let everything set for about 24 hours before walking on it. At the time of the housewarming party, we hadn’t decided on tile that we both liked, so we put down a layer of this amazing builder’s kraft paper to protect the cement board from mud/drink spills/etc. We then had everyone who attended the party to sign it as our ‘guest book.’ You gotta do what you gotta do, right?


As for the update on the cabinets, the hardware did not get here in time for installation prior to the housewarming party and it is a good thing, too. More on that next post… 😉