Kitchen Update

We’re back with a quick kitchen update since we promised to share every step of the process, just like we did 4+ years ago with our first kitchen makeover (which ended up taking 113 days from start to finish). So the latest news is that the electricians came by as we mentioned last week. We’re definitely DIYers who aren’t afraid to paint or demo or drywall or build furniture (we’ve even dabbled in a little bit of plumbing) but we’re happy to call in the pros when it comes to risky things like electrical work in an older home that could lead to something major (aka: a house fire). So we hired a two-man electrician team who came highly recommended (two of our friends used and loved them) for a few quick switches to make our kitchen a lot more functional with the new layout. Here’s what they did:

  • Solved the case of the mystery wire above the pantry. It was the dedicated line/outlet for the fridge which came out of the wall and went back in to be grounded (so strange, right?)
  • Got the mystery wire back behind the wall and rerouted it to be the plug for the built-in microwave that will hang next to the pantry
  • Converted the hardwired connection behind the cooktop to a plug for the new stove (more on that here)
  • Terminated the hardwired connection for the old wall oven (more on that here)
  • Added a dedicated line/outlet for the fridge’s new location across the room (we were using an extension cord to power it up to that point)

The main takeaway of this process? We forgot that rooms sometimes have to get worse before they get better. Here’s how the room looked before the electricians arrived (after we shuffled the fridge and the pantry around for a new layout – more on that here):

Well, actually we had our new counter depth fridge and oven in place (where the old cooktop and cabinet had been) and some missing granite counters, but we don’t have a wide photo of that stage, so we just had these of the stove and fridge in place (more on that phase here):

And here’s how it looked while the electricians were here doing their thing:

Insanity, right? But after they fixed all the wires and sealed up the wall they opened, everything got pushed back into place and the towels came back off the appliances. Voila, we were left with a working oven/stove, a plug for the microwave (so we can now start building that in), no more wire hanging out from the ceiling above the pantry, no more loose wires from the old wall oven to worry about, and a fridge that ran without an extension cord. Hazzah!

Totally worth the $80-ish an hour fee that we paid for a few hours of work with two guys on the job (first hour was $87, the following ones were $70). Oh and as for who we used for any interested locals, it was S.J. Ryan Electric. Good guys, fair prices, all that good stuff (they don’t even know we’re bloggers, so we didn’t get paid or perked to mention them, we just like to shout out people who do good work).

Admittedly, the kitchen still looks completely crazy, but once the fridge is built in with white wood (no more bulky black sides) and the dingy exposed paneling (and edge of that beam) is painted we’ll inch closer. And when the lighting is redone and the cabinets are painted and the new floors and counters and backsplash and peninsula go in we’ll be well on our way…

We were lucky because all of the electrical in the kitchen was updated pretty recently by the previous owners (we have GFCI protected outlets and stuff). And because we live in a ranch it’s pretty simple for someone to duck into the attic and pull things up and down (instead of dealing with drywall damage that can occur if there’s a second story) – although the electricians did have a bit of a challenge with the mystery wire above the old fridge since that was an area of the attic that was extremely hard to access due to the pitch of the original roof before the addition). Hence having to open and close the wall above the pantry (which usually doesn’t need to happen if there’s attic access).

Next on the never-ending kitchen agenda (the order isn’t finalized, this is just a running list that changes as we go):

  • build in the fridge
  • build in the microwave
  • demo out the old backsplash
  • install the new dishwasher and craigslist the old one
  • build in the new stove so it’s flush with the cabinets
  • create the peninsula with built or bought cabinetry
  • demo out rest of old counters and install new ones
  • add an 8′ doorway between kitchen and dining room (with the help of a contractor)
  • buy & build in a vent hood for over the stove
  • remove upper cabinets along accent wall (the stove wall) and add new counter to ceiling backsplash
  • buy or build floating shelves for the accent wall (hanging them after tiling will make for less tile cuts & a more seamless look)
  • buy/build matching doors for the new cabinetry so they blend right in with the old ones
  • get new hinges/hardware
  • redo kitchen lighting (remove florescent lights & fan, add recessed lighting in work area & pendants over peninsula)
  • install cork floors
  • add crown molding to top of cabinets
  • prime and paint cabinets
  • create cozy corner by the fireplace (chair + rug + side table or ottoman + built in shelves?)

Breaking a huge project down into smaller bite sized pieces = the key for us. Sure, we can still feel a little overwhelmed at times (one of those times being while typing up the list above), but we know from experience that taking it one day and one small project at a time can keep ya sane. And that way we can course-correct as we go instead of rushing into a ton of decisions/projects at once. So slowly and steadily we’ll inch closer to a finished room that we’ll hopefully love for a nice long time.

What did you guys do this weekend? Any electrical updates? Or crazy-long to-do lists? Is anyone else ripping a room apart just in time for the holidays? We have no idea why, but every year around this time we tend to start something major (which usually isn’t resolved until well after Christmas). At the end of 2007 we gutted our first home’s kitchen, then we refinished over 50% of our hardwoods at the end of 2008. At the end of 2009 we gutted the bathroom, and at the end of 2010 we packed up and moved! More on that here. Maybe the reno dust reminds us of snow? How seasonally appropriate of us.

Psst- We were asked to be speakers at Haven (a huge DIY/blogging conference in Atlanta this coming June) and we couldn’t be more excited – and nervous. Here’s hoping we get to meet some of you guys there (and don’t bite the big one on stage!).


  1. says

    Um, it looks like insanity at your house! But it’ll all be worth it. I can’t wait to see the “Progress” photos later.

    Also, I just saw you’ll be at Haven. It’s making me consider going… We’ll see if the pre-husband can survive for a weekend without me. ;)

  2. says

    Things always seem to get worse while you’re tackling a project, but I’m glad the electricians made it better-and left the kitchen in better shape. Often our DIY projects turn into huge and expensive messes-so glad that wasn’t the case for you.

    We have some crazy wiring in our house too, I think it’s the previous homeowner’s version of DIY electrical-kinda scary!

  3. Laura P. says

    I’m having an electrician come tomorrow to remove the florescent light boxes in my kitchen (mine are worse than yours, if you can imagine!), and I’m SO excited. He’ll be putting in a few recessed lights. Have you guys done recessed lights before? I’m just wondering if there are any tips on placement, etc?

  4. says

    I tend to start projects around this time of year too. I think it’s because I know the cold weather is coming and I want to get things done while it’s warmer out, especially projects that require being outside, like spray painting. I did that this weekend, painting some chairs for the kitchen table!

  5. says

    I’m impressed at the cleanup job the electricians did! I’ve never had a contractor leave our home in even decent condition. I wish I did live in the area so we could use them. You think they’d come to Houston? :)

  6. Mary Kate says

    We painted! We were looking for a way to make our bedroom feel more like “us” (which can be hard in a rental) so we added some horizontal stripes for an accent wall. We even used your tutorial from the bathroom in your first house! It turned out great and we couldn’t be more pleased. Thanks for your help.

  7. Jen says

    Sometimes the most important things cannot be seen at a first glance. Now you don’t have that roadblock in your way! Love seeing the real-time progress. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Stephanie Phillips says

    Ripping a room apart just in time for the holidays? Why yes, yes we are. We’ve all but gutted our addition (an old converted carport) to add a half bath, some storage, and laundry space. It’s been two months without use of a washer and dryer but, after a weekend of non-stop work, we might just be nearing the end! Our new flooring is installed on Thursday, so we have a bit more of a push to finish left, but we’re making it!

  9. Tracey says

    You guys got into my head last week. I spent a few days eyeballing my kitchen wondering, “Would the fridge go better over there?” “It would be awesome to have more counter space if we moved that over there…” I don’t know why, but I’ve always thought that the way a kitchen was laid out was just “it” – What you were stuck with. (I think because of all the wiring/plumbing.) We still have to update ours, so maybe some day when we’re feeling brave (and rich) we’ll get on that. For now… I’ll just marvel at all the work you’re doing! ;)

  10. says

    Woot! Electrical work still totally freaks me out; I’m happy to, if asked, take a swing at wood or plumbing, but electricity? Count me out!

    Aside from working an event this weekend, I finally put up my wall lamp! Since we have metal studs in our apartment (yeaaaaah commercial construction!) I used those 3M Command strips to mount it. Works amazingly so far, and the hold is super strong and tight for now. Here’s to hoping my glass lamp and the very expensive LED bulb inside don’t, well, fall down while I’m at work!

  11. says

    This weekend I did something that changed my life forever – I visited my EXTREMELY local ReStore. Holy Moly, am I in love! Why have I never done this before? There are about a million things in there that I need for my home. All at insanely great prices! I never would have even know about it if it wasn’t for you guys. We will be purchasing shutters from there as well some cabinetry for our laundry area (eventually). I will also be donating items we are getting rid of. I also went and priced out material for my upcoming bathroom project. Great weekend all around!

    • Renee says

      My only advice is if you see something you have to have…buy it right away because it might be gone on the next trip. I’ve only had semi good luck at our local store (Fresno/Clovis, CA). I needed the old fashioned “Cake Dome” style of light shades for my 1950’s kitchen and I found the 2 I needed, and a glass shade for my ceiling fan for $10. Everything else they have seems to be old 80’s fixtures. But, I keep checking in hoping to find that “bargain”…LOL

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