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I have some HUGE updates for ya’ll. You read that right – we are moving! But, let’s rewind a bit to get some context cause let’s be real: I’ve been MIA for a little while (for good reason, though!)

Smack dab in the middle of the ORC for Spring 2019, we got a phone call – there was a medical emergency situation with a very close family member, and it was pretty serious. Within 12 hours, we decided to drop everything and drive home to Louisville, Kentucky to stay indefinitely while things got sorted out. (That family member is doing much better now, thank goodness)

We ended up staying around 3 weeks, I think, but it was time to go home. Living in someone else’s house for that long with two kids under two is a tall order! I cannot describe to you the relief I felt to sleep in my own bed again after such a long time away – bliss!

But even though it was awesome to be back home, there was something missing. I really enjoyed spending time with my family in Kentucky, and since most of our family cannot travel to Texas, we have to spend two entire days with very young kids on multiple airplanes just to visit. On top of that, we’ve felt the constant push of rising cost of living (ie: property taxes) here in Austin for the last few years. That and a million other reasons like:

  • We would be able to afford a home in a better neighborhood with better schools (Emma has a speech delay, so this is really important to me)
  • We would be closer to our families for the inevitable medical, financial, etc. emergencies
  • Grandparents are awesome babysitters
  • The cost of living is much lower in Kentucky (being a single income family is TOUGH)
  • We’d save at least a few thousand dollars a year in airfare not traveling back and forth
  • We’d be able to pay down our debt much faster thanks to a smaller mortgage

We started toying with the idea of moving to Kentucky, but we weren’t really that serious about it. It’s just fun to dream and spend too much time on Zillow, ya know?

SUNDAY – THE DREAM

We were home in Texas for a little over a month before it was time to go on our (previously scheduled) vacation to Kentucky. (That’s another thing I hate about living far away from everyone…you never get to go on a real vacation to the beach or anything like that because you should really just go home and see family) I casually mentioned to my dad that we might go look at a house there in Kentucky while we were in town, and he was surprised but excited.

My parents are actually moving out of my childhood home and into a new house right now, too, so it was super easy for them to put me in contact with their realtor. I texted them, and they set up a showing of a house I had found online for the next day.

Now guys…we have to pause for a minute. Our realtors (they are a lovely married couple who worked with my grandpa at GE years ago) are THE BOMB. Amazing. I could sing praises about them forever. They legit feel like family. I wish I could buy 10,000 houses just to be around them all the time. If you want to buy a house in Louisville, send me a message so I can put you in contact with them!

MONDAY – PLAYING HOUSE

The house was fine – I think we actually would have seriously considered it if the master bathroom hadn’t been comically small. And I’m not someone who really cares about bathroom size…it was just that tiny. Two people couldn’t stand in there if they tried.

So it wasn’t the house for us, but it got the wheels turning. We decided to look at a few more, and our realtors kindly set up some viewings for us.

TUESDAY – HOUSE HUNTERS

We went to look at around 10 properties, I think. In that time we saw:

  • A house where someone was clearly squatting
  • Some GORGEOUS, old hardwoods that just don’t exist in Texas
  • The jankiest washer/dryer setup I could ever have imagined
  • Gorgeous landscaping and scenic drives
  • Streets so busy you couldn’t hear each other speak
  • A beautifully staged ranch that I wanted to buy SO BADLY but it just didn’t fit our needs

But the most important part? We saw the house that was going to make it happen for us to move to Kentucky – it was well maintained, had character, had the right number of bedrooms, etc, etc, etc. Here she is!

I’m pretty sure it was the second house we looked at – in a beautiful older neighborhood with heavily wooded lots and homes with lots of character. It’s also the same neighborhood my very best friend growing up lived (and still lives!) in.

We walked the house in the morning, and by 6 PM we were back for a second showing. It was the house we kept comparing everything else to – the one that stuck out as the one that would work the best for us. (PS: that’s how you know it’s the one)

By the time we got home, we were ready to put in an offer, but had to wait for some paperwork from Aaron’s office. They’re the entire reason we are able to make this move – because he’s a stellar employee and because they are allowing him to work remote full-time. I can’t say enough good things about his company, and especially his superiors. They’re the best.

WEDNESDAY – THE OFFER

We spent all day Wednesday agonizing over the situation – we never intended to actually buy a home while on this trip. I hadn’t even brought my checkbook. But after staying up WAY too late talking it over Tuesday night, we decided to go ahead and put in the offer.

Wednesday evening rolled around, and our lovely realtors met us at my parent’s house to sign the formal offer. A few short hours later, the sellers accepted!

All we had to do now was sell our house (our offer on the new house was contingent on the sale of our current house in Texas). Oh yeah, and the kitchen was only half complete.

THURSDAY – THE WAITING

Planning. Worrying. THE KITCHEN ISN’T DONE OH MY GOD. More planning. What-the-heck-are-we-doing? It’s gonna be fine. Worrying. Planning. Stress sweating. Sleep.

FRIDAY – THE INSPECTION

Our lovely realtors knew we were only in town for a few short days and were able to get a stellar home inspector to do everything Friday morning. (Have I mentioned that I love them?). The house looked great, aside from a few small things here and there, and nothing we couldn’t tackle. The inspector even put up with my wannabe DIYer questions and made renovation jokes. Who has fun at home inspections, you ask? THIS GIRL.

SATURDAY – THE TO-DO LIST

We finally flew home, ready to tackle the incredibly long to-do list before listing our house. Oh yeah, and I only had 11 days to do it. I wish I had taken more pictures of this process, but I was legit running around until I couldn’t stand in the morning and my feet were bleeding. 18-20 hour and sometimes longer days…no joke. Here’s a sampling of what I accomplished:

  • Move pavers in the backyard
  • Deep clean everything
  • Mostly pack my house and rent a storage unit for our stuff while it’s listed
  • Paint 800 linear feet of baseboards
  • Paint an entire room from top to bottom
  • Fix all the fiddly little projects around the house that get put off
  • Install 5 new smoke detectors
  • Hire/live through/pay drywallers to take care of my mess of a drywall job (I have many talents, and drywall is not one of them)
  • Mulch, trim, plant, clean, pressure wash EVERYTHING
  • Tile the entire kitchen
  • GROUT the entire kitchen (this took SOOOOOOOOO LOOOOOOONNNGGGG…we went to bed at 6 am that night)
  • Hang half of our cabinets
  • Install under cabinet lighting
  • Install a range hood
  • File permits
  • Stage our home to sell

THE RESULT – LISTING PICTURES

The real to-do list was a LOT longer, but I got it done and it was SO worth it. Check out the listing pictures:

I love how it turned out – there are still hundreds of things that I wanted to do, but it’s someone else’s home now. I’m pumped for the new one…there are some fun projects I’ve been dreaming about. Plus: WE’LL HAVE A BASEMENT! We have some leads on the sale of our current home right now that I’m hoping will pan out – everybody cross your fingers for us! I’ll update you guys again soon 🙂

Surprise: We’re Moving From Texas to Kentucky!

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Well, here we are! It’s week three of the One Room Challenge for Spring 2019, and I’m getting nervous about the timeline of my kitchen renovation. In week one, I showed off the before, in week two, I installed all the cabinet frames and faces, and now we’re moving towards the ‘finishing’ part of the renovation (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself while I cry looking at my to-do list).

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m Catherine Ballard, the author of DIY Without Fear. I have a deep love for power tools and pillows and spend way too much time at the home improvement store. Thanks for stopping by!

This week has a fun story. If you call speaking sharply gently communicating to your spouse while children are screaming the kids play peacefully fun.

(We’re fine! It was just a tense few moments)

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Dishwasher / Sink / Hardware

What am I talking about, you ask? This gorgeous sink. That was super on sale….and so the story begins.

The Tale of the Sink That Was ‘On Sale’

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She loved power tools and sawdust, and a lovely family she and her prince charming had created. Their home was lovely, but there was one problem. Her kitchen was falling apart.

Kitchen

The girl’s sink had been leaking for 20+ years, and the cabinets beneath were rotting. She and the prince vowed to fix it, so they saved their pennies. The girl vowed to never again have a sink that leaked, and found the best affordable under mount sink and faucet combination in all the land. If only she had known…

During Ye Olde One Room Challenge of Spring 2019, they started the renovation. The kitchen was carefully demolished, and slowly put back together. Then, one day, it was time to install the sink.

It was that day that the girl realized her under mount sink plan was cursed. She planned to route the laminate countertop from beneath and epoxy the sink into place, but her nightmares of a rotting kitchen made her question her plan.

So the prince whisked her and their two children off to the home improvement castle down the road. They found a beautiful, deep, single basin sink on sale and purchased it. The girl and her prince brought home their treasure and prepared the kitchen to install it.

Reality Check

And that’s where the fairy tale ended. See…the sink wasn’t ‘on sale’. It was damaged. It was an open box. Did anyone at the store mention that? Nope. Did the receipt say anything about it? Nope. Did I notice until after trying to install it? Nope.

Here’s the issue. The sink didn’t come with a template (which should have been sign #1 that I should have returned it), so I made my own. No big deal – just measure a few things, cut it out of cardboard, measure again, etc.

I triple checked all my measurements, cut the hole in the countertop, but it JUST. WOULDN’T. GO. IN. We later found out that was because the top left corner was bent, but at that point, there was nothing we could do since it had already partially clipped into place and wasn’t coming out.

Kitchen
You can kind of see the bend in this photo, but it’s tricky to capture.

When you’re installing a sink as a drop in, you have to use silicone to seal the edges, otherwise, your kitchen starts to rot after 20+ years of water damage (sound familiar?). There was silicone EVERYWHERE while we were trying to wrangle this beast into place.

So is this blog post about how to install a sink? HAHAHAHAHA. nope. It’s about managing your expectations with DIY and learning how to remove silicone caulk from countertops, brand new sinks, hair, nails, skin…the list is pretty endless, actually.

Sorry that I don’t have any pictures of the silicone massacre…I was too busy stress breathing to remember where my camera was.

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Sink

Here’s the end of the sink story – we wrestled it into place, caulked the absolute daylights out of it, and called it a day. It’s a functional sink that is still a HUGE improvement over our old one. My DIY gurus (Mom and Dad) reminded me that if this is the biggest thing that goes wrong in our renovation, that’s a GREAT thing.

How to Remove Silicone Caulk From…Everything.

Kitchen

If you ever find yourself in the same predicament I did, where your whole body is somehow covered in slimy, uber-sticky silicone caulk, I encourage you to avoid all of the ways I failed in trying to remove it:

  • Natural dish soap? Might as well have just been water. No effect.
  • Dawn dish soap (the kind they use to save wildlife with during oil spills)? No effect.
  • 91% Isopropyl alchohol? Minor help, but I couldn’t keep it on my hands long enough to really do anything.
  • Scraping my entire epidermis off – worked pretty well.

After I was clean enough to drive, I went to the store and picked up a few more things to try.

  • Pure Acetone – worked pretty well, but this stuff scares me to use on our countertops since it’s also what I use to dissolve my fake nails when I’m too cheap to have them professionally removed.
  • Goo Gone – worked once it was dry, but really only to loosen it. Left a shiny residue that I had to clean up.
  • Denatured Alcohol – the holy grail of removing silicone caulk.

The Sink Fully Installed

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Sink / Hardware

So, big dramatic story aside, I’m still in love. It’s beautiful, and checks everything on my wish list:

  • Single basin so I have lots of room for large pots and pans
  • One faucet hole so it’s easier to clean
  • Single drain so the garbage disposal is always available
  • Modern, clean look
Kitchen
You can kind of see the bend in the sink in this picture, but you can DEFINITELY see all the caulked we pumped in there to fix it.

And this big caulk dam on the side? I’m okay with it. It was a learning process, and it doesn’t affect the functionality of the sink at all. If it was on the other side (where most of the countertop is), I probably would replace it, but time is precious around here and mama doesn’t have time to re-do everything when there’s still SO MUCH TO BE DONE.

Installing The Faucet

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Sink

Guys…if I could tell you to RUN to Amazon to buy this faucet, I would. But they don’t have brick and mortar stores so I’ll just give you a link. It was incredibly affordable, a breeze to install, and packaged like it cost 5x what it actually did.

It has a retractable sprayer, single lever that controls both hot and cold, weighted recoil system to make sure the sprayer goes back easily, and…well I just love it. I can’t wait to turn it on for the first time (we still have to hook up all the plumbing, since I didn’t have the energy to be under the sink this week after fighting with silicone)

Installing Hardware

Something that went really well this week was installing all the hardware on the lower cabinets. Thanks to a little trick that I shared in Fearless Weekly (my email newsletter), they were all measured, marked, drilled, and installed in under an hour with no mistakes. If you want in on those tips, just sign up right here!

Kitchen
FCabinets / Hardware

I love how they turned out. The extra long handles are a way to make the kitchen look a lot more expensive than it really is. Can you believe that hardware was $5.50 each? Handles that long usually go for $20-$30, if not more.

Kitchen

There’s still so much to do. I’m heading back to the home improvement store this afternoon to pick up paint for the pantry door and new window treatments, and when we get home I’m installing toe kicks. Hopefully I can get it all done by the reveal date!

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 3 Kitchen Progress Check-In

  • Install brand new cabinetry (mostly done, except for the uppers)
  • Organize every drawer, shelf, and cubby (mostly done)
  • Tile a new backsplash all the way to the ceiling
  • Install an under mount sink with our laminate countertops (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
  • Install gorgeous cabinet pulls (Done!)
  • Paint the pantry door a fun color/replace it with a glass one?
  • Build a custom range hood
  • Trim out the doorways into the kitchen
  • Install undercabinet lighting
  • Install new window coverings
  • Hang steel open shelving for our dishes
  • Replace the pass-through with some bookshelves on each side, while still maintaining the openness I love
  • Trim out the windows
  • 10,000 other things that I want to include along the way

PS: Wanna catch up on the rest of the renovation? You can check out the other weeks here:

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 3: Caulk and Cabinet Pulls

Kitchen

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Hello again, friends! It’s week two of the One Room Challenge for Spring 2019, and I’m slowly chipping away at renovating my kitchen. In week one, I showed off the befores, and then got straight to work (there is SO much to do!)

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

If you’re new here, welcome!

I’m Catherine Ballard, the author of DIY Without Fear. I have a deep love for power tools and pillows and spend way too much time at the home improvement store. Thanks for stopping by!

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

I can hardly believe it, but we’re already in week two (check out week one here)! As a reminder, here’s how the room looked before we started.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

The Floor Plan

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

We’ve already re-wired the hallway, moved the plumbing, and (very badly) installed the new drywall. Well, mostly.

Problems in drywall-land.

Removing the soffit left us with this mess.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Before we started demo-ing, we peeked into the soffit. I didn’t see anything, so we went ahead and ripped it out. Now I wish I had looked a little harder.

I assumed the vent would stay in the wall and go directly outside, but it takes a hard turn back into the kitchen before making it’s final exit.

I was pretty bummed when I saw it, but we’d already removed the soffit, so I went to plan B. I’m actually going to be building custom cabinetry out of IKEA parts around this silver beauty, so stay tuned for that.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Anyway, there are a few things we need to do to finish the drywall around the soffit, but I NEEDED counter space first. It’s a proven fact that moms can only live through kitchen renovations for so long without countertops before they spontaneously combust.

Assembling the Frames

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

To save the fire department a trip, we first assembled all the cabinet frames – these are the SEKTION part that hold all your doors, drawers, shelves…the fun stuff! They aren’t hard to put together, and once you get in a groove, they fly. (PS: I love Ikea’s railing system. It makes hanging cabinets so easy.)

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Once the SEKTION frames were installed, I really got to see the shape of my new kitchen. And I’m elated with how good it looks. I can already tell moving the sink was SUCH a good decision.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Installing The Frames

Part of the installation process is to screw neighbor cabinets together. Which always makes me nervous (don’t even get me started on installing hardware), since there’s no going back once you screw through particleboard. But we got it done, and they feel SECURE. These puppies aren’t going anywhere.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

The day we moved the dishwasher back? I celebrated. I even posted on Instagram about it. Is it hooked up to water? Nope. But I don’t care. It’s (finally) out of my dining room!

We did goof up a little in our excitement though, and forgot to drill a hole for the power cord. But one session with a spade bit later, and that problem was solved.

Installing The Drawers

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Over the course of three or four days, I put together and installed ALL those drawers. (The one room challenge really does light a fire under your butt!) Regular lower cabinets are usually just a standard door/shelf combo, but I hate digging around to try and find something. Drawers just make it so much easier.

It was definitely more expensive to go the all-drawer route, but I’ll get 1000% more use out of them this way. We even slapped a countertop on, though it isn’t secured to anything yet (mostly because I was about 2 hours away from spontaneously combusting).

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

The other side of the kitchen is looking pretty good, too. The drawers are organized, and the shelves have been cleaned up. I wish we could replace our fridge with a counter depth one, but it’s not in the budget right now.

Organizing

‘Moving’ into the drawers feels sooooooooo good. I’d never invested in real organizers for our original kitchen since I knew we would replace the cabinets someday. BUT THAT DAY IS HERE, BABY. And I’m elated. I mean, look how great my plates look all organized!

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Up next is to finish installing all the cabinet pulls, actually install the countertop, and figure out how to make an under mount sink work with our laminate. Wish me luck (that’s a lot of pulls to install)!

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week Two Kitchen Progress Check-In

  • Install brand new cabinetry (kinda halfway done)
  • Organize every drawer, shelf, and cubby (mostly done)
  • Tile a new backsplash all the way to the ceiling
  • Install an under mount sink with our laminate countertops (stay tuned for that one!)
  • Install gorgeous cabinet pulls (getting there)
  • Paint the pantry door a fun color/replace it with a glass one?
  • Build a custom range hood
  • Trim out the doorways into the kitchen
  • Install undercabinet lighting
  • Install new window coverings
  • Hang steel open shelving for our dishes
  • Replace the pass-through with some bookshelves on each side, while still maintaining the openness I love
  • Trim out the windows
  • 10,000 other things that I want to include along the way

Seeing that big to-do list has me nervous. Hopefully, I can pull it off! If you’ve done the ORC before, leave me a comment with some advice! I’ll need all the help I can get!

PS: If you want more of the nitty-gritty day to day of my kitchen renovation for the One Room Challenge (spring 2019 edition), come and follow me on Instagram stories! I’d love to chat with you!

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 2: Cabinet Installation

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

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I’m participating in the One Room Challenge for Spring 2019 by renovating our kitchen! The ORC is a bi-annual 6-week intensive renovation that takes a room from start to finish. Bloggers from all over the world participate. 20 designers are chosen to be featured designers, along with guest participants like me. The Spring 2019 challenge will be my first time, and I’m PUMPED!

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Guest Participant Logo

And in case you’re new here – welcome! I’m so glad you stopped by. I’m Catherine, the voice behind DIY Without Fear. Just like you, I love sinking my teeth into a new home project, dream about knocking down all.the.walls. and spending WAY too much time looking at homes I can’t afford on Pinterest. I consider it my mission to help other homeowners DIY without fear – you can achieve anything you set your mind to! I’ve tackled some majorly big projects so far in my quest to fix up our fixer upper, and I can’t wait to tackle even more!

Because it’s such an intensive renovation over such a short time period, my posts will be once a week for the next six weeks. That’s the only way I can complete everything on my to-do list. Check back every Wednesday for an update! And I bet you can already guess what room I’m doing – our kitchen.

The Layout and Problems

The layout is terrible and is one of the largest reasons we’re diving into this renovation. The builder squeezed everything into one side of the kitchen, making it seems way smaller than it actually is. The second part of the gif is the new layout.

Old and new kitchen layout gif

Just to give you an idea of where our kitchen started, here are 10 of my biggest gripes.

  1. The faucet on the sink was broken and didn’t swing back and forth properly (and leaks).
  2. The sink was scratched something fierce, and the right bowl’s plumbing putty was disintegrating.
  3. The original laminate countertop had a big hole in it.
  4. The contact paper that we slapped on top of the countertop to hide the holes was peeling.
  5. The countertop near the wet areas was disintegrating.
  6. The cabinets were incredibly hard to open.
  7. The cabinets had been cleaned so many times that you can actually see the particleboard underneath because the finish is gone.
  8. Our microwave sounded like an AT-AT coming in to annihilate rebels.
  9. Most of the cabinets on the window wall were rotting and covered with mold.
  10. The layout is terrible. It’s like half of our kitchen is unusable.

Before Photos

It’s a fairly large sized kitchen, and the usability will be greatly improved with the new layout. There are two square(ish) windows on the exterior wall of the kitchen, and we’re moving the sink to give us more prep space next to the range.

Kitchen before picture with two windows and a moveable island

To the right of that exterior wall is our cooking area – see how cramped it is? I’m really looking forward to actually having prep space when this renovation is said and done.

Kitchen before picture showing moveable island and a stove/microwave unit

The wall directly across from the one with the windows is new. My husband and I framed it out, drywalled it, threw a few cabinets up, and finished tiling prior to the ORC since I knew we’d still need a place to prepare meals and store all our stuff once everything was demolished. As a family with two under two, there is just no way we could function with a completely gutted kitchen!

As for the rest of the room, we’ve already demoed the tile and cabinets, moved the sink, rewired everything, framed and drywalled a new wall, and built out the refrigerator wall. In other words, I already took care of the structural, plumbing, and electrical stuff. That’s not what you’re here to see in the ORC – it’s all the pretty design stuff and the things in front of the drywall!

Inspiration

With all of that out of the way, it’s time to talk the pretty stuff. In keeping with the style we’ve developed throughout our suburban neo-colonial(ish) home, I’m incorporating lots of neutrals, traditional shaker cabinet fronts, matte black fixtures to keep it current, and some raw steel elements as well to give it some edge. To give you an idea of what the finished space will look like, here are a few inspiration pictures.

I love the open shelving from Studio McGee in the first photo. And that herringbone in the second from Okayest Moms? Gorgeous. Jenna’s kitchen has an absolutely beautiful pairing of traditional shaker cabinets with modern pulls – the best of both worlds.

Final Selections

While I would LOVE to have the funds or sponsorships that the featured designers for the Spring 2019 One Room Challenge do, our kitchen is going to be on a budget. I’m actually hoping I can pull it all off for less than $10,000 by doing almost all the labor ourselves. Here’s a roundup of the final sources.

Mood board for an affordable IKEA kitchen
  1. I’m using the brand new AXSTAD line of kitchen cabinet fronts from IKEA.
  2. IKEA is also where I found our extra-large BAGGANAS pulls.
  3. It will be a big upgrade to switch to the VARIERA organizers.
  4. I picked up this ultra-inexpensive subway tile for our backsplash. There will be a mixture of herringbone and traditional straight subway tile.
  5. We’ll be using IKEA’s EKBACKEN countertop in the concrete effect.
  6. I’m dreaming of this slate tile from Floor and Decor, but it might be out of our budget.
  7. I’m going with this faucet from Amazon. It’s beautiful, simple, and functional
  8. There will be open shelving on two walls – the window wall, and the one above the desk.
  9. We’re going with an ultra-deep sink from Amazon. It’s an undermount style, so stay tuned for how I’ll make that work with our laminate countertops.
  10. Greenery everywhere to break up all the white!

The Plan

There is SO much to do in this space. Since we’re a young family with a tight budget (and I LOVE DIY), my husband Aaron and I will be doing everything ourselves.

  • Install brand new cabinetry
  • Organize every drawer, shelf, and cubby
  • Tile a new backsplash all the way to the ceiling
  • Install an undermount sink with our laminate countertops (stay tuned for that one!)
  • Install gorgeous cabinet pulls
  • Paint the pantry door a fun color/replace it with a glass one?
  • Build a custom range hood
  • Trim out the doorways into the kitchen
  • Install undercabinet lighting
  • Install new window coverings
  • Hang steel open shelving for our dishes
  • Replace the pass-through with some bookshelves on each side, while still maintaining the openness I love
  • Trim out the windows
  • And I know I will probably think of 10,000 other things that I want to include along the way.

Want to help?

In conclusion, I’m going to need all the encouragement I can get complete my kitchen for the Spring 2019 one room challenge. I’d love if you would come over on Instagram and tell me what you think, or leave a comment here. I can’t wait to share the afters with you (and not live in a construction zone anymore!)

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 1: Kitchen Inspiration & Before Photos

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I hate solicitors. Friday night, kids are finally asleep, mom and dad are tired and FINALLY sit down…doorbell rings. Sound familiar? “Hi-how-ya-doin‘-I-know-it’s-late-but-I-have-this-great-opportunity…” Yeah, not interested and you ARE trying to sell me something, no matter what you tell yourself. When you knock on my door at 8 PM (and you’re not family or friends) you simply aren’t welcome. Or maybe I’m just a grinch. While I can’t stop people from knocking on the door, I can now finally stop them from ringing the doorbell, even if they push the button thanks to the Nest Hello smart doorbell (and lucky for you, I’ve put together all the installation instructions in this post)!

We’ve only had it for two days, but I’m in LOVE. PS: This isn’t sponsored (I wish!), just an honest review/how-to from a very tired mama. I chose this particular one for its quiet time feature – you can turn OFF the indoor chime! I’ll never have to worry about our kids waking up from a late-night solicitor anymore!

Removing The Old Hardware

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Our old doorbell was just fine. It lit up, worked well enough, and I basically never had to think about it. Which is pretty much everything you could want in a doorbell. The actual chime inside though? Woof.

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Check THAT circuitry out. I’ve never seen such an old circuit board. I mean it has diodes. I’m fairly certain it’s the original chime with the house, which makes it nearly 20 years old. Time for an upgrade! Here’s how I got removed our old doorbell and chime:

  1. Turn off the power to the doorbell/chime circuit. (If you aren’t sure, just cut power to the whole house)
  2. Unscrew the doorbell cover from the wall. There’s two wires (probably red and white) on the back, so unscrew those too. Tape the wires to the wall so they don’t fall in the hole.
  3. Take off the cover of your chime (ours just slipped off), and before unscrewing it, take a picture of where the wires are connected (usually labeled front, rear, and trans)
  4. Unscrew the chime unit from the wall, and snip or disconnect the wires to fully detach it.

Optional (Upgrade The Transformer)

If you have a door chime as old as ours, you’ll probably have to upgrade your transformer as well. The fancier/newer doorbells like the Nest Hello instructions say they require the installation of a higher voltage transformer than the old units. It’s just a little rectangle that changes the power type from regular 120V power that is used throughout the rest of your home (outlets, etc.) to low-voltage power that the doorbell system uses. Sometimes it’s in the box the chime was attached to, sometimes it’s somewhere else. We got lucky and were able to upgrade it right in the box – you just need something between 16-24V AC. This is the one we used. Installing it was super easy.

  1. Make sure the power is off.
  2. Unscrew the skinny, low voltage wires from the two (sometimes three) screws on the front of the transformer.
  3. Unscrew the wire caps that attach the transformer to the romex coming into the box.
  4. Remove the old transformer completely (it shouldn’t be attached to anything at this point.)
  5. Insert the new transformer, connecting green to ground (the bare copper wires), black to black, and white to white.
  6. Reattach the skinny, low voltage wires to the front of the new transformer.

Installing The New Chime

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Our old chime was incredibly complex – it rang for at least 30 seconds every time, hence the diodes. And while the wiring was working, it didn’t match a single diagram I could find in my holy-grail electrical book OR anywhere online. So, I had to wire my new chime from scratch. Everybody’s situation is different (one doorbell/two chimes, two doorbells/one chime, etc), but I found these diagrams super helpful. After tracing my wires and rewiring according to the diagrams, the new chime was installed! Hooray!

I chose a cheap, simple, sleek chime since I was investing so much more in the actual doorbell. It’s a NuTone unit, and I think it was under $20! If you already have a newer chime, it will be MUCH easier. Like any other ‘swap-it-out’ electrical project, just copy the old layout of wires and reproduce it for the new unit. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure the power is off.
  2. Refer to the picture you took of the original chime before you removed it from the wall.
  3. Connect the low-voltage wires to the new doorbell chime the same way the picture you took shows.
  4. Screw the new doorbell chime unit into the wall, making sure it is level.
  5. Replace the cover, paint and touch up as needed (I still need to do this, but with our kitchen renovation going on, I’m going to tackle it in a few weeks when I re-texture the wall)

Installing The Nest Hello Camera Unit

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Now for the fun part – installing the Nest Hello doorbell. Earlier, you removed the old doorbell and there were two wires (usually red and white) sticking out of the wall. Time to put it back together!

  1. (Optional) If your camera is perpendicular to your door, like mine is, you’ll probably want to install the wedge plate so the viewing angle is better. Make sure you put that on before the back plate.
  2. Install the back plate for the Nest Hello camera unit (make sure it’s plumb by using a level!)
  3. Connect the low-voltage wires to the back of the Nest Hello. The side you connect it to doesn’t matter at all.
  4. Pop the Nest Hello into place on the mounting plate. It should click in and feel very sturdy.
  5. Turn the power back on!

Nest Hello Doorbell Reveal

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).
Lockset / Nest Hello

Installation of a Nest Hello smart doorbell is really simple (as long as you follow the instructions!) – swap out a few wires, upgrade a transformer, and you’re done. And guys? It’s made a world of difference in our home. I haven’t been overly snarky to a single solicitor since we installed it. Nights are peaceful, I get notifications every time someone comes to the door or leaves a package, and I feel safer since it’s a security upgrade, too. Being able to turn my doorbell off is a huge win for our family – all the other features are gravy. Plus, it really modernizes our front door, and goes really well with the new lockset and paint we did last year!

Do you have a smart doorbell? What brand do you have? I chose Nest because we’ve already invested in their cameras and been very happy with them, but I’d love to hear your experience with other brands, too!

*This post includes affiliate links*

After one too many late night doorbell rings by solicitors, I installed a Nest Hello doorbell and EVERYTHING changed (installation instructions on how to mount it inside!).

Quick and Easy Upgrade: Nest Hello Smart Doorbell Installation Instructions

Doorbell, Entryway and Stairs, Nest

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