The kitchen. The kitchen is the center of our home. We rarely eat out, so we probably cook about 95% of our meals in our kitchen. Needless to say, it’s an important room and is usually the very first thing we renovate in our homes. Thanks for stopping by to check out my latest kitchen renovation!
These two pictures of this kitchen were from the listing of the house we bought in Nebraska. We were quite sad to leave Missouri because we had put so much work into the house there and really loved it, but at the same time, a job promotion is a job promotion, so we picked up and left Missouri to move to rural Nebraska. Our house had a simple layout and a nice kitchen, but I think most people who have lived with granite can tell you, it’s hard to go back to laminate counter tops.
This kitchen was interesting…not bad at all, but had some quirky features.
The counter tops weren’t the typical height. They were about 3 inches taller. See how the counter looks really thick? Well, it wasn’t really, it was just built up with wood underneath and made to be taller. I’m guessing maybe the person that built this house was taller than average and built it this way on purpose. (Side note: all of the door frames, shower heads, and counters in the entire house were taller than the standard height, too.)
I am not short, so I actually didn’t mind the high counters, but I did want to replace them with granite, so we tore them out and had brand new granite installed. Isn’t it pretty? It is called Ornamental Giallo.
We have a great friend in Kansas City that is a master of tile. He did all the tile in our house in Missouri, and we even paid him to drive up a couple times (6 hrs round-trip) to do the tile in our house in Nebraska. In addition to this GORGEOUS backsplash, which I’ll tell you about in a second, he also tiled all of our bathrooms and the basement entryway. And it was all perfect because he’s awesome like that. Not a tile askew.
Alright, so this kitchen wasn’t totally a DIY project for us. We hired the granite and tile installers. We did do all of the tear down ourselves though, which saves a TON of money. If you go to order granite, be sure to check what they are going to charge you for plumbing work and tear-out of the old counter tops. It’s a ton of money! With just a simple understanding of plumbing a sink and garbage disposal you can uninstall it all yourself, same goes with tearing off the counter top. In our experience there are usually just some screws underneath, sometimes behind drawers, that are holding the counter top on. Just remove those and get some help lifting, and you’ve saved hundreds of dollars. We also did all of the tile, grout, and backer board purchasing ourselves and just had it there and ready for him to work. We did do all of the plumbing. In fact, I installed the garbage disposal all by myself for the first time! I also replaced all of the outlet covers and we drilled through the cabinets to install the lighting underneath. So, while you may not be able to do everything DIY in a kitchen, you can certainly save some money by doing some of it yourself.
The back splash was easily my favorite part. I had gone through stores and looked at every tile that was available and really loved nothing. This house was in the country and I was trying to go for a more rustic look to complement the shiny feel of the counters and appliances, and even cabinets for that matter, but not go too cabin-like so it would still feel more modern and updated. I wanted something that would draw your attention.
When I saw this tile on a fireplace I just knew I had to have it. It’s the MS International Golden Honey Stone Ledger panel. The problem was, everyone thought I was crazy. They said “it’s too rough”, “it’ll be so hard to clean”, “it’s not meant for application near water” etc., which could all possibly be true, but I didn’t want to hear it because I loved it so much and I knew I had the best tile guy ever doing in the install, so I knew it’d be okay.
It was more than okay. Clint did a tremendous job on the install, and each tile fit like a glove. Notice with the backsplash he even tiled up the sides of the windows, and again on the sides of the upper cabinets. It made a huge difference rather than just stopping the tile where the bottom of the upper cabinets were. It was such a small thing but made it look much more custom and high end. We were able to seal it with a great stone sealer, and with all of our cooking and cleaning, it was truly put to the test and held up perfectly. I even splashed spaghetti sauce on it once and panicked a little because I was worried it would stain, but it didn’t! I think with regular maintenance of a sealant it will look amazing for a very long time.
Close-up of the backsplash.
One other important upgrade we made was the under cabinet lighting. It not only made a huge impact with the backsplash and granite, but it was fantastic for food prep. I think it’s another overlooked feature that can make a big difference.
And finally, I just have to say, when people would visit our house, the backsplash was the first thing they would comment on. Then the granite. Everyone loved it just as much as I did. So ignore those nay-sayers and do what you want! Make it you!