When we first toured the Dupont house, my initial impression of the kitchen was that it was small. It’s a u-shaped kitchen, with nearly all the usable counter space on only one side.
Nonetheless, when we presented our contractor with our list of renovations, the kitchen was not on the list. There were a couple of reasons for that. First of all, it was usable; it didn’t NEED to be redone. Secondly, we wanted to live with it for a while before making any big decisions about renovation.
Thirdly, and this became more apparent as the renovation work stretched on and on and on…I just wanted to swing my pointed finger at all the painters, HVAC workers, carpenters and masons and scream “Get OUT!”. Of course, I never did that…but around the 10-week mark (of an 8-week schedule), it sure was tempting.
As time went on, we moved the microwave and air fryer around so that they occupied a less desirable spot on the counter. The dishwasher did not work, which meant we could not use the garbage disposal. So, we used only the right-hand sink bowl, in spite of the collection of the “Culligan” system water softener faucet, the 1970’s sprayer, and the faucet that leaked. All. The. Time.
We usually had a dish drying rack and tray on the right side of the sink. That left precious little work space on the left side of the stove and oven.
And on the right-hand side of the stove, the 8” wide counter accommodated the coffee maker. Period.
Still, we learned to work around it. I even managed to pull off a few holiday dinners, as well as a baby sprinkle for my niece’s second baby (a little girl!). It was a good thing we waited, though. It gave us time to realize that the existing wood cabinet structures were in great shape, and tearing them out was kind of an idiotic idea. We also realized that the refrigerator that came with the house was oversized. We could move it to the garage, buy a smaller refrigerator, and expand the “coffee maker” counter top space (on the right side of the stove) to give me a little more work area.
Sailor (as always) also came up with the really smart idea of building an extension to the opposite countertop and adding a cabinet to house the microwave and the air fryer.
These were all our pie-in-the-sky dreams in the event we ever actually decided to renovate the kitchen. Much like all the work already done on the Dupont house, we would only be doing ‘plastic surgery’; no huge changes to the existing structure. We wanted to reface the cabinets and drawers, lay down a new countertop, and add a backsplash. We weren’t adding a window, swapping out the sink for the stove, or anything major. (Including my dream of a grand, attention-grabbing range hood that would command the kitchen and give me shelf space for displaying seasonal decorations…oh well!)
In early March of 2023, we went to one of those Home Shows where every company even remotely offering home improvement services shows up. Not unlike you, we enjoy these shows with all the different offerings. We thought it might be a good idea to see what kinds of kitchen renovation companies we would find. Well…guess what happened? Of course you do!
We talked to LOTS of kitchen renovation companies. I took cards, names, brochures etc., and then came home with a big bag full of them. I absolutely dreaded sitting down, going through them and starting to make calls. But a week later, the phone rang. Doors & Drawers (their actual name) called us to set up an appointment. Next thing I knew, I was writing a check for our cabinetry to be refaced (or resurfaced or refinished or whatever they call it!).
But D&D had very limited countertop options available, and I did not love the small array they offered. Interestingly, I did not go back to my bag full of brochures and cards in search of countertops and backsplashes. I got on the internet and reached out to company named Kitchen Solvers that looked good. (I have since found out a friend of mine who moved here from Houston used them too…only she did it remotely! So brave!) I made the appointment, and then promptly stood them up. I had completely forgotten about it while Sailor and I were out running errands. I managed to patch things up by rescheduling and we started to put a plan together.
The first step was picking out tile for the backsplash. We went to their recommended tile shop and I picked out a dozen or so samples. I took them home to match against our new cabinetry color, but only one of them really matched; a subway tile with a flange edge. Sailor worried that the flange would make the backsplash look too busy, but I felt pretty confident it would work. With our winner tile in hand, we drove across the state line to Hicksville, OH (a short, 25-minute drive that included a drive through a covered bridge!) to look at quartz and granite slabs for our new countertop. We found a slab of granite that looked perfect against our selected subway tile. The predominant colors in the granite slab were white, cream and gray, with streaks of black and patches of copper.
When the final quote was presented, we were astonished at how reasonable it was. Turns out, granite is cheaper than quartz. For the most part, anyway. I’m not going to drag you into a big discussion about all the different levels granite, quartz, etc. We’d all be here all day.
Back to the kitchen cabinet refacing. It was done, and honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed by it. I had begun to doubt my color selection. We picked white, but it was a creamy white so that it would work well with the existing crown molding paint color. D&D sent a ‘finishing’ team (a married couple) that came in afterwards to make sure all the tiny little cabinet refacing issues were fixed up and finalized.
As they worked, the wife and I were chatting, and I guess I felt comfortable enough to open up to her about my less than ecstatic feelings about the cabinet color. She looked at me (almost sternly) and said “As soon as they install the countertops, your kitchen is going to feel completely different.” I doubted her, of course. But as it turns out, truer words were never spoken. When the granite guys came in and put down our beautiful granite countertops, I was so happy I almost cried. It truly made our dark, tiny little kitchen bright, beautiful, and visually bigger. Of course, the icing on the cake was the installation of the subway tile backsplash. I held my breath as I took my first look at the cabinets, granite countertops and tile backsplash all together for the first time. It was perfect.
Interestingly enough, back when the Doors & Drawer guy sat down with us, and gave us the quote, I made him wait while I had a behind-closed-doors meeting with Sailor. I was the one saying “I know we can afford this, but we really DON’T have to do this. It isn’t imperative.” On the other hand, we both knew it HAD to be done…eventually. And were the prices going to get any better? Of course not. Not only that, but the kitchen, left undone as it had been, felt out of place in the Dupont house, with all the other renovation work we had done. So, as I mentioned, we wrote the check and were off to the races.
And you know what? (Again, of course you do!) I absolutely love being in the kitchen. I love how pretty it all looks. I love totally babying the granite countertop. (I use Supreme Surface Cleaner daily cleaner and finisher.) I especially love that the sink faucet doesn’t leak! I love tidying my kitchen at the end of the day: new sink cleaned, countertops wiped, dishes loaded in the new dishwasher. Every night, I turn the undercabinet lighting down to low, take one last look around, and sigh happily.
If you are interested in a more dramatic kitchen renovation (she even moved a staircase) head on over to Miss Mustard Seed to read about Marian’s amazing kitchen renovation.
From our home to yours,