For the past three years, I’ve very deliberately written about budget-friendly decorating ideas.
That means that most of the time when I’m decorating, I’m working largely with what I have, scouring the aisles of HomeGoods or Target for decor deals, and throwing in a quick DIY project here and there.
I’ve done this because I know that most of us — including me — don’t have endless cash or time to dump into big projects. Just like you, I’ve got a mortgage to pay, two kids in school and daycare, student loans, and all that fun financial stuff that we all get to deal with when we’re adult-ing.
Big renovations were completely off the table. Until the kids got out of private school, at least.
But if you’ve seen my stories on Instagram lately or read my recent posts on Facebook, you might be sitting there wondering how in the world we wound up with THREE major home projects happening all at the same time.
The kitchen cabinet snafu that started it all
Since we moved into our home five years ago, I’ve always disliked the kitchen.
It wasn’t horrible, but it never felt like us, if ya know what I mean.
Here’s a nice grainy photo from the MRIS listing back when we bought the house in 2014:
Anyway, back in March of this year, Brian noticed that our upper kitchen cabinets to the left of our sink looked like they were sagging. After further inspection, we discovered he was right.
(I talked more about this kitchen cabinet incident — and shared a couple photos — in this post.)
We panicked, especially because all our heaviest items — think porcelain dish ware and glassware — were in those cabinets.
We decided to remove all the items from those cabinets and then we took the cabinet off the wall.
But we didn’t have a longer-term plan. We just randomly decided to trash one of our cabinets.
In our defense, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Operation “Save Our Dishes” was in full effect.
About a month later, we had our neighborhood handyman come in and repair the wall.
Then our kitchen looked like this (sorry for the unedited iPhone photo, complete with a cameo from my Swiffer mop handle):
We planned to keep the space fairly open to the left of the sink and add some simple shelving as a temporary fix.
To renovate or not to renovate?
A few weeks later, we started throwing the big “R” word into conversations.
“Should we just bite the bullet and do it? It’s gonna have to happen eventually, anyway.”
- Related post: How much does a Home Depot kitchen cost?
- Related post: 5 things you need to know about an IKEA kitchen remodel
The result of our meetings? We decided to wait on a major kitchen renovation. We still weren’t ready to take the plunge.
Then we came up with another idea.
New (white) cabinets, who’s this?
Now that we were in “this kitchen needs some kind of help” mode — but had decided against tackling a major renovation — we decided to paint our cabinets.
(Yes, shame on me for being a bad blogger and not writing a post on the cabinet painting process yet. But I promise … it’s coming!)
So my husband worked little by little on nights and weekends to paint our cabinets white.
It was a tedious process but the cabinets looked fabulous when he was done:
Big difference, right?!
Except when he was tackling the final leg of his paint job, he noticed that the other set of upper cabinets we had — these are to the right of our sink — were also pulling away from the wall.
It all felt like a bad scene out of an HGTV show.
The final straw (er, cabinet)
We took all of this as a sign that it was time to get a new kitchen. For real.
No more painting cabinets or doing “Band-Aid” DIY projects.
Yes, it meant we’d have to dip into our “emergency” savings. Which no one ever wants to do, but I guess these are the times when it’s okay. Besides, we’d been saving for home updates, anyway, knowing that there are plenty of ’em on our house to-do list.
So we met with a contractor who’s done lots of work in our neighborhood. We’d seen the kitchens and bathrooms he’s renovated over the years as we’ve visited our friends’ homes. We had plenty of proof that he and his team did great work and were trustworthy, which made us feel confident going into the renovation process.
Choosing cabinets, counter tops, the back splash, and all the other fixtures for the kitchen was actually a pretty painless process for us. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of couples having knock-down, drag-out fights over counter top materials or kitchen island placement.
Thankfully, Brian and I have always had similar taste in decor … although maybe now that we’ve been married for almost 10 years he’s just resided himself to the fact that I’m usually going to have the final say on anything related to design. Happy wife, happy life, right?!
If you give a mouse a cookie (or a new kitchen …)
When we set out to renovate the kitchen, we hadn’t planned on updating our floors. No, we don’t love them, but they’re cherry wood and in decent shape.
So the original plan was to keep them as is.
But then we discovered that the previous homeowners who DIY’ed a lot of their renovations didn’t put that same hardwood under our cabinets.
And we were planning to change the kitchen layout, which meant we’d be left with some really awkward flooring issues.
Long story short … if you give a girl a new kitchen, she’s gonna need new floors. And because her home’s first floor is pretty open, she’s gonna need those floors on the entire first level. (This really has the makings of a great children’s book.)
Which is exactly how our “big project” tally moved from 1 to 2.
Life (and 1980s homes) are full of surprises
A few Saturdays ago, we had a great meeting with our contractor about the kitchen. Signed the contract, felt excited … this was going to be good.
That’s when we noticed the water spots on the ceiling in the living room.
Our contractor had already left, so I called him Monday morning and asked him to come back and take a look at the ceiling.
We’d had a small water leak in our master bathroom shower about a year ago, but I thought we’d fixed it.
Here’s our master bathroom, by the way. I’ve got another fabulous photo courtesy of the MRIS for ya:
Brown, brown, and more brown. Fifty shades of brown, basically.
He returned early that next week, and as I was waiting for his arrival I was looking around my daughter’s room and noticed the carpet was discolored. (Her bedroom and our master bathroom shower share a wall.)
Then I bent down and touched it. It was wet.
And I moved her nightstand about 12 inches to the right …. and there was a mushroom growing out of the carpet.
Yes, a mushroom. A real freaking mushroom.
After the meeting with our contractor, we learned we had a pretty big water leak in our shower, and were told that whoever redid this master bathroom previously didn’t configure the shower floor correctly. So it was bound to leak at some point.
And all of a sudden we had project #3 on our hands: A new master bathroom shower, plus wall repair and new, non-moldy flooring for my daughter.
While no one likes discovering water spots on their ceiling, or a cabinet that’s pulling away from a wall … I’m a “glass half full” person and like to find the silver linings in every situation.
The bright side? We’re updating a lot of old things in our home — which I’ve wanted to do since the day we moved in.
But these projects weren’t “must haves” until recently. They were filed under the “yeah, that’d be nice to do but we don’t really need to do it right now” category.
Our renovations kicked off this Monday. The shower repair is well underway and the kitchen got demolished yesterday.
Brian was bummed about the kitchen demo, though, because he “wanted to go all Chip Gaines on it” with a sledgehammer but our contractor said no. There were some hopes and dreams destroyed that day.
I can’t wait to share more updates and show you what our new kitchen and bathroom look like! I’m sharing lots of updates daily on Instagram stories. If you aren’t following along with me there, go do it!
In the meantime, please send us all your prayers and good vibes … and if you’re feeling generous, some wine and takeout.