Tag Archives: granite

The Slab

This past weekend was pretty uneventful, just working on the second primer coat for most of the upper cabinets and doors, and getting the first coat or two of green paint on the base cabinets. Here’s what it’s looking like so far, with one coat of the green:

After just saying I loved the wall color after all, the green cabinets are making it look awfully blue again (it’s painted to the right of this cabinet – the whole wall isn’t painted since backsplash will cover that part):


So at the end of all of this we might need to reevaluate the wall color choice. We’ll see. If having to change the wall color is the worst thing this kitchen renovation brings, I’ll take it. Our living room is still an utter mess however, which is something I’ll have to stay used to for at least another month:


So today before work, we had an appointment to go look at our slab and approve it. We were deciding between two, and after seeing a whole slab of each color, the choice was obvious. One was dark and gray when you saw the whole 40 square feet of it, and the other one that we chose, looked light and refreshing.


It’s aspen white (a pretty common color, I think), and that’s a sample of our wall color and cabinet color painted on this extra cabinet door, and our floor sample. The granite, up close, has little specs of burgundy in it which make it look interesting. I was worried it might look like Christmas next to the green cabinets, but I think the deep green and deep red actually just look very rich next to each other in a not-Christmasy way.


Our installation is scheduled for July 12, so we have until then to get as much other stuff done as we can, except the back splash. The counter people encouraged us to wait till after install to do that. And we also decided to splurge and pay the company to do the plumbing installation for the new sink. Nik could probably have done this on his own, but it would’ve taken at least a day to figure out, especially with reattaching our old disposal and reworking our pipes which line up to hit the middle of our current sink, and need to line up to hit drains on the back end of the new sink. The plumbing installation was $325 extra, and I have a pretty good feeling that will feel like the best $325 we’ve spent in a while, once this job is done. Plus, both of us have a birthday this weekend (Nik and I are only 3 days apart!) so we’ll call this a bonus birthday present for ourselves!

The rest of the job was $1599 for the new sink and all the counter tops (including an extra 2 granite pieces to top the new cabinet we’re putting on the other side of the kitchen, and the island that we’ll eventually build), and an extra $180 for cutting and finishing edges for the under-mount sink vs an over-mounted one. I think it came to around $2100 at the end, so if you’re curious about the cost of installing granite counter tops, it doesn’t have to break the bank.

In other news, our gardens are doing well and the last couple weeks we’ve been picking some Juliette tomatoes (mini-plum tomato-sized).


We also have some new friends in our yard that are beyond cute – this is baby Hopkins, who could fit in my hand if he’d let me get anywhere near him:


And here’s a pic from further away so you can see how small he really is – that’s a leaf to his right for comparison:


We’ve met Hopkins twice now and the other night I’m pretty sure we found a sibling (we saw a baby bunny twice, and they were in different areas of the yard, so we think there’s two). Nik named the sibling Hoppington. They’re so cute, but I’m sure they’re itching to get into my garden…we’ll see how cute I still think they are if they do.

This weekend the plan is more painting of cabinets. The base cabinets painted so nicely with a brush I’m reevaluating our plans to spray the top cabinets. The issue is its about 120% humidity in NC in the summer, and it’s been 95 degrees every day so I’m worried that even if we get a nice spray on the cabinets, they’ll be tacky. We’d basically have to spray them outside…move them back inside into the air conditioning to dry…then repeat this for 3-4 coats, since the spraying is a much thinner coat. Two easy coats painted with a brush looks beautiful from what we’ve done on the base cabinets so far, and it’s all inside. It sounds like I’ve convinced myself already! Other than some cabinet painting we’re taking this weekend easy to celebrate both of our last birthdays in our 20’s. We’ve got to enjoy our 20’s while it lasts – 30 might be the tipping point for having this much energy for DIY projects!

On to the Next Project

Now that the bathroom is wrapped up, we’re moving on to our next big project: the kitchen. Literally anything we do in this room will be an improvement, not that I want to set the bar low, or anything. But, we will be on a tight budget – probably even tighter than before, because we had a major blow to our “house budget” this past week with an epic fail of our 17 year old HVAC system. Our lovely gas pack (contains a gas furnace and AC all in one unit) was spewing gas and high carbon monoxide into our yard due to a very perforated heat exchanger, and based on the age, we’re deciding to replace. It’ll be about $5000, and with our plans to not sink more than $15,000 into fixing up this house based on what we believe we can sell it for in our neighborhood, that’s a big chunk of the budget.

But, it makes it kind of fun to have to cut our budget and see what an amazing transformation we know we can make with even LESS money. So, kitchen. This is what it looked like when we moved in:


Obviously, since then we’ve sunk $2000 into upgrading the appliances and we’ve painted the ceiling, but that’s about all we’ve done in here. We’ve also stuck makeshift metal shelving into the middle of the room to serve as an island to increase the almost-non-existant counter space. As ugly as this shelving is, it’s proved to us that an island is critical to make this kitchen functional.

Our plan for the rest of the improvements will be adding cabinets or storage shelving above the fridge, adding a base cabinet and wall cabinets on the far wall (to the left of the garage door which is seen in the above picture), adding a small banquette seating area with bench storage to the rest of that wall, painting all the existing cabinets and moving them ~1-2″ up on the wall and adding top molding, adding a mounted microwave, upgrading to granite counters and a new undermount sink and faucet, adding a backsplash, adding an island, painting the whole room, and adding our hardwood floors (same floors, already purchased) to this room.

What’s a reasonable budget for this project? We’ve priced out some of the additional cabinets we’ll need and estimate this will be ~$300, plus another $100 for cabinet top molding and new floor shoe trim. Paint for cabinets and walls and trim ~$100. Microwave $250 and electrician to move outlet $200. Granite and sink priced out around $1900. Backsplash ~$100. Floors (~$400) and appliances ($2000) are already purchased. Wood/hardware for banquette and island $100. Faucet/drain system $150. Cabinet hardware $100?

That brings us to about $5600, minus the $2400 we’ve already purchased in appliances and flooring means we have about another $3200 we need to spend on this room. I’d be happy if we keep it under $3000 so we’ll see what money-saving ideas we come up with as we go along.

So for some fun pictures to show you, we spent this rainy weekend looking at paint and granite options. We decided to go with a light light gray cabinet paint, and when Lowes was having a 1 day 30% off sale on Valspar Reserve paint on Saturday, we made a snap decision and got one called Polar Star (I say “snap decision” even though I’ve been stressing about minutely-different shades of light gray for over a week now, including multiple trips to Lowes and a trip to Ace Hardware with some sample colors I brought home, but when we showed up at Lowes on Saturday, we hadn’t known about the paint sale until we walked in the store, and we couldn’t pass it up so I had to finally make a decision under pressure!).


We ordered a cool air compressor paint sprayer which came in the mail last week, so I quickly sanded a door from our old bathroom vanity in the garage (same cabinets as the kitchen), and Nik gave the sprayer a test drive. We primed first, then got a single coat of gray paint on before the rain started. The gun worked nicely. We had to strain the paint first, then thin it with some water and Floetrol (latex paint additive for smoother paint). I’m definitely still seeing some oak grain on the cabinets, so we might also experiment with priming with a hand brush to put it on thick, then spraying just the color paint on. The cabinet frames may all have to be done by hand inside, especially the base cabinets which aren’t moving, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it.

And here’s one of the granite options we like (our final paint ended up being right in-between those two options on the board, so I think it will match! The white is our trim color).


I’m excited to see how this project evolves over the next couple months. This is the last major upgrade downstairs, so once it’s done we can really start enjoying our living space.

In the rain on Sunday, we also installed a new ceiling fan in the living room. Nik discovered that we had some very questionable and unsafe wiring going to the old fan- basically whoever installed it (cough*awful previous landlord*cough) wanted a separate switch for the fan and the light, and didn’t have enough proper wires to do this, and decided to use the uninsulated grounding wire as the hot wire, which could definitely cause a fire. Luckily, Nik picked up on this problem after we tried to install the new fan with the properly colored wires and it didn’t work, and he then consulted with his dad and they figured out what was going on. To make it safe we’ll have to put the fan and light on one switch, and use the pull cords to operate the fan, which is less convenient but if it’s safe I’ll take it. Thankfully Nik knows things about electricity to keep our house from being on fire =)

Here’s Nik dismantling the old fan:

And here’s the new one – best $69 I’ve spent in a while! Also, please don’t judge the general state of chaos in our living room. I wish I could say it doesn’t normally look like that, but Nik and I have determined, with application of our geeky science minds, that this room has abnormally high levels of entropy. For non-scientists, entropy is a measurement of the level of disorder in an isolated system, and in our living room’s defense, nature tends towards maximum entropy. So there you have it!