Another kitchen update – Floors, counters and exterior

The kitchen renovation continues! I think we probably have about a week and half left at this point. Here is the current state:

photo 1 (28)

We are thrilled with it so far, and truly these pictures don’t do it justice. I told my mom this kitchen reno is very much like the half marathons I’ve run in. I am doing great the whole time, exhibiting mental strength, feeling good, and then I get to mile 11-12 and I start shutting down. I lose the mental energy and suddenly the race becomes a thousand times harder. Those last two miles are killer! That is exactly how this is. I’ve been fine up until this point. Now that the finish line is near, I am losing my mental strength and just want a kitchen! I want easily accessible ice and milk! I want a SINK! Oh, how I have missed a decent sink. The small bathroom sink in the playroom doesn’t cut it. 🙂 I just want to be done and I want my house organized again. It’s incredibly difficult to come home after a long day of work, and the last crazy hours with children before bedtime (why are they the craziest before bedtime???) and never feel like you can relax in your own home! However, after my last half marathon, I told Brian I was pretty sure I could have kept going for another few miles. I am trying to remember the lessons running has taught me through this – the finish line will come and you won’t remember those last difficult miles!

Now for some details.


I will preface this by saying that Brian and I have never lived in a house/apartment with anything other than formica. I’ve never lived anywhere that had tile floor in the kitchen!!! Only linoleum, so I basically don’t know what to do with myself over all this stone and there has been a big learning curve for me.

In selecting the counters, we went with a two-tone look. Different slabs for the L-shape and for the island. For the L-shape, we chose absolute black granite from India. I liked this particular slab, because there were no purple tones, just a few white crystals that would coordinate nicely with the marble on the island. That was a pretty easy choice. We decided to go with a leathered finish, because I’m not a huge fan of shiny granite. I know, that’s weird, but I prefer a matte look. I am so happy with how they turned out!

photo 1 (29)

photo 2 (29)

When you touch the black counters, it feels liked a honed countertop. It is still smooth, but feels matte. I am obsessed with it. I keep walking in there just to touch it. Oh, and we went with beveled edges, which ended up being a great choice.

photo 5 (8)

We chose a 60/40 sink because it is the most functional. We used to have one big sink, and I imagined it would probably be similar to having a farm sink and I absolutely hated the functionality of it. I like having two separate spaces. I would have preferred the look of a true farm sink in our colonial house, but chose function over form! We’ve got three holes waiting on a instant hot water dispenser, soap dispenser and the one piece faucet.

For the island, we chose carrera marble. We looked at a few slabs of Brazilian marble, but ultimately liked the carrera the best. It is one big piece and I promise to post better pictures in the final kitchen post. It’s hard taking pictures because there is no lighting in here at all, except all the sunlight. The veining in it is beautiful! So much movement in the stone. We will apply a special sealer on it that also gives us a 15 year warranty.

photo 1 (31)

photo 2 (32)

The floors

We went with 12″ x 24″ slate tiles. We chose slate because of the texture and unevenness. Also, it feels like a natural, outdoor material which I like. The slate has caused us the most issues so far. We way over ordered because slate varies so much I wanted to hand choose each one. Well, my choosiness ended up in defeat when we ran out of slate and had to order more. We need 20 more pieces that meet my standards. I just didn’t want any that had purple or red tones. Some of them have minimal brown portions, but I was okay with it since we’ll tie in a little brown with wood barstools and accessories. I have no idea when the rest of the slate is coming in, but appliances are on their way, so we went ahead and grouted what we had installed! We went with a dark gray grout. These pics are WITHOUT the sealer applied. The sealer will enhance the colors.

photo 3 (24)

photo 3 (21)
We installed a window seat under the bay window with drawers for added storage. This is already such a sweet little spot. I can’t wait to decorate it! This is the view from the sink. Perfect for seeing the kids in the backyard, now that everything is so open.

photo 4 (11)

Patio and walkway

Landscaping is on the list – I promise! One day it will happen.

A few weeks into the project, we decided since we would be using the french doors a lot more now that they are off the kitchen (bringing in groceries, kids running in and out) so we decided to extend the tiny patio that existed and put in a more functional walkway. Last fall, we had a big gumball tree removed from this area so we have a lot more light and space now.

So, we installed a new lantern by the back doors that had more light. Then widened the patio enough to add a grill and a couple chairs, and put in a flagstone walkway with pebbles. It looks so much nicer to have all that awful monkey grass gone. We still want to do some work to this bed – add an herb garden, put in some nicer landscaping. The guys that ripped out the monkey grass got poison ivy (sorry!) but it is everywhere in our backyard! So, Brian and I are scared to do anything ourselves.

All we had was a monkey grass lined walkway with a few stones leading up. They ripped out the grass and put the metal dividers down. Also, note the top right of this picture. Our next door neighbors are having major work done to their house and even hosted us for dinner one night while we had no kitchen! Happy to see all the progress in our neighborhood with home updates, but our street looks a little crazy right now with all the work trucks coming and going!

photo 2 (30)

Then they installed the stones and laid the concrete. It will be so nice having a grill off of the kitchen! We’ve had to walk through two rooms from the kitchen to grill the last five years, so this is exciting for Brian.

photo 4 (14)

photo 5 (11)

Eventually, Brian wants to add a deck to the side off of this area. In a few years! I swear our house will never be done. No rush though, because we the screened porch that we enjoy so much. But the kitchen will be done SOON! 🙂



Kitchen: Chapter 2

First, a sweet Mother’s Day pic of my little family! They showered me and it was a special day spending time with my mom and mother-in-law too!

image (15)


Well, now we are getting to the fun part of the kitchen renovation. Cabinets, granite, appliances, floor tile, back splash tile, trim work and lighting! So far, Brian and I have been in pretty much identical agreement on design options, which has made the process really fun for us!

First though, since our house is already completely out of control, we decided to mix it up even more and put new recessed lighting throughout the downstairs and replace the big fixture in the foyer. If you are in the Mid-South, I cannot recommend Magnolia Lighting in Hernando enough! They are the best lighting store and have semi-annual sales in April and November. Totally worth the drive! We had our fixture replaced. I am not the best at taking pictures of the inside of my house, but here is an iPhone pic of the new fixture!

photo 2 (26)

After passing framing, electrical and plumbing inspections and filing the permits needed in the kitchen, the patched up the walls and ceilings.

photo 1 (25)

Then, they painted the ceilings white throughout the downstairs and the kitchen walls Benjamin Moore Gray Owl. It is the prettiest color! Sometimes it looks gray, sometimes it looks blue, and sometimes it looks green all while being a neutral color.

photo 4 (9)

They also delivered and installed our cabinets! I am quite impressed with the speed of this remodel. We are planning to finish ahead of the original schedule. Part of that is because we have remained issue-free, and I am so thankful to find a contractor that is as good as ours.

For our cabinets, they are painted Benjamin Moore White Dove, the same color as the trim throughout our house. We went with mostly drawers, since there is nothing more annoying than getting on my hands and knees to dig through bottom cabinets. I’m still working on selecting the hardware.

It should look like this pretty soon!


The 8 ft island layout. Those are BIG drawers for pot and skillet storage, and then a cutting board/tray storage section in between them with double trash pull-outs for regular trash and recycling. I can’t tell you how fun it was to design these cabinets!




We still do not have a pantry in this kitchen, so Brian is rigging one up for us. We bought a solid wood TV cabinet with sliding doors on a local Facebook resale site for $100. Brian built shelving for the inside, sanded and whitewashed it. It will go on the other side of the kitchen and hold our microwave, canned goods and baking supplies.

For the flooring in the kitchen, we selected 12 x 24 dark gray slate tiles from Floor & Decor. They will be laid in a brick pattern. Still trying to determine the backsplash!

Appliances… Thanks to Memorial Day, we should get pretty good prices on these. We’re going with a Bosch dishwasher and an LG french door refrigerator. For the stove, we talked about running a gas line in, but it was going to be expensive and not easy, so we opted to keep the electric cooking. However, our contractor called us yesterday and said that while the cabinet guy was installing, he came across a capped off gas line very near the location of the range! We couldn’t believe it! So, we are going through the process of getting the permit to reconnect it, and we should be good to go on cooking with gas. I was so excited over this! We will be going with the LG double oven and convection gas range.

We still have to select granite this week and finalize the window seat we are putting in at the bay window – just across from the island. It will have large pull out drawers for storing small appliances, serveware, linens, etc. He is coming to build it Saturday, and I can’t wait to see all the cabinets with the window seat installed!

We’re making progress, and we’re scheduled to be complete on June 5. Woohoo!

April Showers

April has been a lovely month. Between Grizzlies playoffs (Brian enjoyed a game with a friend)…

photo 5 (4)


Learning about insects and bugs at school…

photo 4 (8)

He came home with ladybugs. He also did a “fill in the blank” project at school that is hanging up in the classroom. It says “If I were an insect, I would be _______.” Preston’s says “a cockroach so that I could scare people.” Lovely.

Margo deciding that she suddenly doesn’t love sleep so much anymore at night and would prefer to fall back asleep around 8 a.m. She’s passed out in our bed here, still in pjs at 10 a.m…

photo 3 (15)


A belated birthday gift from Brian to see Jonny Lang in Tunica. We made a stop at the TN Brewery Revival downtown. I love dates with him!

photo 2 (22)

Margo turning 18 months old. I am shocked at this. She weighed 24 lbs and was 33 in –  90% for height! Preston tagged along to the appt. Mainly because our pediatrician pulls suckers out from behind ears and Preston lives for it.

photo 1 (21)

Work began in our kitchen! Living without a kitchen isn’t so bad. I have a microwave, electric skillet and frig on our screened porch that is serving us well. We haven’t had to eat out much, and our families have been helping us with meals here and there too. We are still on track with our timeline and cabinets go in the week of May 11. We are waiting until Memorial Day to buy our appliances, but have them picked out. Here is the gutted kitchen with the dining room wall down.

photo 1 (22)

Interior of the dining room wall. You can see just how small our existing kitchen was!



photo 2 (23)

Wall down! It was load bearing, so we stabilized it with a large beam in the ceiling. Plumbing is newly routed here. You can see the new lines in the L-shape wall cut outs. New outlets were added. We only had 2 in our entire kitchen! Now we are up to code and have enough for my small appliance needs. 🙂

 More to come on that.

With all of this, we have been busy!


Kitchen: Chapter 1

I’m planning to keep up with our kitchen chronicles and try to blog the pieces as they happen.

Here’s our current kitchen. It shows the small update we made to it just to make it decent for a few years, while we were saving funds for the remodel.

Well, we’ve already started making progress! We’ve had a couple meetings with our contractor and decided on a few things. Mainly the budget, expense breakdown, timeline, finalized HELOC and even added another small project to the list for our backyard while kitchen work is being done. We start construction mid-April. I can’t wait for the final result and I’m keeping my eyes on the prize! I’m not going to lie. We are SCARED about what is hiding behind those walls. Hopefully, nothing too bad.

Our goals are:
1. Bring the outside in with natural stone.
2. Stay true to the colonial home details.
3. Knock out a wall, bring in natural light and recessed lighting, add an island and flip the living room and dining room.
4. Remodel for OUR function, enjoyment and taste. We’re staying in the house a long time, and we don’t want to regret any choices!

Some of our inspiration kitchens are below, and there are elements from each of these that we’re taking.

Kitchen 1 – this our exact new layout, just a tad smaller on the left side. Trying to decide if I want to do the microwave over the range, or in the island. Brian is worried about back problems from bending over to use a microwave drawer. Of course, being 5’3, I’m tired of reaching up. BUT, I do want the most storage space possible in the island, so we’ll see.


Kitchen 2 – My favorite! I wish I could just pick up the kitchen and put it in our house. This is the colonial feel we want with soapstone or leathered granite and shaker style cabinets with a couple elements of glass (maybe – still not 100% sold). We are using ALL drawers on the bottom and lazy susan cabinets in the corners.


Kitchen 3 – We’re thinking about aged brick floors. We know we don’t want hardwood, since it is in every other room of our entire house, and it’s not functional for our family. I swear our kids spill everything and we do too! I’m a messy cook. Our hardwoods throughout the house have taken such a beating, I can’t imagine them for us in the kitchen! So, we’re thinking about different options for flooring – something that looks aged, like it’s always been there that will blend with the hardwoods everywhere else. Suggestions welcome!



We’ll have a more detailed meeting late March/early April with the cabinet maker where we’ll finalize our cabinet design, layout, etc. I think that will help both of us a lot since we are more visual.

I keep a Pinterest board for all things kitchen where I’ve pinned lots of things we are doing. I’ll keep updating as meetings occur!