Ballard Kitchen Reno: The Before

Ballard Kitchen Reno: The Before

You guys are seriously hungry for some kitchen progress. And I get that. Honestly, if I wasn't able to go over every change every day of construction myself, and then have Ansel repeat it to me each night, I would most certainly explode with impatience. This kitchen has been an obviously necessary project since the moment we first saw the house, a little more than two years ago (holy crap! What have I been doing with my life that prevented me from doing this kitchen for two years!?), and the remodel is finally a no-going-back-now reality. Yaaaaaaay! But we start poppin bottles, we must first pay homage to what is now dumpster food. If you ever stepped foot in my house, you know that the kitchen was/is a big source of anxiety for me.  You probably recognized this by the widening of my eyes with every step closer to said anxiety pit. Or by my broad stroke gestures that frantically encouraged you to let the reality slip past like a blurry dream. But you and I both know that didn't work. It was a wonky, rickety kitchen that had seen some cringe inducing paint colors and was held together by crumbs... at its best.

Lets review, yes?

A Brief History of the Good the Bad and the Ugly

When we purchased the house:


I swear that the kitchen was doing the equivalent of sucking in its stomach for these photos. Because it really doesn't look like garbage. Just ugly. But livable. Like a kitchen in a cheap RV; where you think "ew. But hey, its clean and functional." But then, much like a cheap RV, the whole thing falls apart as soon as you drove it off the lot, or so I imagine. Basically we we actually started putting stuff in here, and using it for, say, cooking, it really just gave in to being terrible.

Although, that baby poo + baby blue cabinet color combo was both witty and inexcusable.

Photo from the week we moved in! I labeled the drawers to help us get used to where everything was.

Photo from the week we moved in! I labeled the drawers to help us get used to where everything was.

After we unearthed the original pine flooring all over the house and moved in, I was compelled to try to put a band aid on it. So, in a flash of desperation and willingness to experiment on what I knew was only temporary, I painted the cabinet fronts navy. And the peeling laminate counter tops white.

navy kitchen
navy kitchen

Which was fresh and exciting for... not long enough. The navy was a very warm navy, and the space always felt too hot and too small. Twas a mistake. Oh well.

So I painted the space once again. This time a very subtle two tone that continued the color scheme from the bathroom. This was nice color wise. But after that initial gratification wore off, it was even worse. You know, the bigger the high, bigger the fall.

It was also at this point, that the physical flaws and generally, falling-to-pieces-ness became too hard to ignore.

( please note, most photos from this point on were taken after, I packed everything up, so this was the kitchen lookin goooood)

Some key issues (aka my cathartic list of kitchen injustices):

  • Very few of the cabinet doors actually closed.
  • Drawers got stuck, dependent on the weather.
  • There was zero counter space. Most prepping took place in the 6" to the right of the stove.
  • The bits of glue stained pine floor peaking out from under the cabinets, that were too hard for our on the cheap floor re-finishers to reach, looked like the black plague was seeping in.
  • The fridge really took on the properties of a black hole.
  • The freezer had no shelves, it was like a toppled bucket....useless.
  • The sink and it's cabinet wall were falling forward off the wall. Thus crumbs and water spills, followed by ants, kept us on our toes. I did try to caulk the gaps, but they were too big.
  • The sink was too small for... anything. A single dinner plate filled up the whole basin. And a pot was pretty much a slightly smaller sink within the sink.
  • No dishwasher or in sink garbage disposal, so it got... gross.
  • There was no baseboard so there we big gaps (or as I thought of them; cat hair collection valleys) between floor and wall.
  • The lighting options consisted of a blue tinted fluorescent ceiling block, slug snot sconce, or single light bulb over the range.

The Dinner Party

Which leads me to the "last straw" so to speak. We were hosting a dinner party, something that I love to do, but my kitchen anxiety (see above) prevented me from doing very often. This particular evening, as I was clearing some dishes, I heard a high pitched noise coming from the kitchen faucet, like when you leave the hose on just a little bit. So, in an attempt not to disrupt the party, I grabbed a wrench and tightened what I assumed was a loose nut on our faucet. It was the gentlest of tightenings, no one in the other room noticed what I was doing, but then, with out even a crackle or pop, the whole dang faucet fell off the wall like it had been sliced with a laser. Trying not to ruin the party, I called for Ansel in a sing song voice. But, alas, the strategy based board game they were all playing was too captivating, he didn't hear me and my calls escalated to loud squawks as the kitchen was rapidly being blasted with water.

We survived, shut off the water and cleaned it up as best we could before returning to the board game with out too much shame, mostly because our friends are the best and the most understanding. The next day, we took a better look at the wreckage, discovered that the faucet had been leaking behind the wall for a bit, and with the recent water-spolsion, the "tin" backsplash was now peeling off like the rind of a rotting clementine. The plumber who came by to re-affix our faucet gave it a 50/50 chance of surviving the repair, like it was some kind of experimental surgery. Luckily, faucet made it through, but we knew that was our last pass. So, I put up some peel and stick tiles (a product that really shouldn't exist beyond a child's play kitchen) and we got our butts in gear. It was remodel kitchen time!

That dinner party was 6 months ago.

But I promise, we have been going as fast as any of the suppliers will let us. Custom cabinets take forever and ever. Especially when everyone else is remodeling over the summer and your order is small potatoes compared to those epic mcmansion kitchens that are being transformed from a cherry mocha traditional cabinet to a swiss toffee transitional.

Anyway, that is about as many "before photos" as I can bear, because this wasn't just before, it was everyday for two years, and it was a bummer.

But the one thing I am going to miss about our old kitchen? Nox's condo. The top row of cabinets were just inaccessible, so we left them empty and Nox moved in when he needed peace and quiet from the hub-bub below. It was adorable, and like a real life lift the flap book, where behind the flap is always the sweetest cat. I owe him big time for evicting him.

But for now we will all just cuddle and hide in the bedroom as the construction chaos continues. Until then!

Ballard Kitchen Reno: Space Planning

Ballard Kitchen Reno: Space Planning

Beacon Hill Bath: The Result

Beacon Hill Bath: The Result