I know I have talked about my house on here before, but I can't exactly remember what I said and I'm too lazy to go back and read through all my old entries so sorry.  You'll just have to hear some stuff again I'm afraid.  I really love our house.  It's not fancy or new with high ceilings and an open floor plan, and it's not huge by any stretch, but I really do love it.  There is something about the cozy rooms and the low ceilings and overstuffed furniture and the toys all over the place and the dirty dishes in the sink that make it just feel so homey (the more I looked at that word the more I realized I have no idea how to spell it correctly).  And the yard is really great for kids.  Probably would be great for a dog too if I was the kind of person who did animals.  However I'm not.  I do not need one more thing around here that eats, poops, and needs attention.  But I digress.   

    The thing is, my cute little house has needed a ton of cosmetic work.  A ton.  We're talking wallpaper covered in blue and pink flowers with Eiffel towers embossed in it.  Um...no.  And there was hunter green wallpaper with mallard ducks flying around, and textured vinyl wallpaper with grapes, and bright red wallpaper with humongeous gold and green toile on it.  Are you sensing a theme here?  Yeah there have been lots and lots of hours of wallpaper removal.  But besides the wallpaper, hands down the worst room was the kitchen.  There were oak cabinets with a very heavy grain and not a pretty color, and the textured grape wallpaper was everywhere (with two layers of wallpaper underneath).  The countertops were off white laminate that was yellowing badly.  All the hardware was burnished gold and the two huge flourescent lights were horrible.  The stovetop was in the center of the island right on the edge where the chairs pulled up to the counter, so my kids were supposed to sit with their faces 12 inches from boiling pots of dinner.  Uncool.  There was one tiny wall oven, and all the doors and woodwork were stained, not painted.  The ceilings, like the rest of the house, were popcorn (gag).  And, as much as I love brick, my kitchen floors were smooth 6 inch brick squares that were dark red and faded to a purple color on the sides.  Very expensive '70's stuff we are talking about here, but I really did hate it.  Also, there was a doorway with two little skinny double doors from the kitchen to the adjacent dining room that we never, ever used.

    All that being said, I am rarely content when it comes to my home.  I think it's because I don't work outside of it, so I'm here all the time and I obsess about what it looks like.  Plus I watch too much HGTV and really like to piddle with decorating.  But it was all I could do to not rip out the whole kitchen on the second day we lived here.  The thing is, through a bad series of circumstances including a new job, a lease-to-purchase agreement that fell through, and a near divorce (someone else - not us) we ended up owning our new house and our old house at the same time for six months.   Now I seriously hope you are the kind of family that has the dough to own houses all over the place, your house where you live full time, your little cabanna on your private island, your ski lodge in Colorado........but we so are not.  We're just a couple of kids that got married young and started having babies early.  Daddy works a day job and Mama holds down the fort and cooks dinner, and two houses for six months was a tough little stretch for us.  So a total remodel was out of the question. 

    You know it funny, though.  What I thought was such an awful thing at the time turned out to be one of the best learning experiences and confidence boosters we could have ever had.  We did a lot of bargain shopping and learned how to do a lot - and I do mean a lot - of stuff ourselves, and today after three years and a lot of different "phases" of work, we have a kitchen that I love.  So even though I do not have a lot of "before" pictures because I had not even heard of blogging at that point much less thought I would have one, I wanted to share with you a little bit of where we started and where we are now.

Take a look at the grape wallpaper, the gold switch plate covers, the yellowing countertops, and the very oak-y cabinets. Not to mention those awesome cabinet pulls.
This was the before sink, complete with dirty dishes for your viewing pleasure, and the window above it with it's stained trim. You can see just a tiny bit of the original floor in the bottom left corner. (we did re-use this sink. It's outside in our outdoor kitchen)
And this is Aaron jackhammering the kitchen floor. It was mortared directly to the slab, and no matter how hard we beat the brick squares with a hammer, they wouldn't even crack. So he had to bust it up with an air hammer then we had to shovel it up in to a wheelbarrow and take it out. That was a completely terrible awful mess. It took weeks and a hysterically crying phone call to my mother to clean all the dust out of my house after that.
    When we finished the demo of the floor, we laid tile, and I stained all the cabinets a dark, almost black color.We put up beadboard backsplash and installed granite tile countertops.  I painted the island a distressed turquoise with red underneath and we got a new stove/oven range that you can see in the photo above.  We painted all the doors and trim white and got all new hardware.  We lucked out on a free white cast iron/porceline sink and added a new faucet.  We took down all the awful grape wallpaper, but the two layers underneath had been primed and were not quite so cooperative.  No matter what paint I put over it, the flowers showed through, so I did the only thing I could think of on my budget then.  I glued up big chunks of brown paper that I got on rolls from the dollar tree.  Then when it was all dry I painted over it for a textured look.  We did a ton of work with not a whole lot of money but days and weeks and months of time.  It was not so fun to live here during that mess for sure, but we were happy with the change.

    Then, earlier this spring, we again had a burning desire to redo stuff in our kitchen.  (Plus my Daddy built me a beautiful farm-house table for Chrismas and it didn't look right in our current dining room.)  The kitchen is just small and we are the kind of people to have informal company over quite a bit.  Plus, the wall covering fix was getting uglier every time we looked at it, and the beadboard backsplash never did look quite right.  I love beadboard normally, but I think because my installers were new at it at the time (Aaron and Johnny) the seams never really quite met up correctly and it always looked like a homemade fix.  So we, with the help of two professionals this time, tore out all the sheetrock in the kitchen and got all new (paid someone to do that. we aren't sheetrockers yet) and tore down the wall between the kitchen and dining room (also paid someone.  it was a load bearing wall and I wasn't too keen on the house falling down).  We painted all the walls the same, ripped out all the old and put up new, much larger trim all around, and scraped and painted the popcorn ceilings.  Now it looks more like a knock-down texture.  The dining room had hardwood flooring in it that was pretty but it popped and cracked and wasn't something I loved.  So we ripped it out and tiled with the same tile from the kitchen since it was essentially all one big room now.  But us and our floors - the wood was held down with what was basically an awful black asphalt with glue in it that was thick and nearly impossible to remove.  We tried elbow grease, solvents (p.s. deadly - like I couldn't move my extremities or feel my hands after two minutes of exposure to the fumes), mini blowtorches and scrapers, and finally had some success with a rented power scraper that Aaron ran the better part of a day. Then to finish the kitchen off, we took down the beadboard and put up marble subway tile and a marble and glass mix.

    So now I can say that we really and truely love our kitchen.  It makes us happy just to walk in there everyday.  It's funny too because honestly I know a lot of people who have much nicer kitchens than mine, not to mention all the beautiful things I see on tv and in magazines, but there is something about having done it all ourselves that gives such a sense of pride and accomplishment.  

Aaron scraping the ceiling. Between the mess of that and the sheetrock (notice the soffits over the cabinets with nothing on them) there was another crying phone call to my mother for help.
These are my black countertops on my island. The white is the dusty mess. I had stuff laying there so those black spots didn't get covered in the dusty mess. It was disgusting and everywhere. See the spot where the outlet cover was?
    And here are some finished pictures of the whole thing.  I was taking these in the middle of the night with a brand new camera lense so the lighting is a little wonky on some of these.  Forgive me.  I'm a girl who is technologically challenged.
The new dark-brown dirt-hiding floors
My marble and glass backsplash.
The new sink and faucet and the white window. My mother-in-law has way better sewing skills than I do so I drew these curtains out and she made them for me. This is a pillowcase from Freds (2 for $5) and 1/4 yard from Hobby Lobby of striped material and some trim.
Weird lighting in this pic so it's hard to tell the taupe/gray color, but this is the view when you walk in the back door. It's obvious where the beam was put up when we knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Love all the space of it open! I also love my mix-matched dining chairs and damask drum shade that you can't really see. I'm weird and mixed up like that.
This is the view from the exact same spot just turned to the right to see the kitchen stuff.
This is looking from the dining room into the kitchen. Why do I carry such a gigantic purse?! That thing looks huge hanging on the laundry room door!
    Thanks for letting my take a second to show off all of our hard work.  It is really fun to feel that accomplished.  In my next life I am going to have a lot more money and the economy is going to be great and I am going to flip houses for a living because I really do love this kind of stuff.  In my next life.  In this life I am going to focus on keeping Destruct-o-girl out of the pantry and bathing regularly.  You gotta have goals, ya' know?

Love like my miter saw,
8/11/2011 04:58:34 am

As always I love your post. You really need to be a writer. I also love your's & Aaron's hard work. Looks beautiful. You're talented like your mom, grandmother & aunt. Must come other side of family, I sure didn't get any of it... Lol Love U Margaret

Jackie Moore
8/11/2011 06:26:39 am

I love your new makeover, although I can't wait to see the next makeover, I can tell by your words your be working on something else in the near future. Keep us posted!!!!

8/11/2011 07:37:51 am

That looks awesome! Nothing quite like a labor of love.

Aunt Joy
8/11/2011 12:05:52 pm

Love all of this Cass. Margaret ---- She got it from her Mother and Grandmother. I on the otherhand took after the Fullen side like you, so I have to hire it done. Smooooch.

8/11/2011 01:29:22 pm

WOW! That looks SO different. Now I really feel like I need to come visit and see it in person. I love the open space with the wall knocked out. It made a huge difference. I've decided knocking a wall out can make a house look totally different! (It did in ours!)

That looks awesome!

8/11/2011 09:53:51 pm

Beautiful!!! Your house is just beautiful!!!

But I'm starting to feel self-conscious (sp?) of my stained trim and oak cabinets in my house...and I picked mine out...Ha.


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