Why We’re Renovating…Again

May 15, 2018 | By New Darlings

My plan for this post was to share everything I wish we knew before we started remodeling our house last year, because as many of you know, we’re continuing work in other areas with a new contractor and also…redoing the kitchen. I had a fear of sharing that we will be redoing the kitchen for a while now, because at first it sounds a bit ridiculous, I know, but here’s why we decided to just do it.

To begin with, the whole thing started with us wanting to add French doors to our dining room. We thought: “Oh, this should be easy!” Ha! Silly silly us. We knew we had to knock down the wall separating our dining room and laundry room, which we didn’t mind…our laundry room was small and we wanted to add a compact washer/dryer unit in the master closet, so we weren’t going to miss it. From there we realized we had to redo the flooring if we wanted everything to look uniform and cohesive, because the laundry room and kitchen flooring were running in a different direction than the dining room and there was also a small step up from the dining room into those other rooms. So leveling it out came into play…which then brought us to how the kitchen would be preserved during the process. Our cabinets would get pretty beat up, and our new contractor (same team who we worked with on our guest house — cannot express how much we love them!) suggested we do new cabinetry. I was pretty excited about this initially, because we just added new faces on them in the previous kitchen project and honestly, I don’t even think they were new. You must be wondering, how don’t you know…well rule #1 when doing a renovation, do a ton of research on your contractor. Our previous contractor was recommended by a friend who does remodels and flips in town and we checked out their work in some homes and loved it, but when it came time for work in our home, things were a bit different and it was one thing after the other. However, I feel like before we go any further, we should put out a little disclaimer, the kitchen cost was almost like a bonus…very affordable, so I can’t be too upset…but still in the end, it was money spent.

So when we initially had the kitchen redone (it was last after the bathrooms), by that point I kind of just surrendered. Our cabinet hardware was lost and I had to repurchase it, along with an entire light fixture. They had redone the tile work twice and it was still pretty messy, which word to the wise: when going with dark grout be picky with your contractor! Imperfections show 10x more with dark grout and it’s a lot harder to make look neat. There was no customization within the cabinetry, which now living with the house, we realized we really should have paid more attention to. Think of how you live in the space, does your pantry have enough shelves, do your cabinets and drawers have enough room for you to grab your pots easily? We had one cabinet where everything was literally just piled on each other making it a whole project to just pull out what we needed to prepare any meal. With the new kitchen, cabinets and organization are our main priority. As far as the tile and grout…we’re ditching it and going for something cleaner. You can’t really tell in photos, but it kind of drives us nuts.

What are we going to do this time around, you ask? Well, like we said, we’ll be swapping out the subway tile and dark grout for a marble (or marble-esque) backsplash slab. It’s a decision that we went back and forth on for quite a while, but we’re loving that style and think it’s going to give the kitchen a nice, sleek, bright, clean look. We’re into it! We won’t be changing the look of our kitchen entirely though… the open shelving will stay! After we revealed our kitchen last year, we received a few comments and messages from people who told us we’d regret the open shelving. “Everything is going to be dusty”, they said, but to be honest, we’ve had zero problems with the open shelving. We actually enjoy them so much that we did them again in our guest house, so yeah, we’re big fans. We’ll also be doing bright white cabinetry this time too. We didn’t love what was going on inside our cabinets last time (and we’ll be fixing that), but we did like the white cabinets. We love a space that feels airy and spacious, and while our kitchen is on the smaller side, the all-white-everything approach makes it feel bigger, which we like a lot!

We will be mixing up some hardware, lighting, and finishes in the new space, but we will be keeping all of our Frigidaire Professional appliances. We have had zero complaints and they just make sense for our family. Also, something we have received many questions about is our ‘hidden” microwave, well more like our absent microwave. With the original kitchen remodel we decided to ditch it and honestly haven’t looked back. If we have leftovers to heat up, we do so in the oven or stovetop. We use our kettle for tea in the morning and don’t eat many frozen meals so not having a microwave hasn’t been a huge change for us, and we won’t be reinstalling one with the new remodel.

We’re excited to dive more into the process and get things moving over here. We snapped the above photos a while back before we left for Paris and London, so when we came home we saw the below. Here’s the current set up. Maybe we’ll keep the minimal vibe… 😉

What’s number one on your home project list? Any projects or design choices you’ve made that you regret? We’d love to hear and share throughout this whole process. 🙂

15 comments on “Why We’re Renovating…Again”

  1. That’s so exciting! You guys were a major inspirations and influence to my new kitchen we just finished redoing. Excited to see how you plan and design this one. As much work as the reno process is, I love it and I’m sure you guys thrive in it too.

    Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like.

  2. I have always loved your house and admired your style! I can’t wait to see it after. I hope you keep the Schoolhouse Electric vibe! I do have to admit though, I’ve always wondered about that tile job! 😬 Thanks for sharing, you guys are the cutest.

  3. Love the open shelving. Did you have them custom made or did you purchase them as is? I’m looking for some for my kitchen now and I’m struggling on finding the style I want.

  4. Yay I’m so excited for you guys! Definitely gonna be on pins and needles for you guys to finish it. Haha since you pointed it out. Yes, I can totally tell in the picture. I myself could have done a better job. Did they not know how to use a level? Or something? I did our guest shower In subway and it looks great. Whoever did your tile was not an expert. But now you guys know yay haha

  5. I totally understand wanting to redo something almost instantly after doing it! I finished painting my cabinets, and seeing it all together with hardware, lighting, and flooring come in to play I immediately thought “nope I want to redo this”. Being pregnant at the time I figured it would be another year before that option.
    And now I’m so tired of making old things work I just want to get new cabinets! Even though I love diy, this 80’s home has zero character and I am ready for upgrade. It’ll be a while before we can afford it though. My visionary side can be a bit ambitious!
    So excited for you guys and can’t wait to see. I know it will be beautiful and inspiring.

  6. Cabinets are so essential in kitchen design! I’m in k&b design and I got to tour a cabinet manufacturer in Minnesota that my company uses. It was incredible to see the artisanship, integrity and thought that goes into making custom cabinets. Most people get appalled by the price – but as you have witnessed first hand – it is the best investment you can make in your kitchen. I’m so grateful I got to see the whole process from wood to finished cabinet boxes – and! All the mechanisms and customizable options to make it your own! I can’t wait for the day when I get to design my own kitchen…in the meantime I enjoy helping families make their kitchen dreams come true! Thanks for sharing! (And agreed on the tile/grout)

  7. I wasn’t going to say it before you did, but that tile work would have driven me nuts too! We did subway tiles too and I was freaking out when I was watching them install it and we realized the ceiling was crooked. Luckily we did a white grout and we did have a good tile guys so now it looks great!

    1. Hi Paige – I appreciate your kindness, but yes – the tile was driving us nuts. It took us a while to get the nerve to do it again and find the right contractor. We’re happy to say we found a good team and were really happy with what they did in the guesthouse. White grout definitely helps too. The dark grout shows everythinggggg. I’m not sure I would do it again. Happy to hear you guys had a great tile guy – it makes all the difference. Glad I’m not alone in my OCD interior choices and expectations. 😉

  8. Hello! I love your blog and style. Any chance you’d be willing to share name of the contractor/company you are using? I don’t know where to start in finding one, and we’d like to renovate our kitchen this year. (East Valley) Thank you!

  9. so excited to see how this all turns out! i couldn’t agree more on the contractor issue. we hired someone for the first time ever in august for what was supposed to be simple insurance claim fixes & it has been a huge pain ever since. we felt like we’d be able to trust him because he’s friends of my sister but apparently he doesn’t care about that. we’ve been pretty much given up hope that he’ll ever come back & fix his work (or even finish it).

  10. High fives all around for ditching the microwave! Inspired! We don’t have a toaster and use a teapot on the stove for brewing tea. The microwave is the last thing to go. Are you finding it relatively easy to reheat food using pots and pans?

  11. Was it Sarah from @parohome that recommended the previous contractor? Her houses look so pretty in IG but after having a home inspector look at one that we were thinking about buying, there were a million and one issues and sloppy work all around once we got a closer look. Sorry to hear you had such a terrible experience. Would love to know which contractor you’re currently using and if you have any suggestions for a local (PHX area) landscape designer?

  12. A question and a comment. I hope you don’t mind:) I just came across all of this.. I am wondering what white you did your cabinets in and… also wondering if you did all your trim the same color white? Thank you! You have GREAT taste!

    1. Hi Carla – we went with the purest white the company offered. We did everything through Affinity Kitchens…it was such a wonderful process. definitely get in touch with them if you have any questions. We loved the team. We also did the trim in the same color. 🙂

  13. Great article and what a lovely share you got in here! I am looking for this kind of blog and your next post! My family renovated our kitchen last year, so some sorts of your steps are so familiar to me! We have hired a kitchen remodeling Boston ma with affordable cost for our entire kitchen! But like here, it also has a great suggestion for remodeling. I also love the great infographic with some great explanations. I appreciate it so much that I had to reshare and send the link to my friends. Excited to see more from you guys! I will definitely keep coming back!

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