Kitchen Refresh – A Little Elbow Grease for My Dream White Kitchen

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a white kitchen. As cliche as it is, I love anything light and bright! Our home was built in 2000 (or somewhere around there) and from what I can tell, it still has the original kitchen. There was nothing wrong with it. The flow is great, there are lots of cabinets, it is just… brown. I don’t have anything against a natural wood kitchen. Our hardwoods run into the kitchen, so we had one giant brown room. Plus, if I am just being honest, it isn’t my style. We get a lot of light in our house, but it still seemed dark in here! Being a stay at home mom, I spend 90% of my day in the kitchen. To pay someone to refinish the cabinets would have been expensive. And while we are in the process of updating our home, it wasn’t in the cards for last summer. I am not one to sit back and wait, so…. I did it. I refinished the cabinets myself. So before I show you the finished product, here are a few before pictures for context!

Before

I was able to find these pictures from the original listing of our home of the kitchen in all if its woodgrain glory (because you know me by now and I forget to take decent before pictures):

(Previous owner/renter’s furniture)

So see what I mean? Lots of brown. Wood. Boring. Great layout, lots of space. But lots of room for improvement! So I did what I’ll call phase one of the kitchen renovation. While we have no plans of doing a new kitchen in this house, there are other things I have planned for it to make it even more special! Alright then… who is ready for some after pictures?!

After

And here is a before and after because it is just that good!

Let’s Talk About It

So, let’s talk about it for a minute. Or I will wait until you pick your jaw up off the floor… dramatic transformation, right?! So if you’ve followed along on my instagram, you know I refinished the cabinets back in July. Or maybe it was August. Either way, it was a very long time ago! I knew I wanted to do it correctly from the start, so it took an incredible amount of time. And I wanted to live in it for a while to give you a good review of how we liked it and how they wore. And also because sometimes these things take forever to plan ahead… But I digress.

Finishing the cabinets was a huge undertaking. Basically it was the only thing I did for three solid weeks. Thank you, warm weather and outside play for the kids!

Here are a few tutorials that I used. I read a million, but these methods were closest to what I did:

Young House Love 

Home Talk

If I were to go back in time, I would rent a paint sprayer. And use my power sander. For some reason I forgot they existed and I hand sanded each cabinet, front and back and between layers, AND I OWN A POWER SANDER. I’ll blame it on the mom brain thing… If I had used both those machines, this whole project would have been so much faster! Take my advice and don’t do it by hand. The finish will be nicer and it will take way less time.

Am I happy I did it? You bet!  I haven’t regretted it one bit. Even Marcus is glad I did it. While he doesn’t always understand my ideas and projects, he understood this one 100% after it was done. So, thank you honey for trusting me and letting me do crazy things!

Cost & Materials

The total cost for the project was around $200. That includes a gallon of primer, two gallons of paint, and about a half gallon for the island. Such a big impact and hardly any cost compared to installing a new kitchen!

Here’s what I used for the project. Don’t skimp on materials! You’ll save your hands and time. Promise.

Brush

Mini Roller

Foam Roller

Paint tray

Handy Paint Cup (oh my goodness buy these!!)

Paint Key

Behr Alkyd Enamel Paint (Link is for semi-gloss, I got Swiss Coffee in satin)

Zinsser Oil Based Primer 

Hand Sander 

Sanding Paper

I also changed out the knobs on the drawers for pulls. I feel like it is more substantial and looks nicer on a drawer!

So how has it worn? Well. I am not a professional, and neither was the process refinishing. And I have three kids four and under. The kitchen takes a beating! Little nicks are easy to touch up with some paint and a little brush. It is quick and worth it to me! How well does a white kitchen stay clean? I would say that white cabinets are no dirtier than any other color, you can just see the mess/dirt a little more. I don’t even mind it because I would rather clean something than have dirt hide! (I’m looking at you, carpet!).

Also, as a side note, I will admit that decor-wise, it is super pared down right now. But that is also the time of year, post Christmas decoration overload, and post January get-all-the-things-out-of-the-house.

Future Plans:

If you are interested, here are my future plans for my glorious and beautiful white kitchen:

Paint walls

Install new backsplash

Remove cabinets to the left of the sink and add open shelving

Remove cabinets to the right of the refrigerator and add open shelving

Add pendant lights above island

Replace pendant above sink & over eat-in table

Replace blinds with fun pattern?

Built cabinets up to the ceiling

New appliances

(and ultimately) Refinish floors

Add chunkier baseboard & crown molding

A girl can dream, right?


Outfit details here:


Also, if you were wondering if I feelcomfortable in front of the camera and rationalize by being awkward and doing weird things, here’s your confirmation:

Do you have any questions about refinishing your cabinets? Any reservations? Please ask below! I would love to help you out and give you the confidence you need to do it.

Also a special thank you to Ashleigh of Ashleigh Laureen Photography for these amazing pictures! Check out her site and say hi (tell her I sent you!). She is beyond talented! She is also so nice and super sweet. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes before we even got to shooting!

Affiliate links used. Thanks for supporting my blog!

The Woods – The Great Backyard Renovation

We live in New Hampshire which is notoriously rocky. Our town in particular has some hills. And when I say hills, I mean HILLS. Our whole neighborhood is basically built on a mountain (or so it seems). While the developer did the best they could to plop as many homes down as possible, it also meant they didn’t put too much attention into creating usable, level yards. We have quite a bit of land, but not much was usable. Our backyard had a nice, small grassy area then a huge dropoff to another level. The lower level was moderately cleared but was not at all level, very rocky, and had 13 not-so-healthy fruit trees. 

Go back in time to September 16 (or somewhere around there). Our last home had a playset with swings and a slide and we used that thing every. single. day. We really wanted to get the kids one for Christmas, we just couldn’t figure out where to put it. We have 4 acres, but not a lot of it was cleared. And the cleared portion in the backyard was pretty much entirely septic underneath, so we didn’t have much area to work with. So Marcus goes to our side yard this September day and starts clearing an area to put the anticipated playplace. But he didn’t stop there.

I love a good before and after, so here’s what we were working with before. You can see the grassy area (which we will eventually fence in because, hills) and then a drop off to a wooded area. I know these pictures aren’t the best quality, but unfortunately this is the best I could find. I need to get better about taking pictures before we start a project, but in my defense, this is a project I didn’t realize was going to happen!

Picture Marcus’ initial clearing to the right of this picture. And where you stop seeing grass is a big dropoff, so we will essentially have two levels in the backyard. 

Before

You see the tops of the Japanese Maple and Evergreen trees? Keep scrolling to see where we moved them! The fruit trees were just beyond those decorative trees. 

This is where the future path is going to be. I will describe that more in a bit…

Exterior pictures are so difficult because you don’t really see the magnitude of the progress! Anyways, here is where we are at now:

This is pretty much the same view as the previous picture. You almost don’t even recognize it! (And do those trees look familiar?). 

After

Picture a fence where the grass and rocks meet. Please Lord let there be a fence #momofsmallchildren.


Do you see the two Japanese Maples?  We transplanted them to the edge of the cleared area and are crossing our fingers they stay alive! They were leaning towards the sun where they were previously, so we will have to stake them and hopefully help them straighten up. By some miracle they survived the crazy wind storm we had the night we planted them!

This is a view standing at the furthest cleared portion. 

More brush to burn!

Pretty spectacular, right?!

Do you see where that wood pile is? That is about where we will put the playplace. 

The stake on the right is the marker of our neighbor’s land.

Turning back around at the stake

You can see where we tore the trees up. I think the previous owners put these trees in to block the less than beautiful lower portion of the yard. (It was very rocky and not level at all and we had MAJOR groundhog and chipmunk issues. The ground was literally caving in some spots.) 

Here is a better picture of the trees we transplanted. Say a little prayer they survive! They are so big and beautiful. 

The plan is to create a path down at the bottom of those rocks along the treeline leading up to a playplace just through the trees you see (and that wood pile if you have good eyes!). I would love to line the path with flowers and bushes and have a sweet little retreat for the kids! 

The view standing at the back shed. It kind of messes with your mind, but where the grass ends is that steep dropoff. Hence the necessary fence. 

Looking to the right a bit. We have a small fire pit here, but we are planning on relocating it to the lower portion.

So here is what we have done:

  • Clear a million trees (I seriously wish Marcus kept track. Sooo many trees!)
  • Ground a few stumps
  • Used an excavator to dig huge holes to bury said million stumps and the plethora of rocks that were unearthed (did I mention New Hampshire is rocky?). 
  • Remove and bury the stone wall that went into the lower portion of the property (we kept the back wall.)
  • Level the lower portion as much as possible. There will be a slight slope still, but it will at least be smooth!
  • Burn said million trees and unkempt forest brush
  • Moved decorative trees to perimeter of cleared property

And here is what we still need to do:

  • Fence the top portion of the backyard
  • Build a path down to the future playplace
  • Install flowers and shrubs on path
  • Fill in current fire pit and build a new one at the corner of the lower level
  • Install zipline (!) that I got Marcus for Father’s Day
  • Possibly add a vegetable garden on the top portion 
  • Add dirt and grass to lower level
  • Add staircase from top deck to the right (we have one on the left, but this would make easier access to where the playplace will be).
  • Pool?!?! A girl can dream!

I am sure there is a lot more we have done, and a lot more we will add to our to-do list! I will do a better job of recording things next time, promise. And in full disclosure, we are doing this ourselves. And by ourselves I mean Marcus, my dad, and brother. My husband works for a company that lent him the machine, so our costs have been pretty low. But if we were to estimate the work that has been done, it would be somewhere near $40,000-$50,000. 

If you are thinking of doing some yard work yourself or hiring it out, just consider the factors. It took us (him) nearly two months to do the amount of work that was done. That is most weekends and most evenings, and the occasional helping hand from family and friends. But, the cost savings was significant. So if you have the time and the willpower, go for it! If we can do it, you can do it.  And I did help! I moved some branches and corralled kids…

Here are some of the items that were so helpful during the process:

Chainsaw

Gloves

Safety Glasses

Shovel

Having a large tractor and an excavator was extremely helpful too! Even if you rent one and do the work yourself, it would be worth the investment. We couldn’t have done the amount of work we did without them!

So, what do you think? Is there anything else we should add? I am so excited at the progress and I can’t wait to see it complete. But in the meantime, I will continue to give daily baths from the kids playing in the dirt.

 

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Budget Basement Playroom

As winter approaches (and is knocking on our door-temps of 25 degrees in the morning yesterday!), we really were needing a fun place inside where the kids could get their energy out. We have a large living room with lots of toys, but not a place where they could really throw a ball around. I was over my friend’s house a few weeks ago and was checking out her playroom in her basement- it was brilliant! They had an older home like ours, but the space was still useful and fun for the kids. I don’t know why we didn’t think about adding a play area in our basement previously, but I was inspired. So I mentioned it to Marcus and he was fully on board.

We got started almost right away. Because the mister was so enthusiastic, I had to snap a quick before picture, in true blogging fashion. So, warning- it isn’t pretty. But it gives you an idea what it looked like!

Basement Playroom Before Picture

On a related note, how do we have so much junk?!

Since our home is on the market and we won’t be here for too much longer (we hope), we didn’t want to put a ton of money into it. So we tried to be as cost-effective but safe, and fun, as possible.

Since our basement isn’t finished, we had to do a few small things to make the area safe for the kids. That meant rearranging everything, clearing an area, moving anything dangerous like chemicals or paint, and padding the support poles. Our first stop was Home Depot to pick up the not as fun materials. We then ran over to Toys R Us. Not because we needed anything in particular, but we did end up leaving with a  [eafl id=742 name=”hotwheels” text=”Hotwheels playmat”] and a [eafl id=743 name=”paw patrol poster” text=”Paw Patrol poster”] (my attempts to thwart were futile- I’m not a huge character fan. I mean, they don’t even watch the show. I know, boring mom).

Then came IKEA. Oh IKEA, I could sing of your organizational praises all day long. We made it out sticking pretty close to our list, which is a miracle in of itself. And no meltdowns from anyone, even after three stops and being out all morning. Win!

So after an afternoon of setting up and a couple of days of tweaking, we have a playroom! We have spent more hours here than I can count. Safe to say this was a good investment! I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Now it is a basement, so nothing fancy, but our kids love it just the same!

Let’s get right into it. Our basement stairs are located right off of the kitchen, so it is convenient for me to listen (read:moderate/referee). But, the stairs are also pretty steep and the lighting wasn’t the best. Enter, [eafl id=744 name=”tap light” text=”tap light”]. Guys. I can’t stop singing the praises of these things! For short money, these helped illuminate the poorly lit stairs. We placed it low so the kids can just sit and tap it on or off. Simple!

tap light

Also, giant box of mac and cheese #SAHM. Real life people.

dress up station

We set up a little dress up station for Scarlett at the bottom of the stairs. I knew my girl liked to dress up, but wow. Having the dresses hung up instead of in a basket has brought her dress up game to a whole new level. My mama heart is so happy.

basement playroom Not the best angle, but right past the wardrobe is my workbench. Honestly this will probably move and will be replaced by the kids’ kitchenette once we get it out of storage this weekend. But for now, it stays. In the corner we did a little reading nook. Scarlett was never much of a reader until this year, and now both of the older kids can’t. get. enough. So a reading nook was perfect!

reading nookMy husband saw these little floating clouds at IKEA and insisted we buy them. I didn’t oppose. I mean, how cute! (And yes, hanging cords. Our kids are very well-versed in safety and know not to touch them, and the first time they do they are going away. Cords freak me out.)

reading nook

View from the reading nook. We picked up the classic [eafl id=745 name=”KALLAX” text=”KALLAX”] unit with green and pink [eafl id=746 name=”storage bins” text=”storage bins”]. The ultimate for toy storage! And please note our professional pole wrapping job (pool noodle for the win!). basement playroom

[eafl id=747 name=”pampers cruisers” text=”Diaper”]changing station. Because two kids in diapers.

diaper changing station

My daughter is obsessed with horses. As in she will speak of nothing else. So, Marcus had the great idea of creating a little grass paddock area with [eafl id=748 name=”fake grass” text=”fake grass mat”]. Brilliant! And cool story, the barn was originally made by my mom’s maternal great uncle from old wood from a barn. Then, it was fixed up by her paternal grandpa, and then my uncle refinished it for Scarlett for Christmas last year! barn area

Looking back to the stairs. Tents and tunnels, of course.

img_5679-27

You can see we created a “wall” to separate the basement into a play area and storage area. We used IKEA [eafl id=749 name=”VIVAN” text=”VIVAN curtain panels”] ($10 a pair!) and hung it up with twine and screws. Fancy, I know. We had to curve the panels around pipes and 2x4s, so it was the easiest option. And, it worked perfectly! (I have these curtains all over my house. You just can’t beat the price!)

tent

I hope you enjoyed our little tour! I know it isn’t anything fancy, and a lot of what we used we already had, but I hope it maybe inspires you. Do you have a play room for your kids? What is your favorite organizational tool? Does your child like to dress up as much as mine? Dress up for life!

Some items used:

 

[eafl id=745 name=”KALLAX” text=”KALLAX”] shelving unit

[eafl id=750 name=”garment rack” text=”RIGGA”] garment rack

[eafl id=751 name=”rug” text=”LAPPLJUNG rugs”]

[eafl id=752 name=”HAMPEN rug” text=”HAMPEN rug”]

[eafl id=753 name=”caravan tent” text=”HEMMAHOS caravan tent”]

[eafl id=749 name=”VIVAN” text=”VIVAN curtain panels”]
[eafl id=742 name=”hotwheels” text=”Hotwheels playmat”]

[eafl id=744 name=”tap light” text=”tap light”]

[eafl id=748 name=”fake grass” text=”fake grass mat”]

[eafl id=754 name=”alphabet floor tiles” text=”Alphabet floor tiles”]

[eafl id=755 name=”cushioned floor tiles” text=”Cushioned floor tiles”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Weekend

This weekend was glorious. We had such a busy summer where every weekend we had at least one commitment (sometimes 2-3 a day!) so we have been enjoying the past couple weekends where we could just relax, spend time as a family, and do some things around the house.

Saturday morning we headed out and got some thing for our new playroom! (post to come this week, hopefully!) First stop was Home Depot (for the not as fun things), then Toys R Us, and then IKEA. By some miracle, we survived all three stops with all the kids! And NO meltdowns. We were close at one point, but we were able to diffuse (insert praise hands).

Trip to IKEA success
Running errands with all the kids and actually not stressed upon completion. Win!

On a side-note, Levi still uses a paci and he just turned two in September. I have a friend that she wasn’t able to wean her son from his paci until he was 5, so I’ve been scared to let him use it any longer. So, not thinking about daylight savings, we decided today would be the day for him to stop using it. I talked a little about it on my insta-story (you should follow along!) It actually went better than I thought and we didn’t have any trouble!

Our big boy- no more paci!
Our big boy- no more paci!

Once the kids went down for naps, we got into extreme hustle mode, in an attempt to get the playroom ready before they woke up. Spoiler alert, these things take longer than a naptime will allow. Either way, the kids woke up and were thrilled to help us set the rest up and play for the remainder of the evening.

Sunday… Sunday was a funny day.  First off, daylight savings. Meh. Anyways, we had planned to work more on the playroom in the morning and then to go to night church, since we had to meet with Pastor to go over Eloise’s dedication for next week (yay!). In a series of unfortunate events, our power went off at 1:30. Apparently a tree hit a transformer and it would be back up in a couple of hours, so no big deal. Then our realtor calls us (our home is on the market, that’s a story for another day).  It is 2:20 pm, and she is wondering if we can have our house ready for a showing at 3:45. So of course we say yes, and immediately enter into frantic-clean mode. By some miracle we were able to get the house mostly clean (as clean as possible with no power) and that included folding and putting away two loads of laundry- have I said laundry is my weakness before? I have no idea how we did it. So we are out of the house in time and hanging out at the (FREEZING) park, when a conversation with my realtor says that the people never showed. So all that for nothing? Hey, at least our house is clean to start off the week (my husband is so optimistic, and I am so thankful for that or I might have cried). So we weren’t able to go to church because Marcus hadn’t showered yet after his workout and we couldn’t have orchestrated everything to allow us to go in time. Womp womp.

Our night ended with me giving the kids baths while Marcus ran out to get groceries (have I sung his praises before? He is so amazing!). A little bit of Shrek 2 and then bedtime for all. It was a great, low-key weekend and just what we needed to recharge for the week.

Have you had success weaning from the pacifier? Was it easier/more difficult than expected? Are you interested in a post for how we did it? Share your stories below! Have a great week everyone!