Kitchen renovation - before & after

Soylent_GreenMarch 28, 2014

Hello GW - this is my first post here & thought I'd share our kitchen reno with you. :)

My wife and I have been in our home just a few days shy of a year now, and this was the kitchen before we moved in:

We liked the cabinets, layout, and size - the laminate countertops were decent (especially when compared to come of the other houses we looked at), but we weren't crazy about them. Also, note the tile under the window - we're not exactly sure what the previous owner was thinking, but it's the sorriest excuse for a backsplash I've ever seen. I suppose they were only concerned with keeping water from splashing onto the wall, and appearances were an afterthought... or probably not a thought at all.

Immediately after moving in, I added hardware to the cabinets, upgraded the outlet covers to brushed nickel, replaced the track lighting with a new fixture, and installed an instant pendant in the recessed light over the sink - just some small things to dress it up a bit.

Not long after that, I found some beveled travertine subway tile that I really liked, and my initial plan was to install it with our existing countertops, add undercabinet lighting, and call it a day. In retrospect, I'm really glad I couldn't afford to do that at the time.

Last month, after discussing it many times, we finally decided to renovate the kitchen - new countertops, undercabinet lighting, backsplash, sink, and faucet. For the countertops, I had pretty much decided on quartz a long time ago - I was sold on the resilience and maintenance-free nature of it, as well as the "what you see is what you get" aspect (as opposed to finding out that your slabs don't really look like the sample, which seems to be common with granite). It didn't take much to convince the wife, thankfully.

Initially, we were leaning towards a white (or whitish) color with a white marble or glass backsplash, but felt it would be too drastic and decided to stay closer to our current color scheme. We ended up choosing Walnut Luster by Hanstone:

We loved the colors and particulate, plus it has a bit of movement, like granite, without looking like it's trying too hard to be granite.

The installation went very smoothly, and well... we love it. This was right after the tile was grouted:

And with our stuff back in place:

The new composite sink. The installers did a bang-up job - I feel like I could climb inside of it, jump up and down, and it wouldn't budge. I was also impressed by tile guy's work - I knew the row below the window would have to be cut in half to fit and assumed that's all that would be done, but he went the extra mile and beveled each tile after cutting so they would match the rest.

For the undercabinet lighting, we went with LED flex tape inside of an aluminum channel with a diffuser cover (they're actually a warm white, but appear to be yellow in some pics when any of the other kitchen lights are turned on - not sure why):

And a few with all the other lights off:

I think next on the list is crown molding for the cabinets, and further down the road, new appliances - then, I believe, we'll be done. :) Hope you guys enjoyed!

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Wow. That went from bland and sterile to warm, bright and beautiful. And such a functional kitchen. Love your miles of counter space!

Great job!!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:46AM
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It looks amazing, what an upgrade! Love that counter for sure. Will you tell me more about your pendant over the sink? That is exactly what I want to in my space.

How low, to the bottom of the pendant, does it hang? Do you bump it at all? How difficult was it to exchange the can for the pendant?

Part of my problem is a soffit. Yuck.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:51AM
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    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:52AM
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I love your countertops and backsplash. Really nice job It all looks so nice.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:09AM
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Really lovely! As you said, great tile guy...

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:19AM
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What a wonderful facelift! It looks so clean & stylish. Great job!

I really like your faucet. What kind is it? Thx!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:21AM
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Great selections, what an improvement! The beveled tile looks well done.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:30AM
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Beautiful! And that bevel on the tile under the sink is such a nice finished look. How great!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:46AM
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My first thought at your "before" photo was "the light fixtures are pitiful". Even though your new fixture is a similar shape, it provides a completely different feel, and the sink pendant is lovely.

Your quartz is beautiful, and the addition of knobs and pulls added so much!

What a gorgeous example of how a few upgrades can transform a kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:47AM
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What a nice upgrade! And how nice to see evidence of really good tile work. Understandably, we hear so much here about the problem tile installations, and it's nice to see beautiful work.

The counters are really attractive.

Makes me jealous for a kitchen that doesn't need a bulldozer as the first step, lol.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Thank you for the kind words, everyone!

greenhaven - Just measured it, and the pendant hangs 24.5" from the ceiling. I'm 5'11" and there's a few inches between the pendant and the top of my head, but it's centered above the counter (more or less) so I never feel like I'm going to bump it - the cord can also be adjusted to be as long or short as you need. It was a breeze to install, as it's of the "instant" variety and screws into an existing recessed bulb socket. This is the exact one we bought: Worth Home Products 1-Light Brushed Nickel Instant Pendant Light Conversion Kit and Overlay with Halophane Glass Shade

There are a few different "models" of instant pendants; the base units are more or less identical to each other, but the shades can be swapped out with most standard pendant shades, so you can get the exact look you want.

wags848 - Thank you! The faucet is a Moen Wetherly Stainless High-Arc - there are chrome and bronze versions as well.

Thanks again to all of you - it's good to get some positive feedback from other folks, and I will definitely post any future projects. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 3:37PM
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Thank you so much for sharing that with me!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Thank you for the faucet link!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 4:53PM
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greenhaven - No problem! If you do decide to go with an instant pendant, I just remembered a couple of little tips - one for aesthetic purposes, and one that could save you from a potential... incident.

The first is something that seems to happen to a lot of people (judging from the reviews) - the fixture plate not being completely flush with the ceiling - but the fix is simple. Once you've got the cord at your desired length and the pendant is screwed in, just pull down on the cord (not too hard, but enough to remove any slack), and while pushing the cover plate against the ceiling at the same time, tighten the nut at the base of the cover plate.

The second bit of advice: The cord wraps around a hook on the inside of the fixture, and this hook is made out of heavy duty plastic - it seems to be durable enough, but I've heard that the stress from supporting the hanging light can cause it to snap. Not good! The easy preventative measure I took: After you've got your cord wrapped around the support bar at the desired length, just take some electrical tape and tightly wrap it several times, diagonally from the end of the support bar to the top of the piece, like so:

This will distribute the weight so the load isn't entirely on that skinny little bar, and it doesn't need to be pretty since it will all be hidden inside the light can. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:13PM
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What a lovely change. It has gone from bland and sterile to warm and inviting.

The bevel on the tile by the window is a very nice touch...good of your tile guy to do that. It's those little details that truly make all of the difference.

You mentioned about the UC lights looking yellow in photos when other lights are on. What is probably happening is that your other lights are a cooler shade (maybe "daylight at around 5k) and your UC lights are probably somewhere around 3k. Your camera is adjusting the light to read the main light as your neutral and therefore the "warm white" will represent as a bit warmer. If all of your lighting sources were the same color temperature AND you take the photo at night so that only "artificial" lighting sources are lighting everything, you would expect that the light would show the same if it's LED, however with incandescents, when they dim, they become considerably warmer.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:34PM
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Your kitchen is beautiful- I find the backsplash to be especially stunning! Enjoy your new kitchen!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:45PM
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Beautiful space--so warm and inviting now! I love the backsplash in particular.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:45PM
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