It’s here: a (nearly) complete kitchen!

Today I write the blog entry I’ve (embarrassingly) been fantasizing about for awhile, the post on our newly renovated midcentury kitchen.  We have been planning and slowly chipping away at our kitchen renovation practically from the first moment we moved in.


She was relatively functional, sure, but it wasn’t a place I wanted to spend much time in. And like others, as I grow older and try to become a culinary savant, having a comfortable cooking area has become more and more important to me. To make the space work for us, I spent months flipping through tons of magazines, pinterest boards and blog posts to figure out what would fit our space and our budget. We took it on bit-by-bit, first painting the walls and replacing the light fixtures. Then Heath spent his Christmas vacation sanding down and restaining the original knotty pine cabinets and adding new hardware, and we worked together the following spring break to remove the wood wall paneling and add more shelving and storage. About a month ago we tackled the most costly upgrade, replacing the countertops and redoing the plumbing. And to wrap it all up, last week we put in the tile backsplash, resulting in the nearly finished product we have today, 18 months after moving in.


The original tile work was not a professionally executed job. There were broken pieces around the electrical outlets and jaggedly cut tiles around the sink. So when it came time replace it, we went back and forth on whether we should do it ourselves or have it professionally installed to avoid a debacle like what we began with. In the end, we decided to take it on ourselves, a decision I’m happy with, not only for the financial implications but for the sense of accomplishment and ownership we felt when it was all said and done.

We started as all young 21st century DIYers do, watching a YouTube video on the process.  We found this one to be the most helpful.

Contrary to our initial beliefs, installing the backsplash was relatively straight forward.

  • If you have uneven drywall like we did, use an all purpose joint compound on the wall to smooth out uneven areas before beginning.
  • Butter the walls with adhesive.
  • Lay the tile and wait 24 hours.
  • Grout
  • Caulk

The tiling was a lot like putting together a puzzle, frustrating at times, but marvelously gratifying when you find the right piece to complete the sequence.  The corners and edges were predictably the most challenging areas to finish off, but we had a tile cutter that proved most helpful to create tiny pieces to finish off our pattern.


And installing the tile was a true team effort. We started in the middle and worked our way out to either side. Then I did the grouting and Heath did the caulking. It was couple’s team building through and through.


The tile backsplash was the cherry on top of the renovation sundae, leaving only the dishwasher and garbage disposal installation to be desired. It’s fantastic to be able to stand in our doorway today and take in the finished product that was more than a year in the making. While it’s not completely perfect, I can’t help but beam with pride at the first major renovation we conquered on our own, from the design to the execution (with a little help and support from loving family and friends). It was a long process to be certain and sometimes tested our patience, but it was also an experience we will carry with us as we continue to develop our skills and take on new challenges in the future.

25 Comments on “It’s here: a (nearly) complete kitchen!”

  1. LOVE this! You guys did a fantastic job!

  2. kmom says:

    I love your new kitchen. It is clean, colorful and fits your house very well. You can be proud as you enjoy the fruits of your labors. So glad you had such good experiences working together.

  3. Thank you so much for that video on tiling a back splash. We are going to tackle this project in the next couple of months, and it was helpful. I love the tile cutter that you used. We used that same one when we tiled our floor, and it was great.

  4. Loving that tile backsplash – just pops – thanks for sharing:) Happy Thursday!

  5. That tile backsplash is beautiful, love those colors!

  6. A House and A Garden says:

    What a happy kitchen! It’s beautiful. Well done!

  7. […] Accomplishment: Kitchen Overhaul In April, we put the finishing touches on our once beige and boring […]

  8. […] accents: In our kitchen, we try to blend modern design elements (counters, light fixtures, cabinet hardware) with things […]

  9. Ernest says:

    Where did you get your fridge?

  10. This looks amazing, great job! Quick question: for an undercount sink, did you lay down ply wood first, then the sink and then the countertop? We are also a total DIY family, and with moving into an older house soon, I would like to update the sink before we put a new countertop down. 🙂

  11. […] DIY kitchen renovation is unquestionably the largest project we’ve undertaken since buying the house, but I […]

  12. Michele says:

    Where did you get the butcher block topped cabinet against the wall?

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Hi. Your kitchen looks great. We are in the planning stages for ours. Where did you get your fridge? Thanks for any info!!

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