Our big, fat kitchen renovation — the madness begins

By Elle

Spring is around the corner, and we have house renovation on our minds! Since last fall, we’ve been planning our kitchen renovation — no small task and kind of scary, too.  So because we are the quintessential DIY’ers (and quite frugal), we’ve been making trip after trip to the Kraftmaid Outlet in Warren, Ohio, to buy our kitchen cabinets for a steal.

Our first trip, back in October, was supposed to be just a recon mission to see what was available and what color and style we might choose. We ended up with a total haul — about 13 pieces — of Shaker-style cabinets in cherry with a cinnamon stain. Best part: all uppers and lowers were half price, so we paid only $50 each instead of $100.

Since then, we’ve gone to Kraftmaid more than a half dozen times, and we’re down to needing just a couple of pieces. Total cost thus far: about $1,400. Cha-ching!

Because we really can’t start our renovation until we have all our cabinetry, we decided to do some prep work, namely install two windows, one on each side of where the new range will be, and tile the range backsplash. The windows, which measure about 22″ x 50″, were the former side windows from our dining room picture window, which we had installed in the garage so that nothing went to waste after we replaced the picture window with patio doors (photo below).

Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design deck renovation

At first we were convinced that we were going to use clear penny tile as the range backsplash, but then we hit upon the idea of renovating the kitchen in the Craftsman style, meaning lots of straight lines, wood, earth tones and natural stone tile. We settled on slate.

I laid out the tile on our dining room floor and worked to create a Frank Lloyd Wright-style pattern. After a few iterations, here’s what I came up with:

What’s missing in the photo are some of the 2″ x 2″ tiles, which we filled in later. The cutout is obviously where the range hood will land; we wanted to be mindful about not covering a particularly interesting tile.  The fun part, aside from designing the pattern, was transferring the tiles in the right order from the dining room floor to the kitchen wall! We had more than a few head-scratching moments. Apparently, neither of us has superb spatial sense.

Placing the first tiles! (Those are NOT my hairy arms.)

So here it is in place and grouted. Next step is to trim out the windows with cherry trim, install the range hood and buy a new slide-in (hopefully) range. The back of a traditional range will hide about 10″ to 12″ of our backsplash and, after all this work, we want to see the entire field!

The only pieces in the design that aren’t slate are six “bars” that run right up the middle; they’re copper-colored plastic trim pieces that we thought complemented the design.

Here’s my favorite tile that I picked out because I think it looks like a sunrise poking out from behind a cliff.

Stay tuned for what will likely be an entire series on our kitchen renovation. But do tell me what you think of my tile design. I’m eager to hear!


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