DIY kitchen renovation 1 1/2 years later

March 20, 2017

I finished our kitchen renovation a year and a half ago and I get a lot of questions about how things are holding up and how I'm liking changes I made. I wanted to follow up again to let you know specifics on some of the bigger changes I get asked about the most.

It's hard to pick a favorite thing in this kitchen...I'm just so pleased with all of it. But extending the island was one of my best decisions for sure. It is SO wonderful to have a larger space to prep/cook/bake on. And when we entertain we can now fit all of the food on the island 😊: 
How to extend a kitchen island

If I remember right I added about three feet to the island -- almost doubling the size. If you have the room I highly recommend doing this. I built on to the previous island and added wine storage, a spot to hang towels and other items, storage at the end, a spot for the microwave and room for a third stool on the other side.

One of the questions I get asked most is about our microwave in the island and if I like it after all this time: 
Two toned kitchen renovation

I LOVE IT. One of the best things I've done in the house, let alone the kitchen. I love that it's not the center of attention anymore (it used to hang above the stove). It took a little getting used to having it down lower, but now it's no big deal at all. My husband had a harder time getting adjusted than I did -- I loved it right off the bat. ;) 

We look through model homes all the time for fun and microwaves in base cabinets are definitely becoming a trend. A lot of them are actually lower than ours (but are nicer versions with a drawer): 
Microwave in kitchen island

We only updated one appliance when I remodeled the kitchen and this trash compactor in the island  is the only one that doesn't match the rest of the kitchen: 
Extended island with tons of storage

When we built I went with a combo of black and stainless appliances (wish I gone all stainless) and that's the last black one...and it's still doing just fine. I'm sure it will be years before we need to replace it with a stainless version. You can see more about that trash compactor and why it's my favorite appliance here

We splurged on a slide in range -- it had always been my dream to have the clean lines of this type of oven and the hood on the top: 
Heat resistant shiplap backsplash

We bought the KitchenAid slide in and I LOVE it. We've only had one small issue with it -- two times now the display has gone out. The oven works but you can't see what you're setting the temp to without the display. Thankfully it comes back pretty quick (within minutes) but it's annoying when it happens. 

I think the question I get more than any other project I've ever done (EVER!) is about the planked/shiplap backsplash. I used cement boards specifically because we had a slide in range and I wanted something that would be heat resistant. Plus it's a fraction of the cost of tile...and way easier to install. 

I didn't leave much of a gap between the boards because I knew I'd want to caulk between them anyway (who wants grease/food in there). It's sometimes hard to see the boards in pictures but they are much more obvious in person. They are virtually care-free -- splatters wipe right off. They look just like the day I installed them! The only change I may make is to paint the backsplash a lighter color sometime this year. You can see the details you need to know when installing a cement board backsplash here

Years ago I thought I may not like a stone countertop but I'm so glad I changed my mind. I love our counters and love the deep sink: 
 River White granite countertops

The counters were sealed well and we still haven't had any issues or had to reseal yet. It's supposed to hold up for years I believe. Often with granite you can see that the color changes around the sink over time and we haven't had any problems with that. I wasn't sure I'd like a shiny countertop surface but I immediately loved it when they installed them. The room needed that little bling! You can see which granite we went with and the company we used here

I like the look of a farmhouse sink but didn't think the cost was worth it -- especially when we loved our deep sink (the dark gray works perfectly in here). I have mentioned that you may want to reconsider a deeper undermount sink if you are tall. It took some time for me to get used to that (it dropped another 1 1/2 inches when undermounted) and I'm 5'9" and my husband is 5'11".

Another project I'm SO GLAD I tackled was taking down a few cabinets and then extending the other ones to the ceiling: 
Extending kitchen cabinets to the ceilings

I'll link to all the before photos at the end of this post but we used to have a few cabinets on the stove wall and I took those down. It opened up this room a ridiculous amount -- such a good move. If you are considering this I don't think you'll miss them:
Removing kitchen cabinets

DIY wood hood vent with slide in range

I built in the area around the fridge and later built the cabinets up to the ceiling. Having them go all the way up makes the whole kitchen feel so much more custom: 
How to paint kitchen cabinets with a perfect finish

And of course the biggest change was painting the cabinets! I am asked about these a ton too -- and they have held up SO WELL. I'm honestly a little surprised at how well. I did a follow up about them a month after I finished the kitchen and you're considering painting make sure to check that out. You MUST let them cure for a couple months before the finish is truly ready for wear and tear. 

I shared the whole process of how I painted them (and how they look like they were sprayed professionally) in this post. You do NOT have to sand the finish off of your cabinets if you want to paint! Of all the changes I made in this room, painting the cabinets was the most dramatic and the biggest bang for the buck. (I saved thousands doing them myself and they've held up better than some professional jobs I've seen.)

I did take away some storage in this room by taking down cabinets, but more than that was added back in the form of the upper cabinets (I use all of those baskets for seasonal kitchen items), the storage at the end of the island and a ton of space in the new window seat:
DIY bay window seat

I still get the heart eyes every single day when I walk in and see that seat. ;) 

The only project (so far!) that needs to be touched up is our kitchen table -- you can't see from photos but I need to repaint the top: 
White kitchen table with wood chairs

It gets a lot of use so I need to sand it down, do a couple more coats of paint and then put a protective finish on it. 

Whew!! I've said it before but it's so true -- living with this space for years before tackling it and doing the reno over nearly a year (I would do one project at a time) really helped us to make great decisions about how this room needed to be set up. It functions so beautifully -- I don't think I could ask for much more. I'm so very pleased with how well everything has held up so far. It's fared better than I had even hoped. 

I tried to touch on the projects that I get the most questions about, but if there's something I didn't mention that you are wondering about, please let me know! 

You can see the full reveal of the room with tons of before and after photos (my favorite!) here and I went into more detail about all of the sources and projects in this post

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  1. I wasn't following your blog a while back, so this post is great! I love how you decided to get a feel of the place before any decisions!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. Gorgeous kitchen! I love all the dark grey cabinets/island. I love a kitchen when it's not all just stark white, it gives it some intrigue when there's a lot of color.

  3. Amei cozinha cinza. Estou montando nossa segunda cozinha no galpão. Estou com mil ideias de cores e ainda não me decidi.
    Tenha uma ótima semana.

  4. Love your kitchen. I need to paint my cabinets and install new countertops. Any thoughts on which I should do first?

  5. Your kitchen is beautiful. You are so talented!
    We just bought a home, and are having the yellow hardwood floors refinished. Love the stain color you used, and would appreciate knowing what you used.
    Thank you!

  6. Your kitchen has come a long way!! Absolutely beautiful now. WOW.

  7. I love your kitchen! Glad you are still loving all the things too :) I have been thinking about building up my cabinets like you did. Just curious how tall your ceilings are?

  8. I'm curious how tall your ceilings are too! I am considering building mine up, but our ceilings are 9 ft. and I'm not sure if that is too tall for this look. Thanks!

  9. It is a lovely kitchen and so glad to hear you are still pleased with it.

  10. Great post! Are there any regrets or something you would change?

  11. Love this... thanks for the update. Being fairly 'new' to your blog, it was nice to see a recap of something from the past that I had missed. :-)

  12. I've been reading online kitchen renovations since the early days of GardenWeb Decorating (now Houzz) and the old BHG Decorating board. I've pored over 1000's of pix of paint, sinks, granite, etc. I've redone my own kitchen twice. But I have seriously loved following yours the last several years. Your projects have been beautiful and doable. Your detail is great and your aversion to going into debt to get a beautiful home is a worthy goal. Thank you for doing today's update post. I love your blog.

  13. A seemingly trivial question, but I was wondering how your cabinet doors' soft close dampers were holding up and if you ever ended up finding a solution for making the drawers soft close as well?
    Thank you!!

  14. I've been following for awhile now and have loved all the changes you have made in your home!! Your kitchen is stunning!! You pointed out that your trash compactor is still black...did you know there is stainless steal contact paper?! I found some at HomeDepot and used it on our dishwasher...the lone black appliance in our kitchen. It was easy to use and over a year and half later still looks great! Gave me the look and match to the other appliances I was after until the dishwasher needs to be replaced (which will probably be awhile).

  15. Your kitchen is just beautiful. How high is the ceiling?


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THANKS so much for reading!