Goodbye Baltic Brown

A Kitchen Rehab Story, by Dawn Landau

The kitchen before we began...So we went and did it…finally. After years of threatening to get started, buying tile, contemplating cabinetry paint colors and general procrastinating, we pulled the trigger on a kitchen facelift…at our OWN HOUSE! Terry and I (well, me really) have been talking about updating (i.e., getting rid of the Baltic Brown granite) for a while. Earlier in the year we purchased a back-splash tile that I had fallen in love with, which has been in our basement ever since. With the holidays looming, 5 client construction projects underway and several million dollars in real estate transactions in process we decided to get started.  Why not? We had plenty of spare time!

What we realized is that when the kitchen is out of commission, even for a short time, the whole house is chaos. It has been eye-opening to subject our own household to what we do to our renovation clients regularly.

What we learned…

  1. Planning is the key to success. Obviously, we did a bit of advanced planning. No drawings were needed since we left all cabinets and appliances in place but there were plenty of finish selections to make. The tile was first for us and counter tops next with one change from quartz to marble. Often, I start with the counter top material but the bottom line: pick one key element and work from there. What I didn’t select in time: Cabinet Hardware. There were already holes drilled and I didn’t consider that they needed to be filled BEFORE the paint, so I would not be limited to the same sized hardware. As of this writing, we still don’t know if we’ll have to fill and repaint since the hardware arrives tomorrow. 3” on-center is NOT a standard dimension for pulls 😊
  2. Life without a kitchen impacts the whole houseDecide ahead of time how to stage a “temporary kitchen. If you do so, you can pack what you KNOW you won’t need and stage areas for coffee, microwave, glasses, utensils, paper goods etc that are easily accessible. We failed miserably on this one! BOX up what you will not be using, even if it’s a short period of time. Tidy boxes will keep you from feeling as though you are living in a war zone.
  3. Consider your pets. They get very disrupted when there are strangers milling about all day. Ours stayed in our upstairs office and were quite happy but had that space not been available, they would have needed a Doggie Daycare.
  4. Total kitchen disruption when you add the new countersThere is no color White. Good grief, I checked Houzz, Pintrest, Google, various Blogs, colleagues and more. We painted countless swatches on the wall. The Bottom Line… all whites have some hint of color and are impacted by adjacent finishes and of course LIGHTING. A white that works in one space may not work in the next. Test paint HUGE swatches in various areas and use the right sheen. We are waiting to get ALL the finishes in place before deciding if the Aesthetic White we selected for the walls needs to be changed. It has an ever-so-slight hint of green in low light.
  5. Be nice to your sub contractors :)There will be mistakes by the sub-contractors. No General Contractor can prevent this. A good GC will have relationships with his/her subs so that mistakes get corrected to everyone’s satisfaction. We are dealing with paint prep issues, an unfinished waterfall leg (interior but it shows under the breakfast bar), a white splotch in the middle of the main counter (I was at the stone layout even) and some door casing that had to be removed unexpectedly to demo the counters. All will be resolved so there is no reason to panic. Keep this in mind and BE NICE to the subs 😊

Yoshi the dog checking out what's going onThere’s more I’m sure. Tile goes in tomorrow with lighting and hardware arriving today. Hopefully the sink and hood get re-installed today. We’re meeting with the paint sub today to go over punch issues. I’ll finish up this Blog next month with how everything panned out and the finished product pics!!!

Thanks to all our clients for your patience with this process. We know this personal experience will help us help you even more.

This last photo gives you an idea of the finished look (if you can’t wait until next month):

White cabinets, new counter and my tile choice