March 11, 2007

This entry is entirely devoted to the colossally boring topic of home remodeling, so if you’d rather take a pass today I totally understand. I recommend checking out this 2,000-person pillow fight instead.

We’ve decided to go ahead with the second remodel, mostly because housing prices are so GOD DAMNED INSANE around here there’s no way we’ll be buying a larger home any time soon. Our house was appraised last week, and its street value has apparently grown 86% since we bought it 5 years ago—which is CRAZY, but also good news in terms of the last remodel we did. It wasn’t fun or inexpensive, but it was a good investment.

Anyway, what we’re doing this time around is expanding our kitchen and adding a new living room on the southwest side of our house. Currently there’s a single-space carport there, which will go away in lieu of about 300 square feet of new living room space. The kitchen will be widened by 2 feet, and a 5′ X 6′ breakfast nook area (with built-in bench and table) will be added on the east end of the kitchen.

We’re going to create a small office area in the new living room, and that’s where our office will move to—which frees up one bedroom for a potential theoretical second baby. I know lots of kids share a room and maybe we’ll do that in the future, but that’s the plan for now.

Here’s looking from the current living room into the kitchen:


And the kitchen as it is now:


As you can see it’s a pretty small space, which will be widened a bit. We’re going to get new cabinetry and appliances, which we have to pick out in the next few weeks.

We’re mostly settled on a contemporary, sleek cabinetry choice sort of like this:


But I’m going back and forth on colors. Since you can see the kitchen so easily from the front part of the house, it has to be complementary with our loud-ass red wall:


So far we’re thinking medium gray walls in the kitchen, with stainless steel appliances, warm-toned wood cabinets, and light (“Linen”) Corian surfaces. I’m not sure, though, is that maybe a little . . . bland?

The colors also have to work with the new living space, which will be visible (a small part of it) as well. You’ll see through the kitchen and into the new space. See this:


The door—which currently leads out to the carport—will be gone, and the wall on the left there will be pushed outwards to accommodate the nook. There will be a half-wall behind the back of the nook (in the space between the kitchen and new living space) and a doorway. Those areas will show the wall color of the new space.

It’s all very complicated. I know there are lots of people who would love this kind of design project, and if you are one of them could you please come tell me what would look best? I’m so inept at envisioning how things will turn out I may as well pick paint colors by throwing darts at a Sherwin-Williams chip sample. JB has great ideas but he has color deficient vision, so that’s problematic (“This gray sure is nice.” “Um, that’s green.” “Really? Looks gray to me!”).

Anyway, that’s what we’ve been up to lately: poring over kitchen design books and mouth-breathing over the endless, expensive possibilities. Well, that and generally fucking around, of course.



42 Responses to “Walls and flooring and countertops, oh my”

  1. Jem on March 11th, 2007 10:00 pm

    I have no idea about design other than what I imagine in my head, but I reckon grey would look great.

  2. Mama Ritchie on March 11th, 2007 10:05 pm

    My mom’s a decorator. So I never make these decisions on my own. The color she’s into now is Powell Buff – it’s a Benjamin Moore paint and is currently the color of the majority of the walls in my home (it’s basically the color of the border of your journal). It’s a great color that goes with everything. You may also want to look into Divine Color: – it’s a paint company in Portland that formulates their paints to remove all the grays to counteract the grayness that is the Pacific NW. The Powell Buff works to counteract the grayness as well. You may want to consider the overcastness before going with gray in the kitchen – though it would look sharp. Good luck! And let me know if you like your contractors.

  3. Chiara on March 11th, 2007 10:26 pm

    Hey, is that a new table? Also, by asking that question, am I a stalker? (Albeit one who has actually been invited to your house).

  4. Jennifer on March 11th, 2007 11:20 pm

    Southwest-side living room – what a nice bright space that will be!

    Are you going to extend your wood floors into the new kitchen? I don’t think you have to worry about “kitchen blandness” because much of the wallspace will be taken up with the cabinetry, and wood colors are always nice. Neutral colors won’t compete with the (very classy) red wall, and a neutral kitchen will let you do anything you want in the new living room with no fear of color-clashing.

    I like the tile backsplash in that “model kitchen” photo. How about a similarly multi-colored backsplash for a little kitchen accent? Include some of the red color of your living room wall, as well as varying shades-of-gray tiles to pick up your wall and countertop colors. You could even add some tiles with the colors of your new living room. That could tie all 3 rooms together. Little mosaic tiles are so cute too!

    I’m sure you’ll come up with something great. Good luck with the upcoming teardown and rebuild. And remember to post any and all photos of interesting tubes-of-lube that show up in the bathroom.

  5. Jennifer on March 11th, 2007 11:23 pm

    You can play with color at and

    I like Behr colors Castlepath, Pebblestone, Sandstone Cliff, and Koala Bear. You can play with the colors to make them cooler or warmer. Dolphin Fin looked like a nice gray, if you wanted more gray. But, if it’s too gray then the room will be “cold” (I had gray walls that I ended up disliking).

  6. Liz in Australia on March 12th, 2007 4:12 am

    I’m jealous. Our kitchen is approximately the same size space-wise (probably slightly wider), but with the extra bonus of being a walk-through to the laundry so I only have counter space and cupboards on two sides instead of three. But we do have acres of living space, so when I throw everybody out of the kitchen in order to cook without falling over them every thirty seconds, they have lots of places to go. I would still luuuuurve a new kitchen, though!

  7. Kim on March 12th, 2007 5:25 am

    As a devout reader of yours for a couple of years, I remember the entries during the LAST remodel – I felt for you then, I feel for you now. The end result is always great, but it’s the process that tests your marriage, and your limits of sanity. All we did this weekend was put new window treatments up and the amount of obscenties that flew (all me) were regretable. I wish you guys luck!

  8. pippa on March 12th, 2007 5:43 am

    Ah, dreams of a remodel. Or a new house. Or more bedrooms. We have four kids. Three bedrooms. You do the math. :D

  9. kendra! on March 12th, 2007 6:12 am

    The new! sleek! kitchen looks so yummy, BUT, here is my thought: go brighter. If you can, go with a lighter tile or even a lighter wood. You solicited the advice, I offer it. I operate on an imaginary trust fund’s supply of possibilities in terms of buying and remodeling. Our kitchenette depresses me right now because there is so little light in there. Hence, me no wanty to be in there washing dishies. More light = more desire to wash dishes? You let me know, gurl.

  10. Sadie on March 12th, 2007 6:16 am

    I really like grey walls, but I wonder if a cool neutral like that will look good with warm wood-toned cabinetry…I have only ever painted living rooms or bedrooms grey. Personally, I might explore the idea of the commenter before me and choose a warmer neutral – something that will complement the red, but not compete. A honey-ish cream, perhaps? I know you like honey. ;)

    Love the look of the sample kitchen, and I also think doing a monochromatic color scheme in there can be easily punched up with a decorative tile backsplash…that is next on the wish list for my kitchen (whose color is “butter,” incidentally. Butter, mmm.)

  11. Jan on March 12th, 2007 6:20 am

    I think a warm gray would work fine for your kitchen, especially if you can stick up an interesting wall paper border with those two colors in it. It looks like your cabinets run to the ceiling, so you could think about running a border under them. Or some tile with those colors.

    I have new Corian in my kitchen and I love it. You could think about getting it with flecks of gray and red to pull everything together. Just be really careful not to set anything very hot on it – it will make a mark or even crack it. Luckily, I learned from my friend on this experience, not my own countertop. Also, you will want to buy good old-fashioned Comet to clean it. It works great and you will need it because washing pans in your sink will make marks – also Pampered Chef stones, if you have those. But the marks will come right out with Comet.

    Good luck! It looks like it will be beautiful and give you a lot more space.

  12. Lawyerish on March 12th, 2007 6:36 am

    We’re getting ready to redo our kitchen as well, and we’re going with sleek white cabinets, a concrete-colored countertop (made of caesarstone, whatever that is), and a glass tile backsplash in several shades of blue. So it’s kind of bland, I guess, except the backsplash will add some color. And paint, of course. And stainless steel appliances, which I will caress lovingly every day.

    What are y’all going to do for cooking and whatnot while the renovations are being done? They’re telling us we’ll be kitchen-less for a month, so I guess we’ll buy a little beer fridge (pretend we’re back in college!) and just eat cereal for four weeks. It’s not going to be fun, but I cannot wait for the results. I’m also slightly afraid of all the construction dust, which will likely be coating everything in sight, including us and the pets. We had our bathrooms redone last year, but it was before we moved in so we didn’t have to witness the horror that was plaster particles flying about constantly. Oy.

  13. mandy on March 12th, 2007 6:40 am


    I encourage you to consider this: little, sticky handprints adorning your freshly polished stainless appliances. Suspiciously all at the same height too. However, if you do go with stainless, W-D40 and a soft cloth will polish them very nicely. (you don’t have to use the special stuff that comes with the appliance)

    Have fun!

  14. Lidian on March 12th, 2007 6:45 am

    Ah, the fun of remodelling! We are doing this and for the same reasons – makes sense to stay put also for our girls’ sake (neighborhood is great, schools accessible etc) but we are doing it mostly ourselves over the next couple of years. My kitchen is full of brick veneer and shingled walls (bleh) and I can’t wait to get rid of that. I agree that grey with all your woodsiness (which looks excellent – I love woodsy, just not cheapo shingly-bricky) might or might not work. Cream maybe? Oh, listen to me not – I am painting for the first time today, what the hell do I know! Actually I’ll tell you ONE thing I know – there are 50,000 shades of lavender paint, but only ONE that is perfect for a preteen’s room. Sigh. I hope she likes it. I think the expansion in carport area sounds brilliant BTW!

  15. Amy M. on March 12th, 2007 7:04 am

    We have a red living like you. Since we have an open floor plan, the kitchen & living room are separated only by an island. Our kitchen is a buttery color (sounds like the above suggestions) & the colors meld together pretty well. It goes with the hardwood floors & cabinets. Our countertop is much darker than yours, though. Good luck! I’m sure it will look mah-velous!

  16. Alyson on March 12th, 2007 7:35 am

    As a kitchen remodel veteran (and real estate agent), please reconsider the Corian. You will instantly “date” the home before you even finish the kitchen. Think about marble, silestone or marble tile. Marble tile is pretty affordable and if you use the big 18 x 18 ones, and do really small seams, it looks great. Stainless steel is a great choice for appliances. And your red wall rocks! My kitchen walls are a mossy green and our bedroom is a chocolate brown, but you know what, the colors do not overwhelm. And a dark color in a summer morning sunny bedroom is wonderful!

  17. Katie on March 12th, 2007 7:40 am

    You probably have already done this… but Porter Paint’s website has a cool thing that lets you pick a room and then paint it the color you want. It’s fun!

  18. Claire on March 12th, 2007 7:41 am

    Good luck with your addition. We’re doing similar things to our house and we just made our official office this weekend so as to make a real nursery! How far into your pregnancy did you start to work on the nursery?

  19. warcrygirl on March 12th, 2007 7:42 am

    The kitchen you described sounds classic and gorgeous. If you want to spice it up a bit you can do so with accessories, right? You definitely want something more sedate lest it clash with the Big Red Wall. I’m envious of you and your husband who’ll let you spend money on home projects; mine is more of a ‘we’ll wait until the house falls down around us’ before he’ll spend a dime.

  20. tracy on March 12th, 2007 10:18 am

    Wish I was getting a new kitchen. Do you like the color of clay pots? I have that color in my kitchen and it’s beautiful….looks natural and looks great with plants. Good luck~!

  21. angela on March 12th, 2007 10:53 am

    I’ve been staring at the pic of the kitchen from the living room, and I think you’re right, a grey (can grey be warm? from the pics you’ve posted, all your colors are warm shades) would be the only thing that would work. Or a light-to-medium brown tone? But I’m very partial to brown and red together. I’ve got a big ass red wall in my living room, brown furniture and the tiniest sprinkling of orange accents.

  22. TwoBusy on March 12th, 2007 11:24 am

    You could go for the kitchen-by-Morrissey: “Black is how it looks on the outside because black is how we feel on the inside. Except, you know. for the maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances. But otherwise… black.”

    Just an idea.

  23. Erin on March 12th, 2007 12:14 pm

    My first thought was, “dang, that takes guts to remodel your house.” Which was closely followed by, “DAMN her house is unreasonably CLEAN.”

    Have you seen your kitchen counters? You could eat directly off them. I am amazed.

    Finally, a word of warning about stainless steel refridgerators: you can’t stick magnets on the stainless steel part. Who knew? They won’t tell you this at Sears either, so take it from me. No hanging coupons or bad daycare art projects on the front of the fridge. (The sides of ours are magnet-friendly though.)

  24. Pete on March 12th, 2007 12:22 pm

    If you are going stainless spend the extra and get the type you can attach magnets to. I would suggest granite vs Corian on the counter tops. The stuff is nearly indestructible (kids) and you can find some really cool natural patterns when you choose your slab at the yard. If you are going with a builtin fridge look at the models with dual compressors. The damper system in ours has broken twice and they actually had to replace the entire fridge. One of the most useful appliances we added was the GE Advantium microwave/oven. We do 90% of our baking and cooking with it and it gave us more counter space by getting rid of the toaster oven. One last thing to think about is a skylite in the kitchen. Really opens up a space and is great for indirect lighting.

  25. Pete on March 12th, 2007 12:23 pm

    If you are going stainless you might want to spend the extra and get the type you can attach magnets to. I would suggest granite vs Corian on the counter tops. The stuff is nearly indestructible (kids) and you can find some really cool natural patterns when you choose your slab at the yard. If you are going with a builtin fridge look at the models with dual compressors. The damper system in ours has broken twice and they actually had to replace the entire fridge. One of the most useful appliances we added was the GE Advantium microwave/oven. We do 90% of our baking and cooking with it and it gave us more counter space by getting rid of the toaster oven. One last thing to think about is a skylite in the kitchen. Really opens up a space and is great for indirect lighting.

  26. ollka on March 12th, 2007 12:26 pm

    Hi, am I delurking? Can’t remember. Anyway, I’m not pretending to be a designer, but I do have an eye for colors. Your Kick-Ass Red Wall, combined with the furniture and things makes things a little dark, so there are two ways to go – if you like that sort of thing, go with warm greys/browns, or if you’d like it a little lightened up, you could go with the butter range. Also – consider looking into shades of olive! That looks sleek yet lively, and goes well with red, if, again, you’re into that sort of thing. I’m a bit partial here, because Olive Is Love, but do think about it:)

    As a sidenote: your blog rocks. So does your family and home, as a matter of fact. Let me know when I can move in. Willing to paint walls.

  27. filakia on March 12th, 2007 1:50 pm

    Here’s my contribution, and yes, I love redecorating and remodelling and picking colors, etc., so I am excited on your behalf and look forward to seeing the results.

    Everone says, which is what you must know, that the kitchen is one place to spend and not skimp, because it’s the single most important room in the house these days. My SigOth and I have been slowly looking to buy another house and sell ours, and I’ve realized that it’s quite true — a kitchen can make or break a house.

    So, neutral cabinets sound good, especially wood ones. I definitely encourage you, if at all possible (and it’s well worth the expense) to get granite countertops. Perhaps go the Ikea route to save $$ on the cabinets and spend more on the granite? Or, maybe, poured concrete? There’s lots of fancy things being done with concrete these days; very urban chic.

    I would not pick a wall color until the cabinets and countertops are in. Then select some paintchips and live with them for a while; see how the colors in your counters look at different times of the day — (this is assuming your countertops will not be a solid single color, which I would not suggest). It’s hard to know what will look best until you see it all in real life, living in your very home, and wall colors can be changed more easily than countertops or cabinets, so pick the counters and cabinets that look best together and work the wall color around that.

    Personally, I do not care for gray (seems drab and gloomy), but it’s your house and if gray is something you would like to wake up to and eat your breakfast in front of every morning, then go for it. On the whole, though, I also say, Color is Good, so a red wall doesn’t mean you can’t have, say, a sage-colored kitchen. Or a yellow one, even.

    Is there any way to work in an extra closet or pantry? Storage is sooo important.

  28. Jan on March 12th, 2007 2:54 pm

    Yes, I am anal and I am back reading the comments about the remodeling because I am just…OK, jealous. My kitchen is pretty fabulous, but I would love to remodel some other areas. Anyhoo, I had to put my 2 cents worth in because people are recommending granite and marble to you. Please do some research and talk to others who sell this and who actually have it in their home. Corian is man-made and the color goes all the way through. This means if you scratch or burn it, they can sand it down and the place will disappear. If you scratch or damage the others, you have a bad place on your counter, since the finish is not all the way through. Also, marble and granite have to be sealed EVERY YEAR. You never have to do this with Corian. Everyone thinks marble and granite are just so fabulous, but, in my opinion, Corian is the way to go. I’m not sure why someone said this would date your kitchen. You can get Corian that looks just like marble and granite.

    I hope this helps. We all have plenty of advice, don’t we?

  29. aoife on March 12th, 2007 4:19 pm

    You have a beautiful livingroom… especially with all that wonderful wood!

    My parents were given a Corian cutting board… it was a left over from a corian counter top… They were told its not supposed to scratch, but it looks like crap now.

    Is there anyway you can go with a stone countertop? I was watching some remodel on Oprah (no comments from the peanut gallery) that was supposed to be a on super tight budget and they found discontinued granite or marble for the countertops that was 50 or 75% off regular price.

    Good luck.

  30. angela on March 12th, 2007 4:33 pm

    I like the olive color idea too. But Ikea? We are doing preliminary house hunting and I flat out refuse to look at places with laminate floors, and I walk right out of a house with Ikea cabinets.

  31. Pete on March 12th, 2007 4:51 pm

    We have a Corian counter and sink in our 5th Wheel’s kitchen and Jan is right. When we clean a pan in the sink it leaves marks and when the kids made Kool-Aid spills it would leave a stain. We could get these out with SoftScrub. Our granite counter on the other hand I can cut pizza on since granite is harder than Hardened Steel. We found a great slab that has tan/bronze swirls that match our cabinets and almost seem alive. Not for everybody but it really stands out.

  32. Josh on March 12th, 2007 5:36 pm

    That sounds like one standard ass-load of trouble and one neck-load of pain. I do a fair ammount of building projects (about 40 hrs a week) and as long as you leave time for generally fucking around you’ll probably save some money on toilets since you’ll be shitting less bricks.

    And if you have artistic differences with your husband just challenge him to a competition involving something you’re better at. Trust me, guys can’t resist a good competition, especially if it means they might lose to a girl. Something temporarily blocks out all higher brain function and we have to prove we can piss farther into the wind. But you have to sex him up later so he still feels manly after losing. Well, you don’t have to, but it’s considered good form. I suppose it depends on how much of an ass he was whilst losing.

  33. claire on March 12th, 2007 7:06 pm

    i really have no good suggestions, but i just want to say: i totally love your house.

    really, really love your house.

    ugh… i am now totally disgusted with all of my floors and cabinets and want to rip out this carpet and refinish the wood floors that have been hiding under them for about 30 years.

    good luck. i’m sure you’ll pick something that looks just as awesome as the loud-ass red wall.
    see? i apologize. no help here.

  34. kara marie on March 12th, 2007 8:31 pm

    I’m going to echo everyone else–I think a warm light kitchen is the way to go. (I’m with Kendra–I need a super cheery atmosphere to be coaxed into doing dishes.) As a painter and a framer (I pick out mat colors for people all day), I can confirm that there are warm grays. But they look sometimes look green. And you look at them and think, “Is that green? Is that gray? Or is it…green?” Tricky! I’m sure you’ll find a good one, though. Your house and color choices are so cute. I love love love the red wall.

    I’m shocked you can’t stick magnets to stainless steel fridges. Shocked!

  35. LLL on March 13th, 2007 8:35 pm

    Hire a decorator, many charge by the hour and its worth it. We hired one to help pick out things for our kitchen remodel and it was worth the $500 in spades.

  36. Jen on March 15th, 2007 4:45 am

    I think your house is gorgeous, first off.

    And I also think grey is going to be a perfect compliment to your existing colours, particularly the red and all of the warm wood tones – what about a steel blue/grey on the walls and a darker, rough looking charcoal/slate colour in the floor tiles?

    I’ve also seen mirrored backsplashes that look pretty fabulous, they make the room look bigger and they’re easy to clean with a bit of Windex.

    Can’t wait to see what you decide. Love this stuff.

  37. Keaton on March 18th, 2007 1:29 am

    Well, my favorite home designer (Why do I have one? That’s another story) has his work posted here:

    He has great designs and his kitchen work (once again, I know it’s lame) is beautiful. You might like it!

  38. Peggy on March 30th, 2007 3:09 pm

    I think you are getting way ahead of yourself. Your first concern should be the layout of your new kitchen and how it will relate to the rooms (new and existing) that surround it.
    Right now you have a high-chair in front of the door that will lead to your new living room. That tells me you currently don’t use that door much. Yet, when the living room is built, that opening will become a main traffic thoroughfare running RIGHT THROUGH your new kitchen. I’d think twice about that if I were you.
    A kitchen is much more funtional if traffic goes around it; not through it.
    Let’s take a look at your plans to see if there might be a better approach. The idea with remodeling a kitchen is to create an improvement to the entire area of the home. The result should look as though it’s always been that way. It should be logical.
    Give this some thought.

  39. Sundry on March 30th, 2007 3:13 pm

    Aw, Peggy, you’re so cute!

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  41. Lydia on September 28th, 2007 4:45 am

    what color can i paint my kitchen if the countertops are grey? and what kind of tile? please help

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