5 years later: the kitchen project revisited

When last October rolled around, I thought about how I’d been writing this blog for four–oops, five years. Sporadically, sometimes. (I even began this post way back then.) I started blogging when Eric and I decided to renovate our kitchen. Remember that? Ever wonder how the kitchen’s holding up after five years of use? No? Well, you’re about to find out.

“If there’s anything you don’t want the world to know about in our kitchen,” I warned Eric, “fix it now, or it’ll be in the blog.” My threat elicited no response. So here we go, warts and all.

This kitchen has been lived in a lot. Forty individual feet (eight cats, one dog, and two humans) tramp through it many times daily, in all weather. We cook a lot. The critters are messy eaters. We accumulate too much stuff. We fail to put things away. We are not perfect, and we are not minimalists. This is real life.

Old kitchen needs remodel.

This is where we started in 2012.

Remodeled bungalow kitchen

This is what we have today.

After five years, what’s working well?

Quartz countertops. Best decision I made on the whole project! They are perfect and indestructible. Easy to clean, hard to hurt. And when they’re not clean, the subtly mottled black color of Caesarstone “Raven” hides a multitude of sins.

closeup of quartz counter

Caesarstone quartz in Raven, just after installation.

Linoleum flooring. Real linoleum, not vinyl! Made of natural, fully biodegradable materials. Soft and comfy underfoot. It’s exactly the right look for this Craftsman bungalow. And the classic gray marbled pattern hides, yes, a multitude of sins. The only problem we’ve encountered was our own fault: For a long time, Duke had a rubber placemat under his food and water dishes to catch the inevitable mess. But Duke drinks like a moose drooling in the swamp. Water collected under the mat, causing the linoleum to discolor and roughen. Do not let water sit around on linoleum!

Boxer and cat on new linoleum

We looked so young back then! And so did the cabinets.

Stains from water on linoleum

The linoleum has been stained and damaged by water.

The glass-front cabinets. Eric built new face frames and glass doors for this original feature, and we splurged on wavy “antique” glass. The original doors were wood. The original shelves (these are actually shelves with doors on them, not typical cabinet boxes) are so sturdy that they hold all of my super-heavy Fiestaware and our Seattle-sized coffee mug collection (of which we regularly use maybe eight).

finished counters

We splurged on wavy glass. No backsplash at this point.

White Shaker cabinets and black quartz counters

The same view today.

The original pantry cabinet. I didn’t do much other than clean, strip, and paint Old Mother Hubbard, who holds much of our food and cooking supplies. Like the glass cabinets, I’m happy we preserved this original feature, which, back in the day, was a cold storage cabinet, vented to the outside.

Removing paint from old cabinet door.

Refinishing the tall pantry door.

Tall pantry cabinet in Craftsman bunglaow kitchen.

Old Mother Hubbard today.

Eric’s wonderful cabinets. Eric hand-crafted all of the other cabinets for the kitchen. We learned a lot about cabinetmaking, finishes, paints, hardware choices, and how dang long it takes to DIY your own kitchen. We had professional help with wiring, plumbing, and flooring, but the rest we did ourselves. The only design change I’d make would be to combine the two drawers over the pet food bins into one wide drawer. I’d gain about six inches of space. It never occurred to me in the design stage.

The base cabinets as they were being built.

The cabinet hardware. I wanted to keep the look of the old-fashioned oval spring latches that were on the original upper cabinets. I ordered new ones in brushed nickel, but I didn’t know if they’d last. I’m happy to say, they’re holding up just fine.

Brushed nickel oval cabinet latches

Tougher than I thought!

What didn’t work so well?

Sadly, my vintage sink. I love this sink, saved from the original kitchen … or at least from the 1940s-version kitchen. We had it refinished by Miracle Method, but one guy was training a new guy, and I think they did an inferior job. The moment the warrantee expired, chips began forming, and by now the finish in the bowl is shot. We’ve since learned that some other refinishers don’t guarantee kitchen sinks because they take such a beating. Eric read that refinished kitchen sinks typically last abut five years before they need refinishing. I’ll have this one refinished again, because the alternative—a 30-inch farmhouse sink—would require recutting or replacing the quartz counter and possibly rebuilding the base cabinet. I don’t want to go there. Besides, I really, really love this old sink with its built-in drainboards!

refinished old sink installed

The pristine refinished sink perched on temporary counters.

Refinished sink with chips.

The finish in the bowl is chipping badly.

The bridge faucet. Oh, it works just fine, and I like its slightly steampunk aire, but it’s hard to clean around, and I wish I had a sprayer. If I had it to do over, I’d get one of those big, industrial-looking gooseneck jobs. The caulking is discolored and shrunken, and needs to be replaced already.

brushed nickel bridge faucet

So shiny!

Bridge faucet on antique sink.

Even after a beauty treatment of Soft Scrub and CLR, the stains remain.

Lazy Susan. Susan is so lazy, she needs to be fired. The revolving shelves in this corner base cabinet are attached to a central pole. They haven’t held up under the moderate (I think) weight of the contents. The support pole dislodged at the top and, because the shelves are attached to the door, the whole unit looks cockeyed. Eric wants to remove the inner lazy Susan unit and install two L-shaped shelves that would each support a separate revolving shelf. That means building a new double-hinged door that will open out instead of disappear into the unit as it turns. Rebuilding the innards of an existing corner cabinet sounds awfully awkward to me, but it must be done, because Susan has become a recalcitrant pain in the butt.

Lazy Susan cabinet

Back when Susan was just lazy … now she’s broken.

The wonky cabinet between the stove and fridge still stands, although it’s been missing a rail for some months. Every time I pulled out the towel drawer, the damned thing fell out, and I tossed it in the trash the thousandth time it clattered to the floor. Now the bank of drawers looks gap-toothed. This cabinet warped as it was being constructed, and needs to be completely replaced. Eric didn’t attach it  to the wall in case we bought a wider refrigerator  (our new fridge is the same width). I really need its storage space, so we’re considering replacing the interior with a Rev-a-Shelf unit. That way, Eric would only need to build a new carcass and one front panel—much simpler than constructing all of those drawers. One of these days …

Warped stack of drawers

Functional, but compromised.

The Frigidaire appliances. Won’t buy that brand again! The stove didn’t last more than a few years, and the fridge not much longer. They’ve been replaced with Samsung units that I like much better.

The old pair.

SamSung French door fridge and electric stove.

New Samsung pair.

So, what’s next?

Someday, I hope this project will be a wrap. Maybe 2018 is our year. In addition to Eric needing to reconfigure a couple of cabinets, I still need to paint the doors and window trim. This summer … I promise!

If we get ambitious, we’ll even start Phase 2. We’ll build cabinets to fit on top of the shelf behind the stove and fridge. (The shelf is the posterior of the built-in buffet in the dining room.) This is why we pounced on the glass doors that came out of our neighbor’s house when it flipped. They’re the perfect size! These cabinets will be hard to access, but they’ll be great for seldom-used items or for display. You can never have too much storage.

Finally, can you guess our number-one favorite kitchen item? The island, of course!

Old boxer sleeping on kitchen floor.

Duke, our kitchen island.

Have a fabulous, productive 2018, everyone!

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it



22 thoughts on “5 years later: the kitchen project revisited

  1. Barbara H.

    This was a great post! I love your sink, too, and yearn to have one of these in my 1950s house but that may never happen. I hope you can find a good refinishing company for it. Thanks for the good review on the quartz counters – that’s good to know. I hope you are able to find good solutions for the not working so well problems.

  2. Alison Ferguson

    Awesome! Love Mother Hubbard. Nice to see how well everything has stood up to the test of time. Love your kitchen, it’s perfect and sunny and beautiful. The new cabinets with the salvaged glass will be killer 🙂 And your kitchen island gets my vote!

  3. Cathy Lee

    Great idea to come back with what didn’t work because people always look for reviews. Like me! The hardest part is getting the right person for the job. I love your sink, too, and of course the kitchen island!

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Hey, Cath! Since I’ll have more time on my hands this summer, I envision getting SO MUCH done! We’ll see if I can discipline myself to finish the paint job! 😉

  4. Pat

    There is a company in Lenzburg, Illinois, Custom Ceramic Coatings, that will sandblast your sink to the bare metal and reglaze it. Just like new. Very spendy, but if you are intent on using that fabulous sink forever, it’s a much better option than those coatings that will always fail, especially on a kitchen sink. Kudos to you guys for building cabinets. That takes guts.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Pat, thanks for the tip! I will look them up. We are in the Seattle area, so if they don’t operate out here, I’ll see if I can find someone similar. Yeah, she’s a special sink!

  5. Karen B.

    Not bad. I’m sure everyone finds one or two items they’d do differently with a kitchen remodel. Is you bridge faucet a brushed nickel finish? I’ve stuck with chrome ever since our master bath remodel, when very expensive Newport Brass in oil rubbed bronze rubbed off within 2 years. It exposed the solid brass, but if I wanted a two-tone faucet, I’d have bought one! 🙂

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Hi Karen! Yes, it’s brushed nickel, and it wasn’t cheap, either. It would probably be shinier if I cleaned it more often, but because it’s awkward to get behind (requires a toothbrush), I avoid that task. “Next time” I will remember that. Hope you’re doing well! Happy New Year!

  6. Jen

    I love this!! Everything looks great when it’s first done but it’s rare to find out how things have held up after real life use! Your kitchen still looks great!! And Lazy Susan being lazy.. Hahahahaha!! Too funny! 🙂

  7. laurelhurstcraftsman@thekidders.com

    We had a lazy susan in our corner cabinet too, for about two days! Then we asked the cabinet guy to remove it and replace it with slats to hold oversize cookie sheets, etc. We just cram stuff in the corner that we never really use. It worked out better, I think. If you end up replacing your stove again, take a look at Blue Star. We LOVE ours and it’s given us no trouble to speak of. And it comes in 180 colors; you could get one that matches your counters or cabinets.

  8. D'Arcy H Post author

    I may have to rethink what I store in the corner and lighten its load. After it’s rebuilt, lightweight stuff like plasticware may be better. But I really like storing my bakeware and mixing bowls next to the stove! Unfortunately, we don’t have gas here, and it looks like Blue Star are gas ranges only.

  9. Chad's Crooked House

    Well that confirms that I want quartz countertops!

    It’s funny, my lazy Susan from IKEA is fine after 2 years of being loaded almost entirely with cans and bottles. The shelves spin freely and are not attached to the door so I don’t care if they sag.

  10. Jo

    I have a sink like yours which I liberated from my first house and brought with me when I moved. Mine only has a drainboard on one side and is installed in the potting bench in the shed. At this point it is non-functional but I still love it. Yours looks wonderful. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      That’s exactly what I did with this sink, Jo. It waited in the greenhouse for me to be ready to put it back in the kitchen. I really can’t imagine the kitchen without it, so we’ll get it refinished again.

  11. Laura Schultz

    D’A, I was glad to see this particular post. I loved living vicariously through your remodeling projects.



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