We’re getting ready to welcome Capt. P home after a 6-week long field exercise (which homecoming is also my self-imposed deadline for a bunch of projects around the house, because some of us function much more efficiently with a deadline, and there’s nothing that says “welcome home” like organized closet shelves and curtains on the windows, amiright?), not to mention thinking about getting going on our Thanksgiving prep, so naturally I thought it was a great time to pop in with another installment of my little tour of our Okla-home.
(In case you happened to miss it, here’s Part 1. I would hate for you to be out of the loop.)
Our next stop is the kitchen, where we did the most work. Again, the before pictures are from the listing when we bought the house:
The kitchen was very brown, with a hint of an orangey glow. Perhaps you can tell?
The granite counters and tile backsplash were not at all what I would have chosen myself, but they were relatively new and in great condition. The appliances were old and a little quirky (my oven, for instance, was only 3/4 size, and because our built-in microwave was 20 years old, my children think the ones that have the plates inside that turn are really fancy), but actually worked great. And the cabinets were custom and solid, but very blahly brown.
So, the day before he started a very demanding new job (it was either commit right then or admit it might never get done!), my husband sanded them all down, and we began the seemingly endless process of painting the kitchen cabinets in the evenings and weekends.
It’s not a big kitchen, but those bottom cabinets all had sliding drawers inside (which were great), and we decided to paint all the insides of everything (aka, at least two coats on every one of the one million surfaces) to make sure everything got a nice fresh start.
It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.
We added hardware, too, (as you can see), which also made a huge difference in how the cabinets looked and functioned. (It’s from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot.) The brass tied into the warm tones in the counters, and also matched the exposed hinges on the cabinet doors, which I gave a good washing but was not about to replace.
(You can tell which of these are listing photos because my counters are preternaturally clear and the lighting is more even. The others are pics I had on my computer in a file called “after kitchen photos,” for the post-painting kitchen post that I never got around to. UNTIL NOW.)
The kitchen is in the middle of the house, so it doesn’t get that much natural light. Brightening it up was a huge priority, and I was tempted to go with white for all the cabinets (it’s the same Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace as all the trim in our house), but was concerned that the painted white wouldn’t hold up as well, cleanliness-wise on the lowers, and was also worried that any white I chose would make my floors look eternally dirty.
I mean, that particular textured, not-quite-white tile did look dirty no matter what (for the love of all that is good, why install such devil finishes in your home??), but no need to draw attention to it.
So we went with the two-tone look, which I was super happy with in the end. It actually took us two tries to get it right — we first chose a blue-gray that was just too cool next to those warm brown counters. After getting a coat on and realizing it wasn’t right, we switched to this warmer green-gray that was perfect. (I’m not easily finding the color names right now, but could maybe track them down if anyone was interested… I did carefully save everything, but then left all my house notes with the house for the new owners!)
It wasn’t shiny, fancy, or new, but by golly, it was a good little kitchen!
Since I know from experience that people who are considering painting their own kitchen cabinets often want to know all the information from everyone who ever paints their cabinets, I will say a few things for the record. We prepped very thoroughly (sanding and deglossing and washing), and painted very carefully, with thin, even coats. We used these narrow, very fine little rollers (not foam — we found that the foam ones left bubbles) that worked excellently well and left a very smooth finish. No link, but we got them at the Benjamin Moore store. They were a little more expensive than ordinary rollers, but worked twice as well. Totally worth it.
We used the Benjamin Moore Advance paint, which is lovely. Coverage was great, and it held up very well, even with my munchkins zooming around and shoving their stools around the kitchen, and me bombing around myself. There were a few nicks where I literally smashed pans into the cabinets, but considering how much use they got, they still looked great after three years.
We did paint the insides, as I said, and it did add quite a bit of work. Even so, I think it was worth it, if only for our own peace of mind to know that all the nooks and crannies were sealed and clean and there weren’t any unknown grimy bits (or openings for awful crawling things) lurking in the depths.
It’s really scary to drill into your newly-painted cabinet doors to install hardware. Terrifying. Go ahead and buy the little $5 plastic thingie they sell at the hardware store that tells you where to drill your hole. Mark the one you’re using so you do them all in the same place. Measure twice, drill once. (Haha, jk, you will measure three times at least, because like I said, the last thing you want to do at this point is mess up all your hard work.)
Ok, that’s all I remember for now.
Right next to the kitchen, and opening into the living room, was the eat-in kitchen area.
Now, we already had the table in the dining room, and when we tried putting a little kitchen table in there, it just seemed to block traffic patterns too much. So we ended up putting bar stools at the counter for quick meals or visiting with the chef, and using the rest of the room as sort of our designated kids’ area.
Pippo at some point started referring to it as “the little dining room,” which stuck.
Those are basically my dream bar stools (if one can have such a thing as dream bar stools, which it turns out one certainly can after starting to google them and realizing how much nice ones cost), which I found at TJ Maxx and hemmed and hawed over until they went on clearance and I snatched them up. Naturally, there’s no place for them in my new house. <sad face emoji>
I really loved this space by the end, and the kids spent a lot of good time working and playing in here. (And remember, the blue chair in the living room lived in here most of the time, so there was a comfortable spot for a grownup to sit, too.) The light coming in through that big back window in the late afternoon was so sweet, and I could watch them from the kitchen while I worked.
The little Hape play stove was a clearance score at Target — it’s so cute! It’s got everything you need but is tiny and packs up in itself so efficiently. I can’t find it online or I’d link it for you. I put it on another one of those wooden craft store crates that seem to form the backbone of my kids’ storage solutions, and the “drawer” inside it is a wooden wine crate that holds all the rest of the play kitchen things.
The sweet fridge was another case of me stalking my TJ Maxx — I’d seen it there around Christmas time last year, but it was more than I’d wanted to spend. But it was also in what was essentially an unmarked cardboard box, so no one else bought it either. I watched it go deeper and deeper on sale until I finally texted my husband with a link to it on Amazon (don’t spend $200 on a play fridge please, but if you do, please use this affiliate link), saying “this is $25 I can’t not buy it.”
When you turn that knob, little ice cubes come out of the dispenser. I can’t even.
When we were getting ready to list the house, I wondered whether we needed to stage this as an eat-in area again, since how I had it set up was sort of the opposite of the standard clear-out-your-personality advice given to sellers by the experts.
In the end, I decided that it looked cute how it was, and we didn’t have a table and chairs to put in there anyway, so it stayed. And you know what? The sweet family who bought our house actually specifically mentioned loving this play area, and wanting to remember how to set it up in a similar way for their little girl.
So there you go. The experts don’t know everything.
Ok, our last stop for today is the laundry room/pantry, where we really didn’t make any changes to speak of, but I learned a key lesson:
This was the other room that was supposed to be included in our big painting project that we hired out, but we ended up cutting it out of the job. I kept threatening to go in there with a can of white paint and a paintbrush, but there was just so much stuff on the shelves…
If we’d had longer, I would’ve loved to make this room prettier and more functional, but it still was lots of storage and a super-handy laundry room, so I really shouldn’t complain.
Ooh, big change: we got a glass dome for that bare light bulb! I didn’t even wait until we were selling the house to do that.
Ok, here is the key learning from Rosie’s Oklahoma Pantry:
Just Buy the Bins.
These shelves were so deep and things were always getting thrown around on them or disappearing into their dark corners. Dear, long-suffering Sukie organized them for me when she was visiting while I was having Molly. She used random boxes that she pulled out of our recycling to try to corral things. It made a huge difference, and I used those same cardboard boxes for years, but I always meant to find some real bins to get it all in order. I just could never commit to finding the right ones, or making sure they matched, or just spending the $30 or whatever the store wants for a pantry’s worth of bins.
Instead, the order deteriorated until I had another baby, and my long-suffering mother reorganized my pantry again for me while I was in the hospital with Nora.
Again, good intentions, failure to commit, chaos descending.
Finally, before I took the pictures to sell the house, I went to TJ Maxx and just bought a bunch of bins. They didn’t have enough of one color, so I got white and gray, in two different sizes. I bought more than I thought I’d need (I was wrong: I needed them all), because you can always return them if they don’t work.
And you know what? It made a huge difference in how my pantry looked, and in how it functioned. It was so much easier to find things (just grab the baking bin!), or for my husband to put groceries away for me in the right places. (I labeled the bins! You can just call me Miss Pinterest.)
And the bins are still useful in my new house. Because you know what? It’s super useful to have things to put things in. Lesson learned.
I will stop saying bin now.
Next time, the bedrooms! The bathrooms! Stay tuned…