Things have begun to snowball with our DIY kitchen renovation these past few weeks, and I’m absolutely elated about it. I didn’t think we’d find the mental—let alone physical—energy to tackle this project so soon after moving in, but we’re just going with our gut on this one. If we happen to wake up one Sunday morning with the urge to remove some of the upper cabinetry, that’s exactly what we’re going to do! But I’m getting ahead of myself…Let’s start by chatting about our recent countertop upgrade.
Those photos above show what the countertops (and sink/faucet situation) looked like when we moved in. The sink was only about six inches deep and came with two separate basins—our least favorite type of sink design since we’re often washing large pots and sheet trays that won’t fit across the divided span. The sink faucet was also a major issue. It was very shallow, meaning you could barely fit those aforementioned pots and trays beneath the running water, at least not without getting water all over the counters.
Speaking of the counters, they were a huge disappointment, too. They were a scratched and brittle formica with peeling edges, and year’s worth of stains and burn marks. We liked the white color and how they brightened this exceptionally dark kitchen, but they didn’t feel great to the touch. They also wasted a lot of space. They didn’t extend all the way to the door trim by the dining room, which meant we lost out on some prime countertop square footage. Every little bit counts! We also felt like the natural thing to do was extend the counters beyond the edge of the back of the peninsula in order to create an eat-in bar. The bonus of doing this would be creating a larger surface for food prep and plating.
My parents actually just recently replaced their own kitchen countertops with quartz, and had used the team from Virginia Granite Pros (known locally as Granite Glenn). Mom and Dad were super happy with the results, and we were impressed with what we saw at their house, too, so it was pretty much a no-brainer that we would start with Granite Glenn.
We had them out to our house to do an estimate and template for us, then John and I visited their showroom in early January to look at quartz options. The goal was to find something really bright white with just a hint of marble-like veining, and the winning style was Bianco Aspen from MetroQuartz. Since this particular slab was one that Virginia Granite Pros generally has in stock, we were able to get the new counter install scheduled for just two weeks out.
After getting the ball rolling with our new counters, we needed to address our old ones. It was a major cost savings for us to tear out the old countertops ourselves, so John and my parents worked on that the day before our new counters were scheduled to come in (I was working at the pottery studio, otherwise, I would have helped). By the way, the countertop team ended up giving us a great deal on a new matching bathroom countertop using the leftover slab material from our kitchen, so we had to tear out both the kitchen and the bathroom counters. Although I wasn’t there to assist, I was told it went pretty well.
Keep in mind that tearing out counters also means you have to disconnect plumbing and lose the sinks/faucets, so we made sure to schedule our DIY tear out for right before the new counters went in so that we weren’t without a kitchen and bathroom for too long. Luckily, we have a second bathroom and had planned our meals ahead so we weren’t too inconvenienced by not having running water for a couple of days.
The following day, both our kitchen and bathroom were outfitted with gorgeous new quartz counters! Of course, it wasn’t quite as easy as that sentence implies for the team, but they were super fast and efficient with their work. We ran into a couple of issues thanks to our old warped walls, but the team came back a week later to install a backsplash that filled in the gaps to perfection. “Before and after” proof seen pictured above and below.
While the team was here installing the backsplash, I also asked them (as nicely as I could!) if they could straighten out one of the inside corners. As it stood before, this corner was the only curve in the whole design, and I knew it would have bothered me for the lifespan of our kitchen. The Virginia Granite Pros team was so awesome and agreed to cut into the curve to make it sharper for us. Another set of “before and after” photos are pictured above so you can see their attention to detail.
We obviously have a long, long way to go with this kitchen project, but having the new quartz countertops feels like a major step in the right direction. The new extended bar has been so much fun to eat at. It’s one of my favorite spots to hang out in with a glass of wine while John’s cooking, too. I love the subtle veining throughout, and how easy the counters have been to clean. Since the kitchen was on the smaller side and we used a slab that’s generally pretty easy to get, the counters didn’t break the bank either! We spent just over $3,000 on counters for the entire room, including the new stainless steel sink that they under-mounted for us.
Now that we’ve replaced the counters, upgraded the sink to a deeper single basin design, had a new touch faucet installed, replaced the cabinet hardware, and put up new lighting, all we really have left to do is paint. If you saw the mood board post that I wrote and published shortly after we moved in, you’ll know all about our plans to paint the cabinets some shade of off-white. This will help brighten the space, and I think it will also really enhance that gorgeous 1960s trim detail on the cabinet fronts. As I alluded to at the beginning of this post, we may have spontaneously taken down some of the kitchen cabinets to open up the space a little more as well…Stay tuned for that update coming soon!
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