Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Woman's Workshop

It seems like every other show on HGTV is about this new trend of creating a "Man Cave" for the man of the house. I guess that's a positive for men who need to escape, but at our house, we've just about completed the time-honored woman's workshop--that is, the kitchen. It's been about 6 weekends of grit, grime, and unpleasant surprises, but the end result is so worth it!
It's amazing what paint and a router tool can
accomplish when remodeling on a budget.
First of all, our Osage County, Kansas, four-square farmhouse is 105 years old. The former wallpaper in the kitchen dated to the early 1910s. And not in a good way. Stuck behind the cabinets (as the cabinets were added sometime mid-century), the old cherry-and-bluebird-printed paper was dirty and crackling. The shelves were covered in (last time I counted) about 5 layers of contact paper, followed by a layer of grime. The cabinets were everyone's favorite mid-tone wood grain, and the walls were wood paneled, of course. It was a "fabulous room of wood" akin to Ace Ventura's "fabulous room of death." The countertops were vintage laminate with a mauve tone. This all converged as a hot mess, but we decided to live with it for a time in order to determine what would work best for us, what we could afford, and what really needed to be hired out and what we could do ourselves.
We began with the cabinets, which we were NOT going to spend big money to replace. They were custom built for this house at some point and perfectly sound--just in need of a facelift. My handy husband read up on routering and transformed the flat, boring cabinet doors by routering a seam down the middle and rounding off the edges. We primed and painted the cabinets inside and out, using Valspar's Kitchen & Bath Enamel (a soft gloss paint so lovely it actually made painting FUN). Hinges, as we all know, are a complete nightmare to replace, so I painted the old ones a flat black and we bought new pulls and knobs online at a plumbing warehouse for a fraction of the Lowes price.
New sink and faucet, my handsewn curtain,
and a handmade Ball jar light fixture.
We replaced the old sink and leaky faucet with a single bowl cast iron sink and vintage style pewter faucet (again, both bought at a plumbing warehouse online for a fraction of the cost). The countertops were our one and only splurge ... an exotic granite that we both fell in love with at the slab warehouse in Lenexa. We hired a local tile man to do the subway-tile backsplash which he did in one day for a price so low I'm embarassed to report it. We couldn't even buy the tools to do it ourselves for what he charged! I finished it off with a handsewn burlap window curtain, some framed antique prints of vegetables, and a ball-jar light fixture that my husband made from scavenged parts. The only things left to do are install the schoolhouse lights, and the kitchen island my hubby is making from pine and walnut harvested from our farm. (I'll update with more photos when it's done). All in all, we did not have to take out a home equity line of credit to remodel our kitchen (we did have to use a little tax refund money for the granite though); we just had to put in alot of sweat equity to get it done. But we both agreed, we had fun doing it, we loved the late-winter indoor time together discovering each other's DIY skills and we just wouldn't have done it any other way.          


  1. It's beautiful! I love the light fixture.

  2. It looks AMAZING! I love when hard work pays off.

  3. Karen, what a great project! It looks very beautiful.

  4. That's a great kitchen - I love it when folks can DO things themselves!