Want to see a beautiful picture?
Ha, ok, so maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder! But to us, what we see is a beautiful kitchen-to-be.
We got very lucky that the real estate agent who helped us buy the cabin not only became a friend, but her husband is a carpenter who offered to help us demo the old kitchen, which was beyond helpful and awesome, and they’re wonderful people.
As a reminder, here’s the kitchen BEFORE:
Every time you start ripping things out, you find some surprises and this kitchen is no exception. We had NO IDEA what we were going to find behind the old cabinets, but we’ve done enough renovations by now to know you have to just roll with it when something unexpected pops up. And something unexpected ALWAYS pops up!
Before you read any farther, watch this video where we walk you through all the surprises we got, the layout changes we had to make, and all those design plans that we totally changed our minds about!
If you remember our kitchen layout plans, we planned to do cabinets only along one wall, instead of wrapping them around as they had been. But the flooring actually doesn’t extend all the way to the back wall because there are some water pipes along the floor there that we didn’t know about, near my feet in the photo below.
Luckily, this is an easy fix. We’ll just move one cabinet to that wall and wrap the countertops around. We don’t even need to order a different cabinet to do this. We briefly (like for 2 seconds) considered installing a lazy susan-type cabinet to fit in the corner, but decided it would be a) inconvenient and b) unnecessary. We just don’t feel like we need a ton of stuff in this kitchen to require all that additional storage, especially because we think trying to get in to a corner cabinet in this tight space would be awkward and uncomfortable. I imagine things falling off the shelves into the back of the cabinet where you can’t reach them and that makes my skin crawl. Instead, we’ll build out an empty box to fill that corner space. The awesome news is we’ll end up with more counterspace. And since we are going with a wood counter from Ikea that comes in set lengths that you can cut yourself, rather than a custom-measured countertop, we already had enough extra that we don’t even need to spend more money on counters!
Also, surprise! There’s another window! Maybe. We actually suspected there probably was because we could see what looked like a boarded up window from the outside, but we had no idea what we’d find once the cabinets were removed and what the condition would be — and actually we still don’t know these things for sure. We assume the window was covered up to install upper cabinets, but we’ll need to remove the boards to really see what’s under there. It would be great to have more natural light!
One of the bigger surprises was what was behind the upper cabinets and backsplash. We were holding off on ordering any tile because we didn’t know how high we would need/want to take the backsplash, but now that we’ve seen the state of the logs back there, we decided we will need to carry that tile all the way up to the ceiling to hide not only all the places the logs have been cut away but also all those electrical wires.
The process to add a backsplash to log walls is very different than if you have normal drywall. You can’t drywall over logs, or you shouldn’t, in most cases, because first of all the logs expand and contract with weather, and also moisture could be trapped behind the drywall creating a potential mold situation. So to add a tile backsplash, you actually attach plywood sheets to boards like 2x4s which you can see around the walls, and then tile the plywood. We’ll obviously go into a lot more detail about this once we actually get to this stage, but I thought it might be interesting to you, since it’s something we’ve also had to learn about! And you may be wondering what the heck is going on with all those boards attached to the wood — they’re for both attaching upper cabinets and the backsplash. Since we’re not doing any uppers, we’ll just have lots of tile. Lots of pretty, pretty tile.
Soooo speaking of tile… well… we changed our mind. Again. Hey, it’s our cabin and we’ll change our minds if we want to!! Sorry not sorry.
It all started when I saw this photo on instagram that I could.not.stop.thinking.about. That tile! All those colors! I’m obsessed. I’d already been second guessing the tile we’d chosen for the backsplash because they aren’t exactly what I had in my head, but I couldn’t find what I wanted (at least in our budget) and I was also worried that they might just be a tad bit boring — even though they’re a pretty color. They were sort of close enough and a good price, you know? Seeing this awesome photo, though, really solidified that we needed to find something with a lot more character. It’s a vacation home, after all; I want it to have a super fun, maybe a bit kooky, way less serious vibe than most people do in their own homes.
I found an amazing mosaic tile from modwalls, a company that specializes in retro-style tile, in gorgeous shades of blue and white, and as soon as the sample arrived in the mail Andy and I were instantly sold. It’s so pretty. I also like that a dose of white will really brighten up the otherwise dark room and the dark navy cabinets we chose. Bonus: it went on sale over Memorial Day, woo!
Another change: the fridge. The very first thing I decided for the kitchen, when we toured the space for the first time, was that it needed a Smeg fridge. Like, desperately needed it because the full-size fridge that was there took up three-quarters of the room. I was so excited about it. But when we actually sat down to put in the Smeg order, we both had this moment of, “wait, is this actually going to work for us?” The biggest problem: the freezer. Or the lack thereof. The freezer is tiny. From a vacation rental standpoint, we had to ask ourselves the question if there would be circumstances where someone would complain that the freezer is too small and of course the answer is maybe? Since we’ll most likely only offer weekly rentals during the summer, I can imagine people wanting a big tub of ice cream or a box of popsicles or a container of frozen margarita mix or a fifth of vodka — or all of the above because it’s vacation after all! And I can imagine us wanting the same when we’re there.
The larger, full-size Smeg is just too expensive for us to justify at about $4000, and after doing a lot of research on small fridges, we found most of them were too bland and cheap-apartment-fridge-looking. But when we came across it, we decided we really like the looks of the Big Chill Slim Fridge. It’s a little bit more expensive than the Smeg, but it’s a similar width, a few inches taller, and has a much bigger freezer compartment — with plenty of room for ice cream! We also like the retro styling, that it comes in fun colors, and that Big Chill is an American company. We don’t love that the freezer is on top so you’ll have to lean down to take things out of the fridge, but we can live with it. We ordered it in “beach blue,” a nice, bright sky blue, and it looks awesome with the new tile sample — the fridge is the blue sample in the image above, next to the tile and cabinet colors.
I whipped up this little rough draft rendering of what the kitchen kinda sorta will look like. Don’t judge my Photoshop skills!!! This is totally not to scale. The ceilings aren’t anywhere near that high. The windows aren’t that big. But you get the point!! I hope.
The brown lines on the walls are shelves, and I’m guessing that’s a whole lot more shelving than we’ll have in real life and a whole lot more tile. The cabinets from left to right are a 3-drawer cabinet under the left window, then around the corner, the oven/microwave combo with a two-burner cooktop above and a drawer below, a 3-drawer cabinet, the sink cabinet with a 25″ sink, the 18″ dishwasher with a cabinet front, and then another 3-drawer cabinet, and finally the fridge. And that’s the whole kitchen.
Our plans have come a long way from where we originally started, but that’s ok. It’s actually really great. The more time we spend in the cabin, the more we get a better idea for how we want it to feel, and also how we think the house itself wants to feel (does that sound crazy? Without being too “woo woo,” like the house is talking to me, I really believe a house can give off a vibe of what it wants to be.) This house is telling us it wants to be a fun, happy place with kids running around and dogs and laughter and ice cream and bottles of bubbly getting popped. And there’s no reason to stick to the dark, rustic vibe that it’s had before. One of our biggest dilemmas at first was how to put ourselves and our bright, cheerful style into this house. The answer: just go for it!
I think we can make it work. What do you think?