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Henry adds a touch of adorableness to our new kitchen.
Waaaay back during spring break, my family visited for their annual trip. I didn’t have any major projects planned but with some goading from my sister and mother and some deep pondering on my part (why wouldn’t I tackle a home improvement project when I’d have so many helpers in the house?? It’s tradition to do impossibly large projects like building stairs at our Iowa homestead or totally redoing master bathrooms!), I came to the conclusion that we should work on the kitchen!
In case you’ve forgotten what our kitchen looked like, please enjoy these photos from our Indiana home tour. Yes, that’s carpet on the back of the island and yes, those are mustard yellow countertops and sloppy, moss green walls with cheap linoleum flooring. 
The thing about hideous decor is that it’s a temporary issue if you have the ability to see past it. Yes, it made me cringe the first time I saw it too and for a few years, our dinner guests cringed too. If nothing else, our kitchen made people feel a lot better about their own kitchens.
Claire was surprisingly helpful when it came to painting the walls. Again.

I’d attempted to get a start on the kitchen once before. Since the previous occupants also smoked heavily, a fresh coat of paint did wonders to hide stains and smells. I’d even gone as far as to pick out the countertops I wanted and painted the cabinets–inside and out–which took about a month to complete. Ugh, it was arduous but even that little bit of change really helped the kitchen. But, as I’ve been learning more and more with our home improvement adventures, it’s so much better to do an entire project all at once instead of just bits and pieces at a time. So, once we really, truly decided to fix up the kitchen, we found some great stock countertops, on sale tile and figured out just how we were going to make this space our own. First step: repaint.

It’s like craft time!
Let me just say, I love Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. I was first hooked at the hospital when Henry was born (one of the few places I’ve visited lately that has cable and even after giving birth, I’m thinking about home improvements, haha) and was overjoyed to discover the first few seasons on Netflix. Whenever I need motivation or ideas for how to go about renovating my own home, I sit down after lunch and watch an episode. I love their hands on approach and their vision for projects but every time they reveal the kitchen, I die a little. As beautiful as white or gray or cream cabinets and countertops are, I have to be realistic. There are four little kids who are constantly spilling or smearing or dropping food (intentionally or not) all over our beautiful kitchen. On top of that, Jack is constantly melting down beeswax or teaching the girls how to gut a fish or cooking up some fantastic meal that, while delicious, leaves the kitchen looking like a mine went off. So, black cabinets it is.
(Please don’t hate me, Joanna! I think we could still be friends!)
With the walls painted and a good start on the cabinets, I was prepared for the family to descend on the kitchen and do what we do best: destroy. Out went the countertops, up came the cabinets and we said goodbye to that hideously ugly floor. Because of the shape of the island we inherited when we bought the house, there wasn’t any room to put a dining table, which has always bothered me. However, because of the weird, two-tiered thing going on with the island, it wasn’t terribly convenient to eat at and was always collecting junk. So, we sacrificed a bit of overall island square footage when we took out a cabinet and rotated the island, but in the end, it’s 100 times more functional. The kids can sit at it and I have a huge area to prep food. I’m not sad we’re missing one insignificant cabinet.
Toss it out, Jordan!
Having the kitchen out of commission any time is horrifically frustrating, but while you’re living there and have guests, it can make anyone go insane. Thankfully, we spent a lot of quality time visiting the zoo, swinging, riding the horses and treating ourselves to going out to eat…’cause when the microwave isn’t even plugged in, sometimes you just have to walk away and go to Steak ‘n’ Shake.
Holton needs a little more bulk before he’ll be able to tear out many cabinets.
Someone once told me they thought my kitchen was small.


I can only imagine the look on my face when they said that. If anyone ever feels like their kitchen is too small, try fixing it up. What seems like it should only take an hour or two drags on for days and days and has to be done in the right order. There was no tiling until the floor was covered with cement board, which couldn’t be done until the electrical was redone, which couldn’t be redone until the island was situated, which couldn’t be situated until I had cleaned and scoured every inch of that kitchen. At least now I know underneath all my cabinets it’s nice and tidy.
We decided on a butch block island.
Originally, I thought I’d do the tiling myself once everyone had left. I’d done it before on other rooms like the entryway, the girls’ bathroom (ok, I helped a LITTLE) and the mudroom. How much work could it be?
Sometimes, my naivety still shocks me.
The start of our simple yet catchy floor pattern.
It shouldn’t have surprised me but the tiling took the longest part and was the most strenuous. It required me to mix bags and bags of mortar, be on my knees for hours at a time and it left my hands feeling raw and somehow simultaneously chapped while being wrinkled from being wet while I scraped the mortar across the floor. It took two days of intensive tile laying to finish the pattern, and that wasn’t even smearing the grout over the top. By the time my family had helped me finish the monumental task (with a few too many meltdowns to count on my part), tiling fell far, far down on my list of favorite home improvement projects.
Darling Jack taking a turn tiling.
By the time my family left, they were A) sick of working at my house and B) the kitchen was really starting to take shape. The appliances were all back in, the island was secured and though it wasn’t complete, it was A LOT prettier and functional than when they were there. The things they put up with…
Get an idea of what it’s going to look like?
Though I’m known to get about 95% of a project completed before quitting (meh, who needs trim? I just replaced the entire floor!) I forced myself to 100% complete that darn kitchen. Sometimes I drug my feet, sometimes I had to watch two episodes of Fixer Upper to feel sufficiently motivated, but I did it.
The girls acting as weights while Jack attached the island top.

I would have shared photos a lot earlier but one thing I’ve found is that it’s quite difficult to get a picture of the kitchen when it’s actually clean. So, I waited until we went out of town because I thoroughly clean the house so we can come home without being greeted by a mess, refused to let anyone enter and took my pictures.


To say I now love my kitchen is a gross understatement. I didn’t even imagine it was possible that such a gorgeous creation could come out of something that had been so hideously wrong. But, there it is, for everyone to see. I now enjoy tidying the kitchen. I don’t squirm at the thought of having people over to eat (except when they have to walk through other parts of our unfinished house…). I don’t bat an eye at Henry crawling around on the floor.

Now to just build a table…but I’m counting that as a separate project.
The kitchen is done!
I LOVE it! Thanks for all the help, everyone!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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