Well, well, well.  She finally gets off her duff and decides to write that post she promised months ago about the magnificent bitchin’ kitchen makeover we did nearly TWO YEARS AGO NOW!!!!  I guess it took looking at Google Analytics and seeing that I’m getting about 500 viewers a day to the site now that made me think “Hmmmm, I should probably give them something new to look at.”

Oh, you loyal visitors.  You’ve hung on so long waiting for me to give you a nod and share some new insights and I’ve just taken you for granted.  Actually, I didn’t even realize you had become such a large audience and I thought no one was actually coming by our little humble abode on the Web.  But, here you are…holding on.  So!  Here we go!  The completed (or semi-completed as I was so irritably lamenting to Big D last night since I still don’t have the ceiling done, the wine bottle shelf built into the cabinet end, or the black refrigerator that would match the rest of our appliances, but hey, who’s keeping track? :-)

So, in a previous post, found here, we shared how we were not really prepared financially to do a full blown remodel on the kitchen and the things we did to tide us over until we were. This remodel, the Bitchin’ Kitchen Part II, was that full-blown project we were saving for. This project cost about $3500.00 total.  The most expensive thing was the cabinets.  Then the flooring, then the stove.  The wall covering materials and trim and incidentals such as the sink, fixtures, range-hood, etc…totaled about the same as the flooring all together.

We had put a different laminate floor down years ago that I no longer liked.  We have used this terrific stone-look laminate in our laundry room and our bathroom remodel, which can be seen in the gallery of photos here, and we wanted to tie it all in together by using the same product.  We purchased Sierra Slate Laminate flooring at Lowe’s and it was a breeze to install.  It looks expensive and very earthy.  We laid the flooring on the entire kitchen floor before cabinetry installation because I have never liked not knowing what’s under my cabinets and critters have gotten into our house because of shoddy floor patching and laying the cabinets over top of it by the builders.  All plumbing holes were completely sealed around the fixtures with Great Stuff and all has been quiet in the night.  (This can also be attributed to the wooden skirting that we built several years ago that I have noticed since re-staining this week is actually like Fort Knox where animal penetration is concerned!)

If there’s one thing we cannot stand, it’s mobile home gypsum wall board.  UGH!!!!!  Oh wait, I can’t stand popcorn ceilings either…but that’s another post altogether.  We decided to resurface our walls with a luan-type sheeting. I think this is normally used as a flooring underlayment.  I’m not sure why we thought this was a good idea, other than that we have tried sheetrock and spackle before and it was a disaster.  But it worked, and now we have walls that we can actually hammer a nail into that hold a picture up.  Mission Accomplished!!!

Anyhoo, we used 4’x8′ sheets of this very thin plywood-type sheeting and used our favorite project friend Loctite and glued the crap out of it and slapped it up.  As always, we used finishing nails on all of the edges and centers to keep it in place.  Once that had been up for a few days, we wallpapered the top and put wainscot from Home Depot on the bottom.  This House of Fara wainscot kit is the easiest stuff to install, you can give any room an overhaul in about an hour….it’s THAT easy. And no….we don’t make any money from telling you what products we use and linking to them…I wish!  I’m just trying to be very specific about what we have used in case you like it and want to find it.  Another little tweak we made was to build a bulletin board door that now covers the circuit breaker box.  It makes the space useful instead of just having a little cupboard door in the middle of the kitchen wall…which looked pretty silly if you ask me.

We also used a different wall board on the cooking side of the kitchen.  It looks like tile, but isn’t and it compliments the flooring.  I don’t see it on the Lowe’s site any longer, but you can see it in the photos here and look for something similar if you wish.

I am assuming you will have a drill if you are attempting a project such as this, but it’s also great to have either one of those handheld tiny circular saws or a jigsaw in order to make your holes for electrical outlets in the wall board, and also vent holes in laminate flooring.  We map out and measure these (sometimes wrong!) and then drill holes in the four corners of the square, then place the jigsaw blade into the holes and finish the cut.  Be sure to drill your holes toward the INSIDE of the drawn out square so corner openings aren’t too large.

Next, we installed the cabinets.  We used Kitchen Classics Merlot Cabinets that are stocked in store by Lowe’s.  The hardest part of this was deciding if we would set up cabinets just like we had previously, which I hated because we had a thousand cabinets which were all filled with junk!  Or, if we would reconfigure and then use furniture pieces like an island, hutch, china cabinet, to compliment that.  We chose the latter and have not regretted it.  As you can see in the pictures, we opted for one wall of cabinets and built a pantry cabinet (that tall indigo-stained one) to keep food in.

The Belanger Laminate countertops were purchased from stock at Lowe’s and the sink is a Breckenridge Thermocast drop in acrylic sink. We chose bronze finish fixtures (with a hose that pulls out of the faucet….LOVE THIS!!).  I really love the whole sink area.  It has a very dramatic look! This is also another time when the jig saw came in handy…for cutting out the sink hole.  We caulked the hell out of the area around the sink because on the last one, the caulk wasn’t so great when installed and it made the counter behind the sink rot a bit from water getting back there.  Not anymore!  A word of advice…measure, measure, measure.  Know the measurements of the cabinets you wish to buy…in all configurations, so you can map out the best design for your space.  I thought I knew what I wanted, then changed my mind after already getting the cabinets.  I had to return a bunch and re-imagine what I wanted.  It was a pain!

Once these were in, we waited a few weeks before picking out a stove.  But soon we settled on a black, gas stove that I love.  I cook  a lot and it’s wonderful to have a nice stove with a great self-cleaning oven and a timer and a light and all that fancy jazz.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy :-)  We still, almost two years later, not gotten a black refrigerator.  I know, I know, what the heck is wrong with us?  It’s not for lack of money…it’s just pure laziness!  Or maybe the fact that we have already started three or four other projects before we finished the kitchen and it just got lost.  I’m sure you don’t know anything about this since you’re probably much more organized in your projects than we are!

Anyway, we complimented our storage needs with a hutch, a corner cabinet, and the pantry we built.  Instructions for this pantry can be found on Ana-White.com If you have never used that site, you should.  We never dreamed that we would become furniture builders, but this site has turned us into furniture building monsters.  We’ve since built a queen-sized storage bed with a huge, rustic headboard, a desk and picnic table for our grandson, an end table for our living room, a trellis planter for my mother-in-law, and the list goes on… There’s quite an amazing community of newbie builders over there and we are all lovin’ it!

Our Bitchin’ Kitchen took us about 2 weeks to complete ourselves.  It sucked not having running water in there, but our small bathroom doubled as a dish washing station and we bought a lot of microwaveable stuff and subs for that time.  We hope you enjoy looking through this post and dreaming about the ways you will update your kitchen.  The kitchen has always been the heart of any home I’ve ever lived in and it deserves a good treatment.  If you have questions…please, feel free to ask away in the comment section below the post so others can join in the conversation.  Thanks to all of you for hanging in there and not complaining that I haven’t gotten this post up sooner.  As you can see, I wanted it to be thorough and detailed so getting it together was a bit of a job.

A couple of additional notes…the wallpaper is a merlot color textured paper.  The island is a Martha Stewart brand piece that my mother bought at K-mart several years ago, but this type of thing can be found at such places like Homedecorators.com and even Big Lots…which is where we bought the fabulous dinette set that is a small square table with a granite lazy Susan in the center and the sides come up to make a round table that serves 8.  How about that!!!  The ceiling fan was bought at Lowe’s as well.  So, you see, nothin’ in this joint is fancy.  We found the hutch and corner cupboard on craigslist for about $100 each and they fit our needs perfectly.

Good luck on your very own Bitchin’ Kitchens!

The McGees

UPDATE: Already with the update?  Well, I was reading the post over to Big D last night and he wanted to be sure I included some advice from our experience about letting yourself cry out your frustration.  We had to raise all of our electrical outlets because we used a counter with a back splash.  Whenever we change something like that, we replace it with new.  So, ONE of those outlets had a weird configuration of actually controlling the ceiling fan/light fixture all the way across the room.  Don’t ask why, it’s a mobile home, that’s the only reason I have for you…you know what I’m talking about.  After a whole day of scratching our heads and looking at the photos we took of it just in case, and connecting and reconnecting, we both sat in tears looking at the whole day’s work we had thought we would have done at that point that was not to be had.  Finally, we asked my dad, nickname Thunder, to come and help us because he’s amazing and can do anything…and we all figured it out together the next day.

Something like this also happened with our hood exhaust.  We converted to a non-venting exhaust with a special filter.  Because of a weird spot in the wall, it would not press flat and look level for all the hope in the world.  These things will really break you down if you are trying to be organized and work on a schedule.  Be prepared to walk away from something and move on or just stop for the day.  Don’t take it out on each other, and remember that you all want this thing done as well and as soon as you can. You’re all on the same team!

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