Oak kitchen renovation

I’ve been really wanting to update this blog with photos of our house and all the fun things we’ve been doing. Since I’ve been spending so much time in the kitchen with this new diet, it felt right to share kitchen projects first. And, man, did this house need them!

When we saw our house for sale online and looked through the pictures, we were like oh man. That NEEDS TO GO. Wait for it.. Here are some of the pictures from the listing:

So much potential with an open layout and in exactly the neighborhood we wanted. So, crazy tile and oak cabinets here we come!

Crazy Tile.

Literally started this about five minutes after I got the keys. Ran through the whole house and took before photos before getting to work. We had about 6 days before we were moving in and some serious work to do. As you can tell. Did you see the colors of the walls, too? Lots of work ahead.

As soon as photos were done, grabbed my handy screwdriver and REMOVE THESE LIGHT SWITCHES. Yes. Those are custom ceramic light switches & outlet covers, painted to go along with the PEACH AND TURQUOISE tiles. Really now, who does this?


First step, remove hideous light switches.


Second step, get to work on the lining of the cabinets. We tasked our lovely friends and family with pulling all this terribleness out of our cabinets before move-in. Easier said than done. It took a full 2-4 hours of tearing this paper out only to find MORE underneath that somehow was even worse (not pictured). Then, it was another few days of scrubbing the stickiness clean and finding a replacement. Longer than anticipated process and we still have a few remnants that we haven’t gotten to (mostly in the bathrooms), but mostly much much better.

Third, destroy tiles.


Literally hours after we got the keys 

Tile demolition was harder than we anticipated and more destructive. So, it was months of patching the drywall and then sanding it down, cleaning it off. But I’d rather live in drywall than in crazy tile. (see below)


Finally, Halloween weekend we got to it! About two months in.

We found this nifty sticky paper that eliminates the need for that mastic.


Cut it up and paste it on the clean, flat and dry walls.


Normal light switches. Pre grout.

I’m sure you can get a better step by step on how to tile somewhere else, so I’m not even going to try. The paper sticky stuff (Simple Mat) was great, and we rented a tile saw from Home Depot for 24 hours (well, 25, because we gained an hour, thanks daylight savings). Those are my tips. Also, maybe don’t destroy your drywall in the process.

We took a break for festivities Halloween night, snagged an extra hour of sleep (thanks again daylight savings!), and got back to work in the morning.


We went as Claymation Christmas, in case you were wondering. Not surprisingly, the guy with the axe (YUKON CORNELIUS) was the one who helped us get the tile off. 

And BAM! Tiles up. Grouting done. Way easier than we thought it would be. Project time: 1 weekend (once the drywall was ready and tile was picked out).


During the time that we took to patch the walls, we made endless trips to our home improvement stores checking out tiles and pricing of different ones and seeing what would go best now and long term. Careful to pick ones that you know the maintenance time of. Like, the stone ones we liked a lot needed to be resealed after a few years, and that wasn’t something we were interested in. So, we scratched everything and bought subway tile with “smoke grey” grout. Anyway, a long process.

The Cabinets

During our two months between tile destruction and new pretty tile we also started work on cleaning the cabinets. They were so worn and dirty that we cleaned and cleaned. Dish soap, all purpose spray/cabinet cleaner (my favorite is this stuff, thanks Shark Tank!), and wood oil. Shocked at the results.

Before photo below.

That was step one. Now, from the photos, you can tell that it none of these have handles. Also, some were hung wrong and/or sideways. So, we flipped them around hung them right and added some nice looking handles. Easier for us and jazz up the cabinetry.

Our reasoning: We have dark molding across the entire house, so it was tough picking #1 a wall color and #2 figuring out what to do with oak cabinets. Oak cabinets and dark molding, you can’t just paint your kitchen cabinets because then you have to  paint all the molding and doors in your ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD. No thank you. Not right now. There’s enough to tame in this house right now. So, here’s our alternative to painting your oak kitchen cabinets – add some seriously functional handles.

We were lucky in that these aren’t hideous by any means. The oak matches the rest of the house, and we don’t mind them one bit. Especially with these handles.

Ok, back to the photos. Are you ready to see the after?!


So nice! And so much more cleaned up!

And voila! A brand new kitchen!


Slowly but steadily, upgrading. Next up: sink & appliances. Also those hang down lights! And, maybe some new window coverings soon. Oh, the endless house projects…

Oak Kitchen


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