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Momma’s Kitchen Makeover

The house my parents live in was built in the 1960s and is very characteristic of that time period; it’s ranch style, with the living areas separated from the social areas, and has a long and narrow formal living room and a combination dining room / kitchen separated by a breakfast bar. The dining room / kitchen is paneled in that godawful orangey-yellow shellac’d pine, and the cabinets are the same style and color.
When we moved here in the late 90s, a couple of updates had been done to that area: the fridge, stove, and range hood were fairly new (all bisque), and the countertops and linoleum had also been updated. Other than that, everything from the dark brown oven to the orangey-yellow pine cabinets and black iron hardware is original.

It’s well past the time to change that.
Slowly we’ve made some changes. A couple of years ago for Christmas, Da got Ma a portable dishwasher – score! The current layout of the kitchen just won’t support a built-in, and the portable can roll out of the way. Over the summer she got a very nice black Frigidaire wall oven and Da installed that, having to cut down some of the cabinetry to make it fit (and now the electrical on the side of the box is funky – that’s something Darren’ll be working on as we progress through the kitchen). On Black Friday we got an excellent deal on a matching black Frigidaire flat cooktop, so we snatched that up and Darren and I installed it with minimal difficulty. Her flourescent lighting went out and Darren (and Da) wired a very nice track light that’s designed to resemble a branch on oil-rubbed bronze.

Originally, Ma decided to keep with her country apple theme. She’s got a bunch of green and red apple spongeware, and for her birthday Meemaw bought some red dishware to match it. We searched high and low for new dishes before she finally settled for that. We were resigned to go with apples (thus the branch track lighting), but two days before Christmas whilst shopping and dining at The Crack House, disaster struck – Mom found a dish set there and fell HEAD OVER HEELS in love with it, resulting in me blasting everyone with “don’t get her the red dishes — go get this from The Crack House!!” txts at the last minute.

Now, Ma has this weird thing for chickens. I think it stems from her having a pet chicken (named Minnie Pearl, ofc) as a kid. She’s got random chicken/rooster decor, and a really cool chicken quilt inherited from Gran-Gran, and I’ll admit, I really like being able to go into stores and announce “HEY MA! I BET YOU’D LIKE THIS GIANT COCK!” when I see a big rooster sculpture or something. As much as I liked the red dishware, the chicken set from The Crack House is 100% her. She had to have it, and the family rallied through and hooked her up with some for Christmas, which we’ve since added to. This dishware is the inspiration for our kitchen remodel.

Thus far, here’s the comprehensive list of changes we’re going to be making –

  • Remove and strip all of the cabinets & hardware for staining
  • Strip the cabinet bodies still attached to the wall, and prep the bar
  • Stain all the cabinetry with Minwax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany (this will take 2 coats at least)
  • Attach new hardware – we have the knobs but we need to find pulls for the drawers
  • Lay new shelf paper
  • Prime the paneling throughout the area, including in the kitchen
  • Paint the paneling and the soffits in the kitchen the color of Mom’s choosing (TBD)
  • Paint the ceiling
  • Stain the crown moulding in the kitchen to match the cabinets; perhaps throughout the area if it looks funky
  • Purchase or make new curtains, and probably new curtain hardware (I’m thinking ORB to match the light fixture)
  • Purchase and install all new switch plates and electrical covers (probably ORB to match)
  • Caulk the moulding and the backsplash and around the windows for weatherproofing
  • Reattach the built-in shelf over the sink (I removed it to stain when I demo’d the backsplash)
  • Figure out some pretty solution for the electrical box hanging out the side of the oven box (Darren’s job)
  • Fix all of the electrical sockets – some dumbass wired this whole house upside down (also Darren’s job)
  • Remodel the table – going to strip the green paint and either redo black or red (Mom’s debating). Also debating staining the wood tops to match the cabinets.

And here are some more in-work pictures –

Before (but during my backsplash demo - you can see it still in the corner, and the ragged edges in the front left)

My tools - The $20 girly toolbox I bought at Walmart 2 years ago, some sand paper, my stain, and a random boxcutter to remove caulk. Not pictured - hand sander and my electric screwdriver/drill.

Stripping the cabinets - I tried 100 grain sandpaper at first, but it wasn't removing the old varnish. I've since discovered that 60 grit is working well, followed by 100 to smooth things out.

Testing the stain - Before really taking the plunge, I stained the back of one of the doors. The only thing I've ever stained before was a bookshelf about 6 years ago, and it was with a different type and different tools. I will be learning as I go, and I will be doing all the insides FIRST so my learning mistakes are easily hidden.

Wish me and Momma luck as we work through this remodel! We’re learning as we do, and I’m hoping it turns out FABULOUS!

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