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    Hey there! I'm Amanda and I'll be your co-pilot today. Along with my handy husband, Ben, we're remodeling our second house. We're avid DIY-ers, tackling large and small projects while raising two rambunctious boys. Thanks for following along on this wild journey!
    Photo by Jana Graham Photography

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    Finally, after months and months of debating, I pulled the trigger and bought a rug. This one from @westelm has been a favorite of mine and I'm excited to add it to our house. On sale for under $300! Sorting white marble tile by color. So far I have four distinct colors. Yes, I'm only a few steps away from being committed. #ohakitchenreno Couldn't resist French burnt peanuts for today's mid afternoon pick me up.

Simple Drawer Fronts

Although the kitchen is slowing down, we haven’t stopped working.  In fact, I’ve been painting and sanding.  Sanding and painting the last several days.  Even though this is mostly decorative, we’ve taken another small step toward the finish line.  Notice anything new here?


I’ll give you a hint:


Drawer fronts!  And handles!  Toe kick covers are curing, hopefully to be installed this afternoon.


This section of the kitchen was part of the pool house addition a few years after the house was built.  I’m assuming it was level with the house, but the house already had some time to settle.  So the last five or six feet are roughly 3/4 of an inch off level.  We’ll cut the toe kick covers to follow the floor and cabinet gap for a seamless edge.

Speaking of seamless, even the sides of the drawers look sleek.



Using 1 1/4 inch long screws, Ben screwed through the drawer, into the front to secure it.


In other shocking and exciting news (sarcasm) the upper cabinet is almost ready to get loaded up with dishes.


Once loaded up with dishes, the shelves will hold a lot of weight.  Ben, over-builder of everything, worried a peg and shallow hole system wouldn’t be strong enough.  Instead, we chose to recess adjustable tracks by adding 1/4 inch material to the insides of the cabinet leaving a tight gap.


Then I screwed in the strip.  Once the shelves are painted and dry, in the dishes go.


Building cabinet doors is next on the list.  Glass fronts for pretty dish display, solid panels for the other two uppers.  To further jazz up the glass cabinet, I painted the inside the same light gray as the living room.  It’ll contrast against our white dishes.  As the last kitchen step, I’m going to paint the room to match the adjoining living area.  A way to unify the spaces.  Time to get cracking on the cabinet doors, walnut fronts, and the drawer below the sink.

Slow Going

Kitchen progress is steadily, but slowly chugging along.  Much like the Little Engine That Could, I’m just chanting I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  Ben pieced the maple desk top is pieced together, but 1/3 of the way through sanding, our belt sander broke.  As we wait for the part to arrive, we’ve switched gears and made some progress on the cabinets.  Most of the perimeter drawer fronts are cut, painted, and curing before install.

As much as I love shaker cabinets, I wanted something different.  A less detailed design to keep the island the attention grabber.  Flat panels with a 45 degree edge, painted white should do the trick.


The island now has 2.2 sides of this solid 3/4 inch thick walnut gorgeousness:


Going through our planning, the island was the warmth the room was lacking.  I’ve already filled small cracks, sanded smooth with 220 grit paper, and applied one coat of teak oil.  We followed the same process on the bathroom vanity and love the results.


Teak oil hardens in the wood, protecting and enhancing the beautiful grain.  Just as the bathroom looked flat and boring before sealing, (see above) the island did, too.  Another benefit is that if the wood looks dry, or we have to sand out a scratch, a coat of oil refreshes the wood like new.  No full sanding or refinishing required.


Attaching the wood to the sides was simple.  Walnut is attached from inside the cabinet to hide all fasteners.


From certain, limited angles, if you squint, the island looks almost finished.


Until walking around the front to see the drawers lack fronts.  The toe kick is still exposed and we need at least one more light sanding and a coat of teak oil.  Hence the blotches at the top near the counter.


If we decide oil isn’t the best finish, we can always go over it with polyurethane.  Next up we’ll build the island drawer fronts and install the perimeter faces.  Who knows, maybe we’ll even get started on the tile backsplash.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Door Number 1

In addition to getting the bar installed this weekend, we finished up the pantry.  Here it is, right after install.


I went back and forth on colors for the door.  Initially, I wanted white to blend in with the surrounding cabinetry.


But the wood tone looked pretty.  So maybe giving it a darker stain, to pick up on the walnut we’ll add to the island?


Then again, the same gray I used on the rest of the interior doors could look great.


A reader suggested chalkboard paint.


Great in theory, but I’m almost certain it’d be a dusty mess that would drive me insane.  I’m not far off right now, don’t need to add to it.  It even crossed my mind to use something crazy like a grass green.


To work with the green curtain panels in the adjacent living and dining rooms, of course.


While we had the door off to paint, Ben added oak strips to the shelf fronts.  Oak for added strength.  Something’s happening to me; I liked the oak.  I decided to clear coat it, not paint.


Not surprisingly, after weighing the options, I went with the most boring option and my gut.  White paint, to simplify the corner.  In our plans, the pantry door was always white because it isn’t supposed to be a focal point.


To further match the white cabinetry, I used a drawer pull as the handle, just with slightly longer bolts.



Even with the handle sticking out, there’s still a few inches of clearance between it and the oven doors.  Nothing to interfere with opening and closing the oven or pantry doors.


Much simpler and it’ll match the rest of the cabinetry on this side.  You know, once we’ve built and attached doors and drawer fronts.

Painted-Pantry-Door-Closed The only upper cabinet is up, too.


Complete with under cabinet LED pucks to give ample task light.

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

Last time you saw the island, it had only a countertop and a stud wall to house electrical and support the bar top.


At roughly 9 1/2 feet long, we couldn’t get a natural stone long enough.  To avoid having a third and completely different counter, we chose 2 inch thick hard rock maple.  Same as the butcher block, but we chose wider planks for a more custom look.


Before assembly could start, Ben first had to square up the edges by running them through the table saw.  For a super smooth finish, a few passes through the planer before joining the boards together.  Letting the glue set for several days, then sanding the boards.


Most maple doesn’t have crazy grain.  We found one piece that has really interesting details.  Luckily, the two top boards blend together almost seamlessly.  Do you spy the joint in the photos below?


Obviously, we chose a waterfall edge.  To adequately support the overhang, we needed something at the ends.  Weighing our options, we tossed out the idea of corbels, a post, or brackets.  Extending the maple down, creating legs, felt like the best fit.

Attaching the sides was pretty painless.  A few screws through the end studs is all it took.



The top is also screwed to the wall top, but to keep the ends rigid, Ben recessed four screws.


Four walnut plugs fill those holes, giving a little accent.


Once we wrap the island in American Walnut, the two woods will tie together.  Drawer fronts seem like such a novel idea right now.



The sides and back will also get the royal walnut treatment.


Now I’m on a quest to find the perfect finish for everything.


I’ve got five or more products I’m sampling, testing the color, durability, and retouching abilities.

Pantry Party

Before remodeling the kitchen, the cabinet arrangement had a lot of wasted space.


Either too specific for a use, like a full bay of vertical dividers.


Or the polar opposite with a big, blank cabinet.


At any rate, we knew lower drawers would help most problems.  But corners are especially awkward and usually wasted.  Knowing we wanted to remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room, we’d need to move the pantry.  Living with every non-perishable item on the opposite side of the cook/prep area got old very quickly.


With that in mind, keeping the pantry on the business side of the kitchen was a must.  Hence the corner pantry.  At 52 inches wide by 8 feet tall, we should have plenty of space to store dry goods.  As listed in the original floor plan, we opted for a sliding door to eliminate an awkward door swing.  After talking to several people, we decided not to use a pocket door kit.  If the door comes off the track or needs to be replaced, it’s impossible.  Instead, we went a similar, more user-friendly route with a bypass sliding door kit.


Often used in closets, the track has two sides and roller wheels.  Ben built a standard header, secured the track and covered the front with an MDF panel.  Above, as seen from inside, without the door.  Below, from the outside.


In our case, the door opening is wider than the oven cabinet leaving the last few inches of door visible when completely open.  I worried the 24 inch opening would be too small, but it allows easy access to everyday items.


Shelves are 18 inches deep, extending into the corner.  We plan to keep extra supplies here, to grab when we need to refill.


Also, we’ve decided to keep the microwave in the pantry.  This allows easier access and a shorter distance of carrying hot items.


Which also frees up space in the smaller cabinet, allowing a full drawer set.  I still plan to keep coffee supplies and extra serving platters over here.


Now that everything has been cut and fits, we can take everything back out to paint.  I’m oddly liking the wood door though.  I’m undecided if I should paint or seal it.  Thoughts?






Once I’ve painted the inside of the pantry, we’ll set the shelves again and add trim to the fronts to cover the braces.


It’ll also give us a lip to hide under cabinet light behind to help illuminate the shelves.

Update:  Due to a few emails and comments, here’s a shot of the far end of the pantry:


The overall depth of the pantry is 25.5 inches from the back wall to the inside of the door.  With 18 inch deep shelves, that leaves 7.5 inches between the shelf front and the inside of the door.  By making the shelves narrower than the full depth, we won’t have to worry about things getting in the way of the door slide.  It’ll also make reaching in the back area easier.  We’ll probably keep a broom in here too.

While I’m updating, I thought I’d include a shot of the closed door against the fridge.  


After settling on a sliding door, we agreed we didn’t want the header flush with the front of the fridge cabinet.  Mostly to add some interest to the wall, but also because the door itself would sit 3/4 of an inch back from the front. 

Once that’s done, we can start organizing.  We shop at Costco, which means we have produce for days.  Getting bowls off the counter would be really nice.

I love the function of roll out wire baskets, which can allow ventilation and easy access.  I’ve yet to pin down exactly which ones, but here are a few I’m considering.


This one is actually a hamper, but the depth would maximize space.  Perfect for storing bags of cereal and chips.

Putting the corner to use and not having to walk around the island for everything is a game changer.  Time for me to start painting so we can load it up!


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