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Over 6 months ago, the renovation of our dining room and kitchen began. It sounds so trite when you say it like that. Like…”Oh ya, this remodel thing? Totally got that finished in 6 months”. The reality of living through a renovation is that it NEVER goes as planned, always costs more, and causes stresses you haven’t thought to worry about yet. It feels never-ending, and at times you feel like you are making steps backward, not forward (in some cases you are). However, this renovation is a big deal for us. We have lived in 3 houses together as a married couple, and have always had grand visions of the changes we would like to make to them. Time or money (lack of) are the culprit of why they haven’t happened before. This time, the stars aligned – though I actually give us  much more credit than calling it fate. We planned for months – even years – for this to happen. And I’m so happy to say that our first (of many!!) major projects is now finished. 

So now, a look at where it all started. Forgive me that there are a lot of pictures, but the transformation was so amazing, I wanted to share it as best I could. A look at the very beginning…..

What started as an exterior sunken patio (in the middle of our house no less!) which leaked and was of absolutely no use has now been transformed into a beautiful, open dining room, complete with a custom handmade chandelier made by my very own Wanderstead Husband. The new room was going to eliminate the double sliding doors and include a new (large) skylight to increase the light. What would remain from the original walls was a center post used to stabilize the roof. 

Shortly after enclosing, raising the floor, and making it water-tight, we locked it up tight, and headed off to Alaska for our summer road-trip. We put the whole remodel on hold. 

Upon returning, the race was on to beat the change in the weather and finalize the dining room. In order to move into the kitchen, the dining room had to be finished. It was done in stages; this house we purchased has it’s fair share of strange things done to it (reversed light switches, short electrical cords, etc), so every time a wall or floor was opened up, we weren’t entirely sure what would be found. During this major renovation, we decided that the other room included in this great room concept could use a fresh look as well, as the flooring was going to be changed anyway.  The living room proved to be more challenging than originally thought as Wanderstead Husband discovered dry rot in the corner of the room when he was removing the wood paneling. Each new find put us at least a day behind, and stress was building. 

BUT! We got to the point of being able to finalize the finishes in the kitchen – the cabinets, hardware, counter tops, etc. We desperately were trying to complete this whole project as cost-effective as possible – one of the main reason Wanderstead Husband did the work himself. We thought about trying to save the cabinets and paint them and add new hardware, but the biggest problem with that was that we were going to be a getting a smaller stove (NOT because I wanted one, but because I couldn’t justify a purchase of $7,000+) and the counter tops would no longer fit, and the existing island was two-levels which I was not happy about. The way it was constructed made it basically a waste of space in my opinion. The higher portion (the bar) just became a junk collector and I couldn’t used it for anything of value, such as rolling cookie dough or having a large work surface. 

SO, we checked out the local home improvement stores (Lowe’s and Home Depot) to see what their pre-fab cabinets looked like and to price them for what we wanted to do. After many, many, MANY drawings and configurations along with calculations, we discovered that the price was not nearly as cheap as we originally thought it would be AND the quality seemed kind of….chintzy. A friend suggested we call his friend who was a cabinet-maker and see what he could do for us. In a million years, I never thought that getting custom cabinets built would be in the budget. I mean…really? But due to the fact that we wanted a relatively simple layout, and simple finishes (shaker style finishes for the doors, etc), and the fact that Wanderstead Husband was willing to paint them himself, we found that the price for custom-made cabinets MADE TO FIT (a huge bonus) our kitchen and totally matching were going to be just a bit more than the pre-fab which weren’t going to be perfectly fitting anyway. Who knew? Also – a quick little tip?? Always ask if there is a cash discount. Use of cash helped us save an average of 5-7% on a handful of our transactions. 

But I digress. After an amazingly short time, our cabinets were ready and brought home to the shop to be painted. It was right around this time that the Cascade Fire took hold of our community, and we lost over a week due to evacuation and being displaced as well as the chaos of the fire itself. That said, we were grateful beyond belief that we were safe from harm of the fire, which was not the case for so many. 

We finally felt safe enough to continue on with our project once the fire’s containment was up to nearly 85%, and the next steps began. Wanderstead Husband called in reinforcements, asking his father, Hal (or Wanderstead Poppy) to join down in California and help to reach the deadline of Thanksgiving. Turns out Wanderstead Wife (eh-hem…me) had invited 19 people over for Thanksgiving and was really hoping to have a beautiful kitchen to show off. 

Utilizing recommendations from friends, we found a great wholesale countertop place down in Sacramento and were able to find a beautiful slab of quartz (which makes me so happy!!) along with a local man to pick up and install the counter tops at the house, all for LESS than Home Depot wanted to charge us for worse quality products! It pays to take a few minutes and look around!

I had visions of a bib sink, and due to the fact that our appliances were all stainless, we settled on a 60/40 stainless bib sink which I found on Amazon. Knobs and pulls were decided upon, and we went with black, which caused a bit of debate. I wanted open shelving above the counter tops, and Wanderstead Husband had a vision of holding them up with custom black brackets to match the chandelier he made. So we decided the hardware in the kitchen should also be black, as it would tie both of those rooms together, along with the rest of the house which has bits of black wrought iron all through-out. 

There was one area of the project we wanted to change, having no idea what a big impact it would have on the kitchen. We have a loft and it is accessible by a custom-made wooden ladder. The ladder was parallel to our stone fireplace and consequently jutted into the kitchen a bit. I had gotten used to it, but upon removing the old dated cabinets that were set int the corner of the rock fireplace and replacing them with that ladder (which was now tucked away and not in the way), the kitchen opened up immensely. 

Demo day finally arrived. The removal of the existing countertops and cabinets was here! As was quickly becoming the standing joke with this whole project, the house threw yet another curveball, revealing that the floor and subfloor below the island was almost completely rotted through and would have to be replaced. I could see my visions of a beautiful Thanksgiving getting further and further away. The electrical was a mess, as was the plumbing. It was at this point, while I had a huge hole in my floor (which I could see dirt below) that my stomach dropped. I never gave up hope, but it was awfully disheartening to see my husband pouring himself into a project only to have it fight him the entire time. Even harder that it was a project for me. And my FIL being there taking time from his personal life made me feel guilty – even though I knew I had nothing to do with what was going on. It was for me. I mean – yes, obviously it was for Wanderstead Husband as well and it obviously helped with the value of our home – but ultimately….it was for me. And I felt terrible. 

But within a few days, that hole was repaired and better than ever. And in a way, it was a blessing in disguise. If they hadn’t had to pull away the sub-floor, they never would have realized how far the damage had gone and maybe not discovered the issues with the plumbing and electrical. And they would have had to deal with that once done. 

Things started moving at a rapid pace. Wanderstead Husband and Wanderstead Poppy were putting in long days trying to get as much completed as possible. They were multi-tasking masters. One would run out to the shop and apply another coat of paint to the open shelving while the other would be installing outlets. One would crawl under the house while the other worked on the propane line. They had a rhythm. A groove. It was evident that these two men had worked together for many many years. And their teamwork and communication was something to be marveled at. 

Saturday before Thanksgiving, our counter tops were picked up in Sacramento and brought to the house. They of course were delayed due to vehicle troubles; and why wouldn’t they be? That was the nature of this project. That didn’t dissuade the workers…they continued on like nothing had happened. They finalized what they could, prepped where the could, and did all they were able to. But the delay was going to cost us. The back splash couldn’t be installed until the counter tops were in. And the back splash was going to take at least two days due to the time needed to cure the different layers. And the open shelving couldn’t be installed until the back-splash was done. Not to mention the sink not being finalized until the counter tops were on. And the stove. Since it needed to be pulled away to put up the back-splash, it also couldn’t be installed. Things could quickly unravel. 

But countertops showed up at 3:00 and fortunately, there were able to stay until the whole project was done – close to 9:00 pm. But they finished.

In the days that followed, a kitchen really emerged. By Tuesday night, everything was done. I spent Wednesday unpacking all the boxes of kitchen items that had been tucked away in our dining room, causing chaos. I happily packed up my makeshift kitchen, set up in the hall way, and allowed myself to start prepping for the holiday. 

By late afternoon, it was ready and I started cooking for the first time in my new kitchen.

I marveled at the beauty of it.

How amazing that the vision in my head and in Wanderstead Husband’s head had come to life. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined. I felt it was a perfect combination of both of us. And he did it all. He made it for me. I wanted to shout from the rooftops just how proud I was of him. How grateful I am to have a husband who is willing and able to do this for me. He has said time and time again that he couldn’t have finished by our deadline had it not been for the help of his father.  

If you like the look in our kitchen and dining room, here are a few of the products we used! These may be affiliate links which means we might receive a very small commission when you purchase them at no additional cost to you. For more information, please click here.

Kitchen lighting from Amazon

Drawer Pulls and Knobs from Amazon

Farmhouse Apron Sink from Amazon

Frigidaire Professional All Freezer All Fridge Combo from Amazon 

Frigidaire Professional Freestanding Gas Range 

Frigidaire Professional Microwave/Convection Oven Combo

**A note about ordering appliances from Amazon. I was very concerned the first time. I had no idea if this was a good idea and it seemed like a very expensive and risky purchase. We ordered the fridge/freezer combination first and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. The delivery company contacted us directly and we worked out the day/time they came and they brought an appliance dolly to drop them. They came in wooden crates and were in great condition. Best of all was that they showed up at my house! So easy! 

**If you see something in pictures in particular that you are interested in, let me know. A lot of it has been accumulated over the years, but I generally can remember where I got it all from. 


Author: Erin

I'm doing what I can to provide the best life I can for my family. I love cooking & baking, homestead arts, DIY, and gardening {as well as coming up with projects for Mr. Wanderstead Husband!!}...but I love to explore the world around us too! We will figure out how to do it, and eat well while trying.

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4 thoughts on “The {BIG REVEAL}! Our New Dining Room & Kitchen!

  1. So awesome ! A wonderful, working kitchen. Congratulations ! And yes, any building project is always full of surprises and challenges. Good work home-grown Wanderstead crew.

    Posted on November 26, 2017 at 8:51 pm
    1. Thank you so much, Sal!! A great compliment from a wonderful chef like you!

      Posted on November 26, 2017 at 10:29 pm
  2. Loved reading and seeing the entire project like this. It’s been a long haul and having only been there for the last couple weeks can only imagine how hard it’s been these long months of construction.
    I do find such joy in watching them work together as I myself have written about many times. Observing their processes together reinforces my love for both of them. Over and over.
    The house is truly changed for so much the better and your new kitchen is beautiful as is watching you at work in it. Especially when Clara joins you.
    You both did a wonderful job creating it and we have admired how well you handled all the stress that it caused for your family.

    Posted on November 26, 2017 at 10:32 pm
    1. You’re so right! They work so well together. And I’m so grateful you guys were able to come down and help us out!

      You know I’m loving that new kitchen – breaking it in by hosting a huge Thanksgiving was a good trial and it sure passed!

      Posted on November 26, 2017 at 10:35 pm