Choices, Choices

When we decided to remodel, I knew exactly what I wanted – a white kitchen. Seemed simple enough. What I didn’t realize was that there are a lot of white countertops to choose from, a lot of white paints to choose from, that I needed to think about cabinet hardware finishes, and so on. I quickly became overwhelmed by it all and also realized that I was starting to add a lot of items I hadn’t planned on. I am a spreadsheet queen, so I started putting one together to track items that were completed, our budget, actual spend, etc. What a huge help! The other huge help was hiring an interior designer to help coordinate work and to help bounce ideas off of. Enter Bella Interior Creations by Monica…keeping me sane along this journey!

One of the first things I realized was that I needed to choose was lighting – specifically a vanity light, but we also decided to move forward with a chandelier for our formal dining room. We went to a local store and, let me tell you, there was a lot to look at. When you walk in, you almost don’t know where to look, but it’s amazing to imagine all of the possibilities. I found a few I liked and took pictures, knowing that I would bring my husband back with me to make final decisions.

From there, I moved on to countertops for both the kitchen and powder bath. I was pretty sure I wanted quartz countertops, but I didn’t rule out granite or quartzite. Once I started looking at samples, it became clear quickly that quartz was the right choice for the clean, simple look I was trying to achieve and it was also within my budget. Once again, it’s amazing how many white quartz choices there are. I was looking for a subtle, marble look with a true, cool white background. Here are the five I narrowed it down to. I took samples home to try to narrow it further. Here they are against our pantry door in the kitchen – the same color planned for the cabinets.

From left to right: MSI Q in Calacatta Trevi, Pental Quartz in Misterio, Qortstone in Q5028 Lily, MSI Q in Calacatta Vicenza, and MSI Q in Fairy White.

Which one will be the winner? Hint, hint – it IS one of these 5. Stay tuned.

The Before

We fell in love with and put an offer in on our house on my birthday in 2014. My husband and I have very differing tastes (he likes dark and cozy and I like bright and open) and it sort of seemed like we would never find something that we both thought felt like home. When we walked into our house, we just knew. The front part of the house – the formal living room and the formal dining room – had soaring ceilings with big windows and light pouring in. The back part of the house – the kitchen, the breakfast nook, and the family room – had lower ceilings with a balcony shielding some of the light. Cozy, just like my husband liked it. Our offer was accepted and off we went to sell our current home.

This house was a new build, so it wasn’t quite ready for us to move in. In fact, there wasn’t much done inside except drywall and cabinets when we put our offer in. We managed to get the house for a great price, but the one catch was, we couldn’t pick any of the finishes inside except the flooring. Apparently, we missed the builder-imposed deadline for selecting countertops, cabinets, etc. That said, we were informed that the upgrades and finishes that had been chosen were all high-end and beautiful and we were sure to love them. So of course I asked what they looked like…and was promptly told that they couldn’t share it with me for a while, I’d have to make an appointment at the design center….after our offer was accepted. Wow! Ok, so we just put an offer on a house that we don’t really know what the inside will look like. But we loved it, so we carried on.

Flash forward to our design appointment and I was…less than impressed. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful, but it wasn’t me. Dark brown cabinets, dark speckled granite counters, and a brown backsplash with inlaid copper diamonds that made it feel just a tad bit dated. Our master bathroom design wasn’t much better, but I’m sure I’ll get into that later.

We picked the most beautiful dark engineered wood flooring – Provenza Antico in the color Heritage. It has this unique distressed look to it that the designer swore would be perfect for hiding the damage our kids would do to it (a total lie, by the way). My one regret though is that we didn’t continue the wood into the kitchen. My husband was really concerned that wood + water was a bad combination. He’s not wrong. However, the beige-ish tile we picked was just okay and there was always this funny line where the wood stopped and the tile started.

Moving on… since this was a new build, we had to landscape our yard. We chose to do the hardscape/landscape in phases because we had so many expenses at the time (i.e. window coverings, gutters, paint, etc.). Five years later, we decided that it was time for phase 2, which also included painting the kitchen cabinets white to brighten the space because the patio cover was going to add a lot of shade (I’ve always wanted a white kitchen!). We called our landscaper and told him we were ready to build our patio cover, outdoor kitchen, and fireplace and he promptly told us that our yard wasn’t deep enough to do it while meeting local building code. We were crushed. He called in a landscape architect, but he told us the same thing. After much deliberation, we called our landscaper and told him that we were going to take our backyard budget and spend it inside instead, with a few less permanent purchases for outside. To his credit, he took it in stride and wished us luck.

One thing I can tell you about remodeling is that it’s a slippery slope. We started with just repainting the cabinets. That turned into, well what if we replaced the counters? And then, if we do the counters, we will have to do the floor. And so on until our whole kitchen was going to be demolished, along with our powder bath, and a few other things we threw in for good measure. More on that soon. But for now, let me share my home with you…The Before.