In Before and After/ Kitchen Series/ Projects

Kitchen Renovation Series: The Before

In order to appreciate the good things in life, you must remember where you started. It reminds me of a Dolly Parton quote that I read when I was much younger in the Dolly museum at Dollywood, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” I’m not the kind of person to spit off movie quotes. I can’t even remember most conversations from yesterday, but this quote stuck with me. Maybe it’s because Dolly is an idol to most small town East Tennessee girls like myself.

I knew from the day we closed on our house that the kitchen needed so much love. I want to share some of the worst, most dangerous, ugliest parts of our old kitchen so that we can all appreciate where it is now. I certainly put up with some rain for 2 years in that kitchen before enjoying the rainbow it is now.

The Countertops


Let’s just get this one out of the way now. I don’t know their life story, but these laminate countertops were possibly gathered at a salvage shop, cut to fit the shape of the kitchen, and placed on top of the cabinets without being fastened to anything. We could physically lift the countertops up, which made demolition quite a breeze. I made the strong, hard case that the countertops were a safety hazard, and we didn’t need a lawsuit on our hands from injured guests.



Securely fasten quartz countertops, which are durable, easy to care for, and stylish.

The Cabinets


Good intentions were definitely there when these cabinets were painted. From afar, they looked kind of nice (if you like the antiqued cabinet look). I went back and forth on whether I should paint them or replace them. I read on a blog that it’s a waste of money to put nice countertops on old, weak cabinets. Plus, the more I researched tips on painting cabinets and how extensive of a project that can be, the more I was unmotivated to tackle the project. Some of the drawers wouldn’t close all way, and a few of the doors were crooked. The layout and organization was poorly utilized, and I knew I could make such better use of our space with new cabinets. Decision made!


Install new white cabinets with built-in storage solutions and a classic, clean look. On the top of my list: built in trash unit to hide that nasty trash can that was taking up precious space.

The Pantry


I was certainly thankful for the storage space of the pantry. I did not grow up with a pantry. I have no clue how my mom kept a stocked kitchen for three kids all in two cabinets, #wonderwoman. My biggest complaint with this space was the small door that I had to access all areas of the pantry. There were corners in the pantry that were darker than the deepest layer of Dante’s Inferno. There were sad areas where food went to expire and spider webs thrived. Was it a pantry issue or an owner issue? I’d rather blame it on the pantry.


Tear out the pantry, and install a functional pantry unit with drawers that utilized every inch from the ground to the ceiling.

The Layout


I knew I didn’t want to mess with the footprint for two reasons: cost savings and utility. When you start messing with the layout/footprint, your budget can take a massive blow. We saved a ton of money by keeping the U-shape. Plus, I’m a fan of U-shaped kitchens. They provide great function and work-space options for smaller spaces. So why fix with something that isn’t broken? The issue was the overall layout of our living room/kitchen area. The kitchen was closed off from the rest of the house, and I knew this could be improved. I wanted the popular “open-concept feel” without my house just being one giant room.

Doorway to Living Room

View from Office

View from Dining Area


Widen the opening into the kitchen from the living room by nearly double. Move the fridge to fit in the pantry unit on the opposite wall.

In Summary

The solutions seemed easy enough. “We’re handy,” I thought. “We can knock this out in a few weeks.” Oh, sweet, naïve Diana. We are handy, but this project consumed our summer and lasted a good two months. The “rain” of the summer, which included no sink or kitchen to cook in is a memory stored away in the deep, dark corner of the old pantry. The vibrancy of the “rainbow” is definitely shining in our fresh, new kitchen.

In the midst of demolition

Come back Wednesday for the big reveal!

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