Home improvements

Last summer, we redid the kitchen, which was a big, dramatic improvement to the house. This summer, we’ve made some more subtle improvements that will save us some money over the long run.

First, we insulated the attic. The upstairs of the house has no insulation, and it would get uncomfortably hot in the summer. The air conditioner would run constantly, but it would never cool off, really. We have window units in the bedrooms, but not all of them, so at night we’d have to run window units and the central a/c.

So we looked into insulation, and after much research, we settled on spray foam insulation in the attic. It was done in early August, and the difference has been dramatic. The guys doing the installation said it was the hottest attic they’d been in all summer (one of the companies that came out to give an estimate said it was 140 degrees up there.)

The day after it was done, I stuck my head in the attic and was amazed at how not-hot it was. And we just got our first post-insulation electricity bill, and even though it wasn’t for the entire month, our average daily usage has already gone down compared to the same month last year. Woot!

Actually, that wasn’t the first thing we did. The first thing we did was pay someone to finish off the doorway to our bedroom that George and his dad started, cough, six years ago. So now we have a door that closes! And no more bare studs!

The door. It is not exciting, but my sister wanted to see it. So here it is.
The door. It is not exciting, but my sister wanted to see it. So here it is.

Which leads to…

…some updating of our living room. Hooray! I’ve been waiting so long to paint up here. Haven’t done it yet, but I’ve started working on making it a nicer space. The IKEA coffee table is gone, replaced by a velvet ottoman that I adore and George tolerates. New light blocking curtains also help with the heat. The toys and Wii U were banished to the boys’ room, as well as the LEGO table, which I replaced it with something more grownup.

Definitely there’s more work that will need to happen in here, but this is a start!


Finally, the pièce de résistance: a new fridge! I just couldn’t stand how small our old one was, plus we’re paying for water delivery every month. So I sweet talked George into letting me get a new one (I mean sure, over time, it’ll pay for itself since we can cancel water delivery. I mean, it might take ten years, but still.) We now have almost twice as much freezer space! A necessity with three boys who are starting to eat more and more. Do you have any idea how many waffles I can now fit in there?!?!

Details on our “new” kitchen

I thought I’d post some details about the kitchen, in case anyone was interested. I know I like reading posts like this, anyway.

Paint: Behr Premium Plus Ultra Super-Duper Fancy Nice Awesome (something like that) in Dolphin Fin

Granite: Cold Spring

I love the metallic flakes. You know I like sparkly things.

Faucet: Glacier Bay Carmina Pull-Down faucet


Tile: Daltile Rittenhouse Square Mosaic (white) and white penny tile mosaic bought from Floor & Decor (behind the sink only)

Grout & Caulk: Bright white non-sanded (hides my rookie tiling mistakes)

Stove: Samsung Electric Convection Oven (Black)

Look at all THE BUTTONS!

If you have any other questions, just let me know. (And no, I am never tiling again.)

Our kitchen: before and after

Over the summer, we did a little refresh of the kitchen. Not a full gut job by any means, but a nice update.

It all started when my friend Mary Catherine got new granite countertops, and when I heard how reasonable they were, well, I wanted granite countertops. (When I came home and told George, he merely pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.)

Ten years ago when we bought our house, the kitchen was a sunny yellow. Sponge painted, if my memory is right. With royal blue trim. It was okay, but not my style. Especially the tiled pelican “artwork” behind the stove.

Was not sad that we had to get rid of that fridge post-Katrina.

So before we moved in, we painted the kitchen, um, lime green. Okay, maybe not the wisest choice.

Screenshot 2014-07-27 10.53.46
There’s that damn pelican.

A couple of years later I was already sick to death of it, and went in the opposite direction. Dark brown. I actually loved it for a long time. The contrast against the while cabinets was nice. We also tiled over the stained white laminate with large beige ceramic tile. It was fine, but definitely an amateur job. Over the years, it cracked near the sink, and I hated that I couldn’t roll out dough on the countertop.

Not terrible, I guess.

By this point, we’d already replaced all of the appliances with black ones, and I was itching to get rid of our range.  It was a slide-in one, which is expensive to replace, but the oven was small and off by at least 25 degrees, and it was just yuck. I knew that replacing the stove would have to wait until we got new countertops, which I always assumed was a pipe dream.

But it turns out it wasn’t! So this summer, we decided to change them out, paint the kitchen, get a new stove, and FINALLY GET RID OF THE PELICAN! (Confession: I made most of the decisions while George pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.) (Not really. He was very supportive.)

The kitchen should have been done weeks ago, but I started losing steam when we got to the backsplash tiling part of the renovation. I was all ready to grout, but then I went to Mexico, and then I had my triathlon, and finally I just bit the bullet and finished. Whew. Here’s the finished product. I’m so, so happy!

The new stove (with a chicken nuggets button!) to replace the yucky old small one. And look! No more pelican!
Nothing on top of the cabinets. Clutter-free! (Well, mostly.)
Nothing on top of the cabinets. Clutter-free! (Well, mostly.)
New undermount sink and lovely new faucet. Heaven.
New undermount sink and lovely new faucet. Heaven.

It’s not perfect (don’t look too closely at the backsplash, okay?) but being in the kitchen and cooking is so much more pleasant now. Particularly chicken nuggets.