The Land of Ugly Kitchens….

When I moved to the Detroit area 7 years ago, I was shocked by what I saw. Every existing home we looked at was over priced, outdated and beyond that…..OAK! There was Oak trim, Oak floor and Oak Cabinets. I think prior to this, I may have had a nightmare about this exact situation. Here is the deal, people….this was 7 years ago!!! Am I still seeing Oak? Yes!! Does it bring me back to 1991? Yes!!

We bought a spec home with Cherry Cabinets, because at that time we had a two year old and did not think we could handle a remodel. Years went by and I met a neighbor who had just relocated to Ann Arbor from Atlanta. She was sharing her house hunting horrors with me and I think she asked the best question, “Why is Michigan the Land of Ugly Kitchens?”. Of course, I laughed but really, there is no reason it should be. Maybe its just the Detroit area….but no, when we moved here to the West Side, same problem! OK, Grand Rapids is Furniture City and full of Interior Designers!! Get With it people!!! And then my best friend from Indy moves to the Detroit area two months ago. She calls me immediately and the first question, “What is up with the Oak? This is not OK!!” So, my mission is to get rid of each and every oak kitchen one by one….Just Kidding! But, this leads me into the story of our kitchen remodel…..

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When we bought this house, I fell in love with the view….the rest was cosmetic and had to be changed. The kitchen…..gutted! In the pictures it really doesn’t look terrible, although I noticed photos of the kitchen were never displayed on the MLS listing. Also, excuse the cat…we had just moved in and I figured she was probably cleaner than the kitchen counter itself, so she got to sit there. Let me just give you a brief overview of what we had……

Cabinets that were from the 1980’s that were greasy and dirty with 72 layers of shelf paper

Very few cabinets were deep enough for plates….kind of an issue…and all three corners were dead space

Live electrical wires above the cabinets were hanging out of the wall….why leave it like that?

The walls were originally drywalled but someone skim coated plaster after the cabinets were in place….hot mess!

A dishwasher in the corner of the kitchen….I am not even going to try to guess why?

Tile counter tops with oak trim laid over the laminate counter….talk about thick! Oh, and they used 12×12 Green and White fake Marble floor tile! Why not?


The same sweet Green Marble on the floor….Yesssss!

Enough said!!!

I was not cooking in this room… this became our first project. We moved in August and by September we were gutting it!

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The happiest day of my life when the Hubs is starting to rip it out. Oh! But we hit a snag! Layers upon layers of floor….we had to call in the contractor for assistance. He happily tore it all out in 2 hours, cabinets included!

Looking better already!


And how were we living with out a kitchen?? It was pretty rustic….almost like camping! (Sorry, the cat is very photogenic…she likes to be in all pictures)

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The more we opened it up, the more we decided that we needed to remove the drywall as well….


It was a good thing we did because, we found electrical problems galore plus a few bonus critters mainly dead in the hood fan!


kitchen at drywall

So the weeks went on and we worked like crazy along with our contractor, who did the drywall and plumbing.

I went to Home Depot and collaborated with the designer there and we came up with a fantastic and cost effective design.

kitchen at paint

My husband and I painted the walls and laid the hardwood floor ourselves. The floor was not my dream wood floor but it matched the rest of the house so we went with it. This was our first time laying hardwoods and I have to say, it wasn’t bad. I am thinking we will probably rip out the rest of the carpet in the house and put it in all the bedrooms to keep things consistent. Did I mention I don’t like carpet? Or that I don’t like 42 flooring breaks in a house? Yes, I have lots of opinions…just wait!

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By Christmas, it was starting to come together! We installed all of these cabinets ourselves as well. Thank the lord The Hubby is handy… saved us thousands on installation costs. We did keep the Kitchen Aid Gas Stove and Dishwasher. We bought a larger refrigerator and notice that cabinet above where the refrigerator should go….Doors with glass?? That was a mistake by the cabinet company but they sent me new doors. A lot of silly little things like that happened through the process but you just have to take a deep breath and roll with it! It will all get fixed.

I did have to concede on my dream granite to keep costs down. I wanted the white Cararra Marble look, but marble in the kitchen is always a bad idea for function. The granite that looks like Carrara is pretty pricey. Then I went to wood, but it made me nervous (I did get that in a later project though). So, I did a dark gray that isn’t common and got a great deal on the slab.


But, the backsplash is all Carrara Marble Subway Tile with a river rock inset over the stove. I worked it in and am happy. My Hubby and I did the back splash too….so proud of our skills!

after picture3 After picture1 after picture 2

By St. Patrick’s day of 2012 the kitchen looked like this!!

I could not be happier with the outcome. I got everything I wanted and more. In my mind it is still not totally done but, I am sure I will blog about all the little tweaks here and there in the future. Some have even taken place since these photos were taken. The kitchen is truly the heart of my home now and I am so glad we chose this project first. Next time, I will have to tell you about our budget and how much we spent….you wont believe it!

How much do you think it all cost??


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