a place to sit {day 22} + our first REAL renovation!

today i’m thankful for just a place to sit in our kitchen. we are really truly blessed to have this little perch as silly as that sounds! as i think about how thankful i am to be able to have a cup of tea here or sit while Husbuddy does the dishes or where he sits while eating his oatmeal in the morning or checks his laptop while i finish dinner. this little place is going to be a good place to sit for years to come.

day 22

it makes me think of the story of how we got here.  so today, i’m going to share with you the whole story of our crazy-kitchen-ceiling-adventure or in other words… our first diy renovation project!

fair warning… this post is ridiculously long!!

remember how our kitchen looked:

kitchen2this picture was taken THE day we bought the house. because that afternoon, we knew that we wanted to tear out the dropped ceilings.

we wanted to do this for multiple reasons:

  1. they seemed dusty and gross
  2. they had a musty smell
  3. i think they are ugly
  4. we knew we could get a few more inches out of the ceiling height because we’d pulled it back and saw that the cabinets went to the ceiling!

so we went for it! that very day! {can we say a little bit excited to get going?! lol} what really motivated us is that we knew we had 1 week until we were moving in. we wanted to have this messy job done with before we were trying to live in the kitchen!

the beginning

little did we know what we were in for. we saw the wall paper and thought we’d just have a few cosmetic fixes.

then we hit this little road bump:

frustration station talk about frustration station. can you see it in his body language?! he was SO deflated!

removing frame

but i encouraged him with ideas and knew that we could do it! we had already come this far, we knew that we didn’t want to admit defeat and just put the ceiling tiles back up there (besides, we’d already broken a few) …so onward ho!

don't mess with me

despite the frustration, he rocked the demo process.

here is Husbuddy removing the central fan/light that was the main light source in the kitchen… it was kind of a mess too.

removing celing fan

here was most of the view of our kitchen ceiling dilemma: can we say, huge mess?

the reason for dropped ceiling


we wondered if the reason the previous owners had put in the dropped ceiling  was just to cover up this mess because the idea of replacing the plaster seemed too big? or because the plumbers were too lazy to actually fit their pipes up inside the ceiling? eitherway… first things first: we needed to box out “the problem”.

the problem

you can see that the plumbing from our upstairs bathroom cut down into the cabinets inhibited the ceiling to be flush. we’d need to create a 2×4 box, cut out the plaster to create a clean line for the drywall, learn how to drywall, and then hope for the best. {HA. what this little architect SHOULD have done FIRST was measure everything before her super motivated Husbuddy got way ahead of her…but that’s besides the point and too late now for all the fights and tears…we’ve made it through and it looks just fine.}

here is one of our first of a million trips to Lowes. buying a saw to cut the plaster our as well as a few 2x4s …that barely fit into our car.

fitting wood in our car

we got back to the house and started working. then we wrote this endearing letter to our kitchen ceiling.

dear plaster ceiling,

we hate you. please come down quickly.

with no love, us.

ack. have you ever tried to remove plaster? biggest pain in the you know what. took FOREVER. used a hundred saw blades. at least. made the biggest mess of dust and chunks of heavy plaster falling down. needless to say we were really motivated to get this part done BEFORE we moved in.

cutting plaster

it took multiple day/evening trips to get all the plaster down. we were a little surprised that it was so hard and took so long!

but Husbuddy is a rock star and pushed through. once he has direction, he goes for it!

and here is the ceiling with nice straight lines and our little box framed  out! box build out

{note: this is where this little architect should have drawn up the plans to realize we needed to account for the drywall thicknesses…oh how could i have been so stupid? it’s my fault for not thinking clearly and rushing blindly ahead… live and learn, right?!}

then we went to the store and bought drywall.

we need a truck

then we tried to fit it in our little subaru impreza. we ended up buying a utility knife {that Husbuddy swears is the best thing he bought and we NEEDED anyway…lol} so that we could cut each of these 8×4 boards into 2×4 pieces.

fitting drywall in our car

but we conquered that parking lot dilemma y’all.  boom! ha. we got it to fit in our tiny car.

and Husbuddy got working straight away to screwing drywall on the ceiling. can we just mention…drywall is heavy?! and kinda hard to hold in place? especially if you’re holding the screw driver in one hand? and also if you’re trying to “help” while being pregnant? haha. oh boy was that fun. *sarcasm sign*

showing off skills

but Husbuddy totally rocks and was able to install all the drywall with minimal holding up from me. {don’t worry, he only screwed into the floor joists above, not into the lathe that we left for spacing}

the man

meanwhile, i conquered the wall paper crown that made its way around most of the room: do you think we should have left this classy detail? lol

wall paper

things that posed the most difficulty was aligning the drywall to the plaster. the plaster was sagging and doing weird things from one side to the other.

dry wall going on

but we just went with it and then started plastering. another super messy step, but this was kind of fun so i helped as much as i could. you like the white dust all over my face? lol. {you can see though behind me where we should have aligned the plaster and drywall better… plaster was NOT filling in the gap…learning experience, folks!}

even kim spakled

we didn’t count on how long it took to dry and how many coats of plaster we really needed… we were getting preciously close to our move-in date!  but we thought if we could just get the plastering done(because sanding that was super messy) before move in we’d be good. so early mornings and late nights defined that week because Husbuddy was still working full time.

what really bummed Husbudy out was when a contractor (who was working on some other inspection related items) noticed the problem with alignment that i mentioned above… he promptly got out his knife and cut out all the plaster that Husbuddy had so generously put in…and then screwed the plaster up to make things more even…should have done that from the beginning…but now we were set back days of plastering on that section! whew…learning experience folks… again.

but i’m so proud of my rock-star of a Husbuddy. he powered through and completed the job!

almost done spakling

and we ended up moving in before we painted the ceiling. oh well. painting actually didn’t make that big of a mess anyway. we took turns using the roller or cutting in on the edges. can i just say, ceilings are exhausting?  we painted it a bright white because of having only the 1 window in the space, we want to make everything as bright as possible.


the next piece that was “needed” was a light fixture for the center of the kitchen. we could have waited but we had to use table lamps all over the kitchen when we cooked and it just seemed that the sooner we got that done, the better. we debated whether we should put in the old ceiling fan light to save money for now, but we figured we’d put so much work into the ceiling already, we might as well get something “fun” up to complete the ceiling. so we went for it.

i wanted a industrial looking light fixture because of our more historic house,  like in this inspiration picture.

Northside Residence

i fell in love with these and these from Barn light Electric because they were really historic looking and because i couldn’t get separate pendants since we only had 1 electrical box. i wanted the light to be silver though because even though i like oil rubbed bronze look, i don’t think it’s right for this house and i’m afraid it’s more of a trend. then i found a lowes version that was the right finish and looked like the Barn Light Electric ones! whoop!

so here is our industrial light fixture installed by Husbuddy himself! {sorry for the slightly blurry photo, but i took this with my phone at night and i just couldn’t help it but put in the picture of Husbuddy super proud of his light-installation skills.} the only thing is that we need a dimmer and probably a lower wattage light bulb. we’re working on that.

ceiling light

the next “problem” we ran into was that -you can’t tell in the picture above- but the pendant hung low enough {like it should over an island} that Husbuddy kept hitting his head walking around the kitchen. we always knew we wanted an island in the kitchen because there is plenty of room and not that much counter space. we just didn’t think we’d get it right away. i had dreams of a rustic Amish weathered wood island… alas. every time we looked at those they were thousands of dollars.

then we found this island from ikea. oh ikea…


it’s just about perfect. except for the rustic part. ha. but i can live with that. i love the wood counter and the extra shelves {even though we don’t fill up all the space in the kitchen now as it is!} and of course, as mentioned at the beginning of this ridiculously long post, i love that we have a place to sit in the kitchen now.


so here is our kitchen for now.

i don’t want to say “after” because i have big dreams for this place. i want to paint the cabinets white to brighten everything up. the “box” that we built needs a crown at where it meets the cabinets above the refrigerator. that big empty space next to the refrigerator would be a really cool chalkboard, don’t you think?  the backsplash and counter top need attention and love… so there are a lot of “things” still to do in this kitchen… but it’s SO nice right now! we have so much space and the ceilings are the right height {which was the whole goal to begin with} and now painted a beautiful white instead of ugly dropped/smelly/tiles.


i’m SO thankful that we were able to do this all before baby comes. we love hanging out and cooking in the kitchen now! and i see lots of good times in this room ahead.

so there ya go, full disclosure on our first renovation project. good job for those of you who made it all the way through this huge post!  ha! so, what do you guys think?!

xoxo-kimberly renee

31 days banner

{this is part of a 31 day series about “Seeing Creatively” through the camera. to see the other 31 posts, click HERE}








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4 Responses to a place to sit {day 22} + our first REAL renovation!

  1. Pam Holderman October 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Love seeing the process. Your kitchen is so awesome and we felt so blessed when we visited. The kitchen will be the hub of your home and it felt like a big hug if that makes any sense. You guys rock!

  2. Brenna McDonald October 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    Fantastic work you two! Whew! I’m super impressed, and it looks so fresh and clean! Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Teresa October 23, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    What a transformation! Such an inviting space now. And, how motivating to see what you can accomplish together 🙂

  4. Megan October 23, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    I love the changes you made! It’s so inspiring to see couples working together to make their home renovation dreams come true. Nice work!

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