7th House on the Left

Back to Black

posted by Ashley  /  55 Comments

Last week I was walking through the foyer and realized that whenever I walk through that little area, something just bugs me. Like, a lot. It doesn’t make me happy; it just stresses me out. I’ve never felt this area to be “done” nor have I ever really “loved loved” what we put together during what seemed to be a whirlwind of a project. It’s been a good temporary solution while we spent some time realizing what we really wanted to do. Really, I was just happy to have anything at all filling up the otherwise empty area. The foyer isn’t big by any means, but it can still house a small table just fine. I’m currently on the lookout for something to replace the existing one, and I’m thinking about finding a new home for the lamp (either in our house our someone else’s house entirely – not sure yet).

Foyer (Part 1) / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I look at that and immediately think “circus”. To be honest, I’m still not totally sure how to get the “circus” feeling out of this area. All I know at the moment is I love the pendant light fixture (it makes more of a statement in person) and the sliver of a gallery wall to the right of the door. That’s about it. Everything else is on the chopping block. Since we took this picture, I’ve moved the basket under the table to the living room and taken the books on the top shelf back to my office. The vintage umbrella stand is now being used as wrapping paper storage (which makes me happy every time I see it), and the rug is currently folded up the foyer closet. I really do like the rug, and might even bring it back later somewhere else in the house. But for now, it’s just too much for my mind to handle.

Realizing how much frustration this little area has been causing me, I mentioned to Greg that I thought we needed to bring the foyer down a notch and start over. So, being the oh-so-thoughtful husband that he is, he pulled out a paint brush and the same paint we used on the two back doors (Black Suede by Behr) and got to work. About three hours later (including two coats and drying time), our front door now has a new, classier, lease on life.

Door Color: Black Suede by Behr / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Even though all we’ve done is paint the door and move the rug, it already feels less “trend shack” and a little more on the subdued and classic side of the spectrum. Since the umbrella stand isn’t there anymore, I’m thinking about picking up a few more frames to bring the gallery wall sliver down to the floor to make it look a bit more finished. We’re also contemplating getting some chunky aged brass door hardware. Greg actually came up with that idea, and I think it will make the hardware stand out nicely against the new, dark color.

All of that to say… sometimes we make mistakes, and guess what? That’s okay. We just scale it back, pick out what we actually like, take a breather and start over. I’ve got to be honest and say it’s quite a bit nerve-wracking to make mistakes on the internet for thousands and thousands of people to see. You’d think after blogging for three years, I’d be over that by now, but, I’m not quite there yet. Hopefully you guys will continue to stick with us as we live and learn.

Even though we aren’t quite sure what direction this foyer will go in the future, here are a few inspiring spaces that we’re really digging:

Foyer Inspiration / 7thhouseontheleft.com

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

These inspiration photos are classy, grown-up, and as far from circus-like as possible. On top of that, have the whole rustic/modern thing going on we love so much. We definitely want to incorporate some fun eclectic accents mixed in here and there, but we’re going to be much more selective this time around. We shall see where that takes us!

Q: Hi Greg and Ashley, My husband and I are currently trying to decide on a kitchen cabinet route to go with our kitchen remodel. I’ve always loved Kraftmaid and heard great things, but recent research has led us both to a lot of negative reviews about the quality the cabinets and paint finish. Would you share your experience? Are you still happy with your cabinets all this time later? Would you go with Kraftmaid again? Thanks for any info! -Kara

A: This question has been coming up a lot in our mailbox lately, so we thought we’d dedicate a post to our kitchen cabinets. Before I delve right in, let me preface this by saying, we have no connection with Kraftmaid and this is 100% our honest opinion about our experience with our cabinets. That said, the honesty part is true of all of our posts. This post is going to try to be pretty comprehensive – we’re trying to make it the post we wish we’d have read when shopping around for cabinets ourselves.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Before we get to what we think about them now (a little over two years later), I guess we should do a quick rundown of the cabinet designing/ordering/installation process…

Once we finally decided on going with KraftMaid cabinets (more on the decision process here), the first thing we did was meet with a kitchen designer at our local Lowe’s. After a quick consultation in the store, he came to our house, took measurements and listened to our ideas/wants/wishes. We already had a layout in our heads, so he took down all of our notes and put together a rendering for us to look over.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

He emailed us the initial renderings, and we made notes on what we loved, liked and didn’t like, let our thoughts and opinions simmer for a few days, then went back into Lowe’s for another meeting to finalize the layout. The cost to have the kitchen design put together and priced out was $90. However, since we ended up actually purchasing the cabinets from Lowe’s, that cost was deducted from the final cost of the cabinets.

I think the overall cabinet-buying experience can have a lot to do with the sales person (or “kitchen designer”) you deal with when you plan out your kitchen and order your cabinets. You get to know them, they’ll call you often throughout the process for questions and updates, and they are who you turn to when you have questions or concerns. We were lucky enough to score a really great guy to work with. He was extremely personable, fun and knew his stuff. The only snags that came up (if you even want to call them that), were some design differences when it came to the bookshelf on the end of the peninsula and leaving space for the floating shelves next to the window above the sink. He tried to talk me out of both design elements multiple times. As for Greg, he was down with whatever I chose when it came to making the kitchen less “cookie cutter” and more unique. Those two ideas were a bit out of the norm, so I totally get where he was coming from. I’m sure he has some crazy requests now and then and just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t regret our off-beat decisions later. When it was all said and done, I stuck to my guns and he respected my decision. About a year or so later, I ran into him at Lowe’s. He said he saw our kitchen in Better Homes & Gardens’ Kitchen & Bath Makeovers magazine, and he wished they would have featured a photo of the “awesome bookshelf in the peninsula.” So, I think that means I won him over in the end, haha.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At the same meeting when we finalized the layout, we also chose our cabinet style and finishes. We went with the Dove White finish and the square recessed panel door style (aka shaker door). For hardware, which at the time was “free” with the purchase of the cabinets, we chose the Aged collection.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

If I recall correctly, the cabinets ended up arriving a few days (if not a week) early. That was fine since our kitchen was empty and waiting for the huge mountain of boxes, but our installers weren’t available for another two weeks. So, we had to maneuver around the monstrosity above a little longer than anticipated – but it didn’t really bother us.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The decision to have a pro install the cabinets was worth every single penny. In our case, they were installed by a local company subcontracted by Lowe’s. For this part of the process, we really just left that area of the house alone and let them do their work. I actually had just returned home from having surgery the day before they came, so I ended up staying at my mom and dad’s house hopped up on pain meds while the chaos was going on. Now, looking back, I think that was a blessing in disguise. I would have probably been a nervous wreck and wanting to watch everything going on. So if you’re having cabinets installed and have any Dilaudid around… no, I’m TOTALLY kidding. Do not do that. Seriously though, just get out of the house, take the dog to the park, go get your hair cut and colored, do some retail therapy… you get the gist.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Larry and his team came and put the entire kitchen together in a matter of two or three days. We had a piece of trim missing from our order (it belonged on the ceiling right above the peninsula), which came in about two weeks after the cabinets were “done”. Once the tiling was done, Larry came back to install the missing trim pieces, as well as the other trim pieces that had to be removed for the tiling. If you’re having countertop-to-ceiling tile installed (like we did), just remind your installation guy to not put on the cabinet trim pieces that touch the wall until the tiling is done. We didn’t realize that would be an issue at the time, so the tile guy had to take the trim pieces off and the cabinet guy had to come back and reattach them. Once that was done, everything was “done”.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

QUALITY // Structurally, we’ve had no problems whatsoever. Everything is just as sound, sturdy and solid as the day they were installed. Aside from a handle or two getting loose – a problem easily solved with a quick turn of a screwdriver – we’ve had absolutely zero functional problems with the cabinets.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

As far as cosmetic issues, we’ve had one issue that we’re in the process of fixing. In the sink cabinet, the center mullion (Greg looked up the term so we wouldn’t have to call it “the thingy that goes between the doors in the middle”) is just a little too long. Unfortunately, this has caused some paint chipping. This might have something to do with the installation, I’m not completely sure, but the good news is that we were told it’s covered by the warranty. As long as you own your home, KraftMaid will guarantee your cabinetry to be free from defects in material and/or workmanship under normal residential usage.

The only other little thing that has come across our radar is that we wish the doors were soft-close like the drawers. Kraftmaid has since added the Whisper Touch soft-close feature to the doors, so if you’re in the cabinet market now, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

COST // A lot of people have asked us how much our cabinets cost to see if the price they were given is “right”. The thing is, every kitchen is different, so we really can’t answer that question. The features like roll out shelves, cabinet-covered appliances, extra shelves, and bookcases all add up to a different price tag for different spaces. That said, the final price of our cabinets including installation was around $17,000.

Was it worth the money? Absolutely. Greg and I both think it’s important to invest in larger home purchases to ensure quality and longevity. In the long run, you’ll end up spending less money if you invest in something of higher quality upfront. This is especially true for kitchen cabinets, which are permanent (or semi-permanent, at least) fixtures in your house because once they’re in, it’s tough to change things later. Obviously, the cabinets were the most expensive aspect of our kitchen reinstall. The entire kitchen renovation totaled to approximately $28,000 – the cabinets taking up about 60% of the budget. The total (which includes everything from switch plate covers to appliances) is actually much lower than what we read online and in magazines. It’s also lower than the average kitchen gut-job renovation in our area, so we were happy with the final number.

Would we purchase KraftMaid cabinets again? Yep. We’ve been extremely pleased with the durability and quality. On top of that, all of the customizable options are crazy amazing. I literally drew what I wanted the bookshelf to look like, and they did it! It’s worth the extra money to get something that fits your wants/needs so that you can love your kitchen for years to come.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Going through this process ourselves, we have four bits of advice to pass along, in case you’re going to be tackling a similar project:

01 // As for getting started on the cabinet-buying process, we recommend meeting with a kitchen designer and giving them your absolute dream wish list of everything you hope and desire for your space. Then, when they come back with the design and the estimated sticker price, take away the things you can live without until you get to your target budget.

02 // If you have it in your budget, have the cabinets installed by a pro. Actually, I would even go as far to say make room for it in your budget. Even if you think you or someone you know is all DIY-savy and are handy with a nail gun… trust me. These guys do this every day. They’re familiar with the dos and don’ts, and you’ll save yourself some major headaches and possible repair costs down the road. We were definitely happier spending the extra money to have it done well and right the first time.

03 // When we had our initial rendering, I showed it to my mom and Grandma to get their input. After all, they’ve been doing the homeowner/cooking thing a lot longer that I have and I thought they’d have some good input – and they definitely did. Because of their advice, we moved a few cabinets around and changed out drawers for cabinet doors in one spot in particular, which turned out to make a huge difference in the productivity department. That said, entertaining too many opinions might hurt your decision-making process. Just pick the brains of the people closest to you, including that friend that is killing it with the organizational skills and ideas.

04 // Take the time to be absolutely, 100% sure you love your layout before you place your order. Once we decided on a layout, I was so excited to place the order and get the ball rolling. Greg talked me into waiting at least a week before placing the order. Even though I was like a kid waiting for Santa on the longest Christmas Eve ever, it was worth the wait because we made a few small tweaks, and I felt 100% confident when we said, “Go!” and wrote the check.

We hope this review helps you guys out there in the decision-making process. For a complete list of kitchen resources and more details, check out this post. To read aaaaaall of the posts having to do with the kitchen, click here or check out the Projects page for a list of the “meaty” kitchen reno posts.

As you may recall, last week, we hung a new light fixture in our dining area, which left us with a nice round hole in the ceiling where the previous light once hung. Our ceilings are lightly textured – not your typical “popcorn ceiling” but still textured enough to make the patching process a little different. A lot, if not most, homes built in the 70′s – early 90′s have textured ceilings, so we thought this would be a helpful process to share here on the blog. If you don’t have textured ceilings, but still have a hole to patch, the process is the same – just skip the texturing steps near the end. Let’s get started…

For this home repair process, you’ll need to gather the following supplies: a plastic shopping bag, a small piece of sheetrock, a 1/4″ strip of wood (or a thick paint stirrer), about four drywall screws (more if your hole is larger), drill, a piece of paper, pen, jigsaw, spackle (we used this), a putty knife, a small disposable plastic container, a few paper towels and ceiling paint. Note: if you have a hole saw, you won’t be needing the paper, pen or jigsaw.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Since it was going to be a day or two before we could get around to patching the ceiling, we decided to line the hole with a plastic shopping bag. This kept our blown-in insulation from falling through the hole. Even if you’re patching the hole immediately, this is a nice way to keep from having insulation fall in your face during the patching process.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

As you can see, I left my plastic bag in place. I’ll be sure to also go up in the attic, push the insulation back into place, and grab the bag – probably right after I write this post. The second step of this process was to take a piece of wood and place it across the hole. I used a strip of 1/4-inch-thick wood that I picked up at the hardware store, but you can use anything you’ve got laying around. Come to think of it, a thick wooden paint stirrer might do the trick just as well. At that point, I screwed it down with a couple of drywall screws. Make sure you get the brace flush with the back of the drywall. Otherwise, your patch might not come out level.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

After you get the brace in place, grab a piece of paper and trace the edges of the hole. I actually used a piece of label paper we had laying around (the kind that has two large labels per sheet) – I’ll get to why in a second. If you’ve got a hole saw big enough to fit just slightly inside the existing hole, you’re even better off. Just skip this step, attach your hole saw to your drill, and laugh as everyone else is trying to trace. For those of us without hole saws, don’t worry about getting the tracing perfect. You just need a rough idea–the spackling compound will fill in all the gaps.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Remember how I said the people with hole saws would be laughing at those of us without them? Well, they’re still laughing in this step. All they have to do is cut a circle out of a new piece of drywall. As I mentioned, I actually used a scrap piece of label paper in the previous step. Once the circle was traced, I took the label off the backing and stuck it directly onto a small piece of drywall to serve as my guide. If you use a regular piece of paper, you’ll just need to cut out your shape and trace it onto your new piece of drywall. Once I had my shape affixed, I used my jigsaw to cut it out. Notice how I’m not calling it a circle. I told you it didn’t have to be exact!

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At this point, all you need to do is plug the hole and secure it in place. I used two drywall screws to hold my patch in place just so it wouldn’t spin or move while I was applying the spackling compound.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At this point, you just need to apply the spackling compound as normal. Make sure you apply just enough pressure around the cracks to get the spackling to flow into them. Also, it looks like I’m applying a lot here, but I actually like to apply very thin layers so that I don’t have to do much (if any) sanding.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

After applying a few layers of spackling compound, this is what our patch job looked like. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a textured ceiling. We’re about to mess it up, anyway. That said, if you’re a real neat freak, you can let the spackling dry a bit, then come back with a damp paper towel or cloth to smooth out any rough areas. It works great, and you don’t have to worry about drywall dust getting everywhere from sanding. For us, since our ceiling is pretty textured, I just left it as is.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Texturing is an art form that I’ve yet to master, but I think I do a reasonably good job for a semi-handy computer guy. The lynchpin of my process is watering down the spackling compound slightly before applying it. I added a few tablespoons of water to a few tablespoons of spackle and mixed them together in a small disposable plastic container. This part isn’t really an exact science, you just need to get it to the right consistency that it will stick to the ceiling and make little peaks. If it’s too watery, add some more spackle. If it’s too thick, add a tiny bit of water.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At that point, I put a bit on my trowel, push it up against the non-textured area, then pull it straight off (perpendicular to the ceiling). This should leave you with a nice, random pattern of peaks across the patched area. If the peaks are too tall, scrape off the spackling compound and water it down a bit more. I ended up using a paper towel to form smaller peaks to match the rest of the ceiling. It kind of reminded me of my mom sponge painting our living room when I was a kid. The step takes a bit of trial and error until you get the right look, but this method works really well.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I’m sure this needs little to no explanation, but you’ve got to paint the newly patched spot to match the ceiling. I suggest a small roller with a thick nap. If you use a brush or a roller with a light nap, it’ll be hard to get the entire textured area covered. Also, be sure to feather the edges with a dry brush so it blends well with the previously painted portion of the ceiling. And here’s our newly patched ceiling…

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

You can’t even tell where the old light was unless you look really closely. Hopefully this has been helpful to someone out there with a similar project going on. If you’ve got any additional tips or tricks to make this process easier, be sure to share them in the comments.