7th House on the Left

Today is a very happy day at our house! It’s official… the kitchen cabinets have been ordered! Yes, Greg… I’m going to say it… Holla!

As you know, we’ve gone back and forth… and back and forth… between Ikea, Lowe’s/Kraft Maid, and custom cabinets. But last week, we finally bit the bullet, made some decisions, and placed an order. Before we get to the “who”, we’re going to talk about the “why”. Through the entire process, we’ve considered pretty much all of the ins and outs of each option. Seriously, give us a pop quiz. We’ll ace it. It was decision making time, though, so we did what we always do: We made a pros and cons list!

Our pros and cons won’t be the same as everyone else’s, so this is just what we came up with when we considered our specific needs and wants for this project.

IKEA. First up is Ikea. This was our first stop in the kitchen “reinstall” project. When I first came across photos of their 2010 kitchen catalog, I immediately became smitten with the idea of Ikea cabinets (read that post here). Ten months later (10 months!), our pros and cons go something like this…

PROS:

    • Super-affordable. Literally a fraction of the price of the other options on our list!
    • Customizable storage. Every single customizable option under the sun.
    • Kitchen Planner Software. Fun, easy to use software that helped us “see” our kitchen design and even compiled a list of the parts and pieces we needed when it’s time to go to the store with a rental truck.
    • Reader’s Comments. When we first talked about possibly going with Ikea cabinets, many of you guys talked about how you loved your Ikea kitchen. We even featured an Ikea kitchen Reader Reno. Check that out here.
    • Warranty. Ikea’s cabinets are backed with a 25 year limited warranty. Always a good thing when making a big purchase.

CONS:

    • Lots of work. We’d have to put each and every piece together ourselves (or pay a company $100 per cabinet to do it). We welcome the challenge, yeah, but we’ve heard it’s sometimes not so easy peasy.
    • Missing “puzzle pieces”. As far as the cabinets themselves, they aren’t as customizable for our kitchen as we originally thought.

KRAFT MAID / LOWES. The second stop on our journey to kitchen cabinet land was our local Lowe’s. When we met with the kitchen designer for the first time (which is a pro on the list!), we easily decided on KraftMaid cabinets. Before I start gushing, let’s get to the pros and cons…

PROS:

    • Professional kitchen designer. Gaylord, our oh-so-awesome Lowe’s kitchen designer, did a fantastic job of implementing the plan we originally sketched up using the Ikea Kitchen Planner software. Using KraftMaid cabinets, he was able to help us make a completely functional kitchen that not only worked for our everyday needs, but one that would be great for entertaining – which is something we’ve really missed while not having a kitchen.
    • More options than you can shake a stick at. KraftMaid has beyond enough styles, finishes, hardware, and “add on” options to choose from, which would give the kitchen a very custom feel.
    • A better fit. Overall, the design using KraftMaid cabinets had a tighter, more integrated feel in our kitchen than the Ikea cabinets.
    • Warranty. The KraftMaid backs their cabinets with a limited warranty for as long as you own the cabinets.
    • High Quality. Not only are the cabinets made extremely well, their “standard” options are our cup of tea. The cabinet doors include self-closing concealed hinges and the drawers have self-closing drawer buffer systems as well as pull-out shelves.
    • Reader Comments. Once again, many of you declared your love for your KraftMaid cabinetry.

CONS:

    • $$$$. Going with this option would be the most expensive of our three avenues. Every single detail added, right down to each shelf, is an extra cost.
    • Non-DIY(ish). Some wouldn’t really think this would be considered a con, but we tend to think it is. Going with Lowe’s/KraftMaid means there’s not much room for DIYing; they do it all! We like to get our hands dirty. Though there may be opportunities to DIY some finishing touches.

CUSTOM. Our third and final option was having someone custom make the kitchen cabinets. Though we don’t know a cabinet maker personally, and making our own cabinets is a tad too much DIYing for us, we’ve had a few great referrals given to us by family, friends and even a few local readers.

PROS:

    • Hand-made. It’s a cool idea to have cabinets like the “good ‘ole days”: 100% solid wood, every piece put together by hand, etc.
    • Totally custom! The major perk of custom cabinetry is just that: custom! We can come up with any configuration and customize our kitchen to our heart’s content.
    • Affordable. Though this route wouldn’t be as cost-effective as Ikea, it’s definitely proven to be less expensive than Lowe’s/KraftMaid.

CONS:

    • Warranty? Through our research, we found that most private contractors carry a “limited” warranty for as long as the company is in business or the life of the contractor. When the economy is good, that sort of thing would be reassuring, but with businesses going under left and right these days, the warranty might only last months, rather than years.
    • Blind Guarantee. While you could totally use the free designer tool on the Ikea or Lowe’s website, we still wouldn’t be completely sure what we were going to get until we got it.

Taking everything into consideration (and we mean eeeeeverything), we finally decided on… Okay, this totally deserves a drumroll, don’t you think? Drumroll, please…

KraftMaid/Lowe’s! As we mentioned in the pros/cons list, this option is the most costly of the three. However, by going with Lowe’s, we are certain that we’ll get what we want in our kitchen, and we have peace of mind that there’s a hefty warranty to back it all up. Also, we paid to have the cabinets installed by Lowe’s. In the long-run, we feel that knowing everything was professionally installed and not going to fall off the wall because we missed a screw will be well worth the cost. Oh, and we’ll be sure to get into the breakdown of the dollars and cents once the kitchen is installed and the finishing touches are complete.

So now that we’ve made the decision of the century a decision, here’s how it’s all going to go down… err.. up: We got “the call” yesterday letting us know that the cabinets will be delivered a day or two before Thanksgiving. Because of the holiday, it’s our guess that the actual instillation process will be begin the day after Thanksgiving. I’m sure we’ll get more information on that as time gets closer. That gives us roughly 23 crazy days of preparation. (We have a few projects up our sleeves that we want to get done before the delivery; we’ll talk about them later.) On the second day of installation, the countertop guys will come out and make their templates. Then, we’ll have to wait 5-7 days until the countertops are installed. After a few finishing touches (backsplash, minor modifications, etc), we’ll be on the road to an actual, honest-to-goodness kitchen! And, of course, all of this will be completed just in time for my family coming to town for Christmas! Okay, getting even more excited now!

On top of the projects we’re wanting to get done asap, we’ve got to make final decisions on countertops, backsplash, the rest of the appliances, oh, and the kitchen sink. Yep, we’ve got our work cut out for us for the next 23 days. As usual, we’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on the progress and decision-making. Here’s to decision-making and 23 days of crazy!

We’re back with a rundown on last week’s vacation to the happiest place on earth, Disney World! By now you guys have probably picked up on the fact that we’re total Disney geeks. We talked a little bit about it here. And we even have a Disney-inspired print in our Etsy shop here. Even though we mainly chat about our house here on the blog, some of you have voiced that you want to hear more about us. So to capture our vacation, we decided to document it “Instagram style”.

Last Saturday morning, we packed up, threw our luggage in my parents’ SUV, and headed down I-95. It was a family affair. My mom, dad, little brother (Abram), Greg, and I all traveled to Orlando. When we, in the words of our English-speaking (as opposed to American English) navigation system, “reached our destination”, we met up with our other family members (my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins) who live in the area. Yep, we’re one big, happy, Disney-loving family.

The drive from here to Disney is about 13 1/2 hours. It seems like a long drive, but it actually isn’t that bad, since there’s plenty of stuff to look at along I-95. I wanted to stop at a couple of antique stores, but I was out-voted. Next time. The main perk to driving rather than flying (for us) is that we don’t have to rent a car to have our own transportation while we’re down there. Disney has a ton of transportation options, but we like being able to come and go from the hotel as we wish. Plus, road trips are fun!

We spent most of our time talking, playing car bingo (um, no, we’re not too old!), and listening to Taylor Swift the UVA football game. My vote was Taylor Swift. But whatever. A perk of traveling down I-95 was the fast food choices. I know, totally unhealthy… but it’s a road trip! While we were in college, my and Greg’s favorite fast food stop was Zaxby’s, but here in Richmond, we don’t have one within a 50 mile radius. Needless to say, we had our fair share of Zaxby’s stops on our road trip. Oh! And Bentley went along for the ride, as well. We couldn’t bear leaving him at the “doggie hotel” for an entire week. So we decided to pack his bags, too, and bring him a long. He’s a very good travel companion. For the car ride, he really liked hanging out curled up in his travel crate.

We rolled into the condo on Sunday morning. (We decided to stay Saturday night in Brunswick, Georgia, since we couldn’t check into the condo until Sunday afternoon.) We spent the first day catching up with the family, going out to dinner, and getting settled in our room. We normally stay at a Disney hotel (The Contemporary Resort, The Boardwalk Villas, and The Caribbean Beach Resort are our top three favorites), but this time around, things were a little different. For one, there would be 11 of us, total. Secondly, we brought Bentley along this time around, so the place we stayed needed to be pet-friendly. Therefore, my grandma (the Queen of Family Vacation Planning), booked four adjacent condos at Vacation Village at Parkway. You could see Downtown Disney from our balcony, and we even caught a glimpse or two of the nightly firework show at Epcot.

Greg, Bentley, and I had our own 1-bedroom condo complete with a living room, dining area, full kitchen – (more than what we have at our house at the moment!) , bedroom, bathroom, and a washer/dryer combo. The above photos really don’t do the place justice. My grandparents’ condo was right across the hall. Their place  housed all of the food for the week and served as our family’s “central hub”. My grandma had the fridge stocked with enough lunch meat and breakfast ingredients to feed an army! There was also a good supply of games. The entire family is now addicted to Bananagrams. 

The rest of the week was spent hanging out with family, going to the parks, hotel hopping, dining at great restaurants, and generally relaxing. If you’ve been to Disney World, you know that there are so. many. things. to. do. There’s no possible way to give you a complete rundown of everything we did without using an unreasonable number of words. With that in mind, we decided to highlight our favorite things to do at Disney World:

FAVORITE RIDES: It’s impossible to pick out just one or two of our favorite rides. That’s like asking someone who their favorite child is. We don’t have a “favorite”, but we do have a few must-do’s that we, well, must do while we are at Disney World. For Greg, his must-dos include Pirates of the Caribbean and Philharmagic (which ranks pretty high among my must-dos, too). At the top of my must-do list is the Great Movie Ride at MGM Hollywood Studios and The People Mover (AKA Tomorrowland Transit Authority) at the Magic Kingdom. The People Mover is one of my very first Disney memories as a kid, and being one of the oldest rides, it’s total “classic Disney”.

FAVORITE RANDOM MUST-DO’s: Call us crazy, but Greg and I like riding the Monorail – even when there’s no place to go. Like the above failed attempt to take a photo of us on the Monorail? We find it relaxing to chill, have small talk with the people around us, and saying, “Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas,” along with the recording over and over. I’m quite certain that makes us sound crazy, but that’s 100% okay!  Another random must-do for us is looking out for hidden Mickey’s. They are everywhere… in the carpet, railings, tile, rugs, murals, fabric… you name the place, there’s probably a hidden Mickey there. We even bought this book to clue us in on even more hidden Mickeys. I think it would be really fun to one day have enough photos of hidden Mickeys to put together a coffee table book!

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS: The Brown Derby is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is first on our list of favorite restaurants. Not only is their menu always really good, but the old Hollywood atmosphere “has me at hello” everytime. For you I Love Lucy fans, remember the episode when Lucy goes to the Brown Derby for lunch and accidently dumps pie all over William Holden? Best episode ever. Kona Cafe at the Polynesian is another one of our favorite restaurants at Disney. One of our favorite things there isn’t even on the menu – it’s the Hawaiian Sweet Bread with macadamia honey butter they bring our before your meal. It’s delish! If we’re in the mood for a “Character Breakfast”, Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort is the place to be. We really like the atmosphere – even though we’re normally the only people there without kids! Another favorite and a must-do every time we visit WDW is dinner at California Grill. It’s located at the very top of the Contemporary Resort. Not only is the food superb (and the sushi amazing!) but the view is without a doubt the best view anywhere on Disney property.

FAVORITE SHOPPING SPOTS: A girl can shop till she drops in Downtown Disney. For real. I’m never really one for buying a ton of souvenirs while on vacation – though I like to hang on to things like our Magic Kingdom parking pass and chop sticks from Kona Cafe. Even so, Downtown Disney is a lot of fun to browse and stock up on post cards and that gift you promised your BFF. On this trip, we did score some Mickey ears for Bentley. And I must say, he looks really cute in them. My absolute favorite place to shop at Disney is Sid Cahuenga’s One of a Kind Antiques and Curios. It’s located right inside the gate of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, directly to your left. Okay, so the only thing I’ve ever bought in there was an Audrey Hepburn fridge magnet when I was 16. But that’s because this store is actually more like a museum than your normal gift shop. Every time we go, there’s something different. Last time we stopped in, they were selling the jacket Dick Van Dyke wore in Mary Poppins. I know, right?! I literally almost got emotional. Of course, I couldn’t take it home. Coming in at $65,000, it was a little out of our souvenir budget.

Sunday morning, after having a farewell family breakfast at Kona Cafe, we headed back to Richmond. We rolled into our driveway around 10:00 pm that night. Even though we miss the nightly firework shows, we’re glad to be back home, picking up where we left off on our to-do list.

I hope I managed to give you a good run down of our vacation. If I missed anything you’re wondering about, ask in the comments section and we’ll be sure to answer your questions.

OUR HOME IN R-HOME

posted by Greg  /  13 Comments

Last week, we put our Pre-Vacation Check List to good use, packed up the house and headed to our favorite vacation destination: Disney World! Yep, last week we put the “reno thinking caps” down and enjoyed a week full of Mickey ears, pixie dust, parades, awesome food, and fireworks. We’ll be back later with separate post about our trip (yes, including pictures!) but first, we’ve got to tell you guys about what was waiting in our mailbox when we came back into town late last night.

Let’s back up a bit… way back in June, we conducted our first reader survey. One of the questions was, “How did you first find us?”. Much to our surprise, a few of you mentioned you found us mentioned in R-Home Magazine! Ashley was certain it was a mistake and was literally speechless. And if you know Ashley, you realize how big of a deal that is. For those of you who aren’t in our neck of the woods, R-Home Magazine is an award-winning locally owned, sourced, and produced shelter magazine. It covers all things from home building/renovating, decorating ideas, shopping guides to entertaining ideas. Basically, it’s like Richmond’s very own BHG.

Once the fourth comment talking about the magazine mention rolled in, we hopped in the car and headed to the closest Barnes & Noble to pick up 15 a few copies. After all, this was our very first magazine mention, so we were kind of geeking out a bit. Okay, a lot.

7th house on the left feature

We got back in the car with our copy of the July/August issue and searched the issue cover to cover countless times. Nope. No mention. We went through it again and still no sign of 7th House on the Left. At this point, we were both certain that it was indeed a mistake — maybe they found us through another blog that was mentioned in the magazine…? To make the long story short, a little over a week ago, Ashley finally decided to call the magazine to ask if we really were mentioned thinking maybe it was just an old issue. Sure enough, it was the May/June issue! We missed it at Barnes & Noble by only two days.

When we got home from our vacation late last night, Ashley was going through the mail and all of the sudden started squealing like a kid who just saw Mickey Mouse for the first time. Buried in the mail, was an envelope with the May/June issue! The awesome people at R-Home even included a Post-It marking the page we were mentioned. There we were; very last page, bottom left corner under “Websites to Check Out”, right beside Not Martha and Decor8

7th House on the Left

Needless to say, we were really excited to finally see it! This is the first time we’ve been mentioned in print, so it’s a pretty big deal around here. We also feel extra special that R-Home was our first. We’ve always been big fans of the magazine, picking up copies whenever we saw it on the newsstand, and we just purchased a 2-year subscription, so we’re good to go for the next 26 issues, ha!

Now if Ashley would put down the magazine, we have a lot of unpacking to do.

Oh, like we mentioned last week… if you happen to notice any weird things going on (broken links, missing images, etc), we’re currently working on publishing some of the upgrades we mentioned in our State of the Blog Address a while back. Thanks for your patience!