When we bought our house in March we knew we would want to update the kitchen but we just  weren’t sure on when it would actually happen…weeks, months, years. However, people that know us know we can’t sit around for too long without having a project. So once September rolled around (only 6 months after closing) we started our kitchen update journey and didn’t look back — mostly because we didn’t have a choice. Ha!

The counter tops in the house came with brown granite tile which, not surprisingly, made the kitchen feel dark and dated. Also, I quickly learned that I didn’t like cleaning up after preparing a meal because the grout lines made it difficult to get all the bits and pieces wiped up. Who knew something as simple as rolling out some dough on a smooth counter top could be missed so much too? I sure didn’t.

Here is some of our before pictures:

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Lots of outlets. On one wall we had 7 outlets…SEVEN!!

Demo & Decisions
It took us a few weeks to decide what we want to do. Doesn’t it always? There were a couple items on our list that we weren’t sure if we were going to do or not. Do we try to save the back splash or go with something new? Do we get rid of the bar height counter and if we do, what do we do with all of the outlets (see picture above)? Do we run lighting along the tops and bottoms of the cabinets or just leave it as is? So many things to think about but once we made our decision we went with it.

My sweet hubby took on the majority of the demo while I was visiting family. It definitely made it more manageable (notice I didn’t say easier) without having two little boys running around while trying to tear everything out.

Granite Counters
This by far was THE most stressful part of the whole kitchen update. Whatever we selected could make or break the entire project. I stressed over it for days — ok, more like weeks. I visited several granite suppliers, brought home tons of samples and I still didn’t know what to do.

I knew I wanted to go lighter and avoid gold tones. The last couple of homes we’ve owned had golds with darker tones so I wanted something brighter and absolutely no gold. In addition, after bringing home one sample with a leather finish we fell it love with the texture and really wanted to find granite that came leathered.

Have you heard of leathered granite? Our installers explained it like this: Let’s say there are eight steps to get the gloss finish that you see on most granite. Well, to get the leather look, it’s about step 4 or 5 in the process which is why it doesn’t have the shiny look to it. You pay a little more (weird, right? You pay more for less work?) but there’s something about the finish that we were drawn to. What we loved about the leather finish was that was different, it doesn’t reflect light like the gloss finish (we decided to add cabinet lighting — see below), it hides water spots better and while being just as durable as the glossy finish people are accustomed to.

Here’s the Colonial White slab. The picture makes it look more cream but it’s definitely more gray, white with black and burgundy specks in it.

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Tip: Make sure you take a cabinet door with you when picking out granite. After looking several times without one, I finally remembered to grab one and I was FINALLY able to make a decision.

When we found Colonial White and it was always one of our top favorites so when we discovered it came in the leather option we were sold.

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Leathered Granite Close-up: To give you an idea of the texture, how light reflects off of it and to see more of the actual color.

We did decided to get rid of the bar height countertop as well. We were hoping it would open up the kitchen and actually give us more usable space. We haven’t regretted that decision at all. It made a huge difference and I love that I can help the boys while they’re eating much easier than I could before.

Subway Tile Back Splash & Grout
After much debate about whether or not we should try to salvage the old backsplash, we decided to go with new especially since it didn’t match the new granite at all. Again, I went back and forth on this. It was the second most stressful thing for me. I would venture out looking for ideas and would either come home with absolutely no ideas or several different samples. I just couldn’t decide!! But because I couldn’t wait too long, I had a friend come with me to help me finally decide. After lots of samples we decided on some great subway glass tile from Lowe’s — Allen + Roth Smoke Subway Tile. Even as we were installing it I was making myself sick thinking about possibly making the wrong decision but it thankfully came together.

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We then paired the tile with Mapei’s Warm Gray grout. Keep in mind the color will likely look different on the computer screen than it does in real life. Trust me, the tile and grout go perfectly with the Colonial White granite.

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Kitchen Lighting
Inspired LED: Above & Under Cabinet Lighting
We always liked the idea of upper and lower cabinet lighting however, we never actually had it in any of our homes. When it came time to tear out the back splash though we figured it was the perfect time to run the wire and set up the cabinets for something we always wanted. We knew it would make a huge difference.

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Tip: We ran all the wires for the cabinet lighting through our crawl space. By doing so we were able to eliminate having wires showing and running across the room.

We purchased lighting kits from Inspired LED located in Arizona. We loved that they made it super simple to order from them and customize the lighting strips to fit our cabinets. All we had to do was take pictures of our cabinets, mark them with their measurements and email the pictures to Inspired LED. They will then email back their suggestions based on your pictures at which time you can modify things, if you want, based on their suggestions. Sounds pretty easy, right? Because it was! We’d use Inspired LED again.

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Lighting packaged and labeled when it arrived. Yay!

The lights have a sticker adhesive on the back that you peel off once you figure out exactly where you want to place them.

Before lighting was installed. Tip: Make sure the surface you’re going to attach them to is washed and cleaned of residue, especially if you are putting them in the kitchen.

After.

Single Bowl Kitchen Sink
Oh, the kitchen sink debate. I have seen a lot of debating going on among friends and on house forums about what type of sink makes sense. Honestly, I think, it really comes down to how you do your dishes. I’m the type that throws the smaller plates and bowls in the dishwasher and then washes the bigger items by hand. We’ve always had a double sink and I usually would just use one sink to wash the dishes. However, when it came to picking a new sink I still found myself leaning towards a double sink again because that is what I was use to. But after talking to Marie, who just built a house last year and had a single sink installed (remember her top 10 of her custom home?) ranted and raved about a having a single bowl sink. So I was convinced I needed one too. I ordered it and am happy to report I have not regretted my decision at all.

Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet
Home Depot: Moen Hensley Single-Handle Pull-Down Sprayer
I really had a tough time deciding on a faucet as well. I liked this one instantly. Since people would be seeing the faucet/sink from pretty much anywhere, I wanted something a little more decorative looking and less industrial. Win-win with this one!

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Garbage Disposal Air Switch
Amazon: Geyser garbage disposal air switch
Because we took the bar height counter out and that’s where the switch was for the garbage disposal, we went with an air switch from Amazon. It works perfectly!

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Sink Storage
Lowes: Rev-A-Shelf Pull Out Cabinet Basket
We bought one more little addition to help with the overall functionality of the sink area. I’ve always had a pull out cabinet by the sink to put my scrub brushes and sponges in but this house didn’t have such a thing. I was tired off having to put the brushes under the sink next to all the cleaning supplies so at the last minute, we picked up these shelves from Lowe’s to give us a little more storage. Installation was pretty easy. I even installed it myself (yay, me!) and I’ve been using it ever since.

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Tip: They come in different sizes so make sure to measure the area before you to to purchase.

Now for the finished product:

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Now, after ALL of this I find myself wanting to take on another enormous project! Am I crazy?? I even hate to think about it, let alone say it out loud, but I think my next project will be…drum roll, please…painting!! Oh, I want to cringe! Trust me when I say we have A TON to paint but I think once we change the wall color it’ll change the look of the kitchen even more and bring everything together. I’ll definitely post more pictures once we have all the painting done. So stay tuned…

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