How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip # 8

Tip #8: Use multiple websites and save one search engine for emergency

Yeah! My countertops were installed today on schedule and I think they are even better than anticipated.





My backsplash tile should be a perfect match, but I realize I need to make my kitchen pop with accents.  I already knew I wanted counter height stools at the island, but had not decided what they would be. Now I have the counter tops in place and I am thinking red is a great color to tie everything together (dining room, family room, laundry room). Plus, red is an appetite stimulator- so perfect for the kitchen. I have been gathering accessories I already own to test my decision. I already have several red accents which I laid out as a test run, but this was an excuse to buy more.

IMG_9103 IMG_9104 IMG_9105  accents1 accents2

I went online to look at counter height  stools and really liked a pair I saw in red. They had awesome reviews and were a very reasonable price, but I wanted to run it by my husband before I jumped into such a bold move. By the time we looked at the website the price had escalated from the bargain $229/pair to $279/pair. I need 2 pairs so that was an extra $100.

Hence my tip: save one search engine for emergency.   I do most of my research on Internet Explorer, but once I discovered I was shut out of my bargain price I resorted to Mozilla Firefox and conducted a “brand new” search. Even though I knew exactly what I was looking for, I was ahead of the “game” and managed to come up with the same initial bargain. I nailed down the offer and made my purchase. These are the stools that should be arriving at my house next week.


In the meantime, I actually had the opportunity to cook dinner in my kitchen! I used some of the fresh vegetables and herbs in my garden that are feeling very neglected: eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, oregano, basil. It was a delicious dinner and it was totally prepared, cooked and served indoors! (Ratatouille with pasta- yummy!)

First dinner prepped, cooked and served in my new kitchen!

First dinner prepped, cooked and served in my new kitchen!



How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip # 7


Tip #7: Have patience and remember Tip # 6!

It has been a week since my last progress report and tip. Obviously the pace of things has slowed down and many of the improvements are internal, as in not obvious to the eye.

My husband wrapped up his contribution by putting in the vent and then covering it up so that my son can reclaim his closet space.

vent to outdoors (pre- boxed in)

The overhead lights were all wired and the gas stove, refrigerator and microwave are all on the circuit.

nice and bright




The granite fabricators came and laid out the template. My granite was delivered and I went to view it and place the template.


Andromeda granite

Andromeda granite

Corner template placement

They also gave me a chunk to carry around to compare to backsplash tiles. Husband and I have been to 4 different stores trying to find the right color.

which one do you think looks best?

which one do you think looks best?

I have been testing paint colors out, trying to merge my kitchen into the dining room, family room and hallway.


The walls are being taped and spackled and should be ready to paint in a few days. The granite countertops are scheduled to be installed Tuesday. Then the plumbing needs to be fitted.

We did choose a tile and it should be here in 10 days. After which the backsplash can be installed and the hood should be the final step.

winning combo!

winning combo!

This kitchen makeover officially started June 30. Today is July 25. Obviously we had some setbacks and because we did not order our backsplash in advance we seem to be on track with the timeline I anticipated. My tip is to just keep my patience and continue to appreciate progress. There seems to be something new every day, even if it seems small. Remember, at least I have my coffeemaker and a working refrigerator…


Surviving a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #6

Tip #6: Appreciate Progress

This project started June 30 and today is July 17. We had a holiday week in between so there have officially been 12 work days since then. I am still using my coolers for food and alternating between eating out and cooking on the grill. However, the accomplishments of today really excite me and remind me to appreciate what a great change this is going to be and how worth the small hassles. These photos were taken exactly a month apart: before and after. Just comparing them makes me excited and helps me stay calm and patient.

Before: 6/17/2014

Before: 6/17/2014


Progress after 12 days of labor: 7/17/2014

Progress after 12 days of labor: 7/17/2014

Surviving a Kitchen Makeover: Tip # 5

Tip # 5: Don’t be afraid to suggest ideas or ask questions

It is imperative to remember that you are the customer and it is Contractor’s duty to work with you and treat you with respect. You have the right to ask questions and suggest ideas, even if they seem silly or irrelevant.

For example, the refrigerator was delivered and after the appliance company left, I looked at it more closely.

Façade stainless, sides black

Façade stainless, sides black

I had wanted a stainless steel finish, but only the façade had that attribute. The side panels were a black formica. I looked up the model online, but even that described it as stainless steel, so I was very confused. I waited until a moment when Contractor was not busy and I asked him why the sides were black when I wanted stainless steel? He politely explained this is how all the models come and that he had special panels which would cover the sides. So that was a simple question with a simple answer. Done.

Refrigerator space  with corrective  pipe and supporting wall added

Refrigerator space with corrective pipe and supporting wall added


However, not all dilemmas are handled quite so smoothly and actually require some thinking outside the box.

I return to the saga of the rogue supporting beam. Because of the beam’s location, the hood vent can not be directed straight out of the kitchen. When Contractor called me over to point this out, he told me he saw no way around it and the inevitable plan would be to vent the stove directly into the kitchen.

Bay where vent was supposed to go, but blocked by supporting beam

Bay where vent was supposed to go, but blocked by supporting beam

Not good news; but I conceded the point and texted my husband with the update. He immediately called on the phone and told Contractor a very creative idea. We didn’t know if it was plausible,  but a few minutes later I was upstairs in my son’s closet while one of the guys was tapping on the kitchen ceiling, trying to locate where to put the vent. By a stroke of luck, they found an empty bay where it would not interfere with wiring; so, we will be able to vent the stove outside after all!

Son's closet saves the day

Son’s closet saves the day

Sometimes it takes a homeowner who knows the house well to solve the problem. Now my husband is very pleased because, in order to save time and money, he has volunteered to take charge of the upstairs vent, including building a box around it in the closet. He should be proud of his contribution to this project and that he didn’t give up on solving a problem that was important to him.


Surviving a Kitchen Makeover: Tip # 4

Tip # 4: Accept invitations for dinner whenever possible

IMG_9020     IMG_9019

Progress Report: The structural beam has been repaired. They have rewired the electric and plumbing and are working on the vent for the stove. Sheetrock is starting to go up and it is beginning to look like a kitchen.

IMG_9014    IMG_9015

Nevertheless, there are still no appliances and we are probably many days away from being able to cook in the kitchen. Which brings me to Tip # 4: Accept Invitations for dinner whenever possible.

Even though, technically speaking, I can cook my dinner on the grill, I have not stocked up on all the perishable items that are nice to enhance the flavors and most of my non-perishable ones are packed away. My garden produce keeps on growing, though and it is a shame to let it go to waste. I have given away many pounds of kale, collard greens, cucumbers and herbs. Now the zucchini and green beans are starting to become abundant.

My friends and family all appreciate what I am going through and kindly offer to have us over for dinner. It is a much better option than going to a restaurant or ordering takeout.  I have been showing up with freshly picked vegetables as my contribution to their efforts and we have all enjoyed each others company for a few hours. It is a nice way to step away from the chaos going on at home and an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of maintaining these friendships. It really reminds you that we can’t always do it alone and it is nice to know you have people to lean on when you need it.

I look forward to hosting a kitchen party when it is all done as a way of thanking all my friends and family for their support.

p.s. as I am typing this, appliances are being delivered and cabinets are starting to be installed! More updates tomorrow!



How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #3

   Tip # 3: Pretend You are Camping

My husband actually took me on my first camping trip when we were courting, so I have many fond memories from the first one. Subsequently, we took many camping trips with the children when they were young. If you are not a fan of camping, maybe this tip doesn’t work for you; but if you are- it sounds like “glamping”.


I have my coolers filled with cheese, milk, hardboiled eggs, hummus and drinks and my propane tanks are full and ready for grilling. My outdoor dining area is eager for use (which is why redoing your kitchen in the summertime really helps the process).



I have a second entrance to my deck from the dining room. The grill and double burners are only steps away.


I am using the dining room table as a pantry/work area. There is a utility sink in the laundry room and I have been using paper plates and reusable plastic cutlery.


I resisted the urge to set up my microwave; but with only a few compromises on whole grain products, I feel I am actually keeping to a healthy diet.

The coolers need a new bag of ice daily and I have to buy food in smaller, less cost-efficient portions, but overall it is similar to camping- plus the benefits of indoor flush toilets and hot showers every day. Now the only question is; “How long can I put up with this?”



How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #2

As bad as the kitchen looks and as noisy as it gets with drilling, sawing and hammering, everything is easier to handle after my cup of coffee. Therefore,  Tip # 2:

Tip #2: Coffee station

The very first thing to do once you are ready to live in the house during a kitchen makeover, is to set up a coffee station. My apologies to tea drinkers, but the same policy still applies. After returning home from vacation and seeing my gutted kitchen, I displaced a lamp and reclaimed the outlet, installing my coffee machine.


I stocked up on thermal disposable cups and a few gallons of water. Then I set my alarm for 15 minutes prior to the arrival of the electricians and made my cup of coffee. By the time they arrived at 7:30, I was ready to greet them with a smile.

In addition to installing the new lighting, they were also responsible for fixing the “problem” I mentioned in yesterday’s post. We had a structural beam that was improperly secured. In fact, it was not bolted together and was significantly sagging. It required jacking up the beam and adding an extra support- apparently a $1000 fix.


Not bolted, sagging

Not bolted, sagging


No worries, I may not be able to use my kitchen for a while; but at least I have my coffee.

How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip 1

You may wonder why I am posting the above title on a blog title The Middle Generation. Here is my explanation:

After a dozen years in this house and many DIY home improvements, Husband and I have decided to bite the bullet and treat ourselves to new kitchen- One we can enjoy cooking in, together or with our family, without tripping over each other. We also accepted the idea that this was too big a deal to tackle on our own. We hired a designer and worked out a plan with him. It will completely change the layout which requires moving plumbing, electric, gas lines and ventilation system. (see below for before and projected after shots).

IMG_8483    IMG_8485   IMG_8479


Builder's design

Builder’s design



Computer model not to scale or color

Computer model not to scale or color


So here we are a week into the project and I have decided to use my blog to share my adventures and tips and to update the progress of this project with my family and friends- and anyone else who is pondering a kitchen makeover and wants some inside tips. Let me begin with Tip #1.

Tip #1- Plan a Getaway

Believe me. During the demolition stage you do not want to be around. There will be pieces of sheet rock, cement and tile flying through the air. Furthermore, it is noisy and very stressful to see your house getting torn apart and covered in dust- even if you hate the cabinets.

We were fortunate enough to already have a planned vacation in place the week this project began. So on Monday, I was relaxing on the Jersey shore, enjoying the sound of waves and the unseasonably warm water. Finding a text from our builder at 2:30 pm saying, “We need to talk” didn’t sound good; but, hey, I was in vacation mode. No worries, mon. If you follow HGTV as I do, you know how common it is to find serious problems when renovating, so of course, we found ours. However, as long as it was fixable without compromising our vision, we were okay with it. By 3:30 I was back on the beach with my book.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about the project and wondering what it would look like when I got home. I figured no news was good news and enjoyed my vacation. By the time I got home, this is how it looked. The demolition was over- so it can only improve from here.


Totally gutted ,even the tile floor

Totally gutted ,even the tile floor