Coronavirus Kitchen Chronicles II

Part TWO! So when we left off in the last post, I was flashing back to several years ago, when I first asked Joy Elben for help. She was AMAZING and, after seeing our house just once in person, sent over a beautiful Pinterest board filled with so many things I loved! 

Before I talked to Joy, I really had no vision. My house had been “old world” since we got married, and I was so locked in that I didn’t even know what I liked. Of course I loved everything Chip and Joanna Gaines did, but getting there seemed pretty much impossible. Joy knew just what to do, and her patient babysteps over the course of the last few years have helped me get the job done without breaking the bank.

We started with the family room and dining area. Joy helped me choose a sectional for the family room and redecorate the room without needing to change the wall color and flooring, for the time being. Those big projects weren’t in the budget, so we did what we could and waited a year or so before the next step.

The following year, I was ready to work on my office area and the living room, so we started the process again. Joy encouraged me to spring for Pottery Barn furniture and an electric stand-up desk to provide the perfect set-up for the room in which I spend the most time. That’s another thing I love about working with Joy. She considers the overall picture and helps me prioritize the most important things – the ones that will last decades. (By the way – I love having a dresser in my office space! It provides lots of accessible storage for supplies, and my “inbox” is one of the top drawers, so it’s easy to hide the mess. 😂)

My mother-in-law Marion, who was an incredible pianist, had recently passed away, and we invested in a new piano to honor her. When it was time to work on the entryway, Joy suggested refinishing Marion’s antique desk in black lacquer to tie in the piano.


So the kitchen was the last area to renovate, and that leak meant it was “go-time.” 


Once the floors were in, February and March were a flurry of planning and shopping! The first problem was figuring out what to do about the cabinets. There are a lot of cabinets, and my discussion with Reborn revealed that redoing the cabinets (new doors, laminate on the stiles) would cost as much as a small car. Maybe a medium-sized car. So that was out. I could only imagine that NEW cabinets would be even more. We decided to research painting them and contacted David Predika of Kingdom Painting. He was highly recommended to me by my friend Marty Price, his quote was outstanding, and the sample drawer-front he brought to show me was stunning – so glossy and shiny! I felt very confident with going the painting route.

After talking with my contractor friend Ursula Egan of Red Nails Construction about appliances, I took her advice, stopped by Appliance Alley, and ordered all six appliances in the space of one hour — on the way to a photo session!

The layout of the kitchen was fine, so no big changes on that, but we did decide to put in a vent hood over the cooktop and switch the double-oven to a microwave-and-oven combination. That necessitated taking down the over-the-microwave cabinet and molding, which my dad miraculously accomplished. I also shopped for cabinet hardware, and Joy and I sent photos back and forth to determine the perfect location for the knobs.


Then, one Saturday while Rod was at a church breakfast, I struck up a text conversation with Joy about the windows. By the time Rod came home, I had taken down the curtains and blinds and popped out the sink’s false drawer-front to make room for the farmhouse sink. The sink had been shipped and was actually damaged and returned to the vendor, so we had to push back our demo day so that the new one would be on-site for the countertop templating.


The sink came! It was hard to find a farmhouse sink that wasn’t too deep for my cut-out, but this 9″ one fit perfectly.


I went to Miramar several times on research excursions. On one of my trips after I’d decided on the backsplash tile, I went to 
Arizona Tile to check out a certain type of quartz that I liked.  The quartz slab right next to it was marked “LIMITED QUANTITIES.” That slab was everything I wanted in a countertop for our white-on-white kitchen –  moderate veining and not too speckly. I was absolutely delighted to find out it was 60% OFF due to being discontinued, so I reserved what we needed after exchanging texts with Joy. Here’s what I sent her so she could check to be sure everything would coordinate well:


One afternoon I happened to be in La Jolla and stopped into Perch (also on Joy’s recommendation) to check out the current styles in countertop edges. I texted Joy a picture of my lunch overlooking the UTC skating rink and told her how much I loved this kitchen process! Like the rest of the decorating she had helped me with, the stress was low because she was there to confirm my choices or offer a different perspective. Instead of dreading buyer’s remorse, I could be excited about the things I chose. So different from trying to decorate on my own! (Also — if there is any marital discord around decorating styles, Joy fixes it. I just have to say, “Joy says this or that,” and that settles it. #hirejoy)


March 10 – Demo day came and Granite & Marble Concepts kept my new floors safe while ridding the kitchen of the original off-white tile counters and backsplash. Everything was getting real. We had plywood countertops and no sink. At this point we started eating at my parents’ house every night!


When the quartz slabs arrived at the workshop, I got to go and choose which sections of each slab would be used for the various parts of the counters. It was a fascinating experience to see how this is done. I felt like a school kid on a field trip!


In the meantime, David from Kingdom Painting was hard at work, removing the cabinet doors and taping off the interiors of the cabinets. One thing that somehow didn’t occur to me ahead of time was that the contents of the cabinets would need to be removed.  This is what my living room looked like after that:


Check out how carefully David taped off the flooring and cabinets!



The day David sprayed the cabinet stiles, I was seriously stalking him. I wanted to be sure to get the transformation on timelapse!


The transformation from brown cabinets to white was incredible! The entire room felt larger, airier, and happier. Everyone loved it!

My dad installed the pendant fixture over the island and converted the chandelier over the table to a can light.


Next in line were the cabinet doors and drawers. This was a fun timelapse, too:

David was absolutely meticulous in all his work, protecting the nearby surfaces and doing an impeccable job with the actual painting. He worked long days, tirelessly putting his all into making my kitchen beautiful!

We were still without appliances and countertops when the coronavirus began to become a concern. My photo sessions started canceling, the kids’ schools were closed, and we heard the mandate that non-essential businesses close. I was getting concerned that my kitchen might be like this for a very long time…

To be continued…. 😜

Support These Small Businesses:
Joy Elben Design
Red Nails Construction
Kingdom Painting
Granite & Marble Concepts
The Rock Prefab Granite Outlet

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