Kitchen Remodel

Welcome to the brand new Gunpowder House blog!

2013 was a big year for us, and for our home.  The biggest thing to come of the year was our glorious kitchen.  When we closed on the house in 2009, our kitchen if you recall, was pink.  Some said it was “cute”, while others had more creative terms to describe it.  Here is the pink goddess in all her glory.


Once we bought a fridge, the peninsula didn’t allow for much in the way of walking room, so that was the first thing to go.  We installed new butcher-block countertops and painted the cabinets green.  We like to call this our interim kitchen.


Notice the lack of range hood/microwave.  We lived like that for 3 years!

Once we were ready and able, we began to think about what how we would like our kitchen to look.  I went on to to build a kitchen using their online program.  Here is how it looked.

Ikea Kitchen

We went in Ikea to have a look around, and to see the quality of the cabinets in person.  There were a couple things that bothered us about the cabinets, so we opted to go elsewhere.

We went to Lowes and Home Depot to get their takes on the kitchen, and in the end we decided to go with Lowes.

Lowe's Kitchen

The appliances came:

Kitchen Appliances

The sea of boxes came:


The men demolished!


The dust settled, and there was nothing left of the old, pink kitchen.


The electric and lighting was redone.  We had our contractor get rid of the old light fixture in favor of recessed lighting.  As an added treat to ourselves, we had the kitchen wired for under cabinet lighting as well!


Drywall went in.


Cabinets went up.


Appliances moved in.


After a couple issues with the countertops, they finally went in, which leads us to the big reveal.



The animals really seem to like it in there :)


One more look at it, so you can see the new dining room fixture:


We are still shopping for the perfect dining room table, and hopefully we find it soon!

  • Kitchen Cabinets – Kraftmaid Gentry Maple Square Full (Lowes)
  • Cabinet Hardware – Style Selections Aged Bronze Pull (Lowes)
  • Appliances – Frigidaire Gallery (Lowes)
  • Countertops – Caesarstone London Grey
  • Faucet – Delta Berkley Stainless 1-Handle Pull-Down Sink/Counter Mount Kitchen Faucet (Lowes)
  • Dining Room Fixture – Design Classics 16 Inch Schoolhouse Pendant Light Bronze Finish (Amazon)
  • Rug – Homegoods
  • Wall Color – Benjamin Moore

Relevant Question from Apartment Therapy Reader

Almost every morning I log into my computer, sip on my coffee, and see what Apartment Therapy has to offer.  It has become somewhat of a ritual; a way of easing into my day and getting my creative juices flowing.

This morning I came across two very relevant posts regarding sprucing up a dark and visually heavy fireplace.  What a coincidence!  In this post, AT reader Shaun is asking for some advice, so I figured I’d draw up an idea for something I would like to see.

Shaun is a renter, so drilling into the stone, or any permanent cover-up is out of the question.

My solution is to build two small shelving units on either side, past the width of the fireplace, and anchoring those pieces to the wall.  Now that the shelves are sturdy and in place, add a mantel using a 1″ thick board and some crown moulding.  Next, insert a large piece of MDF above the actual fire box, and secure it to the bookshelves.  Be sure to check your local fire code to make sure you have it far enough away from the box.  Usually, the distance is about 6″.  Take some 1/4″ x 4″ poplar boards, and frame out the MDF to give a nice finished look.  Finally, hang a favorite piece of art, and you are done! My instructions are somewhat vague because there are always things that you will have to make up on the fly.  This has also been the case for our fireplace.

Here is my idea:

Please disregard the ugliness, and look past it at the concept.

Over the next couple of days, Ben and I will be filling in holes from the brad gun, and getting ready for paint! Exciting stuff!


Style Cure Timeline Fail

Based on the title of this post, you can see that we did not accomplish what we originally set out to do.  I guess you could say we bit off more than we could chew.  What the style cure did do for us, was it got us to look around, and really think about how we can improve each room.  For now, we are still 100% focused on the living room.

For the past two (almost three) weeks, we have been working on our fireplace surround.  Since we never have large blocks of time to dedicate to the project, it has taken us a while.  Right now we are trying to decide if we want to go with a half or a whole fireplace surround, so I drew up how each would look.  Both options would be painted white.

If we did the full surround, and trust me, we are definitely leaning that way, we would have to remove the crown moulding, and make a new, larger cut to go around the fireplace.  We also know how well the moulding is secured up there, which is another deterrent.

On the opposite wall, we are considering removing the 70′s-esque shelving:

for something more traditional like this:

Less the carpet, and rounded bottom step.  We are not fancy enough for that.

We have actually almost completed the first half of the fireplace surround, so we are hoping to be painting by this weekend, and maybe even installing the base moulding.  Progress pictures coming soon!

AT Style Cure Days 14-16

Day 14 on the Style Cure was another day I ignored; reevaluating your floor plan to ensure “flow”.  Since we have not figured out what furniture is staying in the room, we cannot do that just yet. Instead, I put my second coat of polyurethane on the steps, and called it a night.

Day 15 was a catch-up day, which we used to do the final (and third) coat of polyurethane on the steps, and to rip out the base moulding.  It was chipped and dented, so we   decided it would be better and easier to replace it now.  We found yet another quirk in our house.  The old base moulding ran right into (and beyond) the steps.  How lovely.  I almost broke the steps trying to get it out.  Instead, I got out my dremel tool, and made a close cut.  The crevices will be filled with wood filler, sanded, and painted.  Here’s how it looks now.

And here are the freshly done step treads.  Zoey was the first of the pets to climb the new steps.  We won’t discuss Abe walking all the way up with his dusty paws while they were still tacky the night before.

We are chomping at the bit to get the risers and surround re-painted white!

Day 16  was supposed to be the day we prepped for paint.  Because we watch our three nephews on Thursdays, we didn’t get anything really productive done.  Well, except making the bed, and sleeping in our room for the first time in nearly two weeks!  Oh, and we attempted to make one of those giant cupcakes.  It was a disaster, but the nephews enjoyed my baking fail anyway.  ”It still tastes like a giant cupcake.  Just close your eyes.”

Ah, I also remember that I scored an amazing deal on day 16!  As I was staring at my Amazon account for the umpteenth time, I did a Google image search for the items in my cart.  I never knew about this awesome Google feature, until Apartment Therapy wrote about it.  I was depressed to find that I missed a Groupon for the end table I wanted: Amazon – $129.00, Groupon – $79.99.  My frown turned upside down when I found the round table from my inspiration board on Overstock for less! Amazon – $164.19, Overstock – $116.09 minus a $20 Overstock credit I had, and a $10 coupon from Overstock’s App “Lott-O” scratch off, total $86.09!  I have to mention that I also found this table at Urban Outfitters – $210.  My advice: always do an image search.  You might find it cheaper!

Day 17 dedicates the whole weekend to painting.  Tonight we will be trying to tackle the fireplace surround project.  Once we do that, we will go ahead with painting.  I think tonight is going to be a very long night.  Tomorrow we are going crabbing off a pier, the old fashioned way.  Here’s a picture of me and my sister crabbing on the same pier, many moons ago.

We are having guests over on Sunday for Ben’s fantasy football draft, which was unexpected.  Trying to think of some fun stuff to cook for it.  I need to polish up the trophy as well.  Our household has held the title for 3 years!



AT Style Cure: Days 12 & 13

This weekend on Style Cure was all about shopping.  This includes paint, supplies, and pretty much anything else you needed to buy.  The purpose of this step is to take an entire weekend to make sure you have everything you need, in hopes to avoid the last minute trips for things forgotten.  I’ll be honest in saying, we did not purchase anything this weekend.  Since we are not entirely sure if the sofas are staying or going, we are in somewhat of a holding pattern.  Paint will be purchased today.  Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace looks amazing in our room.  It literally glows on the walls.

Day 13 of the Style Cure deals with working on a project. Tonight I am putting the last coat of polyurethane on the steps, which will close one project.  It has been very weird not being able to go upstairs for a solid week, and once the poly is down, it is recommended another 7 days to fully cure for heavy traffic use (aka: my dogs).  Hopefully by this weekend I can at least paint the risers and the trim surrounding the steps.

We had a last minute BBQ at our house on Saturday with some of our closest friends.  It was a little embarrassing to have squares of Chantilly Lace painted on every single wall, and steps that look like they belonged to an abandoned house, but I am also excited that they were able to get the “before” look.

In addition to the steps, Ben and I will be discussing the fireplace surround, and whether or not we can pull off the project.  Obviously, this is not something we can do tonight when we get off work, but if we decide to go ahead with the plan, we can start drawing out everything we’ll need.  This is a rough, bare-bones idea of the surround.  There will be molding that will make it look more fancy, but for now, this gives a good idea.

What do you think?

I am off to gather more ideas and romanticize about couches.


AT Style Cure Day 11: Plan a Get-Together

Today on the Style Cure, the instructions are fairly simple.  Get invitations out to friends to show off your new cure.  Since we only have an invitation event once a year, I think we’ll just invite some friends over last minute.  Those types of parties end up being less of a hassle, and definitely give me less time to stress about the small details.

So instead, today I will continue where I was yesterday.  I showed Ben the inspiration board I put together, and he loved it!  This is both a good and a bad thing.  Good thing: I obviously love it too.  Bad thing: Ben usually keeps me grounded, and he is not doing his job this time!

I reevaluated my inspiration board.  I used the sofa, loveseat, and chair we already own, and built essentially the same look around that furniture.  In order to pull this off, I decided we would have to change the legs on the sofas and the chair.  When we are ready for a new leather sofa, it will be an easy transition.

As far as art goes, I am going to leave that responsibility in the hands of Ben.  He is a very talented graphic designer, and I know he is going to do a great job.  One of his originals (Bad Jazz Band) is below.

I’d love some feedback on which idea you like better.  Selling everything and going with this style, or re-purposing some of the furniture we have now.


AT Style Cure Day 10 – Shopping List

Moving onto day 10 of the Style Cure, it is time to make a shopping list and set a budget.  What I ended up doing was creating a brand new living room with almost nothing that we currently own, except some lighting, and possibly our solid wood bookshelf.

Here is the inspiration shopping list I have created.

This list puts me well over $2k, but if I can convince Ben to take the plunge, I could make a good chunk of the money back from the nice furniture we already have in our space.  See previous posts for pictures of current furniture.

So, whaddya think?

In other news, the first coat of stain is down on the steps, and it looks marvelous!  We did not have time to put up the Ben Moore Chantilly Lace sample paint.  That will happen tonight!


AT Style Cure Days 7-9

On the AT Style Cure calendar, this past weekend was dedicated to deep cleaning.  Since everything was already moved out and cleaned, there was nothing to clean, so I decided to make a mess of things.

Our steps, which are a part of the overall “view” when you walk into the living room, are very ugly.  They look like they should be leading down to a forgotten basement.  Since replacing them with oak to match our original floors was not an option, we decided to sand and stain the steps to try to match as best as we can.

First, we made the bubble.  After past mistakes of not sealing off work areas, we learned this step is essential.

I got in there and went to town with my orbital sander and some heavy grit sandpaper.  Whatever was on the steps took a lot of effort to get up.

Five hours of sanding later, we were ready for stain.

We picked up the Minwax color Dark Walnut, as I remembered walnut is what our floor guy used.  After the first couple steps, I knew it was wrong.  I called Ben up to have a look, he agreed.  Upon trying to move the can, I spilled.  I spilled everywhere.  I didn’t even take a picture because I was so mortified and deflated.  We went back and purchased the correct Minwax shade; Special Walnut.  I tested it on one of the spill steps, and it was a match!  Yesterday I put the bubble back up, and re-sanded the steps that were affected.  Despite the minor setback, tonight should be a very fun and productive night.  Ben is picking up our pint of Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace on his lunch today, and I will begin staining tonight.  Let’s hope we love the paint color.  I’ve been humming Jerry Lee Lewis ”Chantilly Lace” for a week straight now.  Ben has never heard the song, so he assumes I am making up songs about paint colors.

On the docket today is researching the decor pairing picked yesterday.  I picked white walls paired with a articulating wall lamp, so my job is to find the lamp, or a good idea of which lamp I am going to buy.  If I had no qualms with opening my wallet deep and wide, I would splurge on this guy or even this fella.  I am currently scouring Ebay.  Let’s hope I find something!


AT Style Cure Day 4, Day 5

On day four of Style Cure, it is all about removing yourself from the items that were in your space.  This is accomplished by creating what is called an outbox room.  An outbox room is a place to store everything from the room you are working on, so it is out of the way for a while.  The outbox room should be a room like a guest bedroom; somewhere you don’t visit often.  We chose my craft room.  In it’s half completed state, it is the perfect, out-of-the-way spot to house our living room stuff while we work it out.

One thing we realized after moving everything out, was that we don’t have much stuff.  This is a major accomplishment for me, because I have been known to furniture hoard, and even worse, knick knack hoard.  It made me realize that if we ever were to move, it would be quite easy, and would not require the help of anyone.  It also made us realize that we always want to keep it that way, simple.

Here is the living room with everything out of it.

I didn’t edit these photos at all, so you can get a good sense of the coloring in the room.  Even with ample light, it still feels yellow.  You’ll also notice that wretched cord box is still in there.  I am working on the solutions for that as well.  My ideas have spanned from something as simple as wiremold, to something more complicated like this or this.  What do you think?  That would leave me to figure out how to hide the internet routers.

Moving on to day five of Style Cure, we took all of our measurements and I created a layout using Autodesk Homestyler.  We only brought in the furniture we knew we were keeping for Style Cure, which was the sofa, loveseat, and wingback chair.  I could not find furniture on Homestyler to match the size of the ones we currently own, so the furniture is not completely to scale, nor is the fireplace.

You can see the dilemma we are having with the space.  It is very long, and when the couches are placed where they should be, we are left with an odd space behind the loveseat area.  We might try putting up a sofa table behind the loveseat, bur my fear is that we will still be left with a weird sliver of floor space.  Any layout suggestions are welcomed!
Well, that wraps up days four and five of Style Cure.  I am anxiously awaiting today’s Style Cure email, which will be along the lines of learning about color, and gathering more inspiration photos.  Yesterday after work, I stopped in at my local Benjamin Moore dealer, and grabbed about fifteen different swatches that were all some shade of white, so I am prepared for this day!

Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure

Follow along as we attempt “style cure”, the month-long challenge on Apartment Therapy’s website.
It wasn’t hard to decide which room to style cure in our 1946 brick home.  Wrapping up the fourth year of blissful home ownership, we can both say our living room has never felt complete.  The room began with white walls and stained trim.  Here are a couple pictures straight from the listing.

The walls have been painted a total of four times, and we’ve never seemed to get the color right.  Currently painted a warm cream, every day the walls appear more yellow and hard on the eyes.  Because we are a four animal household, our sofa set is always covered with sheets.  While they are initially always tucked nicely, it only lasts about five minutes before our dogs make themselves comfy.  They love a fresh sheet.  

The wall art and knick knacks are a mixture of thrift store finds and meaningful pieces.  Some things were put up out of necessity to fill a space.  The bookshelf and the blanket chest are both pieces that I really love, but I wonder if they are in the correct room.  

The curtains have actually been up since day one.  I still really like them because they let in a lot of light, while the texture gives us privacy from a busy road.  They are, however, beginning to age, as there are places on the bottom and top where the seams have begun to rip.  Also, did you notice that wire below the window?  That is a security system wire, just dangling there.

We mounted the TV above the fireplace to save space, and so far we love it.  We just need to address the cords.  Yeah, hideous.

Two floor lamps and recently installed recessed lighting provide adequate light in the room, but I am not in love with one of the lamps, and would not be sad to see it go.  

Here are a couple other views of our current living room. Abe loves a good perch, and Zoey appears to be confused; usual behavior.  

Here are the things we would like to cure:
1.  Take everything out and deep clean.  Our dogs and cats are hairy beasts, and the tumblehairs can get out of control sometimes.  Would love some suggestions for hair management!
2.  Paint the walls white.  I have read many-an-article on the different shades of white, and would love some suggestions.  Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White and Decorator’s White are on the list.
3.  Pick out the furniture that we want to go back into the space, and relocate or purge the rest.  This step will include stripping our current coffee table, and letting the natural wood color show.  Find something to house our DVD selection.  We have a very long living room, and would love to hear any layout or furniture ideas.
4.  Bring in artwork that has meaning to us.  Make sure none of the walls are nekkid.
5.  Try to go sheet-less on the couches, maybe assign throws where the dogs can lay.  (yeah right)
6.  Address the curtains.  Repair or replace.

7.  Secure the wire under the front window.
8.  Address the TV wires.  Figure out how to hide them.
9.  Replace floor lamp, and add smaller lamps to highlight specific areas.

We are a couple days behind on the style cure, so there may be multiple posts in one day.  Stick with us!  Tonight we will be setting up our outbox.  For more information on what an outbox is all about, go here.
Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, share your own style cure journey or blog!