Kitchen and Dining Room Before and After

My make-it-work kitchen makeover is finished! I have a slew of before and after photos for you. Some of the befores are from when I started this recent decorating wave and some are from when we first bought the house, to show how far this space has come. I try to capture the same angle whenever possible. Let’s dive in…

Kitchen and Dining Room After.jpg

So much better than where we started…

Kitchen and Dining Room Before.jpg

The kitchen cabinets were professionally painted Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White. They turned out exactly as I hoped. There’s plenty of color and pattern elsewhere throughout the first floor, so I’m happy to have this space simply feel clean, bright, and cohesive. An added bonus is that paint, wood filler, and caulk conceal the previous owner’s DIY installation flaws.

Before:Kitchen Island Vertical Before.jpg

After:Kitchen Island Vertical After.jpg

Now that the cabinets are white, I considered replacing the counter stools with something wood and/or woven (like these gorgeous leather ones from CB2), but we really like these metal ones. They’re indestructible: our cat can’t claw them, I use them as stepstools all the time, and the handle cutout on top is really nice for moving them around. They’re from Overstock; all of the sources are linked at the bottom of this post.

Before:Kitchen Before.jpg

After:Kitchen After.jpg

Sorry, it looks washed out here – it was a sunny day and I’m not a great photographer. I trust you come here for realness and not professional-grade photography!

Before:Kitchen Island Before 2.jpg

After:Kitchen Island After 2.jpg

Speaking of photography: do you know what’s impossible to photograph? A freaking window. But I love the way this area turned out. It feels so much more intentional now that there’s a bit of decoration and proper moulding (for details, see Kitchen Progress: Faucet, Hardware, and Window Trim).

Before:Kitchen Window Before.jpg

After:Kitchen Window Clock and Hanging Cutting Board.jpg

This is a north-facing window, which I covered in frosted film (the view isn’t great) – it’s relatively low-light, but it’s enough for a potted pothos and an assortment of plant cuttings that I’m rooting in water.

Kitchen Window Hanging Planter.jpg

Kitchen Window Sill.jpg

Speaking of plant cuttings: my mother always has plant starts on her kitchen window sill as well. She’s been reusing an old Eggling shell my brother gave her 20 years ago. So, in honor of my mom, I asked my friend Jenni to include a few eggshells when I commissioned these plant drawings from her.

Framed Plant Drawings.jpg

I know you’re supposed to remove the glass for better photographs, but it took a thousand hours to get this grid perfectly aligned and there was no way in hell I was going to take them down to do that.

Moving along, I bought a new dishwasher, refrigerator, and slide-in gas range from Abt. We love having the fridge on top, and we have an ice maker for the very first time! What luxury.

Kitchen with White Cabinets.jpg

Before:Kitchen Range Black.jpg

After:Kitchen Range White.jpg

You may remember that I debated getting a white vs. black vs. stainless range (see Kitchen Decision Making). Obviously, I landed on white, and I’m happy with it. The grate helps it blend in with the existing countertop. The control console looks a little like it belongs in a hospital surgical suite, but it’s fine. I do like that the knobs are on top, and I really like the way it looks from the front.

Before:Kitchen Island Cabinet Before.jpg

After:Kitchen Island Cabinet After.jpg

You already saw this coffee + toaster nook in a previous post: Kitchen Progress: Butcher Block Shelf.

Before:Kitchen Cart Before 2

After:Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf over Trashcans

And this door makeover was documented here: Kitchen Progress: New Door, Trim, and Threshold Tile.

Before:Kitchen Door Before.jpg

After:Glass Door with Ceramic Tile Transom

Moving on to the dining area, which is adjacent to the kitchen. I’m using the same rug, chairs, and table from our last place (seen in our Apartment Therapy tour). The light fixture is the same as the apartment as well – that’s one thing still on my to do list. I need to have the junction box relocated above the table before I buy and install a permanent fixture.

Before:Dining Room Corner Before.jpg

After:Dining Room Corner After.jpg

I found the landscape lithograph prints for $5 each at an antique store in my hometown (Jefferson City, Missouri). The moulding around the dining room was installed by a previous owner.

Landscape Prints.jpg

The big splurge in this room is the Danish corner cabinet, purchased from SharkGravy.

Danish Corner Cabinet.jpg

That ZZ plant is turning into a beast – it’s almost overgrown this space. To the right, you can see a wall-mounted bottle opener and cap collector, which I installed at our last place as well (see Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener).

A couple more shots of the cabinet, because I love it so much.

Danish Corner Cabinet 2.jpg

Danish Corner Cabinet Key.jpg

We keep bottles on top – shout out to my sister-in-law Kateri for this vintage Kentucky Tavern decanter. No one needs to know there’s Fireball in there.

Danish Cabinet Bar.jpg

Dining Room After.jpg

One parting shot. I’ll do a follow-up post to share some details and decisions I want to call out. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to address them in that post!

Dining Room with Midcentury Table.jpg

Sources:

For more information about this project, check out these related posts:

Kitchen Progress: New Door, Trim, and Threshold Tile

Yup, I’m still plugging away at the kitchen! I’m wrapping up trim, and then I’ll be able to do After shots of the whole room for you. But I wanted to dedicate a post to this kitchen door project because it’s been a lot of work and it made a big impact.

The door I’m talking about is the one seen in this old photo. It leads to our enclosed back porch, which we use as a mudroom.

Kitchen Island Before.JPG

There wasn’t anything wrong with the door, but it always bothered me that we had no visibility into our backyard from our kitchen/dining room. We put so much work into the space last year (see Backyard Patio, Painting, and Landscaping) – I wanted to be able to see it from inside!

Also, as you can see in this photo, there was SO MUCH natural light we were missing out on. This wall faces east. I’d come downstairs in the morning and the sun would be streaming through this little pet door. (The pet door just lets our cat into the mudroom – not outside.)

Kitchen Door Before.JPG

Home Depot and Lowe’s have affordable half-lite glass doors, but everything available off-the-shelf has a grid over the glass, like this one. I had to do a custom order for plain glass without a grille. Spending more money to get something simpler is my M.O., it seems.

I went with a Jeld-Wen Smooth-Pro Fiberglass Exterior Door from Home Depot. It cost $475. It could have been cheaper if I had been patient enough to wait for a sale (which I usually am!), but with a 4-8 week lead time, I just wanted to get the ball rolling.

Here’s the newly-installed door, with Lola checking out his newly-installed cat door.

Newly Installed Kitchen Door.JPG

I switched the way the door swings: it was a right-hand inswing and now it’s a left-hand inswing. I referenced this Home Depot door handing guide a million times to make sure I ordered the correct one.

Door Handing Guide.jpg

This left-hand inswing flows better with our mudroom’s exterior door (which is also a left-hand inswing), and it feels like a more natural path to our kitchen. Since switching the inswing made for a more complicated installation, I chose to hire a handyman to install it. That cost $295. Not cheap, but worth it to me. Thankfully, the rest of this project was DIY and affordable!

I tore off the trim and replaced it, which is what I’ve been doing to all the entryways on the first floor.

Kitchen Door Trim Progress.jpg

And then I tackled Baby’s First Tile Job. This glossy beige tile was not adding anything good to the space.

Kitchen Door Tile Before.jpg

It took fewer than 5 minutes to demo.

Kitchen Door Tile Demo.jpg

Removing the tile revealed a couple of divots (like you see below) in the old concrete threshold. I patched those with Quikrete.

Concrete Transom.jpg

I used EliteTile Retro Glazed Porcelain Hex Mosaic in Matte White. When I bought this tile for our half-bathroom (see Half-Bathroom Before and After), I ordered enough with this project in mind. I don’t have a wet saw, so I cut the tiles by hand using tile nippers. It wasn’t the most enjoyable 2 hours of my life, but it was far from the worst (here’s looking at you, La La Land).

Tile Cutting Nippers.jpg

The cut tile edge was pretty rough; sanding smoothed them out.

Cut Tile Before Sanding.jpg

Cut Tile After Sanding.jpg

Finally, it was time to lay tile. I won’t go into process details because there are tons of how-to guides available online. Here’s the tile after I adhered it, before I grouted it. I used a Schluter metal tile edging trim for the exposed edge.

Ceramic Tile Pre-Grout.jpg

Here’s the tile after I grouted it, when I was in the “I’ve made a huge mistake” phase. I had no idea what I was doing!

Ceramic Tile Grout

I just kept sponging and sponging until I made it through.

White Hex Ceramic Tile with Black Grout.jpg

Lola may not be impressed, but I am super happy with how my first tile job turned out.

Ceramic Tile with Pet Door.jpg

So, now, back to the Before:

Kitchen Door Before.JPG

And the After:

Glass Door with Ceramic Tile Transom.jpg

The first day we had the new door installed, Jarrod and I were admiring the view and we saw our very first goldfinch in our backyard. There had surely been others, but we had never seen them because we couldn’t see the yard. Now we see them all the time back there!

Upcoming posts: full kitchen makeover, and our awful mudroom which isn’t so awful anymore.

Kitchen Progress: Butcher Block Shelf

Shortly after we moved in, I bought a used IKEA cart from a friend and that’s been our toaster and coffee station ever since.

Kitchen Cart Before 2.jpg

It did the job well and looked okay, but it was too narrow to balance out the width of the cabinet above it. I knew I’d want to replace it with something in a walnut finish after we had the cabinets painted white (more on that in a future post, and you can check out my saved Instagram Story.)

When I first started thinking about a replacement, I was focused on finding another multiple-shelf cart because that’s what we’ve had for so long. I do this sometimes: get focused on one option – thinking it’s THE solution – at the expense of considering other routes. Once I realized A) we have plenty of storage elsewhere and B) the trash and recycling would fit well here, everything clicked.

Before purchasing anything, I installed a test shelf using supplies I had on hand to make sure Jarrod and I liked this setup.

Trial Balloon Shelf.JPG

This trial balloon immediately made the kitchen flow so much better. Having the trashcans here makes the basement door much less crowded – it was fine for the most part before, but awkward/cramped when carrying things (e.g. laundry) downstairs.

Crowded Basement Door.JPG

By moving them, the door is more easily accessible and the trashcans are aligned with our work areas. It’s a straight, natural path to throw things away, as opposed to turning right around the counter.

I ordered these heavy-duty cast-iron brackets from House of Antique Hardware. I bought this butcher block countertop from Menard’s, which I cut to fit. While I love the look of the IKEA KARLBY countertop I used for our two-person desk, that surface is a thin veneer over particleboard. Jarrod has a major coffee catastrophe at least once a quarter (e.g. turning on the coffee maker without the carafe in place to receive the brewed coffee), so we need a solid wood surface that can take abuse and be refinished down the road.

Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf.jpg

I did sample swatches of two Varathane stain colors: American Walnut and Dark Walnut. American Walnut looked a little too country.

Varathane Stain - American Walnut.JPG

Dark Walnut looked a little too flat brown.

Varathane Stain - Dark Walnut.JPG

So, I ended up doing a 50/50 blend. I used Minwax’s Pre-Stain wood conditioner before applying the stain. This was my first time using Varathane stain and I really liked it – it’s less runny than Minwax stain and the pigmentation seemed richer.

Butcher Block Shelf Stain.JPG

I sealed the wood using four coats of Waterlox, following the steps Yellow Brick Home describes. Afterward, I drilled a hole for the appliance cords. (I knew that if I drilled the hole first, it would lead to a lot of messy drips.) I applied stain to the inside of the hole using a paper towel. In the end, you don’t even see it.

Cord Hole Drill.JPG

The dustbuster moved to the adjacent mudroom, the cat food station is now tucked next to the sink, and the cookware is in cabinets or the under-oven drawer (our previous range didn’t offer storage because the burner was in the bottom drawer).

Here’s what it looks like now:

Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf over Trashcans.jpg

I used this J-channel raceway to route the cords. It’s a little larger than other options, but I like that the design offers easy access to the cords – e.g. for removing the appliances when Jarrod has his quarterly coffee catastrophe. I painted it the same color as our walls (Irish Mist).

Kitchen Ledge with Small Appliances.jpg

The shelf height allows the can lids to open nearly entirely – at least 90%, which is totally sufficient for throwing stuff away. (The shelf is 36″ high, same as our counters – it just looks higher because of the camera perspective.) Ergonomically, the most important part of this placement is keeping the trashcans pulled toward the front of the shelf. If they’re pushed to the back, it’s less comfortable to use. Below, you can see how they align with the adjacent wall.

Kitchen Trashcans.jpg

There’s a secret trick: I installed a simple 5-inch deep ledge behind the trashcans to keep them in place and perfectly aligned. It also hides the cords and keeps them off of the ground.

Kitchen Appliance Cord Concealment.jpg

The ledge is hidden unless you’re crouched looking at it from this back angle, which is not where folks usually hang out.

Ledge Behind Trashcans.jpg

Shelf Over Kitchen Trashcans.jpg

The accent lamp adds some warmth to the space, especially in the evenings. The art is a vintage paint-by-numbers I found at an antique store in Normal, Illinois on our way to my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. I’m still deciding on the frame – I think I like that it’s a little offbeat/ugly.

Kitchen Shelf Styling.jpg

The basket holds our reusable napkins, which I love. They’re smaller than the average cloth napkin, absorbent, and perfect for daily use. I bought our first batch in 2013; in 2017, I replaced them with a new batch and the old batch is now used as rags. Five stars, highly recommend!

Butcher Block Kitchen Shelf.jpg

I’m still wrapping up the final details on the rest of this makeover. I’ll be back with a couple more kitchen posts once I do!

Kitchen Progress: Faucet, Hardware, and Window Trim

I dove into my kitchen makeover this past month and knocked out three things that already have me liking the space a lot more: a new faucet, cabinet hardware, and window moulding.

Faucet

Our previous faucet had a leak that was getting progressively worse: the water would only shut off when the handle was turned to a precise 9 o’clock position. Also, the faucet head was low which – when combined with our rather shallow sink – meant dishwashing space was kinda cramped.

Black Faucet Before

To replace it, I bought this Delta Trinsic faucet in stainless steel. It’s really nice and was easy to install. The feature that sold me on this one is the MagnaTite pull-down head: it has magnets, so it connects really securely to the faucet neck and, because magnets are magic, that connection won’t weaken over time.

arctic-stainless-delta-pull-down-faucets-9159-ar-dst-64_1000

You’ll have to stick around until the end of this post for faucet After photos…

Hardware

As I mentioned in my Kitchen Decision Making post, I ordered Amerock’s Blackrock knobs and pulls. Five of the drawers already had pulls, so I was able to simply swap out those.

Kitchen Drawer Pull Replacement

The other nine drawers had these tiny pull tabs – you could only grab them with your pincer fingers. (Thanks to this guy’s blog post for addressing the pincher/pincer word choice issue for me.)

Drawer Tab Pulls

The pulls weren’t practical, especially on the giant drawers laden with heavy cookware. Thanks to Jarrod for hand modeling the pincer issue for me.

Pincer Fingers.GIF

I bought a hardware installation template set and neither worked for my needs. The pull template wasn’t wide enough and the knob template didn’t have a hole option that aligned with where I wanted to place the knobs. D’oh. So, I improvised.

To install the pulls, I removed the front from one of the drawers that originally had a pull and used that as a template for the other drawers. I aligned the tops, made sure it was centered, clamped them together, and drilled.

Drawer Pull Template

I kept it simple and used the same size pulls on all of the drawers. It’s narrow enough to not look ridiculous on the smaller drawers, and wide enough to not get lost on the bigger drawers. EZPZ.

For the knobs, I made a simple template using scrap wood.

Cabinet Knob Template

Window Trim

In addition to my miter saw and drill, I used three new tools for the first time on my window trim project, so I thought I’d round them up quickly here.

Table saw: I finally bought my first table saw this year. It’s the final frontier of saws for me. Despite regularly using several other power saws, a table saw has always seemed daunting. I purchased this Dewalt 745S – Home Depot offers this “Special Buy” that packages the DW745 with a stand, which is indeed a good deal. It sat unopened in our basement for weeks until I discovered Steve Ramsey on YouTube. I don’t usually like how-to videos (I prefer to read instructions) but this 7 Things To Get You Started Using a Table Saw video is great: it gave me the confidence I needed to safely use my new saw.

Kreg Jig: Confession: I’ve had a Kreg Jig kit since 2013 and have never used it until now. Again, I watched a Steve Ramsay video – Beginner’s Guide to Pocket Hole Joinery – and then used it to join the wood for my window stool.

Joined Window Stool

Brad nailer: Whenever I see bloggers installing trim, they’re usually using a pancake compressor and gun (like trim pros Yellow Brick Home), so I assumed I’d have to invest in that as well. But I discovered this Ryobi AirStrike, which uses the same battery system as my drill (which I love) and my string trimmer (which I hate). This brad nailer worked great on my window trim and it’s made me more excited (read: less full-of-dread) about replacing the rest of the first floor moulding.

Now that we’ve addressed the tools, here’s the order in which I tackled the window trim.

1. I did a dry-fit of all the component parts, cutting everything to size with my table saw and miter saw. One tool I don’t have is a router, but I wanted a rounded edge for my window sill. This Alexandria Moulding Stool—available by the foot in-store—did the trick. It’s not deep enough for my window well (our bungalow’s exterior walls are built with two layers of bricks!), so I attached another piece of wood cut to the appropriate depth as shown above.

This picture of me dry-fitting everything cracks me up because a) Where is my head? and b) Those shoes are hideous. Fleet Feet (a local shoe store) gives you sass if you express concern about aesthetics of athletic shoes instead of fit, which is how I ended up with these froggers.

Headless Horseman

2. Once I confirmed everything fit properly, it all went back to the basement for a first coat of paint.

Window Trim Painting

2. Then it was time to install for real. The window stool went in first; it’s nailed and glued in place.

Window Stool Installation

2. The side trim pieces (AKA casing) went up next. It’s simple moulding from Home Depot.

Window Trim Side Casing

3. For the header (AKA architrave), I used this Interior Primed MDF Window and Door Casing (Model #538A-MDF8) from Lowe’s. It’s all one piece, making it easier to install – I just needed to cut the return pieces. (See this post from Ana White for more details.)

Window Trim Header

4. I used a piece of cove moulding as a simple apron below the stool. I wanted something under the sill to make the window look more finished, but it couldn’t be very wide because it would further accentuate the slight slant of the counter backsplash. My trim is perfectly level and square, but everything around it isn’t!

Window Trim Cove Moulding

I cut the cove moulding at an outward angle to make the ends look more polished.

Kitchen Window Apron

5.  The window well is more rhombus than square, so I used backer rod and caulk to fill in the unavoidable gaps on the sides of the stool.

Window Sill Backer Rod

Note: ideally the stool would be flush with the bottom of the window, but that wasn’t an option here. You only notice that it’s raised when you’re looking at it from this angle, and why are you looking at it from this angle?

Window Sill Installation

Here’s everything all caulked, patched, and painted, along with the new faucet and hardware:

Kitchen Window Trim After

Just like with my remodeled bathroom window trim, now this window looks like a feature of the room – not an afterthought.

Kitchen Window Before

Kitchen Window Trim

So glad to get rid of those stainless bar pulls. And I don’t have to worry about patching the holes they left behind because the cabinet painter will do it: yessss.

Up next: floor refinishing, then appliance delivery, then cabinet paint. (And art, and lighting, and more!)

How I Filed TV Show Filming Rental Income with TurboTax

In 2016 and 2017, we rented our home to a friend’s production company for the filming of a television show. This extra income was reported to the IRS by the production company, so I figured I should account for it when I filed our taxes, but I had no idea how. It took some research to learn what should be declared and how to actually do it in TurboTax. I did this in 2016 successfully, and filed the same way for my 2017 taxes, so I thought I’d document here.

Note: this isn’t tax advice! Well, obviously, it kinda is. But I am not a tax professional. I’m just sharing what worked for me to help out anyone Googling for the topic. This content won’t be of much interest for my usual blog readers – to make up for it, I’ll end the post with some behind-the-scenes TV show info.

Non-taxable Income and the 14 Day Rule

Most importantly: this is the process for filing taxes for income from a rental for fewer than 15 days. The 14-day rental rule exempts you from owing taxes on short-term rentals of your home.

IRS Publication 527 states: “If you rent property that you also use as your home and you rent it less than 15 days during the tax year, don’t include the rent you receive in your income…”  (This is supposedly sometimes called the “Masters Provision” because so many homeowners rent out their properties in Georgia for the Masters Golf Tournament.)

The tax professional I spoke to said – since the production company reported the money to the IRS – “if you do not put this information on your tax return there is a 100% chance that you will get a notice from the IRS.”

What the 1099-MISC Tax Form Looks Like

If you rent your home for a television show or a movie, you’ll probably receive a 1099-MISC tax form for Miscellaneous Income. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 9.13.12 PM.png

The amount you were paid for the rental of your property should be in Box 1: Rents. The first form I received had my rental income in Box 7: Nonemployee compensation, which was a mistake. The tax pro I spoke to pointed this out and I was able to get a corrected form from the production company’s accounting firm.

How to File with TurboTax

Last year, I spoke with a TurboTax support representative who advised me on the following steps. I took screenshots this year so I could illustrate the process.

1. Go to the Income section of TurboTax

2. Go to Less Common Income, and select Miscellaneous Income

TurboTax Less Common Income.png

3. Under Miscellaneous Income, select Other reportable income

TurboTax Misc Income.png

4. On the Other Taxable Income screen, enter a Description. Based on my conversations with TurboTax and a tax professional, I chose to enter: 14 day rent rule – Production Company Name 47-1234567. (I used the real production company name and federal income number (TIN), as found on the 1099 – I’m just not using it here!)

I file taxes jointly with my husband, so both of our names were listed. The check was made out to me, so I entered the income next to my name. Use the amount found in Box 1: Rents of the 1099-MISC form. (Again: the screenshot is a fictitious amount.)

TurboTax Other Taxable Income.png

5. Then, click Add Another Income Item. Use the same Description as before, but this time use the negative version of your rental amount: e.g. 1,000. Doing this shows TurboTax/the IRS that you reported the income but that the income is not taxable.

TurboTax Misc Income Summary.png

After you complete this step, you should notice that your estimated refund/money owed calculation in TurboTax was not impacted by the miscellaneous income entry.

When you file your taxes and download your official Form 1040 Individual Income Tax Return document from TurboTax, you’ll see a note in Line 21 that states See Line 21 Statement.

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At the end of your federal return document, TurboTax will have added a supporting schedule for Line 21 – Other Income.

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That’s it! Our taxes are otherwise pretty straight-forward, and this was an easy addition. If this info helps out one person, I’ll be happy.

Our House on Easy

As I mentioned in a previous post – Let’s All Watch Easy on Netflix – our house was used for a few episodes of the Netflix show Easy. Here are some screengrabs!

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That’s the kitchen I’m currently working on (see Kitchen Decision Making). I wonder what color range Aya Cash would prefer…

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My friend Jenni drew those plants on the wall. She also makes beautiful collages and hilarious dog zines. The show’s production designer framed and hung the drawings and they’ve stayed up ever since. Filmmakers have to get permission to use any art that appears on screen, so several of my friends and artists I’ve purchased from signed release forms for the show.

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I love how sunny our living room looks here. But I feel bad Aya had to sit on our disgusting sofa for not one but two seasons of this show. I’m pretty sure they covered it with a blanket to conceal all the cat claw damage. We’ve since had it reupholstered.

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Here, Evan Jonigkeit is saying “Can you believe how awesome this Danish corner cabinet is?!” And Aya replies “I know! Shark Gravy has such great stuff!” j/k, j/k. You can see my wall-mounted bottle opener there between them, and a glimpse of our entryway. Here’s a better look at the cabinet:

Danish Corner Cabinet.jpg

This vintage cabinet was my first major furniture purchase for our new house, and it’s by far my favorite. Tonight I noticed another vintage corner cabinet on a different Netflix show: Princess Margaret’s rad new pad in The Crown. I like mine better!

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That’s all for now. Good luck filing your taxes, whether or not they include filming rental income!