Getting the kitchen functional (ish)

This is definitely not a post with pretty pictures.

Initially, I was going to just fashion some sort of extension to the existing counters and then cover them all in a concrete veneer, as so many bloggers are wont to do. This idea got vetoed quickly as it was a dumb one. So then I needed to find a cheap affordable counter replacement. I used IKEA’s butcher block in my parents basement kitchen before, and we got an 8′ length to make a shared desk for our Jersey City condo, so it seemed like the obvious choice.

Ikea butcher block counters in Beech
Ikea butcher block counters in Beech



When we made the desk, I was pretty confident that we had gotten oak, but when I was browsing IKEA’s website, I only saw Beech and Birch options. I was on a tight schedule the day I picked these up, so I ran in said “two beech counter tops please!” and ran back out. I should have gotten oak. Its more or less fine but oak would have been better.

I was also really annoyed at how easily the furniture pick up guys assumed that I couldn’t get the counters into our Honda Element by myself so I didn’t ask them to help me. I nearly died getting them into the car, but I did it:


But that’s where my solo-day-off success story ends. I thought I could get the old counters out myself but I definitely could not. My dad and brothers came to help me that weekend.


When we dry fit the new counters, we realized the also-formica backsplash had to come out as it was pushing the counters forward a good inch+. Unfortunately, they ran up behind the range vent hood and it proved significantly more difficult than anticipated to get that disconnected. So we ran to the store to buy an oscillating saw to slice that part off from the rest of the backsplash. And thats how far we got the day before move in:

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The next day, while Bryan, his dad and the movers were packing the truck in Jersey City, my family and I were at the house, trying to get as much done as possible.


Then we got them cut to size and secured to the walls and cabinet bases. The part you see over hanging here was to cover the dishwasher extension.


Next we had to cut the hole for the sink into the counters AND the base cabinets. I was really trying to make IKEA’s farmhouse sink work because it is so affordable and such a great look, but it only comes in 36″ and 24″ widths and our sink cabinet is 30″. I thought that meant I would have to settle for a normal sink as all other farmhouse sinks are SO EXPENSIVE but then I found this Kohler number (which was still pricey but not as bad as the other options I had found):

Kohler Vault Top Mount Sink
Kohler Vault Top Mount Sink

This sink is just over 29″ wide, so there was going to be some tiny gaps left after we cut the faux drawer front out, but we figured we could fill that with tiny decorative cove molding, painted to match the cabinet frames.

It came with a really good template that made cutting the holes fairly straight forward.

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My little brother Pete was doing the bulk of this work. He squashed his hand when he dropped the sink into place and it hurt really bad. Sorry about that…. But. Thanks Pete!

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After it was siliconed and secured into place, my dad helped us hook up the faucet and the drain.

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At the end of move-in day, we had counters and a kitchen sink with a working faucet!


And our living room looked like this:

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I cannot thank our families enough for all the help they provided us at this time. Bryan’s dad helped so much with the move, my dad and brothers were immensely helpful with getting the kitchen into a workable state, and my mom came and helped me clean for days – both at the house and at the condo. We literally wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. <3