Sunday, December 17, 2017

the kitchen

The last two months have been pretty chaotic (will that ever not be the case?). Much of the chaos and busyness is due to two factors - ok, really three. 1) Jon has been traveling a lot. 2) We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen. 3) We have a toddler.

When we purchased our new home in June, we planned to eventually remodel the kitchen. It wasn't terrible, but it was outdated, starting to show its age, and lacked some functionality. I was actually really glad when we found a house that checked all of our boxes, was move-in ready, but still needed a kitchen renovation. When we were house hunting, it was always disappointing to walk into a newly renovated house that wasn't my taste. It would have been hard to rip out a basically brand-new kitchen just because I didn't like the style. However, I had no problem saying goodbye to one that was nearing 17 years.

We planned to live in the home for a year or so before we tackled the kitchen renovation. We were targeting a spring/summer 2018 project...but then I found out I was pregnant. The thought of having a toddler, a newborn, and no kitchen was less than ideal so we fast-tracked the project and started looking into design/build companies pretty much as soon as the moving boxes were unpacked.

August and September were full of design meetings, builder measurements, and shopping for countertops, lighting, appliances, etc. We had to make quite a few decisions in a relatively short amount of time. Luckily, we had a great team helping us out. Our project manager guided us through layout decisions, cabinet ordering, and decision deadlines, but I operated as the designer. All of the aesthetic decisions were made by me with the occasional assist by Jon. It was really fun to play designer, but also a lot of pressure to get everything right! We spent several Saturdays picking out tile, looking at quartz slabs, choosing lighting and hardware, browsing sink styles and faucets, and comparing appliances.

By far, the hardest part was choosing the cabinet paint colors. I knew I wanted gray cabinets and a navy blue island. Because we were ordering custom cabinets, I basically had the entire universe of paint to choose from. I also only had a few days to make the decision. PANIC! It was pretty overwhelming to be responsible for the color of non-returnable cabinets. I think cabinet delivery day was the most nerve-racking because I was terrified of seeing the final result. [Yes, we had color samples I approved, but who can really trust a tiny wood sample?!]

Thank goodness, I'm happy to report that I absolutely love them! The cabinets are exactly what I envisioned. In fact, everything came together just how I wanted. I love the brass accents against the navy blue. I'm also glad I went with gray cabinets over white (there was some peer pressure to just go with white). I like the softer contrast between the navy and gray. I think white would have been too stark. So far, I don't have any regrets. More than one person has commented that the kitchen looks just like me, and I think that's probably the best compliment possible.

While the design phase was exhausting, the actual renovation process was remarkably easy. We somehow managed to stay on time and (mostly) on budget. There were no major issues or problems during the renovation. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but I'm grateful it was smooth sailing. They did great work, and went out of their way to make sure we were as inconvenienced as little as possible. They roped everything off with thick plastic sheeting so dust stayed in and Charlie stayed out. Charlie was curious, of course, but he was largely happy to observe from a distance. His propensity to be shy around strangers worked in our favor in this case.

Demo day was October 16, and they were finished right after Thanksgiving. The worst part was being without half of our main floor during those weeks. While the kitchen was out of commission, we set up our table and fridge in the sitting room. Luckily, we did also have use of our butler's pantry, which meant we had a couple of cabinets for storage, a small countertop and a tiny sink available during the renovation. We ate a lot of crockpot meals (thanks in large part to my mom who stocked our freezer), used paper plates, and made good use of our toaster and microwave.

Now, for the best part. Before, during and after photos. Enjoy!

Demo Day!
The plastic fortress

Our temporary "kitchen"

And dining room 

Somebody really loved all the boxes that were delivered

After the electrical work was done and the floors were newly refinished

Even better than boxes: having our couch in the entryway.
Luckily the couch only had to live here for a couple of days while the floors were being refinished. 

Cabinet delivery!!!

This looks like a great spot to watch Sesame Street, Mom. 

We gained a ton of storage, more useful pull-outs and interior cabinet features, a much bigger island, and an overall much improved layout. The dishwasher moved to the other side of the sink and now I have two ovens (one is located in the island). And if you are wondering where the microwave is, it's a microwave drawer also hiding in the island. I'm also really thrilled to have a pantry. It's not huge, but considering there wasn't a dedicated food storage space pre-renovation, I'll take it. Next to the pantry is a custom spice rack that I designed - it just really makes my heart happy. Oh, and I can't forget my little "garage" where I can keep my mixer and toaster plugged in and ready to go, but out of sight. :)


After photos: The Newborn Lens (the design/build firm paid for professional photos for their promotional use, and I get to use them too!).
Lighting: Schoolhouse Electric 
Hardware: Schoolhouse Electric 
Faucet: Newport Brass
Stools: West Elm
Cabinet Paint: Benjamin Moore Nimbus & Old Navy 
Quartz: Polarstone 
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

happy halloween

This year Charlie was an elf for halloween. It seemed like a good choice for a little redhead. It was also his first time trick or treating at a few houses on our block. He's still too little to understand halloween (hence the reason we limited our stops to friends and neighbors we know), but we all had fun being outside on a nice evening enjoying our new street. It was almost like a big block party!

Charlie was mostly curious, and maybe a little skeptical, about the whole thing. He sometimes tried to put the candy right back in the bowl. Other times he conveniently stuffed it in his apron pocket. But, he did love running around outside - at one point trying to take off with a herd of bigger kids.

You never know what you are going to get with a toddler, but luckily, he didn't mind wearing his costume - it helped that parts of it were pinned down. Perhaps the biggest miracle was that he actually kept the hat on for several minutes. Of course his favorite part of all was sampling a few pieces of his candy, which we mostly used as a bribe to get him to sit still for some photos. :)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

charlie's first haircut

A few weeks ago on a Friday, we found out Meatball's gender. The next day, we took Charlie to get his first haircut. I definitely do not recommend doing so many emotional things in such a short amount of time.

I wasn't really ready, but I don't think I ever would have been. I guess I just figured we would have to do it eventually so I just decided to rip off the bandaid one Saturday. I suppose a big brother does need a big boy haircut.

Charlie did great during the haircut. Mama, however, was way more traumatized. In a span of a few minutes, he went from being my baby to looking like he was ready to go off to college. I'm fine now that I've a had a few weeks to get used to the idea. I see photos of his long curls now and can't really believe I let it grow that long. It also helps that he still has some curls left - especially on humid days. :)

Charlie loved sitting in the little car chair, and he was perfectly content to eat his raisins and watch Sesame Street while the stylist worked her magic. She was very efficient and quick - this was clearly not her first rodeo. The whole thing took all of 5-10 minutes, and they were kind enough to collect a few locks for me to keep in his baby book, which is great because he's probably never getting his hair cut again.

Bye, bye curls!
This place has trucks?! I like it already.

Raisins for the win

Will sit still for raisins

All done. Mama even managed to smile. 

Don't worry, I still got my chubby baby cheeks. 

I spy some surviving curls. :)
Sunday, October 15, 2017

it's a(nother) boy!!!

Exciting news here at the Hardin house. Charlie is going to be a big brother! Baby boy the second, affectionately known as "Meatball," will be arriving in mid-February. I'm feeling very grateful, a little overwhelmed, and hopelessly outnumbered. 

I was convinced it was a girl this time because this pregnancy feels different. I should have known my lot in life would be keeping adult Jon and two mini Jons in check. Lord help us. The good news is that I have absolutely loved everything about being a boy mom. I'm not even sure I'd know what to do with a girl at this point! Charlie is kind to not play favorites too often, but there is no doubt he LOVES his mama. If I leave the room, even just a few minutes, he lights up when I return and exclaims "MAMA!" And yes, I melt every time. And yes, I hope my boys will always think their mama hung the moon. 

Naturally, Charlie has no idea what's about to happen. The word "baby" isn't even in our vocabulary yet, and the looming transition is a bit daunting. We recently gave him a doll I've had since childhood in hopes of endearing him to this whole baby idea. He took one look at the doll and, no surprise, proceeded to throw it across the room. Perfect.

I'm so excited for Charlie to have a brother so close in age. I hope their age proximity will help create a sweet and lasting friendship....assuming Meatball can survive Charlie's affections, which I'm guessing will come mostly in the form of smothering, slobbery kisses, and sharing (i.e., throwing toys at him). Hopefully we can master the meaning of the word "gentle" before February!