Living in Upheaval

Marian ParsonsKitchen, My House53 Comments

I only have a small idea of what it’s like to live through a kitchen renovation, but I know enough to know that it’s pretty disruptive to a household.  One of my dear friends had to gut her entire kitchen (down to the studs and floor joists!)  I remember her balancing across the joists with a platter of sliced watermelon to feed volunteers who came to help with the kitchen project.  That woman fed a family of six with a microwave, griddle and crock pot for weeks.  Amazing.

Replacing my back splash, counters, sink, faucet and range hood pales in comparison to the upheaval they went through.  Even so, I want to keep things as normal as possible and restrict the number of days I have to wash dishes in the bathroom sink.

Here’s the way we’re making the changes easier to live through…

First off, we loosened the counters, but left them sitting in place.  We were able to slide them out of the way to tile behind them, so the butcher block counters will butt up against them when installed.




The only exception was the counter where the sink is located.  We have to remove the sink in order to loosen the counters and I didn’t want the dish-washing-in-the-bathroom-sink scenario mentioned above.  So, I tiled to a couple of inches above the current counter and will finish the tiling when we’re ready to install the new counters.  We’ll still be without a kitchen sink, but this way it’s only for 2-3 days and not 2-3 weeks.



I know some of the perfectionists out there are getting twitchy at those crooked lines, but just wait until it’s grouted and caulked.  It’s going to look fabulous.



 I also need to prime and paint the new window casing.

I went with the polished tile and I’m so glad I did.  It’s the Oriental White Marble mini-herringbone mosaic tile from Amazon.  The Oriental White tile is very similar to Carrara marble, but there’s not as much gray in it and there are some warm veins.  The shiny surface catches the sunlight and it’s beautiful.  I can’t wait to see it against the wood.


Oh…and I’m going with white grout.  I bought gray, but I think the white will better camouflage the mistakes.


In addition to exchanging the grout, I need to get some longer screws for our outlets.

(It cracks me up when I put a watermark on a picture like that.)


The contents of my counter are currently on my dining room table and that’s the biggest disruption to the household at the moment…


…which is pretty painless compared to balancing on floor joists with a platter of watermelon.

Speaking of all of that stuff – I’ve always had a lot of stuff on my counters to hide the lack of a back splash and counters I wasn’t in love with.  I think I’m going to let a lot of this stuff go now in order to simplify and let the tile and wood shine.  It’ll go in the pile I’ve started for the Lucketts Antique Fair.

 And, I’m going to stick with what’s become a Lucketts tradition and sell my dining room set there as well.  I’ve had this one for almost two years and I think that’s a record.

PS – The link to the tile is an Amazon Affiliate link.

Living in Upheaval

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53 Comments on “Living in Upheaval”

  1. I’m certainly no perfectionist, but I don’t see any obvious mistakes? You did a great job tackling a complicated project and I’m impressed! The tile is just beautiful. Can’t wait to see the next step.


  2. Funny how you can make even an unfinished project look beautiful! Love the things on your table, the colors are wonderful, esp. the green.
    Happy grouting!

  3. Is that carrera marble? I just put that in my bathroom and the guy at the tile store said white grout doesn’t look very good so went with a light gray. Very happy with the result. Just a thought. Everything looks awesome!

  4. We just replaced our countertops and had to do without a sink for a couple of days. I thought I was going to pull my hair out. I have no idea how people go weeks with only a microwave in the living room and washing their dishes in the tub.

    Your tile looks great so far!

  5. Even the clutter on your dining room table looks stylish. 🙂 Just wanted to say that I love the timing of your posts. I think you write a lot of your posts very early in the morning. Add 6 or 7 hours to that and it’s around lunchtime in Western Europe. It’s always nice to read your post in between bites!

  6. The tile looks so pretty. a suggestion. …test sample the grout on some spare tile. The white might make the tile look dirty, or vice versa. As you well know since you’re the expert on colors, there are a thousand shades of white. Speaking of dining room sets, it’s been almost two years since I bought yours and it FINALLY came out of storage this past weekend. It should be in place by the end of next weekend. I don’t know if I’m tremendously relieved or just plain exhausted with this project. I do know I can’t wait to play with my china and glassware.

  7. Love, love the beautiful tile and that you keep it “real” for those of us with kids, budgets, etc. Can’t wait to see the finished kitchen:-)

  8. It’ will be lovely when it’s done! We are talking about remodeling our kitchen (It has to be seen to be believed!). You have to have nerves of steel to start any home project. My hat is off to you Marian! Happy rennovating!

  9. I’m so impressed with the way you dig it and get a project done. Especially when you are heading to Fayetteville Arkansas on Friday. So wish I could have traveled up there to the workshop (3 1/2 hours away) you are hosting….timing and now weather. Maybe next time. You inspired so many!

  10. Love your tile Marian!! Now I’m going to get my silver pitcher and put wooden spoons in it…lol Thanks for so much inspiration

  11. I too thought the table upheaval looked great. I actually thought it was a photo for a magazine before I read the entire post! You have inspired me to put the herringbone pattern for our stove backsplash at our new build. It lookes so fresh.

  12. It seems you think through alot–very helpful with chaos in fixing up stuff! We have done alot of painting in our homes, woodworking, etc. I find it hard to deal with the mess in other parts while trying to make one part of your home look better. Our lower level bath has had our family room out of sorts for almost two months now. It is slowly being put back together and soon no TP, paint brushes, drills, etc. will be hanging out on the outer edges of our “relaxing” room!

  13. Lookin good! I recently tiled my backsplash and when I was working around the outlets I had 2 that did not work with the outlet box extenders. The solution was to get the little plastic “spacers” (I do not know the trade name) they look like little accordion legos. They are plastic little guys that you fit on the screws you attached your outlets with. They help secure the outlet so it does not shift around. I was happy to have a little added support since. Who doesn’t like a little extra support!
    I am no expert but I wanted to pass on the little things I learned.

  14. Yes, it will look good. Better than good.
    I renewed my kitchen a few years ago and it was the first time, after 20 years of marriage, that there were grounds for a Divorce… not pretty, excitement led to a helpless idea and sensa of a non-ending task in hands. Not pretty, not pretty at all.
    And being tidy and organised persons to have the fridge on the living room brought aditional stress… horror of horrors. 🙁
    Don’t like to remember.
    Looked good after, as your will.
    Congratulations in your choice. It will last and will always look great – like Best things do!

    P.S. No, I didn’t move with the divorce but when things hit a rugh spot I remember him those times ;)… we’re winners. Brave ones ahahahah

  15. SO appreciate that you’re sharing the process–the good, the bad, the ugly……..

    We are roughly three weeks from gutting our kitchen (in the middle of high school baseball season!) and feel poorly prepared for the upheaval that will ensue. (I’ll figure it out…..maybe the hard way 🙂

    Important question……..we’re serious DIYers, but since the husband’s job often demands lots of overtime and we homeschool our three teenage children, we’ve had to hire out much of the work; therefore, fugal choices are even more important than ever. I really want butcher block counter tops, but know little amount whether they are practical for our busy little kitchen that does a lot of food prep and even more importantly, an inexpensive source.

    Care to share some info and details, early? Please?

  16. Been there! It was the December my then 9 year old had day surgery plus 3 day recovery, planning a wedding that month, that one month so her brother who would be home from Iraq would be there (they decided not to wait until he came home 13 months later) plus feeding 6 of us! Fond memories because we LOVE our kitchen!! Worth ever minute of disarray. Your is looking great!

  17. So fun to watch the progress. I want marble countertops, now maybe backsplash. If you EVER want to sell your cow,let me know!! I faithful watch Decor steals ( bought olive bucket and angel wings: ) ) but no luck on the cow. Have searched the internet for it to no avail. So….

      1. Thank you but I meant the cow head in her kitchen with the boxwood wreath around it. I think it is metal.

  18. Love the backsplash. What kind of dining-room table are you looking for this time ? Or are you like a lot of us and you’ll know ir when you see it?

    1. I always know it when I see it. 🙂 And I see too many things! I still want French chairs, but I want my husband to build a simple farm table, so I’ll be on the hunt for some old wood.

  19. Its really coming along…and you are SSSSSo right about the grout…i used grey on a tub surround i did..and i should have gone with white…and what’s even worse..i bought the matching grey grout chalk for the edges…it does not match..AT’s much darker…using white is a brilliant idea…will keep that in mind for my next project…looking forward to seeing the finished kitchen…………Wende

  20. Love the tile – can’t wait to see the finished pictures! Oh, and instead of washing dishes in the bathroom sink – make it easy on yourself by using paper plates and disposable utensils. Your boys will think it’s fun – a few short days of picnics in the house!

  21. You should post some of that loveliness so we can try to purchase it from you…OR…come on down to the Clover Market.

  22. That is some gorgeous tile you’ve got there! Love the color, and the pattern is stunning. Can’t wait to see it all put together, but I’ll bet you are a tad bit more eager about that than we are!

  23. I just lived thru a total kitchen remodel. We did it all ourselves and it took a year because of the 1 thing leads to another thing syndrome. I bought 2 cheap rubber-maid like dishpans to do dishes in. That made doing dishes so easy, no bending over the tub and no worries that items wouldn’t fit in the bathroom sink. We cooked everything on the grill and electric skillet. I do have a question about why did you want the backsplash tucked behind the counter? Usually it’s the other way around. Counter tops go in first and then the backsplash sits on top. That way the tile will hide any gaps between the counter and the crooked wall. And the walls are always crooked in my world! ha.

  24. We live in 182 year old farmhouse and gutted to the original logs. I have 4 boys and we all jumped from log to log for probably 2 months, it took so long because hubby did all the work himself and had to work a ton too. We are super close to our kitchen reveal!! After 2 years total!!!EEK!

  25. Everything is looking so good! When did you decide to put in the butcher block counters? Maybe I missed that post about you talking about a kitchen reno. It’s going to look so pretty….wow! Love that tile too. Hubba hubba!


  26. It looks great so far. My husband just ripped out our upper cabinets, so I understand when things are not exactly in their right place right now. We are also in the process of ordering butcher block and back splash tiles. This post came at a great time and I appreciate you sharing your experience and tips. Thanks again.

  27. Your upheaval loks fabulous in comparison to ours, Makes me embarrassed to show ours, so I didn’t. We have shuffled things from side to side, from old to new cabinets, and now I can’t think of anything that really needs to go in the one we hung today. It is going to get worse in the coming days as linoleum is scheduled to go inmeaning lower cabinets are coming out, linoeum in, new cabinets in. New counters are two months out so we will have non matching counter tops to substiture with for that long. Then, another kitchen upheaval to install the counter tops. We will be lucky to have a complete kitchen by May or June. Meanwhile, I am not sure there is a path to the basement to do laundry and scared to look!

  28. Hi Marian, How would you like an easy way to move your dining room table? Instead of taking it to Lucketts how about considering selling it to me? I’ve been considering a “new” dining room table for our B&B and I’m local to you. Let me know if you’d be willing to discuss how much you want and when you are ready to let it go!

  29. few yrs back we did a kitchen remodel sooooo worth it, the counters were lifting, face trim of cabinets were falling off 6 in deep sink some of the drawers wouldn’t open unless you dropped the stove door, ha ha don’t miss it a bit. But it had a great work triangle decent floors ,a garden window above the sink and the lighting was ok. so I figured out a cabinet design did almost all pullout and drawers [really saves the back] . really important was to get cabinets that would go with the rest of the house so didn’t have the everlasting remodel.[we have an open floor plan] In the end it was perfect ;took maybe about 2 month . good news was I have a laundry room sink [ its a galvanized wash tub so big and deep] so no bathroom sink dishes. the butcher block counters are great I oil them every so often and if I need to wipe down with a clorox wipe. Good luck mms so far it looks amazing!!!!! your finishes are so different than mine I am more rustic but I live in the forest ;).

  30. I have a 2×2 black and white counter top and a 2×2 white back splash. Was here when we moved in. I cleaned out all the old white grout and re-grouted it in white. I wish I had used black instead. The white on the counter top is spray bleached several times a month to keep it white. The grout on the back splash around the stove has yellow a little to a off-white. Both have been sealed even though the grout said self sealing nothing seems to help. Just a thought as I read that you were thinking grey and now white. I think either one would look stunning with the back splash you have. And you are right that one it is grouted you really don’t notice alot of things. Good luck, it looks great.

  31. I do love that tile; it will be perfect with the butcher block counter top. Sorry to say I was one of the perfectionists you speak of!

  32. That is the same tile I am thinking of using too. My daughter did her bathroom with it 2 yrs ago and I’ve been mulling it over ever since…’s great to see it in a kitchen setting….can’t wait to see it finished!

  33. Gorgeous tile and the herringbone pattern creates such a rich texture. I think about butcher block counters all the time but worry about the durability and upkeep. Can’t wait to see the final reveal.

  34. Your backsplash project is looking just great. Like you, I also like how the light hits and bounces off the tile surface. I am anxious to see your grout choice go in. Keep up the good work.

  35. we bought an 1870s farmhouse and renovated the whole house while living in it. we didnt have a kitchen to cook in for over a year and a half so i can totally relate. we are actually renovating the bathroom right now and living without a laundry room with 3 kids for a week and a half was tough:) luckily we are on the home stretch! good luck to you and cannot wait to see it done.

  36. I lived through us building our own house. When people say that, most of the time, that means other people actually wielded the tools…nope it was us. I almost fell backwards off a tall ladder once. I would never do it again.
    I love your backsplash! Really gorgeous…love your blog;)

  37. Your energy to tackle projects and rapid results inspire me! I am in the middle of a DIY “beautiful mess” myself, and in the areas that I complete, I am noticing that the painted woodwork makes it feel cleaner and bigger. Also noticing that having less “stuff” out on display helps. It’s just so hard to choose ~ I love soooo many things! Yesterday I found an old solid wood dresser that I am refinishing as a buffet, picking it up today and hopefully will score new/old hardware for it too! Hubby is building the 3 open shelves that are going above it. Now, if I can just convince him we are ready for new floor and countertops….I’ll have him check out your blog…that’ll inspire him!

  38. This is going to look great at the image of your new tiles with the light hitting of them is fantastic.
    I had the complete kitchen re-do it was right down to the bare walls and dug up flooring with holes in the wall going out to minus 3 and freezing air running through my house for over 3 weeks. I hated every minute of it.

  39. The backsplace looks absolutely beautiful and I know the hard effort that was put into it, I have done my backsplace! Your choice of tile looks so good. Will the white grout be hard to keep clean?

  40. I did the same thing….I purchased gray grout and then decided with the small subway tiles that the backsplash would just look too busy with the gray grout. Also, we did it ourselves and I felt the gray would make the “mistakes” stand out. I love the white now and am glad I changed it! Your kitchen is going to look fabulous!

  41. It’s not uncommon for an article with this much information to become confusing, but your content is clear. I can relate to many of the points contained in this material.

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