DIY: The Kitchen Project

This post is way over-due. My kitchen has been "finished" for over a year already. I think its definitely time I document it. 

Let's get started, shall we?

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com

I met Herm the weekend he came up to New York to have closing on his house. I think it was probably a good thing that he had already purchased the property before we were married, because honestly I don't think I would have seen the potential that he saw. The stench of smoke, the yellowed walls, and the cigarette burns in the carpet would have kept me from noticing the gorgeous lake view. The mounds of garbage littering the yard and the overgrown flowerbeds would have distracted me from the stream with several waterfalls running through the woods.

 When Herm was on the market for a house friends had mentioned this place to him. He said he looked at the ad and knew he would never buy it, but came to check it out anyhow. When he pulled into the drive a herd of deer were in the front yard and Keuka Lake was sparkling in the distance. I'm not even sure if he noticed the many imperfections after that. This place was a hunters paradise and he knew it was the one

Thanksgiving of 2011 the entire Esh family came up to help Herm get the house cleaned up so that he could move in. They spent hours scrubbing and wiping and painting. Bless them!

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com
This is before they cleaned. The place was trashed.

About nine months later we were married. 

The house was very livable by the time I moved in, but it was a man-cave through and through, so I went to work and started adding my touch to the place. There are still days when all I see is the cigarette burned carpets and wonder how much longer it'll be until we can remodel... but when I look over these pictures and see just how far it has come I am amazed. I love this house and I love the man who saw potential and knew this was were he wanted to start a family. <3

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com
This was after I moved in, but before I painted

I didn't want to spend a lot of money redoing our kitchen, because our long-term goal is the remodel the entire house, but the cabinets and counter tops drove me crazy! They were a cheap yellowy-beige Formica that screamed early 90's. In general I don't enjoy working in the kitchen, but I do spend a lot of time there, so I was determined to figure out a way to change the cabinets and counter-tops that was affordable. I was shooting for less than $100.

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com
Prep work is so time consuming. This stage was pretty intense.

I love the look of concrete, but I do realize that it's pretty time consuming, and from what I've heard, its tricky to perfect as well. Pinterest was my go-to research tool. I found tons of tutorials and blogs and ideas on there. One of the blogs I found showed a beautiful kitchen makeover - including painted counter tops that looked like concrete! I decided to give it a try. Check out this blog post if you want to see what kind of paint I used. Just be warned: It's NASTY stuff. Herm and I painted the counter tops one evening and then promptly left for the weekend. When we returned the house still smelled horrible.

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com
Look at the difference! Much, much better.

Another thing I wanted in my kitchen was a subway tile back splash. I priced tile out at Lowes and knew it would be too expensive. My sister, Kate, is super talented; she paints, she draws, she sews, she does carpentry, she's a photographer, and she's single ;-). That said, I started bugging her about painting tile for me. She was willing to help out. I painted the entire back splash area white, then she put extremely thin painters tape on the walls in a tile pattern and started blending shades of grey and green over top. After she was finished, we pulled off the painters tape and... tada! We had tile with grout. Kate's brilliant. 

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com
Nobody is willing to take my word on the tile being paint.
They always need to touch it first.  

And finally, I wanted a coffee/wine bar. Our kitchen is really tiny with limited counter top work space. There was an awkward spot by the fridge where there could have been more work space, but all it boasted was a trash can. So, again I went to someone super talented with another idea... I asked Herm to build a cabinet for me where I could have the coffee grinder and coffee pot, along with my espresso machine on top, and where the microwave could be stored out of sight, because we really don't use it often and it was taking up so much room on the counter. 

Don't you love when you have an idea of what the project will look like and after it's all finished it looks so much better than what you even imaged? Me too!   

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com
The wood was reclaimed from an old barn. We first used it
to make a table for our bridal party to use at our wedding,
and then Herm used it again to make this. He also put
a piece of glass on top of the wood for easy clean up.

The shelf above the coffee bar was made out of old metal handrails that were attached to our garage and an old piece of lumber.

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com

Oh, one more thing... The island area of our kitchen boarders the living and dining room. (it's an open floor plan.) Whenever we host people, we always end up hanging out around the kitchen, so we decided that instead of just having a wall area to lean on, we should make a bar area to sit at. Herm is an artist through and through. He went to work and made a butchers block counter top for the bar. It was all reclaimed lumber that he stripped down into thin sections and glued together. It added the final touch our little kitchen needed to be cozy and enjoyable. 

DIY: The Kitchen Project || sarahesh.blogspot.com

Do you have any DIY tricks of your own? I would love to hear them!



  1. THIS is incredible. The vision and teamwork you guys had - amazing! It is just gorgeous and darling. The painted subway tile is unreal. UNREAL! And the butcher block island - those two are my favorites. Amazing job!

  2. I am SO GLAD you left a comment so I was able to find you again. I think I had found your blog a while ago but I am horrible at keeping track of everything in bloglovin' and well....you know how it goes. I am DYING over this kitchen makeover!! Seriously, you should send it into the blog Better After to be featured! It is simply incredible. I hope we can have the privilege of meeting someday so I can hear more about your Mennonite/Charismatic tendencies. :) I think we could be great friends. Much love----

  3. It looks completely different! So impressive. And I love your taste.

    Kaylee @ Adventures in Everyday Life

  4. Hi Sarah, what a wonderful job you've done on the kitchen. It's completely transformed and so stylish! Did you stick to your budget? With all the family pulling together I imagine it was a lot of fun too (apart from the smelly paint). I have to remodel my kitchen later this year, so I'll bear in mind your tips.

    Lovella Cushman @ Perfection Plumbing

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lovella. Yes, we were able to stick to our budget. There are things about the kitchen that I would love to change, but we are hoping to put new cabinets and counter tops in within the next 5-10 years, so I decided that I would do just the basics. It's such an improvement over what we had before! I do have a can of the paint we used for the counter tops that I keep on hand for touch up. It's held up well over the past almost three years, but there are spots that needed touch up because of paint chipping. Overall I am very happy with it. I hope your kitchen project goes well for you!