After tearing down the upper cabinets in our kitchen, the space immediately felt so much lighter. I never thought of our cabinets as being heavy - they were white, not a dark color. However, those huge beasts took up so much visual space & I am so glad we made the decision to toss them (well, we ended up repurposing them as storage outside of our back door/in the stairwell for tools, painting supplies, spare screws and other things like that).
I wanted the old microwave wall, which is in the bay window area, to be a main visual focus with something dramatic. This is also where our cook top is, so we would need some kind of hood. I don't like microwaves on display, so we made the decision to purchase a modern hood. We knew this would likely be the biggest expense of the project, but we ended up finding a great fan/hood on major sale at IKEA for around $500.
It is modern with clean lines and no fuss, which is perfect for our kitchen. Sadly, IKEA no longer sells this model. Too bad - I like it a lot better than the all stainless steel models.
I love mosaic tile & decided that counter-to-ceiling tile would give the dramatic impact that I was looking to create. Mosaic tile can be one of the most inexpensive (or very expensive!) materials that you can use to transform your kitchen. I ordered many MANY samples and decided on a slate blue blend from Hakatai.
It's part of their Classic Series which = cheap. Yay for our budget! We paid $1.87/sq. ft. and needed 44 square feet of tile for a total of $82. See? Cheap.
We had never hung tile before, but didn't think it could be that hard. Yes, they're tiny tiles, but the are mounted on mesh backed sheets that are approximately 1 sq. ft. Working in 4 sq. ft. sections, we just trowelled thinset mortar on the wall & then hung (stuck) the sheets to the wall & pressed. The sheets of tile are heavy, so make sure to hold the upper sheets in place for a bit so that they don't slide down. You can also buy tile spacers that can do this for you - just make sure they are the same size as the spaces between the tiles on the sheet!
After letting it set overnight, use a grout float to apply grout all over the wall & backsplash. We chose a light tray grout so that the focus would be on the tile, not on bright white grout.
It is a pretty messy job, so make sure you cover your countertops to protect them. We hated this fug countertop so we didn't worry about covering it up (more on our new DIY'd countertops later!).
After letting the grout set for about 30 minutes, take a large, slightly damp sponge and start wiping off the excess grout. This is actually a really rewarding process because you can finally start to see the tiles emerge!
Notice the haze? After wiping with a damp sponge, take a clean, dry cloth and start buffing all over. This needs to be done pretty quickly because once the haze dries it is really hard to get it off. Buff, buff, buff!
After that arm workout, you're left with pretty, sparkly tiles.
Installing the hood was a bit of a challenge because we were dealing with figuring out how high the hang it, hardwiring the electric, making sure it was level and not scratching it.
We also added a rail to hang pots, gadgets & spices.
This process took us a few days. We were only working at night & on weekends, so it really didn't take that long to get the job done.
Up next: See the hole where our black cook top used to be? Find out how we scored a stainless steel cook top for a grand total of $22!