Disease: Kitchen Renovation.
Symptoms: Itching

My house always looks lived in. The only times it doesn’t look lived in is when someone fancy comes over. And by fancy I mean someone with freakishly long nails, wearing one of those fox stoles where the fox is biting its own tail.

Fancy fox lady has never actually shown up, but if she did I’d be sure to clean the place up for her.

As it stands right now (and for the past 15 years) this house looks lived in. If you came over the dishes would probably be done and put away but there might be an array of magazines on the living room floor. Or a pizza making experiment going on in the kitchen.

There may even be toast sweat on the counter.

I find toast sweat on the countertop kind of comforting.

I draw the line at clutter though. I don’t like it. It makes me itch like I’m wearing a wool sweater. After a week of clutter that sweater feels like it’s made out of steel wool. Anything longer and I’m limping through the house wearing a onesie made out of yeast infection.

Behold the dining room pre-kitchen renovation. Granted it’s a picture from Christmas but you get the idea.




This was how the dining room looked about 2 weeks after Christmas.  It looked like this until just last night.  That’s 2 months.

Dining Room



The foyer on a normal day.




The foyer as it looked during the kitchen install which lasted about a week.  (and is still going on by the way) There were little noises coming from under the mess which I’m sure were garbage trolls.



The kitchen pre-renovation.



The kitchen mid-itch.

Kitchen After

Things are finally (relatively) cleaned up in the dining room, foyer and kitchen but the kitchen still isn’t near complete. The cabinets are installed, yes, but nothing else is. There were problems hooking up the stove, I still need the range hood installed, the counters haven’t been delivered yet and my kitchen sink is somewhere in the living room I think.

I can’t cook but at least I’m not itching anymore.

Kitchen renovations normally come with new appliances, cabinets, maybe a table and chairs. What they really need to come with, is penicillin.

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  1. Jackie a la Calgary says:

    Hey Karen!
    Just read your post today and saw the brick and had to search for a sign of it in the renos that I must have missed. I thought you were painting it white? Or is that to come?
    Anyways, when I saw this post again, I realized you are doing the same thing with your windows that I am for an addition we are also behind 6 months in (and we gots a baby comin’ to make it horrible in 2 months!). I want to paint the sashes black and keep everything else white, inspired by this: http://www.mariakillam.com/beachhousedetails/
    I just ordered my windows, and now I’m a little stuck. I want to stain them dark so it lasts longer, which means we get them unfinished and then stain the sashes, then do a white stain on everything else. A lot of work. They’re wood btw, because our house is vintage (read: oldass). Just wondering what you did when you ordered, how you specified black for just grilles and sashes. Was it easy? Thanks for replying, don’t know if you normally reply to older posts.
    Love your blog always Karen! Can’t wait to read about the garden when spring comes (in calgary it came yesterday. It’s still -4 but I’m calling it Spring. Sposed to be +19 by next Tues wooo!).

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jackie – Well, I’m not gonna be of much help to you. All I did was paint my old window. So I didn’t have to order anything. The best thing to do is tell them what you want AND include a picture. Draw one yourself or do it on Photoshop if you have it. That way they have a visual reference. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to check to see what the weather is going to be like here next Tuesday! I’m crossing my fingers for anything in the double digits. ~ karen!

  2. Barbie says:

    OMG! Karen! I’ve been gone a week and now have to catch up!
    Sorry about your itchy onsie with a yeast infection! LOL and YES, hnag in there! The payoff will be SO worth it! I can’t WAIT to see it!
    I missed reading your blog everyday!

  3. Gail says:

    I am your parallel U. S. sista! I too am getting a new countertop, painted walls, sink and faucet. Just paid the estimate today. Wallpaper is stripped, back spash ( which I put up!) are off, and the boxes are in the dining room, piling up! Disaster city. The living room I keep clean to keep my sanity!! It’s the one downstairs room that I can sit in and not see crap piled up everywhere!! I hope we are both done by the end of April- so we can get in the garden! Winter- be gone!!!!

  4. Jill says:

    “Yeast infection onsie”. You are hilarious! You know I’ll be using that one, if ya don’t mind. You crack me up!

  5. Amanda says:

    Did you install a new kitchen window? Rolled steel? Where did you get it? How much was it? Do you love it? Nothing gets me as hot and bothered as black framed windows! Please, please, puh-leeese tell me!!

  6. Amy says:

    I’m suddenly having flashbacks of my kitchen renovation 2 years ago. I spent several nights at the movies to be in that cool, orderly calm of row upon row of aligned seats and have the distraction of someone else’s drama.

    Hang in there!

  7. Debbie says:

    Well that’s one good thing, she comes from good breeding….

  8. Janet says:

    I’ve survived a basement finishing project (three months) and a kitchen remodel (three weeks), followed by flooring replacement (three days but the clean-up took a month).

    It isn’t easy. You’re in the very worst part of it. The days will pass, the problems will get solved, the finish line will appear. The relief will be major.

    Never heard of or experienced ‘toast sweat’.

    My mother-in-law is the fancy fox lady.

    What I really want to know more about is that fabulous and large painting in your dining room. And how are you keeping it safe during all this construction????

  9. Feral Turtle says:

    Hang in there girl! I’ve had the twelve year itch…..Although as soon as hubby leaves for his next job, I will be finishing the last of the cabinet doors. I have five more to build and then I think I could say the kitchen will be done…..except the latest paint color. That definitely needs to go!! Oh how I love your brick!

  10. Oh boy. On your trip to beautiful, this is just a short stop at ugly. Find a spot of “normal”, and breathe! :)

  11. Ruth says:

    There is light at the end of the tunnel…. just around the corner! Hnag tough! ;-D

    Fun fact: If you hit up Google for ‘onesie made of yeast infection’, Karen’s face leads the pack on Google search…. followed by oodles of articles on how to cure yeast infection. Don’t even venture to ask why I tried that… I have no idea.

  12. Vicky says:

    We’re renovating our kitchen also. I understand the itch. I’m trying real hard not to itch. We just picked our cabinets at Ikea yesterday but the demo is done. Wall repair and painting next.

  13. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    I’m trying to figure out how I can use in a sentence, “wearing a onsie made out of yeast infection”. OMGosh, you crack me up. Keep hnaging, it will be worth it. Can’t wait for the post on your culinary feasts during this remarkable time in your life!

  14. Miriam says:

    Have I mentioned that my two week bathroom fix-up turned into four months of the live-in contractor? Talk about itching – I want my home back!

  15. beth says:

    Thank you so much for a kitchen post! I have been ITCHING for an update! The suspense was making the symptoms much worse. I know the long road is hard but yours is paved with painted bricks. I am still two projects away from my finished kitchen re-do of winter-spring 2012. Want to do a post on custom fridge panels so I can make my own and finish my kitchen.

  16. Beckie says:

    my kitchen took an entire year (DIY) and you must pass through the kitchen to get anywhere else in the house so it was unavoidable

    paper plates and plastic utensils helped save my sanity (well, partly, anyway)

    it was totally worth it, but during it I was probably homicidal…I’ve blocked it out

    it will be worth it in the end!! honest!!

    • Karen says:

      My mother actually told me to suck it up and buy some paper plates and cups. I’ve been doing dishes in the bathroom sink for far too long. ~ karen!

  17. Maureen says:

    Oh yes. I remember that phrase. It went on for effin’ ages. The low point for me was when we had to stay 2 nights at a La Quinta while they painted our cabinets in oil-based paint. In case you aren’t familiar with American hotels, La Quinta is not up there with say, Holiday Inn, but they do allow cats. I get a little itchy myself just thinking about this.

  18. TeePee says:

    I know how you feel. When I did my kitchen redo, the fridge was in the Living Room, Microwave was on the Dinning Room table and I cleaned the dishes in the bathroom sink. There were a lot of late nights and weekends sweating (and swearing) but in the end it was worth it. Good luck.

  19. Su says:

    Living in reno is the WORST…. Did a whole house once and it was incredibly ‘itchy’…. having a new deck to escape the mess and mayhem was the only saving grace…. until it got too cold outside… then it was worst case of psoriasis that set in…. like the previous poster said you forget the pain and aggravation after it’s done…

  20. Tigersmom says:

    Just looking at that pink fiberglass insulation makes me itch. Made the mistake of playing with some of that that had blown onto my school playground when I was a kid. The fibers worm into your skin and make you very itchy. It was fixed by a half hour soak in a tub, but now you know why you see people wearing thick gloves when they handle it.

    Clutter makes me itch, too. That and distressed finishes.

    Hope the end of this comes quickly and I’m fairly confident that you will love the results enough to make it worth it.

  21. Kelly says:

    With difficulty comes ease! It will all be better soon and you can get back to toast sweat on the counters. :)

  22. Wendy says:

    Yup. That sounds about right.
    My 5 week kitchen renovation took just over 12 weeks and our contractor stopped returning my hubby’s calls. Kitchen looks great, but everything was piled into our open concept living space, there was a pile of demolition in our backyard. Not great living indoors and we couldn’t take the kids out back to play. All in all, it was tres horrible!

    Until it’s done! Then you forget the pain. Wait a minute, isn’t that what they say about childbirth? The kitchen doesn’t talk back or kick you in the shins.


  23. Jody says:

    Personally I don’t like toast sweat. Too much like counter clutter to me.

  24. Deb J says:

    Toast sweat! Love that.

  25. mimiindublin says:

    same here, the contents of my bathroom are scattered all over the house. The work finished on Friday, but I was busy all weekend (well, socialising, it was Paddy’s Day after all!!), and got work today! Oh, just wish a cleaning/tidying fairy would come and put it all back for me!

  26. shuckclod says:

    You are making good progress :) I am allergic or I would send you some (penicillin). Thanks for the itchies.

  27. Maggie Andrew says:

    Karen I know just how you feel. For ages I’ve been thinking about painting my pine kitchen, nothing really wrong with it but the room is too dark, when my husband said he would be away for a couple of weeks I decided to go for it.
    Day 1 really excited
    Day 2 what the f*** have I started
    Day 3 well looks ok
    Day4 why am I doing this
    Day 5 just finish it today
    Day 6 don’t want to paint anymore
    Day 7 get out of bed youu’ve got painting to do
    Day 8 ” hi I finished akready, so I’m coming home 4 days early
    Day 9 S***

    My entire dining room, living room is covered with utensils from the drawers and saucepans etc,
    Haven’t seen the cat since day 2 and am on the verge of hysteria,
    got to get up now there’s a tin of paint with my name on it!,

  28. Susan Preston says:

    It’ll be fabulous when you’re done. It’ll be fabulous when you’re done. It’ll be fabulous when you’re done! Just keep clicking your heels.

  29. Lindsay H says:

    I am exactly the same way about clutter and mess. I make a pile at the end of our counter that is SHIT my husband ” NEEDS”. After about a week, I sweetly “coo” at him to clean it up :). And now we’re going through a gut-job bathroom Reno. I am barely holding it together. Everything is a complete mess (drywall dust, thin-set, paint, etc) AND the clutter has gotten worse (widgets, and washers, and wrenches!). Anyways, seeing your mess makes my skin crawl, but then I look around and mine is just as bad, lol.

    Sorry for the rant, I’ve just been nearing my limit of chaos. …….

  30. victoria says:

    Lol!!! Onsie made out if yeast infection!!!! I love it!! You are too funny!

  31. Laura Bee says:

    Yow. I can’t wait to see the finished kitchen. It will be a glorious day!
    I can’t imagine a total kitchen redo. Actually, I can, I have wet dreams about it. Alternated with nightmares, our house is (I think) half as old as yours, but every bit as crooked!
    I hung a floating shelf today. Two screws into a stud and four others with anchors (There was holes for ten screws! Pffft…overkill.) For the first time in my memory, I was able to put in all four anchors without smashing at least one (if not two plus making the hole too big in the process and having to patch it & sometimes relocate what I am hanging.) It is level, but because of the walls…not quite right lol. Which is just fine by me. I feel accomplished.

  32. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Give this woman her kitchen..she needs to cook..lol..I bet Cleo and Ernie love all of the boxes!

  33. TC says:

    How are you surviving? What are you eating?

    • Karen says:

      I’m going to be doing a post on that next week actually, lol. It’s been quite an interesting culinary time in my life. ~ karen

  34. TucsonPatty says:

    Hnag in there – it looks as though it is going to happen.
    I hate that itch, too, BTW!
    I can’t wait to see it!

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