In all my excitement to share my countertops with you, I skipped an important (and far less thrilling) preparatory step.
All the kitchen updates I’d taken on so far were purely cosmetic. The counters were the the biggest project I was taking on, and I wanted to get as much “updated kitchen” impact out of them as possible!
The easiest solution would have been to replace the old counter exactly as it was previously installed, but there were a few oddities (shortcuts really) in the initial installation that I was hoping to avoid this time around.
The laminate countertop was molded into backsplash. (Weird, right? And not cute). It had this odd steep ski slope look, which took up valuable counter depth, and clearly dated the kitchen. I never got a good closeup shot of it (why would you?!) so here’s another kitchen with the same backsplash feature.
In their haste to complete the building, our contractors made certain that nothing about our kitchen is square: floors, walls, ceilings (for more on that topic see our refrigerator installation). Therefore, the pre-fabricated (accurately squared) countertops left triangular gaps next to each wall.
They solved this problem with these truly unsightly spacers on each end. As usual, I don’t have a great “before” photo – as I got too excited ripping them off the wall and forgot to document my process.
See below for the WAY Before (we even moved in!) photo:
I’ve watched enough HGTV kitchen makeover shows to know that no one installs a kitchen sidesplash anymore, and backsplashes are only acceptable in the form of an attractive tile.
Although I initially attempted to negotiate a backsplash into this 30th Birthday Countertop Package, I quickly realized that this was no time to be greedy. Negotiation was only going to delay the final decision, and I was ready to make a change ASAP!
I tried to convince my creative team (Hi Mom, and Mike!) that we could do without the 4-inch backsplash, but the voices of logic and reason reminded me that a backsplash might be a long way off (if ever) and I needed to protect the drywall behind my sink, which would inevitably get soaked while doing dishes or washing tiny squirmy hands.
I was also pretty nervous about the state of the drywall underneath the backsplash, and it would be harder to patch and refinish after the new counters were in place. The best idea was to include the quartz backsplash, I could always attempt to remove it to install tile later (if I ever felt brave enough!).
I needed to remove the two sidesplash pieces before the contractor came to measure for the countertops to ensure a perfect template. A moment of inspiration hit and I just grabbed my putty knife and hammer and went to work.
After about 10 minutes of careful wedging and prying, I was looking at this:
Another 10 minutes and the other end was sidesplash free as well!
A special thanks to my secret weapons (below) for allowing me a few moments to actually accomplish something…with only a few vital rounds of Itsy Bitsy Spider in between. (He’s so little in this photo!! A startling reminder that I’m about 6-8 months behind in catching you up!)
As you may have noticed, the laminate was not so eager to leave the apartment. The large torn sections of drywall, were thanks to a few absurdly large glue blobs (a highly technical term).
The far wall, was looking especially rough. The drywall and 10 or so layers of paint, were actually curling up and away from the wall.
A few days later I was able to tackle step two: Sanding and Prep for paint application.
Before I could take the sanding block to the wall I needed to trim the loose drywall as much (and as little!) as possible. Sanding ended up being far more work than expected. If I couldn’t manage to even out the leftover glue, caulk and layers of paint, my sidesplash would be immortalized as an outline on my wall.
A lot of elbow grease and prayer (that my noisy sanding wouldn’t wake up the baby) later, the wall was almost ready for paint! I needed to prep the torn wall board before painting, and in my haste to get to the finish line, I decided to throw up some spackle and see what happened!
I used leftover spackle from my closet shelving project, and placed it directly on the torn wall board. The rough surface bubbled up a bit, but I was able to tap the raised portions flat with my finger. I felt like I dodged a bullet!! Note to self: do more research on repairing drywall before moving forward on the other side.
I applied more spackle as once the first coat was completely dry. Thankfully, bubbling was no longer an issue. Finally, I sanded the spackle to create a perfectly smooth surface for painting and waited for the countertop swap!
No photos of the process, due to the ensuing panic of the bubbling wallboard, but here’s the best shot I can find of the finished and sanded spackle work. Be sure to note my fancy shmancy nap-time work lighting.
A coat of paint was all that my wall needed! …maybe some better nap-time lighting too.
When nap-time was over (and light was restored to the apartment) I could see that my latest project was a success!
Welcome to the 21st century little kitchen. :) It’s like the sidesplash was never there at all.
What’s that? Oh. Yeah, the other side of the kitchen … it was a little more “complicated.” I guess I have to tell you how that ended up, huh?
I’ll try to make this quick …
Google informed me that I needed to seal the wallboard to prevent the bubbling I experienced on the opposite wall. After calling my mom from Home Depot to make sure I purchased the right product, naturally, I waited until she was in town to guide me through the process. (Dad being in town to keep Kip distracted was wildly helpful as well!).
And Voila! This wall is ready for spackle!
After spackle + sanding and repeat, repeat, repeat x 10? (and new countertops) the wall looked like this:
And sadly, it stayed this way for MONTHS while I figured out what on Earth to do with that wall!!
The bad news is … this is how today’s post ends.
But, the good news is: I finally found inspiration, made a decision, made a change, and the new kitchen wall is in progress! It feels like an entirely different kitchen!