Bugbite Balboa
Home Improvementish

Worst. Designblog. Ever.

If I have learned anything from my hours (and hours) (zomg) of watching home improvement television shows, it's that pretty much everyone in America hates their kitchen. We're all living in the wrong kitchens, I guess, since SOMEBODY chose our cabinets and countertops and presumably liked them well enough at some point. Then we move in and are like, what were they thinking? That linoleum is an ABOMINATION TO GOD. 

(Meanwhile, I like to imagine the previous owners of our house, with their penchant for modern laminate EVERYTHING, moved on to some house with a hugely elaborate dark-wood kitchen trimmed with brick-a-brack and grape-cluster corbels and shit.) 

We'd lived in our house for all of five minutes before we, too, started hating the kitchen. The layout was okay, but mostly because the super-cheap remodel had the shelf life of a bag of chips. The cabinet doors started to peel and chip and hang off their hinges, the countertop started to shed its outer layer of laminate and pull away from the wall, the sink leaked and the appliances were crap and THEN THE OVEN CAUGHT ON FIRE

Point is: I got new countertops yesterday. Yaaaaaayyyyyyy.

New counters 20121


Those are still the old counters, by the way. And the reason there's so much crud all over the floor is because we took a crowbar to the backsplash. And by "we" I mean the guy who came to take the final measurements on Tuesday TOTALLY LET ME HAVE A TURN YAAAYYYY TIMES INFINITY.

New counters 20129


New counters 20122

The new hotness. Which is really hard to photograph. It's a black/green/brown granite. Also, HI COFFEE. I love you too.

New counters 20127

I love how we've had new countertops for all of 12 hours and have managed to cover 75% of them up with extraneous crap already. 

And when I say "12 hours," I mean that almost literally, even though the install started at 2 pm yesterday. One section was cut incorrectly, but wasn't discovered until after 6 pm, when the workshop had already closed. But our install team was like, NOT ON OUR WATCH and sent one guy back to possibly pick the locks and cut us a new piece. Which kind of took a long time. We gave up on getting our kitchen back in time for dinner, so we ordered pizza and ate it directly out of the box, upstairs, on our bed, while the boys watched Cars 2 (UGH) and dripped pizza sauce all over the comforter. 

We ordered pizza for the installers too. They seemed very grateful, since I'm not sure sanding granite edges until 10 at night was exactly on their Top 10 List Of Awesome either. 

NOTE: Yes, I made my children eat their breakfasts on placemats. I know, I know. Let me harbor my illusions.

New counters 20124

Speaking of illusions, we're installing a tile backsplash ourselves this weekend. Because that sort of thing always works out super well for us. On Monday you can expect an "Amalah Curled Up Weeping In The Fetal Position" photo essay.

New counters 20125

The backsplash will hopefully look nice behind our new sink and faucet and OH LOOK, remember that one summer we kept getting mice in our kitchen? (I would go back and link, except shudder.) We haven't had any problems since, which is somewhat miraculous now that we uncovered the GIANT HOLE IN THE WALL where the mice were coming in behind the old backsplash, crawling under the countertop and apparently partying on top of the dishwasher.

("Apparently" = a new nice way to talk about poop. You're welcome.)

So...patching that up right proper today. Homeownership is the best! 

Also on the DIY docket are some new cabinet doors and handles. And painting the walls. And replacing this shifty sonofabitch:

New counters 20128

The fire-happy stove, not the cat. The cat can stay. I mean, a little heads-up that mice were apparently apparently-ing underneath our kitchen counters would have been nice, but whatever. He's awful pretty. 



Oh gawwwd the horrible kitchen. The previous owners of our house were DIY maniacs so of course everything they did is now falling apart. Our kitchen counter is TILE. I have no words for what a horrible idea this is.

Also, I have that IKEA utensil holder thingy. Does it make you hate God too?


Damn. Now I'm jealous of you for your writing abilities AND your new countertop and backsplash!


Oh boy I'm jealous. We've been replacing our appliances one at a time as they break, one a year apparently (standard usage, no poop involved, unless you include the phrase "POS").

And if you think your laminate was bad... ours is flat gray. Plain gray. Which was REALLY great when the kitchen had country blue wallpaper which sounds reasonable but that and the yellow oak cabinets clashed like orange with pink. Now that we've painted, it just has that "oh, you couldn't afford to do the countertops yet" look to it, for which we get pity instead of scorn, because as you said.... we've all been there.

As for the mice... ugh. We have been opening up rooms and replacing drywall and insulation because the old stuff had crumbled into dust and it's cheaper than replacing the HVAC unit. One exterior wall we opened up, my dear husband placed his thumb through a 2x4. Turns out we'd had termites, or more likely the folks before us had; it'd been treated and they're gone, but it's always a lovely surprise to discover you need to have the frame of an exterior wall replaced. We've found a few more 2x4s that need replacing but luckily that was the only wall they decimated. I'm so glad I didn't know that during tornado season, because I feel toward tornadoes like Amalah feels towards... let's not say the word, but it starts with V and ends in NO. Difference being she does not live in Hawaii where they have those, whereas I live in Texas.

Congrats on the counter, Amy, it looks amazing.


And this is the reason I'm so afraid to push the button that will start the madness in my house. Though I have plans. Oh yes, plans....

The amount of sunlight you get in your kitchen is fabulous! It tends to make things happy and Yay! even when they're...not.


@Erin: Ikea utensil holder here too. and yes.


A thought when doing your tile mosaic... Since they are separate pieces with that netting on the back, they will sag when you put them on the wall. Our tile guy layed them all flat on the patio table (face down obviously) and brushed a thin layer of the thin-set/mastic on the back, let it dry, then put it up on the wall so the pieces were stiff and held their shape. Good luck!!


I painted my kitchen that exact shade of yellow. On purpose! So I'm probably your evil decor doppelgänger, or would be, if I didn't also dislike linoleum, and your old countertops. Granite all the way, baby.

But seriously, who thinks "gosh, you know what would spruce this place up? Powder blue linoleum, with little flowers!" Frickin' no one, that's who. I'm pretty sure kitchen designers are all aliens from somewhere where linoleum grows on trees, and they have rhino hide, so no one ever cuts themselves on those tiny, cutesy, amazingly sharp decorative bits on the drawer pulls.


We have very similar counters! I love them SO MUCH. Seriously, after years of rentals with crappy chipping counters, moving into my fiance's condo with granite was like the best day ever. I highly recommend Method's Everyday Granite stuff. It smells like apples and makes your counters shiny. Nobody notices how dirty your floors are if your counters are shiny.


Mmmmm countertops. Mmmmm anything related whatsoever to the rehab of my godawful kitchen. I'm happy for you (and also slightly hate you now because my kitchen GAH). I sometimes, just sometimes, want to find the previous owners and kick the absolute shit out of them. Seriously? Some spackle-like substance on every goddamn wall and ceiling? And then you swirled it in some places, you know, for that dramatic we are fancy effect? When I'm too drunk to pay attention and need to hold onto the bathroom wall when I walk, THAT SHIT HURTS! You deserve the shit kicked out of you. Wait, no, the apparentlyness!

Erika Mitchell

Woo hoo, that counter is FIERCE!!!


My kitchen looks like the "after" in the design shows. I married into it. Granite, stainless, cheery cabinets, all the bells and whistles. And I don't really like the way it looks nor it's functionality. The dark counter tops hide everything, but oddly, hide all the things I am looking for, including spills and dark utensils. Someday I will have my butcherblock counter and white subway tiles!

I firmly believe though: Once everyone has the latest design in their kitchen or bath, it becomes commonplace, and full circle, everyone hates it again. Keeps Home Depot in business.


We put up a backsplash like that a month or so ago. It's not so bad, really, just grouting it is a bitch.


I never really liked my kitchen. I painted over the oak cabinets as soon as I got keys. Last year, my husband decided to pull out the peninsula and put down new flooring. Instead, he found mold. Lots of mold. Turns out our neighbor had a leak in her dishwasher for years and it leaked into our kitchen (we live in a town home). So, after some battling with the insurance companies, we got a completely new kitchen complements of our neighbor's insurance. Now, I LOVE my kitchen. It is tiny, but it is the must functional, awesome kitchen ever.

I love the new countertops! New countertops and new blacksplash can do so much to make an older kitchen feel new.


Beautiful countertops! Must ask--where did you get the adorable owl thing (sponge?) above the sink. My owl-obsessed 6-year-old would looooove it! Best of luck with the rest of the kitchen!


Rodents in the house! Hate hate hate! Kill kill kill, but not in a way that they stay in the house all dead and gross and stinky. No please leave and never come back.

My kitchen = eww = too small = terrible counters and no space. Must be upgraded but first....

New bathroom. Which is also too small. But que sera sera! Yay homeownership and the money pit it always is.

At least I have a cute baby whose stuff takes up more space than my wife, my dog and my stuff combined!

Korinthia Klein

Good luck with the back splash! The glass tiles look beautiful.

Kim W.

I don't like my kitchen either (i.e., we need everything except a stove). I have to say yours is quite lovely. That countertop is gorgeous.


ooooba toooba! that's the granite we have too, love it! (though i'm likely spelling it wrong.) i'm interested to know how the tile-hanging goes, we've contemplated the same thing, but since hanging a shelf nearly ended our marriage, i'm a firm believer in contractors. may the force be with you!


We did that same backsplash ended up cutting it in half as I felt the 12x12 (I think that's what it measured at) was too big and ended up only doing like 6-8 tiles. Make sure you put it up and figure out where the seams are going to be. DH did it and ended up having to cut some of the stupid tiles..and the cut was right underneath the damn switch for the above sink light/disposal switch. So I always saw the damn seam. ARGH!!! He tried though right.


I like my kitchen cabinets - thankfully - and I'm fine with the briiiight yellow walls. It's not so jarring with furniture, pictures, etc. I'm even ok with the laminate - it's white and actually looks fine.

But the white backsplash tiles that look like they should be in a bathroom? HATE.


Gorgeous! And I'm jealous. And I have no one to blame but myself over my kitchen, but we didn't want to spend ourselves into oblivion while we were getting our house built.

Melissa F.

Not that I don't love your counter top...because I do...but I really love the owl hanging up over your sink! Can you tell me where you got it? Pretty please! Thanks!

Melissa F.

Not that I don't love your counter top...because I do...but I really love the owl hanging up over your sink! Can you tell me where you got it? Pretty please! Thanks!


We just did that exact same kind of tile in our bathroom...and FYI, it's a beeee-otch to keep the proper spacing between the tiles. Use the spacer thingies. Have so much fun!!


We bought that exact same square of backsplash months ago to test how it would look in our hated kitchen. That exact same square is leaning up against the wall, next to my lonely dead plant. I fail as an adult, a lot.


I have that exact backsplash in my kitchen, and I love it so much I MAY have kissed it once or twice.


At least y'all own so you can change yours. Mine's pink and white tile...with tulips inlaid EVERYWHERE, and gold and white cabinets. HATE. I can't wait until I buy my own place so I can hate a kitchen I actually own. Gah. It's beautiful, Amy. Enjoy :)


Nice counters! I feel your mouse pain. We once had mice apparently-ing on our dishwasher too. Those mother fuckers. We moved. Ha!


Crap, that weird survey I told you about before popped up and my itchy mouse finger had me surf away before I could screenshot it for you. This time I remember that it said Amalah is conducting a survey (and that the company logo was Crowd Science). So sorry I didn't get a screenshot of it for you :( damn my mousing hand.


Yay for new kitchens! I loooooove the granite, and I loooooove the tile. When my mom installed the same kind in her kitchen, she grouted by putting the grout in a pastry bag and squeezing it into the lines. She can never use that metal tip again, but it sure made things a lot easier. Can't wait to see it when it's all done!


You're doing glass mosaic. It's nice. Take some advice from someone who has done glass tile before. 1) Make sure you get a thinset that is designed for glass tiles. You're doing it in an area that will get wet so DO NOT get the pre-mixed tub of stuff. It's glue, not cement and when it gets wet it will turn back into the wet glue in the pail. Lowes has a product called Adesilex which is designed specifically for glass. It's not cheap, and you'll have to have a decent drill to mix it in a bucket, but you won't have tiles peeling off the wall the first time you get a glass spilled on the counter which soaks into the drywall. 2)Get a tube of caulk to do the joint between the tile and the countertop which will match the grout you choose. The "change of plane" joint will move a bit and whatever grout you use will crack. The caulk won't crack. 3)Get an unsanded grout intended for use with glass tile. Sanded grout might scratch up the surface of the glass. Really push the grout into the cracks with your grout float, wait for a little haze and then gently wash it being careful not to take it out of the cracks. 4)Lay out the sheets of tile first on your countertop so that you know where to make the cuts for the outlets and stuff. Your measurements will be off, so just lay out the sheets and see. To make the cuts you can use glass mosaic wheeled nippers which Lowes also sells, not regular tile nippers. Any rough edges will go behind the cover plates. 5)Take your time. Mix a little of the thinset at a time, not the whole bag, and go slow. You're not charging by the hour so you can afford to take the time to get all those little tiles straight in a line. Once they're cemented in you're going to have to look at the crooked ones forever because it's really difficult to do over. 6)Read all of the instructions on the tile and on the bags of product to make sure it's the right stuff for the job. Oh, and cover those nice counters first. You'll drip sandy water on them for sure, and they'll scratch when you wipe it off.


Kitchen envy!


That would be Adesilex P10, forgot to specify. Also get the Keraply to mix it with instead of water. Makes nice sticky stuff that you'll need to hold on to the glass and sets up really hard.

Also you might want to get some kind of drywall sealer product to fix those torn parts of the drywall from where the old backsplash was torn off. You want a nice hard surface behind the mortar, not peely cardboard. Zinsser makes a product called Gardz which most paint stores carry that can turn the exposed peely paper on the drywall into a hard surface.


Nice work! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell me where you got the baker's rack. I've been on the hunt for one exactly like it (sleek, modern lines) rather than all the ornate ones I seem to come up with. Thanks much!

Cassandra from TX

Lovely kitchen! So bright and cheery.
We had that backsplash in our old house! It was lovely and I was sad to move away from it. I think it was easy to install? I didn't have a hand in it, but I didn't hear any loud cursing coming from the room while it was being out in place (always a good sign). Congrats!


I want your backsplash tiles.

Any renovations in this house are on hold until we know whether we're going to live here for the next five years, we're going to rent it out for the next five years, orrrrr-the housing market will improve enough over the next five years for us to actually sell it.

Stuck with a craptastic kitchen. At least I picked out the good stove and fridge so that it's not total hell. So, please, share in your renovation fun, because I really need to live vicariously and "Renovation Realities" on DIY is not going to cut it.

Leigh Ann

Oh kitchens. Congrats on your new countertops! Very nice. We made the super smart call to paint our nasty oak cabinets an off white color, which a)clashes horribly with the nasty grayish laminate countertops; and b) shows every tiny bit of crap/juice/sauce that lands on it. And the paint wears off. AND I too have a yellow kitchen. That I immediately hated right after I finished painting.


Your countertops are beautiful! Isn't is great how if you actually can pick it out, you LOVE it? My husband and I redid our kitchen a few years ago. As in, ripped out all of the cabinets, appliances, and counters and replaced everything. My husband built the cabinets himself (he is AWESOME) so we actually got to design where we wanted drawers, doors, the height of the cabinets, etc. It was so fun! And I finally got my Corian countertop with integrated sink. Been wanting that for years and years and finally got it and loved it as much as I thought I would. That kitchen was teeny tiny but I loved it because WE did it together and I miss that house.
Enjoy your new counters. They are beautiful and even if they are covered by crap, you can still admire them every single day.


How exciting! We did a tile backsplash just like yours in our tiny kitchen recently and used "simplemat" from Home Depot instead of thinset - it worked GREAT for us, as DH and I are both perfectionists and also first-time tile setters. Have fun!

Corey Feldman

Looks great


hey, we have the same dishwasher! (I hope I don't have mice apparently-ing on mine...but since we have squirrels in our attic, I guess anything is possible. grrrr)

The countertops look fantastic--good luck with the back splash!!!


Love your new countertops and the backsplash will look great. We moved into a house 2 years ago but had a chance to remodel the kitchen before we actually moved in. Loved, loved, loved tearing up the navy blue speckled laminate countertops. Also, I kept the countertops clear for exactly one day when I realized I actually needed all the crap that I keep on the counters :)


My old roommate and I found out we had mice when we opened the kitchen drawer and discovered that one of them had apparent-lied on our kitchen towels. Nasty fucker. And I am officially jealous of your new granite countertops. I am waiting for my laminate ones to die, and am tempted to set a hot pan down just to hasten their demise. Allegedly.


I feel the same way about Cars 2, but my son loves it. Cars is still the best.


Picture this: Pink ceramic floor tiles; pink back splash; dark grey corian counter; gold/green striped wall paper; gold/green large-print wall paper border; peachy-pink cupboards. Nuf said.


DUUUUUDE, I had a herd of mice apparently partying in the warming drawer under my oven last winter, and *I* discovered them before my dog, that mighty hunter, did. And I was all, "AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE SOME KIND OF CARNIVORE? A LITTLE HEADS UP ON THE SNACKS LIVING IN THE OVEN NEXT TIME?"

Also, no, I *apparently* don't cook that often.


um...I think we have the same stove. I hope ours doesn't spontaneously combust one day! We moved into our home in January. The real estate thingie said "It has a kitchen you'll want to roller skate in!" WTF. It is about eight feet of chaos and that will be the first thing we renovate! Your new designs look great, and I'm so jealous of all of the space!


Our kitchen really needs a faeclift. It's not ugly, but tired (no offensive color schemes, thank goodness). But as we hope to be moving in a year there's no point doing it up because potential sellers might hate it. I'm hoping they'll see it as a blank slate. We are doing our bathroon right now, if the slowest contractors on Earth ever get their arse into gear.


would you mind sharing where you got your granite (and your backsplash)? We've been talking about getting granite forever now and just haven't gone out to do it.


Ooooh Aaaah! I read the backsplash post first. They both look FABULOUS! Great job. My engineer husband and I also re-did our entire kitchen ourselves (OMG NEVERAGAIN), because the original 1977 kitchen was AN ABOMINATION TO GOD. New tile floor in an impossibly geometric and beautiful pattern, new alder cabinets that we actually assembled and hung ourselves, ceramic tile countertops and backsplash and spankin new appliances. It took a year, but now I could live out the rest of my days in our perfect kitchen.

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