I hold the eighties in very high regard; in many ways it was a cultural apex. People always laugh when I say this but seriously, the shoulder pads, color palette of zippy neons, everything was so theatrical and fabulous! Sadly that same flair that came to define a decade of fashion decadence spread past the multi-layered tube socks and into the home...and not in a good way. When browsing through rental listings phrases like "off-white linoleum counter tops" and "peach bathroom tile" hardly yell "Rent me!" Rather these descriptions ardently and desperately cry "Please fix us NOW!"
This my friends is what we are in the process of doing. Fixing. Renovating. Upgrading. Our town home rental has sat in quiet desperation since the golden era of scrunchies. While there is nothing structurally wrong with anything, there is something aesthetically wrong.
I wish I had taken more before pictures, but the team moved like a hurricane! I had a few precious moments to shoot the above image.
All great counter top decisions begin in a large warehouse. We knew we wanted granite because it is highly resistant to staining, scratching and heat - perfect for a kitchen! There were hundreds of options, each with their own subtle properties. With natural stone it is essential to see the product in-person because of the subtle nuances of color. For example, what may look like a perfectly neutral grey under fluorescent lighting may look slightly violet when in natural light.
When selecting the granite I had to keep reminding myself that this stone is for a rental property. Meaning I had to pick something much simpler and more bland than what I would usually go for. It was so hard! Brazil has so many fantastic stones with long threads of green bolting through speckled patches of silver and bronze. I needed a color that was neutral, livable and that would appeal to any renter. Here are the top four contenders:
Each stone is neutral, and generally falls into the "speckles" category which means there are not large random movements of colors and formations. The pattern is smaller and pretty consistent throughout the stone. The marble (second from left) is technically a "veins" pattern but it is so subtle it feels like a speckles pattern.
I liked this slab of granite for its interesting formations of color, the veins and the movement of the piece. Again, I had to remind myself that this was a little too patterned for your average renter.
This is pretty stunning as well. What a rare color! Light blue with subtle flecks of green. This color would dictate every other design decision made in the kitchen, but with colors like that, who cares!? Renters. Moving on.
When renting or selling a property the single most important feature of the home is the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home. If the kitchen is updated with current appliances, quality counter tops and decent cabinets, other home transgressions are much more likely to be forgiven.
Watching the workers rip off the linoleum counter top felt like getting a massage. Thankfully the cabinets are good quality and very classically appealing in white so those stayed. This is when my heart rate increased and I felt the pure rush of renovation!
These guys make this look so easy. I couldn't believe only two men could lift this slab!
I loved how the moment I could see the full counter top assembled everything else - the light fixtures, the wall color, and those curtains, felt so out of place. Like they needed to leave five minutes ago.
I cannot believe this is the same kitchen. It is so strange to see daylight reflecting off of the counters!
The Before and After. Notice the sink and faucet changed! I love the new faucet. The neck looks like a graceful swan dipping its elegant head.
Now that the weightiest part of the renovation is done it's on to the smaller jobs that take about 50 times longer than you'd think! Up next: Painting everything a neutralized shade, replacing dated light fixtures, deep cleaning the carpeting and a baker's dozen extra little things!