New Tile Backsplash in the Kitchen and Bathroom


Last month Jason did a project we’ve been thinking about since we moved in two years ago—he tiled a backsplash and added under cabinet lights in the kitchen. He spent many nights working from after dinner until long after Ali and I were asleep. He’s such a hard worker. I LOVE how it came out. My only contribution was helping to pick out the tiles, which were a special order from Home Depot, in case you’re wondering. We picked the color and straight-stacked pattern to mirror the exposed concrete block wall that’s across from the kitchen in the dining room. (You can see it here in my grapefruit-belly photo.)

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I haven’t taken any photos of the backsplash in our master bathroom yet but Ali snuck this one on Monday while I was getting ready for work.




New Home Tour: Kitchen


Well, I suppose it’s about time that I start giving a virtual tour of our new home. Y’all were so patient and encouraging during the building process and now that we’re getting more and more settled in, I’m feeling ready to start sharing some rooms. Let’s kick this thing off with the kitchen, which is quite possibly my favorite room of the house. I’ve been challenging myself to take over more of the family cooking and I’m starting to really enjoy it…due in part to how much I love the functionality and atmosphere of this room. Everything ended up just like my plan with a few additions thanks to our friend Andy at Markraft Kitchens.

When I walk through the front door, this is my view of the kitchen.


Having an open shelf for cookbooks was on my dream kitchen wish list. We also have a medicine lockbox (DCS requirement) for our daily vitamins and tissues. Ali won’t leave anything on this shelf alone.


I was originally going to get silver stools but I decided we needed some color up in here. Our countertops extend out about 12″ there for casual conversation with friends while we’re cooking.


Another dream kitchen wish list item: a corner cabinet facing out under the bar toward the dining room. It ended up being the perfect spot for Lucy’s food and accessories, and her water bowl is very close to the sink. Perfect.

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This section of cabinets is the pantry, coffee/tea bar and home of the small appliances.


Another dream kitchen wish list item. This coffee/tea bar turned out even better than I had envisioned. We use this everyday, many times a day.


I prefer to keep my microwave and toaster oven hidden so he’s where they live. I’m so glad that Andy, our cabinet guru, found a way to make this work for us.


That door there is our coat closet.


We’re planning to add a tile backspace eventually. I really love the light we get in this space.


Our architect, Ryan Thewes, was so thoughtful and thorough with his planning of window placement. The clerestory windows let in a ton of light, mostly indirect. We never need to turn lights on during the day.



Besides the cookbook shelf, one open shelf for our everyday dishes and glasses was at the top of my dream kitchen wish list. BAM. Exactly how I wanted it!


This was a last minute addition to our kitchen plan: a pull out drawer for the trash and recycling. I’m so glad we did this. It’s really practical and I like that it’s close to the front door (the one on the left) where we walk in with the junk mail and go out with the trash.


I’m getting used to cooking with gas. My favorite part of the Whirlpool White Ice gas range is the knobs.


So that’s it, my dream kitchen!



Floors: natural, unstained, utility grade hickory
Cabinets: walnut-stained cherry and white thermofoil sold through Markraft
Countertops: Kashmir granite
Appliances: Whirlpool White Ice
Pendant lights: IKEA
Big A: ReAbide
Stools: Tabouret on
Love Bacon print: Matt Butler on Etsy
Wall color: Greek Villa by Sherwin Williams

If I skipped anything you’re curious about, just ask!

New Home Update


It’s been 2 weeks since my last update so there is a lot to share. Two big things: our wood flooring is all done and our kitchen cabinets and appliances have been installed. This week the electrical is getting finished, the countertops are being installed and the plumbing will be done. All of that makes for a pretty much finished house. I’m a little behind in my picture taking so next week I will probably have pictures of a completely finished house. We’re moving in next Friday. Holla! On to the pics:


I’m loving this fancy pull out trash and recycling drawer!

There will be doors on the corner cabinet up there, they just didn’t have the right hinge with them.

Those upper cabinets of the pantry will have white doors sometime this week.

That air compressor around the corner is a bit scary…

Blowing kisses at the granite yard

We chose these slabs of kashmir granite

Ali knows this is her room. She runs up the pink wall and slaps her hands on it, babbling incoherently. I think she approves.


Next kids room:

Ali’s room:

Master bedroom

Cherry cabinets stained a walnut color (I don’t remember the name of the specific finish)

I love the white ice appliances in our house as much as I did in the store.

I’m realizing I haven’t taken many new photos of the laundry room or Jason’s studio – those were the last rooms to have the flooring finished. I also haven’t photographed the bathrooms lately. We did have one little snafu with the tile in the master bathroom. We didn’t order enough the first time around so we had to get some more. The tile company sent the wrong color and the tile guy installed it anyway. (What the ?!) So that needs to be scraped up and the tile company promises the new tile will arrive by the end of this week. So, no big deal but a small set back nonetheless. It may or may not be fixed by moving day, but it will be fixed soon.

Now We’re Cookin’ – Kitchen Plan Part 2


Remember in 10th grade when you would practice signing your future name “Mrs. Jason Ahlbrandt” and “Martina + Jason” and “MLA”  all over your Physics notebook? Oh, wait that was me. Well, that’s me again, except now it’s a house I keep daydreaming about. I was down at the house meeting with our contractor about tile and when I got back to my desk, this happened:

I also might have printed out the kitchen plan elevations from our cabinet guy and sketched in notes about what I’m going to put in which cabinets. (First post about our kitchen plan is here.) It helped me to notice a few things, like that I wanted to add a pull out drawer for the trash and recycling near the end of the peninsula.

Our pantry will surround a coffee/tea bar area.

This open shelf at the end of the peninsula was one of my dream items.

The open shelf here for our everyday plates, bowls and glasses was another dream list item. (Inspiration can be seen in the plan here.)

I’m also very happy about the counter overhang that will allow space for a few bar stools and that cabinet on the right corner that’s accessible from the dining room side—it seems like the perfect place to store Lucy’s dog food and dishes.

New Home: Kitchen Plan


I sketched out the plan for our new kitchen in my moleskine journal:

Make sense?

Basically, I want walnut-stained wood cabinet doors on the base cabinets and white wall cabinets. Somewhere on the same wall as the refrigerator, I want a small open shelf for our everyday dishes and glasses. Plus, a whole lot of specifics that won’t matter to anyone but us.

These are my inspiration kitchens:

Source: Uploaded by user via Martina on Pinterest



Source: via Martina on Pinterest


Source: via Martina on Pinterest.


The good thing about our house taking so long is that we have time to change our minds about things as many times as we want. For example, at first we thought we wanted all white cabinets. Now we want half white, half walnut. We thought about doing soapstone countertops or concrete countertops…now we’re set on kashmire granite.

Here’s my inspiration board, our plan for the kitchen (not that we can’t still change our minds!):


1. Sherwin Williams Greek Villa – (main color throughout the house)

2. IKEA MINUT pendant 10″ globe lights $30 each

3. White upper wall cabinets

4. 3×6 glass subway tiles for backsplash

5. Delta 9159-DST Trinsic with pull down single handle

6. Double under mount sink (50/50) with lower center wall

7. Kashmire (Cashmere) Granite countertops

8. Woodland Garden 2×3 from Urban Outfitters $18

9. Walnut-stained (probably cherry wood) base cabinets

10. Hickory wood floors

11. Tabouret counter-height metal stools $40 each

12. Whirlpool White Ice appliances

13. Whirlpool 30″ stainless range hood

Ice, Ice, Baby


One Friday night we went on a fun family outing to the appliance store to look for a refrigerator, dishwasher and range. We don’t need to purchase them for a while but we figured it would be helpful to decide what we want to get, especially since we had to order the range hood for the HVAC guy. We know we want to get a gas range. They scare me a bit (thanks to our first apartment and its ancient gas range that almost blew up the house…) but Jason is more of a cook and he’s set on it. If he’ll cook more, it’s all fine by me. He assures me that a new gas range will not almost blow up our house. Beyond that, we know that we prefer a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer to the popular french door model.

We just assumed we’d get stainless. That’s what we had in our last house. That’s what you put in new houses. But then… Then, we saw this.

Can you hear the choir of angels singing “Halleluh…” because I can. It might seem silly to most people, but I totally fell in love with this Whirlpool White Ice line of appliances. They’re white but not the textured white with the white handles like we had back in the 90s. They’re a smooth semi-gloss white with sexy stainless handles. (Yes, I just said sexy stainless handles.)

We had a few irritations with the stainless appliance at our last house: 1. they scratched easily, 2. drip marks were constantly appearing on the dishwasher and the freezer door below the water dispenser and 3. toddler hand prints. I can’t say for sure that these won’t scratch or show drip marks but it sure doesn’t seem like it. We asked Ali to test irritation #3 and she was happy to oblige. NO TODDLER HANDPRINTS! Yay!

I’m sold. We walked all around the store looking at other stainless appliances but I couldn’t get White Ice out of my mind. We haven’t purchased them yet, as I mentioned, but we will be. I have a Kitchen Inspiration Board post coming soon.

New Home Update


I wish I had more exciting news to report. I was really hopeful that we’d be breaking ground this week. We’re working things out with the bank, trying some different options to see who/what/where will be a good fit to finance our new home. In the meantime, our contractors have the building permit in hand and are ready to go as soon as we close on the construction loan…which could be a few more weeks. Boo. We’re really eager to start moving forward.

I have some samples of countertops and wood flooring on my desk. This is honed granite, which is an option we’re considering for the kitchen countertop. The wood sample is hickory. Jason picked it up at the hardware store because he likes the fine, straight grain and the variation of colors. I do too. We’re still quite a ways away from needing to make those decisions but we’re looking at options as much as possible now so we can decide quickly later on.

Pinterest and Kitchen Inspiration


Good news: Pinterest has some practical real life applications! Last week I was pinning pictures of kitchens for inspiration for our new home. Our architect emailed us and said, “I noticed you’ve been looking at soapstone countertops. Do you want us to get some prices together for soapstone counters in the kitchen?” Jason said, “How did he know that?!” Because he follows my boards on Pinterest, of course!

It’s true. We’ve been thinking about putting black soapstone countertops with high gloss white cabinets and stainless appliances in our new kitchen. We like the solid dark color, the soft feel, the heat resistance and the matte finish of soapstone. And supposedly it’s quite a bit cheaper than granite. Here are some inspiration pictures I pinned on Pinterest. Some are pinned because of the cabinets, some the counter tops, some the configuration.

Source: via Martina on Pinterest


Source: via Martina on Pinterest


Source: via Martina on Pinterest


Source: via Martina on Pinterest


Source: via Martina on Pinterest


Source: via Martina on Pinterest

House Tour: Kitchen & Dining Room



Our living room connects to the kitchen and dining room. Just before we bought our house in 2007 it was fully renovated. The original hardwoods throughout the house were refinished, some walls were removed, everything was covered in a fresh coat of paint. The room the presumably had the most floor-to-ceiling changes was the kitchen. The cabinets are from IKEA. The countertops are square foot granite tiles. The floors are 2-ft travertine tiles. I love that it’s open and airy. It never feels too small to me, except when we have parties and everyone ends up standing around in the kitchen. (Why is that?)

Dining Room

Yes, it bothers me that the light in the dining room is not centered over the table. It’s even worse when the table is extended to it’s full length. Someday we’ll get around to fixing that… and probably changing the light altogether. It’s a small dining room but it works. The walls in the dining room and kitchen are Sherwin Williams Greek White. The door there leads into Jason’s studio (which used to be considered the den).

Door or No Door?


I had intended to post a bathroom renovation update today but … we didn’t quite finish the shower yet. We’re SO CLOSE! Hang on until next week to see pictures of the finished shower, ok? It will be worth the wait, I promise.

Besides I need your help with something.

See those two horizontal cabinets above? (Please excuse my messy countertop.) Well, the hinge that holds the door open is broken on the bottom cabinet. IKEA doesn’t sell the hinges separately from the entire cabinet and the only other online retailer we can find sells them for $80 a pair. Sheeah … $80 for some hinges!

However, I am tired of holding the {heavy} door open with my head while I delicately put away antique tea cups. Two days ago I had an epiphany … I’ll just take the door off! After all, open cabinets look good in other kitchens, right?

So here are some after pictures with the door off:

I need help. It looks unfinished to me. What do you think? Does it need painted or something? Take the top door off too? Should I just put the door back on? Fork out $80 for some hinges?