A look at our kitchen refresh

We’re taking a departure from our usual topics today to talk about home stuff — featuring our recent kitchen refresh!

Last week, we finally finished our kitchen refresh, and it’s a game-changer for the look and feel of our entire house. I know this isn’t my usual topic, but I wanted to share some of the photos and the background here with you.

In this post, you’ll see:

  • Background on our house and previous projects
  • Exact products we chose for our counters, lights and hardware and why
  • Budget of project and timeline
  • Lots of photos

(And for some video of before and afters, check out this.)

First of all, let’s talk about our house. The fact that we found it just five days after arriving in Charlotte during the height of COVID after a cross-country move lets us know it was meant to be. Our home is a blessing for us. We spend a lot of time here.

Our house is in south Charlotte and was built in 1999. It’s lovely, and we’re often amazed that we live in it, especially compared to what we were used to living in in Northern California (let’s just say, you get more for your money here in the Southeast).

It’s a perfectly gorgeous Southern two-story brick home. We have more space than we need, we have a ton of natural light, and we live in a great neighborhood. However, there are definitely parts of our house that show their age — our house is more than 20 years old. And we knew we’d eventually want to fix some of that, because we plan to stay for a long time.

When we first moved in, we hired a company to paint the entire interior of the house, which took a long time. We chose Alabaster White from Sherwin Williams on almost every interior wall with a few accent walls too. (By the way, we’ve recently put wallpaper on two walls too, and I’ll share those pictures later this week.) And the painting project was fairly large, so other than getting furniture for every room and a couple new light fixtures, we held off on other projects until this summer, because it was all a big undertaking — both financially and mentally.

All of our bathrooms need a major makeover, but we decided that the kitchen was the biggest and most important area to tackle first (as well as the little wet bar off to the side). And I’m so glad we did. It’s the focal point of the house, we spend a lot of time in there, and it’s the first thing we see when we enter from the garage.

Kitchen refresh by A Lady Goes West

Our kitchen cabinets are in good shape, as are the appliances, so we didn’t need to touch those. For our kitchen refresh, we got new countertops, new light fixtures, new hardware and new sinks too, which doesn’t sound like much … but it was. Now that it’s done, we’re so very happy we spent the time and money to complete it, as well as the brain power, because this project required a lot of our decisions.

A look at our kitchen refresh

A look at our kitchen refresh by A Lady Goes West

Let’s break down every element below …

Countertops

In the last three places we’ve lived, we’ve had brownish multicolor granite, and I’m not a huge fan of it. I’ve always wanted white countertops. It just took a long time to get them.

However, a note: We have quickly learned that older brownish multicolor style countertop sure hides stains, food pieces and kitchen spots very well. Already with our white countertops, I’ve noticed we have to wipe them down multiple times a day, because everything shows. But it’s so satisfying for a neat freak like me to wipe down a white countertop (if you know, you know).

Here is the before of our countertops …

Kitchen before 4 by A Lady Goes West

Old kitchen by A Lady Goes West

Kitchen before by A Lady Goes West
Here is the after of our countertops, and you’ll see we changed the shape of the island into a rectangle as well, which we much prefer …

White counters by A Lady Goes West

Kitchen refresh counter shot by A Lady Goes West

Kitchen refresh overhead shot by A Lady Goes West

We needed a general contractor for this project, and we worked with a local company who our realtor referred us to when we moved in to fix some items from the inspection report.

These folks didn’t have the best communication, but they got the job done. They referred/connected us to a countertop company, who came to measure our space and make model/cut-out of our counters too. And then the countertop company sent us to some stone warehouses to look around for what we wanted on our own. This may sound simple to people in the home industry, but it was a lot more steps than we expected. We had multiple people we were working with to complete this job, and that was confusing at times.

It took several visits to stone stores, and then our contractor gave us the pricing for each (you don’t get the prices at the stone store, which is fishy, but I guess standard in the industry). We had to go back again multiple times to be sure on what we wanted, and this was a fairly long process.

We ended up getting our stone from Cosmos in Charlotte. And we have the “White Everest” from Carrara, which is an exotic quartz. After pricing out several options, we ended up with the middle of the road option. The one I really wanted was double the price, but the one we got has ended up being perfect anyhow. Quartz is not cheap. The stone itself was the biggest expense/choice of the project (and I’m sharing the exact amount below, just to be transparent). 

The actual countertop install only took one day, but we had to wait several days for the electrician and plumber to finish hooking everything back up. And we had to wait several days for the contractor to fix all the backsplash tiles that were broken in the process. We kept our backsplash the same, and luckily, Lowe’s still carried that style tile, so they could go get more tiles to fill in where it was needed. Once again, in order to save on budget, we only changed out what we really had to in order to fix the look and feel.

Because our little wet bar had that same multicolor brownish granite, we had to change it out too. Here’s the before of that …

Kitchen before 5 by A Lady Goes West

And here’s the after for the bar area …

New white bar by A Lady Goes West

Also, our old countertops had a more dated “edge” on the sides and corners as well, so we got a more contemporary look with these counters. Our new edge is called “eased” in case you’re wondering. I think our old one was a little more beveled. Overall, such an upgrade.

Hardware and sinks

We had plain silver sinks and brown hardware on our cabinet doors and drawers. But I wanted gold everything, and that’s what we did.

We had to order the sinks ahead of time and give them to the countertop people, so they could cut the right holes in the stone before installation day. We went to some hardware stores to look for sinks, but they had very little variety, so we relied on Amazon for these purchases, which is what our countertop contact suggested.

We also ordered our hardware from Amazon. Dave changed out the hardware on the cabinets and drawers over the course of a few days, but the rest of the stuff we left to the professionals.

Kitchen refresh counters shot by A Lady Goes West

Here’s our kitchen sink. Here’s our kitchen faucet. Here’s our bar sink. And here’s the hardware on all of our cabinets and drawers. Also, I bought a new blue runner, and here it is.

New gold sink bar by A Lady Goes West

Our old kitchen sink was a two-part sink, which was a bit more odd shaped, and the new sink is a plain single rectangle — a lot more contemporary of a look. However, we’ve noticed already that it’s harder to wash all the food down the drain of a bigger sink. There’s a grate that sits at the bottom to help save the basin from getting scratched, and it’s like a drying rack. 

I really like my big gold kitchen sink in front of the window. Not a terrible place to wash dishes (and I’m our resident dishwasher, because Dave is mostly our cook)! Also, previously we had a built-in soap dispenser, which we never used, so we opted to skip it with the refresh. We did also get a gold spout for our water filter, and that took a long time for the plumber to find for us (another thing we waited on for a couple weeks after the initial installation). 

New gold sink by A Lady Goes West

Kitchen sink by A Lady Goes West

Light fixtures

When we bought our house, pretty much everything was brown. The walls were a light brown/grey color, all the light fixtures were brown and as you know, even the counters were brown. All brown. I have nothing against brown, but we’ve tried to get away from the brown as much as we can to lighten up the space.

The last piece of the puzzle for our kitchen project was the lighting. We needed two new sconces for our walls and a big kitchen island light. The kitchen island light was the hardest to find, because it needed more than 120 inches of chain/cord to hang from our top floor. Our ceilings are 22 feet in the kitchen, so this was a big ask, and not an easy thing to find online.

I looked everywhere online for a new kitchen island light, and we ended up going to Lee Lighting in Charlotte (shout out to one of my loyal group fitness attendees who told us about this store, because we’d never heard of it).

The people at Lee Lighting were very friendly and helpful, and I’m glad we bought all three of our lights there. Even though, I did find our same island light on Amazon for about $200 less — whoops. But the Lee Lighting folks did give us extra gold chain and advise us in the process, so maybe it was worth spending more with them. A note about lights: They can be extremely pricey, and because we had already spent so much, we tried to keep our light budget smaller, but dang there are some fancy lights out there.

Also, Brady had a blast when we visited the lighting store …

Lighting store by A Lady Goes West

I was so nervous about hiring someone to hang this big light, because it seemed like a daunting task over the island, and what was there was the original light from 1999. A friend of mine referred me to a new electrician (the one we used for the counters wasn’t available at the time), and this new electrician came with a team, and it took three big strong men to get that island light up, with the help of a huge ladder that spread out over our island. They all worked together, and it was nerve-wracking! And I sure hope they hung it securely.

Here’s the before of our light fixtures …

Kitchen before 2 by A Lady Goes West

Here’s the after of our light fixtures …

New white counters by A Lady Goes West

Counter project by A Lady Goes West

This final element truly transformed the kitchen, because you can see that light fixture from so many rooms in the house, and I’m so pleased with it. It’s more simple, it’s bright, and it truly goes with our house.

Here’s our kitchen island chandelier. Here are our Edison light bulbs. And here are our wall sconces. Also, here are our counter stools, which we’ve had for a year and are so pleased with.

Kitchen refresh budget

I thought long and hard about sharing the full budget with you, but I’m doing it in case you’re considering a project of this nature for yourself in the future. I really had no idea what to expect, and I’m hoping that you can use this information to inform your own decisions. 

I want to be clear that this is the biggest project we’ve ever done, and we were very nervous about the investment — very nervous. We try to be really conservative with our finances, and we worked this in strategically.

New white kitchen by A Lady Goes West

It’s a lot, but we know it’s an investment into our house — so that’s a good one. We won’t be doing anything else to our house for the remainder of the year and may try to tackle a smaller project next summer, if we’re feeling up to it. Slowly, but surely. Here’s what we spent:

  • Counter stone ($130 per square foot) and installation: $13,500
  • Sinks and hardware: $1,294.92
  • Light fixtures and bulbs: $1,291.96
  • Light fixture installation: $650

Total investment: $16,736.88

As far as the timeline, I first reached out to our contractor about this project the end of April, and the final light was hung on August 16th. There were some lags in time due to finding the right lights, etc., but this is how long it took to get connected to everyone we needed, visit the stone stores, and get everything done. It could have been a bit faster, if we found the light sooner. But basically, it took a whole summer. We made all the decisions ourselves, and I’m happy with what we chose.

Of course, things didn’t go perfectly, and we needed new cords for our gas stove, new cords for our garbage disposal and a hard-to-find tube to go with our bar sink, which is apparently not common. These things caused small delays, but nothing terrible.

Overall, we only had about a week of time when our kitchen wasn’t fully functional, and I think that’s really good for a kitchen refresh. We spend a lot of time in this center of our home, playing, chatting, dancing, eating, cooking and hanging out, and we look forward to enjoying it for many, many years to come.

So there you go. That’ll do it for today! Hope you enjoyed this departure into the home design world all about our recent kitchen refresh. I’ll be back later this week with some faves. Have a great day!

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day for YOU …

What’s one area in your home you want to redesign or refresh?

What’s your favorite room in your home?

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24 Comments

  1. This was so much fun to read! Also, your kitchen looks AMAZING. Definitely worth the investment and your design choices are beautiful. I hope you’ll share more design/home improvements in the future ♡

    1. Thank you, Shelby! I’m glad you enjoyed this one! We don’t do any more projects for a bit, but I’ll definitely share more when I do. Have a wonderful week! 🙂 xoxo

  2. Wow Ashley, your kitchen looks fantastic! So bright, so airy, a little bit southern, and a lot of charm! I love the gold sinks – why didn’t I think of that? I also love the lighting, especially the sconces. I’m in a sconce phase – I just love the ambience, and they remind me of jewelry. 🙂

    Keep these home-related posts coming. I love to see it! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Lindsay! I’m glad you approve of my choices ehhe! I love the right lighting, so that’s been a big change. Hope you have a wonderful week! 🙂 xoxo

  3. Beautiful Ashley! I love every detail and the natural light you get from the pretty window in front of your sink!

  4. This is seriously SO gorgeous. I can’t believe how much of a difference these changes made and I appreciate all of the details you pointed out (like the edges of the counters. I couldn’t put my finger on what was different but once you pointed it out it’s so amazing how much of a different look/glow up it provides). Thanks for the transparency on the finances too! It is so cool to see what a (to me) reasonable investment can produce. I bet it will make your house so much more marketable if you choose to sell in the next 10 yrs. Love it. And in the interim, so much more enjoyable for you! Gorgeous!

    1. Hi Sarah! Yessss, we really couldn’t hold onto that 1999 kitchen much longer, so this had to be done. And I had NO idea what the price would be or where to look, so that’s why I felt like sharing. Thank you for saying hi, and have a great week! 🙂

  5. looks excellent! It is amazing what small things can make a big difference.
    It looks so light and bright and it’s the way you want it!!
    Home stuff can be so daunting at times but so much fun in the design and picking things out

    I am doing one project each year. It allows me to save for the investment and really plan what I like.
    Two years ago was my living room, last year was the yard, this year is my kitchen!!!!

    loved all the details you shared and your transparency on everything.
    IT’s lovely and you did a fantastic job!

    1. That’s SUCH a good plan to save your sanity and finances while still moving forward, and that’s similar to what we hope to do. Last year was painting/furnishing, this year was kitchen, and next year … who knows? Maybe 1-2 bathrooms? Or even painting the exterior, we shall see. Hope you have a great week, Sabrina!

  6. It looks great!
    We did all the countertops and sinks in our entire house at the same time…with a 1.5 year old. All the dishes were done in the bathtub and we did all the plumbing ourselves (it was chaos!!). Such a fun adventure and totally worth it in the end. Our quartz choice is also very high maintenance but beautiful! Thanks for sharing! So fun to see the transformation!

    1. Wow, Jen! That’s a big undertaking! Our bathrooms are more of a GUT situation, so just counters wouldn’t help hehe. Glad you are pleased with the work you did too. And bathtub dishes? eheheh way to make it work!

  7. Love the refreshed look. It’s amazing how changing a few key items can brighten up a space. I appreciate you sharing the budget as well. Home projects can add up quickly and I’m always struggling with how much I need to save for one. Thanks for sharing.

    1. We’ve always been so nervous about home projects! So I knew I wanted to share, because it’s not that scary, even if it’s an investment hehe! Have a great day, Alicia! 🙂

  8. It looks like a totally new kitchen ! I love the gold touch! Thanks for being so transparent with the costs, I always wonder what a kitchen refresh would cost with moving walls or new appliances. Enjoy your beautiful kitchen !

  9. Wow this looks amazing, you have such good taste! Loved this post and thanks for being transparent – its so helpful to others. My parents did their kitchen last year for a similar price (in the UK) and its made such a difference to their home too.
    Enjoy it! 🙂

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