before & after, kitchen, renovation

Kitchen Mini-Renovation: Countertop and Sink


The kitchen rehab continues! This time, countertop and sink. We’re saying goodbye to the stainless steel sink and formica countertop that had been painted silver. In their place, we’re installing IKEA HAMMARP butcher block countertops to warm up the kitchen and a Kohler white cast iron sink to bring back some vintage farmhouse flair.

While I had been confident about painting the kitchen cabinets (after all, I’ve painted my fair share of walls and furniture), replacing the countertop and sink had me shaking in my boots. I’ve had limited experience with power saws and the only other countertop I’ve installed was on the other half of the kitchen at the beginning of this kitchen rehab project a year ago. So worried was I that I had actually toyed with hiring out the installation of the countertops. But I’m cheap and I love a challenge! Armed with a circular saw, my father-in-law’s old saw horses and clamps borrowed from my dad, I did what I always do: I DIYed it. (I did call in a plumber to disconnect the old sink and install the new one. That ended up being a good call. The location of the drain is different on the new sink and that required new pipes to be cut. In my opinion, that’s a job better left to the professionals.

Removing the old countertop was an exercise in contortion and a test of my brute strength. The old top was attached to the base cabinets with long screws, which meant I had to lie on my back inside the cabinets to remove the screws (not as a simple task for a middle aged man). That corner cabinet next to the dishwasher, with its odd angles and dark recesses, was the most challenging. I was also trying to limit the amount of time that we would have to live without a functioning sink so – as you can see in the photo above – I attempted to cut the old countertop to remove it in sections. I was successful but after all that work I was happy when the plumber arrive and disconnected the sink so that I could take everything out at once.

With the countertop removed, it was time to begin installing the new butcher block. You know how they say “measure twice, cut once?” I was so nervous about measurements that I must have measured a dozen times.

I started by measuring and cutting the two side pieces.

With the two side pieces in, I measured, re-measured and then measured once more the distance between the two pieces. And then I cut the middle piece.

Success! I got a nice snug fit that doesn’t require any filler. There was much celebrating of this carpentry achievement and I was ready to stop and call it a day. But of course a kitchen isn’t a kitchen without a sink.

The new Kohler kitchen sink that we’re installing came with a pattern for marking the countertop. That pattern made measuring and marking the countertop easy. I wish it could have also made cutting the countertop easier. I used an old secondhand jigsaw to cut the hole for the sink and I don’t know whether it was the saw’s age, the countertop’s density or my inexperience, but it took FOREVER. And of course the entire time I was cutting it, I was worried that my marking had been off and the sink wouldn’t actually fit.

So you can image my joy when the pattern and the cut were spot-on and the sink fit snugly into the hole. We admired the new sink and then waited for the plumber to return the next morning to hook up the pipes and re-install the faucets. (Fun fact: you should definitely place signage or tape across a sink to indicate that it isn’t hooked up to plumbing. A cup of coffee and a glass of water were almost poured down the non-existent drain of our sink that evening.)

The whole project came together in just two days. Thanks to a very cooperative plumber, we were without a functioning kitchen sink for under twelve hours. That was important because we were attempting this project the same week that we were hosting Thanksgiving. There was no margin for error!

The butcher block and white sink really brighten up this small kitchen. We’ll need to oil the countertop periodically to help prevent staining but I think it’s going to be worth the effort. 

And now we’re one step closer to a new kitchen! Our next project will be patching and painting the wall. Or possibly installing a backsplash. More to come!

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1 Comment

  • Reply sogalitno 12/10/2017 at 12:36 pm

    Gorgeous. Painting really made a difference and the countertops and sink make it really pop. Great job

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