Kitchen Soffit Removal

The long and windy tale of the kitchen soffit removal… don’t say you weren’t warned.

My kitchen renovation began with removing the wallpaper and painting the cabinets. I had solid wood cabinets, but the doors were flat. Both boxes and doors (though doors were particle board type material) were covered with the same faux wood look veneer that was obviously from the 60s/70s era.

Here are some photos from the listing before I bought the house:

You can clearly see the soffit above the cabinets and the veneer on the cabinets. And the wallpaper, don’t forget the wallpaper.

The first project was removing the wallpaper from the whole main floor (living room, dining room, kitchen), which is detailed here.

Then came the wall removal around the kitchen to open everything up. I unfortunately don’t have any photos of that process (lost lots of photos when I got a new phone). Make sure when you are thinking about removing any walls in your home that they are NOT load bearing. Also check with your local permitting office in case you need a permit for wall removal. Generally non-load bearing walls will not require a permit, but it’s always good to check just in case. Load-bearing walls require the installation of a load-bearing beam – and the distributed loads need to be carefully calculated by a structural engineer (permitting office may not issue a permit without this step).

Luckily, my walls were not load-bearing, so it was just demolition (I actually paid a friend to do the demo part) and then patching up. My dad works pretty close to my house, so he came over during lunch breaks to patch my ceiling and walls where the walls were removed.

Back to the soffit…

This is what my kitchen looked like after we removed the wallpaper, surrounding kitchen walls; and you can see where we cut the counter tops to remove the cook top so I could put my new gas range in.

The circle hole was actually originally covered up by a clock on the wall. I believe the hole was cut out at some point to rig up the florescent light above the sink. I say rigged up because there were electrical splices everywhere… definitely not to code. You can also see some hanging wires in the foreground that weren’t quite moved around after the wall was removed. The square hole was where my dad and I cut in to peak through behind the soffit.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky to have just empty space behind the soffit. There were quite a few electrical wires and water/drain pipes. I knew the house had been re-plumbed for incoming water so most of the copper pipes in the soffit were not in use, but I wasn’t 100% sure. So, for the time being, we patched the holes back up, and only removed the soffit portion above the sink, hoping that would give a little more of an open feeling.

Yes, I did have several places where there was no flooring, so I just cut some plywood (not shown) for the time being to make the floor level and threw an area rug over it. You can see that in the photo below:

It worked fine… until the drain pipe behind my sink cracked and I had to rip up my floors. I was planning on doing it eventually, partly because the engineered wood flooring I had had was no longer being manufactured and I had a really tough time trying to find a match.

You can also see the line in the upper left corner on the ceiling… that’s from where the old wall was. (And I also had recessed LEDs installed… the little circle hole in the ceiling was from the previous tiny light fixture.)

The cabinets in the photo are not painted yet. I had removed the veneer and then was left with adhesive that just did not want to be removed. So I took a palm sander. To all the cabinet frames. Yes, it sucked. Yes, there was dust everywhere.

I also want to highlight the table that was being used as a make-shift island. Got that baby for $50 off craigslist.

$50 for that table! Solid wood and look at those legs! I plan on refinishing it eventually… the chairs actually are from another dining set. I just gave the table to my parents.

Back to the soffit again…

You can kind of see the recessed soffit above the sink in these photos. These are the primed and painted cabinet boxes, but I hadn’t gotten around to putting the doors back up yet.

We left that little side wall to the right of the french doors to put the thermostat (I switched mine out with a Nest), light switches, and outlets.

In the second photo in the very back you can see a whole mess on the wall… that was from ripping the cabinet above the stove out and placing a slide in range (this was just a cook top and the tall cabinet on the left is where the old (SMALL) oven was). I figured if I was replacing the stove I might as well go gas (my water heater and new dryer are gas), so I had a plumber come and install a gas line. That was not cheap. But I love my gas range.

The cabinets for the island: I got a whole kitchen full of solid oak cabinets off of craigslist for $300. All those cabinets in the island plus another 9″ base and 18″ base (in the corner underneath the green sheet) and then uppers as well. I gave the uppers to my dad for his laundry room re-do. I haven’t gotten around to painting those cabinets yet, as you can see.

So after seeing the mess behind the soffit, I was resigned to just keeping it and trying to disguise it. And thus the great soffit disguise Pinterest search began…

I liked the look of the clean lines and molding from Chris at White Wood.

This photo below no longer has a working blog, unfortunately. But it still looks great!

Use crown molding and cabinet trim to make soffit look custom. Cabinets are Ikea Lidingo.

And this amazing DIY post by Fisherman’s Wife! I love the clean white lines, the glass tile backsplash, and of course those wood counter tops! Fantastic makeover of a dated kitchen.

Disguising the soffit wall above the cabinets. I have wanted to do some kind of molding, but wasn't sure how to deal with how the soffit comes out farther than the cabinet. This looks like a great way to do it!

Unfortunately my soffit stuck out about 1.5″ to 2.5″ depending on which cabinet and then the height of the gap between the soffit and cabinets also varied, so standard molding was going to be difficult. I bought several samples of cove moldings, as I thought that would make the “softest” transition between the gap.

I would have been content (note: not happy) with the soffit disguise, but all that wasted space up there really bothered me.

But of course, the 57 year old cast iron pipe in the kitchen had different plans for me. Once I realized exactly where my leak was coming from (i.e. the kitchen vs. the laundry room), I called a plumber. He had to knock into the block wall to replace the pipe, but of course the damage had already been done. My whole east wall of cabinets were water damaged and moldy, and don’t even get me started on how nasty the dry wall was…

I knew I needed the drywall replaced as soon as possible, so I had a contractor come to replace the drywall. But I figured if everything was going to be removed, I might as well just go with my original plan and demo the soffit and remove that little half wall that I had the thermostat and outlets on (the contractor moved all these to other walls).

The demo didn’t take terribly long, but he had to cut lots of furring strips to slip wires through because both of the walls on the L-shape were concrete blocks with furring strips running vertically to act as studs to put up drywall and attach cabinets. Most of the old copper plumbing he was able to just cut out. The electrical lines created the most problems. I actually had to fire this contractor because he showed up 2-3 hours later than promised every day and he over charged me. So I ended up with a kitchen that looked like this for a while…

I figured the rest of the drywall could be installed after I got the new floor installed. And that would also give me time to find a more reliable contractor. So, with the help of my brothers and my dad, we removed the base cabinets and everything else in the kitchen. I disposed the damaged cabinets. I kept the tall (old oven) cabinet because that’s where I had put a shelf to hold the microwave and was acting as a pantry. My carport was full the brim with cabinets and counter top pieces for several weeks.

Once the floor was installed, I had my new contractor come to move the rest of the electrical and plumbing and then install the rest of the drywall.

And look what he found in the block wall when patching it up!

An old glass Pepsi bottle! It was really cool up until I was informed that construction workers would use soda bottles to pee in and then stick them in the walls. So yay, crystallized pee circa 1960.

Anyway, here is where we were after appliances and base cabinets were re-installed:

Ignoring all of the clutter and mess, look how open it is! I toyed with the idea of open shelving instead of re-installing the upper cabinets, but I have several roommates and since we all have our own stuff, I needed all the extra storage I could get. However, I did move the cabinets to the ceiling so I can install a shelf below the cabinets, like in the following photos:

Extend your cabinet with this inventive shelving

I like the open shelf below the cupboards & like the style hardware on the cabinets and drawers

So here is where I am currently at:

As you can see, I have a lot of mismatched cabinets… and a lot of clutter. I will get it all cleaned up eventually. And yes, I like onions, as is evidenced by the plethora of onions in the hanging baskets over the island. My 7 year old onion-hating self would cry (ha, see what I did there? … I hate cutting onions).

I will go over in detail how I obtained all of those mismatched cabinets and what I plan to do with them in a future post. For now, it functions, and that’s the most important part.



Keto Hot Chocolate

Well, the winter storm is upon all of us on the east coast. It’s currently in the 30s in Florida – north Florida even got snow on Tuesday!! Once it drops below 60 (who am I kidding, 70) degrees, we Floridians retreat to the warmth. However, we also don’t like to turn on the heat since the cold doesn’t last more than a few days. So, bundling up and making hot drinks is the way to go! Also, dogs. Preferably the snuggly kind.

This meme accurately depicts how we feel about the cold:

So it’s midnight on a Thursday evening and I’m watching Netflix, freezing in my bed with the pups and suddenly think about hot cocoa. I look up a few recipes on Pinterest. Basically, a cup of milk, some sugar, 2 teaspoons of cocoa, and vanilla extract, and you have a cup of hot chocolate.

Here are the ingredients I used to make it keto/low carb:

  • 3/4 cup of nut milk (almond, coconut… I used a plant-based milk I just bought from the store)
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Torani sugar free vanilla syrup
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender (I used my Ninja) and blend. Transfer to a mug and nuke in the microwave until desired temperature is reached. I microwaved for a minute, stirred, and then microwaved for another minute to get it piping hot. You can play around with the ingredients to your desired taste/sweetness.

Cheers, and stay warm everyone!

Oh No, My Floors!

I mentioned in a previous post how the floors in the kitchen, living room, and dining room were all hickory engineered wood. I had planned on refinishing them (which, from my understanding, is a one-shot because of the thin layer of wood veneer) and staining a different color than the golden/orange it was. Here is a photo of the floors (again, ignore the wallpaper and decor… that was all from the previous owner):


Enter the cracked cast iron pipe in the kitchen. This is an interesting story, quite a roller coaster ride.

I bought the house in December 2016 (yay for a year of homeownership!). I didn’t move in until April 2017, because I was working full time and taking two grad classes at the time, so my time was limited to work on the house. But I wanted to get all of the wallpaper off and the two walls around the kitchen knocked down and patched up before I moved in. So yes, that all took almost four months.

Around May, I did notice some water damage on the wood floor by the sink and dishwasher. But I had had one of those memory foam mats down by the sink and thought maybe that was holding the water in and damaged the floor. Once I removed that and I was getting a little more damage, I thought it was the dishwasher leaking. I had other projects to focus on, so when the damage didn’t increase exponentially, I kind of ignored it.

Then my laundry room started flooding. Not all the time. Just intermittently. So initially I thought it was the washer (which was just purchased in May), because the water seemingly started leaking from underneath the washer. However, the air conditioner unit is also in the laundry room and it was sweating in the height of summer in Florida, so I thought maybe it was just working too hard or that the outlet drain was clogged. So I cleared the drain out and didn’t have any issues for a few weeks.

Then it started flooding again, and I noticed where it was coming from, a 1″ PVC pipe that looked like it was coming from the A/C unit, but actually wasn’t. It wasn’t until I noticed that the laundry room was flooding when I ran the dishwasher that the light bulb shone brightly above my head. And then, at long last,  I called a plumber.

Verdict? Cracked cast iron pipe behind the sink.


Here is what it looked like removed from the block wall:




It was only a matter of time, given that the house was built in 1960 and that was the original drain pipe. The crack in the pipe was just slowly getting bigger to the point where it couldn’t hold really anything in. Somehow (and my plumber couldn’t figure out what was going on), the water was being diverted to the laundry room. There were extra pipes for this reason, that’s where that 1″ PVC was coming from. So we think that the previous owners had an issue with this before and installed extra piping to divert instead of flooding the kitchen… but wouldn’t you just fix the source of the problem? *shrug* who knows.

Here is the brand spanking new pvc drain pipe:


At this point, my wood floors looked like this:



20171016_182313 (1)

And then I had to wait weeks to get an insurance inspector to come, well, inspect. This was right after Hurricane Irma so they were flooded (heh, pun intended) with Irma claims.  Mine happened to be a water claim of a different variety. So, I lived with this gross floor like I had been for a while, and in the meantime, shopped around for new flooring.



Paint Color Mayhem

After removing all of the wallpaper and opening up the living room, dining room, and kitchen, I started looking at paint colors. I really wanted to go with a seafoam green color, something coastal-y. I saw Sherwin Williams Sea Salt all over Pinterest and it looked great in the photos. So I bought a paint sample, along with some similar Valspar colors.

I really love Sea Salt, and if it weren’t for the chairs I have in the living room being a similar color, I probably would have chosen Sea Salt. (I don’t have the best lighting in my living room, sorry for the crappy photo!)


But those chairs… I just don’t want to have an overwhelming amount of color. I will be having turquoise and other coastal accent colors, along with a light aqua/green colored backsplash in the kitchen, so I just thought having the walls that color would just be too much. So I initially looked at colors that were more greige than gray (see the first 6 colors on the list at the end of the post). But once I put those on the wall, they were way to brown to me.

That was when I started looking at other colors that still had a hint of blue/green but were lighter and more gray. I checked out the online Valspar and Sherwin Williams color charts. They’re super helpful because it shows you accent colors and similar colors to the one you’re looking at. So that’s where I got about 20 other colors. Yes, I bought over 20 paint samples. I really want to make sure I like the color that I ultimately choose, because I don’t plan on painting that room again for a long time.

So here’s what my walls currently look like:



You can see the top of the little tree my brother’s girlfriend brought over. I had too much going on to get a tree this year, but I did put up lights outside!

You can also see the new dining light that was installed. I’ll update with affiliate links once I figure out how to get that going.

After putting all the colors on the wall and letting them dry and playing around with the lighting, I decided on 18 (middle left of top photo, lower left of bottom photo, and a little swatch next to Sea Salt) and 8 (behind left side of dining light). These colors are almost identical. I painted 18 a few times because I wanted to see what it looked like against Sea Salt and on another wall. 18 is Valspar Pale Linen:


And 8 is SW Opaline:


And here is SW Sea Salt for comparison:

SW Sea Salt

As you can see from the paint swatches, Pale Linen is a little more blue/gray than Opaline. Of course these barely look anything like what they do on the walls, so that’s why paint samples are imperative!

Here is my list of other paint samples:

  1. SW Colonnade Gray
  2. SW Anew Gray
  3. SW Mindful Gray
  4. Valspar Ashen Grey
  5. Valspar Foggy Mirror
  6. Valspar Frappe
  7. SW Rock Candy
  8. SW Opaline
  9. SW Ice Cube
  10. SW Nebulous White
  11. SW Glimmer
  12. SW Quicksilver
  13. SW Site White
  14. Valspar Seashell Gray
  15. Valspar Sheer Light
  16. Valspar Tsunami Sky
  17. Valspar Ivy Shadow
  18. Valspar Pale Linen
  19. Valspar Blizzard Fog
  20. Valspar Seashore Fog
  21. Valspar Comet Dust

The Wallpaper

Let me just preface this post with saying that when I bought this house, it was covered in wallpaper. The main living room, dining room, and kitchen area all had wallpaper, the upstairs bathroom, and one of the guest bedrooms. And it was all different wallpaper. I’m not just talking each room was different – each WALL was different. Even walls in the same room. And there was lots of pink, lots and lots of pink, with some green mixed in.

Here’s just one wall, with Penny modeling.

The stairs unfortunately still have carpeting, but the hideous molding and even more hideous wallpaper are gone. Here’s another look at the opening that used to go into the kitchen (that wall is now gone).

I actually had a ton of photos of the wallpaper and backed them up to my google drive, but I got a new phone and somehow they just didn’t stay. The photos below are actually from the original listing, so all the furniture and decor is the previous owner’s.

Yes, that wall is bright pink. And after my dad and I removed the built in? Hunter green was behind all the wood. I’ve even found bright orange and chartreuse under some wallpaper.

So as you can see, every wall has a different pattern, but all some variation of pink, purple, and green. Yay for consistency. But in all seriousness, the owner kept the house very well maintained, she just decorated in the 70s/80s and that was the decor then. One of my neighbors even told me she took a decor class back then and that’s where her “inspiration” came from.

The floors are hickory engineered wood. I had plans to refinish them and stain them a different shade. But the cracked cast iron pipe in the kitchen had other plans for me…

The doorway in the dining room leads to the kitchen. It’s all open now, thank god. This is what the old kitchen looked like…

And guys, here is the best part. Prior to removing the walls in the kitchen, we had to remove that wall cabinet/pantry thing behind the little kitchen table. This is what was behind the pantry…

Why yes, that is foil flower power wallpaper, with some linoleum thrown in for good measure!

This wallpaper actually peeled off in sheets, so I gave some to my hippy-dippy friend to make some art with. She said she’d frame a piece so I can keep a piece of history from the house. I told her it would go above the toilet in the least-used bathroom 😀

Aside from the wallpaper and dated cabinets, the counter top is actually Corian, so it’s newer and works well for now. Stay tuned for photos of what that whole room looks like now! Hint: it’s not done. Not even close.



Bloggin’ and Fried Cheese

Welcome to my blog! Please excuse the mess as I figure out how to blog and how to make my blog look nice and presentable. Visit the “About” page to learn more about me and this blog. Now onto the fried cheese…

This blog is mostly about my house remodeling, but I will be sharing my journey on the keto diet as well. I’ve been on the diet before and lost some weight, then fell off the wagon for a while, and now I am back on, just in time for the new year (new year, new me? ugh). I just figured I can put all the cookie and mashed potato eating behind me, at least until Thanksgiving. So I’ve got a good 11 months to stay on the wagon 😉

I had a huge bag of baby bells in the fridge that were about to expire so, while these are a staple for me on keto, I knew I wasn’t going to eat them all before they expired (at least, without feeling gross and wanting to sleep all day). I saw some keto recipes for mozzarella sticks and figured let’s try them with baby bells! The recipe I used is on Try Keto with Me. Who knew, frying cheese with cheese?

I don’t have any photos of the breading process. I just followed the instructions, make sure to double dip to get the best coating! I breaded them at around midnight last night (yeah… that’s what 2 weeks off of work does to you) and put them on a tray in the freezer and left them overnight. Now I have a whole bag that I can just pop on the stove in some oil and get eatin’!

So I started off with my frozen bag of cheese breaded cheese. Heat your oil of choice on the stove. I used about half coconut oil, half olive oil. Mostly because I’m not a huge fan of the flavor of straight olive oil and I wasn’t in the mood for coconut cheese flavor. The half and half mixture worked great!


Ignore my cold brew coffee straining on the left and my super burned stainless pans… and also my new unpainted drywall behind the stove. Yeah, I have a lot of stuff going on.

Make sure the oil mixture is heated up enough – it’s important that it’s at a high enough temperature, or the fried cheese won’t come out right. I just washed some dishes while it was heating (unfortunately still waiting on my new dishwasher to come in). Once the oil is heated up, plop those babies (ha, baby bells, get it? …I’ll stop) in the oil with a slotted spoon and let them fry!


Let them fry for a few minutes, and once the edges start turning a dark brown (not burnt), flip them over with your slotted spoon.


Do this again, and when they are done on the other side, plop them on a plate or platter covered with napkins or paper towels (to drain excess oil).


I actually had to put these back in the oil because the middle was still frozen. Not bad, but not what I was going for – I wanted my melty cheese! So the oil was actually too hot… lesson learned!

Now, here they are, done and melty cheesy!


These definitely hit the spot! Now off to the store to go stock up on keto essentials to get me through my work week on Tuesday…