Refreshing a First-Time Homeowner’s Kitchen

Refreshing a First-Time Homeowner’s Kitchen

In this episode, we’re helping first-time homeowner Dawn Nelson, who’s in over her head with her kitchen renovation.

Dawn wanted to take down one wall that separated her three main living areas, the dining room, kitchen and living room. But then realized she removed all the drywall on a load-bearing wall.

Homeowner Dawn Nelson's kitchen before the renovation.
Before, Dawn’s kitchen was dull and just didn’t fit her style.

A contractor helped her fix that mistake, but then she realized that removing the wall also exposed a small patch of old flooring.

We’re going to pick up where the contractor left off, and make this place look great!


Patch of vinyl flooring left over after cabinet was removed from Dawn Nelson's home
Removing a wall and cabinet revealed a patch of flooring that the previous homeowners worked around — and it’s an eyesore that Dawn wants covered up, asap. No problem!

Fill In Ceramic Tile Flooring

Dawn was lucky because the previous homeowner left just enough ceramic tiles to fill this eyesore of vinyl flooring.  

The project won’t be difficult because vinyl flooring is the perfect subfloor. That means we don’t have to remove it; we can just install tiles right over the old flooring.

But first, we need to remove some of the ceramic tiles surrounding the hole. They were cut around a cabinet that used to be on the vinyl flooring.  

Ceramic tile after shot in Dawn's home.
The new tile in Dawn’s kitchen makes the space more cohesive!

Once the tiles dry overnight, we apply stain-resistant FusionPro Grout from Custom Building Products.


Mounting plate for over-the-range microwave seen in kitchen before microwave's installation
The over-the-range microwave is ready to be installed, but there’s just one problem: it needs to be properly vented to the outside. We will create an access hole to make that happen.

Install Microwave

An over-the-range microwave has been purchased, but it needs to be installed, and more importantly, it needs to be properly vented to the outside. Otherwise, OTR microwaves just recirculate the air in the kitchen, which isn’t healthy.

I drill through the wall to create an access hole for the venting. Then I take a sledgehammer to the home’s exterior to complete that hole.

With the path for the vent clear, Bear and I lift the microwave into its new home and trim off the vent on the outside. I also add a little paint to that vent so it blends right in.

Over the range microwave in kitchen
The new microwave is complementary to the rest of Dawn’s appliances.
Making a Small, Outdated Bathroom Look Fabulous

Making a Small, Outdated Bathroom Look Fabulous

When you have a master bathroom that’s anything but, and you’re working with a limited budget, it’s time for a small bathroom remodel.

This mid-century house belongs to Logan and Hannah, who share it with their daughters Brooklyn and Dakota and, soon, another baby girl.

The growing family has a master bathroom that needs to grow too, but since it can’t, we’re making the most of what they have.


Unattractive mid-century bathroom with institutional tile floors and a basket under the sink
This bathroom looks dated and institutional. It’s not the inviting spa that it should be — but it has plenty of potential.

The Problems

Logan and Hannah’s master bathroom is not much of a master. It’s small and has a dated light fixture and medicine cabinet, tired tile, a toilet too large for the space, and an overall lack of storage.

Then there’s an oddly placed outlet that prevents Logan from entering the bathroom without getting tangled up while Hannah blow-dries her hair.

Finally, their exhaust fan sounds like a freight train when it’s turned on.

And we’re going to fix all these problems with a small bathroom remodel on this episode of Today’s Homeowner.


Old cast-iron sink in an unattractive mid-century bathroom
A sink without a vanity isn’t very functional. Every bathroom needs storage underneath.

Adding a Vanity

The sink is, well, just a sink. There’s no vanity, and that means there are no drawers, no doors, and no storage. That means Hannah has to store things in a basket under the sink — not ideal. So, the first thing we’ll do during this small bathroom remodel is replace this sink with a proper vanity.

Usually, when you have water lines coming out of a bathroom, there’s a shutoff valve. While there’s one of those near the toilet that we removed, there’s not one for the sink. That means we have to turn the water off at the street and then add shutoff valves. This is a job for the plumber, Artie.

Partially remodeled bathroom with new vanity, gold drawer pulls and knobs and no toilet
This bathroom is really coming along! It’s starting to take on the grand appearance the homeowners wanted.

He will do more than add shutoff valves; he’ll also install an offset toilet flange. This will allow us to position the toilet closer to the vanity.

But before he arrives, I’ll remove the dated ceramic cup holder and toothbrush caddy.

Modern Exterior Design for Chelsea’s Mid-Century Home

Modern Exterior Design for Chelsea’s Mid-Century Home

In this episode, we’re focusing on improving the exterior design of Chelsea’s ranch-style home. 

Several months ago, Chelsea and her husband Brandon bought a mid-century house. They have already done some minor updates before moving in with their three children, Gus, Mary Helen and Lucy. 

Now that they have been living in the home for a while, Chelsea and Brandon are ready for some bigger projects that will really make a difference. 

We’re giving the exterior of Chelsea’s home a facelift from the 1950s and bringing it into this century!


Chelsea's new windows
Chelsea’s new JELD-WEN windows add a huge difference to her home’s exterior appearance. 

Replacing the Windows

Chelsea and Brandon’s home was built in 1956, so replacing the windows — originals to the place— is a must. The old windows were rusty and leaky — keeping them was out of the question.

After we take measurements, Low-E, energy-efficient JELD-WEN windows are installed around the perimeter of the house and sealed.

The windows are sealed with Duramaster, a super-flexible new caulk, to keep them air and watertight.


Chelsea's new garage doors
Chelsea’s new garage doors she built with Danny give her garage some modern flare.

New Garage Doors

Just like the windows, the garage door was old, rusting and leaking. 

Chelsea and I built the new garage doors using wood planks in a diagonal pattern for that modern look. As soon as we install the new doors, Chelsea gets busy sanding and staining them. 

She chose a natural stain to bring out the grain in the wood as well as protect them from the elements.


Chelsea painting the new shutters for her home
Chelsea paints her new shutters to complement the windows of her home.

Painting the Shutters

By replacing the windows, we also needed some new shutters to complement them. Chelsea chooses to paint the shutters a warm brownish-gray color by Behr. 

Once Chelsea paints the shutters, we start installing the mounting hardware and begin to hang the shutters around the perimeter.


Production Thoughts

Chelsea’s house was built in 1956 and it didn’t look like much had changed since then.

The color was kind of “Blah,” the windows were rusty and leaky, as was the garage door, and the lawn and landscaping were a little out-of-control.

There was really nothing to draw your eyes or make you take notice of the place.

But NOW, the whole corner seems to be alive and begging for attention. The new color on the walls is cheerful and bright and the new windows have the clean, modern look that Chelsea wanted, plus a lot more efficiency.

New shutters continue that crisp look, and the new front door adds warmth and character to the house, along with the cedar shakes on the front gable and the new garage doors around the back.

The exterior updates of Chelsea’s house really took her curb appeal to the next level. It now has a welcoming feel to the home and has brought this mid-century home back to life. 


Further Reading