Monday, February 4, 2013

Forever House #14: Kitchen Island & Countertops

...our journey to rent free living, all the entertainment minus the headaches.

When designing the layout of our house we wanted to make it so that we all were together as much as possible. That's why we have the great room. Our current rental house has our kitchen and living room on opposite ends of the house. It's small enough where you could shout back and forth, but you still feel alone in the kitchen. Since I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen I wanted to be able to cook and clean up after a meal and still be WITH my family. 

Jimmy usually sits at the kitchen table while I'm making breakfast in the mornings reading news and emails. Jonah and Silas are so cute. They like being with us, so almost every morning they sit at the table and do puzzles or draw until it's time to eat. I love it! 

So I wanted my entire kitchen to be in an island where I could work facing my family. It is L-shaped. My stove faces our dining room table and my sink faces the living room area. I will have drawers across the front wall under the windows too that will have all of our small appliances on top. Here is a photo with Lico standing where my stove will be:
Poor Jimmy... they started my island and then I worried it came out too far, so they move it.  Then they started it again and I thought what crazy lady would make her counter area smaller, so they moved it back some and started again. I think I am losing my mind with all the decisions. Anyway my indecisiveness left a mark in the floor, so Jimmy surprised me and carved our initials in it to make me think sweet thoughts of him instead of frustration with myself every time I see it! 
We have been talking about countertop options for years. I wanted something on which I could roll out dough. I knew I didn't want tile. Granite is available here and it is significantly cheaper than the States, but it was still more money than we wanted to pay. I love the look of concrete, but we just didn't think it would be done right. At Thanksgiving we just happened to be talking about construction and Stephen (our friend who helped us with the floors in the great room) convinced us that a concrete countertop just might be possible.  He also had the right tools to vibrate all the bubbles out and make it smooth and offered to help. Jimmy read up on it and ordered a couple of finishing things to be sent down in a bubble mailer and I blinked and then all of a sudden I had beautiful concrete countertops! (That's probably not how Jimmy and Stephen would describe it.) But it was seriously the fastest thing from talking about it to having it finished that has happened in our house yet! 

Jimmy and Lico took a lot of time building the forms. They had to be perfectly level. My stove is a drop in stove top and my sink is an undermount, so they had to measure everything exactly. Here you can see the opening for my stovetop and all the steel that reinforces the concrete: (My hard drive crashed, so I only could find a fuzzy instagram shot) 
Jimmy and Stephen spent an entire day pouring our counters. 
We are so thankful for Stephen's generosity in giving a whole day to this. 
He and Jimmy did a WONDERFUL job. Here is a shot of the next day: 
Jimmy kept adding water to help them dry slowly. Here is what they look like with the forms taken down: 
They are nice and chunky, 3 inches thick!
This is what they looked like untouched:
 Until Jimmy spent several hours with this:
 He sanded and buffed and sanded and buffed. Then he used this:
It's car wax but it is made from some type of palm. It is food safe and seals the counters with a waterproof, heatproof coating. You originally do several coats and then maybe once a month after that. Here is kind of a comparison shot. The island has been cleaned up, but doesn't have wax, the back counter does.
Jimmy keeps going back and tweaking things. He's funny. He won't stop messing with it. I love it! It is so smooth. It feels exactly like if you were touching granite, but it has more of an esthetic that fits our house. It even sparkles like granite:
 Our mason said the sand comes from a river where they find silver. So there may be actual silver flecks in there. It is pretty whatever it is. In this shot you can really see how they shine:
 I'm telling you these are show stopping countertops!!!
{The lights are in temporary spots}
Can you tell these girls are happy with their kitchen?!
This was right after Jimmy dropped in my stovetop!
Jonah and Silas have already hopped up there. I think we are going to have lots of fun cooking around that stove. And here is the money shot:
Jimmy was very proud of this. I may or may not have complained A LOT about my other stove that I cannot get level. 

As for the cost, it was right under $200 for all of the materials and labor (what we paid Lico to do the forms). I am so thankful for all the hard work Jimmy has put into creating such a great kitchen for me. Last night we got to use it for our Super Bowl party!
 We had such a great time with our missionary friends! There aren't very many missionaries in Petén, but the ones that are, are pretty special!
Our living room furniture is there! Just a couple more doors to finish and some screen to put up and we are in!!! Maybe by next week... 

We were driving home from church yesterday and we were a block away from our house on a dirt road. A very nice large pickup came tearing around the corner without looking and just missed us. Jimmy swerved as fast as he could and honked his horn to try to get the guy to stop before he crashed into us. It would have been on mine and E's side. I think there was a guardian angel in between our 2 vehicles and he definitely got smushed. We have tinted windows and he had tinted windows, so we couldn't see who was in the vehicle. He backed up so we could keep driving down the road, but then he turned the opposite way he was going to turn and started following us... what! Honestly nice vehicles in our neighborhood are usually involved in some shady things. Who knows what he was up to following us, but I doubt it was apologizing. So we drove past our house and then he turned onto a different street. So... very scary followed by a dose of creepy. I am so thankful that God protected our family. 


  1. Hi! My friend Carrie recommended your blog to me. I live in Guatemala and my husband and I are remodeling our home--- and we just put in cement counter tops after seeing your pics! Can you tell me where did you find the Palm oil? Here in Guate or in the US? Your kitchen looks great!

    1. Yay for concrete counters! I want to see pics! Carnauba Wax is what he uses and he ordered in on Amazon.


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