In continuation of our kitchen project (which we've talked about here and here) our next step was cabinet fronts and countertops. Believe me when I say that there is nothing simple about the initial process of building the cabinets. Now of course, it's doable with patience but it's not simple. Thankfully, Ikea gives some relief towards the end and makes the process of hanging and installing fronts very simple. It's almost a click-in system, with few screws for support, which at this point in the project was very welcome. Nothing like an easy finish.
You can see above where we were after the first day of installation. By the end of the next working day we had closing doors and drawers. We waited to put the pulls on for quite a while because we couldn't decide exactly where we wanted them, decisions decisions.
The next step was the countertop. It was a bit scary to start cutting because we had a certain amount of space to cover and only so much countertop. At first we were going to join the corner by butting one piece up to another. My Dad mentioned that because of the wood grain we wouldn't be pleased with that and so we changed our minds to the angled corner cut you can see below. In order to make sure we did everything correctly, we used some 1/4" plywood to create templates that we could lay on top of the cabinets to ensure we were making correct cuts! Way better to make a mistake on a $10 slice of plywood than a $100 slice of butcher block. Practice makes perfect after all.
Hunter and I watched through the window with Star Wars characters cheering on my Dad and Rob as they made the scary cuts. Always best for me to stay away during these moments, I tend to be a gasper when things can go wrong. Of course they made all the right measurements with the help of their template. With all the pieces cut, they were laid out, screwed in from the underneath and glued together at seams.
Once all the counters were secured we moved onto giving them a finish. We did quite a bit of research about this. We had to decide if we wanted this to be a true working butcher block or just in appearance alone. We liked the idea of a full seal which would remove our ability to stain or make water rings on our new surface but a lot of the products that we found and read about weren't food safe. While that might work for some people, we were not comfortable with a non-food-safe surface in the kitchen especially when the kiddos are involved. We ended up conditioning our butcher block counters instead of sealing them; this is something that we have to do once in a while but it's no harder than applying lotion after a shower. It makes the counters resistant and water pools on top instead of soaking right in BUT rings and marks do form. Thankfully most of those marks are easily removed with a light hand sand (read: wiping counters with sandpaper) and another coat of conditioner. While making our choice we read that wood, because it is porous, will eventually "fill up" with the conditioner and actually become waterproof like butcher blocks in butcher shops used to! We liked the idea that it wouldn't be such virgin wood forever and it wouldn't only get prettier as the time went on.
At this point we were so pleased to have a most of a kitchen again. We still had finishing touches on the cabinets in the form of finishing sides (above cooktop and in corner) and adding pulls but the overall feeling was beginning to come together. It was so nice to have a sink on the main floor again - it's amazing how much you can miss that!
My Dad was so helpful during the countertop process, he's awesome and teaches us so much! Hunter also LOVES when my Dad comes over - he gets to have a bit of play time in his work truck and spend time with his Buppa!