Our Impending Kitchen Remodel … And How to Tear Out Existing Countertops

by Nicole on July 23, 2013

Posted in: DIY,House,Kitchen

santa cecilia light granite, kitchen remodel, ever after happily


Well! We’re finally doing it! We’ve been wanting to redo our kitchen since we moved into our teeny tiny townhouse. The kitchen is laughably small, so we knew it wouldn’t be a huge budget buster … but it’s crazy that we’ve finally saved enough and have pulled the trigger. Granite is being installed on Thursday!

On top, here,  are my two inspiration pictures. I’ve known that I wanted subway tile and light granite with white cabinets. Since the kitchen is so small, and galley-style, I feel like we need to lighten it up.

The color to the right of the bottom circle is our grout, it’s a light greige. The color to the left is the paint color I’m noodling over. It’ll just be on one wall (the wall to the right of the stove, you’ll see it below), so I don’t think it’ll be too dark.

The light fixture below is the one I’m lusting over and 99% sure I’m going to spring on. I initially found it on Instagram, and CB2 currently sells it for just $199 (which isn’t cheap, but as far as lighting goes … it’s about HALF the price of everything else I’ve seen). We currently have an old ugly fluorescent light that gives off horrible bright, fake-looking light and really, the whole fixture is just an eye sore.

The tile for the backsplash is only $2.68/square foot (and I don’t imagine we’ll need much more than 15-20ish square feet), the grout is about 5 bucks a bag, and we won’t need more than a pint of paint for the one wall. Cheapy-easy-peasy!

The granite was only $39/square foot … and that price includes installation AND they threw in a rectangular 9″ deep undermount sink (I’m SO excited about this). With only 25 square feet of countertops (and that includes our pass-through), the total for our granite came to just $1225.00! In addition to that, we bought a Kohler faucet (that is SO sexy, and will be revealed once it’s installed) with a pull down sprayer/cord. It retails for $265, we paid $180 (thank goodness for my Daddy having his own design/build business … we got a great discount!).

Lastly, we’ll be refinishing our cabinets ourselves. I want them to be white. I’ll post a tutorial on that too. A friend of mine recently did his and had great success … so I plan on taking a page out of his book, and I’ll report back and let you know how it goes!

cb2 firefly pendant

Now, the only things NOT included in the granite installation are the disconnection/reconnection of the plumbing (sink/faucet/disposal) and the demo/disposal of the current countertops. So, we’ve removed half the kitchen countertops (yes, the image blow is HALF of our laughably small kitchen … it’s THAT small), and will be removing the other half tonight/tomorrow and dis/reconnecting the sink ourselves, too.

The removal of the countertops seemed daunting, but it was actually pretty painless. Here’s how we did it …

how to remove builder's countertops

  1. With a box cutter (a SHARP one), cut along the caulk lines (that’s where the countertop meets the wall, and where the pieces of counter top meet each other). Cut as deep as you can (try not to damage the wall … though it’s inevitable, may as well do as little damage as possible so you’ve got less to patch/paint and/or cover by a backsplash). You’ll notice the pieces starting to separate from the wall a bit and become a little loose.
  2. Grab a screwdriver (almost always a phillips head) and get inside your cabinets. You may have to take out the drawers, like we did. See those little corner pieces? There’s a screw that goes through those and into the countertops … and yes, aside from the caulk, those screws in the corners of the countertops are the ONLY things holding the counters on. Unscrew them.
  3. Jiggle the countertop. Pretty technical, huh? Just lift it, shake it up and down. If it’s not loosening, try to cut deeper with the box cutter.  If that still doesn’t work, use something to gently pry the countertops off the wall. On ours, it was that piece on the right (where the wall is now a mess) that stuck.  It’s because the builder put a ton of caulk on the back of that splash piece … so it damaged the wall. Once we jiggled enough, the pieces just slid right out (and ripped, over there on the right side).
  4. Clean up the wall. We tore off the flappy pieces of drywall/paint, and I peeled off the leftover caulk (you may need the box cutter’s help here).  And that’s it!

Next, the countertops will be installed, then we’ll be putting the backsplash up ourselves. On the right side, we’ll  be patching the wall and painting it (the backsplash won’t wrap around onto that wall).

If you have a longer section of countertops, the same rules hold true, you just may have to enlist the help of a saw to cut into pieces for easy removal.

Once we successfully disconnect our sink, I’ll post again on how to do that. Thank goodness for FaceTime and my Dad’s willingness to help with the hard stuff from 900 miles away in Florida!


Stay tuned over the next 2 months or so for before/after pictures and more DIY tutorials on how we did everything (aside from the granite installation, ain’t nobody got time to DIY that) ourselves!


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

molly stillman July 24, 2013 at 2:35 am

dang girl!! y’all are getting to WORK!! this is awesome – i can’t wait to see all the progress!!


Nicole July 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Eep, workin’ it! I love how we decided to do this as summer is winding down, my cheer season has started, and I’ll have approximately zero time. I’m a total glutton for punishment, it seems!

Ripping out the sink/last countertop tonight, and granite tomorrow. I CAN’T WAIT!


Stacie August 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm

oh my goodness! I am so glad I found your blog. My BF & I are gonna be ripping out our countertops next weekend for our kitchen reno and this post was soooo helpful!!!! If you don’t mind sharing, what company did you decide to get your granite countertops from?



Nicole August 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Hi Stacie!! I’m glad you found me too! We got our countertops from Granite and Marble Express in Chantilly VA — they were fantastic. We lucked out (because our kitchen is so small) and were able to use all remnant pieces (that matched, even!) for our kitchen. We paid $39/square foot and they included the sink. Lowes had a great deal going on, at $44/square foot + sink + edging of your choice, too. Hope this helps!! Feel free to share pictures when you’re done!? I’d love to feature your re-do! (you can upload pictures to facebook.com/eahappily)


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