The kitchen is the heart of any home — a place where families gather to cook, eat, and spend time together. However, when your kitchen is cramped and cluttered, it can be hard to enjoy the time you spend in there. 

That’s the predicament Sue King is in. She loves the style and comfort of her 85-year-old condo in midtown Mobile, but her small kitchen could use an update. So we’re going to change this tight spot for cooking into a truly cozy kitchen. 

As the Development Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Southwest Alabama, Sue’s no stranger to home improvement. So, as we work on this project, we’re saving any leftover items we can to donate to Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The items they sell help build houses for low-income families in the Mobile, Ala., area. 

    The Projects

    Butcher block countertops add a natural wood tone, bringing warmth and texture to the space. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Replace Countertops

    Because the kitchen has ceramic floors Sue wants to replace her granite countertops with butcher block countertops to add some warmth to the kitchen.  

    Removing granite countertops can damage the walls around the countertop, so have some mud on hand to make repairs. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    First, we remove the granite backsplash, which is a breeze since it’s only held in place by adhesive. However, the big countertop is another story. It takes two of us to remove the heavy piece of stone from the cabinet. 

    After the countertop is out, we haul it away to ReStore. 

    With accurate measurements, a butcher block countertop can be cut to fit precisely. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Using the measurements from the cabinet footprint we can cut the slabs of butcher block countertop to size then make the cutout for the sink before sanding all of the surfaces thoroughly. Once we’ve applied the construction adhesive to the tops of the cabinets. We can bring the countertops in and set them in place.

    Sealing a butcher block countertop is necessary to protect it from moisture, stains, and bacteria, as well as to enhance its durability and longevity. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    In order for the countertops to last, we need to waterproof them. So we use Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish. Once it’s dried and cured it will be food safe. 

    Using large format tiles for a backsplash in a small kitchen can create the illusion of a bigger space, as the larger tiles can make the walls appear more expansive and less cluttered. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Install Backsplash

    Sue’s antique style is very eclectic and there’s lots of stuff going on in her kitchen. So, we use a larger format tile so the backsplash itself wouldn’t be too busy and her antiques would shine. Plus, the bigger tile will also make the room feel bigger. 

    These new tiles are just the right size to fit snugly between the window and the countertop. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    The new tiles are the perfect size to fit between the window and the countertop. So on that side of the kitchen, we do one single run of the tiles all the way across, just like the old granite backsplash. 

    SimpleMat allows you to install tiles on your walls or floors in a flash, without having to deal with messy mortar or thinset. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Instead of using traditional thin-set to install the backsplash, we’re using SimpleMat from Custom Building Products. This stuff is like double-sided tape. All we need to do is cut the roll to size and apply it to the wall. 

    Tile edging trim covers the exposed edges of tiles to protect them from damage and creates a clean, professional look. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    So that we don’t have any tile edges exposed when our backsplash is complete, we’re using tile edge trim to conceal it and make it look nice and finished. To make sure the tile sticks to the edge trim, we cut a piece of SimpleMat and stick it to the inside of it. 

    A backsplash behind a stove is essential to protect the wall from heat, grease, and other cooking splatters. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Not only do we need to replace the backsplash that we removed with the old countertops, but we’re going to improve upon it by adding more backsplash tile behind the stove so that it’s easier to clean when Sue maybe gets a little grease and grime while she’s cooking.

    Because the SimpleMat requires no drying time,  the grout can go on as soon as the tiles are in place. We chose light-colored grout to complement the natural wood countertops. 

    Split image of a packed pantry and a stacked washer and dryer
    We restored the pantry, left, back into a laundry closet for a stackable washer and dryer. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Convert Pantry to Laundry Space

    When Sue moved into her condo, her washer and dryer weren’t working, so she transformed the laundry space into a pantry. Now, though, she wants to change it back to a functional laundry space so she doesn’t have to run to the laundromat in the complex every time she needs to do laundry.

    These 5½-inch screws were overkill for holding the door trim in place. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    First, we clean out the food and dismantle the shelves. The shelves aren’t budging after we tape them with a hammer, so we grab our drill to disassemble them. As it turns out, the shelves were built using 5½-inch screws instead of nails, so whoever built them meant for them to stay put! 

    Once we remove all the shelves, we remove two wood panels to reveal the water hook-up and exhaust for the washer and dryer. And now that the pantry demolition is complete, John patches the damaged drywall so we have a clean slate for the washer and dryer to be installed. 

    View of a white enamel cast iron sink in a butcher block countertop cabinet
    The new white enamel cast iron sink with a brushless gold faucet matches the rest of the kitchen appliances. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Replace Sink

    To match the newly bought all-white kitchen appliances, we’re going to replace the stainless steel sink with a white enamel cast iron sink with a brass faucet set. 

    However, we run into a problem when we measure to figure out the sink placement.

    View of a white enamel cast iron sink in a butcher block countertop cabinet
    We ultimately center the sink in the cabinet instead of under the window. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Now, the sink itself is centered in the cabinet, but it’s not directly under the window. You might think that aligning it with the window would be the obvious choice, but we think it’s more important to have it centered in the cabinet. Plus, with a double-bowl sink, the separator between the two bowls would be painfully off-center if it were aligned with the window instead.

    No way is wrong, but you always have to look at what ultimately is going to look best longer. 

    Once the countertops are installed, we place the sink in the hole and hook up the faucet to the plumbing. 

    Cleaning tip: White toothpaste is an effective and inexpensive way to clean and buff a white enamel cast iron sink. It can help remove stains and marks on the sink and leave it looking clean and shiny. Just be sure to use non-gel toothpaste, as gel toothpaste may contain abrasive particles that can scratch the sink’s surface.

    We also

    • Created a stove-top cutting board out of leftover butcher block countertop
    • Repaired hardware on cabinets

    Chelsea Lipford Wolf and Danny Lipford pose with homeowner Sue King.
    Chelsea Lipford Wolf and Danny Lipford pose with homeowner Sue King. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

    Post-Production Thoughts

    Sue’s tiny little kitchen was dated and a little bleak. She had replaced the appliances but didn’t have room for the stackable washer and dryer she needed and even with the glaze cabinets the room still lacked the visual appeal. She wanted it to have.

    But now, the new butcher block countertops add the warmth and texture the space was missing. The new sink and faucet contrast beautifully with the counters to elevate the room’s appeal. And the ceramic backsplash adds a bright clean look that is both attractive and functional. Plus, she finally has the washer and dryer she’s needed all along.

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    Further Reading

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Danny Lipford

    Danny Lipford


    Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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