I love shows like Queer Eye, What Not to Wear, and other makeover/life-change reality TV shows. I just want to have someone fairy-tale restart my wardrobe and tell me how to fix my life. Like a personal fashion tyrant that forces me to look amazing.

I obsess over this one moment on these shows. Yes, every episode they’ll change their hair, their wardrobe, their meal plan, something—but there’s always one thing that makes you see that person from a new perspective. It’s magical.

Up until this week, I’d say we were still in the early frizzy-haired and non-shaped eyebrows Anne Hathaway in the Princess Diaries version of this kitchen. There was something good going on there, but you had to dig a little to see it. With the green cabinets, butcher block countertops in place, and the primer up on the wall, it’s metamorphosis has begun! We might have even skipped from Julie Andrews-approved gorge Princess of Genovia to jaw-dropping, sassy Oceans 8 Anne Hathaway.

And now that I think about it, I will not go to my grave without a band of 8 or so women in colorful jumpsuits breaking into secure facilities and painting colorful murals while fleeing into the night. Banyan Bridges 8. Coming July 2022 to a theater near you.

Let’s break down my progress this week so you can pat me on the back.

Butcher Block Countertops

The new butcher block countertops on the green cabinets have launched me out of this atmosphere with happiness. I am now a satellite and refuse to come down.

But in the spirit of transparency, it was no easy feat to get these countertops in place. They are the trickiest part of this entire project. This is because of the mint green Elkay sink that I’ve been raving about. The sink is an undermount sink, farmhouse style, and has an apron front. The countertops have to be clean-cut, perfectly fit, and shaped properly. The countertop sides will be fully exposed so I took a lot of time to sand and shape things just right.

This added some… complexity to my measuring game. I had a couple nervous breakdowns post-cut and then ran back to my sheet of paper with my math, measurements, and sketches on them. Obsessively recounting, remeasuring, and mumbling to myself like a conspiracy theorist. I just needed some red string and some pins.

But fortunately, it worked. Success! I have them dry fit right now, but will get them fully mounted this week.

I love working with butcher block. First of all, when telling people about it they are reminded of the threat you are. Why would this kind, friendly-looking woman have need of so much butcher block? What is she butchering? Even worse <gasp> WHO IS SHE BUTCHERING?!

Maybe I should take a break from the murder podcasts.

Butcher block is very DIY friendly. It’s inexpensive. For 18 linear feet of countertop, I got it all for $560. That’s a steal compared to nearly any other quality countertop material. It’s usually easy to cut and very forgiving for projects like this.

But because of the complexity, I had considered having an installer or carpenter come and get it fit just right. But that requires asking for help and instead I decided to muster the courage and just do it myself. There’s a lesson in there, but I’m going to continue to resist whatever that lesson could possibly be.

The warmth and natural element the butcher block countertops complements the green cabinets so beautifully. This basement kitchen that used to read eerie, questionable, and creepy—now feels fresh, green, and organic. I’ve been mimicking my new cooking show as I move around the new countertops.

Banyan Baking?

Baking Bridges?

Ban-YUM Bridges?

We’ll workshop it some more.

Priming for Kitchen Mural

There was a lot of prep work I did this week along with the countertops. I need to tell you first about priming the office/sitting area. Friends, I kept putting it off. I was like that one person in the group project that doesn’t contribute. But in this case, everybody didn’t do their part and it was up to one Racheal to tackle the whole thing.

So there I was, sitting in the bathtub sobbing to Garrett because I just didn’t want to prime the kitchen for a mural. It was the last thing on the earth I wanted to do.

Garrett offered to tape off the space for me. He did an iffy job, but you know what folks, when your significant other is crying in a bathtub, you’d grab some masking tape and pretend like you knew what you were doing too.

Basement kitchen wall primed for painting a mural
Basement kitchen wall primed for painting a mural

And after all of that, it took the two of us 23 minutes to get the space primed. So was it worth putting off for an entire day and dreading it and eating one too many ice cream bars to cope? You know what, it was. Sometimes, you deserve to freak yourself over something. And you always deserve ice cream in my opinion.

I’m excited to share the mural with you soon! Until then, you’ll have to just mentally apply all my previous murals to the wall and see if you can guess which direction I’m going.

Here’s a hint: it will have color.

Peeling Back Layers on the Antique Table

Remember that gorgeous hundred year-old table I got from the Portland Rebuilding Center? Well, we finally got it out of our barn and brought it into the space. After further inspection, it doesn’t look like it’s from the Kennedy school like I originally thought. Instead, it appears to be from the Portland Kellogg school.

A sticker under an antique table from a school district
A sticker under an antique table from a school district

I picked up two of them and it was so exciting to finally see one in the space. It was much more narrow than I remember it being. Perfect for playing footsie accidentally or on purpose. I like to keep all my guests guessing.

But despite how skinny it looks, it was crazy heavy. Garrett did this cool twisty turn move trying to get it into the back of our van and has since discovered the reality of his own mortality.

An antique table in a basement kitchen
An antique table in a basement kitchen

The table tells so many stories. The underside is dotted with vibrant colors of gum. There are scars from students digging their scissors, pens and pencils into the sides of it. Most importantly, there was an inscription on one of the legs that read “Drama Sucks.”

"Drama sucks" carved into the side of an antique table
“Drama sucks” carved into the side of an antique table

I have so many questions. Is this like teenage angst of like “Ugh. Drama sucks. I wish Tiffany would stop making such a big deal that we bought the same prom gown.” Or was it more like, “Ew. Drama sucks. Mr. Riley really needs another hobby than proving to us he was a great Shakespearean actor.” Or maybe it was like “Grrr. Drama sucks. Katherine got the lead role again and she’s really pitchy. Unfair.” I have to know. Please teenagers, speak to me. Tell me about your feelings!

And in the off-chance that Mr. Riley, my drama teacher is reading this, I just wanted to say thank you for being magical and for telling me that your tombstone would read, “Spandex is a privilege not a right.” A king.

Being a thirty something and stillI very dramatic, I immediately flopped down at the table as soon as we put it in and felt right at home. I pulled out my laptop and got to work on some design projects. But you know, my mind started to wander. I wasn’t planning on doing anything to the table this week, but I was just so curious what was going on underneath the layer of formica on the table top.

Racheal Jackson of Banyan Bridges removing the formica layer from an antique table
Racheal Jackson of Banyan Bridges removing the formica layer from an antique table

I started to pick at it and then an hour later I had taken it apart. Okay, so the looking at the legs and the underside of the table, it’s beautiful planks of wood. But under the layer of formica and the weird trim they tacked onto the edges to prevent more students from professing their love, there was another layer.

This second layer was MDF. So I started to take off that layer. Underneath that was a lot of glue and a veneer. How many secrets does this table hold? The school district was very determined to prevent the sharing of knowledge through table top graffiti across generations of students.

I mean, if I could talk to teenage Racheal, I’d probably say that liking the color orange isn’t a personality. And don’t date guys who steal cars. Maybe I’ll carve those on myself.

The underside of an antique table that shows wood grain
The underside of an antique table that shows wood grain

Now I have some options. The veneer is about 3/8″ thick. I could pry it off and hopefully get down to the wood grain. But now I’m worried this table is just an infinite nesting doll of materials. The other option is to just remove the table top and flip it over since I can see the wood grain there. But that breaks my heart because then I’d have to remove the petrified gum.

Colorful, petrified gum under an antique table
Colorful, petrified gum under an antique table

I can’t do that. That gum holds stories. And like, what if teenagers go extinct in the future and they need to pull a Jurassic Park thing where they extract teenage DNA from the gum samples like blood from mosquitoes buried in amber. The world needs teenagers.

The boogers I could do without.

I’m also a little concerned about the glue between the veneer and the MDF because some of that glue back then had asbestos in it. I don’t want to sand that down because you know, it’s like deadly and stuff. Death is bad.

Painted Checkerboard Rug Demarcation

The last thing I did was mark out the area I want for my painted checkerboard rug. I hate having rugs under a dining table. I think they look nice, but I hate how obnoxious they are. When I pull out a chair from a kitchen table, I don’t want to snag the carpet or tumble backwards. There is no slapstick comedy at the dinner table!

We also have gross little kids. I guess I should say, little kids who sometimes spill, dribble, drop, and squish things underfoot. I may also spill stuff too. But I’m an adult and that’s different. And even if a rug is washable, it’s not something I want to deal with.

But the problem is, under this table in particular, I definitely need something to break up the concrete flooring visually.

A rectangular area marked out under an antique table with blue masking tape for a floor paint rug
A rectangular area marked out under an antique table with blue masking tape for a floor paint rug

A few years ago, I did this great project with Rustoleum where I painted my mom’s bathroom floor with floor paint in a fun pattern. So that’s what I’m going to do here, paint a checkboard rug under this table. I got out some blue tape and marked out the area like a roommate demarcating their side and your side of the room. Not based on a true, personal experience.

The Kitchen Vision

I’m really excited to get some tile up this next week and take on some more transformative projects that will continue to make this place feel like the princess of Genovia it is. And now, I think I’ll take a bath and not cry. How novel!

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I’ll hope you’ll join me and all the other incredible creators and designers that are part of the One Room Challenge!

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