I’ve waited so long to do this, only because I knew it would take considerable time. And also I needed the icky feelings of living through a remodel to wear off. 🙂 So it took almost two years but here we go.
I am NOT an expert in design (which is obvious.) I copied a bunch of photos of other kitchens that I loved and put it all together with help of friend’s opinions and advice. It was SO helpful to have friends that just built or remodeled. They had resources and ideas and knew what mattered and what didn’t and I swear the whole project would have turned out crooked (I mean that literally because a friend totally caught and corrected some major mis-measurement when it came to lighting/island/table placement) without them. I spent way way way too much time on Houzz (and will never visit again as I burned my eyeballs out looking at so many images) and narrowed my favorites down to things I pinned on Pinterest (which are no longer pinned because once again, I was done and over it all by the time I finished.)
My house was built in 1942 and has sweet character and charm and I wanted to match that, but still make it practical for a family of eight, and stay in budget. The budget could be summed up this way: “get quality things that will last forever because I am never doing this again, but don’t make my husband blow a gasket”. I think I succeeded. All those inspiration photos above are from million dollar houses no doubt, so I had to work with what I had, and what we could afford.
We didn’t just do the kitchen-we spent years and years debating doing a small fix or going all the way-I think we chose something in the middle. We had added two more children than when we moved in, and some major things (leaky ceilings, rotting foundation) that needed to be repaired since we had bought our house. Because I didn’t want to compromise the front exterior of the house, and also the original layout (cutting bedrooms down in size, losing my lovely dining room, or even losing a window in the dining room or kitchen were out of the question-I have sentimentality issues!) I had to make compromises-I never got my mudroom. I really thought long and hard about everything and I’m very pleased we waited and revised and then revised again and finally got the plans right. I had listed our priorities in order and our architect really worked with me and my hangups about not changing the house too much.
Here were some inspiration photos I chose:
In the kitchen we knocked the back wall out about ten feet. We needed to keep the existing kitchen intact-we did a small remodel right when we moved in 10 years ago and no way was I going to get all new cabinets-I didn’t want or need a complete tear out again. I did get new cabinet doors (my old ones were thermofoil doors and were peeling in some places, and I needed to match new to old anyways). I kept the back wall the same as far as doors and windows and the extra ten feet allowed me to turn and extend our table to fit all of us, and fit an big island, and another oven, and a huge panty. (My pantry was spread between small cabinets and the basement and coat closet.)
I will list all details at end, but if I miss anything feel free to ask.
Layout is the same, cabinet doors are new. We took the old cabinets to the ceiling with molding, and made the ceiling all one height. There is new color on cabinets and walls, new hardware, new stain on floor (since we added wood we had to redo the whole floor). There is the extra space way down at end for ovens, pantry, and the island to the left.
Before. (Our kitchen is an L shape so this is when you turn left after fridge.)
Windows on left are the same, and little window on right also, but has built-in around it. Door is now opened up to the family room.
Angle now looking back towards sink.
Ceiling all one height now. The extra 10 feet is obvious in this picture. We ended at the old black granite and glass cabinet and went out 10 feet.
View from back door.
I measured and remeasured and measured again to get the right sized island and countertop. I DID NOT want squishy spaces anywhere (many growing boys around here!), but I wanted to fill up the space properly. I am so glad I did not listen to the contractors or my husband who told me this island was too big, I did not budge at all. It is perfect! It fights six stools comfortably, and there is plenty of room between table and walls to move.
I LOVE the drawers and cabinet space, and our extra little fridge which I call our “fruit fridge”. Since our other fridge is counter depth, I had found that I really needed the extra space and fitting food in it after a grocery shop was a feat. This makes it so easy.
The countertop is quartz. I LOVE IT!!!! I stressed over this also, as marble would have been more authentic and who doesn’t love marble? Well, after talking with a few friends, I knew I had to do quartz for my family. Some loved it (and had a totally different lifestyle than I do) and others said, “Don’t do it, it will drive you crazy.” The quartz has been indestructible. A few months after completion, my teenage daughter had a Christmas cookie decorating party and the food coloring got a little out of control. Everything wiped up, even after a night time of sitting on the countertop. Permanent marker from a toddler? Wiped right up. I haven’t set super hot pans on it like I do my granite (which I love also) but I have set pizza boxes etc. No marks. I love the sheen of it even more than granite, as the granite needs polishing and the quartz is a nice satin color. No scratches at all!
I loved my little homework area and wanted to duplicate it as it is essential-it’s my office and a supply station and a catch all.
I designed this with the help of a great carpenter. We had to bump that wall out a little to make room for pipes for a bathroom above, so we had a nook to work with. I wanted six drawers, one for each child. and extra space for supplies. I LOVE this element of my kitchen. I wanted the window to stay, as it is part of the original house and the den on the other side gets no other light. (Window seat cushion in the works one day.)
I found a picture of this idea on Houzz and had the contractors build me a bulletin board built into the side panel of the the fridge.
I didn’t go all the way to the ground because I pictured little ones putting push pins in their mouths. 🙂
I repurposed the antique dresser in our living room.
(Lamp from Home Goods, Ralph Lauren.)
The new ten feet. (Old kitchen ended at black granite.)
I really had to make decision in this space. The architect had a built in desk and smaller pantry. I chose a large pantry and an oven/micro combination. I figured I would never sit at a desk in my life.
I am so glad I did this-I could not believe how quickly my pantry space filled up and how much I use this extra oven. Another glitch was that when the cabinet unit for this FINALLY came in after so many delays, they had the cut outs all wrong for the appliance measurements. One night I stayed awake till 4 a.m. (which wasn’t unusual then unfortunately) and came up with a solution so the project wouldn’t be delayed longer than it already had. (Grrrr…) The extra space was right above the microwave-I had them turn it into a small flip-down cookie sheet cabinet! It’s so convenient.
Another thing I spent hours over. I wanted to maximize every inch of space and had my heart set on wrap-around shelving. The carpenter did a wonderful job with my sketches.
(Don’t judge me for my sugar cereal or my Doritos, it’s all my husband’s doing.)
Here is a close-up detail of how the contractors took the cabinets up to the ceiling with molding. I stressed unnecessarily about how this would look but I ended up loving it.
Our new family room.
View from the kitchen.
Heavenly screened in porch (didn’t get my mudroom but did get this,which is a pretty even trade) off the kitchen:
ALL THE DETAILS:
Cabinet doors and new units/island were custom built.
Paint color for all trim and doors: Benjamin Moore Aura paint in White Dove Satin Finish
Ceiling paint: Benjamin Moore White Dove Flat Finish
Wall color in kitchen: Sherwin Williams 119 Antique White but painted in Benjamin Moore Eggshell
Wall color in family room: Valspar 7004-8 Subtle Canopy but painted in Benjamin Moore Eggshell
Hardware pulls and knobs: Restoration Hardware (clearance)
Lights above island: Restoration Hardware
Black granite countertops: Uba Tuba (but I have a very unvariegated black piece)
White island countertop: Vicostone Carrara (white with very faint gray squiggles)
Chandelier above kitchen table: Ethan Allen
Kitchen table and chairs: local unfinished furniture company that closed
Island stools: Pottery Barn, Seagrass Stools in the lighter finish
Sofa and large chair: Arhaus Furniture
Entertainment cabinet: Craigslist, painted White Dove.
Wingbacks: Hand me downs
Coffee table-(also a train table)-built by my wonderful father.
Carpet: (details coming soon)
Wood floor:Ended up being a mix of different stains but used Bona High Traffic urethane and it has held up excellent.
Porch furniture-Home Depot
Overhang-on long side 10″, on short side 11″
Spaces between island and walls:
Between island and bulletin board-56 1/2″
Between island and back wall (sliding glass door)-70″
Between island and oven/sink/pantry-83″
Between island and kitchen chair backs-70″
There are guidelines that help with the size of island and surrounding spaces and I studied these, but also had to adapt it to achieve the balance and evenness of space in my kitchen since we weren’t gutting it. I mentioned this before but the real priority for us was NO squishy spaces-I erred on the side of more walking space around the island than less picturing these types of events-a large growing family with lots of events to celebrate. It really serves as a “serving” island more than a food prep area.
I waited for sales at Restoration, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen or bought clearance items. I found such great deals. I even called back on the island lights when they went further down a month later and they gave me back the difference. I had to be patient (which was easy because the whole renovation took four months longer than it was promised) but I’m glad I was persistent. When I ordered from Pottery Barn, I called my store and ordered through them and asked for a discount (someone else gave me that tip), as the stores can do this.
Don’t ovewhelm yourself with photos of houses. I did. I finally said enough is enough and cut it down to my top dozen or so, and then picked out the similarities, and then just tried to match as well as I could.
Hire good contractors and make sure you sign a contract with every single detail possible. We did this but still had a hard time at the end with completion and wished we would have been even more specific. Write down everything-all conversations-and take tons of pictures of the process just in case. If I did it again (I won’t), I would have some sort of written timeline agreement where the contractors would be penalized monetarily for their own delays.
Eat a ton of chocolate and gain ten pounds, and get sore joints and have sleepless nights, and cry at the end of it. It was not easy, as we lived with six children (three teenagers and a baby who cried every time a nail gun went off hence the sore joints from me carrying her every minute all summer when I was promised May 1 at the latest.) I am going to stop myself from going further than that, as all the bad feelings are gone, and we enjoy our new space immensely.
If I missed anything feel free to ask in comments or email me.