Our Kitchen Transformation

It’s been on my list to write this post for quite some time, but there is so much that went into our kitchen, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, today is the day we’re detailing how our kitchen was transformed from this…

to this…

First Impressions

When we toured the house, it was evident that the kitchen left a lot to be desired. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and it was pretty clear this kitchen was on the verge of cardiac arrest. When looking around, our realtor broke a drawer-facing off with just the slightest tug, and opening one of the upper cabinets revealed that the entire storage space was taken up by a random column.

Makes a lot of sense right? The appliances were quite old, and according to our neighbor, the oven worked only when it felt like it. We also didn’t see much use for the existing trash compactor. Appliances, though, can be easily changed and weren’t a deal breaker.

The kitchen ceiling was one the few in the house that had been covered in popcorn, I would assume, sometime during the last 50 years. Definitely not original. The lighting was also outdated, bulky, and rather harsh. The flooring was a thick, drab vinyl that didn’t transition well from the original hardwood found throughout the rest of the house. Peach also wasn’t my wall color of choice, but that’s easily changeable.

Things weren’t all bad, though. While the kitchen wasn’t large, it had a great working layout and potential for a decent amount of storage. As someone who likes to cook and who cooks a lot, functionality was very important. Because we liked the general layout, this also meant the appliances could stay where they were, cutting down on construction/plumbing costs that would come with reworking the layout.

It also had space for a breakfast area and bar, which gave great, casual eat-in options. Last but certainly not least, it had three amazing windows that brought in loads of natural light. Who wants to cook in a dark dungeon?

Inspiration and Wishlist

As soon as we saw the house and knew it was for us, we started pulling together inspiration, which actually fell together pretty seamlessly and quickly. Most of our inspiration can be found here. Things we knew we wanted:

   -Shaker cabinets for that clean but classic look

   -Brass hardware and fixtures

   -Classic lighting

   -Hardwood to bring in warmth and match the rest of the house.

   -Open shelving

   -Marble/quartz countertops

   -Color to bring in personality and interest

 

I’m not the techiest person in the world, but I LOVE Powerpoint. Adam and I have about a million slides for every room with mood boards, layout ideas, inspirational photos, etc. We used this incredibly crude Powerpoint compilation of some of our favorite images/ideas as our jumping off point. I can’t believe I’m even showing this to you, but it shows that if you don’t have fancy software, Powerpoint can be a useful tool.

Demo

Before we could turn our dreams into a reality, we had to remove the old to make room for the new. I wasn’t really intimidated by much of the work we had going on in the house, but the kitchen did induce a bit of anxiety. This is largely because I know that it doesn’t take too many unexpected hurdles and discoveries for a kitchen, even a small one, to become a money pit. While our kitchen was our most expensive part of the renovation and we encountered plenty of those feared hurdles, it could have been much worse. We really have my dad and all his handiness to thank for guiding us through those challenges.

What were those unexpected obstacles? For starters, we discovered a dead snake dried to the wall while removing the cabinets. I guess it’s good it wasn’t alive. Our upper cabinets on the left wall were actually starting to pull away from the wall because of a lack of studs and support. That weird column running up through our cabinets…apparently it used to be part of a wall to the kitchen that was removed improperly. We discovered this after removing the drop-popcorn ceiling, and finding that the original ceiling was sagging as a result of that removal. Luckily, we were able to have a family friend assist us in quickly adding in an LVL beam (pictured below) to pass a looming framing inspection.

This also allowed us to take out that weird column and flush out that wall. Removal of the vinyl flooring, revealed a rotting subfloor that had to be replaced, and a requirement to bring our electrical up to code meant holes knocked just about everywhere in the walls we were hoping to salvage. This actually worked out, however, because it allowed us to add in some non-exisistent insulation.

We made it through the most stressful part, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen drywall I found more beautiful. After seeing the room like this day after day:

This was an incredibly welcome change and much, needed energizer:

The Fun Stuff

We went with a local cabinet company that was able to work with us on customizing the color, style, and layout. For the color, we chose Pigeon by Farrow and Ball, which is a great grey/blue/green. We’d considered painting the cabinets ourselves, but considering the amount of use our kitchen sees and the amount of time we plan to stay in the home, we knew we’d be glad we went with having them painted in the factory. This would allow the paint to be baked on to be more durable and for us to not have to constantly touch up inevitable chipping. They ended up liking the cabinet color so much that they’ve thought about adding it to their permanent collection. Who knew?

We also used this cabinet company to select and install maple open shelving. I love the accessibility and look of open shelving. Because our kitchen is on the small side, we also knew that including some open shelving instead of all upper cabinets would open up the space and make it appear larger. For additional storage and since every kitchen item we own isn’t beautiful and display worthy, we used uppers on the less visible part of the kitchen. We went with a classic White Dove by Benjamin Moore for these.

The layout was very important to us because we wanted to maximize the space as much as a possible. I love the organization and storage capacity of drawers and chose to go with a vertical panel of drawers to the right of the stove for those things you need in easy reach. We also chose to release one cabinet space for a built-in trashcan, and it was well worth it. Having the trash tucked away but easily accessible is something I’m constantly thankful for. We used the far right corner for a lazy susan to store pantry items, and we put cabinets in the rest of the space for serving pieces, cookware, etc.

The real MVP of our kitchen is the thing EVERYONE tried to talk us into eliminating. The wall enclosing our fridge had a floor to ceiling storage space built in between the studs with a few cabinet doors on the front. The shallowness and size of this space makes it absolutely perfect for spices, oils, vinegars, teas, and every other small odd and end you want to be able to easily see and access. The inside isn’t pretty, but it sure is functional! We spruced it up by refacing it with matching cabinet doors and hardware.

We wanted white countertops that had a nod to the veining and movement found in marble. We found this in the Ella Cambria Quartz pattern. One thing I really love about these countertops in addition to the subtle but impactful veining is the slight grey color. They’re less stark than some other options we considered.

I’ve loved GE’s Artistry Series kitchen appliances, which I think may actually no longer be in production, for quite a while. They are clean and simple with a slight retro vibe that doesn’t come with the price tag of Smeg or Big Chill. I also think white appliances can be underrated. All stainless steel would have brought in too many cool tones and taken away from our brass accents, and black appliances would have been much too heavy. We steered away from the Artistry Series for the refrigerator because we wanted a built-in water filter and to brake up the matchy matchy look of the appliances. We found this beautiful, cast iron Kohler farmhouse sink on Amazon for the best price we’d seen. We love the subtle hammered detail on the front. I also love the single rather than double bowl because it makes it easier to wash large pots and pans.

Flooring and Tile

Most all of our house has original oak flooring that after some TLC was in pretty good shape. We love the warmth it provides and wanted to carry that into the kitchen. We added a similar red oak in a wider plank to make it look like we weren’t trying too hard to match it exactly. These floors were stained Minwax Golden Oak like the rest of our floors in the house. For the backsplash, we knew we wanted to make an impact without breaking the bank. We originally planned to tile up to the first open shelf, but Adam really felt like taking the tile to the ceiling would add height and impact. I am so glad he pushed us this direction, because taking the tile all the way to the ceiling definitely adds that impact and architectural interest.We went with Polyblend Platinum grout and an inexpensive 4 x 4 square subway tile that feels classic but a bit more interesting through its square shape. I also think square rather than rectangular adds height to the space.

Hardware

From the beginning, we knew we wanted to use Schoolhouse lighting and cabinet hardware. The color of their brass and their style and craftsmanship are hard to beat and make such a big impact. Instead of only using the pulls, which would have been more modern…and more expensive, we mixed some round knobs, which mixed with the pulls add great visual interest. For lighting, we continued with the brass theme and chose this surface mount fixture for the main kitchen and this pendant for our breakfast area. These lights are my favorite in the whole house and should patina beautifully! Our sink faucet is a champagne bronze single handle faucet from Delta. We love the color (not too brassy) and the simple design.

Accents

Because we basically started from scratch and everything is so new, we wanted to layer in some character elements. The painting in our adjoining breakfast space is a major player in this and a great inspiration piece in our kitchen. The colors, softness, warm tones, scene, etc. fit every piece of our vision for the kitchen. I could go on and on, but you can read about our banquette and breakfast space here. We added in more original art through this floral sketch from Etsy and this small orange still life painting from smallimpressions. Never underestimate the power of art you love in transforming a space.

Antique rugs are always a great way to add charm. The small rug we found from Etsy has such a beautiful color palette, bringing in the blush tones in other areas of our house along with some tans and blues/greens used in the kitchen.

We also chose to display some of our favorite items like the wooden cutting boards my dad made for us as a wedding gift that add warmth while also being functional. For the styling of the counters and shelves, we kept it light, bright, and functional and will detail those strategies another day.

In the meantime, I give you our completed kitchen. I really love this room and find that it looks great in every season. In the spring and summer, it feels bright and cheery. In fall, the Pigeon color of the cabinets looks so beautiful with fresh apples and winter squash displayed, and in winter, it’s a cozy backdrop to fresh greenery. I can’t wait to decorate the space for the upcoming holidays! Stay tuned!

If you want a quick overview of all the details, we put together a Happy Tudor Kitchen Roundup below.

The Happy Tudor Kitchen

  1. Cabinet Color: Pigeon by Farrow and Ball

  2. Schoolhouse Flushmount Light

  3. Original Art: While ours are sold out, the Paris painting is from Wickstrom Studios and the Floral Sketch from houseVNTG

  4. Schoolhouse Pendant Light

  5. Brass Hardware: Pulls, knobs

  6. Vintage Rugs: We found our rug at OLDVINSHOP

  7. Champagne Bronze Faucet

  8. Cast Iron Farmhouse Sink

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  • Found my way here via Apartment Therapy. Might be my fav remodel I have seen, period. Really nice. Great use of space, love the custom shelves (vs something “off the shelf,” no pun intended). Love how the hardware, cab paint, and counters work together. Well done!

  • I literally love every single thing about this kitchen. It’s bright and fresh and simultaneously modern while also in keeping with the vintage style of the house. It looks clean and sleek but so personalised, and thank you so much for styling these photos including actual THINGS on your countertops! You’ve clearly put so much thought and effort into creating a kitchen that works for you and it is really delightful, I would be overjoyed to cook in something so lovely.

    • Vanessa, thank you so much! You just made our day. I really appreciate all of your kind words and that you noticed all of those little details we worked so hard on! Thank you!!

  • This was a great help to us! Like Vanessa said below, it’s the mix of modern new, yet looking a bit vintage. Everything looks good together, a standout is the window. (surpise!?) Balances nicely with all the new, bringing in warmth with the cool colors. The Pigeon cabinet color is perfect (note to self, have cabinet co. paint for you as you suggested) and I like that you used White Dove on the righthand back cabinets, clever! I do like subway tiles, but everyone has them, which is fine, but a good solution was the square white tiles grouted in platinum. (I will copy this BTW!) Your views on white appliances was a look into the future. Yes stainless steel is everywhere, but I agree the white goes with your kitchen and frankly, I am a bit tired of stainless steel (and I HAVE plenty!) Thanks for all the details in the tear-down and build up. It really helps a novice like me see what to expect, what to look for and what might be exposed (a snake! would have liked to see a pix of that, seriously) so that we can budget for extras like some updated insulation, etc. Again, thanks for taking the time to upload all this on this site.

  • Hi Amber & Adam,
    Congrats on such a beautiful transformation. I love the sleek, modern kitchen look. From the color palette, accessories, backsplash, and open shelves- you guys did a great job. Thanks for sharing!