The new year is off to a slow start for me and Comfort du Jour, but it isn’t for lack of trying. I have begun at least five times to write an introduction to our beautiful new kitchen, and here’s the thing—I just have too many favorite features to put it into words!
If I could invite you all over for dinner (or breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee, cocktails), which would be my preference, we could demonstrate all the cool things we like about our new space and you could touch the textured backsplash tile and try out the features of the faucet and we would have a grand time. Until that is an option, and without trying to use so many words to explain what I want you to see, I am going to do the big reveal mainly in pictures. There are a ton of them ahead, and I would like to recommend that a computer, or at least a tablet, is a better way to view this post than a smartphone. You will see the detail better and the captions will not cover the photos. If you typically visit my site on the WordPress Reader, I recommend that you use this link to visit my actual page for a better experience as well. The slideshows do not translate as well in the reader.
Dear friends, you were terrific about supporting my husband, Les, and me as we stumbled through those awkward weeks of renovation, and we thank you for your comments, suggestions and “been there, done that” empathy. As we all know (or at least as the Bible teaches), God created the world in six days, but you can count on a minimum of six to eight weeks for a new kitchen. It was quite a ride, and well worth it in the end.
Here we go!
When we sat down with Matt (our general contractor) back in June 2021, Les and I discussed with him three primary trouble spots in our tired old kitchen: not enough counter space, poor traffic flow and lousy lighting. We asked for storage solutions, reworking of some of the existing layout, premium materials, under-cabinet lighting and a few fun bells and whistles, and I am pleased to report that we got everything we asked for and more!
Let’s begin with the layout, which mainly affected the sink and fridge side of the kitchen. You would think, with a 22-foot length, space would not be an issue. But things were not arranged well in the original design.
The changes to the stove side of the kitchen are less dramatic, but still noticeably improved. We went for symmetry on this side, swapping out a standard base cabinet for drawers to match the other side, and each side was increased by 3 inches. You’d be amazed at the difference that made in the big picture.
We worked with a designer to select our cabinets, countertop and hardware, and we were intentional to choose as many American-made products as possible. Our cabinets were made in Minnesota by Legend Cabinetry, and we liked the sleek, Shaker-style doors with light gray stain over birch hardwood. The color is warm, but fresh, and the movement of the grain is evident underneath.
We invested in a few splurges, including the Kohler sink, which I call the “Queen of the Kitchen.” We paired it with a Kohler faucet, primarily because both are made in the U.S. and also for the special features it offered.
The apron front, cast-iron sink has been on my “dream kitchen” list for years and I love it. This kind of sink may not be for you, especially if you stand taller than me. It is deep to begin with; being mounted underneath a slab of stone makes it seem even deeper. Even I, at 5-foot-5, find myself stooping at times to clean the dishes. I don’t mind it, but it is something to keep in mind if you are considering a remodel.
When I first spotted the plugmolds (on Pinterest, of course), I got so excited! Part of my frustration with outlets on the backsplash has been pure vanity; I didn’t like them photo-bombing my food photos for Comfort du Jour, and I cursed them every time I tried to get a good image. But my blog is not for profit, so that was not the only justification for our splurge on this unusual item. We need all the counter space we have, and our appliances do not live there permanently (well, except for my coffee grinder, which uses a very small footprint in one corner). The plugmolds keep cords and charger cables up and out of the way when we use our small appliances, and there is nothing to obstruct the view of our gorgeous subway tile when we don’t. We like the clean look very much, but if you prefer always having appliances within easy reach, or always plugged in, this may not be for you.
Also, the plugmolds do not afford the convenience of a ground fault interrupter, so all the kitchen outlets must be on a breaker box circuit. If we get crazy and trip a breaker, we will need to trudge to the garage to reset it. So far, so good, as that hasn’t happened. Had this been explained to us on the front end, I would have agreed to one GFCI outlet in the kitchen, right there in the space where my coffee grinder lives.
The microwave cabinet was under discussion from selection of our materials all the way to installation. We wanted to move the microwave from its previous position above the range, where it not only obstructed my view of the back burners but created havoc when Les and I worked in the kitchen at the same time. He could not warm leftovers or give our breakfast bacon a quick zap to rewarm it without bumping into me as I finished an omelet.
Many people choose to place a built-in microwave above a wall-mounted oven, but that was not an option for our kitchen footprint. Our house is on a slab and we were not interested in the enormous expense of moving walls or plumbing to make room for wall ovens. And for sure, we did not want to lose counter space to a microwave. We chose the GE Spacemaker microwave, which is low-profile and only 12 inches deep, but housing it remained a challenge.
Our cabinet designer, Molly, presented the terrific option that we chose—she ordered from the cabinet manufacturer a 24-inch depth microwave cabinet (the same kind that would be used for a standard built-in), and her cabinet technicians modified the cabinet to a 15-inch depth and added a secure shelf for our microwave, leaving space below for storage of our cutting boards! There is plenty of space around the microwave for ventilation (this was confirmed by the microwave manufacturer as well), and if we should ditch the microwave in the future, the shelf will be perfect for displaying our favorite cookbooks.
The butcher block countertop makes my baking station feel special—even the lighting seems warmer reflected off the wood tones—and I love the surface for bread dough and pasta dough. The water-based finish is every bit as smooth as our lovely quartz countertops and does not require any special maintenance. We ordered the block with a greater overhang than what is standard, and that gives me plenty of space to attach my pasta machine to the counter—something I could not easily do on our other counters.
Finally, the special little touches that give our kitchen pizzazz. We wanted the former dinette area to feel cozy and inviting, so we did not choose to have bright wafer lights in this part of the ceiling; rather, we changed out the frazzled old fixture with a beautiful piece that was handmade from recycled glass, by Bicycle Glass, a company dedicated to sustainability, and you know how much I like that.
We also added a uniquely handcrafted table that was made locally, and we now refer to this region of the kitchen as “the bistro.” 🙂
The end of our remodel means the beginning of a new chapter of food adventures. We have already enjoyed our first holiday season in the new space, and many more fun meals will be served up soon, so stay tuned!
Thanks for sharing the journey with me.