This kitchen project was a collaboration of companies and contains affiliate links. But mostly it is just me sharing my favorite things in my favorite room.
Five years ago I was scanning the real estate listings daily. We loved our teeny tiny little rental house nestled back on an Angus cattle farm, but we knew our days of living there were limited. We wanted our next home to still be able to give our children the experiences that come with growing up with acres to roam on, trees to climb and chop, and places to build forts and tree houses. But buying is expensive. Period.
I kept seeing a listing for an unusually ugly house that looked like someone had chopped a corner out of it. For weeks I didn’t even open the listing. But it had acreage, and was only a smidge out of the area we were looking for. Finally one day I curiously clicked on the listing. My interest was sparked. We decided to go look at it.
Daniel was a builder at the time, and we knew we wanted a fixer upper that we could afford and make the improvements ourselves. We had joked about looking for a house with a tarp on the roof so that we could get a good price and so that Daniel could put on a quality roof. And would you believe, when we drove in the long lane, up ahead was this ugly house with a bright blue tarp on the roof. We laughed. I think we knew we were home.
Since the real estate listing had no photo of the kitchen, I wondered if it was especially terrible. It was. The previous owners were visionaries but less than great at actually pulling off a solid remodel. Trim was installed backwards and painted blood red. The yard had mounds of dirt piled up, just because.
But the kitchen. It made me want to weep. Three different kinds of cupboards, two different kinds of countertop, and two sinks neither of which looked out a window. It was a complete nightmare with one exception- it was huge and had lots of possibilities. When we bought the house, we knew the kitchen renovation would be massive and wouldn’t get touched for a long, long time. Leaky roofs and other demanding issues take precedence, after all.
“I won’t complain about this kitchen,” I told Daniel. Buying our own home was a big step, and a bit scary. And I had too much to be grateful for to be nagging about a nasty kitchen.
God paused me right there.
“No complaining? Do you mean that?” The poorly installed broken tile floor was horrid with impossible grout. The cabinet doors had to be opened in a certain order due to a little flange in the right door. The drawers were heavy and had no slides but somehow proficient at slamming finger tips and make you hop across the floor on one foot.
“No complaining?” And I knew this was something big. An opportunity to let my words be wise. And so began the commitment to never complain about a kitchen that drove me crazy, to bite the words that wouldn’t help anyone, especially a hard working husband who was already working way too hard on other more pressing projects…
Our life took a crazy turn around this time and my husband who had done construction all his life began a journey into getting a medical degree. All these projects that he normally would have had time for slid to the back burner. Gone were weekends of “free time” and we switched over to survival mode, mid remodel.
Daniel went to work as a book keeper. I had a baby. Homeschooled. We lived around half finished projects for years, much to my husband’s chagrin, and to my kissing daily that commitment to no complaints. 😉
But several years into living in this 100+ year old house, we DID get around to that kitchen remodel. We tore out those offending cabinets and busted out the world’s ugliest island and that awful tile.
Doing things as a family helps our children have life long memories of being involved and getting their fingers into these projects. Even they get to boost the value of the house and think about how we can improve our spaces.
All that waiting had given me time to browse Pinterest and gather ideas for what I loved. I created a mood board with all sorts of photos that hinted at what I was envisioning. We compared cupboard prices from our local hardware store and were quoted 17K. It was enough to make my mouth go dry. We ended up getting an antique white shaker style from an RTA company.
We had intended to order a pure white, so when we realized how cream the artisan white was we had a few cold, nervous glances at each other. But all in all, it really adds a hint of warmth that the pure white may not have given, so I’m really not sad at all.
I mostly love these RTA and do recommend them to DIY people wanting to upgrade their kitchen, but I do wish the drawers were a bit deeper and wider to match the drawer face.
Daniel’s parents came over and assembled ALL the kitchen cabinets in a few days time while some of our siblings came over and helped us install Shaw hand-scraped engineered hard wood flooring.
Our house already had a large area of dark stained original hardwood flooring, so we wanted to try to stay in that general feeling with what we chose for the new area. It is always a bit of a juggle when you are working with an old home to add in new without creating a stark contrast. These hardwood planks came in three different widths, and the hand scraped texture feels fluid with the character of the house. I really like the warmth it brings.
We decided to build a corner pantry and it became my second favorite major change in the kitchen footprint. The previous pantry was tucked under the stairway and always made me feel a bit claustrophobic.
Daniel build solid shelves and I can access my canned goods easily now. I love being able to see at a glance what I have on hand, thanks to the glass canisters and metal potato and onion bins.
But drawer pulls were expensive and selection pathetic at our local hardware store. I browsed online and stumbled onto Cosmas Hardware, ordered a few pieces from Amazon to see and was thrilled with their quality.
I contacted the company directly and they kindly agreed to work with me and sent me all the drawer pulls for our kitchen. They are really solid quality, and the selection and price were simply unbeatable. I have completely fallen in love with them and am consistently recommending them to all my friends who are doing remodeling projects.
We went back and forth with all types of countertop and even considered concrete. But when we stumbled across a craigslist deal of someone selling their granite from a remodel for $250, we really couldn’t do better. I had never had granite before but it is so friendly and polished looking, and I like being able to set hot pots down on it without using a hot pad.
I also knew with a clean white kitchen that a beautiful backsplash could be a stunning statement piece. I wanted something elegant but not loud, and kept coming back to a small marble herringbone. This was our big splurge, but a touch that makes me happy every single time I come into the kitchen. I did a lot of windows shopping online and settled down at thebuilderdepot.com with their amazing selection. Again, I was able to work with them and they were absolutely outstanding.
The day the delivery came and I peeked in those boxes I knew it would be stunning. Labor intensive to install, but stunning none the less.
It was cold and rainy while it was being installed and possibly due to the moisture, some of the sheets adhesive started to give way between getting cut on the saw and then put up on the wall. But our friend Jeremy was very meticulous with the installation, and unless I hadn’t been here as he was putting it up, I would never have known how detailed and intricate the installation was.
All in all, I know I may never get a herringbone back splash again due to the labor intensity, but I cannot help but be thrilled with this choice in my kitchen.
That great big kitchen window used to be French doors out to the deck, but since there is another door from the dining room, we opted to remove them and turn the kitchen sink to look out into the vast green sea of trees. I really like to be able to look outside while I wash dishes, and this switch has been another huge improvement to this kitchen.
We may eventually build an island to go in here, like in a narrow simple farmhouse table style, just deep enough for us to stick our four walnut bar stools under. No matter how much livingroom seating we have, the kitchen is where we and our guests always hang out.
After year of this room being the eyesore of the house, it now is complete. It is such a happy place. We live so heavily in our kitchen, and after years of it being a dark and cold cave, this is easily my favorite spot in our home.
I love how the whites and creams and morning light all blend together into a gloriously warm and welcoming place.
I always remember my mom in the kitchen as a girl, making delicious suppers or standing over the stove stirring strawberry jelly. She and the kitchen were the center of our home.
She tells stories of time with her own mother in the kitchen, and it seems like this is really the place for memories to be made. For recipes to be followed, pies baked and children welcomed into this process of cooking and mixing and creating. And laughing together. Always laughing.
Now, I spend a lot of time in my kitchen with my children and while I know it is a complete luxury to have such a lovely one, I’m certainly not complaining.
This kitchen has taught me a lot of things. To dream big. To be ok with letting dreams be dreams for a while. To embrace today. To be ok with the loooooong process and construction dust. To smile while washing dishes in the bathtub when the kitchen sink is unhooked. To remember that my children will always be more important than creating the perfect space.
More importantly to know that I CAN go through an uncomfortable situation and bite my ever ready tongue from complaints. God has moved me on now from a horrid kitchen to other areas where he has my words in check, to choose to only speak words of blessing.
Here is the view that greets me each morning:
It wasn’t easy, but when I walk into this now glorious space, I see more than the beauty here. I see the valuable lessons I learned in this process.
Sometimes the end goal isn’t really the only reason for pushing through a long race. Sometimes the lessons we learn along the hard sweaty way change US and open our eyes to what we would have missed if we had simply been handed the medal at the beginning.
Some of my favorite things in my kitchen are:
My Simple Human drain rack which accommodates the large amount of dishes we do here. The water has a directional spout, a knife block is handy for my Cutco knives, and there is even a goblet drying rack which I most often use for drying plastic bags.
My hubby was a wise man when he gave me this drain rack, something I get to use and be grateful for each and every day.
I also love my glass canisters in the pantry for things like rice and grits and things we eat often.
I use regular gallon glass pickle jars for a lot of my dried goods, but these canister lids are so easy to get to the contents inside.
I am on a quest to simplify and reduce excess. and these matching spice jars with labels that Daniel got me for Christmas have transformed my spice cabinet. Switching out the hodgepodge of assorted styles of spice bottles has brought me an embarrassing amount of delight just opening this spice cabinet.
I’m so grateful for my amazing husband who put up with my dreams and listened when I didn’t have the right construction lingo to communicate what I saw in my head.
To my inlaws for assembling the cupboards in the frigid garage and bringing food when I was tired of cooking in the crock pot. My mom and sisters and siblings-in-law who helped with flooring, building, cleaning, more cooking and all that goes into such an ordeal.
To Motz for seeing the need for someone to install the tile backsplash and jumping to the cause.
To Wollman Brothers for your quality of work and kindness and even going so far as to always leave a clean space where you worked.