The Finished Kitchen – Come on In

The kitchen is done. In April the cabinets were delivered. In June the work started. Now, here we are, two and half months later, on reveal day. Let me repeat: The kitchen is done. Those words are still sinking in. Let’s take a moment to discuss where we started.

In the 1960s, Dorothy and her husband moved into BHH. When they moved in, Dorothy remodeled the kitchen. That kitchen, which we just replaced, remained nearly untouched for 50 years. While there were form and function issues for our family with the kitchen, it is important to note that Dorothy was very proud of it. In the same way that I stand in the doorway of our new kitchen with a smile on my face, I picture her doing exactly the same thing.  When she saw her sunny yellow kitchen with brand new wall board and easy-care flooring, I am certain that she felt a great sense of happiness and pride.

Trends come and go, and we are all guilty of giving the side-eye to some of the design choices of previous occupants, but it is important to remember that our stories are intertwined. Without Dorothy, BHH would not be so perfectly preserved. Without Dorothy, there would be no Us living here in this beautiful old treasure, and for that, we thank her.

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What We Wanted to Accomplish

When it got right down to it, what we wanted was a kitchen with all of the modern amenities, but we wanted it to have the same Colonial/Victorian feel as the rest of Blake Hill House. We wanted to make sure that the wiring was safe and that it would be able to support the load of modern appliances with heavy use. In order to make that happen, the kitchen had to be gutted completely.
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What We Did

After we explored a few bids and consultations, we chose the Lowe’s Remodeling Team to complete our project. During the remodel, Andy and I were willing to do some DIY projects, but we knew that with our schedules and skill level, there was no way that we would be able to tackle an entire kitchen remodel in any sort of timely manner. Five years from now you would be waiting for the big kitchen reveal.

The kitchen required all of the projects in the list below. The items in boldface are the DIY jobs that Andy and I tackled. Everything else was completed by the Lowe’s team:

  1. Gut the kitchen down to the studs. (The windows remained.)
  2. Upgrade electrical wiring where needed
  3. New walls and insulation
  4. New Kraftmaid cabinets & replica antique hardware
  5. Silestone countertops and a custom wood countertop for the island
  6. Refinish the hardwood floors
  7. New Lighting
  8. Cement tile backsplash
  9. New dishwasher and stove (We will get a fridge next year.)
  10. New window and door casings
  11. Fresh paint everywhere and hardware cleanup on the windows and doors.

The After Photos: I can hardly stand it.

Under the windows, we extended the countertops and lower cabinets left by about 1.5 feet. This area, as well as the island, is the main prep space. Between the windows, we added open shelving. As we discussed before, we felt that a full cabinet between the windows would feel too heavy.
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We are so excited to have a dishwasher. It is a luxury that we all enjoy every day.

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The small rug is from Target. There are three of them scattered around the kitchen.

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The items on the shelves are mostly from thrift shops, flea markets, and gifts from my kids over the years.

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This wall before. (Yikes!) :

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Today, the stove is where we used to have the only prep space in the entire kitchen. (on the right hand side of the photo below) kitchenbefore2 .

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Without a doubt, one of the details that all of you have remarked on the most is the replica antique hardware. It is from the Victorian collection at House of Antique Hardware. It looks like jewelry on the cabinets, and it makes quite a statement.

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The wall where the refrigerator is now, is where the stove used to sit all by itself, sandwiched between wallboard and heavy trim.

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We added cabinets along that wall, and the refrigerator became a part of the kitchen work triangle. In order to save money, we did not get a new fridge. We plan on replacing it next year. However, as if on cue, it is currently having leaking issues so we may end up getting a new one sooner vs. later. When we do, we will choose stainless to match the rest of the new appliances.

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In the photo below, you can see a sneak peak of my most favorite decorative part of the new kitchen.

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The wall where the refrigerator used to be has been completely transformed…

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…into a chalkboard wall.

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This feature wall was a very hard secret to keep from all of you because it was so much fun to create. So many times I wanted to post a photo on Instagram or write about it here on the blog. The kids and I bought the eclectic mish-mash of frames from the flea market and thrift shops.

The butterfly poster is from The Paper Place in Toronto. (FYI: They ship, and the print is only $6!)

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The Bird on a Wire art was made by an artist at our local flea market. I had some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, and I spent most of it at the flea market. The flower in the photo on the top right is a Golden Brodiaea, which is a wildflower that grows out west. I took the photo in 2009 in our back yard in California.

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The miniature silverware came from my Mother-in-law. She used it when she was a little girl. When we started thinking about decorating, I knew I wanted some of these cute little utensils worked into the decor.

The kids love the 3D place setting. I’m all about teaching life skills in creative ways. Underneath the napkin it says, Place your napkin in your lap. I keep plugging away at teaching table manners.

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Another fun addition is the hanging herb garden. We have Andy to thank for this idea. We planted all of the herbs in the Fintorp system from Ikea. (Rails, Buckets, Hooks) Plants really help liven up a room, and this is especially true in this kitchen since the primary colors are black, white, and grey. I lovingly referred to the process of adding decorations  to the kitchen as “operation warmify.”

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As you look closely at the photos, you might notice all the cute captions and drawings. The kids were in charge of filling the frames and decorating the wall from the middle down. I love the order and design of the chalkboard wall, but my main purpose for creating this feature was to provide a space for them to let their creativity run amok. They did not disappoint.

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We generally subscribe to the less is more philosophy of decorating and life. I get as much pleasure out of their stick figure drawings as I do with their more elaborate art. I see the intent behind their creativity, and it gives me a lot of joy.

The entire family is happy and relieved that the kitchen remodel is over. Once our favorite, we can barely look at frozen meals from Amy’s kitchen. All of us pretty much survived on them with a side of more carbs and fruit during the remodel. These days, we find ourselves excited about things like scrambled eggs and boiling pasta.

The other night, Andy said something that really hit home with me. We were standing in the kitchen, and he said, “I actually want to be in here now.” I could not have said it better myself. We like it here, and that feels good.

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A million thanks for all your comments, encouragement and help along the way. Please feel free to ask any questions about the process or sources. I will happily share information.

Special Note:  Today, (Thursday, 8/26) at 4 pm EDT, I will go LIVE at Facebook to give you a peek inside the cupboards and answer any questions you might have about the kitchen, renovation in general, or anything else you might wonder about life inside this big old house. If you cannot participate live, you will be able to watch it later on the blog page. I look forward to chatting with all of you. Please like the BHH blog page on Facebook to watch this streaming event.

Edited 8/26/16: Thank you, everyone who came to the live FB event. It was fun answering questions and showing you around. The video is still available on the FB blog page if you were unable to attend but you would like to take a look.

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This post is also shared at Thoughts of Home on Thursday. Click on the link for many great ideas for your home.

The Complete Kitchen Remodel

If you just started reading here, our entire Lowe’s kitchen project is available in these additional posts:

The Kitchen :: Getting Started :: Layout Planning :: Site Visit & Layout Changes :: Final Estimate & Finishes :: Week 1: Demo :: Weeks 2-4 :: Cabinets and Replica Hardware :: The Countertops ::  Cement Tile Backsplash :: Schoolhouse Lighting

We are not being compensated by Lowe’s, but I am covering the entire process from concept to completion in order to help others who might be considering a Lowe’s project of their own.

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