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Kitchen Overhaul

Those who know me well know that I’m not really a food person.  I mean I know we have to eat to survive and all, but food is just not my thing. My refrigerator consists of a few sad staples, my pantry a few more, and I rarely cook. So does this mean that kitchens are not a high priority in my renovations???? Not at all. They’re probably my favorite space to design and this particular kitchen ranks at the top of that list. Two doorways, two large windows, and a brick fireplace all within the confines of a 13×12 space forced me to get creative with the lay-out.  We ran into a few surprises along the way but I love the end result and wanted to share with you each step of the renovation.

The old kitchen was, simply put, cramped. Both the refrigerator and stove were in awkward places and the wall-to-wall cabinets were a mismatch of stock cabinets and custom made pieces.

Laminate flooring was glued onto plywood which was over the original hardwoods and I was certain that there was brick behind the center wall of the room.  So, my first order of business immediately after closing on the house was to let loose with the hammer.  Brick indeed.

Next up were the cabinets. The stock cabinets were donated with the exception of one that I was able to reuse in my storage shed and the two custom pieces were set aside and used later in the laundry room and butler’s pantry. The more houses I renovate, the more joy I find in being able to repurpose pieces. I just think it adds character to a space and tells a story.  As it turns out, one of the kitchen pieces was an exact match to the cabinets in the butler’s pantry/hallway so we were able to join those together to create 10 feet of cabinet storage. I would say that’s a pretty good find! We also found a doorway that had been closed up and converted to a built-in shelving unit but once uncovered, I knew it was going to have to stay.

Now that everything was cleared out, we started the painstaking process of uncovering the original hardwood floors. The laminate flooring was laid over the top of plywood that was held down with about 50 nails per square foot. Seriously. The only way to remove it is through a whole lot of hard work and really great family members who are willing to help out.  The most effective way I have found to tackle this task is to take a circular saw and cut the plywood into small squares and then use a crowbar to pry it up. Be careful to set the blade only to the depth of the plywood so that you don’t score the hardwoods underneath. Truth be told it kind of takes forever and once the plywood was finally up, we had to go back and pull up any remaining nails. For the nails that broke off, we drove them down as far as possible so that when the floors were refinished, the sander wouldn’t hit the nails.  While the floors have some wear and tear that shows, I think they turned out beautiful and love the character that shines through.

The floor plan was up next and to be honest, I went round and round on this one. Two windows, two doorways, and a brick wall didn’t leave a lot of wall space.   I think I went through five different kitchen lay-outs before settling on this one which highlighted the original features of the space and allowed for a raised bar. And while the kitchen isn’t huge, the 10 feet of floor to ceiling cabinets in the butler’s pantry more than make up for the lack of storage.

I had my cabinets custom built by a local carpenter.  Honestly, I think this is the best money you can spend in a renovation.  Nothing is plumb, square, or level in an old house (I’m sure you’re shocked) which makes installing cabinets incredibly hard.  When possible, I leave this up to the experts and try to save money in other places. All of my cabinets were painted white – I love an all white kitchen – but when it came to countertops, I really had a tough time deciding what to do. I finally settled on custom built butcher block made out of cedar boards. A friend of mine built them for me and I served as his assistant, so that I could learn how for next time (always learning). Plus I learned how to use a Kreg Jig which is pretty much the coolest tool ever.  After staining and sealing, they turned out great and are much more durable than I actually thought they would be. Some black hardware ordered from Amazon and the cabinets were complete.

As part of the whole house renovation, all of the electrical and plumbing were replaced and the walls and ceilings received new drywall. I finished up the space by trimming everything out with high baseboards and door casings to match the rest of the house as closely as possible. After decorating with a few of my favorite vintage items, the kitchen was complete. Hope you like it as much as I do!