Cool Cat Kitchen

Since yesterday’s post on the herringbone tile installation was so dang long, I thought I’d saved the tantalizing reveal for today ๐Ÿ˜‰ Without a doubt, hands down, this kitchen is already functioning so much better than the last one. In all honesty, it really isn’t that much bigger (we gained 6″ on each side of the cabinetry) but it feels so much bigger. We actually have a cabinet or two that are empty right now. Whaaa?? I never thought I’d be saying those words. Holla.

As far as details go, there are so many things I absolutely love about this space, so it’s really hard for me to pick a favorite. A long time back, I spotted a herringbone tile pattern on a kitchen that was done by Urban Grace Interiors. Seriously, everything this design firm does is absolutely amazing. I remember storing that one in the memory bank for our next house. I think it’s what started my whole herringbone obsession, actually. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m so glad I saw that picture, because I think every subsequent house may need this back splash. I LOVE it.

Herringbone Subway Tile

Other than being a total pain in the tuckus to put up, this backsplash totally makes the space for me. Best part, herringbone tiles cost all of .22 each. Yep, that is cheap. So the total out of pocket cost was under $40. Yippity doo freaking dah.

Here is our problem area from before, after the grout is in. Although I still think its a bit noticeable, overall the white grout really helped to mask the issue and make it way less obvious. White on white for the win.

Herringbone Subway Tile

As far as the ergonomics of the space, I’d give it a 9.6 out of 10. The last kitchen, hmm, closer to a 7. Taking out a wall obviously made a huge difference in the overall flow of the space, and notably, it allowed us to add larger cabinetry that stores more of our day to day kitchen essentials. For instance, when we were first planning out the kitchen layout (with the wall in) we were looking at two 12″ lower cabinets. That is teeny tiny. Almost comical, actually. Now we’ve got two hefty 18″ cabinets flanking the oven, which has been more than ample storage for our cooking and dry food needs.

DIY Herringbone Backsplash

On the storage front, I knew I wanted to have a nice tall, counter mounted cabinet that would enable us to take advantage of that usual dead space in the corner. And not only does this guy meet the storage bill, he’s also quite the handsome little stud muffin, too. He’ll look even better once I give him some crown on top.

Tall Cabinet on Counter

The dining room flows right into the kitchen as well, so it’s nice to have that added space where I can hang out with Jay in the evening while he cooks dinner. (Best husband ever, right?) Long term, if we ever opt to convert the screened in porch to a more formal dining space, I’d probably make this space to a loungy couch area vs. more cabinetry, since I absolutely love having that low key, conversational aspect to our kitchen.

White Shaker Kitchen Cabinets

The room is still pretty small as far as modern kitchens go (10×10), but I’m totally fine with that, especially since it opens up to the adjacent 10×9 dining room. I vastly prefer a small, functional space, to one that is a bit more sprawled out. I think the key word is functional though, since a tiny space that doesn’t have enough room for your kitchen essentials is pretty obnoxious, too. Coming in from the side door entrance, you can definitely still tell it’s a smaller room, but since it’s open to the dining space now, everything feels more open and airy.

White Kitchen With Quartz Counters

For old time’s sake, lets take a look at the same view before. Wall in the way, and no frenchie french doors, either.

Taking Down Kitchen Wall

Since I’m all about breaking down the numbers, here is an overview of what we spent on the kitchen. This is by farย the most we’ve ever spent on a home renovation project, but in all honesty, I’m so happy to have such a nice, new kitchen now, that the money feels well worth it in the end. This kitchen was also a bit of a departure for us, since we are used to doing everything single detail ourselves. Since the installation was basically free though (they take off the sales tax at Lowes if you use their installers), it really didn’t make sense for us to install them and have a totally lackluster finished product.

We did try to compensate for those extra expenses by doing the things we knew we could do ourselves, like the backsplash, and later down the line the crown. A penny saved, is a dollar earned, right Benny Franklin. Seriously, where did he come up with all those fine witty sayings. Love that founding father o’ mine.

Alright, y’all ready for this? Here’s the lay of the land.

  • New Gas Line: $250
  • New Appliances: $6,041 โ€“ $750 rebate = $5,291 (DAGGER, Dagger to the heart)
  • Diamond Cabinetry: $5,018 โ€“ $565 rebate = $4,453 (Yeah, I think thatโ€™s another dagger right there)
  • Counters: $2,050 ($71 per square foot)
  • Sink: Free!
  • Faucet: $220
  • Hardware: $45
  • Herringbone Tile Installation $39

Total out of pocket:ย $9,998ย โ€“ (After sale ofย our appliances and old kitchen and rebates)

We got $1,500 for the counters and cabinets, and $850 for all the old appliances and racked up $1,315 in cash rebates. All in all, we had a total savings of $3,665 from craigslisting our old stuff, and submitting rebates.ย Malcolm approves.

Malcolm the Cat

Psst – want to see how the kitchen turned out after the crown install? Get the deets here. ๐Ÿ™‚




A Shaker Named Martha

We all know Martha is a mover and a shaker. I got to give the woman props – making cabinet hardware that looks super classy and only costs me $2 a piece. Forgottabotit. Decorator of the year, Ms. Stewart. I debated, and hemmed and hawed, and in the end, we landed up going with the nickel hardware option. Gold was so very lovely, but just a bit more of a departure than I was going for in our kitchen (this time).

Martha Stewart Kitchen Hardware

Here is a shot of the hardware mounted on the cabinets. I considered going with a traditional bin pull on the cabinets for the kitchen, but in the end decided to shake things up a bit and go with a plain old pull instead. Yum. Me likey.

Martha Stewart Cabinet Pull

For the door hardware, we went with a cute little button knob, which was only $1.98 at Home Depot. Holla! Strangely, some of the other finishes went as high as $4 per knob, but the nickel won me over in the end, so I got the cheap ones ๐Ÿ˜‰

Diamond White Shaker Cabinets

In addition to popping on some hardware, we had another exciting development happen in the cooking room. We now have a cabinet to store all our plates, and cups and bowls – basically, the things we use every single day. Our kitchen went from looking like this after the counters were installed. Oooo la la.

Kitchen Renovation

To this, as the cabinet installers popped that baby in. As soon as the installer mounted this unit up on the counter, I knew it was the best decision ever for this kitchen. So. much. storage! Insert happy dance. We designed the cabinets to go almost all the way up to the ceiling (with some room for crown), since we wanted to totally optimize the storage space available to us in our smallish kitchen.

Cabinet on Counter

This beast of a cabinet is basically going to be our mother ship for all our kitchen essentials. You name it, it’s in this cabinet. So if you ever come over to our house for dinner, you now know where all the goodies can be found. Riiight here. We even have an outlet that is in the bottom of the cabinet, so it’s the perfect space to hide our not so chic, left over from the college years, toaster. Between being able to store that, and our knife block, we will be able to have completely clutter free counters.

Kitchen Cabinets Storage

I was looking to put a very traditional kitchen in our space, since it’s a 1940’s home, I wanted it to have the character, charm (and function!) of a 40’s kitchen, but the pazzaz and modern amenities that you would expect in an updated home. One thing I’ve noticed over time is that the kitchens of yesteryear were in many ways, much more purposeful about their design and function, since they were almost always working with a much smaller footprint than homes today.

Here is a profile shot of the new cabinets as you come into the kitchen from the side door.

White Shaker Cabinets

Since we had the kitchen for a few weeks without the counter mounted cabinet, I was a bit worried for a while there that this cabinet would take up too much space, and make the kitchen feel too tight. Now that it is in though, we’ve really barely noticed the bite into the counter top space. I think the back corner of the kitchen kind of becomes a dead space for things like your toaster and other appliances, so we just shuttled all that clutter into the cabinet base, vs. having it out on the surface.

Plus we still have about a foot of prep space that extends around the corner, so overall, I’m pretty smitten with this little kitten. The cabinets go all the way up to the ceiling (other than space for crown), so we are also enjoying some extra vertical storage space. Alas, I should say Jay is enjoying the extra space since I can’t reach it ๐Ÿ™‚ Good for the long term storage needs, not so much for storing your favorite cereal bowl.

For reference, here is the mood board I started out with in the kitchen.

White Shaker Cabinets The only deviation was the counter since we decided to go with Silestone Lagoon instead of the Allen + Roth Sugarbush, which is pictured. Just have the backsplash left and we can check this room off the proverbial to do list!


Mission Organization

Although the kitchen cabinets have now been installed, we are presently in a waiting pattern while the counters are being cut and getting ready for install. This is quasi sad, since it means we don’t have a sink or a dishwasher until then, but it’s allowed us to focus in on some other practical matters. Kitchen storage. Since we have the cabinets going up all the way to the ceiling, we got a bit more storage this time around. Score. Here is the main food storage area, above and around the oven.

Organizing Kitchen Cabinets

Whenever I see broad, open spaces. I feel the need to buy some baskets to schlep all my stuff into. It’s a sickness. I see hole, I buy basket. With Homegoods a stones throw away, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll find me a basket or two ๐Ÿ˜‰ This time around, Lowe’s actually came to the rescue with some baskets that fit just riiigght into our upper cabinets. In the lower baskets we’ve been putting out lunch stuff (granola bars, pudding, etc) and the upper baskets have our pretzels and other snacky food.

Baskets for Kitchen Storage

Down under, we had some additional storage needs. The right side of the oven is focused on food storage for our cooking needs (oil, spices, etc). Since we knew we would be using these shelves for lots of storage, we opted to get sliding shelves so that we can easily access all of the items that get put back a bit further. It was a $50 upgrade per cabinet ($100) total, but when you are working with such a small kitchen – any opportunity to optimize the space was warranted in my eyes.

Sliding shelves in cabinets

Almost every meal in this house involves a potato or an onion or both, so we have special little baskets for these guys. What can I say, we’re a meat a potato family. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now Jay can just grab them as he cooks. Easy access. Got to keep the cook happy. I considered it a sign that our baskets we already had for these babies fit perfectly into the new shelf.

Baskets for storing onions and potatos

On the shelf right above, we opted to put all our spices and some of our cooking essentials. I’m thinking long term these might get a bit messy in here as Jay rummages around for his preferred spice, so I may have to put labels on them, or something of that sort. For now – at least they are organized and all in one place.

Organizing Spices

Another feature we added on during the kitchen cabinet ordering process, was this little nifty silverware organizer. It’s a double decker! Isn’t that awesome! The one (semi annoying) thing I’ve found so far is that it definitely can’t hold as many utensils in each little cubby as we could before, due to depth. So although is definitely space saving, it’s not quite as amazing as I’d hoped. I still love it though. I’m a total sucker for organizing, if ya can’t tell.

Silverware drawer organizer

While we were at HomeGoods, we snatched some organization sets for our big utensils, too. At $8 each, I was a pretty happy camper. Plus, they fit perfectly into our 18″ pull-out drawers. It was meant to be.

Kitchen Utensil Organization

This post is part of the William Morris project at Pancakes and French Fries. Check out all the great projects here!

A Wo(man) with a Plan

Whenever I get an idea in my head, we have officially entered the danger zone ๐Ÿ˜‰ Since we moved into the house, Jay and I had some pretty big plans to bust out the back wall on the house and convert that space to our dining room. And I still really love that idea – but the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to try working with the space we already have. If we land up staying in this house long term and and have a bunch of bambinos in it, we might still opt to do the dining room off the back BUT in the mean time, I think there is a ton that can be done with the slightly smaller space. Before our revamped plan, I was dreaming of a dining room like this:

Dining Room
Dream Dining Room Layout

Flowing right off the kitchen, and into the back yard from french doors, this would have been a great space for entertaining. Le sigh, a girl can dream, no? Really, it all boils down to affordability. If we can find a way to make an addition off the back affordable (by doing the vast majority of the revisions ourselves…) than we might still tackle it.

Here is the layout again of the house, to refresh your memory.

First Floor Layout
Layout of First Floor

The current potential hurtles in place to converting the back space into a dining room are:

  1. The fact that we may have to hire a contractor to do some of the work. The room currently only has lattice under it, so we would need to route HVAC into the room (or perhaps install some underfloor heating?) and add some additional supports a la new foundation for it as well. The inspector casually estimated the addition would cost $30,000. I think that is bonkers – but that was his professional opinion. That would be to have the entire thing (from start to finish) contracted out, so if we are only looking for assistance with HVAC, and foundation support, that cost may decrease substantially.
  2. The cost is obviously a big deal – we could divert that money into SO many other projects/things that it’s hard to justify
  3. If we can get the same/or similar function with a smaller dining space, I feel like we should at leastย tryย that first. Well at least that would be the rational thing to do… ๐Ÿ˜‰

The pros of a smaller dining space:

  1. More money in our pocket to tackle some of the projects we’ve been hoping to get to, instead of pinching all our pennies to contract someone out.
  2. I can start to bust out some of the really exciting/labor intensive projects on our list (kitchen remodel and attic conversion)
  3. It gives me something else to plan – I’d the good Lord knows I’m a girl that likes her plans

The cons:

  1. Space constraints – our combined kitchen and dining space is 18′ by 9′, floor print referenced above, so it’s not the largest
  2. Layout – optimizing everything in this small of a space will be tricky
  3. Room ambiance – I really like the idea of a formal dining space, and we will lose that a bit with a more open concept living/dining space

The good news, I think I’m up to the task! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The jury is still out on our final plans for the space, but either way, I’m pretty excited to get the ball rolling so we know our options a bit more. We intend to meet with a few contractors to let them know about what we are thinking, and then once we get some direct feedback from them on the costs, we will make a final decision on how to proceed. Right now, we are either going to convert the screened in porch into a really nice, open and airy sunroom, or we might opt to just slowly DIY the space into a legit dining room. Here is another inspiration picture I have, since this is of the exterior, these shots will work for both scenarios.

Exterior French Doors
Exterior French Doors

Drool. I would pretty much cry tears of joy if the back of my house looked like this. Funny, by the end of writing this post, I’m already back in limbo land. I really can’t decide what I want to do – ugggghhh. First world problems.