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Kitchen Follow-Up + What’s Next


Everyone, thank you! We loved that you were so vocal about All Things Kitchen last week, and you gave us so much to think about – from pull-out drawers to windows to islands and soffits (my goodness, the soffits!). Over the weekend, we prepped the space for our soon-to-be pocket door by removing the existing storage room door (aka the first floor work room, our nickname for that small dog leg off the kitchen), pulling up the baseboards and delving deep into soffit talk.

There were a few things we didn’t cover in the original post, partly because we’re still figuring some things out, but also because that initial post was a soft introduction. And because you all gave some fantastic input, let’s follow up and get nerdy about kitchens!

  • Our heads are spinning with cabinet talk, but rightfully so, as they’re such a large part of our budget. A common consensus was the upside to pull-out lowers, which is something we’d been considering as well. The cabinets that will be re-faced on our sink wall will be unable to accommodate this from a built-in standpoint, but we can add Rev-a-Shelf systems to remedy that. We’ll be talking with our cabinet builder about the new lowers to implement pull out lower cabinets – and yes, this includes a trash bin, slim pantry next to the refrigerator and spice rack to the left of the stove. You all are on it.

  • No soffits! No soffits! (Chant with us – No! Soffits!) We had friends and family call up and chime in too – and we hear you! Instead, we’ll add finishing trim to our cabinet tops, which will leave the option open for anything else down the line – more uppers? Lighting? A place for art? There is, however, one obnoxious soffit that we can’t avoid, which hides a furnace vent. Ah, well:


  • Let’s talk additional furniture. There will be an island, and we’re currently on the hunt. One option is our beloved Varde (that I use in the studio), but we’d likely go with the 4-drawer option. Another option would be to find something unique and second hand, although smooth drawers would be a must. We’d also love to top any island with a contrasting countertop from the rest of the kitchen, and if we can swing it, an overhang would be nice for a couple of stools. Bonus: We’re keeping an eye out for a perfectly vintage china cabinet/hutch that’ll need nothing more than a wood refresh to bring in a touch warmth (and, of course, more storage!).

  • The paint plans: We’re thinking white cabinets (uppers and lowers), a bold island (true black or navy) and soft neutral walls; we’ll bring in color with art, accessories and our pocket door (more on that in a minute). What we’d really like to do is continue any kitchen color into the entire living room, which’ll hopefully allow the somewhat tucked-away kitchen to flow into the main space. You all know we’re not crazy about our too-blue living room, so this’ll be a great time to just do something about it! Off of the dining room, we have a typical opening into the kitchen, but to really up the flow (without forcing an open concept plan onto this old house), we’re toying with the idea of widening the doorway by knocking down just the left side. (At which point, we’ll totally finish off the transition from room-to-room with a trim piece.) Hell-o, smooth wall, welcome to the kitchen!


So, what’s next? Although we’re on the constant lookout for the extra furniture bits, most of everything above will happen in the new year; our homework right now is the pocket door!

  • We picked up this adorable door from Rebuilding Exchange for $60 – a steal for Chicago! It was nowhere near as stressful as the Great Door Hunt of 2013 (holy smokes, do you remember that madness?), and we loved it as soon as saw it! We purposely chose a door with a window, because, well, look behind me! There’s a window in the work room that will allow more light into the kitchen, and although this door won’t be centered right in front of it (we’ll be adding additional cabinets to the left of the existing ones, remember?), it’ll still allow for plenty of natural light to shine into the kitchen. And although we plan on making the work room organized and pretty soon, we’ll either frost the glass OR install an adorable light-filtering roller shade on the backside.


  • The pocket door needs to be refinished and painted by January for install (our holiday homework), and we’ll also need to have our hardware picked out. (We love this or this!) We’ll be having fun with the color, too! Minty green? Soft pink? Something light-hearted and fun, absolutely.

Countertops are also on the brain, and gah!, we could burst just thinking of all the options! Fingers crossed, me may even start the investigation this coming weekend…

PS… Our friend Nancy covers the whys, the whats and all the could-have-beens in our kitchen layout. See that here!

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  • Laura C12.10.14 - 8:46 AM

    I didn’t chime in last time, so here’s my two cents (with apologies if I repeat anything already said). When I renovated my kitchen I had a similar dilemma about the space over the upper cabinets and the cost of custom tall cabinets to fill it vs soffits. Upon the advice of our contractor, we ended up installing standard size uppers, but pushed them up to the ceiling. We then installed open shelving underneath. It’s been a great solution – the high upper cabinets are used to store little-used items (canned goods, waffle iron, bulk grocery items, etc.) and the more accessible lower shelves hold our more frequently used items. The end result has been very functional, added a ton of storage, and makes the kitchen feel more spacious than it did when the cabinets were mounted lower down. Just another idea to throw in the hopper…ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.10.14 - 9:53 AM

      Thanks, Laura! Our ceilings are pretty tall, so if we did that, I’d barely be able to reach the bottom shelf, otherwise, it would definitely be something we could consider. If we install them at a standard height now, we could potentially install additional uppers down the road that are at least 2′ tall! We’ll see if that’s even necessary though – that would be a lot of storage!ReplyCancel

      • Laura C12.10.14 - 3:14 PM

        I hear you. Our ceilings are just over 9 feet high. I can only reach the bottom shelf of the upper cabinets without hauling out the stepstool, but it doesn’t bother me. The extra storage was more important in our case – NYC kitchen, so we didn’t have a ton of room to work with and every inch counted!ReplyCancel

    • Haley12.10.14 - 10:59 AM

      This is EXACTLY what I was about to suggest!ReplyCancel

  • susan12.10.14 - 8:51 AM

    LOVE the door you found, the window and 3 panels… so great!
    And a big thumbs up to a smoooooth wall into the kitchen…

    Have a great holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square12.10.14 - 8:58 AM

    Somehow I missed the original kitchen post, but this is so exciting! I look forward to following along. We have kitchen renovations on our list to do at some point (2015? 2016?) so I will be taking notes. :)ReplyCancel

  • Amy12.10.14 - 9:48 AM

    This is about halfway between our two fair cities, and it’s worth a visit if you are interested in beautiful butcher block island top for a steal. We have a walnut piece (30″x60″) that we affixed to an old drafting table to create our island. I think the piece was $150 or so. They also received some press in a STL food magazine this year, see page 45.

    • Kim12.10.14 - 9:54 AM

      I didn’t realize there was an outlet there! Will definitely keep it in mind. THANK YOU!ReplyCancel

  • Jenna12.10.14 - 10:48 AM

    So on A Beautiful Mess, Mandi just rehung her existing cabinets closer to the ceiling and added an open shelf beneath them – I did it in my kitchen as well, and it makes the ceilings look much taller and gave me way more storage space! Plus, I like having open shelving without losing any closed shelving.

    Here’s the post from ABM:

    • Kim12.10.14 - 11:02 AM

      I love Mandi’s kitchen! I think the biggest difference for us is our super tall ceilings (more than 9.5′ tall, as opposed to a standard 8’ceiling), so pushing them up would make it REALLY tall, and it wouldn’t be practical to reach anything above the lowest shelf. We haven’t completely nixed the idea of open shelving underneath, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, it doesn’t seem too enticing with a 4 pet household. So. Much. Dusting! LOVE that look though.ReplyCancel

  • Ann L12.10.14 - 11:09 AM

    Wow – commenters really like those open shelves! I agree with you, Kim, that your height/reach is the deciding factor. I’m not a big fan of soffits either, but I also hate that dust-bunny land on top of kitchen cabinets without soffits. I agree with leaving the space over your uppers open for now with the possibility of adding more cabinets later when you get tired of dust-bunny land. I have an older home too (1920s bungalow) with tall ceilings and the original kitchen uppers are double: a “regular” size cabinet topped with a smaller cabinet. If I could change anything, I would add glass panes to those uppermost doors and add lighting within the cabinets. That way instead of just squirreling away all my pretties, I could have them on display in a no dust zone and have some nice ambient lighting.

    I look forward to your future posts and your new kitchen!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.10.14 - 2:10 PM

      Ann, thank you for chiming in! I suppose we’re leaning heavily towards hanging cabinets at the normal height and having the option for more uppers down the road as you did. The biggest challenge – while an awesome feature – is the tall ceiling, as you understand!ReplyCancel

  • Jaime12.10.14 - 11:43 AM

    Ack! My two favorite blogs (yours and i heart organizing), both doing kitchen renos at the same time, having very different styles and two different approaches to it…I LOVE IT!!! I am so excited to see what you guys do!

    One question: you mentioned the spice rack to next to the stove….would it be above the counter, or actually, right next to the stove?? Like a pullout cabinet/drawer thing-a-majig? If it is the latter, may I advise against it as spices are VERYReplyCancel

    • Jaime12.10.14 - 11:48 AM

      OOPS….fat fingers hit submit before I was done….anyways, what I was trying to say is that spices are VERY susceptible to damage from heat and they will dry out and flavors will break down very quickly if they are stored so close to the oven. I saw a photo of a pullout spice rack located immediately adjacent to the oven in another blog and couldn’t believe it was a “thing” because..HEAT + SPICES = no bueno. A better use of that narrow space is storage of cookie sheets. If you aren’t planning on storing your spices this way, then please ignore my rambling and carry on…. ;)ReplyCancel

      • Kim12.10.14 - 11:57 AM

        Wow, that’s interesting – we never thought about that. All of the sources we’ve seen have spice racks next to the stove – and you’re right, that’s where we planning on putting ours.

        I wonder if newer stoves create the same problem though? We just got a new stove, and we’ve never noticed the sides getting hot at all. I’ll have to remember this the next time we turn the stove on! Otherwise, I wonder if we installed a pull out rack the the left of the microwave on the upper set of cabinets, and that could store all our spices/oils and backing needs.

        Thanks, Jaime!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy12.10.14 - 12:27 PM

    I love a good remodel! Can’t wait to see it all come together.
    We have this island
    (It was my Christmas gift last year!) and it is great. It doesn’t have closed storage though, but the shelves fit tons. The thing I love most about it is that there is an overhang for stools. It has absolutely changed the function of our kitchen.ReplyCancel

  • Alison12.10.14 - 12:32 PM

    Have you considered add windows above the cabinet on the side of sink area? It can bring more light in as well as add interest. It might be expensive through.ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.10.14 - 12:42 PM

      We absolutely did! It would require a new window that wasn’t quite as low, and we felt it was better to install a VERY large wall of windows (plus a door) that looked into the backyard instead! The stove wall window currently looks right onto our neighbors house, which is literally about 2 feet from that window. (Chicago homes are SO close together!) The view wasn’t worth saving for us, and instead, we’ll get light coming through from the work room.ReplyCancel

  • B12.10.14 - 5:37 PM

    I just read Nancy’s post, and looking at the different layouts had me wondering: did you consider swapping the kitchen and work room at all? I’m picturing a wall built basically from where the stove is now, out to the door, to create a new work room (thus enclosing the furnace room out of the kitchen). Then, the wall of the work room could come down and create a new kitchen space. Looks like the plumbing move would be fairly simple, but maybe the gas line would be a hassle. Would love to know if anything other than cost made you rule out wall shifting (if you considered it).

    Btw, I cannot wait to see how that pocket door turns out. It is so beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.12.14 - 10:20 AM

      We did consider this waaaaay back when we bought the home, actually! The workroom is tucked behind the bathroom though, so it would create more of an L-shaped kitchen, and we loved how this one was a big box. The bigger hassle came with tearing down more walls when so much of our budget went towards taking down walls when we first moved in. So. Much. Wall. Moving! :)ReplyCancel

  • Nate Laux12.11.14 - 3:03 PM

    Have you considered honeycomb tile for the back wall behind the stove area? It can be a nice alternative to the subway tile, especially as there has been a lot of subway tile going around lately! Just a thought!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.11.14 - 4:19 PM

      We’re not set on anything specific just yet. Still need to go shopping for that – YES!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda12.11.14 - 4:10 PM

    Well, I was the one who couldn’t make up her mind about hte soffits, so I’m glad you made up yours! Ha! Your plans sound great. I would have the same concern as you about the open shelving, especially with 4 pets in the house. I actually have a mild allergy to dust, so my house accessories are minimal and I keep flat surfaces as clear as possible so that dusting is easy/quick.

    I love that your idea for the cabinets leaves you options further down the road! Flexibility is a good thing. Good luck on your end of year projects :)ReplyCancel

  • […] I say almost because we did check off our holiday homework – the pocket door! Our kitchen contractor suggested that we should have our pocket door ready to go with hardware […]ReplyCancel

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