Over and over again, we hear you say, Tree House is moving along so quickly! There’s not much else to do! First, this makes us nervous laugh, because you guys, there is still so much more to do. But it also makes us realize that it’s partially our fault that you think so; how many times have you seen this view of the living room, am I right? If I turn the camera around, you’ll see that we don’t have a kitchen. The mudroom is plumbed, but those pipes are bare, exposed and waiting for a washer and dryer. The opposite corner of the room has a folding table and old patio chairs, and we don’t dare walk in the bathroom barefoot (because despite numerous cleaning sessions, there are age spots worn into the tile that refuse to come up). Also, remember when we ripped up all the baseboards?
We have a shared running list on our phones. Every time we go to Tree House, we do our best to get that list to the point where we no longer have to scroll to view each task – it’s such a satisfying feeling! Although we knocked down the list quite a bit the last time we were there, if you were to look at our list right this second, you’d see that, once again, the list is long. Like, really long. But it’s also very, very exciting, because we’re kicking off the renovation of the kitchen and mudroom!
A couple of weekends ago, we shared a big behind the scenes on our Stories from a recent planning session with Lowe’s. In case you missed it, we’ll be diving into every step of that process on the blog, too, but today, we want to talk about how the two rooms look now, what’s inspiring us, and how we see them evolving. Let’s go!
Tree House is laid out so that you have to enter through a side door (we don’t actually have a front door; here’s a video tour to help you make sense of the layout), and you’re welcomed by into the mudroom. The mudroom is located right off of the kitchen, and once you’ve walked through the kitchen and into the living room, you see this:
Well, you used to see that. We’ve since demoed the cabinets and island, refinished all the flooring and had new drywall (and insulation) installed to replace what was once soggy and moldy. The only appliance we’re temporarily hanging onto is the refrigerator, because beer + priorities. We also replaced the track lighting with a placeholder fixture, and we’ve since added an HVAC system (you’ll notice one of the new vents, below). Now, you see this:
The Kitchen Inspiration
I’ve pinned, bookmarked and saved countless images as kitchen inspiration, but there’s one image from Studio McGee that sticks out as the winner time and time again. Although every last detail isn’t what we have in mind, it’s preeetty close, and my goodness, does that layout look familiar (or what)?
via Studio McGee
Can you see it? In a game of Spot the Differences, we’ll have a refrigerator to the right of the stove, and we’re considering an exposed range hood to keep things a bit more open. We’ll also be nixing the upper cabinets to the left of the window (our room doesn’t have as much length as our inspiration kitchen), but those L-shaped shelves to the right are a sweet and simple use of space. We’ve gone back and forth on the best placement for appliances and cabinetry, but this photo serves as a great reminder that the layout of our kitchen already works!
When it comes to the finishes, we noticed a reoccurring theme showing up in my idea boards: wood + neutral paint colors. Although one of these photos below is not a kitchen, it definitely had us excited about adding a wood finish in the midst of a sea of painted cabinetry:
The Kitchen Bullet Points
- We’ll be keeping the original layout the same, although we might be replacing the current window with one that’s taller, and we’ll likely need to shift around some electrical for a sconce and island pendant.
- Floating shelves will get installed to the right of the window, but we’ll keep the wall to the left bare. Maybe we’ll hang art, or we may just let it breathe.
- The island – or peninsula? – will get a wood finish, whereas the L-shaped cabinetry will receive a painted finish! We’ll also lower it from it’s former bar height to a more user-friendly counter height.
- At this point, we’re thinking that the stove wall will receive upper cabinetry, and we’ll be moving towards a smaller counter depth refrigerator. (For a getaway home, Tree House doesn’t need excessive fridge space.)
- We’ll add a tile backsplash, although we’re undecided on whether it should go all the way to the ceiling or stop halfway up the wall. We can see the merits in both, but we’re leaning towards halfway, stopping around the middle of the window. We’re looking for uncluttered and fussy-free. Simple. Clean.
- Note: It’s been a fun challenge to think of this kitchen as one that will serve different needs than our everyday home (i.e., does a freezer really need to hold more than a bag of ice and a box of popsicles?). We’re looking to create the perfect blend of function and ease.
I absolutely love a mudroom. It doesn’t matter how small, if there’s any sort of space that can be separated from the main living areas, I’m all about it. The mudroom in Tree House could actually be considered on the large side, and there’s about to be so much function packed into this 8′ x 9′ room! Hooks and benches and mirrors and laundry and storage! Man, I get excited about mudrooms(!).
The blue-gray door below is the main entrance/exit, and the other side of the room used to be a wall of closets and a water heater. Needless to say, the closets came down (peace out louvered doors!), and we’ve since converted our water system to tankless. We had our contractor add plumbing for a washer and dryer, and our electrician added outlets that can be hidden inside a pantry – more on that in a second.
The Mudroom Inspiration
Much like the images we were drawn to for the kitchen, this mudroom photo has been our go-to. I pull it up multiple times a day. And although those dividers are adorable, it doesn’t make sense for our limited space. Instead, we’re honing in on the storage above and below, the painted cabinetry and the natural wood backdrop. Yes. Please.
via Simo Design | photo by Jessica Sample
The Mudroom Bullet Points
- We’re thinking of the mudroom as an extension of the kitchen, rather than an isolated room. Because of this, the space will see the same cabinets and wood finishes.
- On the back wall of the mudroom, below, we’re envisioning (from left to right) a tall pantry, a low built-in bench and a stacked washer and dryer. Cabinets above will connect the pantry to the washer and dryer, which will in turn create a little nook for the bench area.
- The pantry will be close enough to the kitchen that we can access it easily, but in general, we plan on this extra storage being a place for liquor, dog food and stuff – like light bulbs, batteries, scissors and notepads.
- Just as our inspiration photo above suggests, we love the idea of adding wood to the back wall of the bench seating.
We’ve begun working with a Design Specialist at Lowe’s to build out these rooms, and we’ve already learned so much. We could not be more excited to start taking you through that process!
I don’t normally like to but my two cents in on someone elses project but had just read a post bout putting the frig in a different room. (Young House Love) Since it looks like your frig doors could block the walk way to living area you might consider putting fridg in place of pantry in mudroom.
The current fridge is monstrous! We’ve incorporated a counter depth and more NARROW fridge into the designs. It’s going to make so much more sense!
I would probably elect to have a slightly larger freezer than one that can just hold Popsicles and a bag of ice. Because you aren’t going to be there as often I would think you might want to store your dry goods that you might want anywhere (sugar, flour, rice, extra formula if that’s something you use, etc.) in the freezer to prevent bugs or rodents from getting into it (hopefully that won’t be an issue). I also recommend freezing water in a small cup and placing a penny on top so that you can verify your freezer hasn’t gone out while you were gone if you keep things like extra hamburgers in there.
I haven’t heard of the penny trick! Thanks for the tip.
I had the same thought as Susan Fasone. Can you put a full size fridge in the mud room? Extra freezer space is very useful for vacation homes to keep dry goods fresh and removing the fridge will allow an open and welcoming wall to enter to ala your inspiration photo. I love the inspiration of wood and white cabinets. I think it sets just the right tone for relaxing getaway weekends. But I think every thing you guys do is clean and refreshing!
Was making the mud room window smaller ever an option? It seams to me that it is off scale and out of alignment with kitchen window and mud room door. With it shorter I think you can unify the entry patio nicely and achieve a cozy cottage entryway.
For now, we’ll keep the mudroom window as is, but I’m pretty sure we’re going larger with the kitchen window. The placement of the window in the mudroom is so bizarre, but for now, we’re going to work with what we’ve got in there. Maybe we’ll address it down the road when we make changes to the exterior?
I highly suggest keeping your fridge as far from your stove as space allows. I once had a kitchen with a fridge right next to my stove and the splatters were horrendous and never cleaned up easily. Even a foot or two would be nice. I think your finishes are beautiful and that mudroom will be amazing! Love reading about the Tree House, it feeds the fantasy of my own nature retreat! Thanks for sharing!
Agreed! The new fridge is going to be more narrow, which allows for a foot of space between the two appliances.
What an exciting development! I love following you on this journey. My husband and I remodeled the kitchen in our vacation home a few years ago with almost this exact layout. You may have already made your cabinet plan with Lowe’s, but if not, we turned that little sliver of cabinet next to the stove into an open cavity for sheet pans, and I have never regretted it! Since it faces the mudroom, you won’t see that its open from anywhere other than the mudroom, and it is a great way to avoid those awkward L-shaped corner cabinets. It allows the cabinet next to it (which for us is next to the dishwasher we installed) to be a straight back. Great place to store the ice cream maker, crock pot, and paper plates for parties. All the nice to haves (it is a vacation house!), but don’t need them very often things. Best of luck to you! What an exciting time in your life! You’ll look back with very fond memories :)
We love that idea! We went back and forth on that corner cabinet for a while, and in the end, we decided to keep it. We’ll have lazy susans inside, and that extra deep storage will hold the items you talked about – crock pot, blender, ice cream maker, etc.
Our next house NEEDS to have a mudroom! It’s one of my favorite places since it provides so much function for the home. I know yours is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to see it!
Mudrooms are the BEST. I love, love, love a good mudroom.
Nice layout/design. I would hang a gorgeous plant to the left of the kitchen window and call it a day.
exciting! and it depends on how often you’ll be visiting your weekend home, but we go to ours roughly once/month – and we usually empty and unplug our fridge (and everything that takes power) in the interim. saves a bunch of $$ and makes me feel less guilty about consuming so much energy. So if that’s something you might do, you might want to incorporate that into your planning (could be as simple as a place for a switch-off power bar…)
That’s also a great point! We’ve been up there almost every other weekend, so when we leave, we turn the coldness all the way down. (We also turn the heat way, way down and have been incorporating ‘smart’ systems so we can control things while we’re in Chicago as well!) The on/off switch is an interesting idea. Thanks, Kara!
This isn’t super relevant to this post/comment but reminded me of another super useful thing to have at a seasonal place: a whole house off/on water switch. Maybe this is more standard in the chilly north and you already have one? Here in the usually-balmy Virginia southlands it isn’t common and having the capacity to turn off the water to the whole house (both at my family’s beach house and at our full-time home in the mountains) has saved our pipes tons of times.
That’s pretty common up here! We have one at Tree House, but our winter has been SO cold, last time we were there, our pipes DID freeze – but because there was no water, they didn’t burst. We’ve since hired a company to insulate them where the pipes run under our home’s crawl space. Anyway, just like you, we do turn the water off every time we leave. :)
I’d make sure the freezer is big enough for ice, Popsicles, aaaand frozen pizza.
100%! Those are literally our requirements.
Ha! Was literally commenting just to suggest the frozen pizza bit. As a renovator of a 2nd home, I will tell you there are few things better than knowing you can pull out frozen pizza at the end of a long drive.
I think I would skip upper cabinets and use shelves for dishes, glassware. I don’t know how much stuff one needs in a cabin. Whatever you do it will be beautiful and thank you for sharing.
We’re definitely adding open shelving! We’ll have very minimal – if ANY – upper cabinets.
I’m putting in one more vote for considering putting the fridge in the mudroom.
For your island/peninsula, I wonder if you consider putting it on on wheels. My mother had a peninsula she hated walking around so she had the entire thing sliced off, set it on wheels and used it as an island. She didn’t lose the counter or cabinet space, and when she had a party she rolled the entire thing out of the center of the room so she had more room to maneuver in the kitchen.
You could keep it as a peninsula or island, and then when you have a crowd you could roll it out into a corner of the main room and put the beer on it. : )
We love this idea, but it’s funny because we did that in our home kitchen. After living with an island on wheels for a few years, we’ve NEVER wheeled it out of the way (with the exception of being able to clean under it)! We considered that for Tree House as well, but because we don’t use the wheels for their full intent, we ended up nixing the idea. Not to mention, Tree House is so small that there’s no where else for the island to really go… ha!
What is the countertop you choose for your kitchen? It’s beautiful!