The reveal of our colorful Chicago kitchen, almost 1 year in the making!
Happy Kitchen Reveal Day!
This month marks one year of planning and executing our Chicago home kitchen. One. Year! I’ll admit that slow renovating was a perfect pace for our small family of 3. Not to mention, living in this home for 9 years prior to taking it on meant that we knew exactly what we wanted: a better work triangle, breathing room, a low table, and COLOR (for starters!).
Follow along with this renovation from the beginning: why we’re renovating the kitchen | a happy surprise | choosing cabinetry | sharing the new kitchen layout | choosing backsplash tile | choosing an eat-in kitchen table (vs. an island) | the mood board | the kitchen is GONE and how we’re making it work | maple flooring is in! | appliance first impressions | installing cabinets onto unlevel floors | how to install drawer fronts on inset cabinetry | how to buy countertops | 5 transformative kitchen updates | the reveal!
A quick note to let you know that all sources are linked at the bottom of this post!
Our cabinets are ready-to-assemble inset cabinetry in Madison from Cabinet Joint, one of the only inset cabinet companies that allowed us to choose any color from the Sherwin-Williams library. And when it came to choosing that color, I couldn’t shake the idea of red. A red that felt calming (does that exist?, I wondered); a red that felt like it’s always been a part of our 135-year-old house. Sherwin-Williams Reddened Earth quickly rose to the top and became Our One, and afterwards, the remaining dominoes could fall into place.
Before + Afters
We’re not going to make you wait for a few quick hitters! Seeing the progression from our starting to point to now reminds us that a home can grow and evolve with our changing family. When we renovated our kitchen the first time in 2015, it was a budget-friendly makeover. We reused the cabinets we had* and worked within the layout of the room. See the before-before here, and keep reading to see where the second phase of our kitchen landed us!
*The white kitchen was priced in as-is condition and sold to a couple who were renovating their own Chicago Two Flat. Not a single thing from our phase-one-kitchen ended up in the landfill!
Kitchen Wet Wall | Before
Kitchen Wet Wall | Progress
Kitchen Wet Wall | After!
The largest part of this renovation was re-working the shape of the room, and the angle below really highlights that. It’s typical to see a furnace closet tacked onto the back room of an old Chicago home, and ours was no different. Our home was built in the 1800s, and over time, it was modernized to include an HVAC system. However, the location of the furnace closet, seen below (covered in Lucy’s artwork), sucked up a large amount of kitchen space. We outline the plans in this post, and we explain why renovating the kitchen also meant renovating the guest room. (Because if you give a DIYer a cookie…)
Kitchen | Before
Kitchen | Progress
Kitchen | After!
Casing the Kitchen Entry
We made one small change before ever stepping foot into the kitchen. We cased the entry! We LOVE that although our kitchen is in a separate room of the house, we still have sight lines into the dining and living rooms (due to the long, narrow shape of our home). To highlight this space as it’s own special room, we cased the entry, and this small accent feels so grand! Many of our friends who have come over haven’t been able to figure out why something feels so ‘different’ (that is, aside from the kitchen itself), and when we mention that we cased the door, they all agree that it’s such a special touch!
About the Range Wall
Before deciding on a single item in the kitchen, Scott and I fell head over heels for the look of a recessed range hood. A range hood that just… disappears! To further lean into this disappearing act and to allow the room to breathe, we added a wall of glossy Pix tile and further highlighted it with a pair of double sconces.
Wide Open Space
The wide open space is 9-feet-wide by 5-feet-high, and it’s a statement in itself. Aside from the induction range, we chose panel-ready appliances, a polished nickel pot filler and a white quartz shelf to highlight the expanse. The countertops flanking the range are 3-feet-wide each, and we’ve not once wished for a kitchen island since completion. So far, this wall has proved itself to be a kitchen workhorse, solidified by weeknight family dinners, friend gatherings, and slow brunches.
Black Marble + Brass
Our countertops are black marble, and we sealed them right away. Sealing does not, however, protect from etching, which can be a dealbreaker for some. And yes, we already have a few etches, but it doesn’t bother us in the least! And along the same lines, we opted for brass hardware – again, another material that shows use over time. In both of these cases, we wanted materials that would live a telling life alongside us. Materials that would patina with the passing years, materials that you might have found in our home 100-years ago.
Our previous kitchen had a slim pullout pantry, but with some clever cabinetry tricks, we were able to incorporate a 3-foot-wide pantry cabinet in this kitchen! Hidden behind the door are all our dry goods, microwave and cookbooks. In the drawers beneath, you’ll find storage containers, Lucy’s snack drawer, Stasher bags (the best!), and food wraps. Oh, and cabinet lighting!
Panel Ready Appliances
To prevent a bold color choice from feeling overwhelming, we wanted to streamline the way it was used. Rather than having, say, stainless steel appliances disrupting the flow, we opted for panel ready appliances to keep the lines of sight smooth. Most of our appliances are Fisher & Paykel purchased from Abt Electronics, in part chosen for how well they integrate into inset cabinetry. The seams and tolerances are so slim, which is truly impressive!
About the Wet Wall
The other side of the kitchen – the wet wall – is another wide open space highlighted by a trio of sconces and one long oak shelf. This time, we only tiled to the bottom of the shelf, but both the oak shelf and the opposite wall’s quartz shelf are hung at the same 24″ height above the countertop. We also opted for a black granite sink and polished nickel sink fixtures.
The Oak Floating Shelf
Our oak shelf is 10-feet-long and almost 1.75″ thick. In order to achieve the strongest shelf possible, we hired our friends Leigh-Ann and George of Norman Leigh Design. They work with a supplier that offers rod brackets capable of holding hundreds of pounds, and they also know where to find the most beautiful wood! We’ve worked with them several times over the years, and we trust them fully to bring our vision to life.
The Beverage Station
The far end of the wet wall is for All Things Beverage. Tucked away in the cabinetry is a two-drawer refrigerator/freezer, and an espresso machine sits atop a slab of butcher block. There’s a slim pull out for liquor, coffee and tea, and a drawer nearby houses a jigger, cocktail shaker and bottle openers. Our glasses are ALL within easy reach depending on if you’re pouring a morning latte or shaking up an evening gimlet. Dare I say, this 3-foot section of our kitchen is used quite often? The beverage station was high on our wish list, and it feels like an immense luxury to have everything within arms’ reach.
On Choosing a Dining Table Over an Island
We made a purposeful choice to leave out an island in favor of a dining table for a few reasons. First and foremost, for nostalgia. I can’t help but think of my grandma’s kitchen, with it’s low round table, the sound of shuffling slippers and the smell of her signature spaghetti sauce in the air. And when we gathered around the small table – as opposed to the larger table in the dining room – it felt much more special.
In addition to that, we enjoy having the room so open! It allows for a better work triangle, and it’s a great place to sit and bake cookies together. While one of us cooks, it’s a place to land for everyone else, and you’re completely our of the way.
We chose this round-top marble table, and it was worth every week of waiting. Initially, we made chunky stools to go around the table, but it felt too visually heavy. We switched to these small round stools (which are a STEAL, by the way!), and I was on board until Scott found these chairs sitting in the alley! We cleaned them up, and it turned out to be the prettiest vintage touch to the room. I’m debating painting them a high gloss black. What do you think?
Thank you for cheering us on!
We’ve been sharing every step of this renovation on the blog and Instagram, and we have been absolutely blown away by your support, enthusiasm and curiosity surrounding this kitchen makeover. You all have made this process a hundred times more fun, and we are so lucky to be surrounded by the Yellow Brick Home community.
We have even more kitchen details coming up, including a big budget breakdown! In the meantime, feel free to leave any questions below, as there was a lot to cover!
Walls + Cabinetry: cabinet color is Sherwin-Williams Reddened Earth | wall color is Benjamin Moore Intense White | doors are Sherwin-Williams Tricorn Black | cabinets are Cabinet Joint in Madison style | Pix Bianco backsplash tile with Ardex Irish Cream unsanded grout
Appliances + Fixtures: induction range | range hood | 36″ panel ready refrigerator | panel ready dishwasher | panel ready under counter refrigerator | 33″ granite sink | touch faucet | pot filler | glass rinser | automatic espresso machine | oak floating shelf (commissioned)
Furniture + Accessories: marble dining table with vintage chairs | rug | dog food station | lollipop print | cookie and treat jars | melamine plates | espresso knock box | amber water glasses | amber mugs | wine glasses | beer glasses | glass racks | salt and pepper grinders | set of 3 baskets | amber glass soap pumps | drink syrup dispenser | clock | apron