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.
See also: How to buy stone countertops in 3 steps and how to choose cabinet hardware.
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.
See also: Our Tree House dining table and our Chicago dining table, both designed by Norman Leigh!
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)
Lighting + Hardware: ceiling pendant lighting | double sconces | single sconces | ball knobs | appliance pulls | smaller pulls | cupboard latch
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
I love this Kitchen its just so welcoming and cosy, that red shade a stroke of genius! Hope you enjoy using it :)
Absolutely beautiful! Love seeing you guys so happy in there after all of your hard work. Thanks for taking us along!
It’s all about the details– and you guys are magic with them!
I’ve been so excited to watch this process for the last year! The finished space is absolutely gorgeous and I loved all the detailed posts on the process. I even turned on on notifications for stories on instagram so I didn’t miss any big installs. Thank you for taking us along with all your decisions and showing us the plans. All that has been so helpful for me.
I do have a question. Was there a specific reason why you only tiled up to the wood shelf, but then all the way to the ceiling on the stove side?
Aw thank you, Rachel! That’s a good question. We chose the shelf as the stopping point, because otherwise there wasn’t a good hard stopping point above the shelf. We would have had to continue around the workshop door and then do we stop at the corner of the wall? It would have been too much, so we chose restraint.????
Thank you for responding. That makes complete sense!
Absolutely beautiful, as are all of your projects! I am considering the same FP Induction range? Can you tell me how you like it? Thanks!
Thank you! We are HUGE fans of the range. There’s a bit of a learning curve with all of the cooking modes when switching from gas, but we’ve got the hang of it. Highly recommend!
What a lovely room. Yes, paint the chairs black! And a sweet little design in reddened earth on the backs would make them feel so personal to your kitchen.
Oooh, you have my wheels spinning…
I saw an earlier pic and the chairs were in shadow – so I thought they already were black – and I recall thinking “black chairs – nice” LOL.
This kitchen is everything I never knew I wanted! So well thought out, functional, gorgeous color palette- Wows all around!
Thank you so much, Cynthia!
Love it so much! I am on team “paint the chairs black.”
Love love love! The space feels very warm and inviting. The artwork above the sink is delightful–wonderful finishing touch.
What a truly lovely makeover! I adore all the thoughtful touches- a dining table as a nod to your grandmother, the feeding station for your pup, the cabinet toekicks! And I love that you passed along your old kitchen pieces so they didn’t end up in the landfill. The found kitchen chairs are the icing on the cake! Thank you for sharing such a special design and one that honors your home and the stage of life you are in. This post brought a smile to my face this morning! ????
Means the world, thank you!
So inspiring, and as usual, attention to detail is second to none. Love the little checkerboard cutting board. Congrats and enjoy!
Thank you! That was a sweet gift from our friends at Norman Leigh!
Wow! Absolutely stunning. You guys did a great job and I’ve really enjoyed following along. Enjoy your new kitchen!
It is stunning. I’m a little sad I won’t be filling my days with checking stories to see how the kitchen is coming though. Enjoy it!
I’m a little sad, too!
Absolutely stunning! I’d like to throw a vote in for leaving the chairs “as is” vs. painting! I love how the wood pulls out even more warmth from your lovely red cabinetry. Thanks for the morning inspiration! xo
That’s a good point! They’re a bit more of a rustic, worn-in finish than we would like, but we’re still on the fence. You know we’ll keep you all posted!
I agree! Love the worn in look of the wood. Whatever you choose though, I know it will be beautiful! I have loved following along with this intentional renovation this last year. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and for always inspiring me. : )
I agree! I love the authenticity of the chairs as-is, but I’m sure they’d be great painted black as well.
I totally agree! They aslo create “warmth” in this room with their lived-in-ness, that really makes the room feel alive and lovingly used.
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I agree, their patina adds that lovely “something used” element
This is so beautiful! I love this open style, but always wonder—how far away from the sink is the stove? Does it feel like a long walk?
It’s not a far walk, BUT we do have that pot filler on the range wall, so it saves us a trip or two!
Absolutely stunning! Your very hard work paid off… Bravo!
Looks amazing!! Wow!! I am team “leave the wood as is” ????
I loved watching your dream kitchen come to life! All of the DIY parts and thinking processes was the best! When you were leaning red I was excited because it’s my least favorite color and I knew you would knock it out of the park and make me love it! What a beautiful kitchen! Also, I am team paint the chairs black (loved the black stools but I can appreciate the antique chairs). Thank you for taking us along this ride.
Loving seeing the finished kitchen! What a beautiful job…I’m contemplating painting my kitchen cabinets and this might be a color I’d try! Congratulations on finishing it, now the best part is enjoying it ???? Oh, and love the vintage chairs with your table. Chicago alleys are gold for vintage recycling!
Be sure to grab a sample and test it in your space! The color is a wonderful chameleon. Let us know if you go that route, we’d LOVE to see!
What a warm and welcoming kitchen! Thank you for bringing us along. I’m team “leave the chairs as-is”! I love that their age and wear contrasts with the new and shiny kitchen. As the kitchen starts to settle into itself and the wear on the chairs grows, then you can paint them glossy black for a pop of new shininess.
We kind of like this idea!
This is stunning. So unique and not like anything I’ve seen. Thank you for sharing your journey. Will you consider doing a tour of inside your drawers & cabinets?
We’ll likely be hopping on IG live this evening around 8pm CST and will be touring drawers, appliances and anything else folks want to see!
The most stunning renovation! I have had so much fun following along over the past year. I love that your kitchen is on the smaller side – reminds us that something lovely like this is achievable in any of our homes, even if we don’t live in McMansions in the ‘burbs with butler’s pantries! Cheers to you, Vargos! <3
Thanks so much for the kind words, Christina!
Size is relative, right?! This is the largest kitchen we’ve designed, yet we realize it is small by most standards. We love small city living!
it absolutely is relative! I would kill for a kitchen your size, and so thoughtfully designed! xox
Looks great! What is behind the door next to the entrance?
It leads to our little workshop/storage room. Kim just posted a video in IG Stories!
Gorgeous! I wasn’t sure about the choice of color at first, but now I’m in love.
The most perfect kitchen ever!!! Ahhh I’m so in love. The hanging planter, the brass outlet covers, every detail is BANG on! Great job!!
Beautiful! Just beautiful! I’ve never been one to decorate with red tones, but this may have convinced me to try! I love it all!!
Bravo! It’s lovely. I was so skeptical of the color but I knew if anyone could pull it off y’all could. Also, I’m considering the same cabinets and many of the same appliances. So can’t wait to hear how you feel about them. I’m team black chairs. What’s a great find
This looks amazing! That color is so perfect in your space! It looks like you poured tons of effort into this space, and I hope you enjoy it so much now that it is done. Our cabinet joint kitchen is in production right now, thanks to you making us aware of them. If it looks half this good when we’re done I’ll be thrilled.
Everything about this kitchen is SO GOOD! I love the attention to the details. All of the finishes work so well together. Perfection! Thanks for sharing :)
Unbelievably gorgeous. The color is reading as a neutral to me … the perfect backdrop for the Yellow Brick Home family and a gorgeous transformation for your lovely home. And I’m so excited to see your ceiling mounted range hood, because that’s exactly what we’re looking for to go over our own F&P 36” induction range! Would you be able to share what motor you purchased to go with the hood? It seems the blower itself is sold separately … I want to make sure we get something fairly quiet (approx 5’ x 8’ kitchen, open to dining room and living room). Thanks, Kim and Scott!
I think it could totally double as a neutral as well, thank you! For sure! We purchased the Falmec 600 CFM remote motor.
Congratulations on your kitchen! It is fabulous! We are considering a shallow shelf on a blank wall in our kitchen. How deep are the wood shelf and marble shelf? I see they are both shallower than your cabinets and one is a lot shallower…
The wood shelf is 11.75” deep, and the quartz shelf is not quite 6” deep.
Love the kitchen! The black counters work so well with the red cabinets. As for the chairs, I really like how the reddish wood creates a tone-on-tone effect with the cabinets, so I vote for leaving them as is. Also, I think black chairs would look too stark against the white marble table top. BUT, black chair cushions could be a lovely contrast–maybe black leather cushions??? As an aside, I miss the red Persian carpet from your old kitchen. I think it would look so great against the cabinets–more tone-on-tone! Or was the carpet too bright for this kitchen?
I LOVED that runner, still do! Still trying to decide how we can use it elsewhere! It was a very bright red, so it felt too stark in this kitchen.
I was also thinking black cushions, even black with some cream and red pattern to add another layer of interest in a mostly solid-colored kitchen. I love the patina of the chairs contrasting with everything else being so shiny and new (although the vintage rug helps with that too!). Eclectic and lived-in! :-)
This kitchen is truly stunning, I love that it is so unique, not a cookie cutter. I’m so inspired by the quaintness and timelessness of it all, the colors and table vs island. You have a gift for making a house into a home!
As a blogger myself, I hate to admit that I don’t read them as often as I’d like (dang Instagram and its instant gratification) but I made a mental note to come back to this post- AND ACTUALLY REMEMBERED- because I knew it would be well worth it to drink in large photos and get more of the backstory. And boy am I ever glad I did! It is just beautiful and special and stunning and fresh and inspiring! Thank you for taking your time and sharing it with us! Bravo Kim and Scott!
Thank you SO much, Tiffany! :D
Beautiful! I’m dyingggg for a better work triangle and kitchen table
This kitchen is perfect in all the ways! You really nailed it! The room feeeeeeels like your family in this stage of who the Vargos are. I loved your old kitchen which was so you circa 2015, and love this 2023 kitchen that perfectly matches your colorful, welcoming, cozy, sweet, quirky, stylish family! ILYSM!
Truly lovely, well done you two!
The kitchen is lovely and suits the house really well. I’m so impressed by all you did to get those cabinets in place and the clearances right and all of that — phew! My 2 cents is to leave the chairs as is — they add a nice natural element and there’s already a lot of black in the room, but minimal unpainted wood. They are dark enough not to compete with the lovely shelf but they add that vintage/cozy vibe you’re looking for around the table.
The kitchen is so very pretty – love all the hidden gems included!! the color is so exciting and “happy”.
I’ve been quietly following y’all since the early days, and this kitchen has sparked SO many ideas for our own renovation we hope to do in the near future. I love that everything is within arm’s reach at the wet bar area. And the recessed range hood + your reason for not putting in an island! LOVE <3
Thank you, Andrea!
???????????????? congratulations!!! So fun to watch this process and the whole space is perfection and I can feel the warmth through the photos!
I’ve been reading you from the beginning – this is GORGEOUS. Quick question – about to do kitchen reno – what made you do knobs on some drawers and pulls on others? THANKS!
Pulls marked functional/mechanical drawers. This included the fridge, trash pullout/bev fridge etc. Knobs were for storage drawers. Hope this helps!