When Progress Looks Like a Big Mess

The work on the house is moving right along! The removal of the wall is only just a sliver of the work that is being accomplished. The Electrician, The HVAC guy, the Plumber have all been hard at work and various crew members have done quite a bit of demolishing!

Soon the place will begin to be put back together, but right now the view is very much a mess! (A really fun mess, in my opinion.)

Today I want to talk about the kitchen plan and then hopefully, later this week, I’ll share the plan for both the first and second floor bathrooms.

When I work with clients on a project, I nearly always suggest they spend some time discovering what they like. Now, some people know exactly what they want! However, most do not, or don’t feel 100% confident in their choices. I used to give clients big notebooks with pages torn from magazines. I had a stash of examples of various styles and colors, as well as a stack of decorating books. I’d leave all of those with the client as well as a pad of sticky notes. I’d ask the client to mark the pages they were drawn to.

Pinterest has made this part so much easier and much more fun! I treated myself no differently when I began to develop a plan for our own house. In the past we’ve tackled projects as they come. In this case, almost every room in the house is having at least 1 thing altered in some way- that is a LOT of decisions at one time! I wanted to have as much of the design done prior to construction beginning. I already had several Pinterest boards where I was stashing inspiration just because. They came in handy because the purpose of an inspiration board (or a stack of magazine pages) is to not only bring us viewing pleasure, but to show us our design aesthetic. When I would lay out all of the magazine pages my clients would mark, I’d ALWAYS see a definite design direction. This is a really simple (but somewhat time consuming) process that anyone can do before beginning a large and/or expensive project. (Or even a small project!)

With that wall down, it was so much easier to visualize the missing piece to the kitchen plan: how we’d manage the flow between the dining room and the kitchen. The chimney was built somewhat into the wall, so having the wall down allowed me to see exactly how much space I’d have to set cabinets for a peninsula. Would I need to put the cabinets only in the “kitchen” part or would I have the space to push them a little into the dining room? How would that affect lighting? How much of an overhang do we want? How much space do we need for a dining table?

We had already priced various cabinet options, read lots of reviews and reached the conclusion that Ikea cabinets were the way to go. We hired an Ikea kitchen planner so that I could have someone in place to catch my mistakes! The mockup below is my attempt at Ikea’s online kitchen design tool. The Planner and I made some small tweaks, but overall the kitchen will be very similar to what is pictured. You may notice that there is no fridge or microwave shown. The Fridge will tuck into the butler’s pantry through the doorway on the right and we opted to put the microwave into a lower cabinet in the peninsula.
It was fortunate that Ikea was running 2 promotions when it was time to purchase our kitchen, and we qualified for both of them! They will run kitchen promotions several times throughout the year and is is definitely worth it to time your purchase for one of the promotions. You may end up with Ikea credit to apply toward other Ikea purchases.

Ikea kitchen mock up

In order to plan the kitchen, I pulled out my favorite design tool: painter’s tape!

After I had taped out the cabinets that I knew would go in, I had a pretty good feel for the space. I did make some changes with the peninsula after I used some 7.5 ft floorboards to create a “table” so I would know just how much space I needed for the counter height bar area. I did not want things to feel crowded in any way.

I also came to the conclusion that we needed to widen the doorway into the pantry area. Waaaaay back when Sam (contractor) and I first walked through the house, we had this on our list. Later on I took it off as we made some budget cuts. But, it’s back on the list again! I think this decision is my most changeable one yet (besides first floor bathroom lighting….which I still haven’t resolved!).


The upper cabinets are the 40″ tall option and I love that we’ll gain an extra 10″ of hidden storage space, despite the fact that this shorty will need to climb onto the counters to reach anything up there! We debated about the height quite a bit since our ceilings are so high. I wanted to bring the cabinets clear to the ceiling, but the cost to do so was more than we wanted to budget for cabinets alone. Then there was the added challenge of getting ductwork retrofitted in a house that did not have forced air or central A/C. The HVAC contractor is a pro at doing as much concealing as possible when running new ductwork for historic houses. His suggestion was to put the heating vent above the cabinets (less visible) and then the chase could be concealed in the wall, since the first floor bathroom (to the left of the kitchen) was being taken down to the studs already. Done! Case closed. We stopped the cabinets at 40″ and the only thing that will run to the ceiling is the custom range hood cover, something a little like this:

range hood

Photo Source: Fixer Upper

Some of the other finishes in the kitchen will be basic white subway tile (From Floor and Decor) as a backsplash with Medium grey (Mapei 19 Pearl Grey Unsanded) grout. I love this particular shot for inspiration.

pearl grey grout with subway tiles

Photo Source: Sabjimata Blog

The countertops will be a mixture of materials. We’ve (Mostly Me, Thank you Chris!) chosen to use soapstone from an awesome family-owned stone fabricator, The Stone Studio. The soapstone will be the primary countertop that is in the “U” of the kitchen. Perhaps I’ll do an entire post on soapstone in the future? For now I’ll just say that I chose them because they are awesome and I have dreamed of them for nearly 15 years! The peninsula will have butcher block.

The dining room fixture is my favorite fixture in the house and I needed the other fixtures in the living room and kitchen to offer no competition, while at the same time making sense with the finish. The Chandelier is really large (28″D) and will be one of the first things you see when you walk in the front door. It took me a long time to find something that really spoke to me. When I saw this particular one, I knew it was just right for the space. It is has a classic shape with a nod to modern sensibilities. My favorite aspect is the Celtic knot design in the center, which reminds me of our Irish heritage. I may change out the shades for a more nubby linen look, but I won’t decide on that until everything is installed. I decided to keep the pendant light fixtures over the sink (1) and over the peninsula (2) the same for continuity. After much deliberation (and consideration of adjacent fixtures), I went with these. The living room fixture is simple but pretty.

DR lite inspiration

Source: Lamps Plus 

The chandelier pictured is a photo I saved from the Lamps Plus website. They describe the color as bronze, which is exactly what I wanted. Imagine my surprise when it arrived much more silver than bronze! After talking with customer service, they discovered that all of these particular fixtures in their warehouse are the same (silver) color as the one they sent me. I opted to keep it and receive a discount. I will be altering the finish so that it looks like the photo posted above. The photos on their website have been updated to show the actual color of the merchandise in stock. Luckily there are some great products out there that will allow me to get exactly the color I was planning for!

This post is getting so long! I’ll try to wrap up with the final finishes. The cabinet hardware is going to be a very simple pull for the drawers and a knob for doors, all in a vintage oil rubbed bronze finish from House of Antique Hardware. All of the floors in the house will be refinished and patched or repaired as needed. They are lovely old Douglas Fir and I can’t wait to let them shine again. We chose to go with GE Slate appliances. I did quite a bit of research and read countless reviews. I’m hoping we really like the performance, because I certainly love the finish and I think they’ll look really nice with the soapstone. The sink is a single bowl stainless undermount and I am pairing it with a commercial style faucet, similar to the one in the photo below.

range hood

Photo Source: Country Living

Whew! Did I forget anything?? When I share the room reveal I’ll have a complete source list available. Thanks for sticking with me and stay tuned!