A Kitchen Confessional

Before kitchen 1

I feel like I should come clean about my kitchen. You’ve all seen it – little bits of it; when people come over who haven’t been over before but who read my blog, they recognize the table. And the windows. The windows are the best part. (Also? This is as clean as it gets.)


Although I do love it, for the most part it’s not fantastic. The funny thing about blogging (and social media in general) is that you get to pick and choose what parts of your life to share. You get to capture your life and your dinner from just the right angle, with the sun streaming in through the window, and edit out the mess that lies inches away. I do this on a daily basis.

Dinner with Julie Kitchen

I shared this photo before our pie party – remember? We need to have another pie party.

Which isn’t to say I don’t have a fancy kitchen. It’s long and narrow, parts of it (the windows) added on to the 100 year old house. The counters are shallow and prone to splintering, their wood tops recovered from the old UofC science lab. (Who knows what was dissected on them?) The pinky-bluey fifties-patterned Formica table, bolted to the floor in the nook which has long since been liberated of its cushions (which I still haven’t managed to replace) once belonged to my friend’s grandmother – it was in her kitchen when her kids were growing up, and I love it.


The sink was recovered from a farmhouse – it’s thick white ceramic, and it drips. Also, the enamel has worn away so it’s rarely clean. With one small drain, we’re not allowed to have a garburator.

(First world problems, I know.)

Kitchen sink

My old workhorse GE oven came with the house, and was well-used by the family (with 3 boys!) who lived here before us. It has done me well, churning out food daily for cookbooks and articles and blog posts and our regular meals – and it’s still going strong. It burst into flames last weekend, and the bottom of it is still coated with a thick layer of baking soda. (W ran into the room yelling “I missed it! Can you do it again??) It’s still going, but I need a new oven.

Oven dishwasher Collage

We had no dishwasher for a year after the door fell off our last one; it acted as a big dish draining rack until my sister took pity on us and our single sink and bought us one for our birthdays. The floors = old + large dog. The fridge = second hand from my parents’ house. We have no pantry, save for a couple two-by-fours hammered to the wall at the top of the basement stairs.

Kitchen floor

The open cupboards look cool, except when they’re messy, and because we have no hood fan over our oven they’re constantly covered with sticky, greasy gunk. The lower cupboards are deep and awkward, so often after I go spelunking to find that little bag of quinoa/buckwheat flour/sprinkles, my kitchen looks like this. (OK, it often looks like this, whether I’m looking for something or not.)


Which is all to say I love my kitchen, and it’s about to meet a sledgehammer. Which is exciting/nerve-wracking/scary – and there’s so much pressure to do all of it properly, since I spend so much of my time here. But it does need an extreme makeover in order to make it more functional (and less prone to catch fire). I’m unlike most grown-ups in that I’ve never managed to do home renos. (At my age, my parents had already designed and built their own house.) Also? How am I going to live without a kitchen for a month??

So let’s talk kitchens – what do you love (or hate) about yours? What would you do? Right now I’m relying on Pinterest and my mom, so if you have any kitchen reno advice to share, I’d love to hear it.


About Julie

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96 comments on “A Kitchen Confessional

  1. Jane Jefferis
    March 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Drawers. Everywhere you can. Pull out shelves. Forget trends, use forgiving materials–no stone, tile. I love oiled hardwood floors (2 energetic dogs), and good old laminate. As I’m sure you have, think about how you work, and use that to make your plan.

    Love your nook and windows–and, of course, your blog!

  2. Erin
    March 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Jealous!!!! I would love a new kitchen.

    Now that I have that out of the way, here are things I don’t like about my kitchen:

    1. Corner pantry – it’s has lots of space but tends to be a dumping ground and is hard to keep organized. The wire shelves don’t help either.

    2. The sole purpose of the raised eating bar on the island is to collect clutter. It also means that while the island takes up a lot of space, not all of that space is practical.

    3. The corner sink with my back to the room while I do dishes. I would prefer if it were looking out toward the room, or had an actual view of the yard or something.

    Probably the best advice I could give you is to hire a good contractor. Also – have you talked to Brooke? She seems to know about these things :-)

  3. Elaine
    March 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Oh, wow–a kitchen renovation is huge and scary and awesome! But hey, at least you’re doing it before spring and summer produce/BBQ/party season comes.

    I’ve had rental kitchens for the 9 years I’ve lived here in Chicago, so they’re always dinky and I never have the option to upgrade.

    Would love decent appliances, but until I have my own place, the best/first thing I do in every new kitchen is utilize horizontal space: magnetic knife strips, wall-mounted bars with s-hooks to hang skillets & pots, and screwed-in hooks for cutting boards & large utensils.

  4. Erin
    March 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Very scary, but exciting and you will wonder why it took you so long once it is done. When I had the lucky opportunity to have a brand new kitchen, many people told me that the specialty kitchen design designation for interior designers is meaningful. I thought I had fabulous ideas and then when I saw what a real kitchen designer did, I was completely humbled. I don’t have your skills or expertise so you may do just fine without a designer. But it’s such a big, important thing to get right, I felt the professional help was worth every penny. Love the salvaged stuff in your kitchen – warms my heart!!!!

  5. Samantha
    March 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Lucky you! Things I loved in my last kitchen (we designed)

    1. Cupboards to the ceiling. Extra storage and never have to clean the top of the cupboards (apparently some people do!)

    2. Instead of raised breakfast bar, kept all at one level and had lower stools. That way lots of counter to roll out cookies, pastry, whatever.

    Things I think I would like:

    1. Double wall oven and separate hob (if there’s space).

    2. One of those little holes that you can sweep all your kitchen floor sweepings into. I’ve seen them … magical. Wonder where the stuff goes though :)

  6. Lisa
    March 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Ooh – lucky you! An opportunity to address things that bug you about your kitchen is awesome!

    Mine is by no mean ancient, but it does have a few small things that bug me:
    – corner cupboard without a lazy susan = deep corners that are essentially black holes
    – over-the-counter cupboards that are too shallow for my dinner plates – they’re fairly standard Denby, so I don’t know what the deal is there.
    – “breakfast bar” that always just seems to be a place where stuff collects.

    My sister just re-did hers, and here’s what I love about it:
    – pull out drawers in ALL the bottom cupboards in place of shelves
    – a built-in knife rack in a shallow drawer
    – space for a beautiful french door fridge.
    – the double wide butchers block peninsula that serves as a prep space, breakfast bar, and place for the 3 year old to watch the action
    – built in bench seating in the dining room with storage underneath.

    Have fun with the reno!

  7. Sheela
    March 13, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Granite…even a small area if you can….awesome for keeping cool for rolling cookie dough, pastry, biscuits etc. Also, you can put a hot pan (right off the burner or from the oven) right on it!

    Gas stove…ideally dual fuel: gas burners with electric oven

  8. Heather Ganshorn
    March 13, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I actually have a question – how do you like your ginormous single sink? My husband wants that for our next reno, but I’m more in favour of two smaller sinks.

  9. caralyn
    March 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    two words – Kitchen designer. RONA and Home Depot have them or you can go pricier if you choose. We have renovated 2 houses including the kitchens, even a 1912 house is Ramsey and they are a god send. Take them the layout you have and let them come up with some design options for you. They can come up with stuff you never thought of like a pull out pantry – which I love in my tiny kitchen.

  10. Susan
    March 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Check out Houzz.com. Loads of inspiration to draw from.

  11. Jo-Anna
    March 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Oh my gosh how much do I love this post? I love real life, especially real life kitchens! Only advice I have for a kitchen is pull out drawers. Lots and lots of them. In my next house, I’m even having special drawers for flour and sugar like the old farmhouses used to have! And your sink….can you get it re-enameled? It’s a gem!!

  12. Anonymous
    March 13, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    We just built and I love to cook. Some of my must haves were

    – Electric double wall ovens ( so much kinder on the back).
    – Gas range top.
    – Instant hot water.
    – Appliance Garage to hide the biggies like the mixer or Vitamix.
    – Funtional large sink that drains well and has a garburator. Ours has a built in ledge for drying dishes etc.
    – VacPan for sweeping crumbs into under the counter.
    – Storage anywhere you can put/hide it.

    We didn’t need a big walk-in pantry. The builder incorporated it into the kitchen just in white lacquer instead of grey washed wood where the other stuff goes.

    Make sure your pull-out drawers aren’t behind a cabinet door like ours. Annoying.

    We built a breakfast nook for casual meals. Looks like you have one though already.

    We didn’t feel a warming tray was useful, especially with double ovens.

    A beverage/wine fridge under a counter is a nice added bonus for you or kids.

    We have a distressed barn plank type floor, but we don’t have a dog (just a child). You could do a cemento type tile or a tile that looks like hardwood. There are some pretty amazing looking laminates too.

    Hope this helps.

  13. Emily @ Life on Food
    March 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    We need a kitchen redo. We are in the design process. Love the design not the costs. I think I am most worried about the time. If only it could be done in a day.

  14. Joan
    March 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I second the cupboards to the ceiling. We put a cupboard with movable dividers above the fridge for trays, muffin tins and cookie sheets. We also put a removable counter top lid on the first drawer under the alcove where the coffee pot lives, so it can be extra counter space when my husband and I are working in the kitchen at the same time. (You do have to be careful that nobody closes the drawer when it still has stuff on it!) Tea and party things live in the drawer, so it’s not a huge deal that it has a lid.

    Also second the drawers comment. My flour, sugar, and other baking ingredients live in a drawer and it’s so easy to scoop directly from the bins into a bowl on the counter. I got the idea from Little House on the Prairie, and (spoiler alert!)the kitchen Almanzo built for Laura.

  15. Margaret
    March 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Everything, everyone has said before +
    I have been working on a kitchen facelift since October on my small but mighty 70’s kitchen . . . on a Koolaid budget (not beer, not champagne!)

    My space is small like yours but I am so pleased that I kept the big things like cabinets and appliances white – huge impact on sense of space & as did surprisingly keeping the counter and floor darker. This might seem dreadfully neutral but the light cupboards will emphasize your great windows and really show off your kitchen ‘stuff’ to advantage.

    My favourite thing though was to keep a hit of vintage with cabinet hardware and the kitchen table and chairs. 50’s chrome & recovered the original chrome chairs in turquoise for a huge hit of colour.

  16. MJ
    March 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    With your shortage of space you will likely want
    to incorporate more upper cupboards, from counter to
    ceiling. You can also put shallow pull out drawers in
    the toe kick area. The dining banquette would be ideal for storage if the seats lifted up.
    If you were able to put in a wall oven along with an
    appliance garage you could have a cooktop with downdraft where the range is now.You would have to give up some wall and counter space to do that.
    Built in pull out garbage bins are a must! Do you have pantry room in an adjoining space? You only need a shallow space for cans, etc. Perhaps a shallow cupboard if no space for pull outs. You may find further ideas on houzz.com You will love it when it’ done!

  17. Monica I.
    March 13, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Three words: Full Extension Sliders. Pay extra. buy heavy duty… I have to build drawers for my cupboards, and I’m getting the good ones. With W, you might want the soft close/auto close feature too.

    You have to add a pull-out table or cutting board!


    I’m a fan of one I saw like the white table in the 3rd image down, not as long as that, but counter depth gives plenty of extra space. Or this one http://goo.gl/jf4WPV

    Put in AS MANY drawers as you can stand. No more dumb cabinets that just hold stuff you can’t see at the back of the cupboard. If you do have any plain cupboards, put lights at the back so you can see into the deep recesses of it’s soul in the middle of the night when you need a pot for hot chocolate.

    Stay *away* from 12″ cabinets if you don’t need it for something specific. I can’t fit a bloody pot in any of mine.

    Lee Valley has some great space organizers – especially for dead corners.

    Drawers with a decent thickness of bottom – that masonite stuff won’t hold diddly. And dovetailed or notched construction into the drawer sides and front if possible.

    OOO! A hole in the countertop to a trash bowl or bin, or just in the pull-out cutting board, pull the trash bin out from underneath http://goo.gl/z3EG32

    Upper cabinets need counter/task lighting, but not before you use some space for a spice pull-out/rack, pull-out rack or stand for cookbook/iPad or cool kitchen tools http://goo.gl/w5XJaE

    Pet food drawer for Lou! http://goo.gl/BLtTcC

    This kitchen might not have room for an island, but next one perhaps… http://goo.gl/FlXxPr

    Valerie Lujonga in Edmonton recently did her kitchen, touch base with her @ACanadianFoodie

  18. CathyH
    March 13, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    I know you are tall like me, so raise your counters 2″, your back will love you for it. Also lower drawers. Everywhere. I did not want to be on my knees searching for things at the back of the cupboard. I also love my Blanco granite sinks.

  19. Monica I.
    March 13, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Oh, and are you re-enameling that beautiful sink? If you desperately want a garbeurator, maybe a single bar sink… but with the old pipes in your ‘hood… might not be a great idea to use one. Have your pipes scoped to the street. #KnowNowNotLater

  20. Monica I.
    March 13, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I agree, go all the way to the ceiling… you might need to keep a ladder handy, but it’s great for the lesser used and seasonal items, plus, keeps them from being greasy and having to be re-cleaned when you do want to use them.

    Toe kicks are wasted space, and being so 5′ and shrinking, I will be adding a couple of pop-out upside down drawers with rollers so I have a teeny step to reach, if I don’t, I’ll flip them over, and have drawers for cookie sheets, dish towels, placemats and other flat things. So much wasted space down there.

    And a word about cabinet doors – imagine how may grooves there may be, and how long it takes to clean. Textured finishes, no thanks – even a Mr. Clean eraser can’t get it clean. Dog slobber etc? Yeah, it’s not fun. Shaker doors if you must have detail are easier to clean, but the more grooves, the more nasty they look if they’re dirty.

  21. the other al
    March 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    How about putting your kitchen table on lockable wheels. It then can be moved about the kitchen to wherever you need it and getting in and out of booth won’t be so tight. Or put table across back of kitchen instead of side. Or no table at all !!(eat in dining room,2 steps away)- build counter around nook(put sink there so you can look out)old sink area becomes pantry and baking area(marble slab). I agree with all lower cupboards have pull out drawers and big bins for bake supplies,dry goods recycling etc. I also like a hole in counter where all chopping happens so you can scoop compost down hole to container to take outside. Range hood necessary specially now that u will be cooking with gas. Re purpose leaded glass over stove.Kitchen aid stays on counter as you use it a lot and it so damn heavy to pull in and out.

  22. the other al
    March 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    keep materials simple. do not!!! let anyone talk you into busy back splashes,counter tops,appliance finishes and floors. Matchy matchy, multiple patterns and surfaces ga-ding ga-dangs. You are a step away from a commercial kitchen so keep it simple. simple and roomy
    my two cents

  23. Anonymous
    March 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    That sink is fabulous!

    I put a kitchen tour of my kitchen on my blog years ago. People were surprised how small my kitchen is.
    I have grown to like it and be comfortable with it (though I would love more storage space so I don’t have to go the basement or garage to fetch my Le Creuset Dutch oven!). It’s nice to turn around and be from counter to sink to stove in whirl!

    Thanks for sharing with us.

  24. Tatiana Tomljanovic
    March 13, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I lusted after white kitchens for a couple of years until we moved into a rental with white floors, white cabinets and a white backsplash. I have a toddler that throws food and a black labrador dog that sheds everywhere. I. Hate. My. White. Kitchen. It looked beautiful when we moved in, but I fear it will never look clean and beautiful again.

  25. Susan
    March 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    You have received a great collection of ideas! I don’t think I saw mention of including some vertical storage for cookie sheets, cutting boards and muffin trays. My vertical section is in a cupboard right beside the oven, beside my primary workstation. Those noisy clunky pans are much more manageable standing up!

    Enjoy the outcome! This is exciting (in the end).

  26. jeri
    March 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I’m a city dweller with a postage stamp kitchen, yours looks like a dream to me, warts and all. But don’t we always wish for what we don’t have? As imperfect as my kitchen is, I am always grateful to have a gas stove. And I put inexpensive turntables in the corner cabinet to keep my spices and pantry items accessible. Good luck with your reno.

  27. Cynthia
    March 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I have no kitchen suggestions, mine is much like yours without the windows. I do my baking on the floor, I’m short it works ????
    On another note did you know tomorrow – March 14 – is Pie Day? 3.14 guess what we’re having for dinner.

  28. lovetocook
    March 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    First, I adore your kitchen; it is so COOKED in! My pet peeve is a designer kitchen not used. My suggestions:
    1. Keep one large sink! The one you have if possible
    2. Get vertical storage above the fridge for cookie sheets, trays, boards
    3. All drawers below of course, use one for tools and cleaning supplies
    4. Cork or lino flooring is more comfortable for feet and back than tile
    5. A tall arched faucet for filling stock pots (with aerated flow to prevent splash)
    6. Stick to white appliances; stainless is only cosmetic

    Good luck Julie. I hope your reno goes smoothly. Good stuff will happen there regardless.

  29. Susan
    March 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    We did a major home reno two years ago, including a complete kitchen rebuild. I now look forward to cooking, we rarely eat out anymore. But Julie, we need more information. How big can this reno be? If you have a dining room nearby, do you need the kitchen nook? It seems redundant. Why not some sort of countertop all along that area, so you can look out those beautiful windows while you work? I’d love to see an existing floor plan/layout, so we know what we’re working with. More info please! :) And good luck, you will love the end result (the process, not so much…)

  30. Kathy
    March 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Garburator? Better to compost your potato peels and apple cores. Why throw organic waste into our river water? They use energy and don’t create anything good.

  31. Kristina
    March 13, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Sounds like you have some great suggestions! I would second (or third) the concerns about the garburator. I would check with a plumber before installing one. Most don’t actually recommend them esp in older neighbourhoods as it isn’t great for your plumbing. Don’t know if you have every had your sewer back up, but it isn’t pretty.
    Good luck! I’m sure it will be beautiful!!!

  32. Carol S-B
    March 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    So many good ideas here.
    Toe kick drawers: for sure. For your drawers (and I second the idea of [a] all drawers below the countertop; all cupboards above and [b] no drawers behind doors): drawer glides are important. The ones at Home Depot are not as good as the Lee Valley ones. Why? the former have a design flaw, where the drawers rub against the attachment screws. For the time you’ll have the kitchen, consider the better glides.
    Also: I have a drawer built to take a bag of flour on one side of a divider, and sugar/ oats/ misc bags on the other side. Best thing ever. I just vacuum out the edges every so often: set in a new flour bag and cut a hole in the side (now the top) of it, and scoop straight out of the bag.
    You cannot have too many plug ins. See if your electrician can add a pony box if your breaker box is too full.

  33. Jo
    March 13, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I second the above regarding the garburator. Not great for the environment, and a hazard for cutlery. Also I vote for pull out drawers under the counters and no corner pantry. Raising the counters sounds like a great idea, too, especially if you plan on being there for the long haul. Make it work for you, insted of looking at re-sale value.

  34. Chantal
    March 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I once saw a kitchen in St. Albert that belonged to a woman who baked a lot of bread and pastry. There was a section of counter top (maybe 24″ in length? Maybe longer?) that was lowered, to facilitate ease of kneading and rolling. It was as deep as the rest of the counter top, just lower. I thought it was genius and it has stayed with me for many years. If you find the height of your counter too high for kneading and rolling, incorporating a lower section might help. Good luck with the reno!!

  35. Julie
    March 13, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Guys, I love this! I’m crawling into bed now to read through all your comments, but yes – DRAWERS!

  36. Beverley M
    March 13, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I haven’t read through the comments at all, and my kitchen is nothing special but I’ve gone through non-kitchen renos. If you’re hiring someone, MAKE SURE to get at least 3 different companies to bid on it. We did a major addition on our house and only had two bids. One was double the other so we went with the cheaper one. He told us he’d be done in 3-4 months, and our first baby (now age 5) was due in 3 months. Well, after about a year he just stopped showing up. There are still things about it I hate but can’t imagine paying someone else to rip out and fix my bathroom that is only 5 years old.

    So, I’m pretty sure the “expensive” company was the realistic one in our case and we should have just gone with them.

    Also, along the same lines, get & check references, and make sure that the people you are talking to have had SIMILAR jobs done by the person, and they are 100% complete when you talk to them. (We spoke to a few people but they weren’t quite done yet and they were happy with his work so far, but as it turns out, finishing details were where he fell apart totally.)

    If you’re doing the work yourself then I don’t really have any advice. Maybe go to a bunch of real estate open houses and see what you love in other people’s houses. Take pictures & notes.

  37. Tracy Utting
    March 13, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Best part – custom kitchen table made of counter top (quartz) material. Built in so that you can sit at it (kinda like yours right now), but kids can bake at it safely with no more toppling chairs, play with play dough, do homework, and hang-out while you cook. Cabinets with windows overhead, recipe bookshelf down the side. Also perfect for kitchen parties. Pictures? Let me know.

  38. Lyn
    March 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Never done a Reno, but things I have loved about my kitchens,
    Convection ovens
    Dark countertops (hide stains, and don’t go single tone.)
    I have a huge island without the raised eating bar and i adore it. So much room for baking.
    I really do not love stainless steel. So much work to keep clean.
    Easy to clean backsplash. Mine isn’t, and I curse it often.
    The Reno will be a pain, but the outcome exciting!

  39. Alana Backer
    March 13, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Did Reno a few years back,the one thing I can tell you is as long as you have running water you can survive the Reno. What my husband did was put legs on our old sink and used a garden hose and moved the sink around depending on where we were in the reno. Good luck and keep the pictures/updates coming.

  40. I have done kitchen renos twice. Both times I was without for almost 3 months. I prepared lots of freezer food obviously. Being single, I froze everything, not meals, but everything in single servings so I could mix and match veggies, mains, carbs. My bathroom sink became also my dishes sink. Honestly I don’t know how I did it. My microwave was my BFF.

    My only regret, well I have two. My first regret was cheaping out and getting laminate countertop. The current laminate is so thin that wear and tear shows quickly. My second regret is buying a Kitchenaid oven. It has been nothing less than a money pit beginning with the purchase price. Major repair every year.

  41. Ann
    March 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I had a great renovation experience, almost stress free and lasting only 2 weeks. I hired KitchenCraft and they designed a fabulous kitchen that fit into the footprint of my old one. They squeezed so much counter space and so much storage into my existing kitchen that I am never leaving it. I agree with the poster who said that drawers are better than cupboards and to go right up to the ceiling. I thought my kitchen was small, but since my reno, I realize that it’s the utilization of the space that counts.

  42. Sheila
    March 13, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Just a few things to add to the above….
    -for sure, cupboards to the ceiling.
    -no stainless appliances. They look really pretty IF you really clean them the right way and no one touches then!
    -no porcelain tiles in the kitchen. If you drop anything breakable, it’ll shatter EVERYWHERE! And could stain the tile and/or grout.
    Good luck & have fun planning your new kitchen!

  43. Theresa
    March 13, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Granite allows a cool surface for dough, but can take the heat of any pot
    Cupboards to the ceiling! Amazing storage!
    If you put a gas stove in I’m so in love with mine, it’s dual fuel, GE monogram (like Top Chef featured) get it with the centre grill. Come look at mine if you want! I will tag you on Facebook to see my kitchen. I 100% agree you should make the counters higher to save your back. If you put a pot tap over your stove remember you have to be able to LIFT the hot pot! Don’t over fill them.

  44. Robyn
    March 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    * drawers, drawers, drawers, even under sink
    * pullout pantries, more than one, narrow ones easier for me to manage
    * no hard floor tiles – so hard on feet & unforgiving to dropped things
    * gas cooking top
    * thorough research for a new stove, ask friends if you can test drive the ones they love. I have an old, extra reliable stove and am very reluctant to replace it, the modern ones with all the bells & whistles I have used in friends/family kitchens don’t impress me.
    *good kitchen designer worth weight in gold, they are so clever utilising space and designing a kitchen that matches your work habits. Seek local word of mouth.
    *house sat a few weeks at a friend’s place, she has a small appliance ‘garage’ with roll down door and I loved it, even though I couldn’t say it was essential.
    *plenty of power outlets

    Will look forward to seeing the finished result! Have Fun getting there!

  45. Doréus
    March 14, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Wow! Courage! That’s quite the project.
    And… does that mean that we will be deprived of the product of your work in that laboratory of yours for the duration?

  46. Anna F
    March 14, 2014 at 1:53 am

    We’re demolishing ours this year, and the bit of building it lives in, to rebuild the lot (Victorian brickwork, badly built, in England so no great loss to heritage). Things we are looking at are:
    Cubic volume of different fridges and freezers, they can vary significantly.
    Consider the Golden Triangle of sink, cooker and fridge. It’ll be online as it’s a standard kitchen planning method.
    Figure out linear metres of existing* and proposed, figure out if your costs are worth the proposed storage space (our target was to double) or if all that money is replicating the current storage/problem.
    Figure out your existing linear metres against your stuff (ie: I know I need a wide drawer c.900mm/3ft-ish wide for all the utensils, and another for baking utensils).
    Enough storage for a gadget free work surface. An option is a wired cupboard with work surface height shelf to house the blender, toaster, coffee grinder, processor etc all plugged in and ready to go. Just shut the doors when not in use. Best to check how US building codes stack up on that though.
    Get a joiner to cost up works to use every last inch of space. We’re going for a squeeze-in pantry (not enough room for a walk in) that wraps around a column that we can’t shift and would lose us space.
    Budget wise, consider entire items that can be put into next year’s budget but won’t impact the base build (light fixtures, the floor finish etc) it may take longer but you can achieve a higher grade kitchen without financial ruin.

    * to calculate linear metres – or feet, oops! – measure the width of each cupboard and multiply it by the number of shelves in said cupboard. If you want to get really space minded, measure the answer by the depth and get linear volume, though this isn’t usually necessary. You’ll probably have to do this yourself.

  47. KathyG
    March 14, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Hi Julie,

    I second the motion for you to move out and house-sit elsewhere for the duration if at all possible. Time won’t drag as slowly. Speaking of time, expect the reno to take longer than was quoted. Ditto, ditto, ditto on _everything_ Beverley M said.

    Get more electrical outlets than you think you could possibly need. Don’t forget some over by the table.

    For the countertop material, go with what you like. If you want the benefit of stone but don’t want such an unforgiving counter, consider a high-quality laminate and then get a stone floor tile that sits on top of the counter, located wherever you will use it most. If a floor tile is too small for your needs, see if you can get a sink cutout, or else an off-cut, from someone who sells & installs stone countertops.

    While I haven’t personally gone through a kitchen reno myself, I’ve seen friends & family do it, and have tried to learn from their experiences; it’s why I haven’t worked up the nerve to take the plunge myself. I’ve lived with our 1980’s kitchen for 16 years now, so maybe I’ll just leave it as is and let the next owners (when we downsize) go through the expense & bother.

    Oh, task lighting, lots of LED task lighting, on separate switches. That way you don’t have to light the whole kitchen when you’re working in just one area.

    I’m not trying to be a downer here, just suggesting you prepare for the worst so you can be pleasantly surprised when things go well.

    Good Luck, and take (and post) LOTS of pictures!


  48. Chelsey
    March 14, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Hi Julie!
    I understand the love of a good kitchen…or even the love of a bad one! After moving from Calgary to a condo in Toronto I was afeared that I would never find a good ready to go kitchen…they are small here…but I did and what I love about it is this:
    I have 2 feet of counter work space on either side of the stove. Its vital.
    I dont know how I ever did with out it.
    I also have a 10-12 foot island bar oposite the stove, but its the bits beside it that get the most action!
    Good luck with your kitchen reno!

  49. Anita
    March 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

    1. A corner pantry witha door on it! It doesn’t have to be big. Re-inforce one of the shelves so that it can bear the load of heavy appliances (like your kitchenaid if you want to put it away for when you need the counter), piles of cans or cookbooks.

    2. under-the-cabinet-lighting. It’s the best task lighting and doesn’t get in your eyes. I had this in my last house and miss it terribly.

    3. if you can, get one of those vacuflow dustpan things – you never have to use a dustpan again. This is my singular favourite thing about my kitchen because with 3 kids my floors are always disgusting and I am sweeping constantly. Shocking, I know. We don’t even use the vacuflow system for anything else in the house (it was here when we bought the house), but we keep it installed and keep maintaining it just for this purpose. You probably don’t want to install a vacuflo for the whole house (would be a bit impossible I’d say), but you could probably get a used one online somewhere and just install it for the dustpan feature. Come check mine out if you want to.

    4. i have a kitchenaid gas stove/oven and I don’t think I’d do it again. The gastop is great, but the oven isn’t.

    5. drawers!

  50. Brenda
    March 14, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Hi Julie – a few years ago I did a $50K reno on my kitchen. Plan on longer than 1 month, there will be delays! M&M frozen food done in a toaster oven, lots of deli salads and cold cuts. And did you know that if you are REALLY careful you can make toast on the BBQ. Good Luck!

  51. Sandy
    March 14, 2014 at 10:24 am

    We redid our small kitchen a couple of years ago and I would highly recommend Ikea cabinets (love the smooth finish on my white cupboards) and their corner lazy Susan contraption (the whole thing pulls right out so you can see what’s at the back. They have a program on their website where you can layout your floor space and fill in with equipment and cupboards, etc. so you can get an idea how it will look from various angles.
    – cupboard above fridge for baking pans – great
    – pullout garbage/recycling – handy
    – lino that looks like ceramic tile – comfortable to stand on and looks good
    – moveable small island (IKEA) with shelves under wooden top – handy for storage and can be moved out of the way when needed
    – drawers with dividers so things don’t get into a big jumble – love it
    – lots of lighting, especially under the counter – great
    Hope this helps, Julie, and also hope you love your new kitchen when it is done as much as I do.

  52. kickpleat
    March 14, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Julie, your kitchen is gorgeous, but I understand the need to redo a kitchen (I so want to do ours!). Double wall ovens I think are a must :) Good luck!!

  53. Jodie
    March 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Honestly I would LOVE to have a kitchen as beautiful as yours, and if it was mine, I would not change anything :)

  54. June
    March 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    We’ve done 2 kitchens now – one in our old house in Tucson and more recently here on the Oregon coast. Absolutely – drawers instead of cupboards. They hold a lot more and you don’t have to get on your knees to fish in the back. Course that said, be sure to get the full extension drawers otherwise you’ll be swearing at me. Also if you’re putting tile on the floor, spend the extra bucks to put in a heat mat underneath. It is expensive but you only need to put it under the high traffic areas and it is well worth the money. You’ll save on your heating bill and your toes will thank you big time. Also, most cooks do all their work in a 24 to 36″ area, so while lots of counter top area is a luxury, plan your “real workhorse” space to accommodate the tools you tend to use the most so they’re within easy reach. Oh, and to heck with fads – go with surfaces and materials that you LOVE and will work for you. Good luck and have fun!

  55. Patricia
    March 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I am so excited for you!
    The one thing that I would love to do (and will, when it’s my kitchen and not a rental) is to install a drawer system in the bottom cupboards. Even just a pull out basket – there’s many track and wheel sets out there. This way, just pull it out and easily rummage through what is at the back, instead of practically crawling in there. Until then, I use those office boxes that the packs of printer paper comes in.

  56. Erica B.
    March 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Kitchen Reno?! Finally and OMG!

    – 3rding everything Beverly M said about getting quotes and checking out your contractors.

    – Expect everything to take 2-3 times as long as they say it will, and cost 20-30% more than the estimate.

    – Houzz.com will open up a whole world of kitchen reno ideas (warning: it’s a bigger time-suck than pintrest)

    – Walk in pantry yes, corner pantry NO. Bottom cabinet drawers rather than cupboards will mean a lot less stooping.

    – Renos, like car trips, can be a marriage tester. Remember M is not the enemy


  57. Steph
    March 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    love – huge, deep, stainless steel sink. The kind you can fit two dutch ovens into.

  58. Fiona
    March 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    We did ours a couple of years ago, ourselves. It took a long time because we were cramming it into evenings and weekends, and I was pregnant and then on bed rest so had to lie there, unable to help, while home care nurses came over to take my BP while my spouse sanded drywall.

    – Houzz is fantastic. Definitely look there.
    – If you’re going with ready-made cabinets vs custom, Ikea’s are excellent quality for the price. I’ve had two Ikea kitchens now and they hold up to a lot of abuse (not the faucets, though. The faucets are terrible.)
    – We kept costs down in areas like tile (we have plain white subway) and countertop finishes (we have a wood-look laminate) and splurged on other fittings, like good lighting and excellent faucets (Grohe, with nice brass fittings inside). We also got a sink online for half price, so shop around! Sometimes you can get a better deal online than the designer or whomever can get you in person – at least that was true in our case.
    – Under-cabinet lighting is the best thing ever. Spring for it if it all possible.
    – Ditto everyone on the drawers and to-the-ceiling cabinets (I’m short so I can’t reach everything, but you will not have that same problem.) Be prepared to be horrified by how much drawer organizers cost, though.
    – Dog hair sticks to stainless steel, if that’s important to you.

  59. Carolyn
    March 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    If you have the space, I highly recommend a walk in pantry. It helps me with all of those little bags of stuff, and extra supplies, cookbooks, etc that I would otherwise be keeping in the basement. Mine is big enough to house my deep freeze, so everything I need is easily accessible.

  60. Carolyn
    March 14, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    One other thing – I DON’T recommend the soft close drawers and doors. Depending on the ones you get, they can take an annoyingly long time to close. They sound like a good idea in theory, but in practice if they are in an area where you are working, waiting for them to close feels akin to watching paint dry.

  61. Sue.D
    March 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Things I love about my kitchen:

    Island with 30″ deep workspace (standard is 24″ I think), with a separate (good-sized, not bar-sized) prep sink in it. We have a raised eating bar attached, which I prefer because I constantly have my laptop on it. The raised eating bar means that spills on the island don’t run into my computer. Oh the panic averted!

    This island is my high-use area, and is two steps diagonally to the fridge, and two steps across from the stove. Both the oven door and the fridge doors can be open without interfering with a person working on the island.

    Either side of the stove are 2 1/2-3′ counter space areas – great for additional people working in the kitchen at the same time as me.

    The prep sink can be used as an additional dishes washing area those few times a year when you need it (Christmas, Thanksgiving) – otherwise I try to never put dishes in it – save it as a prep sink.

    Lights over the main dishes sink are on a separate switch. Also – a mix of lighting types seems to work well (ie halogen or led in the pot lights & undercounter, plus incandescent hangey things over eating bar – which also provide additional illumination to the main workspace).

    I don’t mind the stainless. I think some kinds clean easier than others though.

    Things I don’t like:

    No pantry.

    Countertop is textured black laminate – which is now scuffed down to white in places (and needs replacing). Wooden cabinetry – scuffed and needs refinishing. Not a huge job, but I’d rather I didn’t have to.

    I wish I had plugs on BOTH sides of the island (so that laptop cords and phone charges aren’t curling around onto the counterspace).

    Things I’d think about:

    Even if you don’t have floor area for a pantry – maybe an area with floor to ceiling cabinets (no counter)?

    I know a tall person who had his kitchen workspaces built up 2″ on removable blocks – if resale is a concern (when is not?) the new owner can just have them removed and the counters lowered. I assume backsplash stuff extends down to the lowered height as well.

    Think of all the things you plug in, and assume that in 10 years there will be even more things (remember when households only had 1 cell phone?) – install plugs accordingly.

  62. Mairi
    March 14, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks for the larger peek into your kitchen.

    We did a $9K kitchen reno 3 years ago. Saved quite a bit of money with pre-fab cabinets thanks to the lovely design ladies at Rona & a big appliance sale at Sears.

    Love my bottom drawers & tall upper cabinets. You seem to have a lotta wall room between your countertop & the upper cabinets. Wish I hadn’t bought such a deep french door fridge. I love it but it sticks out 6″ past the countertop so you see a big swath of the side of the fridge. Add the depth of the doors & I cannot access the cupboard above without the 4 step ladder. I like stainless but magnets only stick to some types….weird.

    Also love my dark composite sink but wouldn’t buy a Costco tap again. Flip front fake drawer is awesome too.

    We added a desk by using a shorter set of pre-fab drawers & the same countertop dropped 6″. Now it’s super easy to use my favourite food blog recipes or keep an eye on my pre-teens computer use.

    We survived the summer of renos using the BBQ & camp stove outside plus a microwave in the bathroom since that was the dish sink. Crock pot woulda been good too….don’t know why I never use it in the summer. I’m sure you can just hit up all of the wonderful people of Calgary that you have hosted or delivered to in the past 6+ years for meals & make wonderful renovation food memories.

    Take photos with your phone of things you like in other peoples homes or restaurants. I’m now doing a bathroom reno based on the bathroom at my car dealership!.

    Good luck & don’t get overwhelmed by all of the choices.

    P.S. I’m not an employee or anything but Sears has a deal with their extended warranty whereby if you don’t use the warranty, or only use some of it, at the end of your warranty period you can ask for what is left as a “payback certificate” which you can use for 50% of your next purchase. My television warranty payback is paying for half of my sons new bedroom furniture.

  63. Faye
    March 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    We did a kitchen Reno 2 yrs ago and I love our upper cabinets to the ceiling and drawers below. Much easier for storage of flour, sugar, baking supplies and also pots and pans. We have the soft close doors but the rubber pads all fell off so now they slam once it finally closes. We have stainless steel appliances from Fisher Paykel with a counter depth french refrigerator. Easy to clean and the gas stove/oven is great. Would have loved a double wall oven but no space. Next to oven is a tall vertical space for the cutting boards, cookie trays and muffin tins. A divider separates the area from the cupboard next to it. Didn’t want a lazy Susan for the wasted corner space so this seemed a better option. Have organizational system to store cans, pasta sauce, vinegar and oils. So far so good. Expect the Reno to be 2x as long and 20% more in costs. Ensure there are lots of electrical outlets and good lighting. Our island has quartz countertop with electrical outlets and internet connections and telephone on both ends. Have Blanco granite sinks with Delta faucets. Get the Delta faucets that you touch to turn on/off. Really useful when your hands are dirty.

  64. Linda
    March 15, 2014 at 8:12 am

    We redid our kitchen last year – not a full- on reno but close. We put our breakfast bar under the window – love it for watching the sun rise. And we bought a counter-depth French door fridge. Best purchase ever! Has lots of space but doesn’t stick out.

  65. Jan
    March 15, 2014 at 8:58 am

    We did our kitchen last summer, used IKEA for cabinets, their material does not off gas as much as others, better for your health and quality is very good.
    Put butcher block on top of our island, ordered through the Ecostore in Ingelwood, black walnut, reclaimed wood from Oregon. It is a beautiful piece of wood! Lots of drawers under the island as well, love the drawers, now I can find everything.
    We got rid of our garburator, turns out they are not so good for the environment. Got a nice container for compost for the counter top, which my husband faithfully empties.
    Finally, we did cork floors, they don’t show the dirt, and are wonderful to stand on for long periods of time. And we put in track lights.
    Lots of good ideas on the app Houzz!
    Good luck in getting it all done in a month!

  66. CathyH
    March 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

    One more thing….I have shelves on the inside of my cupboard door for spices.. You lose a bit of the inside cupboard depth, but having this close to the stovetop is perfect. My cupboard doors are very high, so this holds a LOT of those tiny bottles.

  67. Kathy D
    March 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Much of this has already been stated by other commenters, but…

    I love my:
    – window over the sink
    – walk-in pantry (I can stash my mess in the pantry when unexpected visitors arrive!)
    – many, many outlets, including in the island and in the pantry (I hide lesser-used appliances in here)
    – dishwasher
    – drawers in all the lower cabinetry
    – recycling bins near the sink (so easy to rinse and toss)
    – cupboard that fits cookie sheets and muffin tins vertically
    – taller-than-average counters (I’m only 5’6″, but I still appreciate them)

    I dislike my:
    – cupboards that don’t reach the ceiling
    – ceramic tile floors (my feet have never been the same)
    – ceramic tile countertops (tiles crack, and the grout is impossible to keep clean)
    – separate wall oven (the cupbaords around the oven get creepily hot)
    – glass cooktop (cracks easily)
    – black sink and black faucets (impossible to keep clean – every water droplet leaves mineral build-up)
    – big single sink (when the family piles it with dirty dishes, I’m left with nowhere to clean veggies and fruits)
    – potlights in the kitchen (they add so. much. heat. to an already hot kitchen)

    My favourite kitchen layout was in a small bachelor apartment many years ago. It was a simple “U” formation and I could easily spin around to reach everything. My current layout (an “L” with an island in the middle) is less functional for me. My partner uses the island as a dumping ground for mail and other paperwork, so it doesn’t really give me additional counterspace. Consider your family’s habits and quirks when assessing your kitchen layout.

    Good luck!

  68. Lisa
    March 16, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Also: When I had to finally replace my 60 year old apartment-sized gas range, and fridge that froze everything no matter what temp I set it at, I got really good deals on my appliances at Trail.

    I went with “mismatched” floor models. They were all white, I just didn’t match the brands, and really, what’s the point? I figured they’d all get a few dings eventually anyways.

  69. Laurie from Richmond
    March 16, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    My son renovated his kitchen a few years ago. What I’ve always wanted, and what I learned from watching him and his wife are:
    cork or some other forgiving floor, especially in the main work area
    cupboards to the ceiling, even if it means using a step up to reach them
    vertical stands for cookie sheets, muffin trays, cutting boards
    Keep your beautiful sink if you can, you’ll miss it
    drawers instead of cupboards under the counter, and cupboards above
    under the upper level lighting – it saves your eyes, and is a wonder in the middle of the night
    with your small space you might go for several pantries in dead areas, such as beside the stove for dried things and beside the fridge for spices and things
    an upright knife storage
    lazy susans in corners every where – even up above the counter
    stay away from stainless steel
    have a piece of marble or granite for making dough and pastries, and something else for the rest of the countertop to save expense
    If possible, get a piece of granite that has been cut out of another house, and have fittings put on it so you can put it over your sink to work on it
    Get really good faucets – not Ikea – it’s an expense at first, but you’ll be grateful later

  70. Laurie from Richmond
    March 16, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I forgot:
    You’ll love a gas cooktop
    Keep all of your windows if you can – you’ll miss them if they’re covered up
    You’re taller, so have the counter where you’re working made to your height – I’m short, so I really appreciate standing on a step up

  71. Della
    March 17, 2014 at 10:27 am

    While planning our kitchen renovation we received the advice to design like money was no object. If you add items to your design until you reach the top of your budget, you could end up with a disjointed result. Instead, plan your dream kitchen, add every possible item and feature you would like – then go back and take out things that you can live without, until you get to a price you are comfortable. You will be left with the things that are most important to your lifestyle. Seven years later I can say honestly there is nothing I regret about the final design.

  72. Denise
    March 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I designed and built my house 10 years ago. The best piece of advice I followed was a walk-in pantry. It stores SOOOO much stuff and reduces the need for cupboards in the actual kitchen. I also recommend cork flooring- excellent on the feet and back and holds up well. I would discourage lazy-susans in corner cupboards- too many things fall down behind. They also waste space. Better to install wire shelving that pulls out- sometimes it is attached to the door and pulls out when you open the door. I actually made my corner cupboard extra large and the door is hinged at the corner. It opens very wide and allows easier access to the corner.
    Good luck- and enjoy!!

  73. Shauna
    March 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    We have just come out of a 7 month house addition and kitchen gut. Houzz was phenomenal for good ideas, easier to find stuff than pinterest. Measure, measure and remeasure, we drew it out over and over, with tables dimensions and all, checking recommended clearances for workspaces etc. it payed off we love it and have tonnes more room. We were able to add a buttler’s pantry / mudroom each going down one side of the new room, LOVE it! Built in knife drawer love love love it. I did a double wide spice drawer , that I have easily 60 spice jars, all neatly tilted back so I can see them ( and they actually stay alphabetized.

    Look for every nook and cranny, our giant fridge had dead space behind it, so I had the cabinet maker build in a wine rack and liquor cabinet, it is so so cool, it even has a drawer for shot glasses and cork screws, never thought I would have a drawer for just that!

    If you are staying with the hardwood, look for something that has lots of colours and some distressing. We did laurentian bentely hand scraped and man it hides a. Lot, which was critical to me in a kitchen.

    Under and over cabinet lighting. Costco sells colored tape lights we put his over , and today the lights were you guessed it green!kids love it!

    Lastly I cannot cannot scream the virtues of an induction cook top any louder. We were all set to put in gas, I had wanted it the first time round but was Leary of open flames and small children but now I have large children who cook ,houses can be burned down with open flames, a lot harder to do with induction. And it is positively dreamy to have no coils or burners to scrub clean. It really is incredibly easy to clean. I even sourced myself a coil stand alone burner to can on, different voltage though so I had to have a plan before the electricians came.. Have fun, and measure measure measure. A kitchen designer will be valuable but they don’t live there, so really over think it.

  74. Erica B.
    March 18, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    PS: about corner cupboards – Over the past 10 years I’ve had both a corner dishwasher and a corner lazy suzan. The corner dishwasher was hands down the best use of that space. The lazy suzan didn’t like showing up to work and was always dropping things in the most inconvenient back corner, which meant anything smaller than a frying pan was near impossible to reach.

  75. Annie
    March 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    We did a reno 4 years ago – ceiling came out, walls came down, chunks of my hardwood floor came out. We completely re-did the layout, moved all the plumbing and electrical as well. Using a kitchen designer to get the most efficient layout is the best starting point. Then we took the plan to Kitchen Craft and they used that to fit in their standard cupboards – custom can be a fortune – we had to have one small one done. One of our friends works at SAIT in the trades, so we provided names of people he knows and trusts for us to contact. My retired husband was the project manager; my cousin was my plumber; my son was my electrician. Took 3 months, went like clockwork, cost just under $35000. The hardest thing to live without is the sink- so we moved ours around the corner into the dining room for most of the reno! Things I love: my floor to ceiling cupboards (no room for a pantry); my gas stove; my gorgeous granite; my soft close cupboards (you can buy replacement cushions for about 69c from your cabinet supplier); my Grohe faucet and those deep drawers. Good luck and I hope you have a positive experience like we did!

  76. Kate
    March 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Julie, I wish you all the best and am sure that you will love any and all changes you make! If the sledgehammer is coming down now, you surely must have made all the important decisions, but I will just say I am very glad in our reno we 1) used IKEA cabinets to save a ton of money quite stylishly 2) used soapstone counters (indestructible and somehow warmer feeling than granite) 3) choose a very large, deep, deep stainless drop-in sink. Only regret, not putting in a gas stove top, I curse the electric all the time. Hope all goes quickly and you are soon back in your lovely windowed space!

  77. Jennifer
    March 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Julie, we built our house 8 years ago and designed the kitchen ourselves. The best parts of our kitchen are the double wall ovens, the granite countertops (great for baking–you can roll out the pie crust and put the hot cookie sheets on it), and the dish drawers from Fisher Paykel (which I don’t think are made anymore). But the worst thing, hands down, is our fridge. It is the kind that has top-to-bottom half fridge, half freezer, and opens in the center. It never occurred to me at the time of purchase, but man. You cannot put anything in those refrigerators. Platters for serving food? Forget it. It got so annoying that my lovely husband finally bought a second fridge for the basement, just so we had room to actually store food. Take your platters to the appliance store and see if they will fit in the refrigerator you are considering. It seems silly, but 8 years later, I am still kicking myself.

    Enjoy the Reno! It is so exciting when it starts coming together!

  78. Kathy
    March 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Hey Julie,

    Good luck w/ your reno. We did ours a few years ago. Here is a post on my blog about it. http://chronicinthekitchen.com/2012/01/17/a-modern-kitchen/

    There were definitely glitches: the wrong cabinet size being ordered …twice…which was supposed to go on the opposite side of the over the range microwave. However we were able to gain additional storage by installing those two wrong-sized cabinets beside the fridge; the design originally didn’t have that.

    At the time of the reno, we did not relocate the stove or sink so we were never 100% without some sort of working kitchen. After it was demoed, we put plywood up to serve as a counter space. That being said, we did Dashing Dishes for part of the reno. and used the slow cooker a lot if I remember right.

    Likes of my new kitchen: Drawers for pots and plastic containers. A pantry with pull out drawers. Above the pantry (beside the fridge) is where I keep my cookie sheets etc.

    One thing I didn’t like after it was installed was the pull out spice drawer, a good idea in theory but the spice containers that I had from before are too tall for the space (and they are Tupperware so I’m not able to get rid of them). But if you have smaller spice containers the spice drawer would be fine.

    We worked with a kitchen designer from Home Depot.

  79. Kathy
    March 20, 2014 at 7:12 am

    oh and if I could justify it I would get rid of our old fridge…I absolutely hate it..I am constantly pulling stuff out to get at something in the back etc. Do not go with a side-by-side fridge/freezer such as ours. If we ever win the lottery I’m buying a french door fridge with bottom mount freezer.

  80. Monica I.
    March 20, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    FYI – Ikea cabinets do not contain Formaldehyde… so they do not offgas. WIN! Researched it when buying my Entertainment unit. Something they decided to do in the early 90’s as a company due to German VOC laws and California Prop 65. http://www.naturalstep.org/en/usa/ikea I love my cabinets from Ikea – they smell like real wood…a year later. I know, a little cuckoo (surprised? Didn’t think so.), but I adore the smell of real wood. As a plus, if you want a hand assembling… parTAY! Got it down to a science and I work for wine and food. 😉

    You can order Low/no VOC MDF… it exists, but most places didn’t carry it in stock last time I looked, and I don’t know how many cabinet manufacturers use it.

    Stainless – I hate it. With a capital H. And textured white/black… that can be a bear too. If you can get a smooth surface – like the old metal fridges from the 50’s… do it. SMEG in the UK (great name, eh?) I see on TV shows all the time has some beauties. I understand sears in the US has them, and there are some distributors in Canada now! http://www.smeg.com/smeg-refrigerators-and-freezers-exuding-style/ (Locations here (Toronto, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal… : http://www.smeg.com/smeg-world/canada/)

    Oh, and I forgot how MUCH I hate having a dinky cabinet over the fridge. My T-Rex arms can’t reach anything, even *from* a ladder!

    Happy shopping!

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  84. Liesa
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    My kitchen usually looks like that too. But you know what I really love about it? The spice drawer. Not cupboard….drawer. I purchased the Dial-Expand-A-Drawer Spice Organizer. Now all my spices are in a drawer, and easy to locate. No more digging through the back of a dark cupboard for that elusive spice.

    Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most pleasing. :)

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  86. Nicole
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    How exciting! I am a huge kitchen planning fan, and I second/third the drawer suggestions. They are a must. Ikea’s Adel White is my favourite kitchen, I installed one in Ottawa and was astounded at the quality (having grown up with $$$ custom kitchens) and two kitchens later, I still long for my Adel White (now live in an Ikea-less province). In fact, I asked the custom cabinet makers of my most recent kitchen to copy the Adel White, and I have ended up with a lovely kitchen but at 4x the price.

    This website has a fabulous account of an Ikea kitchen reno, and bonus, she’s a Canadian blogger! http://aubreyandlindsay.blogspot.ca/2012/09/tips-tricks-for-buying-ikea-kitchen.html

    Also, function is super important. IMO, raised bars are best avoided, to the ceiling cupboards are a must, as well as a ginormous one bowl sink (where pans and pots can dive down to hid from guests’ eyes if wanted). I have had this sink in the last three kitchens and would order another in a heartbeat, it is super easy to keep clean and is very big. It is usually available through Amazon.ca, but I ordered from this company once as well and it was excellent: http://www.faucetdirect.com/blanco-440194-diamond-single-basin-silgranit-ii-kitchen-sink-33-1-2-x-22/p1078229

    Time spent researching and designing is not wasted, you will love your kitchen all the more and can find some great tips and deals in the process. Good luck! Exciting times.

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