Kitchen Reno: Laying it all out

Kitchen reno 12
Kitchen August 1

It’s going in the right direction! Slowly. Baby steps. This is the current state of my kitchen. We expected it to be a slow process, and it is, but I don’t mind the breathing room.

A big part of the reason it took me so long to do a kitchen reno was the pressure to design my own kitchen. Yes, it sounds dreamy. Yes, I’ve often imagined what I’d do if I had the opportunity to redesign a kitchen space. But the pressure to make the right decision! It’s like getting a tattoo – not as permanent, I suppose, but expensive to do over if you don’t want to live with it. I can’t even make up my mind about what to order in a restaurant. Knowing what I like when I see it is different than visualizing what could be done with my own space, which is long and narrow and really fairly limiting. I don’t have a designers’ eye – my mom can look at a room and imagine how it would look painted, or with built-in shelving or a torn out wall, or with everything rearranged in a new way. I look at before and after pics of other kitchen renos – they have great ones over at the Kitchn – in fact, they did a story on my kitchen back in 2009! – anyway, I just cannot visualize the potential transformation of a “before” pic… what a space could potentially look like. (Apparently there’s an app for that – I downloaded it but never did figure out how to use it…)

Kitchen August 4

Honestly, I don’t know how people design entire houses. Kudos to you guys.

So it was fortunate, really, that my decisions have been relatively limited. The counters needed to stay where they were, but my big thing has always been replacing my (relatively useless, access-wise) lower kitchen cabinets with drawers. My mom’s kitchen is all drawers, and it’s so much easier to access dishes and bowls without having to bend/squat and reach back into the back. I only used whatever was in the front of the cupboards, forgetting what was even in the back row.

So it’s all drawers. We pondered going the IKEA route – they do some beautiful kitchens – but ultimately decided that considering this particular room will be used far more heavily than most home kitchens, we’d have it custom built. They’re not fancy – just sturdy. We went for 4 drawers, smaller ones up top and deeper in the bottom, but not so deep that they’d get awkwardly heavy. We’re still looking at countertops (countertops! can you get more grown up?) and sinks (ditto), and the box for the sink, which also has a deep drawer to be used for garbage or recycling, is a little awkwardly stuck out as a result of a pipe behind it with nowhere to go – the joys of renovating a 106 year old house.

Kitchen August collage 1

One of the other joys? Trying to figure out what to do with our old wood floor. To replace it would have been too pricey – and there was the question of a strange hump in the middle that we imagine was caused by an earlier kitchen extension and the settling thereof. So rather than pull it up and reveal whatever other structural issues lie underneath, we decided that ignorance is bliss and we’ll do what we can to repair the surface. Unfortunately it’s fir that is already stretched too thin, and the flooring guy who came to assess our situation said sanding to refinish it would tear it apart. So we shopped around for a super durable paint to paint the old, rough hardwood – you can see a blue-green-grey colour test patch in the above photo on the right. Brick red or bluey green? Choosing paint colours is also not my forté. Expect tweets for advice from the paint store. (And the drawer handle store.) Maybe I’ll have the first kitchen entirely designed via social media.

So – countertops? Anyone? Advice? This is a big one – people seem to love or hate them. Our old ones were repurposed from the UofC science lab. I have never had to choose a countertop, but it needs to be resilient – and photo-friendly! ie no sparkly blue, as cool and ’57 Chevy-esque as it may be.

Kitchen ceiling

And hey – WE COVERED THE CEILINGS! They were a lovely 80s stucco – the pokey kind, with a ginormous hole (the result of our own toilet installation upstairs) and old unused track lighting in the living room, and the remains of a purple smoothie W dropped when he was about three in the dining room. So we covered it all with these wood slats – kitchen, dining room, living room – and it looks so much better. This happened while we were in Tofino! Look, I was getting stuff done while lounging on the beach!


The bright whiteness of it also bounces the light around far more efficiently – I’m thinking that in the kitchen it will almost act as a diffuser when I shoot on the kitchen table. Which, I’m thinking, I might make a big wood butcher block. What do you think? It will bring back some of the warmth that will be lost by painting the wood floors. Hey, that’s designer lingo… maybe all this is wearing off on me.

Also: I HAVE A NEW OVEN. It’s not here yet, but it’s very squeeworthy. We still need to get our electric sorted (lath and plaster walls! yay!) and the gas hooked up, and the next problem is a hood fan that will allow us to keep the cool old window behind the stove. Stay tuned!!


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20 comments on “Kitchen Reno: Laying it all out

  1. Marilyn T
    August 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I’d go for the bluey green on the floors will always seem cool in there especially in summer. Love Love Love the ceilings.

  2. Kim
    August 18, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Love the wallpaper!

  3. Colin
    August 18, 2014 at 11:55 am

    HOLY BOATS the ceilings look good. How and where did you get them done? I also have 80s stucco and will need to do a crazy global replacement eventually.

  4. Deni
    August 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Looking good so far! I suggest that you consider consulting with colour expert and design blogger Maria Killam from Vancouver regarding your remaining surface options. I am in no way connected to Maria other than being being a fan of her advice, and a follower of her blog. She has the expertise to specify the most appropriate floor colour and best countertop/backsplash options, assuring you a timeless and classic kitchen.Your renovation has to be looked at as a whole with consideration to the adjacent living spaces In order to make the most successful colour and surface options so that you end up with a cohesive look. I worry about you asking your well-intentioned readers, including me 🙂 who may unintentionally lead you down the wrong and costly path. Deni

  5. rose
    August 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Looking so good!! I’d choose the bluey coloured floor too! Or, a soft taupey grey would be lovely! I have granite countertops and they are nice but are very ‘clangy’ and dishes do tend to break a bit easier…..

  6. lisa
    August 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    A suggestion for sink…a large one. I LOVE mine. You can put in large pots, pans etc. to soak, no one needs to see that! Just a suggestion!:)

  7. rose
    August 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    back to say the same as Lisa. I love my almost 30 inch wide sink. Double sinks won’t fit the cookie sheets, 13×9 baking pans etc. Highly recommend it!

  8. Danielle
    August 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    We just redid our kitchen with poured concrete countertops and I’m so in love. We wanted industrial grey, but you can do a variety of colours and effects if you desire.

  9. Kate
    August 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Yea!!! for progress… Yea!! for you! The ceiling is awesome.

  10. Fiona
    August 18, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    It looks amazing!

    We bought an extra-deep Blanco sink online for a crazy amazing deal – it was discontinued from the previous year so it was half off. I had no idea they discontinued stainless steel sinks, but they do and you should keep your eyes peeled!

    Our countertops are laminate, but I have no need for anything more durable. I just figured they were 1/3 of the cost of quartz, which I really wanted, and that meant I could change them without dying inside if anything ever happened.

  11. Theresa
    August 19, 2014 at 4:29 am

    Quartz tends to scuff and scratch from the experience of my parents in law. They have a bright kitchen and it all shows in the sunlight. They hate it. I <3 granite because you can literally take a pan/casserole out of the oven or pot off the stovetop and set it anywhere there is room! Waiting for your kitchen to be finished is killing me! 🙂

  12. christine
    August 19, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I also love your ceilings. We just built a house and did similar ceilings and then added dark wood beams about every 4 feet. I got most of my ideas for the house on pinterest. After a while, you will notice you are picking all the same type of kitchen. Mine is all white and we have a gorgeous pale green/blue backsplash and granite counter top We live on the ocean so that really blends. The best thing we ever did was to decide on a style we liked (for us it was modern french country) and then every decision we made was easy: did it suit that style or not. I am sad my house is finished because I just loved the whole process. I guess I need to find a new rental to fix up or something. Will put my husband over the edge. haha

  13. mar
    August 19, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I’ve had quartz for six years and not a mark. It gets super rough use and hot pots don’t even make it feel warm. A damp cloth and kitchen detergent and it shines to a spif.

  14. Nicole
    August 19, 2014 at 11:55 am

    The idea of a kitchen reno was magical to me. I loved the process of planning and looking at inspirations but in reality it was much more nightmarish. I work on being grateful everyday that at least I have a kitchen that is new, fresh and decent but fell well short of my dream kitchen. Disappointing considering kitchens are so important to me. My experience with Jerome’s was great too and the new appliances are the most satisfying part. I went with quartz but now I’m wondering if it was a mistake. I’ve already had 2 chips! Is it just me? I am rather bashy but still.
    Other than that it cleans up nice and I haven’t had any scratches yet. …. I really would have loved marble but shyed away based on everyone’s recommendation. Anyway, good luck! It’s gonna be FAB.

  15. Ronda
    August 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm


  16. Ann
    August 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Good start, there. We hired a designer for our kitchen and I’m glad we did, because he came up with ideas I could never have thought of. I knew certain things – like you, I knew I wanted all drawers and I didn’t want to knock down walls. But he had a vision that just blew me away, and crammed in more space and countertop and storage than I ever imagined possible. He gave us an incredible island that I didn’t even think we had space for. It will be interesting to see your finished space.

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  18. BethC
    October 20, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Did you finish the renovation? I didn’t remember seeing the finished product and went looking for a post and couldn’t find it. Did I miss it? Or did you not share it?

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