First, an anti-disclosure: I was not paid, perked, reimbursed, gifted or compensated in any way to use any of the items you see in this kitchen. My husband and I paid for this renovation entirely out of our own pockets. Since the kitchen is (quite literally) my workplace, and the dining room is (also literally) the center of our home, we chose surfaces, fixtures and appliances that worked best for our lifestyle.
You guys, the wind chill in Detroit is like eight degrees right now. Can I tell you how happy I am to not be cooking dinner in my backyard anymore? In all seriousness, our kitchen remodel was 95% finished as of one day before Thanksgiving (nothing like hosting Thanksgiving dinner to break in a new kitchen, huh?), and is now about 99% finished.
First, let’s back up. We moved into this house over the summer, knowing we’d get started on a kitchen remodel as soon as our contractor was able to. Our house is a modestly-sized 1925 Craftsman-style home, with a million charming features. The outdated kitchen was not one of them (see before-and-after comparisons at the end of this post to get an idea of what I’m talking about).
Not only was the old kitchen an eyesore, but it was not at all functional for somebody like me who spends a lot of time in the kitchen (that’s an understatement). The layout was poor, with the fridge and (electric) range directly next to each other, with no counter space at all on that side of the kitchen. The (undersized) dishwasher was awkwardly in the middle of the room, as was the sink. Somebody had taken a major short cut by cutting out the countertop around a windowsill, rather than taking the time to correct the layout. There was hardly any storage space to speak of, leading to an extremely cluttered counter. Guys, there wasn’t even a garbage disposal.
I worked with a kitchen designer to re-layout the space and order the cabinets. The rest of the decisions were pretty much left up to me in many ways. Let me tell you, the process was nothing like you see on HGTV. The light fixtures, cabinet pulls, faucet, subway tile, appliances, paint color and countertops did not pick out themselves. Instead, I spent countless hours (days!) driving around metro Detroit to various source stores and choosing, ordering and picking up all of these finishing elements.
After all the planning, it was time for the contractor and his team to get to work, and for me to lock myself into my home office for the next 8 weeks. The guys would be removing a wall between the kitchen and dining room in order to extend the kitchen a little bit, installing a support beam where the wall used to be, re-doing all the drywall and ceilings, installing a ton of new lights and other electrical work, running a gas line for my (first ever!) gas range, putting in new windows, new cabinets, new appliances, tile, painting, patching and re-finishing the floors, re-doing some heating and cooling, and about one million other little things.
While I wouldn’t say living in a construction zone was fun, it was by no means as hard as I thought it would be. For most of the renovation, the weather was still pretty warm, so we were able to grill our meals outside, and eat some of them on the deck. I had a little makeshift kitchen in the garage. And I’ll be honest – we went out to eat a lot. We kind of built the cost of that into the overall budget, and just rolled with it.
Working was difficult, but I turned to slow cooker and cocktail recipes to keep my clients happy, which worked out OK. Oh, and we had to move into an Airbnb for four days while the floors were being refinished, where I cooked and photographed a faux Thanksgiving dinner.
The hardest part for me was actually dealing with all of the construction dust. Being prone to sinus issues, I tried to keep doors closed and taped off, but was still surprised just how much dust went . . . everywhere. I feel like we’re still getting it all cleaned up.
Today, I can tell you that all of the dust and inconvenience was totally worth it. Having spent hours upon hours brainstorming layouts to make it most efficient for my job, I can say that I’ve definitely achieved that. While it’s by no means a huge kitchen, it’s my dream kitchen in functionality and beauty.
Little things like having a big cabinet with slide-outs for pots and pans, two really deep drawers (one for lots and lots of fresh kitchen towels, the other for the food processor and blender), a touch faucet, a pull-out garbage and recycling center, a knife drawer (which I forgot to take a photo of, sorry), maintenance-free quartz countertops, and a quiet (and concealed!) dishwasher have made a world of difference in this space. Oh, and I finally got that garbage disposal and gas range, too.
So there you have it. When you see a delicious new recipe on this blog from here on out, just know that it was cooked here. By me. With a giant grin on my face. I’ll continue the barrage of photos below. If you have any questions about sources or anything else, please ask in the comments below. I’m happy to help!
Ready for those before-and-afters? Get ready to cringe at the befores and rejoice along with me at the afters: