Saturday, March 16, 2013

My Kitchen 10 Years On, Before & After

Ten years ago I walked into half a dozen kitchen cabinet showrooms clutching in my hand a photocopy of a kitchen that I had seen in a magazine.  Yes, just one picture of one wall in a kitchen.  This was way before Pinterest and way before people started posting pretty pictures on blogs or the Internet.  I didn't have a bunch of pictures from magazines because when I saw this kitchen I just knew that was what I wanted.  Plus, 10 years ago all that seemed to be in magazines were pictures of knotty alder kitchens!  Remember those were all the rage back then, now not so much.

Here's the picture.  Sorry I don't have a source but if it's your kitchen, well done!

I loved how vintage it looked, but also updated.  I have a butler's pantry that has vintage cabinets like these, and I knew that I wanted the kitchen to replicate that.

It was super hard finding a company that would do these painted inset cabinets.  Even though I had a picture and said this is what I want, the companies still tried to talk me out of it!  They kept showing me regular or overlay cabinets made from, yep, knotty alder!?!  I was beyond frustrated.  Now, you can't go to any blogs or Pinterest without tripping over all of these glorious white kitchens.  I like to think I was ahead of the curve ;)

Let me show you my kitchen before, brace yourselves!

Kitchen before, just in case you get confused.

dining room/kitchen before

dining room/kitchen before

Aghh, what a sh*t hole!  Pardon my French.  Can you believe I painted those cabinets like that.  What was I thinking?  It was of course the days of Trading Spaces where anything faux was in, but still, that is not a good excuse.  It does look a little weird though, because we did have a wall separating that kitchen from the dining room that had been knocked through 6 months prior, hence the stove and cabinet against that side wall.  When we renovated the upstairs we knew that someday we would enlarge the kitchen so the contractors knocked the wall down in preparation.

And here's how the kitchen looks now from the same angles.

kitchen after

In the picture above you can see the butler's pantry with the original cabinetry.  We had glass doors made and changed the drawer pulls.

We completely reoriented the kitchen.  Where the table is now used to be the fridge, sink and cabinets.

Loads of photos of my new table cloth from Anthropologie, because I love it and it's so springlike and fresh.

I was playing dress-up with the table, but that's as far as I got because I couldn't be bothered to find 8 glasses that matched or wash-up the silverware!

That's the view looking through the family room to the library/music room.

Below is the view from the same angle as the 2nd and 3rd before photos.


We slotted the fridge into a window opening that had been covered up by a shed addition on the back.

Since we remodeled the kitchen 10 years ago, I have made a number of changes and still have a few that I want to do.

I changed out the light fixture over the dining table.  The one I originally chose was much smaller and didn't have the visual impact that I wanted.

kitchen with smaller light fixture

I replaced it with the jadeite Martha Stewart Veneto chandelier that I managed to find on clearance.  I originally wanted it in white, but it was all sold out.  I also wanted it with 5 arms, but they only had the 8 arm one, so I decided to take some of the arms off, if that makes sense.  I also contemplated spray painting it white, but I'm frightened the glass will look dull.

I decided to change out the green bench which was a pain for the children to climb in and out of.  That's my next project.  I'm planning on building a tufted corner banquette, wish me luck!

Another update we did was install some pendant lights over the island.

Kitchen before pendants 
kitchen after with pendants and painted island
This before picture above also shows what the kitchen looked like before we painted it white; before the island was painted grey; and before the floor was refinished with a darker stain.

Here's the inspiration photo for the island.

Other changes we have made recently include staining the floors darker and painting the walls white.  It looks so much fresher to me, but it does make the cabinets look more yellow of course.  The cabinets are getting pretty chipped and worn so I can see a new paint job somewhere down the line.  I'd choose a more white color for the cabinets then.

kitchen before with yellow walls and unstained hardwood
kitchen after with white walls and stained hardwood
I also painted the large yellow dresser white and painted the back the same green as the chandelier.

I'm a bit on the fence about the green colour.  I had originally planned to paint it the same grey colour as the island.  I think it might look a little too country.  But as I was pinning kitchen photos yesterday I stumbled upon this.

It's my dresser doppelganger!  That's so funny.  I did have an ongoing debate in my mind about painting the shelves white or green.  I like the look of them all green now after seeing this.  Look it even has the tins with names on them.  I wonder if theirs are empty also?

Another change that I want to make that won't break the bank is add subway tile.  Of course this will be a DIY job by me and that is why it hasn't happened so far.  We already have a 4 inch backsplash that will be staying, so it may look a little odd, but I think now most kitchens have a tiled backsplash, so it looks odd right now anyway.

So here's what I think my kitchen would look like with subway tile.  Similar, right?

We probably won't be staying in this house for much longer so I'm not going to be making any huge changes/investments.  But if I was to design this kitchen now, ten years later, I would most definitely have some fabulous Carrara or other type of fabulous marble countertops and backsplash.  I would probably have brass or gold accents (so trendy I know).  I wonder how long the brass trend is gonna last?  I would have a larger apron sink (they were definitely not popular when I designed this kitchen, so choice was limited).  I might have some fancy feet put on the cabinets and maybe some beautiful fretwork for the glass doors.  Other than that, I think it's pretty much stood the test of time, thank god;  because anyone that has ever remodeled a kitchen knows how much it costs and how much effort goes into it.

And so why I think white kitchens are here to stay is that they are classic.  I don't think my kitchen looks that different from any of the white kitchens that people are pinning on Pinterest these days.  How many times do you see a knotty alder or distressed kitchen pinned?  Not that many, if at all.  And I guess the proof is when people come to my house and ask if my cabinets are original (I think that's a compliment, or maybe they just look so old and worn out already!  They are white and therefore show chips and dirt easily, just a warning for ya!).

Here's some pictures of kitchens from a hundred years ago and you'll see what I mean about classic styles never going out of fashion.

If you're still reading this, then you deserve a medal!

Here's some more pretty pictures of white kitchens that you'll find on my Pinterest board.

kitchen from the movie "This is 40"
I'd definitely do a cabinet with the fretwork above.  Actually that gives me an idea, there maybe another DIY project coming!

The kitchen above, I die.  Perfect, except the orange stools, but that's minor.  Another want I have for my next kitchen is that beautiful coffered ceiling.  I should have done that in my kitchen, because when they took the wall down, they left a huge ugly beam.  I decided to deal with that by lowering the ceiling.  Sacrilegious I know.  But we didn't have a fancy kitchen designer or an unlimited budget at the time.  I also absolutely must have an adjoining family room with a gorgeous fire, repeat must!!

Nice example of subway tiles to the ceiling.  And oh look there are my stools, which are genuine Tolix that I picked up for $20 each.  Don't hate me.

More Tolix, love the pop of colors.

Gorgeous pendants.

More gorgeous pendants.  And look at that hood, what a statement.  Probably cost $5000.

OK, kill me now!  I just died and went to marble heaven.  So pretty, so sophisticated.  I just want to lick that sink!  Well not really, but really!?!

Now I'm starting to feel sick and think that my kitchen is really inadequate.  Marble where were you when I was designing?  I really only had soapstone or granite on my radar.  Thank goodness I didn't choose soapstone, because I think it's even more upkeep than marble.

Love the french cafe chairs.  You know I have some red ones that I might try around my table.

How much do you think the marble for this kitchen cost?

This is pretty, not sure if I want to clean two sinks though.  But if you lived in this house you'd have a team of cleaners, right?

I think that that Lindsey Adelman light above is a gazillion dollars, not to mention the stove.

Ah, Christopher Peacock's kitchen.  I believe he is the Grand-daddy of white kitchens.  I like to think I was there before him ;)

This one above kind of looks a bit like mine, don't you think, or am I just kidding myself?

Hate you and your lighted dresser gloriousness!

That makes me want to have an espresso, and a back-staircase in my next house, like Downton Abbey.  No actually I did live in a house in England with a servant's staircase, shame I don't have any pictures of that house. It also had a dumbwaiter and a secret door in a carved cabinet that had steps leading down to a wine cellar. Maybe that's where I get my passion for houses from.

This is another picture of the "This is 40" house taken from the other angle.  Love the fireplace but can't understand why someone would think that 50 blue pitchers would make good decor.

This seems doable and not over the top.  Love the built-in dresser.

One can but dream, right?

And just on the off chance that one of you reading this is a millionaire and wants a new kitchen, please call me as I'd love to design one for you, I'm serious.

Now I'm off to think about building the new banquette. You notice I said think about and not doing, someone kick me in the butt will ya?

You'll find the sources for photos on my Pinterest account.


  1. Your kitchen renovations looks GORGEOUS!!! You should be proud. Give yourself a pat on the back. I too LOVE white, old fashioned kitchens. My first house was 200 years old and I renovated the kitchen keeping the same old fashioned charm. This is going back to 2000. I had the same problems you had with the kitchen designer trying to lure me away from what I really wanted. I told him that my kitchen cabinets had to have glass doors and he kept trying to get me to accept solid doors. I also did not want a microwave oven over my stove. I said I want a stainless steel hood. You would think he was giving me my new kitchen for free and that I was not paying him thousands of my hard earned money. I also insisted on white cabinetry.

    Anyway, I now live in a Queen Anne Victorian home and I restored it also in white. My budget was a lot less this time around though, so right now I have open shelving cabinets that I actually really like. They were old bookcases that I purchased for $15.00 each. Painted them white and had someone hang them up in my kitchen. You can see pictures of them on this link:

    After reading this post you have me thinking about putting a stainless steel hood over my stove in this house. I love subway tiles too...hmmmmmm My kitchen is not finished. There is a fireplace in it that I temporarily covered up because there is no damper on it so bats used to come in the house through the chimney. I want to be able to restore the chimney and get the fireplace up and running soon. I had a huge cooking hearth in my first house that I restored, so I miss having a working fireplace in the kitchen.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful and inspiring post.

    1. I just popped over to your blog and checked out your brownstone. Wow, I thought my house had character! Absolutely amazing. You should definitely think about restoring the fireplace in your kitchen if budget allows, there's nothing like having a hearth in the heart of the home.

      Thanks for the comment, and good luck!

  2. Your kitchen is like 100,000,000 times NICER than my kitchen, are you kidding me?!? God I love it. The size is fab, the glass doors are fab, the chandelier I LOVE (don't change the colour) and the big welsh dresser is amazing (don't change the inside colour) ;) I don't think the green is 'too country' at all, it's beautiful. You're making me have kitchen envy. We so need to change out our countertops but it's such a big job and I think Wayne is a little scared of cutting a hole for the sink so we are actually considering contracting it out. Plus I'm on the fence now about getting stained butcherblock counters because I'm reading too many horror stories about water damage and I already regret putting in expensive slate flooring because of the upkeep. So yeah, I'm sort of stuck at the moment. But your inspiration pics are so pretty and so similar to your own (really!!). Love the Anthro tablecloth as well!! One last thing, what the F*** WERE YOU THINKING with that dark blue paint on the cabinets?! Hahahaha!! Love it when our bad decor decisions come back to haunt us! It made me giggle!! You have certainly moved on with the times (actually definitely ahead of the curve)! ;) Gorgeous, all of it!!! xxx

    1. Oh Kimberly, you flatter me. Yes, those blue cabinets. But look closely, they were even more crapilicious than that; they were deliberately distressed with emerald green paint underneath the blue! I even handpainted ceramic knobs with birds on them. As for your countertops, I put in walnut countertops in the cottage. I covered them in 7 coats of Danish Tung Oil. They water just beads up and they look like new 7 years later. But they only get light wear and I make sure I wipe up the water when I'm done washing, so I kind of baby them which in a main kitchen that you use everyday can be a pain. I say go for it if you really want it because you'll always regret never having done it if you don't.