On April 14th, 2013 I announced I was redoing my kitchen floor. I was going to rip up the old floor, install heated mats, DIY a nice smooth base for tile with self levelling concrete, topped with black and white VCT tiles.
It was my big spring project. At times when I was feeling particularly dreamy I toyed with the idea of a new kitchen light.
I treated myself and got that new kitchen light. Along with new cabinets, a fridge, stove, island, partial nervous breakdown, curtains, dishwasher, plumbing, wiring, countertop, sink, shelving and full nervous breakdown.
I'm still not entirely sure how it happened but I think it involved a combination of decorating magazines and bottom shelf hallucinogenic drugs. One day I was redoing my floor, the next day there was a tornado of activity that lasted for the next year.
Anyone who has ever done a kitchen knows it's like opening a door into a variety of new and exciting places. The poor house, the nut house, the funny farm. You'll have visited them all once your kitchen renovation is complete.
Oh yeah, it's gonna be worth it but no one can convince you of that at the time.
You'll cry, you'll stomp, you'll ask yourself what makes you think you're so uppity that you need a kitchen where you can use the toaster and the microwave at the same time? Your grandmother didn't even HAVE a toaster! She had bread and a fire and a lot of burned fingers. And she was happy she had that because HER grandmother didn't even have fire. If she wanted toast she'd paint a piece of stale, crispy bread with cow dung.
I got so fed up with so many things that I started keeping a list of everything that went wrong with my renovation. I have no idea where that list has gone. It's not in any of my notebooks. I was probably worked up into such a froth I wrote it on the back of the couch or something. I spent a lot of time just balled up behind the couch during the kitchen renovation. It was nice there.
I also have no idea what got me so worked up. I can remember a few things like the corner cupboard not fitting in through the kitchen door and having to haul it over my 7 foot backyard fence but there were lists and LISTS of things that went wrong. I don't know if I've completely forgotten them just because time has passed or because I've developed some sort of very purposeful selective renovation amnesia. I'm pretty sure that's a real thing.
Regardless, I'm happy I can't remember most of the horrors because that leaves me with only loving feelings towards my new kitchen. I almost burst with love when I microwave and make toast at the same time.
After a year and a half of incredible patience on your part, please enjoy the full reveal of my new kitchen. (courtesy of Donna Griffith Photography and Canadian Living Magazine) And yes Donna is the photographer who gave me my private lesson a while back.
There's that light I got treated myself to. Oy. As you can see, I'm holding a chicken. That chicken is Cuddles. The magazine was due to come out at the very same time Cuddles got deathly ill. I was terrified my little chicken was going to die at the very same time she was making her magazine debut. She made it through the illness and is now entertaining a variety of modelling offers put forth at my discretion.
Somehow adding more large pieces to my kitchen made it feel and look MUCH larger. I added all kinds of additional counter space, more shelving, cupboards and a huge antique candy store counter in the centre of the room.
I had the flue cover over the range hood custom made at a local metal shop for $60. Proof that having stuff custom done doesn't always mean it's going to be expensive.
I had absolutely NO qualms about mixing metals. I have stainless appliances, gold hardware and copper pots. It's the kind of thing that might make someone else crazy.
The back wall of my kitchen use to be empty. It now has a long expanse of butcher block counter and open shelving for my pots and cookbooks underneath for each access. Want some soup? BOOM!!! A pot. Need to know how to make pudding? BOOM!!! A cookbook. That whole corner of the kitchen actually is my easy access corner.
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This is the famed counter top hole. A stainless pot is underneath it, letting me chop, crumble and prepare all of my food and just wipe the scraps into the hole.
Betty made the linen roman blinds with no lining so light comes through them in the day and they keep their nice drapey feel. The fabric is from Rough Line, which long time friend Tricia, agreed to let me have as a favour. I was originally going to make cafe curtains out of them for the kitchen, but finally decided I wanted something that covered the entire window.
My Martha Stewart cabinets transformed into the pantry of my dreams. Below is storage for big things like my wok and stink machine (deep fryer). The middle drawers are filled with shallow things like spice tins, pie plates and tea towels. And the upper cupboards are filled with food stuff. I also bumped the bottom cabinets out a bit had a piece of Carrara marble cut to place on top of them so now I have a small shelf for putting things down on while searching through the cupboards. That little bit of marble helps to tie in the antique Carrara marble on the candy counter as well. I considered doing all of my windowsills in marble as well, but I really just wanted a little bit of marble and didn't want overkill. Plus those two little sills would have added a lot of price to my kitchen, so I stuck with plain painted wood and I like it just fine.
One of the first things I did when I started renovating my kitchen was pull out an old pantry and drywall to reveal a big brick wall behind it. It was ugly. I painted it. It isn't ugly anymore.
It took a longggggg time to decide what to put on that wall. I had an antique deer head up there for a long time which I loved and looked great but I ended up moving that to my mudroom. Then I had visions of a Smart TV on the wall, but it was going to be too difficult to see from my main work area in the kitchen so I scrapped that idea, even though I still think about it every so often. Then I came up with the idea of hanging all of my rolling pins. Each one of them has some sort of story behind it, as do the brackets. My friend Michelle (the fella's father's wife) gave them to me years and years ago. She had them when she lived in France, but couldn't find a place for them in one of her Toronto apartments. They were perfect for the wall, adding a bit of fancy along with the rustic of the rolling pins. And yes. The long, tapered, beautiful rolling pin is indeed from the very talented woodworker Brenda from Cattails.
The pigs head. I love that pigs head. I got it at a local store called The Kitchen Witch that carries some of the greatest stuff I've ever seen. I don't think this store has a single thing in it that I don't like. It's a dangerous, dangerous place.
The Blue Star stove I've been wanting for years. I never could have bought it if I'd bought it from Blue Star, but Costco carries a pared down version of it that's perfect for an enthusiastic home cook. This is not a stove for people with little kids though. Everything on it is made of metal. Even the knobs. And there's no insulation so when the oven heats up so does the door, the knobs and the edges. If you're an adult that's fine. If you're 2 it is not.
What I love about this stove I REALLY love. One of the burner grates come out so you can nestle a wok in the spot and it won't move or slide around.
It has a pull out tray that all the drips and boil overs go to that can just be wiped out. This also means since spills drip down to the tray, you never have baked on crud on your burners.
It has a simmer burner that actually keeps things at a perfect simmer and never changes. You could have a pot of chili on the stove simmering for hours and it wouldn't burn on the bottom or boil over. I don't know how they do it but it's genius.
And finally, I noticed right away that not only does water boil faster than on my old stove, but it comes back to the boil incredibly quick. You know how if you have water boiling and you throw spaghetti into it it takes forever for the water to come back to the boil? Not so with this stove. Or any commercial type stove I would imagine.
And the fridge. (insert angels singing and gophers break dancing here).
Finally after all your waiting, the kitchen reveal is complete. Of course now that the whole ordeal is over I feel like it was all worth it. When I was in the middle of throwing the corner cabinet over my back fence because it wouldn't fit in the front door, of course I would have argued otherwise. See? That's still the only ordeal I can remember. Probably for the best.
Speaking of the best, I'm not sure the lights in my bathroom are the best. I should probably treat myself and replace them.
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This is a fascinating mix of styles and finishes. It came together far better than I would have thought if you had just described what you were doing--kudos to you for possessing vision!
You've done such a gorgeous job that you can now call yourself a gen-u-ine dee-signer!
I've read all the comments and haven't seen anyone asking about that beautiful grate cover in front of the pantry. I notice things like that cos I love it. Really, I do. Also love the little shelf in front of the sink idea.
Thanks for sharing all these wonderful tidbits about your reno. I know I'm not the only one inspired!
"And there’s no insulation so when the oven heats up so does the door, the knobs and the edges. If you’re an adult that’s fine."
Not this adult....I have a scar on my hand from burning myself on the inside of an oven. Twice in the same spot. On both my hand and the oven. My husband is now in charge of cooking.
It looks amazing. So light and bright. Just gorgeous!
One of the best kitchen design I have ever seen. My kitchen is not as beautiful as yours but I have done some remodeling last month and it looks better than before. :)
Ok, Karen, I have to say I was not sure about that black & white floor but I DO LOVE IT. I do. You have a lot of black accents and what nots in there. That countertop hole is fantastic. That pig head is adorable! Have you noticed that the ceiling light looks like a big eyeball? Its really neat how you mix modern with old such as the island. Love the mix of woods, the hanging rolling pins, and the fridge. OMG that fridge! Have you turned on your orange frige light? "Turn on your Autumn Light" (a fall take on Neil Diamonds Turn on Your Heart Light from the ET movie!) yet for fall? :)
I foresee a counter top hole in my wife's future. Having the chickens (we have 24), everything we chop up goes to them, that would be handy as hell!
As for the Armstrong flooring, I used it 2 houses ago, in Michigan, did a cream & mossy green, LOVED that floor. Easy to install, indestructible, easy on the feet, held a shine.
Beautiful kitchen. Makes me miss the last two I remodeled.
Hi Dominic. You caught me *just* before going to bed. Thanks very much for the kitchen compliment. I absolutely love my kitchen. Every tear and fit was worth it. Your wife absolutely needs a counter top hole. It sounds stupid but one of the greatest things is being able to just brush toast crumbs into it, lol. Makes me happy every time I do it. And I am so happy with the flooring. Even if I had thousands more to spend on the floor I wouldn't. It's so much more comfortable to stand on than ceramic. Hope your chickens are doing well through this moulty time of year. ~ karen!
I am looking into appliances for the impending kitchen remodel in my home and have been looking into the Blue Star Rangetop and Blue star double oven. I have been finding very mixed reviews, while doing my research I came across your site. Now that your a few months in, I was wondering if you're still enamored with the Blue Star that you installed in your new beautiful kitchen?
Hi Shawn. I do still love my Blue Star. A lot, lol. BUT I can tell you it's probably not great for a home with kids because it gets so hot. Everything on it is metal, including the knobs. Which means when the oven heats up everything on it heats up including the door, door frame, knobs etc. This isn't normally a problem but if the oven and stove have been on a while or are at a high temp., you can really feel it through the knobs and side of the oven door. Not enough to burn you but definitely enough to terrify a kid or even you if you aren't prepared for it. I love everything else about the range so much I don't care much about the lack of insulation. The drip pan is brilliant, the simmer burner is great, the heat is so even it's unbelievable and the oven broiler is the best I've ever encountered. Hope that helps. ~ karen!
Karen I'm sure you're sick of questions about your glorious kitchen.
Now that you've lived in this kitchen can you do a review?
How is the butcher block holding up? Is it splitting cracking staining?
How about the Island counter top? Does it stain or do anything else unpleasant?
Single bowl sink, was that a decision you are happy with?
Open shelving, is it a cleaning nightmare? They always look nice in magazines but I keep thinking it would ending up being covered in grease like my stove hood.
Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.. or was that Old Ben?
Hi Elisa! O.K. here we go ... The butcher block is fine. There is no splitting or cracking but there is a bit of staining. However that's because I don't care if there's staining so I'm not careful with it in the slightest. I actually want it to get worn and used looking. Ditto for the island. It's antique so the marble is very old and pitted. I like the worn look because it looks like it's been used for 100 years and has a warmth to it. Plus there's the added bonus that I don't have to worry about it. The small piece of marble I have on my pantry ledge is perfect still. LOVE having a single sink. Double wasn't big enough for me to fit anything in. Now I can fit cookie sheets, big pots, etc. LOVE it. The open shelving hasn't been an issue at all. I just wipe it down every once in a while. The exhaust is good though so that probably helps. ~ karen!
Would you share your source for the steel framed factory window?
Congratulations for this brilliant Kitchen. It looks beautiful. I really love your Kitchen pic, It looks awesome & I also got some best idea to decorate my kitchen ;)
Lovely new Kitchen! Looks awesome, LOVE IT! Beautiful and functional.
Thanks for share.
Are the cabinets that you used for the pantry, 'bottoms' and approx 27" deep (protrude 27" from the wall) or are they tops being maybe 16" deep? Our addition is coming along and the existing kitchen will soon be turned into a laundry room/powder room/mudroom and on one 9' wall I want floor to ceiling cabinets and I will have...storage! A century home with storage, so exciting.
Hi Paula, I'd have to check on the actual measurements, but they're equal depth. They top one is just pushed back a bit and the bottom one pulled out a bit to create a ledge. You could do it with an upper of less depth as well, but I wanted as much storage as possible! ~ karen
Looks beautiful!!! I was just curious because I am redoing my kitchen and I love the black and white floor tile look. It's hard to find any laminates in black and white. What tiles did you use and how were they installed? Are these the bigger sized tiles? Thanks very much.
Where did you buy the flooring - VCT? And what do you use to clean it? Thank you!
You can get VCT tiles at almost any large home improvement centre. These are from Home Depot. I clean and shine them with Zep Neutral Floor Cleaner. ~ karen!
I'm going to share my bathroom lighting ideas. When we rewired the house several years ago, I added a switched outlet a few inches above the ceiling, above the light switch. I put ropelight all around the room mounted in ropelight track, clear plastic rails that ropelight snaps into. (On the first version I clipped them up with the cheap clips they came with, but that looked pretty crappy, even though nobody ever looks up at stuff at ceiling level but the person who installed it) I could have put a dimmer on it, but that's barely necessary.
The main light is extra bright for when you need good light plucking your eyebrows or what ever but sometimes you just want soft romantic lighting in the bathroom that doesn't hurt your eyes.
For those times when you stumble in to the bathroom in the middle of the night, even the ropelight is too much. all you need is enough light so you don't step on a cat. (You'd think after all these years they would realize that humans don't have as good night vision as they do, huh?) I got one of those cheap battery powered sensor lights. I took it apart and rewired it so the LED is on the back. I mounted it over the door so when someone walks in, it turns on and makes the ceiling glow.
I love your kitchen remodel. I was excited to see you have a BlueStar range. When we did our kitchen remodel, it was all because I had to have a BlueStar. I have the 36” rangetop, which is just like a range minus the oven. I love, love, love it...no regrets. Now we have bought some rural acreage and are in the preparing to build a sweet little farmhouse, which means I’m getting another BlueStar, this time the full range with oven and all. I might even get a French top this time. Hmmm...!
Ooo congratulations on your impending farmhouse and bigger better bluestar! ~ karen
Hi there! I absolutely love this flooring, and I've found myself in a forced kitchen reno due to a leak. Wondering what the exact color, or if you could give me a link to this flooring. Thank you so much! ❤️
How are your floors holding up? I have been researching different options and came across your page. Love your kitchen.
Hi. New subscriber here. Love every part of this. Someone may already have asked this, but I am too lazy to read through 150 comments.
Can you give some info on your fridge unit? I'm in love with it. I have a small kitchen, and I need to make efficient use of every square inch. Stupid, ugly, ENORMOUS fridges are all the rage these days, but I want something smaller and less obtrusive. Plus, they take up a HUGE amount of wall space that could be pantry space. I have a meat freezer in the basement and an old, ugly fridge that can easily bunk up with the ugly freezer down there. Ugly things belong in the basement.
Also- I'm 182% stealing your counter hole idea. Perfect way to collect scraps for the Peeps.