My Kitchen. The Reveal.

On April 14th, 2013 I announced I was redoing my kitchen floor.  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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  1. Ev Wilcox says:

    It was worth the wait! Beautiful, functional, and you did it yourself! Happy for you. Now, the bathroom. Well, the light anyway…. Oh, and where IS the microwave?

  2. Deb J says:

    Love your kitchen. So many great ideas and now I know that I want my spices in a drawer. Where did you find the containers? Nevermind. Decided to search your site, knowing I had seen it previously. Of course, it was the post about becoming an expert kmitter! Many thanks for all you share with us.

  3. West Coast Nan says:

    Lovely, just lovely.

  4. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Ha ha ha…I feel a bathroom reno coming on! You have so many great ideas packed in your kitchen. One thing I didn’t realize is that there would be a measureable loss of space with a farmhouse sink. That stinks!

  5. Gretchen Sexton says:

    I think I will read this post at least 3 times. SO lovely! SO inspirational! Thanks for hanging in there to completion. You were right: it was worth it!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Wow Karen! You did such a great job. I absolutely love it! I would love to spend some time cooking in your kitchen.

  7. jainegayer says:

    Absolutely beautiful and worth the wait for the big reveal.
    Nice modern touches but still looks like a cozy place for a cup of tea.
    Well done, Karen.

  8. Deb J says:

    Love your kitchen. So many great ideas and now I know that I want my spices in a drawer. Where did you find the containers?

  9. Feral Turtle says:

    A fantastic kitchen reno. And just like childbirth, I think I smell another reno on the horizon…….how soon we forget! Cheers.

  10. Linda Martin says:

    Hi Karen, love it. I have the same floor in my kitchen. What did you put on your floor to get such a pretty shine. Mine looks dull, I need to do whatever you did. Thanks

  11. marilyn says:

    its beautiful karen and im sure..well worth the wait

  12. Kat says:

    Oh My Goodness it is the kind of kitchen I could live in. My favorite is the brick wall, the curtain tie backs are genius. I use some in my bedroom attached to an old window that hangs in there to hang jewelry off of but they are not as beautiful as your antique ones. You have so many great ideas that I borrow from all the time. You did a superior job Karen!!!

  13. Mary Kay says:

    Karen – Your Kitchen is amazing!! My most favorite thing: the counter top hole for veggie scraps – AWESOME! And I love the hanging of your rolling pins!!!

  14. Jane says:

    Gorgeous and practical, but I don’t see a microwave. Is it hidden?

  15. Gina says:

    It’s gorgeou!

  16. Robin says:

    WOW! Just WOW!

  17. Su says:

    love it… kitchen envy… sigh… like one of the previous posters said, renovation is kinda like child birth, at the time you are enduring it you think WHY did I start this, but when it’s done you forget the agony and love the result…. thanks so much sharing with us…..

  18. Maria Gonzalez says:

    Love your kitchen! Everything is so thought-out and such a smart design.

  19. magali says:

    I am in love with the rolling pin wall!!

    • Langela says:

      Me, too! The pig’s head is perfect there and the rolling pins are pure art. But what are the small, horizontal, brown things? Or is it my computer or the photo?

      • Karen says:

        Thanks Langela! Where ya been? The bits of brown things are original pieces of wood that were in the brick wall. I painted all of the wall white but left the original wood pieces unpainted. :) ~ karen!

        • Langela says:

          Summertime busy and also doing a building project in our house. Do you remember when we actually used to get a summer “vacation”? It seems to have disappeared around graduation time. Anyway, I’m gonna need you to send that candy counter to my house. I’m sure you didn’t realize it belonged to me, but now that you do, you’re gonna need to get it shipped.

  20. Kim C. says:

    You know what I like about your knew kitchen? It’s a truly functional workspace while also being quite easy on the eyes! It’s not some model home showpiece with an overly priced espresso machine tucked away in the corner of the counter. I can tell this kitchen is well used and well loved, as it should be. It gives off a casual, welcoming vibe. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it for many years.
    Can’t wait to see what you do with the bathroom, just don’t misplace those bottom shelf drugs in the process! You can always check behind the couch. ;-)

  21. Tigersmom says:

    Wow! It’s amazing!!!!! I ordered an actual print issue of the mag which never arrived so this is a true reveal for me.

    Karen, this is wonderful. You did such an amazing job. The rolling pins hung on the brick wall with the sentimental brackets and a piggy sentry is so beautiful. (You know how I feel about pigs.)

    Your antique candy counter island is such a perfect fit, both size and style-wise. Just gorgeous.

    And I’m not normally a fan of open shelving, but your easy access corner makes complete sense and looks fabulous, too. How much do you love being able to do all your chopping in front of a huge window with all of that light?

    And I’m so glad you chose to nix the café curtains. The sheer Roman blinds are just the right aesthetic. They allow the kitchen to maintain a modern edge even with all of the rustic elements. You have captured my favorite style of design here with your marriage of traditional architecture and a wonderful juxtaposition of antique and modern furnishings. I love antique things (like your island, Margaret and that chandelier table lamp of yours) but a house full of them tends to go grandma. Selective mixing of them, however, is beautifully harmonious. Three thumbs up! (I’m so enthusiastically in love with your kitchen, I’m including the thumb from that extra arm I wish I had.)

  22. LazySusan says:

    What a wonderful kitchen you made yourself! I imagine that every time you walk into it, you just about burst with well-deserved pride!

  23. Debbie Bashford says:

    You my dear are my wonder woman. Your kitchen and you are gorgeous!! You are truly beaming in that photo and you should be.

  24. Judith says:

    It. Looks. FANTASTIC! I love it all, but the pig’s head/roller pin wall actually made me gasp with delight. We just finished a four-year kitchen renovation so I can give you a big amen on the various levels of nervous breakdowns. But how about that feeling of walking in your kitchen at any point in time and knowing it’s going to do exactly what you want it to do? That’s a pretty nice feeling.

  25. Deb says:

    It really, really is fabulous. To me, what makes it even more special is the amount of physical labor you put into making it happen. As for the fridge, I did hear the angels singing in that crystal clear harmonic single syllable. Wonder if you could somehow set it up so you could hear it every time you open the fridge door. I would never want to leave the kitchen. The antique cabinet is to-die-for.

  26. Nicole says:

    Great new Kitchen! Beautiful and functional.

  27. caroline logan says:

    Really enjoyed reading your story on your beautiful kitchen renovation so funny .Images of throwing units over garden wall and gophers priceless.Love your kitchen and thanks for making me laugh first thing in the morning.Started renovation on my own kitchen need to fine a spot at “the back of the couch”.

  28. Diane says:

    let me know when you’re ready for me to move in. seriously, that’s my dream kitchen. gorgeous. great job!!!! p.s. I think Betty would really like me.

  29. Anne C says:

    From the hell of a renovation that visual poem of a kitchen was born. A pure beauty, but/and made to actually work and create and enjoy and share, at that. A metaphore of yourself, dear Karen ^_^. Bravo. Bravo!! A.

  30. Barbie says:

    AHHHHH! YES! SO Excited when I saw my inbox and looked inside to see that if was finally the great kitchen reveal! hooooraaay! It’s beautiful Karen! So happy for you! Looks completely functional and gorgeous all at the same time. Makes me want to cook something yummy!
    Question…..I was trying to place exactly “where” your fridge is in your kitchen?……the black door is on one end by the open bottom shelving where the cookbooks and pots are, and the natural wood door is on the other end. When I looked several times at the photos it looks as if perhaps the fridge in enclosed behind that black door? because in the first picture I see the black door next to the open bottom shelf and then the next it’s your fridge….Or what? Cannot figure it out.

    • Pam says:

      Barbie- Your comment about the black door/fridge placement made me go back and study the photos and I think the door is open in the first photo and is blocking the view of the fridge. It took me a minute to figure that out!

      Karen- Your kitchen is really beautiful and looks like it fits so well within the rest of your house. A bit modern, a bit rustic, with some timeless elements to really ground the design. I am in love with your awesome candy counter island! I bet you can make some amazing ‘true’ pie crusts on that marble top!

      • Barbie says:

        Funny your comment came back under “Pam’s” comment! LOL
        Anywho….that completely explains what is going on there! Yep, the door is open! I was trying to understand the full layout of your kitchen. Guess I will just have to drive up to Canada to see if in person! I am so interested in it! Want more pictures! I just LOVE the “Antique Candy store Counter” where did you get that? Is it actually an antique or did you have it custom built? I just LOVE that!

        • Karen says:

          Hi Barbie! It’s a genuine antique candy counter. :) And there will be many photos taken in my kitchen now since I’m allowed to publish it. I wasn’t allowed to show my kitchen at all until the story came out in the magazine so Canadian Living would have the first reveal. Now, I’m allowed to show it all the time like I used to in the olden days when I had a cruddyish kitchen. ~ karen!

  31. Auntiepatch says:

    I love it! And Cuddles!

  32. peg says:

    love it all!!! but especially the pig,french hooks and rolling pins. thank you for sharing :)

  33. Kent Major says:

    What a great kitchen, well worth it. I, on the other hand , STILL can’t microwave and toast at the same time and it drives me nuts!
    Congratulations, beautifully done.

  34. chris aka monkey says:

    After a year and a half of incredible patience on your paert,
    please enjoy the full open shelving for my pots and cookbooks underneath for each i hope you are the type who would rather fix it then have it hanging out there even though you wouldn’t tell me xx

    • chris aka monkey says:

      oh and i am jealous as shit too xx

      • Karen says:

        Excellent. That’s what I was going for. (fixed the paert) thx. ~ karen!

        • chris aka monkey says:

          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.

          i think you meant easy access..and i’m still jealous as shit i love your kitchen…i had to put wilbur in the outside refrigerator today read if he didn’t come out after a week or so he then had to be put there to simulate winter and he will be 7 months or so got to let him out in the spring crap i’m old i might be dead by then xx

  35. Dagmar says:

    Thank you for putting up the whole article Karen. As I kept looking for you on the cover of Canadian Living, because apparently I don’t follow directions very well ( huge difference between you and a turkey on the cover. Lol). So now I get to read the article after all. Hooray. And btw, I will never forget a few images out of my head from this restoration.#1 Karen in a puffy red jacket standing in the snow behind her bushes waiting for the corner cabinet #2 Betty and the wall # 3 every new kitchen blog people noticing something that they weren’t supposed to see and spoil the surprises for the upcoming blogs to come. Glad we were able to come along for the ride.

  36. Linda S. in NE says:

    Beautiful finished product, Karen. If I’m not careful, I might find myself with an urge to cook. Damn smoke detectors,…they’re everywhere in my house!!

  37. Dee says:

    So gorgeous! I want to cook in your kitchen. I has it all: sleek and clean, wonderful design. Very happy for you.

  38. Cred says:

    Stunning! You did a beautiful job!

  39. Sherry says:

    Love the image of gophers break dancing! And your new kitchen is killer great. I especially love the candy store island. I assume it fit through the door since you don’t mention tossing it over the fence…… :)

  40. Amber says:

    Everything is lovely! I would love a tutorial by Betty on how to make roman blinds.

  41. Mindy says:

    Love. And I still want/need that stove.

  42. Lin says:

    Kinda sounded like giving birth…your ‘kitchen kid’ turned out beautiful! Ya, get the light for the bathroom.

  43. Grammy says:

    Thank you. I bought the online issue of Canadian Living back when it came out, and it was great to see the whole kitchen and all the information in the magazine. But your commentary here adds to the magazine article. Besides, it’s fun looking at your kitchen again. And again.

    As for forgetting the things that went wrong during the remodel — yes, that’s a thing. I equate it to the way women can decide to have another child after having gone through the excruciating pains of giving birth — the bad parts move to the back of your memory bank because the final product makes you so happy. Same thing with your kitchen.

    So tell us, have you already finished the bathroom remodel, like you did with the pizza oven? You can fool some of the people some of the time…

  44. Debbie says:

    Beautiful and functional! I truly enjoyed the reveal.

    A question, did you really mean, “You could have a pot of chili on the stove simmering for hours and it would burn on the bottom or boil over. I don’t know how they do it but it’s genius.”? Did you by any chance mean that is would not burn on the bottom or boil over? Or, should I have gone to sleep an hour ago and read this in the morning? :)

    As to, “Regardless, I’m happy I can’t remember most of the horrors because that leaves me with only loving feelings towards my new kitchen.” This is the same trick that is played on women after giving birth. Pixie dust is somehow sprinkled on us and we forget the indescribable pain of childbirth and oftentimes do it again (or in my case, and again after that). The full-blown memory only comes back when it is too late.

    I have a feeling you are almost there and will soon be replacing the bathroom light…and floor…and mirror…and fixtures…and we will be holding our collective breath for the bathroom reveal. Stainless steel potty?

    • Karen says:

      Debbie! Thanks for pointing out the mistake/type, lol. I’ll go fix it now. (that burner really is a thing of genius) ~ karen!

    • Pam'a says:

      Yup. What Debbie said. I immediately thought, “Childbirth.”

      Man oh man, Karen. That’s almost too much gorgeous for one kitchen. :) Well done!

  45. Amie Mason says:

    Love Love love it!

  46. Kat says:

    I am in total lust for this kitchen. All of it! Just beautiful and worth waiting to see. The two things that really have me drooling are your copper pots and that antique counter. Will you adopt me, please so I can play in your kitchen? I love to bake and cook and I don’t even mind cleaning up! ;)

  47. Cyndi Ferrell says:

    Hi Karen,

    I started my kitchen remodel in June , 2014. It went into a den, living room and dining room remodel also. All the emotions you mentioned were right on-so many decisions, indecisions, wavering, “why am I doing this!”, “I love it”, “I hate it!”. Just now putting my life back in order. Your kitchen looks awesome. Yes, I know , we will both say it was worth it when we are celebrating the Holidays in our NEW KITCHENS!!

  48. Denise says:

    Bathroom reno next? But I enjoyed the exploding poop stories though LOL

  49. danni says:

    Oh my heavens! It is glorious! Congratulations! And again, I am happy your chicken lived.

  50. Susan says:

    World Premiere! Looks fantastic!
    As do you…and Cuddles.

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