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. Toronto Boy says:

    The mount of work you put into your kitchen was so worth it! The wood countertops goes quite well with the white cabinetry. I couldn’t help noticing the hood range cover. I zoomed in on the picture and noticed that you got it custom made and the cost was nominal. If you don’t mind me asking, is that cover made of stainless steel and which metal shop designed it for you? Did you have to give them the design and measurements? It looks great!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Toronto Boy! I actually can’t remember the name of the company I’m afraid! It was in Burlington. Burlington sheet metal maybe? I found it while driving around looking for another company, lol. All I did was walk in and give them the measurements of the area I needed to fill. I took careful measurements and knew I needed a tiny bit of wiggle room to slide the flue into place. Worked out great, especially for $60! It’s really only a sheet of bent stainless steel but well worth it. ~ karen!

  2. Cathy says:

    Karen, what did you use for your spices? And where did you get them?

  3. TucsonPatty says:

    Just plain flipping awesome! I think my favorite is the hole in the counter…do you have a compost pile or bin? Have you made one and are you going to give us a tutorial?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patty! Thanks! I’m really glad I did the hole. I almost chickened out. I have both a bin and a compost pile. If you search ” compost ” in my little search bar (under the photo of me holding the fish) you’ll find a couple of posts of mine on the subject. How to Hot Compost is a good one! ~ karen

  4. Edith says:

    Hi Karen!

    Your kitchen turned out great!!!! Love the rolling pen wall too – so original. I laughed out loud at the pig’s head because I ordered one a couple of weeks ago and can’t wait to put it up in my kitchen.

  5. tracy says:

    Karen- you’ve done it again! LOVE the wall with your antique rolling pins. So refreshing to see something interesting and different while having a great aesthetic! Well done….all your hardwork appears to have paid off. I know I’m inspired!

  6. Shauna says:

    Amazingly great job as usual. Worth the wait.

  7. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Sorry to be late with done good girl..A+..I want to be you in my next life..nah..that would be weird..I want to be as smart as you in my next life..hugs..

  8. Linda G says:

    Karen, it’s gorgeous! Thank you for the warning that your stove and oven are not insulated. Not only do I have young children, but I am also likely to burn myself on such a thing. Off the list for now!
    Do you know the life expectancy in years for your adorable fridge units? They are nestled into such a lovely little home in a corner, I hope they will last a long long time so you will never have to find just the right thing to fit back in that nook.
    I also love the candy counter, pig’s head, rolling pin wall, etc. Did you screw an eye hook into each rolling pin so you could hang it?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda G – Well I’ve been told time and time again the refrigerator will last a lifetime because it has so many components of a commercial unit. (although it isn’t because it’s quieter and nicer looking). For what it cost I had better last a lifetime! ~ karen

  9. Stephbo says:

    GORGEOUS!!!!! I think my favorite part is the brick wall. I just love that country French vibe. Great job!

  10. Kim says:

    The front cover took me back to a different time…my first words! First word ever was chicken, but my definition was off, though. I thought it was the room where you cook things…
    Ironically, as an adult, I’m a vegetarian.

  11. Olga says:

    Beautiful. Envy. Proud!

  12. This is really really lovely, Karen! I love your commentary and ideas too. I was about to send this to my client who just finished a kitchen remodel so it would make her feel better about the time it took, but she might ask why we went with custom cabinets, an expensive hood, etc. In the end hers, and yours, are awesome. I am so happy to hear that Cuddles is ok too :)

  13. Your kitchen is epic! I wish I had that style so I too could do somethng like that. I had a leak under my floor four years ago, my Punkin turned off the cold water, we went through insurance arbitration, got $40K, got incredibly ill, spent all the money on medical bills and four years later, still need a new kitchen and no cold water and sent all the money to crappy doctors! Really???…yup! But I have a great sense of humor and love yours and your fab style. I look forward to lots of pictures, at least three days a week in your kitchen and a few glamour shots of cuddles too. You two look spectacular dahling!

  14. Gwen H. says:

    Beautiful kitchen. It looks like it was worth all the tribulations.

  15. Tracey says:

    It’s beautiful Karen!
    Although there are obviously many modern and very practical conveniences it’s still somehow totally suits your 175 Year old house. Now that’s something to really be proud of!

  16. Deb says:

    Truly glorious – the pig head is my fave. I’m scared to say it, but I was in Lowe’s today staring at the light fixtures. But I still have no tub or toilet in my upstairs bathroom, so I escaped the danger. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!

  17. Dea says:

    All I can say is WOW! If you’re someone who loves to work in a kitchen, this is the kitchen you’d want to work in! (I am NOT a cook. Hate cooking; hate cleaning up; love it that the hubs is the cook in the family.) I fully understand the horrors of remodeling a kitchen. In our old house, we started with just re-finishing the cupboards, and it took something like four months! Washing dishes in the bathtub for four months! Cooking microwave dinners in the bedroom for four months! Ugh! It was finally worth it, but I sure wouldn’t do it again. I have to admit, though, that your beautiful new kitchen is a glory and a masterpiece. Congratulations on a job very well done!

  18. maria-TO says:

    Congratulations Karen! You did a smashing job on your dream kitchen — it’s wonderful to have a kitchen function the way you want it. Rushed out to grab the October issue of Canadian Living so I can thumb thru all your great tips at my leisure. Look forward to your next project (do you ever sleep!) along with all the changes coming to your site.
    P.S. A great pic of you and Cuddles — how’s the little scrapper doing?

  19. Ella says:

    AMAZING! I’ve been waiting for this, and love it. Well done. Nervous breakdowns are just part of the journey to a finished creative project. Spoken from someone who has finished several creative projects and thus… nervous breakdowns. ;)

  20. Elen G says:

    “I should probably treat myself and replace them.” Don’t do it, Karen. Don’t do it! Not until the palpitations over the kitchen reno stop. You’re welcome.

  21. Kay says:


    Congratulations, your kitchen is a stunner! Practical and beautiful, especially love the unique rolling pin installation on the brick wall. My own kitchen update is a work in progress, my big dilemma is marble vs a quartz look alike counter top. Like you I cook and entertain a lot so I am worried about how the marble holds up in a hard working kitchen??

  22. Mariella says:


    your dream kitchen is my dream kitchen! I know you worked hard for it. Congrats. You deserve it!


  23. Bols says:

    what do you use to shine up the floor tiles? It is the two different products (sorry, can’t recall what they are called) – one is the initial coat and the other product “Once It’s Done”? – not sure) to maintain it; or the big bottle of an industrial polish?

  24. Marion says:

    Beautiful! It turned out perfect, and I still cannot get over that picture of you and Cuddles. Let us know how those bathroom lights turn out ;-)

  25. Bobbi says:

    Hey, Karen, the kitchen is just terrific. I am surprised you got no tv feedback. I like where you put it. Happy cooking.

  26. Spence says:

    Stumbled across your blog and am totally addicted… especially to your chicken posts. So happy Cuddles made it through. Love the kitchen. Love the cooper pots. Love the pigs head.

  27. Andrea says:

    Oh Karen, it’s so many layers of wonderful! The antique candy counter is a thing of beauty. Love the warmth that it and the rolling pins add to the room. Betty did a great job on the window treatments. I’m a big fan of kitchen windows, especially over the sink. Enjoy the view while cleaning up. Great job, Karen.

  28. Chavella says:

    Awesome, as I knew it would be. Can’t say I’m a hater, because you are really hard to hate. love everything you do. Keep it coming.

  29. Caroline says:

    Karen, your kitchen is stunning! I’m so envious. My kitchen is still not finished after many years but I AM ready to install ikea butcher block countertops. What kind of finish did you use? Do you just sand and oil?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Caroline – Butcher block counters need to be oiled with Mineral Oil once every few days when you first get it, then once every week for a few months, then if you’re lucky once a month. (no sanding! Although you can sand out stains if you want) But that’s for a genuine, maple, butcher block counter. I’m not sure what the Ikea counters are made out of. ~ karen!

  30. Heather-Mae says:

    I have always wanted the counter top hole… Beautiful job. Happy cooking!

  31. Finally! It was worth the wait. The part I was most excited to see….I cannot believe it but was the WALL! And I love it. I love that you don’t just follow the crowd, Karen. All the bloggy kitchens these days look alike but yours is original and gorgeous and useful too. LOVE it!

  32. Rondina says:

    I love the antique French hooks and rolling pins on the brick.

    Go ahead and replace the bathroom light. : )

  33. Carol says:

    You should get a kick-back from Bluestar because last week we ordered the same model after reading your post about your oven a few months ago. It will be delivered on Wednesday. (Though I was able to find it at more than one appliance store in Toronto for the same price as Costco.) I can’t wait to get it but I only wish the rest of our kitchen was a gorgeous as yours.

  34. Erica Filpi says:

    A lot of women, me included, can not recall the exact level of discomfort during pregnancy and pain during labor. It’s what enables us to crazily have more. Your huge projects are your pregnancy and delivery. If you remembered each horrific detail you’d never have a new huge project.

    Can’t wait to see the bathroom.

  35. Patti says:

    OOh I love this so much, it’s beautiful and practical! And I was waiting to see what you would come up with for the brick wall… it’s perfect!

  36. toekneetoni says:

    it’s gorgeous and functional, how fabulous!!! very impressive. and I LOVE the pig’s head!

  37. Korrine Johnson says:

    Thank god I am a renter or I would be tearing something out right now. It’s just beautiful!

  38. Jasmine says:

    Congratulations Karen, your kitchen is truly gorgeous! About what I expected really. So far you haven’t shown us too many reveals that were ugly. Except for maybe that gross egg. Ew. However, I can’t seem to find the moose??? Looking forward to the bathroom….haha! Can’t wait!

  39. Deb says:

    Karen – that is the absolute most covet-worthy kitchen I have EVER had the pleasure of coveting!!! everything is perfection! Oh, and I am STILL coveting that smashing dress you’re wearing! You were so kind to reply to my first mention of my love for it when you posted the sneak-peek a while back. To this day, I am still searching for a dress that can even approach the awesomeness of that frock!!!

  40. Carol says:

    You have to admit the year and a half flew by pretty quick didn’t it. ; ) Knowing the amount of joy you get from both seeing and using your kitchen truly makes it a success. Thrilled to finally see the photo tour of the entire kitchen, I love how Donna can capture a space and make one feel like you’re standing there in person. I love every real inch it!! ~ Carol

  41. Jebber jay says:

    BEEEAUTIFUL and functional. Well done Karen! I may thieve an idea or two for my upcoming reno.

  42. Jake says:

    I have to say it’s great, as a person who breaks out in hives just thinking about cooking, I like your reno very much. Thanks too for the Kitchen Witch link, love the bit about the hours (10.00 ish) I see lots of thing in there I like, I see a road trip and new stuff for my kitchen (which I don’t use if I can help it) but it will look so pretty.

  43. Nikki says:

    I have major stove envy now!!

  44. Sandy says:

    I love that your kitchen is in keeping with the era of the house. And I totally agree, The Kitchen Witch is a great store!

  45. Donna says:

    Lucky you to have two windows in the kitchen , mine is so dark, love everything you have done–kudos to Betty for the window coverings, she is pretty smart too–enjoy

  46. Vicky says:

    We are in the process of finishing our kitchen renovation!!! Just about 5 more things to do and its complete!
    We demoed in February, got into a motorcycle accident at the end of June which caused hubby to have to have shoulder surgery and out of commission for 3 months. My sons have stepped up now and following hubby’s direction, are putting the kitchen back together again!! I now have a working dishwasher again, a stove that works and lots more counter space. Your kitchen is beautiful and I am very happy Cuddles is better. What more can you ask for: a new kitchen and a healthy Cuddles!

  47. Brenda says:

    beautiful and all you, not some fancy dancy designer’s idea of you.

  48. Robin says:

    That was worth the wait! I remember when you started and you talked about using a kitchen designer; I am 100% sold on that idea, because this looks *totally professional and yet you did so much work yourself. Oh, and I did that same flooring in a bathroom I re-did 15 years ago (I did almost all of the remodel myself, which I feel entitles me to nod knowingly when I read your blog. I EVEN DID THE ROUGH PLUMBING but I did have it checked by a real plumber before I LAID MY OWN SUBFLOOR and …. you get the drift ;)
    *you do have excellent taste and I’m giving points for that.
    U R welcome.

  49. Renee Beach says:

    My mother and I had the honor of having the most wonderful Thankgiving dinner in this awesome kitchen! We joined Karen and her lovely family, Karen cooked for 12-14, the kitchen had great ambiance, and looked like a photo shoot the whole time, even through Thanksgiving madness. Karen is a brilliant cook, and she’s a great inspiration!

  50. maggie van sickle says:

    Great job Karen. Looks great and I especially love the island.

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