A Kitchen Renovation.
The FIRST thing you should do.

I swear to you I have no idea how this happened, this kitchen renovation of mine.

One day I was simply laying a new floor and the next I was all hopped up on new sink and fridge choices, frothing at the mouth over the possibility of a new tap.

Picking out the things I like, I can do.  I can pick out things I like while blindfolded with earplugs in and mittens on.  What I cannot do is plan a kitchen.

And this kitchen of mine needed a new plan. This is how my current kitchen is laid out …


The fridge is directly beside the stove, there isn’t enough storage and I’m pretty sure  Idris Elba, whom I brushed off just a few months ago, wouldn’t enjoy cooking for me when he has to go all the way into the basement to get the Kitchen Aid out.  I’ve totally un-shunned Idris by the way.  We’re back on, so feel free to let him know.

Left in my own hands my kitchen would become a disaster.  There would be be a monster walk in refrigerator, a fireplace, but not necessarily any room for a stove.  Definitely no sink.

Because I get confused.  My brain just can’t handle the thought of rearranging the things in the kitchen and making them better than they are.

So as soon as I came to terms with the fact that I was indeed going to do my kitchen over, I did the first thing anyone planning a kitchen renovation should do;

I worked a kitchen designer into my budget.  And then I hired a kitchen designer.

Carol Reed is someone who I know only through Twitter and the Internet. I’ve been following her design career through the miracle of Twitpics, Instagram and her blog.

Plus she designed my Chicken Coop gates for me so I knew she had the grit needed to tackle my kitchen which holds 4 doorways and 2 windows within it’s walls.

It all started with a few emails sending Carol some inspiration pictures, my kitchen measurements  and what my wish list was.   I knew I wanted to keep the kitchen authentically old feeling and I wanted a kitchen table.  I did not want an island.  To me an island is just a space sucking trend that doesn’t have a real purpose.  So, no island.  But I definitely wanted an antique butcher block in the kitchen.  Either the relatively small one I already own, or a great big one.

After several and I mean SEVERAL back and forths between us, we whittled it down to these plans.



What I like about this plan is the fact there there’s a kitchen table.  I LOVE having a real kitchen table.

What I don’t like about this plan is the layout is not much different than my current kitchen and has less storage.


What I like about this plan is there’s a fair amount of counter space.

What I don’t like about it, is the fridge being so far away from the main work area. Plus there’s still less storage than I’m used to.

What’s labelled as a kitchen island here is actually a great, big antique butcher block.  Which I LOVE.


I really like this plan. There’s a HUGE pantry, but I’m not so sure about looking in at the fridge from the dining room.  I really don’t know if it’ll bother me or not.  If you’re wondering why the sink isn’t centred on the kitchen window in these plans, it’s because it’s because having as much counter space as possible was more important to me than a centred window.  Moving the sink off to the side allows me to have a continuous run of counter as opposed to a little bit on either side of the sink.


What I like about this plan, is everything.

It has a lot of storage, a nice view from the dining room (a big pantry), all kinds of counter space

and a place to sit, even if it isn’t a real table.



So that’s the plan I went with. The final plan.  Which, you may have noticed, has no butcher block but DOES have an island in the middle. See?  I’m totally screwed up and can’t be trusted when it comes to kitchen ideas.

It took me months to decide on this plan partly because I knew I was doing things that were unconventional and quite honestly, wrong, according to most kitchen designers, but right for me. Carol was nice enough … and wise enough, to indulge me. She convinced me when my ludicrous ideas truly were ludicrous. And reminded me of things I would never have thought of. Like the fact that even though I’ve always dreamt of having a 6 burner stove, it didn’t make sense to have one if it meant I wouldn’t be able to have a corner cupboard.

And partly because a kitchen renovation, even when you aren’t paying for the cabinets is an expensive thing. There’s electrical and plumbing, and installation and lighting and appliances and clown costumes …. uch.  There’s a lotta stuff.  So, you don’t want to get it wrong. And the layout of the kitchen is the one thing you can’t change your mind on.

If you decide you want a new sink or lamp, those are things you can change down the road, but the layout is here to stay until your next kitchen renovation. Which will hopefully happen exactly once every NEVER.

You wanna know the most interesting part of this story?  Carol Reed and I … have never met.

Along with her regular design business she runs an e-design business.  You just send her your measurements and inspiration photos and she does the rest of the work.  IT’S AN INTERNET DESIGN MIRACLE.

I cannot think of a better way to work.  It was genius.  AND less expensive than having her work here with me in person.  Plus there was the added bonus of me not being able to see Carol roll her eyes when I suggested things like a trapeze so I could swing from one end of the kitchen to the next with a stylish flourish.

And she couldn’t see me scowl when she suggested something ridiculous like paying attention to where my toaster, coffee maker, etc. would go so I could have electrical outlets installed at those spots.

So that’s it.  The kitchen is planned.  Somebody tell Idris.



  1. West Coast Nan says:

    I don’t know, I think I like the first version best. The table and chairs is great and the fridge might be in a better spot. But who am I, just a nosy Parker putting in my 2 cents worth. I guess I can live with your choice too, that’s how gracious I am.

    • Karen says:

      Well! That is gracious of you. 🙂 Honestly. There isn’t any storage in that plan. Less than I have now, and I don’t have enough now! ~ karen

  2. West Coast Nan says:

    Yes, you do need more storage. You can’t keep asking Idris to go downstairs for every little thing, he might not like that. I withdraw my first choice and agree with you. Storage for everyone!

  3. Marti says:

    Don’t tell Idris. He’ll just want you to put in a pole dancing arena in the pantry. And won’t that interrupt your various potato and squash collections?

  4. Laura says:

    What a hard decision!! I love it!

  5. Christine says:

    I think you are gonna love your island after it is all done.

  6. Lyn says:

    I haven’t hardly been able to concentrate on the plans due to the bathroom. Granted I’m not good at reading one dimensional plans but is your bathroom really in the kitchen? No hallway, no separation between the potty and the kitchen except a door? I’m freaking out.

    • Leslie says:

      Me Too! In my mind I’ve moved the bathroom door to the wall between the bathroom and laundry closet. Little things like real-life dimensions … meh. As long as I can imagine it, it “works.”

      Karen, I really like the one you chose! I have a feeling you’re going to make the view from the dining room beau-ti-ful!

    • Langela says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I would also have closed off the door to the kitchen/bathroom and combined the bathroom with the laundry. It would also give the kitchen more wall space for cabinets, etc.

      However, knowing Karen, she has probably come up with a way to make her poop smell like fresh wild raspberries. 😉

  7. Shawn says:

    I love the 3rd choice and there is no reason that the island can’t have a butcher block top and act as a table too.

  8. victoria says:

    glad you have nailed it down! if i may come with a suggestion (it may already be what you planned) and that is that you keep the space underneath your counter top by the window that is next to the refrigerator open (looong sentence) so you could use it old style and sit and eat there, pull out your sewing machine etc etc. A lot of old Swedish houses have that and it’s really useful. Put a pull out stool underneath and maybe add a drawer…..

  9. Maria says:

    Really like the final plan much better by far because: counter space! Also, you’ll love the interaction with others that the island will give you. Folks like to hang out in the kitchen and this keeps them from being underfoot when you are cooking. The island is a barricade and that’s a good thing.

    Also, one suggestion. If you are going to all the trouble to redo the kitchen, look hard at spending a bit extra to reverse the door swing of the bath/laundry doors. They should swing into those rooms vs. into the kitchen if at all possible. I know it will mean new jams, but those doors won’t be invading the kitchen either and that’s a forever gain/defunking of the space.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria – LOL. Well, those two rooms are about 2′ by 2′. So, the idea of a door swinging into them is kind of hilarious. Of course you wouldn’t know that, but the thought does make me laugh. No, I”m afraid it’s definitely not possible. It’s not a big deal anyway, those doors are always closed and they’ve never gotten in the way. 🙂 ~ karen

      • Allison says:

        Another idea. . .Can you convert the bath and laundry room doors into pocket doors? That would eliminate swing space, and be in line with the age of the home. . . Of course, it’s also additional cost when you’ve already said the doors aren’t a problem. 🙂

        Another question: Is that mudroom drawing to scale? Cause I could totally see building out additional shelving for storage in there if you need it.

        • Amanda says:

          Pocket, schmocket. Those are expensive and require tearing out a wall to install. So I just use sliding doors on a barn track. I happened to build my doors myself, but you could repurpose the doors you have. Might work in the bath, but not the laundry. Use saloon doors there! Ha! I’ve always wanted to strut out of the laundry room after stuffing my undies in the washer through a pair of swinging doors! “Howdy, I’m washing my drawers.”

  10. CJ says:

    You know what I really love about this? Knowing when paying for help is really and truly the smartest and most cost effective thing you can do. There’s a huge difference between knowing what you like and knowing how to make it work and Carol’s plans demonstrate that expertise.

    Excellent advice. Excellent work. Ecellent final plan.

  11. Meg says:

    “Which will hopefully happen exactly once every NEVER.”

    AHAHAH!!! oh my god, yes.

    this brings back so many memories of a kitchen we DIDN’T redesign: we sold the house to avoid it!! (The kitchen redesign would’ve involved every room of the house – not a joke.)

    Looks like you have a great plan to not knock down walls but still double your counter space, separate the fridge/stove, and still have an island/place to sit. Brava! (I think that’s the feminine version of Bravo?! Also I am not sure about Italian pluralization, because your designer is also a lady! Bravas?)

    • Kristin says:

      When congratulating two women, it would be “Brave!” (“BRAH-vey”) For two men or one man and any number of women, it becomes “Bravi!” (Italian is a very sexist language!) and for just one woman, it is, indeed, “Brava!”

  12. Kris Wilson says:

    Karen, I’m sorry to question your final decision, but I would most definitely try to find a way to have that 6 burner stove. And a second wall oven. I have planned lots of kitchens, and know that the next one will have both of those for sure. Could you possibly put the stove where you have the pantry now, with maybe a narrow cabinet or counter on the bathroom wall? You may have to switch your sink and dishwasher so you have some counter space to the right of the stove. And the blackboard wall is great but a waste of space, could it be a full wall of cabinetry (shallow for food) and use blackboard paint on the doors? Also, have you considered putting your washer and dryer in the basement and using that room as a full walk in pantry? Just a few thoughts to totally mess you up. Sorry, Kris 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kris – I actually laughed out loud when you said to add a second wall oven. Um, no, there definitely isn’t room for that. Hah! See? I laughed again. And no, this really is the best plan for me. I like a room to have a bit of breathing space and cupboards on the back wall (which is where I had a pantry before) would take away that breathing space. I love a walk in pantry, but my basement stairs are 18″ wide. So, I’d need a hobbit sized washer and dryer to fit them down there. Besides, having the laundry right off the kitchen like that is incredibly convenient! Trust me. Both Carol and I have given this kitchen months of thought and planning. It’s the right plan. 🙂 ~ karen

  13. Denise Leavens says:

    Well done, Karen ! It HARD WORK to make those kind of fantasy vs. reality decisions. Especially for a crafty-cuddle-kitten!

  14. Kris Wilson says:

    Just one more thing. Cant tell if this is already in the plan, but be sure to have your cabinetry go all the way to the ceiling. Having regular height uppers is such a waste of space. (And the cabinets over the frig should be frig depth, divided, great for trays and platters and cookie sheets ect.) I’ll stop now.

  15. Clara says:

    Well, if you push the huge butcher’s block close to the “large framed blackboard” you get rid of the island concept, just as you wanted, ha ha.
    Last plan seems perfect… but a piece of the window on the right gets covered by the fridge!!?? and the entrance from the living room, isn’t it too narrow? (I suppouse not, as this has been designed to measure, etc -but so it looks from the plan).
    I guess it’s too late now for this, but another nice touch would have beeen to put the ranger at 45 degrees in the corner, you can cook more comfortably and gain better storage space, corner storage is a drag.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing, other people’s kitchen renovations are huge fun! I’m sure yours will make for some wow-ing before-and-after pics

  16. Sia says:

    I can’t wait to see the end result!! Especially that butcher block island… I have a picture in my head of what you’d pick.

    Happy renovating!

  17. Trish says:

    Karen have you thought of reversing the sink/dishwasher? It would get the sink closer to the prep and the dishwasher out of the traffic area…just a thought and not an expensive solve, love the last plan other than that

    • Karen says:

      Hi Trish – I prefer the sink where it is in the final plan visually. Also, I like to have work area on both the left and right side of the stove. I’ve lived with work area on only one side for 15 years now and it’s a PAIN. ~ karen!

  18. Pate says:

    Kudos Karen! You & Carol did a great job. I’m glad you moved the stove over too. And…..if you can clean off the island
    surface when you do laundry, it’s a good place to fold clean/dry clothes. I’m interested in what you did for
    backsplashes …if any than behind the stove. 🙂

    ps. Don’t have any low hanging pot racks, Idris hates hitting his head.

    • Karen says:

      No need for backsplashes Pate. There literally isn’t anywhere to put one. There will be some form of stainless at the back of the stove. ~ karen!

  19. Debbie J says:

    I love the final design. So functional with the antique island just steps away from the sink and stove. The only slight problem I see is that when the fridge door is open that it will block access to the mud room but that is a slight inconvenience when considering the overall plan. So much storage. Love the idea of the large blackboard wall. Can’t wait to see it all done.

  20. Kelly says:

    your new kitchen lay out looks GREAT! Totally functional for someone who cooks. The earlier designs look great for someone who makes coffee at home and that’s about it. there are a lot of folks like that out there, but given your various recipes, you chose the right design for sure. I have also followed Carol Reed’s work, love her aesthetics and did consult with her over a couple of design issues when we gutted out house to open things up. She more than gave value for the $$ and her help was invaluable. I could never have afforded a full interior design but her ask a question for $75 thing was GREAT. If I could afford a designer to wave a magic wand, she’d be my first choice BUT I gather she hates double sinks and as a mom who does lots of dishes and has a husband who leaves the stock pot to cool in a sink with a bit of cold water, and kids who leave dishes, I don’t care what I would have to give up, I can NOT live and function without a double sink.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. See? I *have* a double sink and I HATE it. It isn’t big enough to easily wash the large pots I use. I am extremely excited to have a large single sink. ~ karen!

  21. Ev says:

    How exciting! How much of this are you doing yourself? We can’t wait to come over for the first dinner! Hope it goes well.

  22. Genia Gojsich says:

    What’s happening to your beautiful corner cabinet you were so proud of??? Huh? Huh? Even tho the L-shaped counter will give you so much more counter space…… At the expense of that cabinet?????? I’m so disappointed…..

    • Karen says:

      Cabinet is GONE. It was cute, yes but didn’t work into the plan and I didn’t love it to the degree that I was going to make sure it worked into the plan. It has found a new home with my friend who plans to put it in her new hair salon. So I can visit it. ~ karen!

      • Denise Leavens says:

        So glad that question was asked and to know the corner cupboard has gone to a good home. I loved the corner cupboard in the childhood home of my best friend. Seeing yours always made me feel happy – especially when decorated with lighted up salt snow at Christmas time!

        • Karen says:

          I *already* have a place in mind in the new kitchen for those Denise! LOL. I actually thought of it as my corner cupboard was being carried out the back door. 🙂 ~ karen!

  23. Tigersmom says:

    You are going to adore having that many flat surfaces, especially that expanse of counter next to the fridge and in front of a window. I predict that will end up being the setting for many a blog pic and how-to video.

    Can’t wait for the full reveal, especially since you do so love to tease us with glimpses of possibilities (you know, like marble counters.)

    I will say there is not a more timeless and classic choice to go with than white marble counters. It’s what I chose and I got them honed, not polished, so they look like they were always here. Helps to keep things from getting too dark with my low ceilings, too. Christopher Peacock does a beautiful classic white scullery kitchen that I totally copied. I also want to redo my kitchen in exactly never.

    I think you made a great choice with you kitchen plan. Functionality is what will make the whole reno process worthwhile.

  24. Sally says:

    My first thought was, no don’t say you hate islands. Your kitchen is much more workable in the final design. I love your layout. You have counter space next you you fridge, stove and sink, all crucial. I think your going to be very happy with your decision.

  25. KarenJ says:

    Love kitchen renovations!

    We did ours a couple of years ago (mostly cosmetic changes).

    I’m thinking that, in the end, your space ‘sucking trend island’ just might be your most favourite thing. Speaking of which the design possibilities with an island can be endless. But I’m sure you have that one covered too:)

  26. Jody says:

    Love the layout. Love the plan for an antique island. My question is–What happens with the flooring you just laid?

    • Karen says:

      Nothing happens with it Jody. It stays as is. Any areas that need to be patched, will be patched. It’s very easy to do with VCT. ~ karen!

  27. Su says:

    just wondering – since you have that island/butcher block table (which I just LOVE LOVE LOVE) – can’t you put shelves under it for some more storage? maybe even raise it up to pub table height???

  28. Amie Mason says:

    Good choice! I love that the fridge is hidden and you have loads more bench space. I’m a big lover of a floating kitchen island too! Only thing I can’t stand is corner shelving. Are you having open or enclosed shelving? I would love a 6 burner too… not sure if I would compromise on that – but space seems to be at a premium…

    Can’t wait to see the big reveal!

  29. Linda J Howes says:

    None of these would be my choice but good luck with it. I hope you don’t bump into that island every time you go from the fridge to the sink or vice versa or we’ll be seeing pics of food flying and how to’s on bruise remedies.

  30. Johan says:

    My vote goes with the final plan as well. The island is cool and you will never (ever, ever) regret more cupboard space. Butcher block is nice and I like the look too but how often are you quartering a beef in your kitchen?

  31. Maryanne says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your design evolution experience. The end result is beautiful!!!

    A quick question: Undoubtedly your mudroom is stylish and immaculate, but are you planning to put a pocket door there? If not, consider whether you’re going to need a threshold (in the traditional sense) there. I mention this because I know that if there isn’t some sort of barrier all the dirt, leaves and sand from the floor of your mudroom will migrate into the kitchen, floor mat notwithstanding, that others may track in when they come to swoon over your new kitchen.

    Great blog! Have a good day 🙂

  32. amyfaith says:

    As a veteran of many (!) kitchen renovations, I can attest that there are an infinity of details to attend to when designing a new one. I tend to be rather iconoclastic and not necessarily hew to conventional “wisdom”. For instance, I will often put the sink facing a wall and the main prep space along the window (like in your current ‘old’ kitchen) because these days, we don’t spend long hours at the sink hand washing — which is why sinks were placed by the window in the first place — we just toss dishes into the dishwasher. We spend most of our time prepping/chopping/mixing at the counter, so why not make THAT space the most pleasant.

    I do have one suggestion for you to mull over if you want. I don’t know the layout or dimensions of your bathroom, so this may or may not be feasible, but I’m guessing that the sink is directly ahead and against the left wall as you walk in the bathroom door. If you were to create a doorway immediately to the left and infront of the bathroom sink, you could pivot the washer/dryer stack so it was accessed from the bathroom. I’d use a slider door that pulls from the right, as you’re facing that new opening. Here’s the potential big benefit: there might just be enough space to the LEFT of the repositioned w/d to add a wall and have a floor to ceiling pantry closet accessed from the old w/d doorway. It wouldn’t be terribly deep (12 -14″ maybe?), and there would be a dead space to the (new) right of the w/d (because it would be inaccessible if it were jammed to the left of the sink), but it just might work and would double your pantry space.

    Anyway, free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it 😉

    Good luck with the reno; it’s hell going through it, but the results are worth it.

    • Andrea says:

      I thought the same thing… seems like a waste of space to have the WD open into the kitchen like that… but there may be a perfectly good reason why she doesn’t want it to open into the bathroom…..
      Because it’s hard to tell on the plan, the fridge might be able to be tucked into the same alcove, though the traffic pattern might not allow. I love tweaking plans…. especially to include a narrow pantry. Truly, we had a one foot deep cabinet that we kept an obscene amount of stuff in. From canned goods and dry goods to phone books and take out menus. It held a bunch of stuff that no one ever suspected could fit in such a narrow space!

  33. looks like its going to be a great layout. cant wait to see what finishes you pick.

  34. Ann says:

    I love the last plan also. I think you will learn to love the island and to think of that as your “table”. Or…..Could you not make the island multi-level? At one end, lower the top and have it table height and 2 chairs or stools that slide all the way under when not in use. Otherwise, I think the plan is genius. I wish I had just a tad more room in mine so I could have it redesigned. I love every other inch of my house, but the kitchen. Oh well. The land the house sits on was so more important to us than the house. To get 80% of a dream house and 100% of your dream land is better than the other way around.

  35. Brenda says:

    I am one of those kitchen island freaks..I like your choice, love the big chalkboard wall and the storage……I also think I need Carol Reed …

  36. Penny says:

    I think you have chosen the best design.

    Have you considered rehanging the door to the mudroom so it opens from right to left? And putting shaker pegs behind the door for coats and stuff, leaving room for a bench with storage underneath on the right hand wall? Or perhaps something built in ?
    Just a thought.

  37. annie says:

    When I got to the plan you chose, I actually uttered, “Oooooh, yeah…” so there’s one vote of confidence for your choice. When I win the lottery, contacting Carol Reed may be one of the first 5 things I do…

  38. TC says:

    An internet design miracle lol! It really is a genius concept. Of course you need storage, or what’s the point? Great choice! Plus, we’ve seen pics of your basement, I’m not sure Idris would survive more than one trip down to your basement. Can’t wait for your kitchen’s big reveal post!

  39. Maria Ripol says:

    Ok – silly question… Why can’t you move the island to the short wall labeled “large frame blackboard or gallery wall”? Then it won’t be an “island” any more – you said you LOVED it against the wall on the second and third plans. There was a 72″ pantry on that wall before, so the 63″ butcher block should fit.

    • Karen says:

      Maria – Because I have other plans or that wall, and now that I’ve lived with the “island” I like it where it is. 🙂 ~ karen

  40. Scouty says:

    love, love the final design! I liked seeing the progression to the final decision. Carol and you have done a fine job, so far!

  41. Robyn says:

    Given your space, I think you definitely chose the best design ! Once you remove the swinging door between the kitchen and the mudroom, it gives you a full stretch of counter and the perfect spot for the fridge. I just hope your mudroom is sufficiently heated (given that you live in an older home). But you could always hang enough beads in a doorway to get that “thermal block” LOL!
    If you like the “old-timey” feel of having a table in your kitchen… I think the centre “island” will give you the more of a heart-of-the-house feel rather than pushing a table up against a wall will.
    It’s going to be gorgeous!

  42. carolyne says:

    Did you ever consider making the bathroom and laundry one room so that there would only be one door? Idris would like one door.

  43. Amy in Stl says:

    That’s the layout of my kitchen! I bought it from the nephew of the builder. He built it in the 1930s for his new wife and except for the weirdly small closet in the master bedroom it’s a nice house. Glad to see you’ve picked the proper plan.

  44. Absolutely fantastic. I also used Carol Reed’s e-design services for my bathroom reno and she also saved me from making a very bad (and unconventional) choice with the layout. Honestly…I still say it was the best money I spent in that reno!!

    Love the option you chose with all the extra counter space.

  45. nicole d says:

    yep! love it. Well done.
    Tis true, a kitchen design takes time and imagination.
    well done, both of you.

  46. Susan Bosscawen says:

    The last thing one needs is second guessing months after a decision has been made from someone who doesn’t live or know how your floor plan flows in your house. But…our home was built in 1900, quite large for the 2 of us with all of the kids gone now, but there’s still precious little storage space & I get your love of old homes.

    In looking at your final plan, I ask:
    1. Could storage cabinets be installed on the right side of the mud room in that wider space behind the door? Or possibly just do away with having a mud room–is it necessary? You could extend the counter & cabinets over for a little more space?

    2. Do you really need a half bath in the kitchen? Or the closest in the other room? I assume it’s a dining or living space? We have a ‘guest’ closet but our guests always toss their coats on our bed anyway. And our master bath is near enough it’s used as much, if not more, as the guest bath. Possibly place the w/d in the corner of the existing bath, remove the walls & open up that end for an in-kitchen table in the left corner.

    Or not:)…it looks very nice as is!

    • Karen says:

      Susan – 1. Yes, I definitely need a mud room, and I already had cabinets on that wall and didn’t like it. 2. Since that’s my only bath, yes … I’m pretty attached to it.


  47. Tracy says:

    I am living vicariously through you on this whole renovation, Karen. I’d have chosen the same floor plan. I can’t wait until we (you) get started.

  48. Heather says:

    I know exactly how you feel, Karen! I just finished my kitchen reno – both my fridge and stove were moved, and I love it! I never would have thought of moving the stove, but now I have a huge expanse of counter space, where I can spread everything out, uninterrupted. I too have a huge cutting block (a countertop style, handmade by my brother). It now sits on my new workspace. And because it’s not right beside the stove anymore, I don’t have all my chopped veggies falling down that crack between the stove and my cutting board. The great abyss, from whence there is no return! (Because how often does one pull out the stove??)

    Good luck with your kitchen reno. The pain you’re about to experience will all be worth it in the end!!

  49. Jamie H. says:

    Could you make the door to the laundry room one of those hidden doors – that has a book shelf on one side but opens to the laundry? That would give you a bit more space too for books and knickknacks . I saw it on pinterest. Another cool thing I saw on there was to make it look like a pantry – but when it opens, it’s really a doorway into whatever room is behind it. Might be cool….

  50. Laura says:

    Just perused through Carol’s portfolio, thank you for sharing! Now I am strongly considering her e-services for our kitchen reno. Cheers to you for taking the legwork out of my designer hunt.

  51. Deb J says:

    Love your new layout! ‘Course I might be influenced by the fact that it is the first thing I figured should be done when I looked at your original plan:) And good for you for getting help and taking your time to get it right. I’ve never known anyone to utter rude words when cooking because they don’t have granite countertops; but they certainly do swear if there is no place to put a hot pot or you can’t open the dishwasher if you have the drawer for the cutlery open. That is the main reason I keep coming back to your blog – you educate us! Keep it up.

  52. Leona says:

    You’ve given me hope for my kitchen remodel again. It was just looking impossible. Following your design considerations really made me realize that if we’re dragging our feet, it’s just not right yet. So, back to square one with a new purpose!

    Thank you to you AND Carol Reed!

  53. Linda Morgan says:

    What is a mud room? I am 67, have lived in more than 25 places, have never had one, and the closest thing to a redone kitchen has been paint, formica and vinyl. I have never had an island or a real pantry. I am not sure if there is such a thing as enough counter or storage space, although I know a woman who does have her dream kitchen and I fall asleep dreaming of it. I hope the reality of your new kitchen is even better than on paper.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. A mudroom is literally the room that’s allowed to get mud in it. It’s a small room off the back of the house, where the back door is. We take our shoes and boots off there, I keep my coats in there, gardening supplies in a cupboard etc. ~ karen!

  54. Wendy says:

    You don’t have to sacrifice your butcher block! I have an island too, but instead of laminate or granite , I put a butcher block top! Yes, I did! I got mine at IKEA, and you don’t have to buy your cupboards there. Check it out. Good luck with the renos.

    • Patricia says:

      We bought an Ikea butcher block as our Island counter top too. Love it.
      As a veteran of two kitchen plans, what I like the best about the ones I have done are the slide out shelf/drawers in my pantry. It is so easy to get things out, especially heavy items like a KitchenAid Mixer.

      • Patricia says:

        And I should have mentioned that I think that the last design works the best. It is the most functional, especially because of all the counter space and storage. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. And, when you are washing dishes in your bathtub during the renovation, you will be very happy of the placement of your bathroom :).

  55. Sally A says:

    I must thank you because you just saved me money on hiring a designer. Your kitchen is laid out almost exactly like mine. Mine is a teeny square, 1920’s kitchen, and with doors and windows pretty much where yours are but the appliances are awkwardly positioned. This plan solves all my problems. Is that thievery? Will Carol sue me?

  56. NikiDee says:

    I can’t WAIT to see the antique island. Don’t mind the drool I leave on it….I’ll use my rhinestone Windex dispenser to clean it up.

  57. Melissa says:

    It’s very helpful to see the whole step-by-step of how you went back and forth, and why… we should all be so lucky to have illustrated examples of what works and what doesn’t. Think Carol Reed would draw different iterations of me in my professional lives so I could decide on the best one?

  58. Amber says:

    My favorite thing about the final design? It’s LEFT-HANDED! Woo Hoo! With extra Hoo! I’m always stuck making cross over motions trying to put the food away and moving weirdly in right handed kitchens. Kudos Karen!

  59. Good for you Karen! I hope this write up helps people recognize that designers are worth their weight in gold. It will cost you more money to fix the potential problems you could have had, than if you had just hired the professional to get it right the first time.

    • Karen says:

      Like I said earlier, I think people have trouble spending money on intangible objects. 🙂 But it truly is worth it. And the kitchen that’s right for me, isn’t necessarily right for someone else. A good designer can help design the kitchen that’s right for YOU. ~ karen!

  60. JebberJay says:

    An island that you can sit at is the shiz nat. You’ll use it and love it. You may even set the table there for your family holiday gatherings. I like the last plan.

  61. Pat Kichinko says:

    Ooooh! A trapeze!! That’s much better than the moving sidewalk I want for my kitchen!!

    • Karen says:

      We’re both wrong Pat. I have one word for you. Monorail. ~ karen

      • Pat Kichinko says:

        A monorail!! Why didn’t I think of that? Maybe ’cause I’m getting older. I think a big old Rhuumba would be more my speed. I could take my cats for a ride! That’s me! Bringing the Crazy Cat Lady image into the 21st Century!!

  62. Janet says:

    Love the final plan… moving the sink in front of the window is a must in my book (of course that’s where I stand to watch the birds taking a bath in the birdbath. Might as well wash a dish or two, while there, which… some times leads to having to clean the window, as I wash pots and pans like the birds taking a bath…flinging water all over the place.), but so worth it. But mainly, what does it for me, is the fridge change, along with the extra counter space in front of the window and cupboard underneath …and a real biggy…the COOL blackboard. Way to go ladies. Great minds coming together…a little give and take…can’t beat that.

  63. I love your choice!! She really gave you a lot of designs. Now the hard work begins! Wish I lived close as I would come and help!

  64. Cathy says:

    Who is Idris?

  65. Rondina says:

    The problem is that you really have to choose between the island and storage and you need both. This is one of the most expensive things that you can do in your home, so you shouldn’t settle. I personally liked 4-4, if the island was on wheels so you could move it around and use it for extra space for baking and canning. You live in an older bungalow and kitchens can end up to be a bit weird. I have a corner stove, which is a horrible position, but two huge pantries. A big plus is lots of light, but again, this can be a problem to work around.

    I see the sink is in front of the window with still plenty of work room. I thought about your sink comment and decided you were right. For the last 30 years, I’ve had windows in front of my prep and sink areas. Now you will have the best of both worlds. I love looking out at the wildlife while I work.

  66. Jodi T says:

    Woo Hoo!! I can’t wait to see the progress / final product. I like the final plan. Especially that long counter on the far wall. Also, I love the idea of an island. You could even… maybe…. possibly, put a butcher block top on it…? Maybe?

    Good luck with your reno!!

  67. Clyde Page says:

    It is worth the work that you went through as a poor kitchen design will haunt you for years. Might I suggest that where you have the 15 inches of counter space that under it you install a pull out rack to hold your cookie sheets etc. next to the stove as I have found this to be very handy.

  68. Carey says:

    This doesn’t happen often, or to many people, but I completely agree with you! It must be such a relief to have the hard part conquered. Now for the fun… counter tops, cabinets, backsplashes, paint choices and wiring trapezes!

  69. Jeannie B says:

    Well, I love your new design. And i’m glad that you’re including the island, as long as it is moveable. But most importantly, is the BLACKBOARD. I love my blackboard and wouldn’t be without it. Your kitchen will be beautiful Karen.

  70. JF says:

    I am SO thrilled to see this — I love that you hired Carol, loved seeing the progression and can’t wait to see actual photos of the process, including a little butcher block porn!

    also, I echo a pocket door for the bathroom (especially since I want one in my bath or bedroom and because of structure/wiring limitations, cannot have)

    eeeeeeee, this is so exciting — vicarious renovations, all the fun, none of the construction mess

  71. Lynn says:

    Congrats on a great floor plan! Prior to the final plan I was wondering about the width of the kitchen and what looked like to many steps from one side to the other. Great choice!
    I was wondering why some of the walls in the drawing look so much thicker than other walls. The black board wall looks extra thick. From it’s location it shouldn’t be an exterior wall unless the kitchen is an addition. Is it partly brick, just old with lots of layers, or just a drawing? Very curious…..

    • Karen says:

      It is a supporting wall that used to be exterior. The kitchen is an addition, albeit one done many, MANY years ago. ~ karen

  72. Auntiepatch says:

    OK, I was going to suggest more storage where the blackboard is and then paint it with blackboard paint. But then I noticed that you said you have plans for that area. Can you tell us what your plans are for that area?

    I love the finished footprint and I think you will love your island. I use mine all the time!

  73. valerie says:

    Interesting plans and comments thus far.
    Is it possible to relocate the washer and dryer closer to where your bedroom(s) are located? If you could do that then it would allow for alternatives in the kitchen plan.
    My current laundry room is adjacent to the bedrooms upstairs.
    I have lived in homes where these appliances are in the basement and on the main floor. In both cases I found it exhausting lugging baskets, going up and down the stairs endlessly and realizing, that for me most heavy laundry originates from the bedroom areas.

  74. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Can’t wait to see it finished!!

  75. Call Me Patty says:

    You made the right choice. Congrats! Can’t wait to see the progress reports and the final result.

  76. Debbie says:

    Nice job, can’t wait for the pictures.

  77. Sara says:

    I am so very excited for you! Can’t wait to see pics of the final design. Thanks for sharing all the fun with us. I was neutral on islands, but my current house has one and it is my favorite prep space. I hope you enjoy yours after all. 🙂

  78. You probably hate all these people question your FINAL version, but I have to put my two cents in too. I love the kitchen part and am totally on board with the 4-burner stove etc. The only part you never altered was the bathroom door. I am very concerned about the tinkle noises interrupting your cooking mojo. Would you be able to access the bathroom through the laundry room so there was a buffer? Just a thought. I’m interested to see how it turns out.

  79. Kristin says:

    I’m very excited to see your choice of countertops. I applaud your insistence on keeping to an authentic old-style feel. We bought a newly-renovated old Craftsman bungalow (1902) that has an unfortunately modern-looking kitchen (black granite counters, boring putty-colored tile backsplash and floors, stainless (but cheap) appliances.) I would love to redo it, but it’s basically brand new, and most people would swoon over it.

    One question: is it my imagination, or is your fridge partially blocking your window? If so, I’m not judging.

  80. Barbie says:

    I’m not going to make any suggestions because clearly you have spent MONTHS figuring this out with an expert! I LOVE what you finally decided on! I know losing the table was probably hard but I do love the extra room it provided you! I am sorry you don’t get the six burner stove but you will get lots of great cooking done with this new more efficient kitchen layout! Your going to love the bib sink! I have a one and it is a small one at that and I can get all my big pots easily washed in it! I do love my island as well. It lends itself to lots more counter space and also room for a second helper in the kitchen w/out getting in my way, and servers as a great way to have a buffet style dinner where I put all the food and we all load up there and eat in another location…either outside or in the formal dining room etc. I am adamant about keeping it clear of clutter or extra decor stuffs….it can become a collect all if your not careful. I have just come to realize it’s best to just keep it entirely free of anything on it at all. Lastly….keep in mind when grieving the fact about the 6 burner stove…you may not be living in this house for the rest of your life…and what you are putting into your kitchen now will up the value of your home immensely, and add $$ to the home you will be someday be “building” ….I can totally see that in your future! I know you would be the type to completely LOVE the process of building a whole house! Even though you might not think so.
    I can hardly WAIT to see the final result of this kitchen reno! So excited for you!

  81. Sonja says:

    When are you inviting us all, including your new BFF Idris, for dinner?!!?

  82. Claudia says:

    Congratulations! Kitchen reno is exciting! And your layout choice is perfect, I’m sure.
    But… I’m sorry… Idris is mine…!!!

  83. Casey says:

    When my mom reno’d her kitchen way back when, she closed up a window (the only window in the kitchen!). I would have NEVER thought of doing that, but the kitchen makes way more sense now that the window is gone. it didnt have a great view anyway.

    also, make sure you have a drawer for cutlery. I dont have any drawers in my kitchen. that isnt something you notice when buying a home, but it becomes very noticeable when you go to unpack your cutlery 🙂

  84. Carrie says:

    As soon as I saw the first layout the first thing I thought of was…she needs an island. Your old layout reminds me a lot of my “old” layout. I haven’t done full renovation work (yet) but had to add an island because I have no counter space. But I love what you two did to the final layout. Looks awesome!!! (inspirational too!)

  85. Claire says:

    I went kind of the same way Karen. In the UK you can take your measurements to kitchen retailers, or invite them round and get free plans drawn up – the idea being that you then purchase the whole kit and kaboodle from the one retailer. However, I had spent the preceding twelve months buying things I liked; smeg sink, specialist tap, gorgeous glass tiles, kitchenaid stuff, karndean flooring, giant American style fridge, self cleaning oven (which had a spit roast facility and does genuinely and actually clean itself!), all waiting, still wrapped to be pulled together. So, I took all the elements I liked from the twenty or so plans I had accumulated and used an on-line system to put it all together. The result is the kitchen of my dreams; sleek, modern, well laid out, beautiful colours (I went for all white with a row of jewel coloured glass tiles which give a real flash of colour). So you are right, take your time and do it right, it’s too too expensive to make mistakes. Happy new kitchen when it happens!

  86. Stacy.P says:

    This is SO exciting! I can’t wait to this project in action!

  87. Tigersmom says:

    Oh dear.

    You may have well as posted that you are pregnant with the amount of unsolicited advice being given in the comments. Myself included sort of. (Hangs head in shame.)

    Although, I was applauding decisions already made into reality as I am assuming your renovation is completed and was before you hosted Thanksgiving. I would be immeasurably impressed if anyone, even the determined and capable Karen, could/would host a Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of a kitchen reno.

    And having gone through both, I can honestly say that a renovation is totally relatable to growing a child, if not necessarily in the scale, but in the processes.

    • Karen says:

      Ah … nope. The kitchen renovation definitely isn’t done. I don’t even have my cabinets yet! I’m in the process of ripping out old ones and repair my floor, etc. ~ karen!

      • Tigersmom says:

        Well then, color me measurably impressed.

        You’re either more determined and capable than I thought, or much crazier! ; )

        I will wait with everyone else, then, to find out if that marble slab is a sample of your new countertops. You already know how much I suck at waiting.

        Good luck with the renovation and I hope it goes smoothly for you. You’re going to love it when you’re done, especially having a place to set things on either side of the stove.

  88. Patti says:

    I will come to your house and do some fancy chalkboard art if you like, Karen.

    LOVE the new design! I’m glad you feel right about it – a lot of decisions to make! You’re going to love it!

  89. Beth says:

    I’m living with a fridge tucked into a corner just like in your plan and it has one big drawback: the door doesn’t swing open wide enough for the crisper drawer on the right to be removed for cleaning. But maybe that’s just me and you are never so untidy as to let anything drip or spill down underneath those drawers! I like the layout and agree with you about having some open space. What are you using in that blind corner situation? There are great hardware options out there but they’re pricy. I can’t wait to see pictures, I’m sure it will be gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Beth – My current fridge door is against a wall so it doesn’t open all the way, so I’m used to it. See? This is one of those things I’m technically doing “wrong”, but works and is fine for me. 🙂 ~ karen!

  90. theresa says:

    mmmm I love floor plans and kitchen remodels (even my own). I am expecting you to dig up some great flea market find for the legs (curve and tall enough to work standing up) perhaps vintage casters (so it can go against the wall when needed) and some cool stools to slide under it (so extra seating is not under foot). Or is this going to squeeze some more storage space with drawers or a cupboard underneath??

  91. Shauna says:

    I love the plan you went with – I totally concur. I also have an old house and a very oddly shaped kitchen with some ‘issues’. One of which is that my refrigerator is in the laundry room – weird, but really the only place it can fit currently. I’d love to see what someone could do while still fitting within the parameters of our old home and not removing our super cool built-in table nook area. I may have to email Carol someday.

  92. Jeanine says:

    I love the last plan, and I hope you show plenty of before, in process, and after pics! I don’t know if this is possible, but have you thought about taking down that wall between the kitchen and dining room, so that it would be more open? Also, if possible, I think it would be nice to have the island seating backing up to the blackboard wall (or wall I would remove). Then, your guests would be out of the way, and they would be able to look out the windows too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jeanine – It’s a supporting wall (used to be the exterior wall). Even if it wasn’t, that would be getting into more money than I’m willing to spend. ~ karen!

  93. Edith says:

    Hi Karen,

    Just this: I love your plan and I’m so very happy for you. Your kitchen will be beautiful!

  94. Grammy says:

    Now I’m jealous. I love your final floor plan. The amount of useable countertop and storage you’ve gained will make you swoon when you get your kitchen done! And, while I might have made one or two minor changes for myself, I am very happy that you’ve chosen exactly what you want and not what someone else thinks you should want.

    Like Idris. There are some who might say you’re too much woman for him. But I think he can handle it. I know he’s going to love hanging around your kitchen island while you smile sweetly and pour some wine…

  95. Shawna says:

    I like your choice and am envious of that antique island! I am assuming that this design service was for a plan only and that you must locate and install your own antique kitchen island as well as other items that are both decorative and functional like light fixtures.

  96. Sharman says:

    Maybe I missed it but where are the cabinets coming from. Oh and where is Norma’s seat?

  97. Raymonde says:

    The final plan is clearly the best! You can never have too much counter space and too much storage!
    Oh, and you’ll love having a big sink. Who said size doesn’t matter?
    Try to pick the deepest sink possible, believe me you won’t regret it! It makes it a lot easier to clean those tall pots and to hide dirty dishes! 😉

  98. rktrixy says:

    Isn’t it amazing – you are getting so much more kitchen in the same amount of space? So cool. Make sure the island is at a height that really works for you. Also – think about your lower cabinets: drawers or sliding trays are so much more useful than cabinets. Yeah, everyone likes fishing something out from the bottom cabinet waaaaay in the back. NOT.

    Will everything be white? To go with the black and white floor? My favorite look is black lowers and white uppers. Just very grounded, yet bright and lively. Another way to go would be a bold color to be a foil to the black and white floor. Something in aqua. or red. Yum – red!

  99. Becky says:

    When I saw you had used Carol Reed as your designer I was instantly jealous. She is very, very talented! Having read through the entire history of her blog she pays as much attention to how a room should function as how the client wants it to look and I don’t think I have ever seen anything she has designed and thought it was anything less than stunning.

    My kitchen has 3 doors, 1 window and an open end wall (opens to another room), an island in the middle that means you can’t open the fridge and the dishwasher at the same time and when there is more than one person in the kitchen you want to rip out your hair. I dream about taking a sledge hammer to the kitchen almost every time I am trying to make any meal in the room. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel because Carol Reed does reasonably priced e-design! And I shamelessly used your blog as a means to help me get closer to my dream. Because you thought it was valuable to hire someone to help you plan your kitchen (and anyone who taps the maple tree in their back yard and then makes their own maple syrup must be a smart person according to my husband) he is thinking it might be worth the money to get a kitchen plan and then I could have Carol Reed design my kitchen and then I wouldn’t have to walk through the dining room to get from one end of the kitchen to the other when it has 3 people in it. Oh the gloriousness of it all…thank you!

  100. I love the design you chose, Karen. Maximum working counter and still maintaining a nice flow to the room. Love, love, love the off-centered sink. It makes it a point of interest and reflects your personality. Verra nice!

  101. Stephanie says:

    I love the one you chose – 3 was great too. My only 2 cents (which is what it is worth) is that I have my fridge directly beside my sink and I hate it. If you are someone who puts everything in the dishwasher, you will be fine. However, if you are a handwasher (pots, etc.), you will hate that you don’t have at least 12″ on that side of the sink. When we wash our dishes (my kids), the “washer” has to walk around the “dryer” to load more dishes into the sink for washing. It is a true pain! Other than maybe opting for a smaller panty beside the sink to gain that 12″ back since you have that whole other wall of storage now, LOVE your final plan.

  102. Sera says:

    So many people putting in their two cents about how you should redesign! Crazy! I love the layout you chose! As someone who just remodeled her kitchen last year, I assumed that you couldn’t move certain things like doors to your bathroom and washer/dryer. I’m glad you decided on an island. I chose an island because I wanted the seating at standing height. It’s nice to have people sitting, drinking wine while I finish up dinner. My only question is, do you have any room in your mud room for extra pantry storage?

  103. Madeleine says:

    All of these helpful suggestions, I feel compelled to add my own: May I suggest that you keep the clown costume hanging inside the basement door to terrify anyone who has to go down there to get the Kitchen Aid?

  104. Jane says:

    Well lady you did good! I love the new design and I think you will too! For the record, I have an island and we use it for everything. I hope you will learn to love it. I can’t wait to see the reveal. Have a great weekend!!!

  105. andrealanyi says:

    thank god you went w/ the last design. i was looking at the 2nd to last design, thinking it was the one you chose cuz your comment made me think that it was, AND i started redesigning that one in my head. then i started to scroll down to tell you you were making a big mistake by picking that one – and there it was – EXACTLY WHAT I WAS GOING TO TELL YOU TO DO! i’m happy for you – you’ll love it!

  106. Chris says:

    Thanks for turning me onto Carol Reed! Just received final kitchen plans and we are moving forward. She was awesome! Can’t wait to watch the progress of yours.

  107. SHERRY says:

    Love your finished kitchen!!! Where did you find the marble topped island?

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