Last fall Josh and I tackled probably the biggest project yet – the kitchen. I’ve been dying to share the process and results with you since we started this blog. Before diving into the details, take a look at what we were working with:
Honestly, things could have been WAY worse. The prior homeowners updated the kitchen probably back in the early 2000’s which was a win/lose for us. The big win was that the cabinets were in pretty good shape, minus some burn marks from improperly installed lights, so we decided to reuse them (Yay, environment!) and paint them to our taste. We were also really happy with the can lighting and ceiling wallpaper, which sort of looks like those vintage ceiling tiles. Literally everything else had to go – beige leaf tiles, laminate flooring/countertops, peach paint…see yah later! The wall dividing the dining room and kitchen also made the space feel really cramped. Opening it up would allow us to wrap the countertop, providing more seating with a couple of bar stools. Thankfully another HUGE win for us was discovering the wall between the dining room and kitchen wasn’t load bearing (initially we thought it was).
As we started making plans for the kitchen, we knew whatever we’d do needed to fit our home. One underlying goal we’ve had all along is to stay true to our house’s history. As a craftsman style built in 1917, our house came with some pretty great features. For example, all of the windows in the living room have original leaded glass, our dining room has a beautiful built-in hutch and the main level has original maple flooring throughout. The way we use our house today differs greatly from a family back in the early 1900’s but we want to honor the work that went into this house. What does that mean exactly? Well for instance, we’ve decided not to paint our hutch. We also restored the maple flooring. And even though we’ve had some issues with our boiler and radiator heat, we really love the charm those big radiators have.
A few years ago when Josh and I were out in LA visiting his brother Sam, we fell in love with the tile at Intelligentsia Coffee Shop. I instantly wanted to use the same tile in our kitchen, and after a little digging, I found that the manufacturer was Granada Tile. Here’s the original inspiration from Intelligentsia in LA:
With that in mind, I made a SUPER quick before & after mock-up to visualize the tiles and color palette.
If you check out the Granada site, make sure to play around with their custom tile tool. It gives you a live preview of the pattern as you select colors. Pretty neat!
Unfortunately, the concrete tile turned out to be too thick to allow for a smooth transition from hardwood to tile. Plus we wanted to put in a heated floor, which added another layer of complexity. These concrete beauties ended up not being the right ones for this kitchen job, but we’re hoping they’ll find a home somewhere in our house in the future.
Once I convinced myself life could still go on without those tiles, I pulled together some inspiration and we plowed ahead. In addition to finding the right flooring, another high priority on our list was Carrara marble countertops. And our passion for marble grew stronger and stronger as literally EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. told us not to get them. But one thing you should know about Josh and I is that we’re neat freaks. The kind of neat freaks that hang out on a Friday night to reorganize the tupperware cabinet or label our tool bins. So, we were totally up for the challenge of babying our light, porous, and precious countertops.
As you can see from the inspiration board, we really wanted a timeless, vintage kitchen — something that felt era appropriate but still had a clean, modern feel. To ground the room we chose to do dark lowers and white uppers. And as stated earlier, marble was in the plan all along. Subway tile was also kind of a no-brainer for budget reasons, and with this being our first time laying tile, we wanted to lay something simple that wouldn’t leave us pulling our hair out. So really, the only undecided detail was the floors. Untillllll we found this kitchen. We loved these floors so much we decided to use the same hex pattern, but we wanted to center it between our cabinets and act like a decorative runner. Early on we found knobs and pulls from Restoration Hardware that we just couldn’t resist. These pulls are legit and totally worth the investment. So much so that the knobs might actually weigh more than the cabinet door (which is a strange feeling). To break up the black and white we decided natural wooden accents like a fruit bowl or utensil holder would do the trick.
Okay, so I promise within the next few posts we’ll reveal the final result. But, we have some interesting challenges and mistakes we think you’ll enjoy hearing about first, so stay tuned. Josh is gonna talk next about the process and a couple of the mistakes we made, including setting all the final cabinets in place, only to learn we had an illegal plumbing set up that required us to take some of them back out and knock open a wall again. Fun times, and lesson learned: Always call the plumber FIRST.