Dexter Kitchen Renovation Part 2: the Reveal


This is part 2 of a series on the Dexter House kitchen renovation.  Part 1 (the Renovation Process) can be found here.

After months of hard work, it’s finally time to share the renovated Dexter House kitchen with you.  And let me just say that no one is more excited about the finished space than me!  I love this kitchen – it is simple, elegant, efficient, and totally approachable.  And best of all, it’s 100% done!  Well 95%, but who’s counting…

I already told you guys about the renovation process in part 1, so lets get down to the main attraction.  The ‘after’ photos of the Dexter kitchen…

The Grit and Polish - Dexter KitchenThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Remodel northThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Remodel south

Early in the design process, I decided to go with a ‘decidedly-not-white’ approach for this space, opting instead for a tuxedo plan that called for black lower cabinets.  The look is quite a bit different then our previous all-white kitchens (like the kitchens at the Ravenna and Bryant houses), but one that we really like.  In fact, this is both Garrett and my favorite kitchen renovation to date.

It took us a good 5 months to complete this room in tandem with the rest of the Dexter House renovation.  We did all of the work ourselves with some help from family and friends.  And by ‘family’ I mean mostly Papa, my father-in-law, and by ‘some’ I mean all of his nights and all of his weekends for the better part of half a year.  I know, you’re wondering where to get yourself a Papa right about now…what can I say, you’ve got to marry in 😉

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Remodel open shelvesThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen AfterThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen After Sink BigThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Renovation Details Collage 2

There’s a lot that I love about this kitchen.  I love the warmth of the wood, the sleekness of the stove, and vintage-feel of the sink.  I love that we can fit two adults plus a sweet baby and a toddler nicknamed “the tornado” in here and still manage to cook dinner.  I love that the kitchen is open enough to the dining room that you can sit and have a conversation with the chef (aka Garrett) but it’s not open so much that it feels like your whole house is a mess if there’s a bowl left out on the counter.  There’s also something not too precious about this space (as opposed to the Ravenna kitchen, which always felt a bit on the precious side), like you could render a duck in here and that’d be cool.  But what I love the most is that the kitchen feels cohesive with the rest of our 1905 Spanish-style house, which was my number one goal.

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Remodel AllThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Renovation Shelf Details CollageThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Remodel mudroom

At the end of every renovation, I like to take a look at the before and afters.  It really puts into perspective just how much work we’ve done.  So without further ado, here’s a look back to the Dexter House in May 2015 compared with how it looks today.

The Grit and Polish - Before and After Collage EastThe Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Before and After South The Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Before and After North Wall

Back in June, I wrote this description of what I wanted this kitchen renovation to turn out like:

“…I’m going for something a bit more cozy and rustic and old world.  A space that may look a bit more chaotic, but always feels like the heart of our family.  Basically I want the Dexter kitchen to feel like the kitchen of a 50-year-old Italian/Spanish/French mother of six, where you roll out biscuits right on the countertop, stir boiling pots of homemade marinara with your kids (your great grandmother’s recipe, obviously), and wear a cotton apron all day long.  Or perhaps an efficient, newer version of that.  Do you feel me?”

I summed it up as a “warm European feel” in August.  And while I think we achieved that generally, along the way, we also drifted off the mark a bit (like painting the lowers in high-gloss and installing an pro-style range).  But ultimately, we ended up with what we wanted.  Something efficient, welcoming, and ‘decidedly not-white’.  And most importantly, we ended up with a kitchen that we love!

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Kitchen Remodel W and Mama

And in case you’re wondering why I said we’re only 95% done, well there’s still some paint touchup and caulking left to do.  But if you didn’t notice, I’m not going to point it out! 😉

Here’s a recap of all the Dexter kitchen posts… Campaign hardware | Butcher Block Countertops | Tuxedo Kitchen Progress | Cement Tile Backsplash | Tuxedo kitchen plan | Drywall and Cabinets | Rough In | Dexter Kitchen Plan | Framing and Final Demo | and all about the Mudroom

Next up is the budget and resources for this renovation.  But in the meantime, lay it on me.  What do you guys think about our tuxedo kitchen renovation?  I’d love to hear it…the good, the bad, and the I-would-never-ever-EVER-do-that!



p.s. I’ve been pretty obsessed with “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” lately.  Not that obsession is a bad thing.  Have you seen it?  In another life, I think I might have married Phil and weighed 300 pounds and laughed so hard every day that I had a wrinkly face and killer abs.  ps It’s on Netflix!

p.p.s. Need a home tour fix?  Here’s another great Amber Interiors project, and check out how these newlyweds redid Grandpa’s Hollywood home.  And for something a little more sophisticated, check out this Brooklyn townhouse!

p.p.p.s. Planet 9.  The never seen, newly discovered planet in our solar system.  And shucks, they want to name it after one of my favorite nephews! 😉

p.p.p.p.s. I’m going on 30 days of clean eating and I’m loving it!  Actually the whole family has been loving it…our 2-year-old included!  Have any meal suggestions or tips for sticking with it?  I’ve got a small collection on Pinterest but would love more recipies!

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  1. What a beautiful kitchen! The tuxedo look is quite beautiful and the black cabinets really ground the floor! I am a designer in Seattle (architect soon, fingers crossed) and am so happy to have found a home reno blogger in Seattle! Love this blog!

  2. Love the entire renovation. I’ve been eyeing that faucet/sink combo. Seems so practical. Curious what your thoughts are on it?

  3. I couldn’t love this more!!

  4. You nailed it!

  5. I love this kitchen! The black cabinets look amazing with crome hardware.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Love this look! Can you tell me if you like the high gloss after all? We are considering the same for our kitchen renovation.

    • Thanks so much! I actually do like the high gloss because it’s super easy to clean. I’d only caution that you need to be careful when painting – streaks and any other booboos are really noticeable!

  7. Oh my goodness! I love it, it seems very livable, warm, and inviting. I love that you kept the pie safe and upper, it definitely gives the space a subtle sense of history. I love to see renovations that are efficient with space and also enhance the flow of a home. A lot of times I see homes where the focus was on “adding storage” or “creating spaces”, like a walk-in closet or home office, to the detriment of the flow of the home. It’s important to think about how you really live versus how you want to live. Like thinking you need a designated “home office” so you can sit at a desk and work when what you end up doing is sitting on your sofa with your laptop most of the time, or having an entire walk-in closet to store clothing you rarely if ever wear. And the result is choppy awkward floor plans that leave you subconsciously aggravated. These are things I always notice, that’s why your renovations are such a breath of fresh air, thanks for sharing this:)

    • Thanks Angela! I know what you mean…efficient use of space is better than just space. Since we live in these houses we’re always thinking about how we live in them and that guides our minimal changes on the floor plan.

  8. Woweeeeeeee!!!!! Gorgeous! I think this is the nicest, most interesting kitchen I’ve seen in a long while (and some SUPERB photos to boot 🙂 Many pats on the back to you…

    • Thanks so much Nicole! Love hearing that you find the space interesting!!! I definitely wanted something different this time around and it sounds like I succeeded. Your feedback on the photos is especially appreciated – I’ve been struggling with the light in here (dang Seattle winter!) so took these a couple times.

  9. Hi! I love what you’ve done with all your kitchens. This one has a lot of the design elements I was thinking of using in my own kitchen. Who do you use for your custom kitchen cabinets? I’m starting the kitchen remodel process and could use a good source. Thanks!

    • We actually didn’t use custom cabinets in this kitchen. These are pre-fabricated maple cabinets that we painted. I bought the cabinets from GS Cabinets in Seattle because they use all-plywood boxes.

  10. Isabelle DeRoy says:

    A cohesive look without being “matchy/matchy”…great job. Would you be able to tell me where you bought the black sconces with the extending arms? They seem to be a great fixture supplying task lighting.

  11. You’ve done an amazing job! Especially on that budget! Very nice!

  12. Hi! Would you be able to provide your source for those cool shelf brackets?

    New reader here and I am having a great time going through all your posts!

    • Sure Erica! I love those brackets too. They are linked in the budget/resources post, part 3 of the kitchen reveal. Just search for “Dexter kitchen resources”

  13. Cathy-

    I am also renovating my kitchen with a drainboard sink. What is the model of the faucet you used?

    • Hey there – search for “Dexter Kitchen Resources” and there will be a direct link at the bottom of the post. Good luck with your renovation!

  14. I just stumbled upon this post, and I think you are amazing and hilarious; I actually laughed out loud when I read about the preciousness of a white kitchen and how you just wanted a space where you could render a duck and it’d be cool 🙂 Heaven knows I love a good white kitchen, but I also think about beautiful and functional spaces where life happens, and sometimes something more rustic (but not, like, country) and timeless just feels right; I love the black lowers with the butcher block. Thank you for sharing your experiences! I’m so happy that I found another blog to stalk 😉

    • Thanks so much Ginger! What a sweet comment. I almost hate to say it, but we recently moved to a house in the…country! But I promise there’s not too much granny-chic, whitewashed furniture going on around here 🙂

      • Your new home is a dream; wrap-around porches and big trees have my heart! You’ve got my vote of confidence for however you renovate 🙂

  15. Hi Cathy, I’ve been following your renovations for a while, and I always come back to the Dexter kitchen for inspiration. It’s truly a unique classic! Did you post anywhere about making the shelves? I found the linked brackets but would love more info on the wood source/treatment, fabrication, install, or whatever else! Thanks!

    • I second Monica’s sentiment! What size brackets did you order and what size shelves?
      Thanks! Love everything you work on! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do after the sale of your Ravenna house!

    • Thanks so much Monica – we ordered the shelves from Hardwood Industries in oak, to match the floors. They were custom designed by me, to match the brackets (11.75″). We sanded and added a finish to the shelves and had them up in a couple days


  1. […] Solution: On the flip side, Cathy of Grit & Polish saved money by strategically using a small amount of beautiful patterned tile just over the range. […]

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