Porch House Kitchen + Sunroom // 5 Lessons from a 16-day kitchen renovation (+ The Before-and-After's)


At the end of every project, I like to look back and remember where we started. Seeing those ‘before’ photos when you’re standing in the ‘after’ is fun, rewarding, and confidence-boosting. But more than that, it’s insightful. Looking back gives me a chance to see where the project excelled and where it fell flat.

So today, I’m going to share some ‘before and afters’ with you and 5 lessons that we learned on the Porch House kitchen + sunroom renovation. And you can be sure that we’ll be applying these hard-learned lessons on our upcoming Farmhouse kitchen renovation.

The Grit and Polish - Porch Kitchen Before Pic on After 2.jpg

But before I get to that…if you haven’t seen the Porch house kitchen + sunroom reveal, I highly encourage you to take a peek at it before reading this post.

1 // windows are worth the effort

Natural light is queen. It makes all the difference for how a space feels, and I’m a proponent for maximizing the light as best we can in every renovation.

At the Porch House, we spent hours enlarging the window above the kitchen sink. We wanted to bring in a larger window (purchased at a Seattle salvage shop) and align it with the new, larger sink. Of course the new window had to be framed and placed long before the sink, faucet, or light was installed and it took some upper level calculus to get the placement right. But we nailed it. The lesson here: windows are worth the effort. It can be hard to open up a wall and re-frame it in order to put in a larger window, but it’s worth the effort. More natural light and better views are always worth the effort.

The Grit and Polish - Porch House Kitchen Sink small.jpg

2 // Rules are Just Guidelines

If I had one hard and fast design rule before starting the Porch House it would have been: never remove a window. But in the Porch House kitchen, that’s just what we had to do. The window on the back wall overlooked the drive way and stood in the way of the beautiful shelf-and-range-hood-moment I was going for. So we closed it up. And in the end, we gained so much more than we lost by closing up that dinky window. The lesson here: rules are just guidelines. Don’t let them stand in the way of something better.

porch house kitchen before and after range - www.thegritandpolish.jpg

3 // ceiling treatments hide all previous sins

One of my favorite features in the sunroom are the planked ceilings. Not only are they beautiful but they also cover up all that acoustic tile sin seen in the before. We actually laid this pine tongue-and-grove right over top of the old ceiling and it saved us cost in demo and dump fees and saved us from having to deal with whatever that tile is. The lesson here…ceiling treatments can hide all previous sins (think: popcorn ceilings!).

The Grit and Polish - Porch House Sunroom Before and After.jpg

4 // a picture (or Pinterest Image) is worth a thousand words

I have a confession to make. The open shelves in the kitchen are not what I was originally envisioning. In my mind the open shelves were more modern and didn’t have brackets. And I thought I had explained my vision to Garrett perfectly. But then one day, I showed up at the Porch House and found that he had built these. Okay, I know that these turned out to be perfect for the space (kudos to Garrett), but the thing is, Garrett thought he built my vision. The thing is, he was building based on my words and not the image hiding in my brain. Turns out, not even husbands can read your mind. The lesson here…a drawing (or Pinterest image) is worth a thousand words.

porch house kitchen before and after - www.thegritandpolish.jpg

5 // Sometimes it doesn’t turn out as good as it is in your mind

In almost every renovation we’ve done, I’ve found that one (or more) elements don’t live up to the Pinterest-moment I envisioned. At the Porch House kitchen, that was the pantry corner. Sure it’s is a nice little corner and totally functional, but it never became the moment I envisioned. Something about the awkward geometry or the lighting or I’m not sure what exactly, but it didn’t measure up to the image in my mind. And that’s okay, because the opposite is true too. So often I’m surprised by how much better something turned out than I envisioned. So the lesson here…well I guess it’s to be ready for that and try not to get discouraged. Sometimes a renovation doesn’t turn out as good as it is in your mind (and sometimes it’s much better).

porch house kitchen pantry before and after - www.thegritandpolish.jpg

Those are five lessons we walked away from the Porch House kitchen + sunroom with. Anything else you’d add to this list? And in case you missed the kitchen + sunroom reveal, it’s linked below!