Shiny and Perdy: Kitchen Design Ideas

As promised, it’s time we got to the “better” stuff. You know…the shiny and perdy stuff.  You’ve been with me when we bought the house. And when we financed the property. And through the very exciting (eh hmmm) demo phase. So it’s time we earned our reward.  The light at the end of the tunnel has arrived!  Let’s talk kitchen design.  Ba..da…boom!
When we first bought the Ravenna House, we weren’t sure if we were going to re-do the kitchen. Although it was small, I thought the original cabinets and sink were quaint and with a fresh coat of paint they would shine.  Plus I really wasn’t excited to put a kitchen remodel into our already-large budget.  But no matter how many times we looked at the space with measuring tape in hand, we just couldn’t fit a fridge, range, and a dishwasher in the existing space.  And that was a deal breaker. So the decision was made.  We were going do a major kitchen remodel.
Hubby and I played around with layout for a couple minutes, but the house is small so there wasn’t much to play around with.  We converged on the only practical plan like a moth to a flame.  We’d remove the interior kitchen wall and create a giant “great” room with living, kitchen, and dining all open. Kinda like this (IF our house was four times the size it actually is):
Remove the appliance pantry and open up the space between the living room and kitchen a bit more? It might be worth sacrificing the storage space for a look like this!
Alright people.  Kitchen design may be fun (tile, cabinets, appliances, countertops…so many pretty, shiny things in one place!), but it’s serious too.  Have you ever been in a kitchen where two people can’t cut carrots without knocking elbows?  Or cooked at a stove slammed up against a wall? Yeah…sucks I know.  So there’s a little pressure to get it right.  Like Mama P always said, “an ounce of preparation keeps you from beating your head against the wall”.  Okay Mama P didn’t actually say that, but she should have.  Because the key to this whole renovating thing is planning.  That and shims.  And YouTube.  But that’s a story for another time.
So after we took the kitchen wall down, Hubby and I took measurements.  I drew out the space on some engineering paper and played around with the cabinet layout.  Once I was happy with how it looked on paper, I taped it out on the floor.  And then I walked around in my imaginary kitchen and prepared an imaginary dinner and baked an imaginary cake.  Yes…seriously!  And then I rearranged the cabinets and then rearranged appliances until I hit upon what worked best for the space.  The entire design process took a couple weeks.  In the end, there are a couple things in the design that aren’t ideal (like the sink ending up too close to the range), but I suppose that’s part of renovating an old house.  At some point, you have to “make it work”.  So I sealed the deal by ordering the cabinets from a carpenter I found on Craigslist.  No backing out now...
Onto the finishes.  After scouring Pinterest, Houzz, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, and Prevention Magazine and then getting some input from Hubby, I decided to go with a classic white kitchen with a twist.
subway tiles
 Taste Design, Inc | via Houzz
Rebekah Zeveloff | Kitchenlab
Although I love white subway tile backsplashes (pictured above), I’ve already done it in two of our houses.  In the name of trying something new, I looked at some other options.  I briefly thought about marble mosaic tiles, but ringing in at well over $14/sf, I didn’t get very far. That’s when I found Home Depot’s carrara marble subway tiles for under $7/sf. I love the look of honed carrara and when laid in a herringbone pattern, marble subway looks on-trend, classic, and upscale.
well this is going to need to happen! thanks for the idea @Lynn Brown! Marble Herringbone Backsplash: Portfolio - MEGANTHOLOGY


I ordered 60sf of tile, 10 sf more than I needed (you can always return, but it sucks to run out mid-project).  In a few short weeks, I’ll be tiling this very pattern on my backsplash! {insert giddy squeel here!}
Having decided on the backsplash, I turned my attention to the counter-tops. I wanted something that felt historic which in my mind meant Carrara Marble, butcherblock, or soap stone. Carrara marble is my no-holds-bar favorite. It’s what I’ll have in my “forever” house – porous, easily-stained and all. But since we don’t know if we’ll turn this house into a rental long term or sell it, I didn’t want to risk having high maintenance countertops. So Carrara was out. Butcherblock is great, but we’ve had that in our last two houses, and I was ready to try something new. Enter soap stone. Turns out it’s not that readily available and where I have seen it, it was expensive. So I had to go back to the metaphorical drawing board. I did a little more Houzz research and found out that honed Absolute Black granite looks really similar to soap stone. Plus it’s super durable. And it just so happens that I found a supplier who sells pre-fabricated granite for a really reasonable price.  I’m not 100% sold on honed granite, but I’m pretty sure this is the direction we’ll go.
Lastly, we had to buy appliances {dang… J}.  Since we wanted to go high end on this kitchen, we decided on stainless-steel.  My favorite appliance store, Albert Lee, has a warehouse sale twice a year that just happened to occur a month ago.  I enlisted grandma to babysit and Hubby and I headed over to the sale at 7am to get in line.  Yes, there’s a line for this sale.  Kinda like a sample sale in New York but with women wearing tape measurers instead of Prada purses.  We stood in line for two hours through a hailstorm before they opened the door.  But it was worth it because we bought up everything we needed for the house, including an Electrolux washer and dryer, Viking dishwasher and an American pro-looking gas range…all for crazy good prices.  {Insert another giddy squeel here!}
So the final kitchen design looks like…well you’ll have to wait for that. And I’ve got to get to work!
Next up: Progress Update on The Ravenna House
Do any of you have kitchen design woes to share? I’d love to hear about it!