Unless you have unlimited funds you have to have a budget which will ultimately mean you can’t have everything you want. This was the hardest part of the restoration for me – deciding on what my top “must-haves” were and then crossing of what was less important.
You should also know that Marc and I have very different ideas about houses. He prefers a new, technologically advanced, still under warranty home while I like old houses with character. This causes a few heated words as we sought to find a happy medium. We did – I cook, I win. Not really. He is amazingly sweet and really trying to do this exactly as I want.
Since one of my biggest priorities is maintaining the historic look in my home a lot of things were out. Marble and granite counters were not used very much if at all, for example. Bamboo counters, Corian counters – all a no no for me. I knew I wanted a kitchen that “went” with the rest of my house. One that would be warm and welcoming, making you feel like you had just walked into your gramma’s house. Plus, as a busy-messy food writer I needed something that was easy to clean, efficient, and that would look good when I (eventually) do videos. I needed to be able transition between writing and cooking easily. I needed lots of electrical outlets for lighting and various appliances. I also had to have drawers to store things because my back just does not like stooping and pulling pans out of the back of the cupboard. My kitchen did not have a garbage disposal or a vent-a-hood.
So… I liked the look of tile AND it was historically accurate BUT you can’t roll pie dough on it. Marc suggested we get a chunk of marble that was big enough for pie dough and place it in the countertop. Brilliant!
I currently have 4 ovens but only two are usable. I decided that since I was only using 2 ovens anyway a double oven would work fine. So I opted for a counter top stove and a double wall oven. This gave me more storage space under the stove. Plus, since we have a gas water heater and furnace I asked if we could convert the stove to gas as well. Gas is easier to control the heat on and you have infinite heat possibilities. Marc said we could so YAY!
The vent-a-hood was a problem because there aren’t any places to run the vent. The stove is against a wall that it shares with the media room. The ceilings are 10 ft high and Ethan’s bedroom is directly above.
Marc found a vent that attaches to the side of the stove, is raised for use and then lowers back down. It allowed him to vent out through the floor underneath the house. Problem solved!
I didn’t want any upper cabinets. Most houses did not have upper cabinets for one, and for the other I can’t reach any of the shelves. I reasoned that it would make the kitchen look bigger as well… Not that it needs it – my kitchen is about 375-400 square feet.
Red is a color that makes me feel alive. I love it. I love burnt orange too but there is a problem with using that color. You see, Marc graduated from Texas A & M, and I guess their arch rivals are the Texas Longhorns? Whose color is… you guessed it… burnt orange. So, red it is. I thought about red and white tiles for the counters but I just didn’t feel right about it. I wanted black to ground everything. Decided that black and white would allow me to change the decor colors when ever I wanted to.
So black and white tiles and white subway tile back splash with a line of thin black tiles as an accent. I’ll use red accents in other places – like my Imperial Red Kitchen Aid and my bright cherry red computer.
The image at the top of the tile is the one I chose and it is on my newly stained wooden countertop in the dining room.
I knew I wanted a enamel over iron sink. I had an aluminum one that had a tiny side and an average size side and it made it impossible when you were handwashing. I hated it. An extra deep black enamel sink was just the thing. So the choice was made, black stove top, black dishwasher, black double oven, black sink, black and white tile.
I wanted a desk – so the small counter beside the pantry was the perfect spot. Rather than using tile there Marc created a gorgeous wood counter since it wouldn’t have water on it. The long counter in the dining room also has a wood top, as does the raised bar on the peninsula.
Oh yeah, the raised bar. I love that the kids can sit at the peninsula and talk to me while I am cooking but I hate that people can see the kitchen mess from the dining table. A raised bar allowed the kids to sit there while hiding the mess. A big plus? Marc put in 4 electrical boxes along the raised bar so I can have crockpot, mixer, and 6 other appliances all going at the same time… well, if the breakers handle it I can.
I found a fabulous Arts and Crafts style rug and decided to use it to pull colors out of for the decor.
I had always wanted a window seat on the side of the fireplace and so we have one of those as well. The fireplace hearth was just plywood. I wanted tiles that would be in keeping with an Arts and Crafts look and I also had 2 antique fireplace tiles that I had bought that I wanted to fit in there some how.
My tips for choosing your priorities in a kitchen redo?
- Make a budget
- Make a list of EVERYTHING you want
- Decide what is most important
- Think about how you cook, how you use your kitchen and what would make it more efficient
- Get the most important things first and then on down the list as money allows
- Cut costs where it isn’t important. For example – we bought unfinished cabinets from Home Depot and Marc installed them himself. We saved a ton by doing this and I was able to custom stain the cabinets for a very vintage look. Choosing the tile over the marble or Corian gave me a durable counter for thousands less than the marble would have been. We did the counters for less than $200. and the marble priced at well over $2000.
- Be willing to be flexible. I wanted a $450. copper sink but the black enamel is beautiful. I wanted a warming drawer but it wasn’t in the budget so we are leaving room to put one in later.
Some of these were taken with my camera so they are a little fuzzy. Anyway, next time I will show you before and afters of complete areas. We ran into all kinds of problems from rotted flooring under the sink to wonky walls.
Just wait. You will be amazed!
images: © 2011 Marye Audet