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With so much of our first floor mostly complete (as in, walls have been painted – well, we know how I feel about that – and we’re simply in a stage of nitpicking and over thinking), there are only a handful of rooms that need big, big help: the small bathroom (to which we can close the door), the blue storage room (again, to which we can close the door) and the kitchen – to which there is no door closing.

And now? It’s time to talk about the kitchen!

For so long, Scott and I thought we’d slap a coat of paint on the walls and cabinets, band-aid the issue for as long as possible and call it a day. Ha! We’ve waited so long to do anything about this room, that now, we’ve decided to just do it and do it right. We’ve been stashing and squirreling away money when we’ve been able, not really knowing if we’d move to the bathroom or the bedroom next – but ultimately, we decided to face the beast and move to the biggest, baddest room of them all.

Since we’ve never actually done a kitchen before, we called in our friend Nancy for help – the same Nancy that became our shoulder to lean on for every wall we moved, every door we widened and every panicked moment we faced upon moving into this house. We’ll also be working closely with a new-to-us contractor and cabinet builder, and you guys, we are so excited and freaked out and happy and nervous. In other words, it’s going to be great.


The good: Our kitchen is huge! (Pinch us!) The bad: The layout could not make less sense. Nancy came over for a full evening of wine and room layouts, and after fussing with this and tweaking that, we’re thrilled with the direction we’re headed! Let’s break it down:

  • The windows, while large, are too low to allow for proper cabinet placement.
  • The cabinets are smooshed to the right of the storage room door, which was probably the easiest solution when this room was upgraded a handful of years ago – and we say that term very, very loosely.
  • Not to mention, they’re only on one side of the room.
  • Drywall repair is needed for days. For days! It’s tough to tell in photos, but the finish work on the drywall is less than stellar.
  • We’ve got a furnace to work around. See?:


I can’t tell you how many of our guests have tried to open those doors looking for a bowl of cereal and come face-to-face with the world’s loudest furnace. There’s no where else for it to live, so it stays – but all is not lost! Let’s talk about how we can work around that and the other funny issues.

Below, that arrow is pointing to a capped off gas line. We’ll be utilizing that gas line (and moving it back) to allow the stove to fit on the same wall as our refrigerator:


The furnace closet will get new doors, and we’ll add cabinets to the left and right of the stove, as well as the entire wall above it. Those cabinets will be full of all sorts of clever little tricks – such as a pull out sliding pantry and spice rack (if we can make it work!) and, oh yeah, that window is going away, too; more on that in a minute.

We’ve been working on collecting all new white appliances, starting first with the refrigerator, a stove and a dishwasher, and we’ll also be adding a built in microwave. When we’re done, this side of the room will look more like this:


On the opposite side of the room, you can see the door to the extra storage room; that room will eventually act as our indoor garage space, which will serve our needs well. We imagine it to be an organized heaven, and my goodness, I get goosebumps just thinking about how wonderful it’ll be to find the sandpaper without cursing! But, that’ll come after the kitchen.


 We’ll be adding additional cabinets to the left, which will make room for a dishwasher and, of course, storage! This means the door will slide down as well, and while we’re at it, we’re just going to turn it into a pocket door – and odd as it may seem, this is something we’ve wanted to include somewhere in this house since the day we moved in!

There will still be about 20″ of space to the left of that door, giving us room to add a vintage buffet (or something) on the same wall as the back door. Because, you see, the other window is also getting closed off. (I promise this will make sense soon!) When we’re done, this side of the room will look like this:


But, let’s get to the part where we’ve decided to close up all those windows. We love the light they provide, but we thought, hey, let’s bring in even more light! And because we’ll be closing up the windows, the back of the room that looks like this …


… Will get one of the larger overhauls in the room! We’ll be bringing in a large glass paneled security door, and for extra credit, we’ll also flank it with sidelights and a wide transom window above – like this!


There’s so much more to discuss, and we’ve been pulling apart the details for weeks, so here’s a mini taste of our punch list:

  • We’re salvaging the cabinets we can to save money, but we’ll be refacing with all new doors. The cabinets will be done entirely by a maker that came highly recommended, which is more cost effective than if we were to paint them ourselves and piece together more cabinets for the stove wall.
  • There is a lot of electrical work that needs to be done to make our work flow safe and efficient. This is no fun and costs a lot, but it will make such a difference in the long run.
  • We’re still deciding if we’ll be adding soffits to close up the negative space above the cabinets. Or maybe we’ll just add a piece of finishing trim to the cabinets themselves? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one! (Our ceilings are pretty tall, and it’s not in the budget to do extra tall cabinets, so in turn, the soffits would be tall.)
  • The drawings (done by Nancy) show a subway tile, but right now, that’s just to give us an idea of how tile would look. Nothing is set on that front – yet.
  • As we decide on finishes for the permanent fixtures, we’re leaning clean and classic – think: whites and grays. We know, we know, but we’ll be bringing in some contrast with an island, and we’ll have a little fun with the pocket and back doors!
  • Baseboards. We’ll need new baseboards when we’re done – you know that’s my favorite! (Har-har.)

Up close, you can see that our counter tops are your run-of-the-mill laminate, and while they’ve served their purpose since we’ve been in this house, we’re looking forward to choosing something that’ll last for the long haul. Whether it’s cabinets, counters or our sink, our goal is to stay mindful of this home’s age, while bringing in a bit of modern convenience. The best of both worlds!

kitchen-before-09 kitchen-before-12

Just as we’ve done in the past, we’ll be taking on as much demo as we can upfront, which not only saves on cost, but we enjoy doing it! We also feel incredibly fortunate that we’ll be partnering with a few fantastic companies – something that we don’t take lightly or for granted. We’re looking forward to sharing those with you as we go along!

As we navigate these kitchen waters, so to speak, there are still a lot of our own questions that don’t have answers, and I’ll admit that, quite honestly, it scares us! We’ll be starting some light demo this weekend, and if all goes well, the contractors will start their work early in the new year.

Let’s do this! One step at a time, that is.

  • susan - December 5, 2014 - 7:16 AM


    i love the idea of grays and white with a colorful island and pocket door… very nice.

    i don’t have soffits above my cabinets; i like to put interesting stuff up there to soften all the flat surfaces in the kitchen. the downside is it does get dusty, and i need to haul everything down and clean off the fuzziness every now and again.

    good luck with the demo; i’m looking forward to following this project.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine J - December 5, 2014 - 7:26 AM

    I would push your existing cabinets up higher on the wall and then do a floating, open shelf underneath them. There are many pictures of this idea on Pinterest, and the effect is wonderful…the cost, minimal. How exciting this reno is going to be! Congrats, and good luck! Oh…and YAY to white appliances. I love mine, even though I was questioned harshly by the salesman. Sure does brighten and beautify a kitchen.ReplyCancel

    • Katherine J - December 5, 2014 - 7:31 AM

      I’ve more thing…just search “under cabinet shelf” on Pinterest and you will see tons of pictures of this idea. Cheers!ReplyCancel

    • Loryn - December 5, 2014 - 8:34 AM

      Yes! I was going to suggest the under cabinet shelf, too. It’s such a great (and cheap) alternative to taller cabinets. Definitely no to a soffit. They just look so dated.ReplyCancel

      • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 8:57 AM

        Loryn, that’s what we thought too – until we started looking at some of our favorite kitchens on Pinterest and noticed that SO many of them have soffits that are done well and don’t look dated! Our contractor and friend are both pro-soffit, which is what’s giving us the push…ReplyCancel

        • Rachel - December 5, 2014 - 9:45 AM

          Personally I’m a fan of soffits and I agree that done right they don’t look dated at all. That’s what I’d do! (Plus if you ceilings are really high, would pushing the cabinets up make them impractical to access?)ReplyCancel

          • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 9:55 AM

            Yeah. We actually have to lower the cabinets on the sink wall by a few inches, because they were mounted up so high. I can only access the bottom shelf!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 8:56 AM

      Thanks for the input! We actually seriously considered doing an open shelf by the cabinets, and we LOVE that look, but in our 4 pet household, it just doesn’t feel very practical. We had to nix that idea for now… but then again, there are still so many things up in the air!ReplyCancel

      • Loryn - December 8, 2014 - 8:07 AM

        I have open shelving with four cats, and it’s not as much of a problem as I expected. It’s not really by choice, as my kitchen was last remodeled in 1936 and has the same random unfitted feel that yours does. I had to put up shelves for all my dishes. Once a year in the spring I wash all the items on the upper shelves. The lower shelves with dishes that get used all the time are never a problem. I wouldn’t voluntarily have all my dishes out, but one shelf within easy reach is something I hope to do if I ever get to remodel. (The economy has pushed my kitchen remodel back and back!) If you can’t arrange it so that those items get used pretty regularly, then I definitely wouldn’t have open shelves!ReplyCancel

  • Kyley - December 5, 2014 - 7:32 AM

    so fun! I’ll be interested to see how this unfolds for you as we are redoing our kitchen this year too. We’ve already purchased most of our appliances (which is torture just watching them sit while we get further along on the kitchen before we use them). And we’ve enlisted an Amish cabinet maker at a steal to do all the cabinetry. We’re also going white & gray :) it can’t be done soon enough!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - December 5, 2014 - 7:46 AM


  • Christina - December 5, 2014 - 7:53 AM

    Very excited to see this remodel take place and see how this turns out! Happy that you’re going to be able to work with some sponsors to do this, but I only ask that you be transparent about which ones those are at the beginning of the post! Can’t wait to see it come together!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 8:57 AM

      Will do! Thanks, Christina!ReplyCancel

  • Meredith - December 5, 2014 - 8:06 AM

    No soffits! It will make the room seem smaller!

    And, again, I love the little peeks we get of the pets. I even spied Jack in the last post. It was like an Easter egg!


  • Katie - December 5, 2014 - 8:49 AM

    I vote no soffits too! I like the shelf under raised cabinets look too, or propping some interesting art on top of the cabinets if you have room. That emphasizes the high ceilings (look – cabinets + ART! = so spacious). Emily Henderson’s new kitchen comes to mind.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 8:59 AM

      I really like her new kitchen! And you know we love art… but we’re just not 100% sure that we’re art-on-top-of-the-cabinets people. It feels cluttered, maybe? Anyway, we’re still on the fence, and thank you for your vote!ReplyCancel

      • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 9:07 AM

        Okay, looking back at Emily’s kitchen, I’d say her ceilings are as tell as ours, and the no soffit look with art is done well (I mean, not surprisingly!). AND I just realized her bottom cabinets are Hague Blue (the same blue as our front door and coat closet), which we were considering for our island, sooo… Thanks again for the input!ReplyCancel

  • Marti - December 5, 2014 - 8:51 AM

    Chicago real estate gods permitting, our first home and kitchen renovation is on the horizon. So, I’m very excited to follow along as you tackle this kitchen! And I totally relate to the excitement of imagining a dedicated project storage room. Can’t wait to see what you do.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 9:05 AM

    Aw man, I was excited to see how you were going to work around the low windows in the kitchen. We have one too and it makes our fridge float next to and makes that side of the room completely discombobulated. I was hoping you’d have a solution other than closing them up. Ah well, your kitchen is going to look awesome!

    And yes I agree with everyone else – no soffits! Consider it a great place to add funky and weird antiquing/thrift store finds. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 9:09 AM

      Kim, oh man, we really tried to work around the windows! But in our case, the window on the left looks right at the neighbors house (and Chicago homes are REALLY close together, like, literally maybe 2′ apart), so it didn’t seems crucial to keep it/them.ReplyCancel

  • Erin@Suburban Bitches - December 5, 2014 - 9:12 AM

    Exciting to have a plan for a functional kitchen! I am right now going through the whole soffit/no soffit dilemma. I hate the space between our cabinets and the ceiling but feel like spending money on upper cabinets to fill the space is just a waste. We would never use those cabinets or have a need for the extra storage. My designer friend suggested a soffit as well which seemed to go against everything I see on reno shows- which always knocks out soffits. Maybe you want to do it and I can admire how well they turn out in your house? :)ReplyCancel

  • Erin@Suburban Bitches - December 5, 2014 - 9:13 AM

    An example I found of soffits above cabinets that looks great:

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 9:24 AM

      Yup, proof they can look good! Our designer friend and contractor strongly recommend them as well. Can you do YOURS first and then we can make a decision for our house?!ReplyCancel

  • Kristine - December 5, 2014 - 9:16 AM

    No soffits!! Keep it open and it then keeps the option open to add cabinets above at some point in the future if you want.ReplyCancel

    • Catherine - December 6, 2014 - 12:37 PM

      This was my thinking too. No soffits, maybe add some crown molding around the top of the cabinets in the meantime and then you have that space to add glass fronted high storage cabinets later when you can afford them (if you need anymore storage of course – go with soffits if that floats your boat!). Also, is there an option not to have an over-stove microwave?? I loathe ours. I just can’t get/keep it clean. I would never, never, never put one in if I had the option. Go for a rangehood if you can!ReplyCancel

  • Lucas - December 5, 2014 - 10:24 AM

    This is very exciting! We re dealing with the eccentricities of tall windows in Chicago kitchens in our remodel. Unfortunately we’re in a brick building. I would love to see more about the island! Will it be a storage, storage/seating, or just seating island. I would vote all seating! Keep it leggy and light!

    Also I vote for the soffits especially because it looks like you have a soffit situation along the one side of the room. Our floating cabinets are a greasy dusty mess at present. Also, it allows you to resist the temptation of putting stuff up there. Also, I would suggest looking into soapstone for your counters. It beautiful and can really bring some instant texture and charm into a reno’d kitchen.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 10:34 AM

      At this point, I think we’re leaning towards storage in the island, but potentially with an overhang to allow for a couple stools to tuck underneath – but we’re not sure… yet!

      Thanks for the soffit vote! I have a feeling any floating shelves in our home would be full of Jack, CC, Maddie and Libby fur constantly. One shelf might be okay, but more than that would be trooouuuble.ReplyCancel

  • heather - December 5, 2014 - 10:26 AM

    I never knew that soffits were that big of a deal. Whoa! In my opinion, if you need them, put them up. If you paint them the same color and maybe add a bit of decorative trim, they should blend in pretty well. In my kitchen, I have 12 ft ceilings and before we renovated, I had so much dead space above the cabinets. It looked horrible. No amount of baskets, plants, art ever made it look good. When we finally renovated, I got rid of all the uppers and now have open shelving..which I love! It’s not for everyone, but it really opened up the room and showcased the height of the ceilings.
    My other question/comment has to do with the microwave over the stove. Will the fan in the microwave vent to the exterior or is it a recirculating fan? If it’s recirculating, I highly discourage that route if you cook frequently. I have an industrial vent hood and I STILL get some grease build up on my ceiling fan and tile back splash behind my stove. I was just on the ladder the other day, scrubbing off the grease from the blades! I like the idea of a built in microwave and I would incorporate it into the cabinet design and put in a proper vent hood.
    Good luck! I know it will look lovely.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 10:35 AM

      All good points! I want to say that the microwave (we haven’t bought it just yet) DOES vent to the outside. Scott might know better – I sort of zone out over stuff like that, ha!ReplyCancel

  • Katja | Shift Ctrl Art - December 5, 2014 - 10:55 AM

    It was so interesting reading your plans. I love that big new door you are planning. Will that go to the back yard?

    I know you said it is not in the budget to do extra tall upper cabinets, but what about keeping what you have and then add a second row of not as tall cabinets up there on top of the existing ones. That is what I would do. Yes you may not use them that much, but it would look awesome :)

    A question about the sliding door to what will become a garage? Can a sliding door have fire rating? I think you need a fire rated door for a garage. At least here in CA where I live. I would check on that.

    I really like that you are going with white appliances. It really is the new black :) Can’t wait to follow along!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 11:01 AM

      Yup, the big back door goes out to the back yard, which also leads to our garage (our garage is in the back of the house). The pocket door that we’re adding just goes to a storage room, which we’re calling the “indoor garage” or “work room” – it’s really just a 6′x10′ funny space where we’ll organize tools and paint and items that shouldn’t freeze.

      We thought about extra cabinets above as well, but I should have mentioned in the post that there’s an obnoxious sofft already in place for a furnace vent that we can NOT move an will make it difficult for things to look consistent. (Stupid furnace, you’re killing us!) We have so many places for storage as it is, that it felt a bit like overkill storage – especially since we’re thinking of storage in the island, too!ReplyCancel

  • Linda - December 5, 2014 - 11:09 AM

    I am a kitchen designer and you need at least one more set of drawers in that plan. Also plan for tray storage, it is so important. Tray storage can be used for trays, cookie sheets, cutting boards and platters. The cabinet to the right of the sink or to the left of the dishwasher would work for this.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 11:15 AM

      Thanks, Linda! We are so excited to install pull out sliders for our trays, just as you’ve mentioned and in the same place you mentioned – to the left of the dishwasher. Can you elaborate on the need for another set of drawers? Our plans include adding 4 more drawers than we already have, so it felt like a good amount – there will likely be drawers in our island. Just curious on your thoughts?ReplyCancel

      • Jane - December 5, 2014 - 9:14 PM

        Really enjoying reading the comments along with the regular post.
        Want to chime in about drawers – I LOVE having lots of drawers in our kitchen. Never woul have guessed it though. We use deep ones (in our awkward island) for pots and pans and things like organized travel mug storage. Shallower ones for spices and cooking utensils. I feel like I now prefer drawers for almost everything in the kitchen.

        My parents’ house has space above the cabinets for decorative items and it drives me nuts . . . because it collects so much dust and gets a little greasy, so it’s not super easy to wipe down.

        I LOVE that you’re willing to close up the windows to make a more functional cooking space. It’s a good trade off – so many kitchen renos seem to be stunted by people’s attempts to work around awkward windows.ReplyCancel

  • christina - December 5, 2014 - 11:39 AM

    i say do double cabinets! a la i think it’s worth the expense honestly. my family home has these and they really come in handy!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - December 5, 2014 - 11:53 AM

    Love this design plan! In regard to the soffits, I’m torn. My answer would probably depend on what color you choose for the wall. The kitchens without soffits that I’ve seen and loved (including Emily’s) had cabinets that were the same/close to the same color as the wall, so, visually, everything flowed seamlessly and felt open. I’m not sure that would be the case if the wall and cabinets were two different colors since your eyes would “stop” at the top of the cabinets rather than the ceiling.

    And I love art, but I’m typically not a fan of putting decor above cabinets. It tends to look cluttered and doesn’t seem to be worth the trouble of dusting up there.

    I think the soffits on your Pinterest board and the one that Erin showed look great! Your color scheme and the amount of natural light you’ll have coming in the kitchen should prevent the space from feeling closed in if you choose to go that route.

    So yeah, I have no vote lol. Go with your gut :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 11:59 AM

      Haha, you and me both, Amanda! To answer your wall color question, just last night, Scott and I were saying that we’d like to go really, really soft, and whatever we do, it would be nice to bring that same color into the living room so everything feels more connected.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca G - December 5, 2014 - 12:06 PM

    I think if you could add the soffit, but maybe put some recesses on the front face of it (not the full depth – maybe 4″-6″) you could have the soffit look and then put some art pieces above the cabinets too. And it doesn’t have to be statues or knick-knacks which accumulate dust – you can put in some hanging art, maybe? Just a thought to add some interest!ReplyCancel

  • Sara - December 5, 2014 - 12:26 PM

    How exciting!

    Now, my two cents..

    I am a crazy detail squirrel – so my eye always goes right to soffits. Not a fan – but given the alternatives in your layout, I think they are a better option than the a greasy, dusty mess that usually lives up on top with above-the-cabinet ‘decorations’.

    Echoing what Linda said – I would advise trying to fit in as many drawers as possible. When I gutted my kitchen, I got rid of all of the uppers and put in wide IKEA drawer cabinets for the lowers. I have everything in them. The dishes, the glasses, the pantry goods – everything. I love it. For me, they are much more efficient in providing usable space that cabinets with doors below, especially down low.

    I know that you guys are thorough and thoughtful, so I am positive it is going to be SO.GOOD. Enjoy the journey!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 2:44 PM

      Thanks, Sara! Our friends recently put those big IKEA drawers in their kitchen re-do, and they’re awesome! On the sink side, we’re salvaging a lot of the cabinets that are already there, so we’ll be looking into those Rev-a-Shelf sliders to get the same effect. On the stove side, perhaps it’s something we should suggest to our cabinet guy! Thank you.ReplyCancel

      • Catherine - December 6, 2014 - 12:44 PM

        Definitely try and do deep drawers on the lowers instead of cabinets. So much better and easier to use! Can’t wait to see how it all works out.ReplyCancel

  • alexis - December 5, 2014 - 12:29 PM

    No soffit, if you leave the space and trim, you can always add decoration or pretty baskets down the line. Looks exciting!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - December 5, 2014 - 1:55 PM

    The plans look great – can’t wait to follow the adventure. The only thing that catches my eye is the over the stove microwave.

    I use my microwave a lot while cooking so an above the stove microwave is actually inconvenient and sometimes dangerous for me. Even if I didn’t use it that way I find that many don’t include adequate ventilation and often have to be mounted too high for me (I’m only 5’4″).

    We added some custom cabinets to our kitchen and designed a shelf for our microwave that is about 6″ lower and 6″ deeper than the rest of the upper cabinets. There is plenty of room underneath for dishes going in or coming out of the microwave – for stirring, adding ingredients, etc. And there is room above for a small upper cabinet that I use for storing seasonal supplies since it is a bit high for me.

    Hopefully you had already thought of these issues but I wanted to throw it out there just in case!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 2:03 PM

      We thought about a built in shelf for the microwave as well. The reason we decided to go this route is because it’s what we had in our previous home, and it worked out SO nice for our workflow! Since it’s a tried and true system, we decided to go with the same for this go ’round. Valid points though!

      Love all the input from everyone – thank you so much! We have so much more to discuss now, ha.ReplyCancel

      • Cheryl - December 5, 2014 - 2:18 PM

        All that matters is that it works for you!

        I love these kinds of design entries with lots of input from readers – so many things I would forget to consider and so helpful to get different points of view.ReplyCancel

        • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 2:45 PM

          It’s SO helpful! Agreed.ReplyCancel

  • Cait - December 5, 2014 - 3:13 PM

    Apparently I am going to be the voice of dissent (or just agree with Erin above?) I like soffits. I also don’t think they look dated in older homes, especially when you have such a large kitchen and the budget doesn’t allow for extra tall cabinets/an extra row of cabinets. I think leaving the space above may emphasize that fact, even with crown (plus it’s one more place to clean/dust), and I think a shelf below normal sized cabinets will definitely look dated in 5-10 years. It also makes it hard to reach the cabinets. (Although I do like the look.)

    All that being said, if you think you might want to add an extra row of cabinets down the line (maybe back-lit and glass front, to store/display infrequently used serving piece?) above the current uppers, then obviously no soffits.

    Sorry to be so opinionated! I everything you and Scott do always looks great! And you know I love sidelights and transom windows :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 3:52 PM

      All good points – I see big, long talks about soffits (over alcohol, of course) with Scott. FUN TIMES!ReplyCancel

  • Heather {AFirePoleintheDiningRoom} - December 5, 2014 - 4:35 PM

    Oh wow! First let me get over my jealousy. Our kitchen reno is at least 6 months from even getting started. Of course, that hasn’t stopped us from thinking about the layout and materials.

    I’m so excited that you’re tackling this space. I can’t wait to see it come together!

    If you are still looking for advice on soffits, I would avoid them. They will close the room in and they can look dated.ReplyCancel

  • Trude - December 5, 2014 - 4:45 PM

    So excited for you guys! I’m sure it will be beautiful. My parents felt amazing after they completely overhauled theirs, and ever since we spend so much time in there, even when they’re doing formal entertainment. :) It’s easy to just make do with what you have and forget how much time is spent in there.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - December 5, 2014 - 4:55 PM

    Love that you are tackling your kitchen next! Like Linda – I too am a kitchen & bath designer & agree with her statement “You need at least one more set of drawers”. And of course, there were a couple of other items that I thought of as well.

    Refrigerator – I often add a tall panel to conceal the side of the refrigerator (per your plan it would be on the left). It helps prevent items from getting lost down the side & back but also allows for a deeper wall cabinet above the refrigerator. Your refrigerator appears to be a standard depth unit? And if so, you can place a 24 to 30″ deep cabinet up there! Great for those items we all collect but don’t often use.

    Soffit – I admit that I am anti-soffit but I’m also anti-dust & grease too. Perhaps an alternative would be to stack additional cabinets next year once your bank account has recovered? There is an existing soffit partially over the kitchen sink & it might be worth conducting a little exploratory surgery to determine if there are any mechanical surprises hiding away. Otherwise I vote NO soffit!

    New exterior door wall – Perhaps consider a 12 – 15″ deep pantry on that wall? It could be a salvaged piece or something the cabinet maker provides. But that sort of storage is Fabulous for so many things! Plus the shallow depth prevents you from loosing items like canned goods & dog treats. :)

    Pull out trash – perhaps placed under the sink? What about recycling?

    Don’t forget about under cabinet lights. They have gotten to be so very inexpensive and add so much to the utility of your countertops!

    Let me know if you have any other questions or thoughts!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 5, 2014 - 5:08 PM

      We are loving your feedback – thank you so much! I will say that this is the most amount of cabinets and drawers we’ve ever had, so I’m simply curious about more drawers? We should have some in our island as well.

      Refrigerator – YES! That was a big thing for us, and our cabinet guy is doing everything you just said.

      Soffit – Thank you!

      New door wall – You absolutely got it! We’ve been on the hunt for something vintage and adorable just for your same reasons.

      Pull out trash – On our list! We currently have a Rev-a-shelf pull out under our sink for trash and recycling, but we’re thinking of having it built it into the bottom cabinet to the right of the sink.

      Under cab lights – Our electrician is going to wire it all up so we can do that.

      We are absolutely on the same page! We’d love to talk kitchens with you for hours!ReplyCancel

      • Lucas - December 5, 2014 - 7:32 PM

        Ooo! To add one more thing that really ups the ante!

        Do a plug-mould under your cabinets rather than leaving the plugs in the backsplash. This allows for less visual clutter and ultimately you get 2x the outlets, which is super convenient.

        Also, I have some deep drawer cabinets and some rev-a-shelf tricked out lowers. I wish they were ALL drawers. Especially next to my stove (for pots/pans) and for plate/bowl storage.ReplyCancel

        • Melissa - December 6, 2014 - 11:24 AM

          I totally agree with Lucas! Plug strips are awesome and allow for a clean uninterrupted backslash. Task Lighting makes an angled plug strip for easier access but they are a bit pricey albeit wonderful.

          And a big YES to deep drawers for pots & pans. So much easier to pull the contents of the cabinet out vs. digging thru the cabinet for a lost lid.ReplyCancel

          • Kim - December 6, 2014 - 1:59 PM

            Thank you! We will absolutely look into the plug strips, and we’re loving all the input on the bottom deep drawers! We’ll have a talk with our cabinet guy about that for the additional cabinets – I think the cabinets that are being refaced might just get Rev-a-Shelf for a pull out function. Thank you, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Uncle Brain - December 5, 2014 - 8:25 PM

    Is it weird that I want to be there to help you after what I went through with my remodel?

    Regarding the soffits, it’s easy… if you want to stick stuff up there you have to dust then don’t put them in. If you don’t want to climb up to dust every month the do them.

    If you do:
    How about some remote speakers in the soffits?

    Or, do upper cabinets with roll-top-type doors or frosted glass sliders so there are two very wide spaces to place seasonal or rarely used items that are long or oddly shaped.

    If you don’t:
    Dimable up lights on top would be magical, too. I’d put at least two bikes up there–HA!

    Or, a clean and creative way for the cats to get up there. My parent’s cats LOVED hanging out on the upper cabinets! The ultimate escape from those dogs.

    OH, I have cool idea… but, too hard to explain here.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 6, 2014 - 2:01 PM

      Uncle Brain, we owe you a call!ReplyCancel

  • Jodi - December 5, 2014 - 9:17 PM

    SO EXCITING!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Chance - December 6, 2014 - 9:20 AM

    PLEASE do not add soffits. There is nothing that makes me cring more than bug ugly soffits. I recently saw a lady on apartment therapy remove her cabinets, hang them up a little higher and then add an open shelf underneath them. It looked really great, but gave her space for more open storage, if your ceilings are SUPER tall, you could do that plus add baskets on top of the cabinet for texture and hidden storageReplyCancel

  • maria laura - December 6, 2014 - 12:31 PM

    Hi kim and Scott! Here is something like you want… Don’t to add cabinets above at some point in the future. I totally agree with Erin… I wish you good inspiration to animate you. After all, the kitchen is yours: follow you own wishes…ReplyCancel

  • Rosemary - December 6, 2014 - 8:36 PM

    I don’t know if you’ve ever lived with a pocket door, you may not know that they can be very difficult to operate if the door is used frequently. The little latch has to be dug out with your fingernails and then locked with a little turn latch. They can also wiggle and wobble after being in use for a while. I’d suggest you rethink a pocket door and go for a standard door.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel @ My Two Pitties - December 7, 2014 - 5:11 AM

    How exciting! We recently finished our kitchen remodel in our 1922 Craftsman house, using black, greys & white. Here’s the rundown of the options I chose:

    - black lower cabinets / white upper cabinets
    - light grey wall color w/ white trim
    - black window & glass door framing
    - honed grey Caesarstone counter top (looks like concrete)
    - carrara marble subway tile black splash
    - undermount stainless sink
    - chrome bridge style faucet
    - chrome cabinet hardware
    - reclaimed maple flooring
    - pendant light from Schoolhouse Electric

    Let me know if you’d like to see pictures. Based on your style, I think it’s up your alley;)

    I’d also suggest not adding soffits. My parents have high ceilings in their kitchen with trim at the top of the cabinets & it looks really nice & open:)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 8, 2014 - 9:58 AM

      Rachel, we’d LOVE to see a photo! Please feel free to email them our way!ReplyCancel

  • April - December 7, 2014 - 10:49 PM

    Hi! I’ve never commented before but as someone who has planned a couple of kitchens, I couldn’t resist!

    1. Personal opinion, but I vote no on soffits. It so much more open visually. I am also not into putting any clutter up there, but greenery and white lights at Christmas are beautiful. On that note, ours are wired with plugs on top of the cabinets that you can’t see because of the trim that are controlled by a switch near our sink.

    2. I would strongly suggest going with drawers everywhere possible. We have one narrow cabinet for trays that is nice, but other than that drawers are significantly more functional. You can use the entire space, no clutter or lost items. Also, I have seen drawers done with very low sides or metal sides. High solid sides are, again, much more functional.

    3. Many people do pull out trash under the sink, but we put it elsewhere because when people are working together to clean up after a meal it creates a traffic jam to have the sink and trash in the same place.

    4. Consider a garburator and place it on the ‘rinse’ side of your sink.

    5. If you haven’t purchased a dishwasher yet a 3rd rack is a total luxury and a dream to an organized person. None of your cutlery will ever touch again :)

    Your plans look awesome! The kitchen really is so central in a home – you will enjoy it so much!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 8, 2014 - 9:35 AM

      Loving all your feedback, April. Thank you! So many good points, and many of them we’ve already discussed with our cabinet guy, but we’re adding more questions to our list. You all are awesome. A kitchen update is in order later this week!ReplyCancel

  • Krista - December 8, 2014 - 6:46 AM

    How much space do you have between the stove counter and the sink on the other side of the room?
    It’s hard to tell with no floor plan but it looks wide and like you might want an island. It’s nice to have prep space with no cabinets overhead.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 8, 2014 - 9:33 AM

      Absolutely! We’re on the hunt for an island already.ReplyCancel

  • Michael Ruwald - December 10, 2014 - 12:41 AM

    This is pretty exciting! I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Keep us updated! I’m taking kitchen inspirations right now for our kitchen redo.ReplyCancel

  • maggie - December 10, 2014 - 8:05 AM

    If cabinets are totally out of the question, then I’m totally pro-soffit. I think adding art/greenery/clutter up there looks dumb- everyone knows it just gets dirty. I think if you trim out the soffit, it can look really nice! I’ve just never known anyone to ACTUALLY clean up there as often as they should.ReplyCancel

  • Haley - December 12, 2014 - 9:45 AM

    I’m excited to see what this looks like. We have a soffit in our current apartment and I kind of hate it because it cuts off using above the cabinets for storage (our place is kind of small so any storage makes a difference). I’ve also seen a lot of kitchens that have artwork and stuff above the cabinets to add interest into the kitchen. So in general I’m anti-soffit, but I think they can look really great.ReplyCancel


File this one under a little weird. (But also we sort of love it.)

This story begins at California Nights, a monthly vintage-shopping-hop close to home with a $5 entry fee that’ll get you a never-ending cup of beer. (It’s pretty much the greatest hop there ever was, really!) During one of our stops, we picked up an old brass elevator plaque in a junk box, and for $4, we thought, we’ll do something with this, right?

LED-elevator-sign-01 LED-elevator-sign-02

That was in July, and it had been sitting in our coat closet for months until we finally decided to just do something with it! With winter in full swing, we’ve been noodling on a few ideas for the entryway to keep things tidy (more on that once we finish up some pretty simple solutions!), and this guy would be sweet hanging somewhere in that space – above the door?, we thought. And wait a minute! What if we can make it light up?

I finally dug the plaque out of the closet and put it on the dining room table as a daily reminder. We came up with a few ideas to elevate (ha!) the plaque to a new level of cuteness, and so? The story continues…

After removing the screws that held in the back support, we cut out two squares of white acrylic to fill the arrows (the acrylic hadn’t been used in years, but we had it on hand as an old photo backdrop to my paintings). Above, you’ll see that only one of the plastic inserts survived, so this was our solution to fill that negative space. To keep the acrylic in place, I used double-stick foam:


Using scrap walnut leftover from our staircase caps, we constructed a tiny frame. Held together with tack nails and wood glue, it would fit snug around the brass, and the center support would allow us to screw the plaque into place.


And because the walnut is such gorgeous wood to begin with, I rubbed nothing but a natural Danish Oil into the grain:


Now, this is where the story gets fun! We picked up a 4-piece Dioder LED light kit from Ikea to give our sign a pretty glow. We snipped three of them down to size and secured the ends with electrical tape (only to realize that Ikea actually supplies plastic caps for that very purpose – oops), attached them to the center support with teeny, tiny brackets (also supplied in the kit), all the while being careful to leave dead space where the screws would go:


Finally, we were able to attach the plaque to our frame using 2 brass screws! Here’s a front and back view, before we attached the wires to connect the lights to an electrical source:


We’ve almost reached the end of our story, so let’s see how it looks hung above our coat closet door!


The wires for the LEDs are so thin that we simply drilled a small hole through the wall and plugged it into our closet light socket. You might remember that we had this adorable light, but the simplest solution to make this work was to replace the fixture with one that could accommodate  an outlet. We tucked the cords along the inside wall where they could never be seen:

LED-elevator-sign-12 LED-elevator-sign-09 LED-elevator-sign-11

The outlet for the LED strips are controlled by the light in the closet, so they turn on and off as we turn the closet light on and off, which is such a fun unexpected addition! (My only regret is that the minty green interior looks downright neon when flicked on, but Scott thinks it’s awesome. It’s a give and take; agree to disagree!) It’s hard to tell in photos, but you can actually see the individual LED lights on the strips, which is reminiscent of an old billiard sign. Cute, cute:


And so concludes an odd little story of our $4 elevator plaque-slash-sign. Going… down? (I had to.)

  • Laura @ Rather Square - December 3, 2014 - 6:40 AM

    I can’t believe you figured out a way to make it light up! Just displayed as-is it would have been pretty cool, but the lit version is really amazing. Hanging it above the closet door reminds me of those 1980s spy movies where people hid secret elevators in closets (Spies Like Us, anyone?).ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 3, 2014 - 12:49 PM

      Totally like a spy movie!ReplyCancel

  • Alichia - December 3, 2014 - 7:38 AM

    I absolutely love this! It’s these tiny little touches that make your home so YOU and cozy. I’m jealous of that find and creative thinking. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Holly O - December 3, 2014 - 8:20 AM

    I love this!! Very cute idea, and another great touch to your home.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - December 3, 2014 - 9:35 AM

    This is so fun and creative! Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - December 3, 2014 - 10:31 AM

    Oh. My. God. This is the cutest detail I’ve seen in ages! Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Erin - December 3, 2014 - 10:37 AM

    I love this post—really, I love all of your posts! I love how whimsical your house is, but I love how your use of finishes or textiles keeps your whole house looking so sophisticated! Thanks for making such an inspiring place to visit on the old interwebs!ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Adventures of a Dog Mom - December 3, 2014 - 10:50 AM

    That is too cute!ReplyCancel

  • Trilby - December 3, 2014 - 11:03 AM

    SUPER awesome!! In a home/DIY blogging world that gets a little monotonous at times, you guys are SUCH a breath of fresh air. I love, love, love this quirky little light, and I’m so happy that other people infuse their homes with personality. Refreshing!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 3, 2014 - 12:49 PM

      Thanks for making our day!ReplyCancel

  • AnnMarie - December 3, 2014 - 12:46 PM

    This is great!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams - December 3, 2014 - 1:53 PM

    Such a quirky little piece, but I would smile every time I saw it. Good idea to light it up. Now I am waiting to see what you are going to do with the plastic arrow insert.ReplyCancel

  • Chanel - December 3, 2014 - 2:22 PM

    You guys are too cute – and so is your home and this elevator idea. I swear, glad I don’t know what neighborhood you guys live in Chicago, I may stalk you guys…just kidding (I hope). Always love seeing new posts from you guys!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 3, 2014 - 2:31 PM

      Ha, thanks! You can find us by following the noise – seems that not a day goes by that we’re not using our sander or miter saw. (I’m sure our neighbors just love us!)ReplyCancel

  • Kalli - December 3, 2014 - 11:38 PM

    Um, I love it. : )ReplyCancel

  • bianca - December 4, 2014 - 6:44 PM

    I love this! Quirkiness in decor is underrated for sure.
    Floor 2 please…ReplyCancel

  • Amy - December 10, 2014 - 12:14 PM

    I just stumbled upon your blog and I wanted to say this is the cutest and most creative DIY project I’ve seen in a long time. It’s awesome! Following you now…ReplyCancel

  • Britani - December 11, 2014 - 12:52 PM

    For some reason, this entryway photo just triggered the need to comment for me– it’s really amazing to see how far your home has come! I can’t believe I remember reading your blog when then entry looked like this:

    I love this little light, and everything you’ve done with your place! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 11, 2014 - 1:00 PM

      Can I please just tell you that you’ve made my day? (My week, I mean?!) Thank you a thousand times. Reminders like this are really nice when we’re feeling like there’s SO much more ahead!ReplyCancel


As Scott and I do our holiday shopping, we always like to turn to items that we’ve tried and loved, especially those things that friends and family have personally asked: I have to know, what is that scent? Ha, where do you find something like that? Ooh, I could use one of those. We enjoy taking what we love about our friend and mixing that with something that’s reliable, hand-picked just for them, and whenever possible, has a good dose of quirk (and not surprisingly, a love for pets!).

Here’s a little catch-all round-up of items that you may like, too, for your friend who already has an enviable scarf collection. For the animal lover in your life who gets it. For your dad who has everything or your sister who never returns your favorite clutch. Some things we have, some things we’d like, but everything is under $50 (some much less!), which means you could always treat yourself while you’re at it. Psst… there’s a handful of promos thrown in just for you!

Let’s do it!


1 // I Just Want To Drink Coffee T-Shirt, $27.95 // We wear and love this one, and now it’s time to add to the collection! // Through January 31st, save 15% off any order with promo code YBH15

2 // Blue Spruce + Spearmint candle by Sydney Hale + Co., $30 // We got hooked on their Eucalyptus + Sage, and we’ve started burning this candle over the weekend! With a scent so fresh and fragrant, they rarely need lit to fill your room. Better yet? 10% goes right back to animal rescue. // Through December 7th, receive free shipping on all orders in the USA with promo code YBHGIFTGUIDE

3 // Baggu Small Clutch, $44 // Baggu bags rule our world. From their totes to leather pouches, we’ve got them all. Their quality is top notch, and their leather is downright dreamy.

4 // Black and White Cord Set w/ Bulb Socket, $16.99 // 15 feet of this graphic cord could have your office mate lighting up their corner of the cube in no time!

5 // Cards Against Humanity, $25 // A card game favorite among our friends, we’ve even picked up several expansion packs and the Bigger, Blacker Box. Please don’t play this with your mom.

6 // Negroni Cold Process Soap by Soap Distillery, $7 // Our friend Danielle, mastermind behind Soap Distillery, offers small batch vegan soaps, scrubs and whips without the hangover. A unique gift for your best drinking buddies – or definitely hoard them for yourself (as we’ve been known to do!). // Through December 5th, save 15% off any order with promo code YBHOLIDAY

7 // You Earned It Bottle Opener, $28 // We think the handle says it all! Gift with your friend’s favorite 6-pack, and toast to you. Job well done.


8 // Paris #4 by The Print Shop, $39 // During our whirlwind weekend to Paris, Scott insisted we hike up the Eiffel Tower. I snagged this shot of picnic goers below, and it’s been a Print Shop favorite – ours too! – ever since. And gifting art? That’s the very best gift, we think. //  Through December 7th, save 20% off any order with promo code YBHTAKE20

9 // Baba Souk Graphic Cheese Plate, $45 // This beautiful clay plate should never be tucked away. It’s absolutely counter top display worthy, don’t you think? Pair with a gourmet block of cheese, and you’re golden. // Through December 4th, save 30% off any order with promo code YBH30

10 // Grounds & Hounds Coffee, from $8.75 // Using only fair trade organic beans, Grounds & Hounds gives back 20% to safe-haven animal rescue organizations. Their story is heartwarming, and their coffee? It’s really, really good. We love the Alpha Blend, but we’ve only just begun.

11 // Grey Exotic Cat Stud Earrings by Faz, $20 // Can you even handle this? I have a few pairs that remind me of our girls, but now that Faz makes custom earrings, well, forget it!

12 // Case Study Table Top Bowl by Modernica, $39 // Take a bowl, fill with goodies. It’s a no-fail gift! We love that this table top bowl would be the right size for a mini succulent, a handful of chocolates or a place to tuck a gift card. // December 1st only, receive a free Table Top Bowl with any purchase (no minimum) within the contiguous US using promo code YELLOWBRICKHOME. Gift will automatically be added to your order.

13 // Custom Pieladium Bluetooth Speaker via Zazzle, $49.95 // Not only would this pint-sized bluetooth speaker easily fit in your purse for music on the go, but you can make it your own! For fun, I added Jack’s fuzzy mug to the product above, and I’m thinking an accompanying CC speaker is only appropriate. // On Cyber Monday, see promos here when you use the code ZAZCYBER2014

14 // Creative Block Book by the Jealous Curator, $25 // As the tagline says, “Get unstuck, discover new ideas.” Whether you’re in it for the artwork or you’ve succumbed to the dreaded block yourself, let’s get inspired. (Dear Scott, this is on my wishlist. Love, Kim)

Happy shopping!

  • Staci - December 1, 2014 - 11:59 AM

    Great gift guide. Might have to give myself the cool cord or the puppy-saving coffee beans!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 1, 2014 - 12:09 PM

      We drank the Paper & Slippers blend over the holiday weekend, and it was SO good! (Between us and our 2 friends, we burned through a whole bag!) I think Alpha is still my favorite – so far.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Lynn - December 1, 2014 - 7:56 PM

    Is G&H on par with Stumptown? Thanks to you guys I’ve been ordering Doug a bag each year for Christmas and I’m thinking I may have to switch things up this year … for the pups! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 2, 2014 - 7:49 AM

      That’s a close call! G&H is reaaaally good and saves the bubbies… So I think this year give it a go! Their Alpha dark blend is perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - December 2, 2014 - 8:55 AM

    And now I want to order ALL the SOAP from Soap Distillery. I feel like Oprah. “You get a bar of soap and you get a bar of soap!”

    Thanks for sharing. I’m always looking for fun and unique gifts.ReplyCancel

  • april - December 2, 2014 - 2:11 PM

    Is there a holiday discount code for the Pet Shop gift certificates too? YBHTAKE20 didn’t work there.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 2, 2014 - 2:16 PM

      The code is only good in The Print Shop. There won’t be any more Pet Shop sales this year, but I sincerely hope I still get to work with you!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - December 2, 2014 - 4:59 PM

    Some great ideas! We LOVE Cards Against Humanity. I cry-laugh every time. We actually play with my parents (my brothers, myself and our SO’s) and it turns out they’re savants. Beat us every time. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kaleigh - December 2, 2014 - 9:38 PM

    I LOVE Cards Against Humanity…. I have never laughed as hard as I did when we played that. It truly is for horrible people… so call me horrible!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - December 8, 2014 - 2:18 PM

    Ahh yay – thanks for the gift list, my friends definitely do have enough scarfs lol. And I was super excited to see that you included Grounds and Hounds coffee! A good friend of mine from high school started that business in California about two years ago. It really is a great cause and excellent coffee to boot!ReplyCancel