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We have painted kitchen walls! Yea, paint!

As soon as the contractors wrapped up wave one of renovation last week, we were right behind them with our drywall tape, mud and sandpaper. Scott did the majority of this work while I continued the hutch refresh, and he powered through for an entire weekend and several nights this week (a champion, I tell you) – taping, mudding, sanding, mudding, sanding and sanding some more. Drywall dust is our biggest enemy when it comes to renovation (remember this happy day?), and although we did our best to close off the kitchen, cover the appliances and mop every night, that dust continued to find it’s way into the living room, bedrooms and bathrooms.

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But let’s fast forward to the magical night where we moved past that and dived into painting! Choosing a paint color was particularly agonizing (ha!) since our plan is to continue the color into our living room. That said, we wanted something that felt bright and clean with a hint of warmth, finally landing on Intense White by Ben Moore. We’re thrilled to continue working with Ace Hardware this year, and they graciously provided the paint, color matched to Valspar Optimus in an eggshell finish. (This is the same brand we used in the guest room, and we are on board. It’s thick and smooth with an almost matte appearance once dry.) The color itself is actually a pale warm gray, providing soft contrast against our (eventual) white trim and appliances.  The color is a chameleon, looking straight up blindingly white out of the can, going on slightly beige (causing us to panic – just for a minute), and drying down to a gorgeous, subtle gray that never feels too cool or overly warm. Love, love.

Let’s go back to the beginning, before electrical was juggled around and all the walls were in tact:


To last week:


And now, today! We haven’t even begun our back-wall-of-windows, but man. What a difference paint makes! Now, imagine: white trim and cabinetry, a dark island and that runner.

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We hope to get new doors for the furnace this weekend, a completed hutch and although there were rumblings of finished cabinets, it looks like those have been slightly delayed. But! Once those are in, it’ll be on to counter installing, tiling, dresser-reconfiguring, hardware choosing and, fingers crossed, back-door-transom-ing!

Our longtime partner Ace Hardware provided the paint for this project, and we used BM Intense White color matched to Valspar Optimus in an eggshell finish. Thank you for supporting those that support us! xx.

  • Amanda - January 29, 2015 - 9:12 AM

    I’m curious about how paint companies name their colors. I would expect something called “Intense White” to be a VERY bright white, not a subtle gray lol. This looks great! I’m glad you find something you like. When do you think you’ll paint the living room?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 29, 2015 - 9:18 AM

      I know, right? And the funny thing is that we landed on “Distant Gray” for our cabinets (also Ben Moore), which is a super clean bright white! So we have Intense White walls (gray) and Distant Gray cabinets (white). Hmm…

      I was hoping to paint it last weekend, but the drywall mess was a bit too much to bear. Maybe this weekend?ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - January 29, 2015 - 9:41 AM

    I used Intense White in our kitchen and mudroom and I love it! Though the name did scare me a little and I almost didn’t pick it, but it really is a warm pale gray. We have white cabinets (BM Simply White) and white subway tile with black countertops and the wall color looks lovely against all of it. It also works really well next to our living/dining room wall color (Rope by Valspar).

    Looking forward to seeing the rest of your kitchen transformation!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project - January 29, 2015 - 10:22 AM

    It’s really coming together so well! I can’t wait to see the finished product. I especially love the pocket door you chose, and the color is perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - January 29, 2015 - 10:40 AM

    That color completely brightens the space! It looks so much bigger!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 29, 2015 - 10:43 AM

      It FEELS so much bigger! And we don’t even have all the new windows yet to let in even more light!ReplyCancel

  • Staci - January 29, 2015 - 11:07 AM

    What a transformation a clean coat of paint can make. The color looks great with your pocket door. Picturing it against bright white trim and I have no doubt it’s going to be awesome!

    Off topic (didn’t have time to comment on your kitchen island post) but I like the idea of a leeeetle overhang on the back side of it. My parents’ island (which is huge) has an overhang with barstools and I love sitting at that while doing food prep (or eating breakfast while watching the TV they have in their kitchen).ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 29, 2015 - 11:12 AM

      You’re totally right. Since we’ve put the dresser in the kitchen, I find myself pulling up a stool to sit during food prep. It definitely needs an overhang, but it will be a delicate balance of how much we can have.ReplyCancel

  • Nate - January 29, 2015 - 2:29 PM

    Just a question, as I am a little ignorant about paints and such. What do you mean exactly by Ben Moore’s Intense White matched to Valspars Optimus in eggshell finish? Is the Valspars Optimus simply the primer over which the BM is applied? If I’m on the right track here, would using a different primer produce different effects? Or am I missing something… Thanks a lot for bearing with me!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 29, 2015 - 2:36 PM

      Hi Nate, no problem! It just means that we liked a Benjamin Moore color, but instead of buying it with BM paint, we had the guys at the paint counter mix it into Valspar Optimus. Essentially, we fell in love with a color that wasn’t Valspar, but we wanted to use Valspar paint. This is especially helpful for pricier brands that have gorgeous color, but getting it mixed into a more affordable gallon.ReplyCancel

      • Kim - January 29, 2015 - 2:37 PM

        I should also say, we didn’t use primer :)ReplyCancel

      • Nate - January 29, 2015 - 7:55 PM

        Oh, wonderful! I didn’t realize you could do that. Thanks so much!! One more question. Is there a standard ratio to do this? Sorry to ask a lot, I’m just quite curious about this process.ReplyCancel

        • Kim - January 29, 2015 - 8:02 PM

          Hmm, not sure what you mean by ratio? Most places will color match, but if you’re unsure, just ask the guy at the paint counter! They’ve heard it all before!

          For example, say you love a color by Clark+Kensington, but you really want Valspar paint, just say, “can you color match this C+K color to Valspar paint?” They’ll be able to tell you if it’s doable :) We also did this with a Farrow & Ball color, but had it color matched to Sherwin Williams, since you can’t buy Farrow & Ball locally!ReplyCancel

        • lsaspacey - January 30, 2015 - 1:49 PM

          Nate, every paint company uses specific color formulas (ex. 3 parts red + 2 parts cyan (blue) + 1 part yellow) for their paints. These combos of pigments are then added to a white neutral base. That base can be from BM, Valspar, or any company you want but it allows you to get the same color recipe at different price points, if possible. They basically just duplicate the same recipe/ratio of colors from one company in either a more or less expensive white base.ReplyCancel

          • Kim - January 30, 2015 - 3:03 PM

            THANK YOU!ReplyCancel

          • Nate - January 31, 2015 - 7:42 AM

            Ah!! Thanks so much. I misunderstood at first with what the mixing meant and was unaware you could reduplicate colors!! Perfect, thanks again.ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - January 29, 2015 - 4:08 PM

    yay for paint and I can totally picture the dark island and runner.ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - January 29, 2015 - 6:57 PM

    I’ve been searching for the perfect grey for my kitchen too. I have about 6 swatches up on the wall right now.. I may have to try this one. I love seeing your progress :)ReplyCancel

  • Mara - January 30, 2015 - 11:39 AM

    Kim, is it just me or is this reno whizzing by??!!! I’m so excited to see everything come together. Plus that hutch refresh is going to be AWESOME-can’t wait!!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 30, 2015 - 11:46 AM

      You literally had me LOLing – I think it’s just you, but we ARE working on getting through this as efficiently as possible, because we can’t wait to see the end results ourselves!ReplyCancel

      • Mara - January 30, 2015 - 2:59 PM

        Oh man!! I’m sorry that it doesn’t seem that way to you. You guys are so good at making it look easy, quick and painless :) Maybe other bloggers are just slower ;)

        ANYWAY- keep up the good work! I’ll stick around for more humor.ReplyCancel

  • Jasmine McGee - January 30, 2015 - 1:03 PM

    I absolutely LOVE the color! Looks amazing, and can’t wait to see more!ReplyCancel



As the kitchen evolves and choices have become more definitive, it because very clear that the majority of our budget was going to 3 main places: ONE) the back door wall (of windows!), TWO) cabinets and THREE) the countertops. In a nutshell, our money is going to the areas that are more permanent, and we’ve chosen to stretch those dollars in the areas that aren’t as permanent – such as a our vintage hutch, antique rug and now, our kitchen island! You can see it, too, right?:


We have been searching for weeks (months, maybe!) for a piece of furniture that could pull double duty as a kitchen island. The kitchen is spacious – definitely large enough for an island – but not so large that we could get away with a standard depth and/or width. Our hunt included anything that could potentially be considered an island, but we had a long wish list for this piece of furniture:

  • Needs to be counter height, of course (36″)
  • Needs to be thin enough to accommodate a small overhang or be wide enough without an overhang to provide good prep space. Let’s call this, oh, 26″ or so total
  • Needs to have storage somehow, somewhere
  • Needs to have an easily removable top surface so we can install our own butcher block
  • Needs to have smooth gliding drawers and/or doors that don’t stick
  • Preferably something we could paint
  • Preferably something with legs that could also accommodate casters (for movability and looks)

We searched high and low for credenzas, desks, dressers and china cabinet bases – from the typical online sources to in-person hunting to alley creeping – and over the weekend, we finally came home with this dresser from our favorite worth-the-drive secondhand shop, Jubilee! To be fair, we’d seen other contenders along the way, but they were either in too much disrepair, too large, too small or too precious to paint.

This guy, though? It’s a Mid Century Kent Coffey dresser with replacement pulls, and it checks off everything in the wish list! The drawers are deep and smoooth. The dovetail joints are all in perfect condition, and the bones of the piece are solid wood – only the top and sides are an oak veneer.

kitchen-island-dresser-03 kitchen-island-dresser-05

The knob placement currently screams dresser!, but we’ll swap those out for middle pulls that will help streamline the overall look. We’ll also need to add trim to the back, mimicking the front (see below), and we’ll reinforce the plywood back with a sheet of MDF (or something similar). It’s hard to tell in photos, but the finish is very shiny and very yellow, and so, we’ll remedy that with black paint and a butcher block top to provide contrast against the white cabinetry. Right now, it’s 19″ deep x 54″ wide, and once the cabinets are in place and the walls are painted, I feel like we’ll have a better visual for the final depth of the butcher block.


The goal is that you won’t even recognize it as a dresser once it’s been refinished. And all that storage? Yes, yes.

  • Adrienne J - January 27, 2015 - 8:20 AM

    I see the vision and it looks spectacular!! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Anne @ Planting Sequoias - January 27, 2015 - 9:25 AM

    Oooh, yes, that has great potential! Will you do an overhang on the back side (for stools)? Or is it wide enough as-is?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 27, 2015 - 9:30 AM

      We’re toying with that idea! We don’t want it to overwhelm the space, but it COULD handle a small overhang… I think we’ll have a better idea once the walls are painted and the cabinets are in. Right now the kitchen looks so crazy that we’re having a hard time “feeling” it out!ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - January 27, 2015 - 10:13 AM

    Kent Coffey pieces are great and really stand the test of time. I have a hutch and dresser. Both have survived two cross-country moves and look almost new. I can’t wait to see how the piece turns out. You may sway me into making my dresser into our kitchen island!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - January 27, 2015 - 10:16 AM

    Creative re-use of furniture! Love it.ReplyCancel

  • susan - January 27, 2015 - 10:33 AM

    oooh, nice!
    i’m very anxious to follow this transformation as i am in the kitchen island hunt and want to do a makeover just like
    this. really curious to see how the top removal will go…

    great find, kudos for your patience and persistence!ReplyCancel

  • Trilby - January 27, 2015 - 11:43 AM

    I cannot tell you how handy drawers are in a kitchen (especially a kitchen island)! I didn’t understand for myself until we moved into our current house just over a year ago. I had to get over my initial habit of putting everything in a cabinet (what? plates can go in a drawer alongside utensils?!?) – but once I did, our lives drastically changed for the better. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But it sure is nice. That dresser, ahem, I mean island, has fabulous bones. I’m excited to see the finished product!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 27, 2015 - 12:46 PM

      After everyone chimed in with their thoughts on our initial kitchen plans, we definitely incorporated a few more drawers OR slide outs for all of the door cabinets. We can’t wait to have it drastically change our lives for the better :)ReplyCancel

  • Clever Girl Reviews - January 27, 2015 - 12:27 PM

    I’ve never thought of having a dresser as an island!ReplyCancel

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - January 27, 2015 - 12:38 PM

    This is a great piece and it looks perfect for your plans! I really like that it has simple lines, which should help the “I’m kitchen furniture” transformation. Can’t wait to see it all done!ReplyCancel

  • Alena - January 27, 2015 - 12:44 PM

    I think you should try one of these really long pulls to stretch from one side to the other, Emily Henderson used them in her kitchen, so they must be good, right? :-)

    • Kim - January 27, 2015 - 12:49 PM

      Love Emily’s kitchen! Those pulls ARE awesome, and we’ve considered something really long too – our only concern is that it might feel TOO modern with the other pulls we’re considering for the cabinets… We’ve been going over hardware for the last few weeks, and I THINK we know which direction we’re going. It’s such a hard choice though!ReplyCancel

  • Silk Flower Arrangements - January 30, 2015 - 1:10 PM

    Can’t wait to see it finished! Great idea. I use old furniture throughout with new job descriptions. But this??? Never occurred to me! THANK YOU for the great, fun idea.The rest of the kitchen is looking GREAT! Good job!ReplyCancel

  • Elysa A. - February 3, 2015 - 11:44 AM

    I will be looking forward to seeing this, as we have been looking to do the same thing. We have a very small kitchen with limited counter space, so an island is something I want VERY badly. It will have to take the place of our kitchen table, so we really need to be able to use stools with it. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!ReplyCancel

  • Design News / All the Finishes - February 13, 2015 - 6:11 PM

    […] weekend saw a lot of kitchen progress, having started our kitchen island, completing the hutch (we’ll share this week!) and finally hunkering down and choosing a […]ReplyCancel


We are mildly obsessed with our kitchen’s pocket door. And when I say mildly, I actually mean super, ultra, crazy. (Wildly, even?) Not only do we love the look of a good pocket door, but they just make sense in tight spaces – and in our case, this pocket door leads into a small barely 7′ wide room that’ll ultimately be our four-season Work Room. (Think: floor to ceiling paint and daily tool storage, with a place for everything and everything in it’s place.)

The overall plan to make it work is to extend the cabinets on our wet wall by 2′, which would leave room for the pocket, and the doorway would be moved to the left by 32″ or so – the width of the door itself. The installation was handled entirely by our contractors, and throughout the process, they called me in for photos (which I loved) and kept me updated on what’s inside these walls (lath; lots and lots of lath!):

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We’ve been warned by some (contractors, even) to avoid pocket doors, since there’s always a chance the track could go awry, and the only solution would be to open up the drywall. At the same time, we’ve also been told (by other contractors) that the charm is worth it, new hardware has come a long way, and don’t listen to the downers! Ha – we’ll take it!

Before the drywall was installed, I took some photos of the pocket guts, which is actually really simple and not nearly as intense as I had imagined (and I’m not sure why I thought that in the first place). There are two supports on each side and small, smooth plastic guides by the base that keep the door on track. If the door ever becomes off-balance or slightly un-level, that be easily remedied with a wrench and adjustments to the top gliders:

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We’ll need to trim the door jamb with a 1×6, and on the opposite side, we’ll need smaller strips of 1x3s on each side of the pocket. From there, we’ll simply add our usual casing on both the kitchen and Work Room side, at which point we’ll be able to install the baseboards. (Well, after we’ve put ourselves through drywall repair and a clean coat of paint on the walls.)

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By shifting the door, we were also left with a bare patch of flooring, but that’s a super quick patch job. Luckily, we already have leftover hardwood planks of this exact flooring from our entryway – remember that?


And now – pocket door!


The walls obviously haven’t been painted, but once they are, that soft minty color (Ben Moore’s Swept Away) will really, really shine. With every step of progress, we are just bursting with excitement as the dominoes, so to speak, start falling into place. We have a painted sample for our cabinets (to be installed in a week!), we’re thisclose to nailing down a stone for the counters, and that hutch is almost complete!

PS… For anyone looking to install a pocket door on their own, we noticed that our team used parts from Johnson Hardware, but we’ve also seen kits at the big box stores, too.

  • karen pellegrini - January 23, 2015 - 6:59 AM

    So exciting! I love to read about your progress! I love the door, the color, the hardware, etc. You are going to love having that work room so accessible!ReplyCancel

  • Elaine - January 23, 2015 - 7:43 AM

    I haven’t personally lived through a kitchen reno, but it seems like yours is flying by! And that pocket door is the best.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 23, 2015 - 8:06 AM

      Oh, man! I think we’ve hit the slow parts now – waiting on doors, a sink, cabinets, getting counters measured and backsplash tiling. We’ve barely scratched the surface, but I like your attitude! I’ll try and adopt it as my own!ReplyCancel

  • Anne - January 23, 2015 - 8:11 AM

    So excited for you! Just an FYI…my parents have 2 pocket doors (to bedroom and bath) in a beach rental for 10+ years–never had a problem coming off track!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - January 23, 2015 - 8:26 AM

    My house was built in 1959, and has a pocket door from the master bedroom to the master bathroom. I know it is original from floor plans we have seen and from talks with the original owners (we are the 2nd owner of the home). We have been in the house for about 6.5 year and have never had an issue with the door coming off of its tracks. So, figures crossed that you don’t also. I wonder if contractors say this for the possible worst case scenario?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 23, 2015 - 8:39 AM

      Good to know! Sometimes we wonder if contractors say things because it’s a lot of work…ReplyCancel

      • Carswell - January 24, 2015 - 9:21 AM

        I’m inclined to think that’s more the case than that there are problems with pocket doors. I have two in my house, both installed by my former partner (not a professional contractor) and I’ve never had a problem with either of them.

        Pocket doors are the best – they can provide an opportunity to bring light from one room to another as yours does (and the one I have in my living room) and they have the added benefit of not taking up floor space for the swing of the door opening or closing or wall space when the door stays open.ReplyCancel

  • Jaimie - January 23, 2015 - 8:51 AM

    Oh man, we need to replace all of our interior doors, and I’ve been contemplating trying to do a pocket door for our master bath (it’s tiny and the door currently swings out and hits my dresser). I was really wishing you did this yourself so I could see what’s involved.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 23, 2015 - 9:08 AM

      It’s doable as a DIY, but Scott and I just don’t have the best luck with doors. We hired out the install of all our interior doors because we are just SO slow, and we had other things on our plate. See Exhibit A:

      BUT, I really think you can DIY this! It involves cutting open a wall, installing the track (and we’ve seen kits sold in Home Depot), hanging your door (which can be virtually any door) and rehanging drywall. You may want to get a pro to come in and make sure there’s nothing behind the wall where the “pocket” is, such as a wet wall or beams that shouldn’t be moved. Assuming it’s not a load bearing wall OR a wet wall (where all your plumbing is run), you should have the green light!ReplyCancel

  • lsaspacey - January 23, 2015 - 9:11 AM

    I love pocket doors! I think they are perfect for pantries and small bathrooms too. However, what I love most about this post is how in your animation, it looks like Jack comes in, bows, and then backs out of the scene. Adorable.ReplyCancel

  • Marti - January 23, 2015 - 9:31 AM

    Looks so great! Thanks for the detailed step-by-step photos – they’re really helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Becky @ Flipping the Flip - January 23, 2015 - 10:30 AM

    Thanks for the pocket door post! I read it voraciously as I desperately want to install a pocket door to our master bathroom. It was very helpful to see the process in photos, so thank you!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - January 23, 2015 - 11:17 AM

    I’m SO glad you posted about this. The bf is getting ready to move in, so I’m finally planning to add the half bath I’ve wanted since I bought my house (six years ago). But the space is awkward – it’s an old butler pantry (but my house is not big or fancy). The space itself is perfect for a half bath, but a door? Not so much. A pocket door is my only real option, and yours looks awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Lori - January 23, 2015 - 12:22 PM

    I am also obsessed with your pocket door! I love the design of the door itself, the window, and the hardware. I think it’ a fantastic solution for your space. I would love to do something similar in my house, which was built in the 70’s. There are 2 doors leading into the kitchen (one first into the laundry room, then the kitchen), and people are forever suggesting I take them down since they take up space. But I really love having the option of separating the spaces, especially when the washer and dryer are going. I think pocket doors would be the perfect solution.

    I have a pocket door in the master bath, and to be honest, I’ve had issues with it. But I suspect it was installed by the previous owners, and they had a tendency to install everything badly.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 23, 2015 - 12:30 PM

      If you have the wall space, pocket doors for sure!ReplyCancel

  • KathleenC - January 23, 2015 - 4:46 PM

    Well, while I agree completely about the wonderfulness of pocket doors (and I do love them, I DO!), but… our 1960 built house has a pocket door between the master and half bath that has been off it’s track since we moved in a year and a half ago. My husband (who is a woodworker) keeps putting off the job because he is going to have to do the big demolition thing to get in there and fix it; trim off and wall ripped, then re-drywall with mudding and sanding, and finally painted and re-trimmed.
    It’s a great solution for tight spaces, and I AM sure that hardware has improved in the 50+ years since our house was built, and I would gladly install pocket doors myself where we needed them, but… if it fails it will be pretty big and inconvenient fail.
    Although it did give us a funny story… during our house warming party one of our friends used that half bath and, not knowing the door’s problems, managed to close it… and then couldn’t get out. She thought she’d be stuck in the bathroom until the party ended and we came to bed. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that funny a story for her… but the rest of us got a chuckle (after she’d escaped).ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 23, 2015 - 4:49 PM

    Oh, no! I tend to think things like that are pretty funny, so… (although something similar happened to me once, and I was the one stuck!)ReplyCancel

  • Trotula - January 23, 2015 - 5:40 PM

    Excited for this pocket door! Since I apparently spend a lot of time thinking about other people’s home renovations, I’ve been contemplating the doorway to the kitchen that you were hoping to widen by removing that little wall on the edge—since you can’t remove it, do you think you’d like that opening more if you trimmed it out in the same way you’re going to trim the pocket door? That way it could be more aesthetically tied in, and look more like an actual doorway than a new construction-type wall opening. Just an idea to take or leave, and good luck with this next stage of your reno!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 24, 2015 - 3:32 PM

      I wish we could trim it… but it’s SO close to the countertop, and we might not be able to open our drawers due to the thickness of the trim. We’ve talked about it, but we may have a better idea if it’s even feasible once the countertops are installed. Good call, Trotula!ReplyCancel

  • Uncle Brain - January 23, 2015 - 5:50 PM

    Just the added light made that all worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - January 24, 2015 - 4:12 PM

    I so wish I could put pocket doors everywhere in our house. They are just so much better. Love itReplyCancel

  • Katharina - February 3, 2015 - 1:21 PM

    I love love love this pocket door! You did a great job choosing the color! ♥
    (and don’t even get me started on jack’s photobombing! :))ReplyCancel