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Everyone, thank you! We loved that you were so vocal about All Things Kitchen last week, and you gave us so much to think about – from pull-out drawers to windows to islands and soffits (my goodness, the soffits!). Over the weekend, we prepped the space for our soon-to-be pocket door by removing the existing storage room door (aka the first floor work room, our nickname for that small dog leg off the kitchen), pulling up the baseboards and delving deep into soffit talk.

There were a few things we didn’t cover in the original post, partly because we’re still figuring some things out, but also because that initial post was a soft introduction. And because you all gave some fantastic input, let’s follow up and get nerdy about kitchens!

  • Our heads are spinning with cabinet talk, but rightfully so, as they’re such a large part of our budget. A common consensus was the upside to pull-out lowers, which is something we’d been considering as well. The cabinets that will be re-faced on our sink wall will be unable to accommodate this from a built-in standpoint, but we can add Rev-a-Shelf systems to remedy that. We’ll be talking with our cabinet builder about the new lowers to implement pull out lower cabinets – and yes, this includes a trash bin, slim pantry next to the refrigerator and spice rack to the left of the stove. You all are on it.

  • No soffits! No soffits! (Chant with us – No! Soffits!) We had friends and family call up and chime in too – and we hear you! Instead, we’ll add finishing trim to our cabinet tops, which will leave the option open for anything else down the line – more uppers? Lighting? A place for art? There is, however, one obnoxious soffit that we can’t avoid, which hides a furnace vent. Ah, well:


  • Let’s talk additional furniture. There will be an island, and we’re currently on the hunt. One option is our beloved Varde (that I use in the studio), but we’d likely go with the 4-drawer option. Another option would be to find something unique and second hand, although smooth drawers would be a must. We’d also love to top any island with a contrasting countertop from the rest of the kitchen, and if we can swing it, an overhang would be nice for a couple of stools. Bonus: We’re keeping an eye out for a perfectly vintage china cabinet/hutch that’ll need nothing more than a wood refresh to bring in a touch warmth (and, of course, more storage!).

  • The paint plans: We’re thinking white cabinets (uppers and lowers), a bold island (true black or navy) and soft neutral walls; we’ll bring in color with art, accessories and our pocket door (more on that in a minute). What we’d really like to do is continue any kitchen color into the entire living room, which’ll hopefully allow the somewhat tucked-away kitchen to flow into the main space. You all know we’re not crazy about our too-blue living room, so this’ll be a great time to just do something about it! Off of the dining room, we have a typical opening into the kitchen, but to really up the flow (without forcing an open concept plan onto this old house), we’re toying with the idea of widening the doorway by knocking down just the left side. (At which point, we’ll totally finish off the transition from room-to-room with a trim piece.) Hell-o, smooth wall, welcome to the kitchen!


So, what’s next? Although we’re on the constant lookout for the extra furniture bits, most of everything above will happen in the new year; our homework right now is the pocket door!

  • We picked up this adorable door from Rebuilding Exchange for $60 – a steal for Chicago! It was nowhere near as stressful as the Great Door Hunt of 2013 (holy smokes, do you remember that madness?), and we loved it as soon as saw it! We purposely chose a door with a window, because, well, look behind me! There’s a window in the work room that will allow more light into the kitchen, and although this door won’t be centered right in front of it (we’ll be adding additional cabinets to the left of the existing ones, remember?), it’ll still allow for plenty of natural light to shine into the kitchen. And although we plan on making the work room organized and pretty soon, we’ll either frost the glass OR install an adorable light-filtering roller shade on the backside.


  • The pocket door needs to be refinished and painted by January for install (our holiday homework), and we’ll also need to have our hardware picked out. (We love this or this!) We’ll be having fun with the color, too! Minty green? Soft pink? Something light-hearted and fun, absolutely.

Countertops are also on the brain, and gah!, we could burst just thinking of all the options! Fingers crossed, me may even start the investigation this coming weekend…

PS… Our friend Nancy covers the whys, the whats and all the could-have-beens in our kitchen layout. See that here!

  • Laura C - December 10, 2014 - 8:46 AM

    I didn’t chime in last time, so here’s my two cents (with apologies if I repeat anything already said). When I renovated my kitchen I had a similar dilemma about the space over the upper cabinets and the cost of custom tall cabinets to fill it vs soffits. Upon the advice of our contractor, we ended up installing standard size uppers, but pushed them up to the ceiling. We then installed open shelving underneath. It’s been a great solution – the high upper cabinets are used to store little-used items (canned goods, waffle iron, bulk grocery items, etc.) and the more accessible lower shelves hold our more frequently used items. The end result has been very functional, added a ton of storage, and makes the kitchen feel more spacious than it did when the cabinets were mounted lower down. Just another idea to throw in the hopper…ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 10, 2014 - 9:53 AM

      Thanks, Laura! Our ceilings are pretty tall, so if we did that, I’d barely be able to reach the bottom shelf, otherwise, it would definitely be something we could consider. If we install them at a standard height now, we could potentially install additional uppers down the road that are at least 2′ tall! We’ll see if that’s even necessary though – that would be a lot of storage!ReplyCancel

      • Laura C - December 10, 2014 - 3:14 PM

        I hear you. Our ceilings are just over 9 feet high. I can only reach the bottom shelf of the upper cabinets without hauling out the stepstool, but it doesn’t bother me. The extra storage was more important in our case – NYC kitchen, so we didn’t have a ton of room to work with and every inch counted!ReplyCancel

    • Haley - December 10, 2014 - 10:59 AM

      This is EXACTLY what I was about to suggest!ReplyCancel

  • susan - December 10, 2014 - 8:51 AM

    LOVE the door you found, the window and 3 panels… so great!
    And a big thumbs up to a smoooooth wall into the kitchen…

    Have a great holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - December 10, 2014 - 8:58 AM

    Somehow I missed the original kitchen post, but this is so exciting! I look forward to following along. We have kitchen renovations on our list to do at some point (2015? 2016?) so I will be taking notes. :)ReplyCancel

  • Amy - December 10, 2014 - 9:48 AM

    This is about halfway between our two fair cities, and it’s worth a visit if you are interested in beautiful butcher block island top for a steal. We have a walnut piece (30″x60″) that we affixed to an old drafting table to create our island. I think the piece was $150 or so. They also received some press in a STL food magazine this year, see page 45.

    • Kim - December 10, 2014 - 9:54 AM

      I didn’t realize there was an outlet there! Will definitely keep it in mind. THANK YOU!ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - December 10, 2014 - 10:48 AM

    So on A Beautiful Mess, Mandi just rehung her existing cabinets closer to the ceiling and added an open shelf beneath them – I did it in my kitchen as well, and it makes the ceilings look much taller and gave me way more storage space! Plus, I like having open shelving without losing any closed shelving.

    Here’s the post from ABM:

    • Kim - December 10, 2014 - 11:02 AM

      I love Mandi’s kitchen! I think the biggest difference for us is our super tall ceilings (more than 9.5′ tall, as opposed to a standard 8’ceiling), so pushing them up would make it REALLY tall, and it wouldn’t be practical to reach anything above the lowest shelf. We haven’t completely nixed the idea of open shelving underneath, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, it doesn’t seem too enticing with a 4 pet household. So. Much. Dusting! LOVE that look though.ReplyCancel

  • Ann L - December 10, 2014 - 11:09 AM

    Wow – commenters really like those open shelves! I agree with you, Kim, that your height/reach is the deciding factor. I’m not a big fan of soffits either, but I also hate that dust-bunny land on top of kitchen cabinets without soffits. I agree with leaving the space over your uppers open for now with the possibility of adding more cabinets later when you get tired of dust-bunny land. I have an older home too (1920s bungalow) with tall ceilings and the original kitchen uppers are double: a “regular” size cabinet topped with a smaller cabinet. If I could change anything, I would add glass panes to those uppermost doors and add lighting within the cabinets. That way instead of just squirreling away all my pretties, I could have them on display in a no dust zone and have some nice ambient lighting.

    I look forward to your future posts and your new kitchen!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 10, 2014 - 2:10 PM

      Ann, thank you for chiming in! I suppose we’re leaning heavily towards hanging cabinets at the normal height and having the option for more uppers down the road as you did. The biggest challenge – while an awesome feature – is the tall ceiling, as you understand!ReplyCancel

  • Jaime - December 10, 2014 - 11:43 AM

    Ack! My two favorite blogs (yours and i heart organizing), both doing kitchen renos at the same time, having very different styles and two different approaches to it…I LOVE IT!!! I am so excited to see what you guys do!

    One question: you mentioned the spice rack to next to the stove….would it be above the counter, or actually, right next to the stove?? Like a pullout cabinet/drawer thing-a-majig? If it is the latter, may I advise against it as spices are VERYReplyCancel

    • Jaime - December 10, 2014 - 11:48 AM

      OOPS….fat fingers hit submit before I was done….anyways, what I was trying to say is that spices are VERY susceptible to damage from heat and they will dry out and flavors will break down very quickly if they are stored so close to the oven. I saw a photo of a pullout spice rack located immediately adjacent to the oven in another blog and couldn’t believe it was a “thing” because..HEAT + SPICES = no bueno. A better use of that narrow space is storage of cookie sheets. If you aren’t planning on storing your spices this way, then please ignore my rambling and carry on…. ;)ReplyCancel

      • Kim - December 10, 2014 - 11:57 AM

        Wow, that’s interesting – we never thought about that. All of the sources we’ve seen have spice racks next to the stove – and you’re right, that’s where we planning on putting ours.

        I wonder if newer stoves create the same problem though? We just got a new stove, and we’ve never noticed the sides getting hot at all. I’ll have to remember this the next time we turn the stove on! Otherwise, I wonder if we installed a pull out rack the the left of the microwave on the upper set of cabinets, and that could store all our spices/oils and backing needs.

        Thanks, Jaime!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - December 10, 2014 - 12:27 PM

    I love a good remodel! Can’t wait to see it all come together.
    We have this island
    (It was my Christmas gift last year!) and it is great. It doesn’t have closed storage though, but the shelves fit tons. The thing I love most about it is that there is an overhang for stools. It has absolutely changed the function of our kitchen.ReplyCancel

  • Alison - December 10, 2014 - 12:32 PM

    Have you considered add windows above the cabinet on the side of sink area? It can bring more light in as well as add interest. It might be expensive through.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 10, 2014 - 12:42 PM

      We absolutely did! It would require a new window that wasn’t quite as low, and we felt it was better to install a VERY large wall of windows (plus a door) that looked into the backyard instead! The stove wall window currently looks right onto our neighbors house, which is literally about 2 feet from that window. (Chicago homes are SO close together!) The view wasn’t worth saving for us, and instead, we’ll get light coming through from the work room.ReplyCancel

  • B - December 10, 2014 - 5:37 PM

    I just read Nancy’s post, and looking at the different layouts had me wondering: did you consider swapping the kitchen and work room at all? I’m picturing a wall built basically from where the stove is now, out to the door, to create a new work room (thus enclosing the furnace room out of the kitchen). Then, the wall of the work room could come down and create a new kitchen space. Looks like the plumbing move would be fairly simple, but maybe the gas line would be a hassle. Would love to know if anything other than cost made you rule out wall shifting (if you considered it).

    Btw, I cannot wait to see how that pocket door turns out. It is so beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 12, 2014 - 10:20 AM

      We did consider this waaaaay back when we bought the home, actually! The workroom is tucked behind the bathroom though, so it would create more of an L-shaped kitchen, and we loved how this one was a big box. The bigger hassle came with tearing down more walls when so much of our budget went towards taking down walls when we first moved in. So. Much. Wall. Moving! :)ReplyCancel

  • Nate Laux - December 11, 2014 - 3:03 PM

    Have you considered honeycomb tile for the back wall behind the stove area? It can be a nice alternative to the subway tile, especially as there has been a lot of subway tile going around lately! Just a thought!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 11, 2014 - 4:19 PM

      We’re not set on anything specific just yet. Still need to go shopping for that – YES!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - December 11, 2014 - 4:10 PM

    Well, I was the one who couldn’t make up her mind about hte soffits, so I’m glad you made up yours! Ha! Your plans sound great. I would have the same concern as you about the open shelving, especially with 4 pets in the house. I actually have a mild allergy to dust, so my house accessories are minimal and I keep flat surfaces as clear as possible so that dusting is easy/quick.

    I love that your idea for the cabinets leaves you options further down the road! Flexibility is a good thing. Good luck on your end of year projects :)ReplyCancel

  • […] I say almost because we did check off our holiday homework – the pocket door! Our kitchen contractor suggested that we should have our pocket door ready to go with hardware […]ReplyCancel



I last made a wreath for our home 3 years ago, and while we loved it at the time, we’ve been craving something different (less houndstooth, less crafty) – and for the first time since we’ve lived in Chicago, we actually have an exterior front door to hang it on! Wanting something that felt more winter-esque than overly-holiday themed, we opted to use fresh cuts in blue-green colors:


I put this guy together a couple of weeks ago for less than $30 in supplies – including a one time purchase wreath form that’ll keep giving year after year. Over time, the leaves have dried beautifully, and it fits this house much more than our wreath of yore. For our full tutorial, we invite you to visit the Bali Blinds blog!

  • AnnMarie - December 9, 2014 - 1:28 PM

    It’s beautiful! I love how well it goes with your front door color, too. And that it will look great and be appropriate well past Christmas. And that it’s natural — and I bet it smells great!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 9, 2014 - 2:00 PM

      Yes to all these things! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • allison h - December 10, 2014 - 4:08 PM

    LOVE this! this is exactly what I am wanting to make this weekend! now i have my shopping list! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 16, 2014 - 4:49 PM

      Coming up with the shopping list is the hardest part, I think. Everything should be easy to find at any florist! Good luck!ReplyCancel


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

    • Sandi - January 5, 2015 - 5:27 PM

      I agree. Double cabinets would be amazing! if you have to keep the bulkhead on one side I’ve heard of people cladding it with a faux door to give it the same look, they just obviously don’t open. Depending on what your cabinet doors look like, could be a cool DIYReplyCancel

  • 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

  • Haley - January 13, 2015 - 11:28 AM

    I love you blog and check it every couple of days. I looked back on this for a refresher on the kitchen plans and am wondering: what are you planning on doing with the wall where the stove currently is? Also, are you at all concerned about the two main cooking fixtures (stove and sink, in my opinion) being on opposite sides of the room?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 13, 2015 - 11:42 AM

      Thanks, Haley!

      That wall, for now, will be left open to breathe, with the exception of putting our doggie food station on the ground. Perhaps we’ll hang some art or a large mirror to bounce the light back from the opposite wall’s large door/sidelights/transom.

      Because that wall will be open, we’re not too worried about the appliances being opposite, as we’ll have space to move around any island we put in the center. The kitchen is just the most bizarre shape, and the furnace further complicates everything, so this was the most ideal situation without spending tens of thousands to relocate the furnace and change up the wet wall.

      We’re hoping for the best!ReplyCancel