...because home doesn't happen overnight.
07.10.14 / The Kitchen

Ohhhhh, the kitchen.

kitchen before

The original kitchen was walled off from the living and dining rooms.

kitchen before 2

kitchen before 4

If the cabinets had been in better shape, we might have tried to work with them but, sadly, they were rotted and the doors / drawers didn’t open or close properly. The odd layout assigned the refrigerator to a lone corner with no storage or counter space nearby. There was no dishwasher.

kitchen before 3

One thing we liked about the kitchen was the window above the sink which looks out onto the backyard. It was one of the few windows that had been replaced by the previous owner.

kitchen after

kitchen after 3

To enlarge the kitchen and create a more functional layout without altering the house’s original footprint, we removed walls separating the kitchen, living and dining rooms. We aren’t formal people so the small dining room was relocated to allow for a large island. The dining room window was replaced with french doors to connect the kitchen to the backyard. A vaulted ceiling and skylights flood the north-facing space with natural light. It’s a far cry from the dark, soffit-heavy room we started with.

kitchen after 2

We had our plumber run new water and gas lines to accommodate the current layout. A counter-depth refrigerator stands where the stove once lived. A freestanding range occupies the site where a wall used to separate the kitchen from the original dining room. A new dishwasher is located to the right of the sink. It’s hidden behind a cover panel that matches the base cabinetry. When the house came to us, a microwave sat in a corner eating up precious counter space. We added a shelf next to the refrigerator to house the microwave and a few cookbooks which freed up counter space for a coffeemaker, toaster and shelf of drinking glasses.

kitchen after 6

kitchen after 17

One thing we didn’t change was the location of the sink. I like that I am able to look out the window when I’m washing dishes to admire the greenery or watch the kids playing.

kitchen after 7

We opted for solid surface countertops around the perimeter of the kitchen for easy maintenance. An extra deep, under-mounted, single basin sink makes cleanup a breeze.

kitchen after 5

The nine-foot-long island is the hub of the house. It sees as much Play-doh, crafting and homework as it does meal prep, entertaining and casual dining. We topped it with a walnut slab to give it the feel of a wood table since we eat most of our meals here. It’s a warm contrast to the granite in the rest of the room. Guests always comment on the island and wood top saying they feel like they’re at a bar. We take it as a compliment.

We suspended a trio of pendants above the island. I wanted something that would punctuate the island but not impede the view of the kitchen from the adjoining living space. Clear globe lights were an ideal choice. I especially like the black cloth cords. The pendants are on a dimmer so we can have bright light for food prep or low light for dining and ambiance.

I chose durable metal counter stools to stand up to the kids and their inevitable messes. I wipe them down with a wet cloth and they look brand new. To keep the view from the living room to the kitchen uninterrupted, the stools are backless. This feature also makes it easy to turn around to talk with someone in the living room. Initially, I had some reservations about using backless stool with kids but it hasn’t been an issue.

kitchen after 11

We kept the back wall free of upper cabinetry and installed reclaimed wood shelves. A sleek range hood and minimal backsplash add to the open feel. It’s nice to look over from the living room and not be bombarded with a slew of wall cabinets or an entire wall of tile. I really wanted the kitchen to feel like an extension of the living space instead of a kitchen thrown into a living room. To achieve this, we continued the engineered hardwood flooring into the kitchen. The wood flooring, walnut island top and reclaimed wood shelving help bring warmth to an innately utilitarian room.

The cabinetry is Ikea. From the get-go, I had my heart set on a tuxedo kitchen: dark lowers, white uppers. I wanted dark base cabinets to ground the kitchen in such an open space. I wanted white wall cabinets to keep things light. A mix of black and white just made sense.

We fell hard for the Ramsjö black-brown base cabinets but were disappointed with the slightly pink tone of the coordinating white wall cabinets. In the end, we used three different door styles. (Ramsjö black-brown, solid front for the bases and Lidingö white, solid and glass-front for the uppers.) I was a little worried about the mix on paper but in real life I think it goes a long way in helping the kitchen feel less generic.

kitchen after 12

One end of the kitchen is devoted to paying bills, making grocery lists, creating meal plans and all the other secretarial tasks that go along with running a household. It’s also where I do the majority of writing and photo editing for the blog. Essentially, it’s a home office. Base cabinets hold a printer, office supplies and the kids’ crafting supplies. Upper, glass-front cabinets provide pretty storage. I use an assortment of baskets, bins and boxes to corral vitamins, batteries, camera accessories, receipts, crayons and a bunch of other miscellaneous. The planked backsplash is a repeated element also found on the ceiling and TV wall.

kitchen after 16

To give the kitchen space a cozy vibe, I added greenery, artwork, vintage rugs, an upholstered desk stool and a linen-covered lamp. It feels lived. It is lived in.

kitchen after 9

kitchen after 10

kitchen after 8

kitchen after 15

kitchen after 13

kitchen after 14

There are a few tweaks yet to be made in the kitchen. (We need to add a trim piece next to an upper cabinet in the corner near the microwave and I’m brainstorming an interactive side panel for the refrigerator.) But I’m very lucky to be able to spend the majority of my time in this bright and airy space. In the evening when the kitchen is tidy after dinner and the dishwasher is humming away, I pour myself a glass of wine and golden light glows through the skylights. It’s my happy place.

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
trim, ceiling, planked backsplash paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
french door paint – Glidden trim & door oil paint, extra high gloss in deepest black
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
base cabinets – Ikea, Ramsjö black-brown
wall cabinets – Ikea, Lidingö white
perimeter countertop – kashmir white granite via Stone Design
walnut countertop – Hardwood Lumber Company
island corbels – The Home Depot
hardware – Ikea (Värde handles sans rosettes)
refrigerator, dishwasher, gas range, range hood – Ikea
microwave – LG
sink – Kraus 32″ undermount single bowl
faucet – VIGO stainless steel pull-out
backsplash tile – imperial bianco gloss 2″ x 12″ via The Tile Shop
backsplash grout – Laticrete epoxy grout in natural grey
globe pendant lights – West Elm
counter stools – Overstock
wall sconce above sink – Barn Light Electric
house artwork near sink – gift
spice rack – Ikea
glass storage containers – Wal-mart
kitchen towels – Crate & Barrel
step stool – Ikea, painted & stained
rug near sink – ebay (seller was manhattanrugs)
open shelving - DIY using Ikea brackets and reclaimed wood
oil & vinegar drizzlers – Amazon (These are the best!)
stainless steel containers – Target
antlers – etsy
black & white planter – vintage
rug near desk – etsy
desk stool – Blu Dot knicker stool
laptop bag – STM
blue & white planter – JoAnn’s
letter tray - Ikea
magazine files – Ikea
linen lamp – Crate & Barrel
wood cubby – Kalon Studios
highchair – Ikea
art above highchair – Clare Elsaesser
mat & frame – Utrecht art supplies
tongue & groove planks – Home Emporium
skylights – Velux

In case you’re interested in seeing how this space came together over time, a slew of kitchen-related links:

KITCHEN RENOVATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/08/30/a-few-new-things

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/10/25/light-skies/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/22/finishing-the-walnut-butcher-block/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/24/installing-the-walnut-butcher-block/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/05/25/countertops-are-in/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/11/01/kitchen-backsplash-tweaked-shelves/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/11/our-pantry-a-tasty-giveaway/

IKEA KITCHEN

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/06/03/an-ikea-kitchen-in-the-making/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/06/15/an-after-dinner-ikea-run/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/06/29/ikea-appliance-reviews/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/09/designing-our-ikea-kitchen/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/12/purchasing-our-ikea-kitchen/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/20/installing-our-ikea-kitchen/

DECOR

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/08/21/kitchen-island-pendants/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/06/those-stools/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/22/our-kitchen-cabinets-color-matched/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/10/05/ill-take-it/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/03/14/a-new-desk-rug/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/08/11/what-happened-to-the-wall-planter/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/09/30/a-kitchen-rug/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/01/sink-hole-quick-fix/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/04/the-cheapest-most-loved-fiddle-leaf-fig/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/11/how-im-not-killing-my-fiddle-leaf-fig/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/24/i-call-it-the-stop-stool/

KITCHEN DESK

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/09/27/organizing-the-kitchen-desk/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/12/kitchen-desk-backsplash/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/16/the-kitchen-desk-backsplash-painted/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/04/baby-steps-in-the-unfinished-bathroom/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/16/my-home-workspace/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/26/diy-sueded-cord-cover/

For ease, you can access this kitchen tour under the “See My House” tab in the side bar along with a general house tour and the living room tour. I’ll be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Yesterday you caught a glimpse of what caught my eye on a recent antiquing adventure. Today I’m sharing what made it home with me. The bad news is I didn’t find what I was looking for. (More on that in a future post.) The good news is I did find a few things that didn’t break the bank.

vintage throw 2

First up is a vintage wool blanket ($35) in a color palette that had me at hello. Immediately, I thought it would be a fun color burst at the foot of our bed during this cold, cold winter.

vintage throw 3

The red-orange, deep coral and heathered brown color scheme ties in to other pieces in the room. Namely, the striped duvet, the embroidered pillow on the bed and the kilim pillow on the chair. It’s difficult to see in the pictures but there are thin mint / seafoam stripes in the blanket, too, that pick up on the wall color. The scraggly poms on the corners sealed the deal for me.

The blanket is HEAVY and warm. Steve asked why I bought a horse blanket. (He thinks he’s hilarious.) But guess who is pulling said horse blanket up over their down comforter when it’s, like, 0ºF at night and they’re shivering in the fetal position? Yeah, the funny guy.

vintage throw 4

Stripes on stripes are a-okay in my book. Gimme all the stripes!

vintage throw 1

Most likely, I will remove the wool blanket from our bed come summer when we don’t need extra layers to stay warm at night. But for now this brightly striped find is a welcome addition at the foot of our bed.

vintage spool 1

There are more new old things in our bedroom, too. I’ve been on the hunt for a porcelain glove mold for a while. They always look so pretty draped with necklaces and bracelets. I came across a few glove molds at the Heart of Ohio Antique Center but couldn’t justify the $45-$80 price tags. Imagine how happy I was when I found one at the Springfield Antique Center for just $12! I politely asked for a cash discount and ended up scoring it for $10. Bam. Mine.

It needs a good Magic Eraser cleaning session and I’ve yet to untangle my necklaces and put them on display but that should be a quick and easy styling project one day when boredom strikes.

vintage spool 2

The wooden spools came from the Springfield Antique Center as well. There was a booth full of them and I was drawn to all the different shapes, sizes and wood tones. At $1-$3 a pop, I thought they would make for some great inexpensive, kid-friendly tabletop decor. Seriously, my kids can’t hurt these. They’re cheap and they create a fun little vignette bunched up together. I feel a collecting habit coming on. Buddha heads and wooden spools are my jam?

vintage knobs 1

The Heart of Ohio Antique Center had bins upon bins of vintage hardware. Knobs, handles, hinges, door knockers, etc. You name it, they had it. From the minute we switched up the media cabinet, I’ve been wanting to dress it up with a pair of knobs or handles. I dug through dozens of knobs and was able to find a matching pair of mid century brass knobs ($1 each) that ended up being the perfect jewelry for the cabinet. They’re like little gold stud earrings! I love how they tie in to the gold task lamp and gold frame in this corner of our living room.

vintage knobs 2

The threading on them ended up being metric which threw us for a loop. But (I know I’ve mentioned this before) we could run a well-stocked hardware store from our garage. Wouldn’t you know Steve had metric screws on hand? Don’t ask.

The knobs show some patina and wear which I like. They give the new media cabinet some personality and life. Adding the knobs instantly upgraded the cabinet. Gotta love $2, 5-minute upgrades.

There you have it. The fruits of my cabin fever antiquing which rang in under $60 total. What have you been doing to curb cabin fever? (I’ve found chocolate no-bake cookies mighty comforting, too.)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

12.06.13 / Cabinet Lighting

It’s snowing here today and when it snows it sorta makes our skylights nonexistent. From inside, all we see is snow-covered glass. I’m so happy we decided to put those four skylights in during renovation. We’ve grown accustomed to living with them and don’t realize how much natural light they let in until they’re buried in snow. Gloomy days like this also make me thankful that our electrician-in-law talked us into installing cabinet lighting.

cabinet lights 3

I’ve been meaning to post about the cabinet lighting for a while but keep forgetting. Thank goodness for dark and snowy weather to jostle my memory!

We hired our electrician-in-law to help us update the electrical in the house. I cannot stress enough how important his knowledge was to us. He made several suggestions about where to install new lighting and which type of lighting to use. For instance, in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms, our EIL recommended installing a few recessed can lights staggered along the ceiling so that they would wash areas of wall space. Genius! We totally would have lined the cans straight down the center of the hall.

Another idea our EIL had was to install quality over- and under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen. We had overlooked cabinet lighting assuming lighting from other sources {skylights, pendants above the island, sconce above the sink, lamps in the living area, track lighting along the apex of the vaulted ceiling, etc.} in the open kitchen / living space would provide us with all the light we needed. But after the idea was mentioned, HH and I bit.

cabinet lights 2

Our EIL suggested a Kichler cabinet lighting kit. It’s a linear lighting system that houses 12V / 10W LED’s which put off warm white light. New electrical had to be run to supply the cabinet lighting. Our EIL handled that and to save money, HH installed the cabinet lighting system himself. The track is screwed into the cabinets, a cable snaps into the track and LED festoons snap on top of that. To disguise the track from the front, HH screwed slim white PVC trim from Home Depot along the tops and bottoms of the upper cabinets. The PVC matches our cabinets close enough so we didn’t have to paint it but you could if necessary.

The system was not cheap but considering how much we use it, it was a worthy investment. In the evenings and early mornings or on dreary days like today, we have the cabinet lighting on. It gets used on a daily basis and provides warm ambient light that beats rope lighting or fluorescent undermounts any day. {We’ve had both in previous houses.} HH and I both have a thing for good artificial lighting. A house can be as stylish as ever but if there isn’t enough lighting when it’s dark, or worse yet, when lighting is harsh or blue-ish, we both notice it and it’s bothersome. Spending money on good lighting goes along with #9 on Belinda’s list of things she learned while renovating her previous home.

“The amount you spend on a project should reflect how much you use it.”

I couldn’t agree more. If lighting isn’t your thing, then by all means put your money elsewhere.

We do have one complaint about the cabinet lighting. Every once in a while one or two bulbs won’t light when we flip the switch on. A gentle tap is all it takes to get it working so apparently there is a connection problem. It’s not a huge deal but when the bulb that is out is over the cabinets, then someone has to climb onto the counter to tap it. Plus, we paid good money for this system. HH recently contacted Kichler about the problem. They said the problem is known on their end and they are sending us complementary replacement LED’s to fix it. We’ll see…

UPDATE: Here are links for the lighting system and bulb / socket we have.

cabinet lights kitchen

cabinet light 1

It’s difficult to convey warm artificial light in a photograph but hopefully you get the idea. {Please forgive the blank desk area. It’s a work in progress!} I like that the cabinet lighting helps warm up the kitchen at night when we’re hanging out in the adjacent living room. By nature, kitchens have a lot of slick and shiny surfaces that make them feel cold and industrious in an open concept space. Anything we can do to warm ours up makes for a better atmosphere in the open living / kitchen space. Often times at night, we will utilize only the cabinet lighting and a few accent lights {floor lamp, task lamp} in the living area and forgo the track lighting along the ceiling and the pendants above the island. It makes for some very cozy mood lighting.

cabinet lights 4

We’re in for more snow this weekend so you can bet our cabinet lights will be on. Here’s to a warm and cozy weekend!

P.S. – Another lighting project suggested by our EIL.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Remember the secondhand media cabinet I bought back when we were in the throes of renovating? It was the perfect size for our needs but after living with it for a year and a half, it was clear that something lighter in color and design would work better.

lr media 1

This little number fits the corner of our living room like a glove. I like that it’s white with solid doors and a leggy base. HH bought and installed this sensor back when we had the old cabinet because we were having problems with our universal remote not working properly. The sensor worked great then and now it allows us to control the media equipment through the solid doors of the new cabinet, too. It’s a crowd pleaser. I like that it lets us keep the ugly black boxes under wrap. HH is comforted by the fact that he can control the TV from any room in the house, including the bathroom. Men. The kids no longer become frustrated trying to point the remote just so. Everybody wins!

lr media 2

This corner of the living room is pretty dark at night but Nate’s new task lamp does the trick. I’m trying out a few accessories – potted jade transplanted from an outdoor planter, books, a wood back massager and a black and white print. All things I had on hand. But you know me. I can’t guarantee the little vignette will stay this way for long.

Oh yes, little corner, I am going to have fun tweaking you whenever boredom strikes. Beware!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking