10 Lessons Learned From Building a Kitchen

By Kate Riley January 14, 2011

Melanie from Washington recently wrote this to me:

“Hey Kate, I read that when you remodeled your house a few years ago, that you designed and built your kitchen.  We’re in the beginning stages of gutting our very dated kitchen and we’re starting over from scratch!  We’re so excited!!  My question for you is, were there any pitfalls you ran into?  Anything you learned along the way you’d be willing to share?  What should we know about building a kitchen starting from four bare walls?  Help!”

Great question Melanie!  Me and my Mister built our kitchen over five years ago, so to answer Melanie’s question, I had to dig through the archives and pull out all my files to refresh my recollection of the process of building our kitchen from scratch.  It resulted in a mild rash and minor heart palpitations, but I’ve since recovered.

No, I’m kidding.  I absolutely love kitchen design, and loved the entire process of choosing all the details of the one in our own home.  I’m one of those people that if I overheard at the grocery store you were building a new kitchen, I’d butt my ponytail right into the conversation and want to chat all about appliances, countertops and the exact style of door front you’re choosing for your cabinets.  “Really?  Oh, fabulous!”

Building a kitchen from scratch is an enormous task.  Unlike throwing the latest most popular shade of paint on your walls, a kitchen must be a space that can stand the test of time.  My kitchen suits the style of my home, and also my own personal tastes as well.  While there are a few things I wish I’d done differently, for the most part, I really love the floor plan and finishes we continue to live with every day.

Ten Lessons Learned from Building Our Kitchen

cg kates kitchen


#10:  Do your research

I’m talking building codes, cabinet styles, appliances and their wacky measurements, tile, countertops, etc.  Visit home improvement stores, appliance centers, tile shops, and slab yards.  Do extensive research online for information and inspiration.  Touch, feel, and read everything you can your get your hands on, and gather at least three bids from all subcontractors.

reseach mags

Eat, drink, and breathe everything ‘Kitchen Design’ until you can’t stand it anymore.  Then you’ll be ready to make your final choices.

#9)  Have a good lighting plan 

This is my old tattered lighting plan from 2005 that I found earlier today.  You can see there are plans for eight light switches in this kitchen.  Eight.  But they all serve a very specific purpose (task lighting, pantry, over the sink, etc.)

I consulted with a friend who is a lighting designer and also my electrician.  Together we came up with all of these switches, and I’m so glad we put so much thought into it.

lighting plan.bmp

And dimmers!  Put as many switches as you can on dimmers to set any mood in your kitchen from “Time to wake up kids!” to “Dinner party ambiance”.  Trust me.

#8:  Create a work triangle

Since most cooking is done between these three zones, all kitchen designers will tell you it’s important to keep ‘the triangle’ in mind.   You can rotate the points any which way, just make sure there’s a logical connection between the sink, fridge and cooktop/oven.

This is the exact triangle I have in my own kitchen with my sink under the window, my refrigerator to the left and my cooktop/range to the right.


It’s helpful to incorporate your food prep area in between the zones, which is why my center island is one large flat surface!   It’s also helpful to keep the main path of travel away from your work triangle.

#7)  Research all price points

Countertops, appliances, and cabinetry are always an investment, and places where you want to spend good money for good quality, but there are other places where you will find there’s a great degree of variance in price and you can get away with inexpensive choices.  Our knobs and pulls are the perfect example.

kitchen pulls and knobs

The subtly detailed brushed nickel cabinet knobs and pulls I chose (to the left) are from none other than (who would have thought?) Target.  I think I paid maybe $2 dollars a knob and $3 dollars a pull.  But I paid a pretty penny for the Top Knobs appliance pulls on the refrigerator to the right.  They were expensive, but were they ever worth it!  I pull on those babies two dozen times a day, so always think about that when you’re making your final decision on hardware for your kitchen.

Our sinks are another example.  The main sink faucet is Price Pfister ‘Marielle’ off the shelf from Home Depot and the secondary sink is by Rohl.  Both have held up well over time, but I paid much more for the Rohl than the Price Pfister, and in hindsight, I should have gone with a more inexpensive model for the second sink.

kitchen sinks

#6 Storage Storage Storage 

Think about all the places you want to hide your everyday items, like your coffee maker or your toaster.  If you want to tuck them out of sight, create little nooks to do so.  I like to tuck my own toaster, bread bowl, and coffee maker in the nook behind my refrigerator.

kitchen nook


Also consider where you will place all the things you cook with: your spices, utensils and pot holders, then map out where you’d like to store them as well.

oven cabinet storage

Consider where you will store your small appliances and larger roasting pans that you use less frequently.  I hide chaffing dishes and roasting pans in these corner kitchen cabinets, and smaller less used appliances under our breakfast peninsula.

hidden storage

Every kitchen needs extra cabinet space or a pantry to store dry goods.  Large or small, do your best to make space for everything from sugar, flour and cereal, to larger bulk items like paper towels or a collection of cookbooks.  Walk in pantries are always a plus!

pantry walk in


#5 Bells, Whistles and Extras

You know all those high tech gadgets that are constantly coming on the market?  And all those pricey extras that make you oooh and ahhh?  I’m talking your pot fillers, warming drawers, and espresso makers.  All those little extras you make think you want, but may not actually need.

I’m here to tell you stick with what you’ll use.  We invested in two fancy shmancy extra appliances that we do actually use: our clear ice maker and our wine/beverage fridge.  Those are really really nice, but are they necessary?  Nah.  Just fun to play with.  Could we live without them?  Surely.

extra appliances

Should you double up the number of dishwashers, sinks, or ovens?  Your call, but I can honestly tell you this.  I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used two ovens at the same time.  I don’t believe double ovens are necessary in any kitchen unless you do a heck of a lot of baking or entertaining for massive amounts of family or friends.  But double ovens are always a selling point, so consider that too.  If you have a convection microwave, I think you can get away with just a single oven.

double ovens in kitchen

Double sinks are a definite plus, especially when you have more than one person cooking in the kitchen at a time.  Or you need a place to throw your dirty dishtowels.  Or you have little children with grimy hands and your main sink is full of dishes.  Or better still, a place to chill a bottle of great chardonnay for your friends on a summer day.  The latter three reasons are why I love my second sink.

kitchen glass cabinet and sink


#4  Mind Your Transitions 

The devil is in the details, so pay attention to them.  Mind your transitions around your appliances.  Take my range for example, it sticks out beyond the standard cabinet depth as you can see to the left.  To accommodate, we had to add these decorative legs and have the countertops cut to match.

mind transition

Also, pay attention to the space required behind your appliances for plugs, and the clearance needed to open microwave, oven and refrigerator doors.

 #3:  Dedicated Zones

Especially with families, I think it’s essential to have a desk or separate space away from your work triangle and cooking zone that helps you stay organized.  Let’s face it.  The kitchen is the heart of the home and where so much activity takes place, so it’s best to budget some real estate in your kitchen plan for your phone, a calendar, perhaps a laptop, and a place to take messages.  Here’s mine.

open shelves phone center

Above I have open decorative shelves where I store some favorite cookbooks, display a calendar, and a basket for take out menus.  Below is my junk drawer for pens, tape, scissors, etc.  In the lower cabinet is where I store the phone book, my family binder, my favorite recipe binder, and about five dozen copies of Bon Appétit  which I have yet to recycle.

I think it’s also important that people have a place to sit and chat in your kitchen while you cook, and a place to nibble too.  For us, that’s our breakfast peninsula that forms a barrier between the kitchen and family room.


#2 Be Careful What You Wish For

kate kitchen window

And as with any home expansion, unless you can afford an Alice, keep in mind every square inch that you add to your kitchen you also have to clean and maintain.  And I can tell you it takes a bit o’ time to clean mine.  So even though you may think you want a bigger kitchen, remember, just like a big house, bigger ain’t always better cause someone’s got to clean it!

#1  Make Timeless Choices

 Pick cabinetry, countertops and a backsplash that suits your style and your budget, but always keep in mind the passage of time and future buyers.  There are a bazillion combinations to choose from when it comes to cabinetry, countertops and a backsplash.  I chose crema marble with brown veining (instead of the grey found in carrara marble), a white ceramic backsplash, and dark wood countertops for the island and breakfast peninsula.   Almost five years later, I still love the combination.



kitchen backsplash new tile

If you pick timeless cabinetry, appliances, and surfaces that are not too trendy,  you (and any future homeowner) will be grateful.

One final thought:  Although I swoon over all those high end white kitchens in shelter mags, I do not believe that all kitchens should have white cabinets. To the contrary, kitchen cabinets should complement the architecture and style of the home, and also reflect the personal tastes of the homeowner.  In the average contemporary American home, white cabinetry is a safe choice.  However, I happen to be a fan of many different styles of cabinetry, whether painted or stained, open shelves or closed cabinets, or traditional or contemporary design, so I encourage you all (and Melanie too!) to pick what’s right for you and your home.

flowers on mantel


What about you?  Any of you planning to remodel your kitchen?  What’s the one thing you love about your kitchen?  What if anything do you desperately want to change?




  1. GORGEOUS kitchen! Thanks for sharing tips.

    I love that our kitchen has an island. I would love to change the counters, though. The owner before us tiled (with big ole floor tiles) and the grout gets messy quickly – – it’s such a pain.

  2. Your Kitchen is unbelievable. So gorgeous. I can’t get over that massive window above the sink. I think that would make doing dishes so enjoyable… even with a dishwasher lol.

    One thing we plan on doing with our Kitchen is changing the floor to hardwood, changing out the appliances to stainless steel, recessed lighting and adding a backsplash. We bought our home from an investor who had contractors in the house making changes and updates. The kitchen got all new custom cabnitry and granite counter tops… I would LOVE for some nice white cabinets [like yours] but it wouldn’t make sense, since ours are not even a year old and custom… so hopefully adding the stainless steel appliances, lighter/hardwood floors and adding recessed lighting, it will really brighten it up. :)

  3. Thanks for all the great tips! I LOVE your kitchen.
    We’re planning a total (super low budget, like less than $5k) kitchen remodel this spring. I’m both excited and terrified.
    Did you live in the house during the remodel? How did you deal with not having an operating kitchen during the process? I think that’s my biggest worry.
    I can’t wait to have a dishwasher and more than 18 inches of counter space.

  4. Great tips, Kate! I’ll have to bookmark this one for the hope that someday (!!) I might get to plan a kitchen. Your kitchens is one of my favorites to look at online b/c it’s so open and spacious. I love all the light. Very envious of your beverage fridge. :)

  5. I recently moved into a new (to me) house and immediately tore out half the galley-style kitchen and pushed the whole kitchen out into the dining room. It’s amazing. However, we knew going into it that we wouldn’t be able to afford to redo the other half of the galley style kitchen for a year-ish. It has actually worked out well so far having only half the remodel done. We learned a few tricks and actually completely changed the concept for what the other half of the kitchen will be (when we save up the money for that).

  6. A timely post for me as I repaint our kitchen cabinets. I’ll have to bookmark this page for the day we rip the whole thing out and start fresh – can’t wait! Thanks for all the design tips Kate!

  7. Kate, I designed my kitchen from scratch too (you may remember you emailed me about my marble brick backsplash). It is an enormous task and there are the little details of how much space to put for a walkway… lol, I had forgotten about that. Funny, we have 2 ovens too that rarely (just big entertaining) get used at same time. But I’m still glad I have them, and the warming drawer. They look good anyways ;) And we opted for the same appliance extras, ice maker and wine cooler. LOVE them both. That ice is great compared to the style cubes my fridge gives me.

    PS, enjoyed your post at Cassie’s this morning.

  8. Wow..this just came in the nick of time.. I agree with most everything … and my kitchen is on a much smaller scale. But your articles has made me realize that the final plan i have picked for my kitchen is on the spot ..:)


  9. I love your house and your kitchen is no exception! I enjoy the size of my kitchen (not super big, not super small) but there are three things I would change about it. 1) There is no island. There’s a big enough space for an island and the extra counter top would be really nice. 2) No real pantry. Not a huge deal because there is a shallow closet that we installed shelving for food but it’s not quite big enough for what I’d like to put in there. 3) The view from my kitchen window. Not that there’s anything I can do about it, but the neighbor’s house that’s 5 feet away? Why is the kitchen on the side of the house that’s closest to someone else’s house?

  10. Kate, your kitchen is beautiful. What a lovely job you and your husband did in remodeling your space. I would happily wake up to coffee in that space every morning. I no longer work in this field, but as a kitchen designer, I would suggest anyone thinking of remodeling a kitchen to consult a kitchen designer. Ask how they work. Expect to pay for their expertice once you agree to work together, but the cost is not always prohibitive and can often be deducted from the cost of your cabinets. A good designer can help you refine your ideas, make the most of your space and your remodeling dollars. Some people fear that a designer’s fees are prohibitive, but their knowledge and experience can often save costly mistakes.

  11. Your kitchen is beautiful! I love all the light streaming in. Thanks for the great tips – very helpful. We moved from a white kitchen to a dark wood/ black granite one. It’s very pretty, but I’m having trouble deciding what to do for a backsplash. Any suggestions? (We get very little direct sunlight)

  12. Thank you SO much for the advice! Seriously, a million thanks.

    I do have a question though: how are your white marble countertops holding up over time? I’m considering purchasing Alabama white marble for the countertops in my kitchen, but I’ve heard horror stories about it being a soft stone that stains and chips quickly. I also don’t personally know anyone who has any kind of marble in their kitchen. I personally don’t mind an “antique” look, but potential future buyers may see it as decrepit and ruined.

  13. What range do you have? Our kitchen was remodeled by the previous owners in 2004 and our oven has gone out 3 years in a row during the holidays. Yours is beautiful! Do you like it and have you had any problems with it?

  14. We have recently purchased a new home (new to us, it’s 13 yrs old). The things I love about the kitchen is the size, the many windows, the layout of the current cabinets & island. The things I hate are the flooring (super cheap & ugly linoleum), the not so great cabinets, and the countertops. We so far have ripped out the ugly flooring and ordered beautiful tiles that look like hard wood antique flooring (insert a thrill of excitement!!), I am painting and distressing the current cabinets, new pulls and handles, wrapping the cabinet ends and island with beadboard. I also have to get all new appliances because the owner sold all of them. I’m aiming in the near future to add new countertops, and a old brick looking backsplash. One thing I am thankful for is that we are living in our current home while we remodel the house (what a blessing that is!!).

    A quick and huge THANK YOU for your site! My sil told me about you and I have been an addict since! I love all the ideas, tutorials, and inspiration you have been able to give me and many others I am sure. Have a wonderful weekend!

  15. I adore your kitchen – especially your countertops. We will be painting all of our cabinets black in the near future and we are having a terrible time picking out the right color for the counters. Any tips on how you chose yours? Looking at a 3×3 piece in the store or online does not help me envision what it will look like filling a room! Help is appreciated.

  16. Here’s my two cents for anyone considering a kitchen remodel: DO NOT GET ONE OF THOSE CONVECTION MICROWAVES! I won’t name the brand–I’m a long-time reader, so I know CG’s father used to work for them. ;) After only four years, the light assembly that allows the unit to bake died and it was going to cost $400 to fix. Ouch! That could buy a lot of toaster ovens to bake our tater tots! So we now are left with just an $800 microwave to nuke the leftovers. What we DO like is our range whose bottom storage drawer doubles as a second oven. It’s great at Thanksgiving when you need to start the dressing and the green bean casserole but the turkey is still in the oven.

  17. Thanks Kate this was really helpful and timely for me. We’re rebuilding after a fire and meeting with the construction manager TODAY as the bids have come in and we need/get to make some decisions.

    In the house that burned a “paint the cabinets and put in a dishwasher” remodel turned into taking it down to the studs. After bitching for years about the crappy decisions previous owner’s of my homes had made that I HAD to undo I quickly realized how daunting getting to have it my own way was. That’s a lot of decisions and mine were all made with the budget in mind.

    This was in the olden days before the rampant (and I mean that in a good way) blogosphere so I went to the library and checked out dozens and dozens of kitchen design books. Every picture that invited a visceral response (gasp, sigh, quiet contemplation, YOU know what I’m talking about, etc) I tagged with a sticky note. With the exception of one picture all of them were white painted cupboards, in the shaker style. These weren’t “huge” if you except kitchen for the past CENTURY. Cherry was the rage but cherry left me cold, despite the warmth. That’s how I figured out what I loved and was able to get out of the fetal position and make some decisions.

    Back then the company we ordered through didn’t even have painted cupboards so we negotiated to have them prime them at the factory and I hired some one (a lovely retired soul looking to keep busy named Marv) to paint them before they were installed.

    Someone asked about living in your home during. We had a great contractor and demo to finish it was three weeks, just as promised. We set up a temporary kitchen in our dining room on the baby grand piano and bench. A friend lent me a toaster oven and I had a microwave. I selected 6 meals and made and froze four of each one so we had a month of meals. I think frozen pizza was one of my meals, to be honest, and I still don’t make broccoli cheese soup. Keep it simple and take the long view with your health.

    The dust is unstoppable.

    I made a lot of great decisions and a few duds, but when I was running out of my burning home I wasn’t kicking myself for picking a white paint with too much yellow for the cabinets, if you know what I mean.

    Great and helpful post, Kate, thanks

  18. I would add a tiny thing to think about before you finalize the design: where will your trash can go? what about recycling? we had small children and dogs so it needed to be easy to get to and hard for the dogs to get into. Our solution was a pull out in the island cut to hold two plastic trash cans: one for trash and one for glass and plastic recycling. Love it. Oh, and all those measurements they tell you to leave between the island and the counter/stove, etc? I wish I had gone much wider there: our worked beautifully when the boys were younger but now they are both over six feet tall — it gets real crowded, real fast!

  19. I’d add to look into the upkeep required for any surfaces you choose. I originally chose a relatively porous marble for my kitchen counters. When I learned that I’d need to reseal them often and that, if stained, I’d be out of luck I rethought that. Instead, I purchased an inexpensive cherry butcher block counter top and I love it! any small stains are easily buffed or sanded out. It looks gorgeous. And, while resealing is necessary, it’s a simple wipe of some mineral oil rather than chemicals that take 24 hours to dry.

  20. I would also add that putting in extra large drawers (while more costly) are soooo worth it. I can place all my small appliances in them and have easy access. I splurged on slow close latches for all my drawers and cupboards and don’t regret it for a second. I also would tend to disagree on the whole double oven issue; however, I do bake and cook a lot, so it’s just my preference to have a dbl oven. I didn’t have room for one in my new kitchen, but we chose a range model that has 2 ovens in one unit, and it works out fabulously. I chose creamy white cab’s too, and while I LOVE them, I’m a bit disappointed in some minor chipping (they are 2 yrs old). Kate, do yours do this too? I often wonder if it was the painting process, or if all do this eventually? I spent a lot on knobs, and shouldn’t have. While I love my wrought iron looking knobs, they were over $800 for the kitchen, and there were many less expensive alternatives out there (like Kate’s). I would also say, splurge on counter tops. Natural stone is the way to go. As my realtor said, don’t put laminate in a high end kitchen, and don’t use trendy man made materials (such as Corian) as he feels these are not the gold standard that marble, and granite are. (have you seen slate counter tops-gorgeous! not sure about durability though).
    Love you kitchen Kate! Brings back memories when we completely redid ours 2 years ago =)

  21. We did a kitchen remodel in ’02 which was a total nightmare (we gutted the kitchen ourselves a few days before our cabinet install and the day installation was to begin, the guy told us he didn’t have us on the books and it would be three weeks before he could fit us in). We worked with a designer and I thought I had everything on my wish list. I TOTALLY agree with Kate, do your research before you begin and look at tons of designs before making a final decision. REALLY think about the way you are going to use your space AND the way your family will use the space. I went with white maple cabinets and tile after having the “dark dungeon” (it was all oak before, ugh) and I did not consider that my husband would not wash his bar-b-que rubbed covered hands before he pulled out a drawer and not thinking to wipe off the mess, which I would find later when I walked in the kitchen or the messy fingers of little ones that leave surprise fingerprints. Nor did I consider the amount of foot-traffic in my kitchen making for a constant need to mop the floor which gets even worse when we entertain (which is often). We’re searching for a new home now and the kitchen is one area that I’m definately taking a huge interest in. Kate, great post…I agree with everything you said.

  22. I think you just did all of the hard work for me! You’re kitchen is gorgeous, and I’d probably use it as an inspiration piece for my future home. Great Job! Can’t wait to see how you fix the fruit bowl piece!

  23. oh Kate, I still adore your kitchen. I think I always will.
    You know, I started blogging after stumbling on your blog, and my blog went a complete different way from décor. But still Iove getting back here to see what you are up to.
    To answer your question; we’re still in a apartment. I’d show you my kitchen and you’d cry! ONE wall of cabinets, including the stove and sink. I’m desperate to get an armoire of some sort, and soon!
    The great thing is that we’re most likely to get a house this summer. And if I’m not pregnant by then, I’ll treat myself with décoration madness! I think I’m slowly finding my style… Evoking farmhouse, with some open shelf, maybe a shaker.. lots of storage, of course. I’ll have to incorporate a kneed machine, preferably a vintage one I can make a huge batch with. If I can’t have wooden cabinet, they’ll be white. OR red (if I can convince Papa…)
    well, enough dreaming! Hopefully I’ll show you all this year!

  24. We bought a fixer-upper house, and completely renovated the kitchen. I agree with your list! These are all very important things to consider.

    One thing I would say, and this goes along w/ your #6 – think very long and hard about your space, storage, and what things you can or cannot do due to layout limitations!! Our kitchen has both a dining room and a galley-way kitchen in it, and is about the size of a bedroom. We knew we would not have tons of space to keep everything, so we chose extremely carefully based on those decisions. One thing that I was sold on, was the pull-out pantry from Ikea. Every other cabinet manufacturer we looked at did not offer this unless it was an added $2k or more, and completely out of our price range. It allows me to use every bit of space in our pantry (yes even the very back!) and I’m able to get anything out at all times with no digging or misplacing or forgetting what we have.

    On the other hand – my husband is a General contractor – and has had customers who change their mind after the kitchen reconstruction has already begun b/c they didn’t think through all their options before giving the “go.” It costs time, and a LOT of money, to change your mind that far in the game.

    Be smart and think through everything. Taking an extra few weeks or a month to complete your research will allow you to be 110% sure that this is exactly what you want.

  25. You did a beautiful job with the kitchen. I guess the main thing is to be organized thoughout the whole process. Thanks for the tips!

  26. When I got new granite countertops, I didn’t want to spend the extra money on the undermount sink. Serious mistake. All the crumbs and other detritus get stuck in the seam between the lip of the top-mounted sink, and it never truly looks clean. If I could go back and do it over again, I certainly would.

  27. What a beautiful kitchen! Your 10 points are spot on. We did an update about three years ago – here are a couple things I Love:
    1) Farmhouse (apron front) sink with one large basin – it accommodates all my large baking and roasting pans. If I want to wash up a few small items I just use a small bin inside the sink.
    2) Quality faucet – since this gets used so much (with varying degrees of carefulness) I am happy with its good solid workability. I wanted one that I could easily operate with one hand and it’s great that way.
    3) One glass paned cabinet – it looks like a piece of furniture. It’s very functional but I can also display favorite dishes and linens.

    I love my creamy white cabinets. Having come from darker wood ones – I didn’t anticipate the need to wipe down the cabinets more regularly. But even so, it’s worth it to me! Also I agree about the knobs – mine are lower end but classic and solid and look great.

  28. We *just*finished gutting a remodeling the kitchen in our condo (all while I was pregnant!) before we sold it. I loved that kitchen and now I am not looking forward to having to do the same in the new house. To tide me over and get the ugly out I am going to paint the cabinets white until the big gutting. We only spent $4,000 but the kitchen appraised for at least three times that when we sold. We couldn’t afford custom, but by upgrading to 42″ cabinets and adding molding around the top, and buying extra strips to fill in the gaps we were able to make it look custom in our budget. The only thing we had someone else do was the granite, and we insisted on picking the slab out ourselves which made a huge difference.

  29. Great post! Our kitchen has 2 long deep drawers for pots and pans, which works out beautifully and all my friends are envious! But, with the good comes bad purple (!) countertops. Well, they’re a neutral purple if there is such a thing, and solid surface, which is nice, but what I wouldn’t give for lovely granite with a nice glass tile backsplash.

  30. Beautiful Post! I recently gutted and expanded my kitchen and it was a fun process! I wish I had more deep drawers, but I love it.

    My favorite is my “appliance/baking cabinet” It hides all my appliances, yet they can still be used inside their designated cabinet. Also, it houses my flour, sugar, etc all within reach so I can whip up some baked goods in minutes with everything on hand.

    Pics are on my blog: http://qwendykay.blogspot.com/2010/08/bon-appetit.html

  31. beautiful kitchen and a well written post… I was wondering, have you ever seen a kitchen “remodeled” using all vintage cabinetry? So instead of banks of cabinets there would be individual cabinets and maybe a work table in the middle. If so, what do you think of this style? I live in an 1880 Italianate and would like to restore the kitchen, but am a bit worried that it wouldn’t work with how we use our kitchens these days.

  32. Great instructions! I just remodeled my kitchen and dining room by switching their locations with each other. This was a complete gut job. We did 90% of the work ourselves. As an estimator/project manager with an interior design degree, I hired a kitchen designer to come in to give me layout possibilities. I paid her a consultation fee because I purchased my cabinets and counters elsewhere together for the price of the cabinets alone with her. This was critical because she is a kitchen designer only which is not my specialty. She gave me three potential layouts from which I chose my final plan after making a couple of minor changes with her.

    Our job took us 8 weeks. I ordered my cabinets while a special promotion was going on so I got the soft close doors and drawer upgrade along with dove tailed drawers for no additional cost. The soft closers are one of my husband’s favorite things. No more banging cabinet doors. We ordered Quartz tops because they NEVER have to be sealed and cleanup is easy peasy. Spray with non-ammonia Windex type product and wipe with a paper towel. This is a more expensive counter but I like the easy maintenance so it was very worth the extra money. I got three base cabinets with the deep drawers and absolutely love them. The storage capacity is phenominal. One rule to remember if you are doing the project yourself is that even 1/8″ in a kitchen is a HUGE dimension. It can throw everything off!

    We had one hitch. The 24″ deep pantry and the refrigerator had to change places with each other when we discovered that the chimney for our furnace ran where we planned on putting the refrigerator. The pantry ended up being too deep against the chimney chase so I had my boss cut the back off and reduce the depth to 14″. We set up a temporary kitchen with our microwave on one of the old base cabinets until the construction was complete. We cooked most of our meals on the grill. Grilled french fries are great by the way. Through the entire thing I only had one melt down. Yes, even those of us who work in the industry can have melt downs. And no matter how I prepared with dust control including covering my vents/registers, dust will still get everywhere. The more you prepare the better the control though.

  33. Love the tips. My tips are:
    Subway tile, subway tile, subway tile! I know tile is a personal preference, but when I discovered the wonders of inexpensive, but high-end looking white subway tile, my kitchen dreams were complete!
    Also, under-counter lighting was a must in my dark kitchen!

  34. Excellent post. Full of great pictures and useful tips.

    This post, plus your board & batten post, have definitely made you one of my favourite bloggers!

  35. Do not use bottom of the line cabinets. Two of my upper cabinets have pulled apart due to my over loading them with china. I also would not recommend Corian. I used my crockpot over a seam and it cracked. The seam had been well sealed so that I had no idea where it was.

    I would love to have Kate’s kitchen but I don’t have the space or the budget. If you are in my situation, you need to think through about what you actually do in your kitchen so that you can accommodate as many of your needs as possible. It would be wise to weed out the plates, appliances and gadgets that don’t get adequately used.

    A long time lurker old enough to be Kate’s mom

  36. Great post – I like useful and practical information. Questions for you: do you find white cabinetry hard to keep clean? Are you constantly wiping away little fingerprints? Also, have you had any issues with staining on the the marble countertops? Thanks.

  37. could look at that gorgeous kitchen all day! so glam! (but I also love the k to the mart clock( I have the same one!! wink!!)

  38. VERY comprehensive primer! And your efforts really paid off. We are still a couple of years away from redoing our kitchen (but we are saving for it!), and there’s so much to consider, I feel like we should start the planning now. My current kitchen is really old but functional. Some things I wish we had: deeper cabinets for the oversized dishes, a very large, deep sink with a garbage disposal, a QUIET dishwasher, a refrigerator that holds gallon jugs in the door, lots and lots of ice like you have with your ice maker, a vent hood, and an oven that actually fits my sheet pans. I do love the butcher block surface that’s on the island right now. I can roll dough right on it and have lots of space to spread out.

  39. A wonderful post, Kate! Your kitchen is just beautiful, and the tips you give are sound.

    I agree with you that bigger is not necessarily better. My kitchen is large, and sometimes I think I did better work when I had a small kitchen!

    A few things I do love about my kitchen. I love the fact that I have a second sink with a second garbage disposal. I love having a six-burner gas range and electric wall ovens (gas ovens just emit too much heat for comfort here in the South). I love the lighted shadow boxes at the top of my cabinets and the under-counter lighting. I love having lots and lots of drawers. And I dearly love my clear ice maker, which was my one big splurge. . . but the darn thing breaks pretty easily. My appliance repairman really loves my ice maker!

    What would I change? I would leave a little more clearance around my large central island, even if I had to make the island slightly smaller to do so. The floor space around the island can get clogged at parties. And while I love the fancy-schmancy pull-out shelves in my base cupboards, I wish that I had a few cupboards with plain old fixed shelves. The pull-out shelves are nice, but having the pull-out mechanisms in the cupboards uses up a good bit of space that could be used for storage, and I can’t change the height of the shelves. If I had it to do again, I’d make at least a couple of my base cupboards with plain old adjustable-height shelves.

    Good luck to Melanie!

  40. Love your kitchen! We have a very awkward layout in ours and I wouldn’t even know where to begin to improve it! Wanna’ come over and play? :)

  41. Thanks for this post. Your tips are practical and accurate, and as a result of your design talent, your kitchen is a beautiful space. I’m a kitchen designer, and my days are filled with attention to detail, design considerations and a desire to make my clients over-the-moon happy about their spaces. The information in this post (and the comments attached) help me to better understand where real homeowners are at, and the things you’ve found important and valuable in your own remodeling pursuits. I appreciate your wisdom and insight! I just posted (yesterday) my own kitchen transformation…..if you have a moment, head over to by blog to see the before and after.


    Thanks again!

  42. i am SO glad to read this, and can’t wait to read all the comments. we’re building a house, starting in two months, and i have been beyond obsessed planning the kitchen. i’m so afraid of missing some detail or getting too focused on something and not seeing the forest for the trees, and then being stuck with an incredibly expensive room that i constantly work in and think, “i wish i would have done that differently.” thanks for the great tips!!

  43. These are spot on tips, excellent post! Also, I’d be willing to commit a felony for your kitchen – GORGEOUS!

  44. OH-SO-Helpful! although I will not be redoing our kitchen for at least 5 years:(- this is incredibly heplful- a mandatory bookmark! And- your kitchen is so clean, simple, timeless- LOVE!

  45. Perfect tips, Kate! My biggest thing is just thinking about functionality over everything else – layout, cabinetry, storage, etc. And now that I’ve done 3 white kitchens, I think I’m over it. :) On to something else!!!

  46. Kate, this was a GREAT post. I totally agree with you on the importance of doing your homework. The only thing I would add, is to not order one cabinet or appliance without going over your design with a professional, experienced kitchen designer, or interior designer with kitchen design experience. Some people are hesitant to bring in a pro, because of the cost, or because they are worried the pro will try to up sell the project. If this is your concern, choose a designer who is not affiliated with a cabinet line, and let them know up front that you will be doing your own project management. Hiring a pro to help in the design process can help prevent costly mistakes, and is money well spent. I always feel so badly when I see someone spend a great deal of money, often taking a second mortgage, for a kitchen remodel that isn’t fabulous.

    Also, as you pointed out, the same goes for lighting design. A qualified interior designer can almost always save you money with a good lighting design. I once had a client whose contractor talked her out of hiring me to do her lighting design, telling her he would do it for free! She ended up with seventeen six inch cans in her medium sized kitchen. It was hot, added to the cooling load, and the glare was terrible — but at least the contractor made a tidy profit on the purchase and installation of all those cans! This poor client spent way more by over-paying for cans than she would have spent on a good lighting design.

    Look for a designer who has several years’ experience, ask to see pictures of their work, get references, see if you have things in common (like kids and dogs in the kitchen), and look for affiliations with ASID or IIDA, and the NKBA. Not sure where to start? Contact your local ASID, IIDA, or NKBA chapter for referrals.

  47. Great post! I’d love to see some inspiring pics of non-white kitchens–it seems those are all I see around these days, so I tend to favor white kitchens because of that, but I also love color and doing something different…and our almost-house was built in 1897, so the whole contemporary white cabinet thing might not work…

  48. Hi Kate, i would like to see your house´s floor plan, but I didn´t find it on your older posts. I don´t speak english so well, I´m sorry Im a mexican girl, but I love your blog and I see it every single day. Where is your floor plan layout? (Your kitchen is geourgeous by the way!).

  49. Great advice!

    I totally agree with your tips/suggestions. We didn’t have the budget for new cabinets, so we painted our old 1968 cabinets and replaced alot of other things in the kitchen (like the ’70’s flower-power tile backsplash… ugh). We tried to choose timless things that weren’t too trendy, would match the rest of the house, and were neutral enough for any future homebuyers to work into their own color scheme (or mine, if I want to change it up in the future). We also spent alot of time on the lighting, since that’s such a key element in kitchen design and really can set the ambiance of any space. In the end, after alot of work and thought and planning (and even more work), we love our kitchen – and are so glad that we did our research and really planned everything out. I’m also confident that, in 5 years, I’ll still be as much in love with it as I am now.

    I love your beautiful kitchen!


  50. Hi Kate- Your kitchen looks great and this was such an informative post. Such attention to detail, and those counters -both walnut and marble- are just stunning!

    I’m planning a little overhaul of the kitchen of the home we moved into almost three years ago. Sadly, it’s a perfectly functioning kitchen so I can’t justify gutting it!

    The first thing I’m doing is painting over the tiles that form a basket of crocuses over the range. Which is why I LAUGHED when I saw your ‘fruit plate’ tiles behind your range! Or maybe I could hang a mirror over them, even easier!

    Saying goodbye to the crocuses was the first thing on my list of New Year’s resolutions I just posted on my blog. You are welcome to head over and take a peek at them!


  51. I recently did a post on our kitchen makeover – I wish the previous owners had thought of the “timelessness” aspect when they selected the granite countertops; the wild “tiger striped” pattern made our cabinetry choices very slim (sigh).

  52. I sure wish you gave personal help because we’re building a new house and I’m lost when it comes to designing my kitchen.

  53. What a great post with sage advice! I rent an apartment in Los Angeles that has the most useless kitchen imaginable and there is no hope of a remodel for me (if I want a better kitchen, I’m just going to have to move), so I love to daydream over beautiful kitchens like yours. Yours is so lovely I could seriously live in it. So if one day you see a strange girl with three cats tucked under her arm asleep in front of your refrigerator, don’t fear, its only me! 8-)


  54. I’ve saved this to my favourites as I know I’ll be needing it in a few months time when I start to plan my kitchen remodel. I’m very envious of your wine fridge, but I have a built in wine rack in my fridge so I’ll be grateful for that! We’re ripping everything out and starting again and we only have a small space to work with so I’ll have to be clever about getting as much cupboard space as we can (currently the cabinets are 20cm off the floor – what a waste!) A built in cabinet around the fridge to house cookbooks and a wine rack are a must too!

  55. Thank you for this great post, Kate! Some time this year we will be buying a place, and there’s a good chance we’ll need to remodel the kitchen. I’ll be sure to bookmark this to use as reference when the time comes!


  56. Hi Amanda, I agree on the importance of an experienced kitchen and lighting designer, luckily I had one at the cabinet manufacturer (Kemper) that I worked with and also a good friend who is a lighting designer. It’s worth the $$ to seek professional advice.
    Kimberley, I’m cool with that, come on by and bring your kitties!
    Erin, I’ll try to round up some inspiring ‘non white’ kitchens for ya!

  57. These are excellent tips! I need the triangle – badly.. i love to cook, and i have the typical U – so I am looking forward to an upgrade in the next few years..


  58. Robbyn, we moved out for about 8 months while our back wall was missing during our addition. We did not live here for that time, and I think my kids are alive because of it!

    Kasey, all of those improvements sound like the best way to lighten and brighten.

    Deborah, you’re right, having a kitchen cabinet designer help you will save costly mistakes. Thankfully, the place where I bought my cabinets had one on site, she was incredibly helpful.

    Amazing advice Dana, thank you for your input!!

    Lori, “even 1/8″ in a kitchen is a huge dimension” EXACTLY!! And thanks for the tip on the grilled french fries!

    A McDavid: I love my marble countertops, but I’m not a perfectionist. Marble is a softer surface than granite, and is prone to chipping unlike Quartz or Corian or others like it. I have a few small chips around the edges of my sink, but I think that adds to the patina. Mine feels very European, but that complements the style of our home.
    We sealed our countertops when they were first installed with a generic sealer we found at Home Depot and haven’t sealed them since. And we spill red wine and sauce on them all the time. No stains to date. I’m not sure if it’s because the type of marble I chose is less porous than carrera, but we haven’t sealed our counters in five years and they’re still a beautiful creamy color.

    Kristen, beautiful kitchen, that is the perfect example of a great remodel!!

  59. JUST getting ready to make the purchase on our cabinets. Your tip on checking the depth of appliances is a great one and I’m taking it to heart. Up until this point I’ve been trying to keep things flexible, but It’s time to make some final decisions.

    It does help when you’re doing a lot of the work yourself though. I can make some adjustments in the moment when necessary.

  60. I love your Kitchen, Thanks so much for posting it. Right now I am in the hate mode with my own Kitchen, it is a small Galley style Kitchen with no room for entertaining (although we do quite often have about 40 people over for BBQ’s) thank goodness we have a Huge deck =) We are seriously thinking about knocking out the wall between the Kitchen and downstairs bedroom that we never use. Although it would limit us to a 2 bedroom house we would have a large Kitchen (YAY), new Dining room that will actually fit people in it without everyone having to get up from the table to let one person out, an we would make our current tiny dining room into a Breakfast Nook.

    Until then however we will just have to live with the small changes that we can do, like painting the upper cabinets white (really brightened up the place) and I love that the old cabinets are still the wood color.

    So for now I will dream and hope that one day I will have a Kitchen as lovely as yours. Great Job!

  61. We love our kitchen! It’s in an old bungalow, and my uncle, who is a very talented amateur woodworker, built our cabinets. As a result we have stunning Craftsman-style solid quartersawn oak cabinets with maple interiors–yes, it cost money, but not nearly as much as the equivalent ordered through someone we don’t know. They are absolutely professional quality, and we get tons of compliments on them. We paired them with soapstone countertops, which are authentic for the period of our home–more maintenance than granite or Corian (you have to oil soapstone periodically) but very durable and gorgeous. We have a deep copper farmhouse sink. Also, our cabinets are actually signed–my uncle signed his name on the side of one drawer. One thing I’m really glad we did is we had him build a china buffet/hutch–there’s a wall along the kitchen where it transitions to the living area, and we didn’t want built-ins there, so we had a matching quartersawn oak hutch built for that space. An added advantage is that it will go with us if/when we move, since ripping out my lovely built-in cabinets and taking them with me isn’t really an option. :( It’s great for serving piece stprage in the top glass-front cabinets (we used reclaimed glass from our house windows, which we replaced–so it’s the cool old wavy glass), then baking dishes and the stand mixer in cabinets below, and larger/awkward utensils in three deep drawers down the center. All in all, an awesome kitchen, and one that’s perfect for our house.

  62. This is a great post with excellent advice!

    We are about 75% of the way through a kitchen addition/remodel.

    The one thing I can tell you I did during the planning phase was this: When cooking, making coffee, doing whatever in my current kitchen, I tried to pay attention to things that annoyed me or problems we had. That’s how I ended up designing my kitchen with a separate 3′ counter/cabinet for our toaster and coffee machine, and how we ended up with a big wall of desks for when we work at home.

    Although I do love the white cabinet look, we went for a darker stained cherry. Our house was built in 1924 and the existing woodwork is a very similar style and color. It’s kind of a nod to the origins of the house without being a slave to ‘period’. Hopefully, we’ll be done soon!

  63. We just gutted and remodeled our kitchen. We changed the layout a bit, but kept the work triangle that was already there. Overall I love the kitchen, my favorite parts are the brick paver floor that my husband installed (he is a tile setter) the stainless steel appliances and the granite countertops. We put a lot of thought into the lighting but somehow there just is not enough light, so I think we’ll make some adjustments.

  64. Hi…great kitchen and really good tips and advice. We built a new kitchen in our old home 8 years ago and it was so much fun. I learned the following:

    1. That marble really is fine and looks better with use
    2. That handpainted/glazed cabinets are beautiful but the baseboards require more touchups than I thought
    3. That even 2 double garbages never seemed to be enough
    4. That you should pay careful attention to what you do on the flooring you do so you don’t become a slave to sealing, clearning, grout, etc…..
    5.Pay close attention to the placement of appliances, the bigger the kitchen the more this is important!
    Try to make sure your work area is closest to windows/natural light…..

    Those are my personal tips from experience..great blog. Please check out my new one, about the building of our new home and my love for decor and design.


  65. PS You can never have too many kitchen magazines, online albums of kitchens for inspriration or kitchen books, I have enough for a small bookstore and go to them all the time!

  66. great post! we just kicked off our kitchen remodel (http://blondemafia.blogspot.com/2011/01/premodel.html) & can i say this….if you have the space, patience and time, find a way to do your new/future layout in advance. we called that our pRemodel. we don’t currently have an island so we took a wall of cabinets that we’re getting rid of anyway and made a temporary island out of them. good thing we did because what we originally thought we wanted was way to big. we’ve lived with this “practice” island for almost a week now & will continue for probably another 3. i’m glad we did it because i’m already seeing how we’ll use it.
    also, quite accidentally, we’re doing our remodel in chunks. after taking those wall cabinets down, we realized there was no reason we could not go ahead and put in the new windows. i can’t wait because i’m going to use that opportunity to put my floor samples down so i can make a better decision about flooring. going from a wall to a wall of windows will make a huge difference & i don’t want to commit to Marmoleum flooring until i know what all that light is going to do for it.
    finally, in the end, it’s your space, so go with what you feel strongly about. i have looked at Marmoelum for 5+ years now & just showed samples to my builder yesterday (he’d never seen it). he was so excited when he did & said he couldn’t get behind me when i first described it but decided to keep faith in what i was saying. so sticking to my guns about something i felt strongly about is paying off! it helps to have a builder that is more interested in how you live than his own self-interest!

  67. What a fantastic practical article. You have save many a headache to many a kitchen redesigner. Thanks for al the time this must have taken. (You could have been a teacher.)


  68. What a great post! So many good tips. We remodeled our kitchen three years ago and lived in the house at the time! Crazy!

    So glad to see you point out that not all kitchens should be white. I sooo wanted a white kitchen, but decided that stained cherry was the way to go for our house. (I did do a white island, though.) Our home is in a very traditional area outside of Atlanta and for resale, we felt that it was important to go with stained cabinets. We chose a matte brown stain and a very simplified, modern cabinet design to make it more us. Do I regret it? Not at all! I still love the white kitchens in the mags, but I also love our kitchen and believe that we made the right decision for our house.

    Lori May Interiors

  69. Kate – you did an outstanding job on your kitchen! The thought, creativity, and care you exhibited in designing it that way was just perfect! Besides the fruit bowl on the wall (lol!), I would’ave done it exactly the same way. You built my dream kitchen, did you know that? :) MY kitchen??? Well, I definitely want to cover up the tan wavy ceramic tiles on walls with white beadboard, yank out the same tan wavy tiles on the counters and replace them with the same marble you have, and the cherry on top would be to rip up the off white tile floor and replace it with wood. I dream of white cabinets, but until hubby sees the light of day…that won’t happen none to soon. lol! Thanks for all the tips and suggestions. I’m saving them for future reference! :)

    xoxo laurie

  70. Great post, Kate. We can’t build our kitchen from scratch but finally after three years, we’re updating what we have. We’d love to be able to have a work triangle but it’s just not feasible in an old farmhouse kitchen where 1/2 of it was added on and the original outside wall separates it into two spaces but we’re making the best of it. It’s a great size and we’re having fun changing it from 1980s to farmhouse charm. We did paint the orange-oak cabinets BM’s Moonlight and finally got the doors back on today after two months and the hardware. It’s so nice to be able to open a drawer with a handle again! lol We anticipate it will be done sometime in March and I can’t wait to see if our vision becomes reality. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  71. I have one question – sorry if it was already asked but I read through many comments and didn’t find it. What is the size of your kitchen? We are in the process of planning our next house and we debate the size of the kitchen daily. We have 5 children who love to be in the kitchen with me and our current kitchen of not-quite 12’x12′ (wall-to-wall measurement, with cupboards on 4 sides!) is waaaay too small! The size of your kitchen looks more to my liking! Beautiful!

  72. Great tips. Your kitchen is gorgeous.

    What I really appreciated was our link detailing how important it is to stay true to the style of your home. Already we shudder at all the “Tuscan design” kitchens in, say, c. 1918 bunagalows. I live in a c. 1904 victorian farmhouse so what is beautiful in design magazines often doesn’t work for my house. I struggle to resist making our small (but period true) kitchen bigger. The truth is that a huge modern ballroom sized kitchen with center island in this house would be like slapping a miniskirt on your great-grandma! (and even if your Gram has great gams it’s just WRONG).

    I am saving your kitchen for future inspiration because the marble and walnut just might work!

  73. Great post! We did our remodel about a year ago, and I agree with you and all points. I do wish I had insisted on several things in hindsight: Carefully consider the fridge– a year later we still have not replaced ours with a counter depth. Its no big deal, but our current fridge sticks out about 3 inches from the builtins bacause I was certain we’d have a counter depth by now, but budget not allowing that right now. Also start with the basics, like lighting. Plan it well! I am still stuck with my ugly flourescent and the time to have had do that over was at the very beginning. And get the undercabinet lighting! Its a small expense and so great to have.

  74. Love it!

    We’re going to be doing a minor reno in the summer. Our kitchen is VERY dated (thank you 1978!), and the fake butcher block/paneling combo is killing me! BUT we realized that the backs of our cabinet doors are actually very pretty. And since the plan was to have painted cabinets anyway… it’s perfect! We thought we’d have to wait a few years to get the kitchen done but with this thrifty fix we’ll have it done in a few short months! Other plans are a new countertop and backsplash. Then everything else will just need a good cleaning. I actually love the colors you used in your kitchen. That’s the phase I’m at now, trying to pick colors and it kills me! I love them ALL! haha! Lighting is something we hadn’t really thought about but now I think we will. Our lighting is horrible and I think it would be pretty simple for us to put in a few spaced out can lights (love the dimmer idea) instead of our single (off-centered) light fixture we have now!

    Thanks for all of the ideas!


  75. Wow, hats off to you, that must have been a lot of hard work! Your kitchen is absolutely wonderful: so well-equipped, bright and big, love it! Thanks for the tips, too. I am not planning a kitchen makeover in the near future but they might be pretty useful later.

  76. Beautiful kitchen and very helpful advice. I’m considering marble and am intrigued…has yours stained and etched as everyone says? Are you extra careful with yours? Can you tell me the approx. dimensions of your kitchen?

  77. Great article, a must read for anyone who is remodeling. We are fortunate since our home came with a gourmet kitchen from the previous owners. That said, it’s not really our style. We can cosmetically change some things, but the layout, granite, etc, stay. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not ugly, it’s just not what I would have selected. If I could go back, I would install a larger dishwasher, a recessed sink, and a stainless refrigerator (ours “matches” the cabinets- UGLY).

  78. One thing I can strongly suggest since we are in the middle of a kitchen remodel, work from the outside in. Take care to address the walls and ceilings BEFORE you install the cabinets. We didn’t do that and now we are facing some real BS with replacing the ceilings. UGH!

  79. I agree with all of the above! Especially choosing a kitchen design that suites the style of your home. We built our kitchen from scratch in a Spanish bungalow and while we adored the look of french country/white and even modern designs we created a space that was fit for our Arts & Crafts era home. Misplaced designs can be the biggest regret!

  80. Just finishing up a kitchen-from-scratch and pretty much ended up in the same place. I’d add: before you decide on a style, look at as many different kinds of kitchens as you can – I found Houzz.com a great resource. Also, think about who will do most of the cooking. In our family, it’s my husband, and he likes a LOT of space around him when he’s cooking, so we took that into account!

  81. Hello Kate, I saw you on Nate Show this morning. I need help with completing oujr kitchen remodel we started in 2005…yep it has been that long. We love to DIY…but sometime get distracted and short on money and time. I still do not have a kitchen floor and have been walking on plywood for over a year. The first replacement floor had to be ripped out because the subfloor was not level and the some of the tiles cracked. ugh what a nightmare and wasted moeny. Now my husband is unemployed and sick and can’t work on the floor. The upper cabinets still do not have doors…What can I do to finish myself..I love how your kitchen looks,

  82. Hi Kate,
    I loved your post. I also want to remodel my kitchen in white. I wanted to ask you how your marble counters are holding up. I love white carrara marble countertops and would love to put them in my kitchen. But I have read so many things about how they are easily etched by red wine, lemon juice, etc., even if they are sealed, I am afraid to go that route. What do you think, based on your experience?

  83. Hi Kate,
    I just recently saw you on Nate’s show and thought I’d pop over for a peek @ your site. Your kitchen advise is spot on. After living through a previous kitchen remodel myself, much of what you said echoed what I was going through myself between researching, measuring, vetting contractors, etc., etc.. What helped me the most was living with my old kitchen for a long time (nearly 8 yrs) to determine what I did and didn’t like and design the new kitchen based on that. It helped me decide that I really didn’t need a pot filler (certainly not in a 9 x 9 kitchen!), but couldn’t live without a hot tap. I now live in a different home (think 60’s style bland ranch meets cheesy 90’s remodel) and I am inspired to address my kitchen sooner than later. And install a much needed hot tap!

  84. Kate,

    Gorgeous kitchen! I love your style and reading all of your ideas. I have a question that has hopefully not be asked or answered yet…Did you build your range hood over the cooktop? Did the cabinet makers construct this or was this a DIY? We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen….cabinets are in, granite installed…etc. We werent happy with the range hood option available from the cabinet company we used and Im not crazy about the stainless steel option. We think we can construct a “bump out” and add a mantle like yours but could use some guidance. We will be posting pics on the blog soon if you wouldnt mind taking a look see?

    Thanks in advance!
    Kelley S.

  85. Thanks to Nate, I found your site. Love it! We bumped out our kitchen, family room, master room/bath in 07. We just bought a second home and plan to do the same. We love reno’s! In our current kitchen, we did cherry wood cabinets. I want to do a white/cream kitchen in the new house but with a 4yr old and 18 month old, my hubby thinks it’s a mistake. What do you think?

    Also, I keep a running list of mistakes we made with this home. Do you have list you’d be willing to share? The pressure is on to get this house done right!

  86. Thank you! We’re building a new house & this post has helped tremendously for the kitchen design portion. There are so many options, it can get overwhelming & this helped focus me a little bit.

  87. HI Kate,
    Reading through this older post and wondered if your dark walnut island is easy to maintain and do you cut right on it? Also, do you have to periodically seal the marble and is it impervious to stains? Love your kitchen.

  88. Hi Kate,

    I’m sure it’s just an over site however it’s Carrara marble. It’s from Carrara, Italy. There is never an “E” in Carrara.

    I get the same way when I hear “restauranteur.” The correct word is restaurateur.

    I’ll just slink away now and look at all the pretty things you make. ;-)

  89. I love, love, love your kitchen! We are closing on our first house in 2 weeks and I can’t get enough inspiration! I keep finding myself back on your site and just wanted to say Thank You! Your style -decor and writing, is very much appreciated! I think you may be the girlfriend we all wish lived around the corner to have craft play-dates with on the weekend! Thanks again!!

  90. One thing I thought of about the wine/beverage fridge that might not be thought of…. locking doors.
    We are SO glad we bought a fridge with locking doors because even toddlers like to pull on those doors and the next thing you know … CRASH ;) or an adventurous underager.
    It’s just a good option to keep in the back of your mind. We skipped having one installed by our builder because it didn’t have a locking door option and we are just going to use the one we have. We considered having one from the builder b/c it would just be easier but… with kids or even guests with kids, it’s nice to have the option.
    Thanks for all the work you do on the sight, I am learning SO much!

  91. First of all, I LOVVVVE your kitchen! So obsessed! It’s gorgeous!!! I love all the white, countertops, appliances, hardware, color story, cabinets, decorative accessories, etc. This is the best kitchen advice (in a nutshell) I’ve been able to find as of yet! Thank you so much for breaking it down so clearly & cleverly (had some good chuckles).
    My husband & I are newlyweds & I moved into his house. Needless to say, I have a lot of work ahead of me when it comes to making our house “pretty”! We live in a 1950’s split level house & it has been difficult dealing with the wierd layout- so much wasted space in these older homes! The kitchen is our biggest remodel project since it will be a complete gut job. I was really excited to design my open plan kitchen/living room at first but was quickly overwhelmed. Thanks to your gorgeous kitchen photos & awesome (very honest) advice, I’m so excited again! I will be surrounding myself in everything kitchen as of now! On my way to stock up on magazines!!!
    Thanks so much! :)

  92. This is just the most beautiful classic kitchen Kate. What I love about it is how soothing it feels. It must be a joy to walk into every morning. Your 10 tips are well thought out especially the lighting. I have seen kitchen renovations where the lighting did not seem to be given much thought. To me the lighting has so much influence on atmosphere and should be an important part of renovation.

    To Wendyrama – I am curious as why you would the word spell oversight “over site” when you are making a point of admonishing incorrect spelling on a post? Just saying…

  93. I am so glad my Kitchen designer talked me out of the double ovens. She said it was a “dated” look. Kinda like my giant Jacuzzi tub. A good microwave and a warming drawer were the way to go. What I do have double of that i cannot believe i lived without for so long, is two washing machines. In my kitchen remodel i ended up with some extra space so we put in the stackable Samsung W/D. They still have good sized capacity and are quiet and clean and dry amazing. Perfect for daily sports uniform laundering. Then i still have in my basement my Whirlpool Duets. For sheet towel jeans. You have great ideas. Funny though 5 years ago all we had were magazines as resources and now we have Blogs and Pinterest. Overwhelming!

  94. Thank you so much for sharing! We are in the middle of a remodel and this is really helpful! What brand of gas range do you have? We are looking for something just like that!

  95. My favorite piece of advice for complete kitchen re-do is two dishwashers. My husband loves to cook, and we have 3 kids. One is always clean while the other is dirty.
    I wasn’t the homeowner to install them. I bought the house this way. But now it is a must-have in my book.

  96. Oh my heart. I am just in love with you. We are in the middle of a ridiculous remodel. I’ve been without a kitchen and doing dishes in a BUCKET for almost 9 months now. Today, I should get a sink. I know right! So exciting! Any how, we are learning so much this time around and I wish I would have found you sooner :) Also, I just found out your how to paint furniture and I am BEYOND excited! I just bought a fatty hutch to put in the new kitchen and it’s going to look stunning when it’s done! Now I just have to pick a color. Thanks! M.

    • Hi Sarah, those are oak floors, stained in a natural color finished with polyurethane!

  97. I LOVE your kitchen! Especially that giant window and the little details you added. It is beautiful!

    I have to say, I do not agree about less-expensive faucets, though. We had the Marielle faucet for six years before the sprayer cracked and caused leaking under the sink, and the water control from the beginning was too loose. It worked well on full-flow, but if I wanted less water that darn handle would slowly slide to practically nothing. Most annoying thing ever! We just replaced it with a more expensive Kohler that is made of better materials and has a better warranty. I wouldn’t regret that Rohl just yet! If your Marielle ends up like ours, you might be glad you have one faucet that works well. :)

  98. Would you mind sharing the brand of your ice maker? We plan to get one for our new kitchen and I would love to find a reliable make/model. Thanks in advance!

  99. Loved the kitchen pictures! I am trying to decide what to do in my kitchen. I have builders grade
    white cabinets and I have an open concept, kitchen/family room. I love traditional cherry cabinets, but
    don’t want to have to replace my family room built in cabinets, which are also white. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • Hi Tara, you can always mix wood and white, if you go with cherry wood in one room, repeat those elements in the other, for example with furniture, even if the cabinets are white.

    • Hi Tammy, the vent is built into the framed section above the range, behind the mantel~

  100. Beautiful job! Just had to drag my hubby over to the computer to show him and he liked it too:) I just have to tell you one of my favorite details to your kitchen are the legs and counter top that pier out around the oven. I know you said that you had to adjust the counter tops, etc. due to the range being different in measurement but I actually love the way this looks:) I will use your advise and kitchen for ideas on our kitchen remodel. Thanks!

  101. Hi Kate,

    I love marble but everybody tells me that it stains and I’m crazy to even think about to put it in my new kitchen. How do you do to keep it so gorgeous like yours? Thank you so much!

    • Hi Simone, we’ve only sealed it once and we’ve spilled everything from coffee to red wine on it without a problem, even if it’s not wiped up right away. I have no regrets about choosing marble and would do it again

  102. Hi Kate,
    Love your white cabinets. I was thinking of painting my own but could not decide on a shade of white. I believe the shade that you used is real similar to my favorite shade and it looks great with the bright white back splash.

    Thanks, Tracey

    • That’s Camouflage by BM, all the paint colors in my home are listed in a post, link in sidebar!

  103. I’m in the early stages of planning for a remodel and am beside myself with what countertop material to go with. I want to love it but I also want it to be affordable. I would love carrara marble but am torn. How has yours held up and is it honed?

  104. Question- what’s the distance between your island and your wall cabinets? What’s on the other side of your island?

    • 48″ of clearance on all sides – sink on one side, peninsula on the other.

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)