Looking into the old kitchen from the dining room area. From Alison: Originally there was a sit-down bar and cupboards above. We took out the cupboards before the remodel and used the shelves as a bookshelf for our cookbooks. The bar space was really wasted, however and we didn't like the separation between the kitchen and the dining area.
Today's kitchen renovation story is a particularly satisfying one. This is a full-on, top-to-bottom remodel, a dramatic before and after for a young homeowner. While we love smaller remodels too, sometimes it is just really gratifying to watch someone completely transform a kitchen! Alison and her husband bought an inexpensive fixer-upper house and poured their money instead into making their kitchen a lovely place for them to entertain and cook.
Read on to see the before photos of this kitchen (yikes!) and to read Alison's renovation story.
Alison and her husband live in Seattle, where in addition to their day jobs they run a blog and Etsy shop specializing in mid-century vintage accessories and dinnerware.
Visit Alison's Blog & Shop
• Bit of Butter - The shop, at Etsy.
• A Bit of Butter: Mid Century and Danish Modern for Your Home - The blog.
Alison & Kevin's Kitchen Story
We bought a fixer three years ago knowing that we'd need to work on almost every aspect of the house in order for us to call it a home. The very first thing we did when we bought the house is tear down the wall between our living room and the dining room and kitchen. Before we did this, everything was very dark and rather dreary, so opening up the space created a warm and welcoming common area for family and friends. The kitchen has always been the center of our home — we love having friends over for impromptu dinners, brunches, and to try new recipes.
We wish we could have bought a house that had a lovely, well-kept vintage kitchen that we could have used without any problems, but ours was in desperate need of a floor-to-ceiling remodel. The original kitchen was a galley style with a sit-down bar around the outside. The galley-style was a cumbersome design for us since we both end up in the kitchen checking on various dishes during the course of an evening, so we knew that we wanted an open-style kitchen so we could entertain AND cook at the same time.
We lived in our home for our entire kitchen remodel, which took nearly 3 months. Our contractors took pity on us and kept the fridge plugged in for as long as they were able, but quite frankly, it was dire to be without a working kitchen for so long. Before the kitchen remodel, we didn't have a microwave, so we'd definitely recommend that folks get one so that they can at least pretend to cook while they're kitchen-less.
Cost & Budget Notes
• Budget Range: Under $30,000
We designed the layout of the new kitchen ourselves. We wanted it to be very functional, clean, and modern but with some retro touches that reflect our personal style. It ended up costing a pretty penny, for us at least. We knew that it would since we were adding a sliding glass door and drastically changing the layout of the space so we were prepared for the costs. It's still daunting though, to say the least. The most unexpected and annoying expense was moving the breaker box, which was in the kitchen (where our fridge now sits).
Resources & Upgrades
• We have a large collection of cookbooks that we wanted to incorporate into the kitchen, so an under-bar bookshelf seemed practical and added a nice splash of color to the kitchen.
• We chose penny-round tiles for our backsplash because they were cheap and we loved the unexpected shape of the round tiled.
• We wanted a single large, farmhouse-style sink and we found one (very unexpectedly) on Overstock.com. It's extra deep and it's perfect because it hides dirty dishes from view while we dine with friends!
• We also found our pull-down faucet on Overstock.com as well and it's been a lovely addition as well.
• We didn't like the fact that there would be wasted space above our cabinets so we decided to put a wine-rack above the cabinets. (We're both 6 feet tall, so we can reach them on our tip-toes!) Sadly, it's not a perfect idea since good bottles of wine shouldn't be stored in the heat (and since heat rises, you can do the math...). So we keep our everyday bottles of wine there and it works very nicely!
• Our countertops are concrete and quartz composite with just a tiny bit of sparkle. So far, it has worn rather well and we've had no problems with it at all.
• Our pendant lights are from Rejuvenation.com. They were on the spendy side (for us), but we've never regretted shelling out a little extra for them.
• Our house doesn't have gas and the added expense of adding a gas line seemed prohibitive to us, even though we really wanted gas burners. We settled on a Kenmore Elite 40 inch stove with 5 burners. It's a *great* oven.
• We ran our hardwood floors through the kitchen, mostly because we couldn't decide on tile. So far, it's been relatively easy under foot and we have no complaints.
• Although we don't use our microwave very much, we wanted to have one, especially if we ended up moving in a few years (you never know!). We really hated the giant, built-in ones, especially since they were really expensive. We chose a small, counter-top model and got the built-in kit. And, we have to admit, sometimes it's nice to reheat things in the microwave!
Alison & Kevin's Renovation Favorites
What was your favorite improvement?
Everything! But the island has become the social hub of the house since we often serve appetizers there as we work on cooking other food. It's also a great place to sip coffee in the mornings and look out at the garden.
Which one gave you the most "bang for your buck?"
This is a harder one, since we really do enjoy almost every single thing about our new kitchen. I think that the unexpected storage space we created with the cubbies and bookshelves has meant more to us than we realized, quite honestly. It's so nice to have all our cookbooks (well, most of them) in one place.
What's Next for Alison & Kevin's Kitchen?
As you can tell from the 'after' photos, things are constantly changing in our house. We started out with IKEA barstools, but the white plastic didn't fit in with our decor so we bought the Cherner barstools on Craigslist and love them. We tend to cook with vintage, enameled cast iron and use vintage stoneware and ceramics as much as possible for our dinnerware. Currently we're trying to put together place-setting of Heath dinnerware through thrifting.
Thank you so much for sharing, Alison!
Related: Maria's Smart $6100 Kitchen Facelift
(Images: Alison & Kevin via Flickr)