Archives For -Andi and Neil’s Kitchen

East Wall w/ cabinet boxes installed (fridge has not been pushed into final location). I like how the brick looks as a backsplash.

North Wall (microwave and range to be installed where ladder is located)

West Wall w/ first upper cabinet installed (the cabinet will be raised several inches)

Upper Cabinet at the Chimney (fortunately there is still quite a bit of space left after cutting for the chimney)

I stopped by Andi and Neil’s house yesterday afternoon to see how everything was going. The contractors are almost done installing the boxes. The plumbing for the sink is roughed in. The panel on the side of fridge and its new electrical box are installed. The cutting and patching for the upper and lower cabinets at the chimney is finished. It is exciting to be able to see the new layout! I think it will work well for them. Andi is already planning out where to put all of their stuff! There is still quite a bit left to do and I think the project has officially gone from “I can’t believe I am getting a new kitchen excitement”  to “when can I have my kitchen back”. I tell my clients at this point to try and hold it together, a month from now this will be a distance memory! It is a pain to live through a kitchen renovation, and at times it seems like it will never end, but fortunately it does. : )

Still to Install:

-The 2 cabinet boxes (one upper and one lower) that need to be cut down 6″ adjacent to the dishwasher.

-The last upper cabinet above the radiator which requires cutting at the radiator pipe.

-Putting together all of the drawer inserts for the cabinets. There are a lot of drawers!

-Install door and drawer fronts

-Fabricate custom removable chalkboard/corkboard for the side of the fridge

-Install side panels for all of the end conditions

-Install crown molding & Bottom trim for the cabinets

-Install toe kicks

-Templating and installing granite counter

-Finish sealing the floor

-Window and Door Trim

-Misc trim pieces to finish off the cabinets

-Make final decision on cabinet handles and knobs and install

-Paint the walls

-Install the light fixtures (both pendants and under cabinet)

-Decide on tile backsplash for stove wall, order & install

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North Wall w/ upper cabinets installed (microwave to be installed below middle cabinet)

Corner Cabinet w/ notch taken out for chimney

Things are still moving along at Andi and Neil’s. I was over there yesterday to check in and deal with the second hiccup on this job (the first being the chimney in the corner). I have to say that ALL jobs have hiccups (especially in old houses). The more you plan, the more you can minimize the problems that arise but something always comes up, be it unforeseen conditions, scheduling of contractors, materials and products.  On this project we have been pretty lucky with everything arriving on time and the contractor’s schedule working out, so with the exception of the new pendant lights (that were suppose be delivered in a week and are now on backorder) everything has arrived on time.

So back to the second hiccup! The problem is that 1 upper and 1 lower cabinet were accidentally ordered in the wrong size. Normally when you order cabinets you have time to review the order and double check all of the size. But in our case due to the Ikea sale and that the cabinet doors were being discontinued, Andi and Neil ended up having to order the cabinets VERY quickly. Normally I would have reviewed the order before it was placed to double check that all the dimensions were correct.  The good news is that we looked at the situation and came up with 2 options.

The Issue: 1 Base Cabinet & 1 Upper Cabinet were ordered 6″ too wide (30″ instead of 24″ wide)

Option 1: Check Ikea (particularly the AS IS Section) to see if we could still get the 2 doors and 3 drawer fronts in the right size. This would mean that we would have to get these painted (the painter just finished painting everything else). The contractor would cut down the cabinets to the right size (since these are already assembled and can’t be returned).

Option 2: If we can’t get the right size doors and drawer fronts, have the contractor VERY carefully cut the doors and drawer fronts to the right width. They have done this before when they have run into this type of problem. The doors still might still require a re-spray of paint since there is a chance that the finish might get damaged when doing this. We have the advantage that our contractor is a good carpenter, I would never try this myself.

Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts All Ready to Go!

Cabinet Install Update:

The contractor installed the base corner cabinet where the chimney is located first since everything on this side of the kitchen connects to this unit (we still have to decide whether to install a smaller lazy susan or a pair of slide out units) . They have also installed the upper cabinets on the north wall. Today they are working on moving the plumbing for the sink and installing the run of cabinets on that wall (up to the wrong size cabinet which is fortunately at the end of the run). The upper cabinet where the chimney is located will need some more cutting and adjusting to fit.

Also the painter dropped off the doors and trim today! Andi kindly sent me a photo. The finish looks lovely!

One more shot of the beautiful ceiling!

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The Beadboard Ceiling!

1990s Drop Ceiling (& Kitchen) Before

1950s Ceiling Covered up by 1990s Drop Ceiling

Florescent Light (installed in 1990s drop ceiling) and 1950s Ceiling Above

The beadboard ceiling is finally finished at Andi & Neil’s house! I haven’t seen it in person but from the photos that Andi sent me yesterday it looks lovely!

This is now the 4th ceiling that this kitchen has seen.

The History of the Ceiling:

1890s: Plaster Ceiling

1950s: Glued on 12×12 acoustic tiles with interesting turquoise crown molding

1990s: Drop 2×4 Acoustic Ceiling (with 2×4 Florescent Light Fixture): Dropping the ceiling by about 9″ in height (I don’t know what people were thinking when they did this!)

2011: Painted Beadboard and Beam Ceiling

Historically Accurate?

I get asked questions about whether beadboard is historically accurate to a kitchen (or other rooms in the house). The answer is yes, but probably not as detailed as this one. Traditionally secondary spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom used less expensive materials and trim. For example in our kitchen (now dining room) they installed beadboard on the bottom 4′ of the wall. They also used plainer window and door trim but they still used a plaster ceiling.  They would not of installed nice “beams” or crown molding, instead they would have probably trimmed these spaces with a simple straight piece or no trim at all.  Around here, I haven’t seen a lot of beadboard kitchen ceilings, mostly plaster. It is probably a matter of what the local tradespeople at the time were in the habit of using.

Now that the kitchen is such an integral part of our lives, I think it makes sense to design it to the same level of finish as the rest of the house. I also think you should have a little fun with the design. There are too many boring drywall ceilings out there.

Up Next:

The contractors are scheduled to spackle the walls and sand the floor today. It is nice to start to see some finish work.


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Ceiling & Drywall Progress: the first bay has the beadboard plywood installed & they have added drywall to the wall

Andi and Neil’s kitchen is still in the not so exciting to look at phase. The contractors should be there all week which is good news! The ceiling is partially done. They ran into a small hiccup, the the old florescent light that is providing temporary light is hooked into the old knob and tube wiring. They are getting ready to disconnect this, but the new lighting has not arrived yet. So they can’t finish the rest of the ceiling until the new lights arrive. Fortunately they should be here today (fingers crossed). They have installed the 1×8 trim piece around the top of the ceiling. I had them put this in to make sure any uneven wall conditions would be covered up. We will be adding 3 “beams” at approximately 4′ intervals. Not only will this provide visual interest but it will give us a place to seam the beadboard. Most beadboard paneling comes in 8′ lengths (although you can get longer 3/4″ thick pine beadboard pieces in up to 12′ lengths).  The kitchen is about 9 1/2′ wide (so we couldn’t run the beadboard in that direction). The 4 “bays” that are left are designed to have lights centered in them (except for the one over the fridge). We centered the bays such that the light over the sink could also be centered in the bay. It is always a little tricky to get the beadboard spacing right. Unless you have a perfectly symmetrical room you usually have to decide what takes precedence. In our Dining Room we centered the ceiling on the room (and the light fixture) but our windows were not centered on the room, so they don’t align with the ceiling. Andi & Neil’s case is similar. The door openings and opening to the sunroom don’t align with the panels but the lights will all look nicely centered in the ceiling.

The beams will be created out of a 2×4 and then covered with a 1×4 piece of mdf or poplar. Then crown molding will cover the sides. It is a pretty simple system that provides a lot of interest.

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East Wall

West Wall

I stopped by Andi & Neil’s house yesterday to see how things were going (sorry about the photos being blurry, they were taken with my phone). We are now at the point in the renovation where things appear to slow. It is not that things aren’t happening but electrical work and prepping for the final surfaces is not very exciting to look at! The contractors were busy yesterday putting in the electric for the light fixtures and electrical outlets. They have also finished furring out the north wall where the stove will be, patched the floor and installed the plywood on the ceiling for the beadboard.  They were also finishing up some miscellaneous drywall patching. Next on the list is the beadboard/beam ceiling. Then comes paint (which there isn’t a whole lot of) and refinishing the floor. Then finally the cabinets can be put in.

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Old Chimney w/ hole in the top from the original stove. Th old plaster has been chiseled off the brick for the backsplash area. The top portion of the drywall and plaster will be covered with a piece of trim.

Old Cabinets removed (the old stove is waiting to be taken away and then the new one will go in)

Wall will be furred out to be flush all the way across

Old 1950s Wallpaper


They are still busy over at Andi & Neil’s house. Demolition is pretty much complete (except that the contractor conveniently left their sink & dishwasher in place for the time being). They are starting to work on furring out the wall with the stove, installing electric for the ceiling and patching the floor. And their new range was due to arrive yesterday afternoon. I had Andi take a couple of pictures for me (thanks Andi!). They also uncovered some pretty sweet retro wallpaper! And they figured out what the chimney in the corner was for…the old stove of course! I don’t know why that didn’t dawn on me before! In an old house there are almost always fun things (and not so fun things) to uncover. Fortunately they are now entering the put everything back together phase!


I thought I would step back a little and give everyone the background for Andi and Neil’s kitchen. It was stuck in a 80-90’s time warp. Their twin was built over a hundred years ago but you wouldn’t know it from the kitchen. Fortunately the majority of the house still has its original charm and the previous owner added a nice sunroom behind the kitchen. The cabinets were white laminate particleboard in bad condition and not worth keeping. So we knew we were looking at a full redo of the kitchen. So where to begin. Lets start with the first category from my previous post…

Martha Stewart Living Kitchen Cabinets @ Home Depot

From Sarah's Cottage on HGTV

1. Collect images you like of kitchens, appliances, details and colors

Overall Look & Feel: One of the first things I gave Andi to look at was a brochure from the Martha Stewart Living Kitchen Cabinets at Home Depot.  She loved the look of the “painted cabinets” (they are not actually wood but some other man made product called “Purestyle”) and a simple framed door style . For some reason Home Depot doesn’t show very many photos of the Martha Stewart online, but they have a nice brochure at the store that I recommend picking up. One thing I will give Martha is that her taste in color is always spot on. The cabinet colors are the right mix of modern with a classic twist, so they will hopefully stay in style for quite some time.

Another kitchen that I think is a great inspiration is the kitchen from  Sarah’s Cottage (a really interesting show on HGTV where Sarah Richardson renovates her summer cottage).  In her large kitchen she uses 2 different color painted cabinets and an amazing tile backsplash. It has a nice mix of vintage paired with modern. The website also conveniently lists the paint colors for the kitchen cabinets!

Ikea Tida Oak Upper Cabinet

Ox Hill Cabinet by MSL for Home Depot

Ikea Tida Oak Lower Cabinet

Cabinet Colors based on Sarah's Cottage

Cabinets: The challenge is to find a simple door style that is painted/can be painted that is affordable and has enough options and sizes to make the kitchen work efficiently.

Caesarstone in Pebble

Caesarstone in Misty Carrera

Counters: We started by looking at Quartz Options. These were my first recommendations because you get a durable surface that does not require sealing. Also granite requires looking at actual slabs to get a better understanding of the color variation.

Ikea Domsjo Farmhouse Sink $312

Ikea Eleverdam faucet w/ pull out sprayer $179

Farmhouse sink: They like the classic look and good functionality of a big farmhouse sink.

30" Gas Range, Sears Kenmore Elite $1300-1700

Ikea Nutid Counter Depth Fridge $1399

Appliances: They also already have a pretty new stainless steel dishwasher, so it made sense to use stainless steel  for the fridge, range and microwave. Ikea’s appliances are made by whirlpool now, so it is more appealing to buy them with the cabinets. They also offer the least expensive counter depth fridge on the market. However I don’t like their gas range options. We have a Kenmore Elite range that we love. It has a lot of the features of a “professional” range like really powerful burners but is more moderately priced.

Biltmore Polished Marble Tile, The Tile Shop $13.99 sf

Marble Backspash, The Tile Shop $11.99 sf

The Backsplash: I LOVE the tile backsplash from Sarah’s Cottage. Unfortunately that tile is REALLY expensive. It is also probably a bit too busy for Andi and Neil’s kitchen. These are a few sample that I found. However these can’t be finalized until the counter is determined. The good thing is that these are one of the last things to be installed so we have time.

Coffered Beadboard Ceiling (from our Dining Room)

Ceiling: Andi wanted a beadboard ceiling (similar to the one we have in our Dining Room). Fortunately this can be installed fairly easily with beadboard (or beadboard plywood) and some simple pieces of lumber. Then it is finished with some small crown molding.

The Mood Board: I already showed this a few weeks ago but now that I have broken down the selections you can see how they look together. The final selections of some of the materials are a little different than shown, so you will have to stay tuned to see everything installed!

Mood Board

P.S. Stay tuned for some updated demolition photos!

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Our Kitchen: Large hood w/ tile backsplash

So, you are thinking about embarking on a kitchen renovation. Where do you to begin?

When redesigning a kitchen, people ask me where do you start. I tell my clients that they should do a couple of things before moving forward:

1. Collect images you like of kitchens, appliances, details and colors.

These don’t have to be whole kitchens but understanding someone’s basic style is useful for developing a plan.

A good place to start are the brochures from different cabinet manufacturers and home magazines. Also look at your friends and family’s kitchens. What do you like? What don’t you like?

2. How do you use your Kitchen:

Do you cook a lot? What kind of food? Do you bake? Do you need a desk? What kind of maintenance are you willing to realistically perform? Do you have specific storage needs (i.e. cookbooks, display of special china, lots of pots and pans)?

Our Kitchen Plan

3. Develop a Plan:

This can include hiring a designer, drawing it yourself on graph paper or on a free program on a computer. You will need these dimensions to start developing an estimate and will help contractors to start to ballpark the cost.

Are you moving walls, plumbing and electric? Are you putting on an addition? Sometimes it is useful to hire an architect to help you see what your options are at the beginning. Sometimes I come in and offer “schematic design”. In this case I would show a customer a couple of options for different layouts. This way they could determine the scale of the project and get some rough numbers before proceeding with the detailed design. Then they could either proceed with the architect or designer or if it is straight forward, proceed with using a typical kitchen designer from a showroom.

This is also a good time to review your electrical & plumbing service to your house. Also whether you need to replace move windows and doors in the room.

4. Begin to Develop a Budget:

I know it is intimidating and hard (especially when you aren’t quite sure what you want) but having a rough budget (and especially a maximum number) is very important. I think it useful to think about what is most important to you. When we did our kitchen renovation we splurged on Soapstone countertops and saved by installing the cabinets and trim ourselves.

There are quite a few items to consider  when pricing out the cost of a kitchen.

-The Cabinets (these are typically the most expensive item and prices vary widely).
Flatpack ($): Ikea is usually one of the least expensive options (especially considering the pull out options that they offer)
Standard Size ($): Off the Shelf Cabinets. Home Depot & Lowes and other places sell these (usually very limited sizes, often good for a pantry or basement)
Semi Custom ($$-$$$): Kraftmaid, Martha Stewart for HD, Thomasville (I recommend comparing prices at HD, Lowes & your local kitchen place). These come in a large number of sizes with lots of options. The options typically add quite a bit to the price. Typically these units come in 3″ intervals, although you can sometimes customize for an additional fee.
Custom ($$$-$$$$): Either a local cabinet maker, a distributor or directly through a shop such as Crownpoint. This use to be a lot more expensive but lately I have been finding that some local cabinetmakers will match the price of a semi-custom kitchen. Also if you have a small or difficult layout sometimes it makes sense to use at least some custom cabinetry to get the most our of your space.  For islands it is often nice to have a higher quality product, since it is visible on all sides and it is nice to add furniture details.

The Counters (prices vary widely. typically templating and install is included in this price):
Plastic Laminate ($): Inexpensive and now come in lots of fun colors and more realistic faux finishes. The downside is that you can’t buff out scratches and it can get burn marks on it.
Wood ($-$$): Ikea offers a big selection at a good price but typically wood requires a lot of maintenance. I recommend a marine grade sealer if you are going to use it.
Solid Surface ($$-$$$):  (i.e. Corian). Scratches can be buffed out but it can get burn marks similar to plastic laminate.
-Quartz ($$$-$$$$): It can look like stone or have a more uniform appearance. It is hard like stone but does not require a sealer like stone does.
-Stone ($$$-$$$$$): Prices vary widely depending on the stone. Marble requires more upkeep than granite but both require periodic sealing.

The Appliances:
-Appliances vary widely in price. I recommend going to a showroom and seeing what you like. It is also a good think about what you really need. Is a good stove with a high heat burner important to you? Do you bake and need a really accurate electric oven? Do you need a giant fridge to hold all the food your kids eat?

-I recommend in most regular size kitchens sticking with a 30″ range, to maximize countertop space.

Sink & Faucet:
-These vary widely in price. Fortunately there are some reasonably priced models out there now if you look around. Would a second smaller sink help if you have two people cooking in the kitchen?

-Consider general lighting (typically overhead), spot lighting (i.e. over the sink), under cabinet lighting. I recommend using all three. Having multiple lighting sources is really important!

-Can you reuse your existing floor? If not there are lots of choices at all different prices from vinyl tile, to wood floors to tile. Typically I recommend installing the floors before the cabinets if possible. It means a lot less cutting for the installer and then if you ever change a cabinet out then you won’t need to patch the floor.

-Contractor fees vary widely. Typically includes, demolition, repair of walls, ceiling and floors, hanging of cabinets, installation of electric and plumbing. Also keep in mind the cost of extra materials, including drywall and trim. Typically I recommend getting 3 quotes.

Design Fees:
-Fees vary from free (a kitchen place will often develop a simple kitchen layout for free) to 10% or more. This totally depends on the scope of the project and how detailed you want the design to be.

Contingency (10-20% of the project):
-This is for the unknowns on the project. This is the money that you don’t tell you contractor about but keep for when something arises that wasn’t planned on. Typically the older the house the more you want to set aside.

5. Schedule &  Logistics:

Realistically how long are you willing to be without a kitchen? How much of a temporary kitchen do you need? Where are you going to cook while the renovation is happening? Where are you going to wash your dishes? Do you want to plan to be away during part of the construction (although then it is harder to keep an eye on the progress)?

When undertaking a major kitchen renovation you should plan to be without a kitchen for at least a month, often longer. A contractor can give you a rough schedule, but you should plan for an extra couple of weeks.  Think about what time of year would be best for you to be without a kitchen.  I don’t recommend having a kitchen redone right before a big event (i.e Thanksgiving, a wedding, a birth) because that can lead to disappointment and having to sacrifice quality for time. Also contractors almost always starts after they say they will. Additionally factor in time for delays in cabinet delivery, countertop templating and installation,  and final punchlist items.

One Final Thing:

There are 3 factors to consider when doing any kind of renovation: price, time and quality. Pick two!

Good luck! A kitchen renovation is almost always a painful experience but fortunately it doesn’t last forever (it only feels like it) and afterwards you will be able to enjoy the space for long time.


Kitchen Plan (marked up with electrical notes)

It has been busy over at Andi and Neil’s house the last few weeks! We finalized the plans, they ordered the IKEA cabinets, fridge and microwave during the annual IKEA kitchen sale. They managed to score 20% off the cabinets, fridge, microwave and counter. Plus the cabinet doors and door fronts were 50% off because they were being discontinued.  And they have arrived (it took about 2 weeks)! PECO came and took the old fridge (they have a great program to take old energy sucking fridges where they actually pay you $35).  They ordered the new range from Sears (not yet delivered). Then Andi brought the doors, drawer fronts and trim over to the painter to have them professionally sprayed a durable, beautiful blueish gray. The contractor has assembled most of the cabinets and demolition has begun and will probably be done on Monday. Usually I say that it looks worse before it looks better, but I actually think it already looks better!

East Elevation Before (w/ built in pantry)

East Elevation w/out pantry and exposed brick (chimney in right corner). The rest of the plaster on this wall needs to be removed. Chisel anyone?

South Elevation Before w/ opening to Sunroom. Who thought that giant soffit was a good idea?

South Elevation w/out soffit and pantry. It is hard to tell in the picture what a HUGE improvement it is without the soffit and drop ceiling.

West and North Elevations w/out drop ceiling and shelves. Note the line above the window where the original casing was located.

So far they have removed the pantry, drop ceiling and soffit. It feel so much bigger! We found one surprise. A small brick chimney in the back corner (it was hidden in the pantry). That means that the corner cabinets will need to be cut to fit and the lazy susan in the bottom unit is not going to fit. The good news is that we can still make the cabinets work. I am currently looking at options for the base unit. Probably a smaller lazy susan, but we could also go with a couple of smaller pullouts as well. The only other issue that came up was that they will need to do a little floor patching where the walls for the pantry were located. Fortunately we can pull some of the old floor from the pantry for patch material. Then replace the missing flooring under the cabinets with plywood.

On the to do list for demolition besides the cabinets and counters is removing some of the old plaster from the brick wall (it divides this house from the adjacent twin). This is going to be exposed in the backsplash area on this wall and above the cabinets. Also if the brick at the old chimney is cleanable, we will leave that exposed as well.

Next week I will go over all of the selections in more detail. Stay tuned.

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I’ve been working with Andi and Neil for a while on the design for their kitchen renovation, but we have stepped in into high gear this week! The Ikea Kitchen Sale starts tomorrow and the cabinets they are planning on using are being discontinued, so we have to get ready ASAP. I just put together a mood board for them to look at. I thought I would give everyone a sneak peak! So here it is…

Kitchen Mood Board

I will add additional source info later. In the meantime most of the items are listed on their pinterest board, which I am still updating as we go. The current plan is to paint the oak cabinet doors, door fronts and trim. We are still trying to locate a suitable painter. So if anyone has any suggestions for a painter/refinisher who can apply a lacquer finish please let me know!

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