House + Home: the kitchen


Here it is! Our new kitchen in all it's bright and beautiful glory. So excited to finally share it with you.

Of all the things we did to this little house, the kitchen is the one that gives me the most daily joy. 

It may sound silly, but since we finished things up on this remodel, I find myself enjoying chores like doing the dishes and if you know me, that a huge deal. Dishes have always been the bane of my existence. Now I just want my cute little kitchen to be clean and the work to get it tidy is 100% worth it. We spent almost 2 months cooking with only a toaster oven and electric kettle, so you better believe I was over the moon once I got to start cooking in a real kitchen again.

In case you'd forgotten this is what the kitchen used to look like:

The glorious light streaming in makes the room look so much cuter than it was. But those drawers were only boxes with handles that if you pulled too hard, would dump their contents on your toes. The sink was a grand total of 6 inches deep. I could not reach the handles on the top cabinets without standing on my tip toes. The fridge opened up to block the main walkway into the living room. It wasn't the worst, but it was a handmade kitchen from the 1950s and not functional or pleasant.

After alot of imagination, a blizzard drive to Ikea, some really hard work and a whole lot of love, we now have this: 

Now, I know the room basically stayed the same. We didn't change the layout, size or general function. We didn't remove walls or install new windows. We even left some of the old cabinets up and didn't redo everything. But it still feels like a completely different room. 

Isn't she a beaut!? I can't get over that before/after myself. Here are a few more angles:

For our budget, this is a whole lot of bang for our buck. Our goal was, in the words of Dave, to "spend as little money as possible." 

I spent days brainstorming, sketching, researching and dreaming of what we could do to make this into a cheery space. Since I love to cook and can easily spend hours in the kitchen, it was extremely important to me.

When we added everything up at the end of the project the total for this came in under $2500. That includes a brand new dishwasher, all new lower cabinets (9 drawers!), sink, and faucet. I wasn't actually going to say how much we spent, but I just added it all up and was so proud of us for keeping things reasonable, I had to share. Considering the 2017 average kitchen renovation budget is 20k, I couldn't be happier with not only our results, but our costs as well.

*Note: I know talking about money can be tricky and that to some what we spent is a measly sum and to some it's crazy expensive. However we did buy the house knowing it needed updating and budgeted a certain amount. We consider it an investment that we get to enjoy along the way. :)

We had some pretty lofty goals for the kitchen and by the time we finally finished we had:

  • Removed linoleum and had the floor refinished
  • Demoed bottom cabinets
  • Built and installed new cabinet lowers
  • Put in new countertops, sink, and faucet
  • Added a dishwasher
  • Switched the stove and fridge placement
  • Removed the weird backsplash "arcs" 
  • Tiled the backsplash 
  • Painted the upper cabinets to match the lowers
  • Updated the cabinet hardware
  • Gave the whole room a fresh coat of paint
  • Exchanged the overhead light fixture
  • Installed a new/brighter light fixture above the sink and added a switch
  • Built shelves for the north wall

Phew, listing it all out makes me feel tired. Dave and I did all the work ourselves with some help from his brother with the cabinets and a professional electrician when necessary.

As far as the style, I love country and farmhouse style and knew that it was important to keep the room bright. There is only one window and my goal was to help the light as much as possible. That window needed no changes itself because it's been perfect all along. The view is lovely and the light that streams in is the best.

The first big issue to figure out was the dishwasher. There wasn't one and it was a condition on us buying the house that we would add one. Because our kitchen is so small we had to figure out how to fit a sink, stove, dishwasher, and as much cabinet space as possible in that small stretch of wall.

A small dishwasher was fine with me, so I found the one with the best ratings and ordered it right up. Then I realized that I didn't really ever use the double sink in the old house and actually liked the look of the one basin farmhouse sink better anyway. We kept the full size stove and still had room for 2 large stacks of drawers. I couldn't be more happy with the fact that I can stand next to the dishwasher and unload most of it into the drawers next to it without taking a step. 

The countertops were an easy decision. I wanted butcher block for our old house and we'd decided against it, but this time I knew it was worth insisting on. At first I felt like they were too yellow, but now I haven't even thought that in a long time. I also find I actually love them more with wear marks and imperfections added. It gives them a lovely character. The only thing we have to be careful about is making sure we oil the areas around the sink often enough to keep them water resistant.

The sink is probably my favorite part of the entire kitchen. I've dreamt of a farmhouse apron style sink for a long time. They can be pretty pricey, but good ol' Ikea has affordable options. Believe it or not, we ended up getting ours for half price by finding it in their As Is section.

I was worried I might end up missing a standard double sink, but this basin is huge. I honestly feel like I have more room because the one sink is so spacious. It can have a good amount of dirty dishes in it and is still usable. It also cleans up super well. I give it a good scrub with this every couple days and it shines right up.

The backsplash is my handiwork. Dave was a bit intimidated by such a large surface, but I loved the project. More than anything else, as we added those tiles, we could feel the classiness of the kitchen increasing. So much satisfaction from an afternoon of work. I'm itching to tile other things now (bathroom maybe?).

We also moved our magnetic knife board from the old house and put it back up under the cabinets. It's so handy to have them out of the way, but within reach. 

The finishing touch on the whole kitchen was our shelf/cart combination on the north wall. It had been empty of anything and left the room feeling extremely lopsided. Once we put up the shelves and placed the card there, all of a sudden the room felt balanced and weirdly complete. It was the perfect touch. We keep our toaster oven and a couple crates on the cart. The shelves store my most commonly used pantry items and an ever changing display of flowers, cook books, vases, bowl, and knick knacks. They fulfill my desire for open shelving without compromising cabinet space.

I love my little kitchen so much. It was a big project for us, but the rewards match the effort. I am finishing this post filled with gratitude for how our new house is turning into a home. 


Sink, countertop, cabinets, dishwasher, faucet, cart, shelf brackets, tiles, light fixture, sink light, hardware, fairy lights, soap dispenser, storage jars