white kitchen

Schoolhouse Kitchen Design

I LOVE SMALL KITCHENS. 

LOVE THEM.

The wonderful thing about them is that there's hardly any room to spend a lot of money. So, the challenge becomes geometry more than anything. What's even better is starting from scratch. Tear it all out, put the water and electric where you want it and make an entirely reconfigured space. This kitchen started from this:

Luckily the slate was wiped clean. Almost everything was torn out including that door to the right. There was already another exit to the back deck so we didn't need the one in the kitchen. Fewer obstructions like windows and doors = so much room for activities! Here's the blank slate floor plan in which you can see the other doorway to the back deck (and basement) on the right. The original kitchen exit door was in the top wall on the rendering.

I went to work first on the layout.  This was one of the trickiest floor plans. The most obvious and frankly, the best possible scenario would have been to have a peninsula parallel the dining room (which is at the bottom of the rendering, out of the picture). However, this would mean either jamming the range and fridge together on the back wall (top of the rendering), or having the range in the peninsula.

Me no likey.

Putting the range in the peninsula would mean having a hood smack dab in the middle. I don't like that either. It blocks the view and clutters things up. Clutter is dumb. What to do!?!? I had to stop myself and demand that I think outside the box. Think of a different shape. Think of a different way. And then the clouds parted and the new layout was born. 

Like I said, it's not the ideal. The ideal would've been a nice bar area alongside the dining room, but that wasn't happening. In this new plan we get bar seating and space between all of the appliances. In order to have the bar next to the basement stairs and not feel like you were blocking the pathway, we used 12" wall cabinets that the contractor built up onto a base instead of using standard 24" base cabinets. Now the stools could slide under and out of the way. If you are sitting at the peninsula, you are 12" closer to the kitchen (further from the basement stairwell) than if you used standard base cabinets. 

Next was putting together a look. That was not so difficult. The schoolhouse-industrial vibe is big in Cincinnati, so I went with what the people (and I) like. I also wanted to make sure the small kitchen felt clean and spacious. So, I kept the color palette to black and white. Once you have a direction in your mind, it's a matter of plucking all the pieces that will make it happen.

Side note:

I knew Nicole at Revival Designs was going to be staging the home. I knew her stuff would look excellent in this space. Keep the appropriate decor and furnishings in mind! All kitchen designs can feel sterile if you don't consider the decor. I usually include items such as plants, kitchen gadgets and artwork in my designs so people can see how it will come together. Had I left out the cutting board, stool and the photo with the styled countertop, my client might not have been impressed. Design is not just tile and cabinets. You must be able to see the big picture.

The design turned out exactly as I had hoped. 

The floors under the layers of grossness were actually salvageable! I love how they run diagonally and much more interest than any tile could have provided.

This layout provides easy access to the kitchen from the dining room without having to walk around a peninsula. It also provides seating for three. Another bar stool can be added there on the end. Another perk of this design is the cost of the materials. You just can't get any less expensive than subway tile and black granite. Ok, you can, that's a lie. But, seriously these materials are both good quality AND classic design. There's always the allure of fancy tiles and higher end slabs, but usually it is unnecessary. 

And the ever popular before and after photo...

I love the simplicity of this design. Every detail from top to bottom was considered. It must've worked because this house, a house flip in Cincinnati, was under contract in 2 days! Did I mention I live in Phoenix? Long distance design is a thing. Design services for your space, wherever you may be, are available starting at $250. Click here for more info. More details about this kitchen are in the design board below. Click through to get info on each item.

Design Becomes Reality: Minty Vintage Kitchen

The frustrating thing about renovations, flipping houses and all thing construction is that it seems to take a frickin' frackin' backin' packin' ETERNITY to see the results. Usually just months, but still. The people want their AFTER pics!

Trust, so do I. Here you go...

Before and After Minty Vintage Kitchen Remodel Subway Tile Backsplash

Hooray! I like. So fresh and so clean (clean). Let's back up and see the entire process from beginning to end. Here's the before in big picture glory. 

Oak Cabinet Kitchen Before
Oak Cabinet Kitchen before renovation

Most landlords would leave this as-is in this price range. All of the appliances worked. Everything was in good condition. Maybe a coat of paint on the walls, a cleaning and call it a day. Not me. I just CAN'T.

Must. Make. Pretty.

But, on a budget.

There's a fine line between updating because an investment property and just renovating because I want it to be pretty. So, I started with an inspiration kitchen and took it from there. See the design board below. Thanks to A Lovely Lark for being making such an awesome kitchen to be inspired by!

 I wish I could have staged it with some funky vintage items , but I'm lucky I even got photos. This house was rented before we were even finished with it! 

A good problem to have....must not complain. Here is the real deal for your full sized viewing pleasure.

White kitchen with mint base cabinets and white appliances

This time my goal was to make a great tenant friendly, yet budget friendly space. These were my requirements:

  • Durable and can stand up to use and abuse over many years.
  • Can clean up easily.
  • Is a pretty space.
  • Is something to be proud to rent to others.
  • Is somewhere I would live. 

Many of these points are the OPPOSITE of most landlords. Durable and easy to clean are pretty standard, I think. I mean you'll get those people that don't care, they just want a body in there. For me, I want materials that will last. This is why I chose granite counters, a backsplash and to paint the cabinets white. These finishes are likely be in style for a while, are durable products and will clean up easily. The gray grout in the backsplash will stand up to staining over the years and the white cabinets can easily be painted over. 

I wanted the space to also be pretty and different than other rental homes. Such a #girlboss. Who wants to live in a builder grade snoozefest? If the tenant thinks it is special, they will take better care of it. They may also stick around longer instead of looking for greener pastures. Things will go wrong, furnaces will quit at 8pm on a cold winter's night. That's owning a home. That happens. But, not offering something that you can be proud of is not for me. I want to know that my home is a great place to live. I want to feel comfortable living there. If I do then it's likely my tenants will, too. 

Costs

This renovation was not expensive, as far as renos go. I mean in comparison to the full gut job renovations I usually do. Here are the costs to update this kitchen:

  • Labor: $1,200 --- Painting walls and cabinets + installing hardware/backsplash/faucet + fixing a plumbing issue + installing range hood/disposal + cleaning 
  • Appliances: $700 --- range + hood + disposal
  • Counter: $1,400 --- granite + single bowl stainless steel sink + installation
  • Other Materials: $300  knobs and pulls + faucet +  tile + grout + plumbing parts + etcetera....
  • Total  = $3,600 

Pretty good for the transformation, in my opinion. Not only does it look better, I feel confident it will stand the test of time for years to come. If mint flavored base cabinets are no longer as yummy as they seem right now, then we can easily switch to the avocado or burnt orange colors of tomorrow!



Kitchen Redesign: Schoolhouse Modern

Jessie Deye, otherwise known as @gymgirljessie, and I have been talking about her space for several months now. Back and forth we’ve chatted about what should she do about the floors, what about the ceiling, the counter, etc. I finally put together a design for her which ended up being what I would call a Modern Schoolhouse Kitchen. I took the aspects she had already decided on, like white cabinets and dark floors, and added the rest of the pieces to finish the look. Like many homeowners, she was getting overwhelmed by the multitude of decisions she had to make and trying to get it all in under budget. Mood boards are really helpful because you can see the whole room all at once rather than just imagining how it will all fit together. Even more difficult, in her situation, is trying to make decisions for a room that is changing by the week! 

The Before

Jessie’s kitchen was once a dining room. Two walls came down opening it up to the living room and eliminating a hallway. The living room was once lofted to the bedroom above but will now receive a new ceiling closing it in. The ceiling in what will be the new kitchen was torn out to expose the 100+ year old beams. Soon she’ll have new beams next to old beams, which was also a source of mental anguish. Don’t worry, there is a solution.

The Blueprint

The Design

 

The Road Map

  1. Ceiling: The most difficult piece of the puzzle! Jessie and I went back and forth on this one. Paint the whole thing or don’t paint it? "Ruin" the 100 year old wood or not? Let the living room and kitchen ceilings live side by side in awkwardness of new boards and old boards? No. There was no solution. Until there was! Finally, after lots of searching, I found the answer. Paint some of it. Dun Dun DUN!!!! Seriously, though. Instead of doing it all or nothing, why not make it a statement…ON THE CEILING? Paint most of the ceiling so it ties the two rooms together, but leave a strip above the island unfinished. Imagine how your eye will be pulled up to this fabulous unfinished section of beams of the room. Now this section and the old as crap wood will be highlighted. IT WILL ROCK.
  2. Flooring: In order to save some cash, the pine floors will be refinished. A dark stain will help the floor fade away to showcase the exposed brick walls and fabulous ceiling. Sometimes dark floors are poo poo-ed for their ability to highlight dirt. But, since Jessie’s unit is at the top of the building, it’s likely most of any dirt that would be tracked in would be gone by the time anyone gets to her door.
  3. Cabinets: Shaker cabinets are easy to find these days and will be around for a long time making them a good choice. There will be a large island with seating which will hold the dishwasher and a microwave on the end. The cabinetry will also run the length of the back wall. Instead of upper cabinets, shelving will flank either side of the range hood. 
  4. Shelving: This is an opportunity to get some rustic barn wood into the design to balance out the newness of the rest of the kitchen. The gas pipe shelving has been a favorite of hers in the past, although she could opt for black iron brackets as well.
  5. Counters: Ideally, white marble counters would be awesome with this design, but maintenance is a concern. A good alternative is a whiter granite counter such as River White granite. 
  6. Backsplash: To keep things in budget, simple and with the schoolhouse theme, I opted for white subway tile. A good go-to. To spruce it up a bit, a darker gray grout would be a good option. It could run to the ceiling, but since the ceilings are 11 feet tall, I’d suggest running it to just below the first shelf.
  7. Furnishings: These stools are interesting with the bendy metal bases but have the fun spinn-y tops. Gotta give Jessie somewhere to spin.
  8. Fixtures and Hardware: The lighting has to be simple in a schoolhouse design. A couple of simple shape-y glass pendant lights will bring a little sparkle to the room without being bulky and intrusive. The faucet has a powerful, utilitarian look. The cabinet pulls are clean lined, pewter schoolhouse pulls that finish off the look.

So, that’s it. I can’t wait to see the final room which should be finishing up sometime this winter. Let's hope for some after pics!

Kitchen Redesign: A Rustic Modern Kitchen

When we're not renovating houses, we're doing new designs for those who want to tackle the renovations on their own. A client asked us to put together something for her dining room and kitchen. She filled out our quick questionnaire and sent us some photos. Game on!

The Needs

"We need to move the washer/dryer- with this, we will be re-designing the eat in space of the kitchen. We're also looking to update the kitchen cabinets and floor. We don't have an extensive budget, but we are learning to be handy. We recently moved in to this house, and there's a chance we may move again in the next 5 years. So, we're looking for something functional for our family but not too custom that could potentially hurt the resale appeal. We are hoping to paint the kitchen cabinets white and change the floor of the kitchen."

The Room

Laundry closet in kitchen

The Design

When I saw this kitchen and dining area, I immediately knew what to do. Simple and clean lines of white cabinets and white backsplash would appeal to many buyers and won't be out of style within her 5 year timeline. A hint of color in the furnishings and window treatments would add a little fun without any permanency. 

The Roadmap 

  1. Cabinets: Let’s start with the most important part. We recommend leaving most of the cabinets, but paint them a nice crisp white. Behr’s Ultra Pure White is a good choice. To open up the space a bit, remove the cabinets to the left of the window, eliminating the awkward and bulky cabinet that sticks out over the peninsula. Ideally, the soffit would go, too but that could be costly. It’s ok to stay as it is. 
  2. Counters and Door Hardware: From your photos, it appears that you have black granite counters and stainless cabinet pulls/hinges that could remain and work with the new look.
  3. Flooring: To get the rustic look, use a tile that looks like worn wood. It will hold up well with the traffic in the kitchen and dining area. 
  4. Backsplash: Tile the backsplash with a simple white subway tile. It is classic, modern and inexpensive. White grout will give it a clean, simplistic look while a dark gray grout will give it a little more interest. Carry the backsplash from the refrigerator on the right, all the way to the peninsula on the left of the sink. We recommend carrying it all the way to the soffit where the cabinets to the left of the sink used to be. 
  5. Shelving: Replace the cabinets that were removed with open shelving. We like black brackets with a pine board painted white on top. If you will use the shelves for dishes, make sure it is deep enough to hold your dinner plates (10-12”). Keep the items on the shelves to a few neutral items to keep from looking cluttered. 
  6. Faucet: Replace the faucet with a modern stainless goose neck version.
  7. Laundry: Decide on whether to move the laundry to the basement. Several things to consider are: 
    • Do she really need more storage in the kitchen? 
    • Will moving the laundry to the basement be a huge inconvenience being further from the bedrooms?
  8. Closet: If she does decide that she'd like more storage in the kitchen and move the laundry to the basement, consider installing the same wire shelving that is in the pantry. This closet could be used to house small appliances such as the stand mixer, bulky serving ware and other items not used daily. Also good for this closet would be supplies used on the dining table for homework or craft time.
  9. Dining Area: A rustic wood table with a metal base will be great for meals as well as hold up to every day use. Add some interest with colorful metal chairs and an orb pendent light fixture. The rug could be used to add softness to the room, but could be left out in case kids will be dropping lots of food on it. 
  10. Windows: Bring out the bright color used in the dining chairs again in the window shades. Choose a geometric pattern that is lively for a roman shade over the kitchen sink and the same matching fabric in curtains in the dining area.

The Numbers

Along with the design and road map, she received a spreadsheet with the locations of all the items in the mood board, quantities she'll need for her space and the total cost to purchase the items for the 2 rooms. The total came to $2210, not including any labor costs and building materials.

What many of our clients do is use this as a starting point. We find middle ground priced materials at realistic costs, not best case scenarios. This way, if they find a coupon for Lowes or a similar tile at a discount store, they're going to come in under budget. Win-win!