Our kitchen remodel plan is finished and ready for action! From cabinets to cooktop, we’ll show you all the elements that we’ll be incorporating into my dream kitchen!
I’ve come a long way, baby!
When we moved into our first house back in late October of 2013, I couldn’t wait to get down and dirty in my new kitchen. At the time it seemed like a dream kitchen. It had granite countertops, it overlooked the living room, so I could cook and watch the boob tube, it…
Come to think of it, that’s pretty much all it offered.
But at the time, we had stars in our eyes, and we both thought it was the bees knees.
It didn’t take long for reality to knock on the door and drop off a big fat check.
I looked again at my “dream kitchen.”
The builder grade fridge (I don’t know if that’s actually a thing, but let’s just call it builder grade) was a smallish, white side-by-side door jobbie with a broken ice-maker and no water dispenser. For a family of carnivores, it barely held adequate amounts of the food we love, and it failed miserably when trying to squeeze in a bunch of vegetables, aka the food my food eats.
Turning 90 degrees, I assessed the 4-burner glass-top stove. Only 3 burners worked – 1 big and 2 small. For a guy who likes to cook sauces and usually has several pans in the fire (figuratively speaking – there was no natural gas service up on our hill, so everything was electric), 3 burners handicapped my inner epicurean during holidays and weekends.
Next to the stove stood the double wall ovens. I’d never dreamed of anything so fancy before buying that house. Two ovens! It was downright decadent! But one of the things we glossed over when looking at the house (we knew of it, but decided not to care) was the fact that the oven’s display panel was broken. It had a digital display (as does everything these days), but it had displayed its last temperature years before we came along. The previous owners priced out a new display, but it was an oddly expensive and time-consuming repair, so they let it be.
And so did we.
For four years I baked blind, relying on beep-counting to achieve my desired cooking temperatures.
At least I didn’t need to use the oven timer. We now have smartphones for that sort of thing.
Okay, so the appliances in my “dream kitchen” weren’t so dreamy upon closer inspection, but what about my cabinets?
I used to think that all cabinets were created equal. They were just boxes in which we tossed our plates and bowls and jars of spaghetti sauce.
But then I took a closer look at mine.
What the devil? They were made of MDF and covered in a plastic skin!
And there were places where the door hardware had stripped out a chunk of MDF and become loose and floppy.
And there were other places where the plastic skin was peeling off doors, exposing the cheap secret that lurked beneath.
This wasn’t a dream kitchen at all! It was more of a low-grade nightmare, like the one where you realize you have a mathematics final exam the next day, but you never went to any of the classes.
Over the next six years, we made some strides towards that “Dream Kitchen” – we upgraded the fridge to a fancy Samsung with space-age lighting and a functioning ice-maker. My DIY Built-In Media Console took the grand prize in a Rustoleum competition, and with the gift card prize, we were able to upgrade my ovens to a new pair that not only had a functioning display panel, but they could be controlled from my smartphone as well. I could finally achieve my lifelong dream of baking a perfect souffle in Connecticut while playing craps in Las Vegas.
Or so I hoped.
We also updated the glass cooktop with a similar model. I’d never have a gas stove unless we converted to propane. We talked about it from time to time, but we never got around to making the switch.
But like the rest of the house, the kitchen space was a little weird, the island was wonkily-shaped and our dream of creating a Dream Kitchen faded further into oblivion with each passing year.
But then we moved.
And the dream was back!
Our new house is the perfect place to build the kitchen I’ve always wanted and the kitchen that Handan has always wanted.
Cabinets are the backbone of every kitchen and the hinges upon which all the other design elements turn.
When we started shopping for cabinets in Lowe’s, I was still under the impression that cabinets were nothing more than glorified spoon and cereal garages. I was expecting to see the usual suspects with the usual doors, drawers and shelves.
What I discovered shook me to my core. The Cabinets of Today made me feel like kids must have felt back in the 50s and 60s when they went to the World Fair to see the Homes of Tomorrow with all their outlandish and far-fetched technologies.
The only difference is that these cabinets were real.
Bells and whistles abounded. From the ultra-soft-close doors to the two-tiered utensil drawers to the appliance garages, if you can dream it, you can find it as an option for your cabinets.
After checking the various offerings by Lowe’s and Home Depot, we decided on KraftMaid – a brand carried by both stores.
At the end of this post, you can read about why we chose Home Depot over Lowe’s.
We knew we wanted KraftMaid, and Handan had planned the whole kitchen using IKEA Kitchen Planner. Of course, the IKEA cabinet sizes are not the same as KraftMaid’s sizes, but IKEA’s Kitchen Planner helped us to visualize the layout we wanted. As far as free kitchen design software goes, it’s right up there with the best.
We took that design to Home Depot and found Debbie Caballero – the kitchen design specialist for the store in Suwanee. With Debbie’s help, Handan’s rough design became a viable plan.
We chose a simple Shaker style for the cabinet doors called Thornton. As for the cabinets, after living with the MDF specials in our old house, we wanted something more robust for the new kitchen, so we upgraded to all plywood cabinets. This kitchen remodel is one of those once-in-a-lifetime splurges, and we used that logic to justify the additional expense.
The upper and lower cabinets against the walls will be white, and the upper cabinets will have smaller cabinets sitting atop them that will reach the ceiling. Those small upper cabinets will all have frosted glass doors and interior lighting.
The island cabinets will be a pale blue/gray called Rocky Mountain Sky.
Here’s a shot from the KraftMaid gallery. Our island will be somewhat similar to the one below.
Okay, we’ve got a really cool idea brewing for our pulls and handles, but I’m not going to tell you any more about them here, because they are going to have their very own post. If our idea works, it’s going to be a cheap and easy DIY that’ll give you the same look as much more expensive ones from Anthropologie. Stay tuned for that!
We’re sticking with granite countertops, but instead of the overly yellow and very busy pattern in our old kitchen, we will be simplifying things a bit here. For starters, we’ll have two different colors of granite. The countertops along the walls will have something black – most likely black galaxy, which has small specks of copper in it.
Or maybe Volga Blue, we haven’t decided yet.
For the island, we’re going for a white granite. We have a few options in mind, but we haven’t decided yet which it will be. We had originally planned to splurge on a massive slab of exotic granite for the island, but after watching the estimate for the cabinets run roughshod over our initial budget, I decided to scale that purchase way back and go with a more standard slab through Home Depot.
Besides the sticker shock of the cabinets, looking at range prices put a little sweat on my brow.
I swear I can remember Viking and Wolf costing about $5000 for a 48-inch range back in the 2010s. Maybe I’m misremembering it, but they certainly don’t cost that much now! Try $11,000 for a Viking and $15,000 for a Wolf (Subzero). Good lord, the value of a name, right?
I was getting discouraged and thinking I’d have to scale back my range and rethink the kitchen. For me, as the family chef, the kitchen is the focal point of the house, and the stove is the focal point of the kitchen.
It is the true heart of the home.
But fortunately Handan doesn’t give up on these things. She sought out some other ranges and found a well-reviewed 48-inch range by ZLINE, and it’s 1/3 the price of a Wolf range.
Based and built in America, ZLINE touts themselves as purveyors of affordable luxury. I’m hoping my new 48-inch dual fuel range lives up to the hype!
To complement the range, we also bought a ZLINE hood. The great thing about this convertible hood is that we won’t have to spend a ton of money plumbing the exhaust up through the ceiling, through the second floor, up through the attic and out the roof. It has a washable carbon filter system that people swear by. That removes a huge expense and hassle.
So we already bought this LG ThinQ fridge, and we’ve been enjoying it for over a month now. It’s smaller than our old fridge, because we decided to go with counter depth instead of standard depth. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in features. Not only does it make cubed (and crushed) ice up top, but it has a second ice maker in the freezer that makes “craft ice,” aka frozen spheres.
In case you’re not up on all the latest cocktail trends, ice spheres are the go-to style for those who are serious about their whiskeys or their cocktails. An ice sphere will melt slower than any other type of ice of the same temperature, as a sphere has the smallest surface-area-to-volume ratio of any object.
This leads to less watering-down of drinks and cocktails.
Besides, having a big honkin sphere of ice in your glass just looks cool, and we all know that looking cool and sharing pictures of yourself looking cool is the main goal for most people these days.
My craft ice maker has two settings, fast and slow. On the fast setting, it can make six spheres per day, but they will be cloudy. On the slow setting, it will make three spheres per day, but they will be nice and clear. I keep it on the slow setting, and so far I’ve built up a decent stash of them in the ice tray.
But as much as I love the feature, calling them “spheres” is perhaps too ambitious a word.
Looks good on one side…
But turn it over, and it starts looking more like a miniature Death Star.
Still, ice cube or Death Star, I love the feature!
We’re keeping the one house came with – a middle-aged Maytag similar to the one we had in our old house. Dishwashers these days all pretty much look the same from the outside (like a slab of brushed stainless steel), so as long as it washes without issue, it can stay.
We have a place reserved in the new cabinet system for a microwave, but we haven’t yet decided if we’ll be keeping our old one or installing a new one. That’ll likely be a last minute call.
If you’ll recall how we refinished the floors, we had the same thing done in the kitchen. The whole downstairs is now a uniform color and type of flooring. The white and blue cabinets (not to mention the white granite island slab) are going to look fantastic on this darker and browner floor.
Okay, I’m on a bit of a white kick these days. But can you blame me? After all the ridiculous colors we painted our old house when we first moved in, I’m dying for light and simplicity!
For the kitchen walls, I chose Bohemian Lace – it’s one of the HGTV Sherwin Williams colors, and I’ve already painted our master bedroom walls with it. It’s very close to Behr’s Bit of Sugar – a color I used extensively in the old house when converting from the unsightly colors I had so shamelessly slathered on the walls in 2013.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows my dear wife that she spends hours looking for inspiration on Pinterest. I guess that makes her exactly like 99% of you reading this now! During one of her Pinterest binges, she came across these backsplash tiles in Emily Henderson’s new kitchen.
As she spiraled deeper down the Pinterest rabbit hole, she happened upon the picture below. Clicking it took her to a site selling absolutely stunning Moroccan terracotta tiles, lovingly made by hand and priced accordingly. At $19.50 per square foot, they were double what we were looking to spend on glorified white bricks.
Nothing like a little time on Pinterest to make you feel inadequate.
But really, those terracotta tiles made by wizened Moroccan craftsman were 3/4 inch thick. That was a little much for a backsplash, so yay! An excuse not to feel bad for not buying them!
At $6.99 per square foot, they were practically giving it away! The decision was made (by my babes): Cloe 2.5×8″ wall tile in white.
Since Home Depot didn’t carry this exact tile, we bought it from Lowe’s. In case Lowe’s doesn’t have it in stock, you can find the same thing on Wayfair, but you’ll pay a little more because Wayfair. It even sounds more expensive than Lowe’s.
I hemmed and hawed about this one. One the one hand, I love it, and I want it. On the other hand, I really don’t like to be a trend-follower.
And sister, these “farmhouse” sinks are all the rage.
But I did promise myself and my babes that in this new house and this new life, I’d try to make myself a little more mainstream and accepting and a little less…what..? Finicky? Difficult? Superior? Douchey? Yeah, probably all of those. My babes might also add Annoying.
What can I say? I have a contrarian nature. If someone tells me something is popular and cool, I’m instantly inclined to dislike it.
It generally drives my babes nuts, so I told her that I would make myself more agreeable and accepting to all things in life.
And I promised I would look for the easy way to do things instead of always finding the most difficult way.
So yeah, we’re getting this 33-inch Fireclay farmhouse sink, made by the IPT Sink Company.
I can’t wait to fill that sink with paint buckets!
Well, not really…
You see that faucet in the picture above? The one towering over the farmhouse sink (they’re so hot right now!)? I made my babes buy me one of those back in 2014. We bought a Kraus from build.com and paid through the nose for it. If you follow that link, you’ll see that the price has tumbled over the years. You can now buy it for 1/3 of what I paid back in 2014.
I liked it well enough, but over the years, the spirally part came loose from the base, so the whole mess hung askew like a drunken sailor trying to find his land legs. Worse, the spirally part would get dirty, and there was no easy way to clean it. The final straw for that twisted mess was when it started leaking internally in a place that couldn’t be reached unless we took the whole damn thing apart.
Which I did.
And I fixed it in the most permanent way I could think of.
I threw it in the trash and replaced it with something a little more normal. See? I guess I was already changing as early as last year – yay me! I’m so mainstream now!
Anyway, for our new faucet, we’re going with something simple. The one nod to high technology this Delta water-shooter has is the Touch2O system, which will let us turn the faucet on and off with the touch of the hand, arm, elbow, foot or any other appendage that isn’t soiled.
I never asked for this, and I only learned I was getting it after seeing that San had plumbed the wall where the new stove will be and capped off a length of copper pipe.
“What the hell is that?” I said to Handan after San had left. The copper pipe looked almost exactly like the black pipe used for the natural gas. We would be moving that from one wall to another – something San had not yet done (though I didn’t know that at the time) – and I thought the copper tube sticking out of the wall at chest level was a very poorly placed gas line.
“That’s for your pot filler, my babes!” Handan said.
I looked at the woman who would be my wife of ten years in three days’ time (if you are reading this on July 7, that is), then I grabbed her and gave her a big bear hug.
“Thank you, my babes!” I said. “I love you!”
Wow, what a woman!
This one was all Handan. I rubber-stamped my approval, but in reality, there wasn’t much room for my opinion.
And that’s okay, because I like what she chose (thank god)!
She saw these dangling spheres on Pinterest (of course), and she just had to have them.
A little sleuthing, and she found them on CB2.com. For those who haven’t heard of it, CB2 is the hipper and cheaper iteration of Crate & Barrel, created for a generation that either can’t afford or doesn’t want to spend the money for original Crate & Barrel merchandise. I remember shopping in Crate & Barrel once or twice in my 20s. Back then I thought that the only two stores from which to furnish one’s apartment were Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn. God, what an insufferable ass I must have been back then!
Okay, so you’re not going to be seeing a hood cover in the Big Reveal, but it’s in Handan’s mind, so you can be sure it’ll happen one of these days. We’ll live with the stainless for a while until we can figure out which style will be easiest and best-looking for me to DIY.
My babes likes both of the following styles equally. I haven’t made up my mind, either, so we’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
While I’d love to show you a light and airy computer mockup of our new kitchen, the only two pictures I received of the overall design were screenshotted from a PowerPoint presentation that Debbie sent us, and they are a wee bit dark and foreboding.
But fear not, madam! The measurements are all correct, and San will translate it into a glorious Temple of Meat.
Why we chose Home Depot over Lowe’s
As I stood there opening and closing doors and drawers and marvelling at the build quality of the cabinets that first trip to Lowe’s, Handan was searching for one of the cabinet experts to help us design our dream.
Instead, she found Bryce (not his real name). There were no Lowe’s employees in the cabinet area while we were poking around. Only after several minutes did Bryce return from parts unknown, pushing wind as he barreled towards his desk. He walked swiftly by and made no attempt to notice us.
“Excuse me,” My babes said with the giggle that tells me she’s excited and a little nervous. She gets that way sometimes in America. Even though she speaks better English than 95% of the country, she still gets shy (especially on the phone), as it’s not her native tongue.
Bryce pulled back on his forward momentum, and I saw a little something flash across his face.
That’s what it seemed like, but I let it slide.
“Yes?” He said.
“Hello, we’d like your help to design a kitchen.” Handan said. “Can we sit down and talk?”
Bryce exhaled. I was laser-focused on him now. He looked at his watch.
“Okay. Please.” He indicated his desk.
He sat, glanced at his watch again, folded his hands and looked at Handan.
“I’m supposed to be meeting someone at noon.” He said. “I was just about to leave, so I’m afraid I can’t spend too much time. Will this take long?”
I’m not sure that Handan heard. She was too excited to share her notes and sketches on the kitchen that she had prepared during her month of lockdown in the studio apartment in Atlanta while I was back in Connecticut.
She launched into the details with gusto, but Bryce just sat there staring at her with a compressed smile on his lips.
It was the smile one gives when they are simply humoring you, but they really want no part of the conversation.
For the next 10 minutes I watched nothing but Bryce.
He took no notes.
He checked his watch from time to time.
Overall, he looked pained to be there.
He did stop Handan a few times, again with that smile, to tell her to slow down.
I watched his eyes. They were distant and disengaged.
The worst part is that I saw all this happening, but because my babes was so excited to share her kitchen plan, she didn’t.
I sat there and stewed.
Handan reached a point where she stopped to see if Bryce was still following.
“Let me stop you there.” He said. “I’m going to need all this information emailed to me before I can go any further.”
If he’d been taking notes, he’d have the information he’d need.
It was then that Handan realized what was happening.
“Yeah, okay.” She said and stood up.
I stood up. “Give me your card, and I’ll email it to you.”
“I can get you something in about a week.” Bryce said.
We turned and walked away.
While walking through the parking lot, we realized that Bryce was behind us. He was on his way to his lunch date, for which he was now late.
In a voice just a little louder than was necessary, Handan said, “What does he need a week for? I gave him all the information he needs!”
We walked a bit further, and then we heard a voice from behind. Bryce spoke as he casually jogged up to us. “Hey, you know I can probably get that design to you sooner. Two or three days, I think.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Handan said.
We got in the car, drove to Home Depot, and met with Debbie. Handan gave the same speech to her, and she was able to take in all the information and get us rolling towards our dream kitchen.