One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – Week 1

If you’re new around here, three years ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940’s Colonial located in a very cute coastal Connecticut town. We’ve been tackling remodeling the house room by room, where we’re always looking for ways to add equal parts function and character into our house.

Wow, I can’t believe we’re back here again: it’s week one of the Fall 2019 One Room Challenge. After taking last season off, it’s time for another big transformation, and I couldn’t be more excited! A year ago, I transformed my master bedroom and closet, the season before we tackled our master bathroom, and the round before that we completely gutted and overhauled our guest bathroom.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that the big project we have been talking about for a while is a massive downstairs renovation. Spoiler alert: I’m not tackling the entire main floor for this challenge, but we are focusing on one very important room.

Drum roll please…

It’s the kitchen! Are we insane? Maybe!

(P.S. All of you on Instagram already correctly guessed that we were taking on the kitchen, it seems I’m an open book!)

Before photos

So here’s the before photos of the space. It’s perfectly fine, but dark and closed off from the adjacent spaces. It’s also totally aesthetically wrong for our 1940’s Colonial (think bachelor pad circa 2000), and has the potential to be so much more. On Instagram, I’m going to be sharing a video walkthrough of the space today, so you can really see where we’re starting.

This is the view from the dining room, through a narrow doorway. You can see the blue tape we lived with for MONTHS before committing to our new floorplan.
This is looking towards the dining room, where one great thing about our kitchen that isn’t changing in the reno is lots of cabinetry for storage.
Oh how much I hate that microwave/exhaust vent combination that doesn’t vent anywhere and just deposited grease all over our ceiling.
Our current pantry area, just off the kitchen.
The view from the dining room to the kitchen

I’ve said this before, but I think it merits repeating, we know that we could do a budget-friendly overhaul of our kitchen with paint, tile, new hardware and new lighting. But, this is our home, and we know we can do so much more with this space to turn it into our dream kitchen which functions so much better than it does today. And, our motto when we take on projects is that if we’re going to do a project at all, we’re going to do it right, and there are loads of things in the current kitchen that aren’t done right. But, I also recognize that we’re fortunate to have lived with a kitchen in this house that would be an upgrade for many people. Don’t worry, we’ve donated our cabinetry and appliances, so that they can be reused in someone else’s home and avoid the landfill.

For three years, we’ve been thinking about the right layout to really maximize this space (see this blog post), and we finally landed on the best plan for us. For me, unlocking the floorplan is the most critical phase of a project, and once that’s determined, it’s so much more straightforward. Next week, I’m going to take you through the kitchen design process, exactly where we netted out on the floorplan, and more.

The Construction Process

And I want to express that while we’re crazy and prone to tackling huge projects, we’re not so crazy as to think that we could gut our kitchen, move walls, re-run electrical and plumbing, lay hardwoods, and refinish all the floors on our main floor, in addition to installing a kitchen in the five week One Room Challenge timeline. So, we got a jump-start on laying the foundation for this project in August, hoping that we’d be in a position to start installing the cabinetry, etc. right before the start of the One Room Challenge.

Well… it turns out that when you open up the walls of an old house, you discover lots of crazy things and the scope of the downstairs project with our contractor blew up quite a bit. What started as a four week project, ballooned quickly into a seven week project. We’re already behind our schedule, but isn’t that always how it goes? Despite that, we can’t thank our contractor enough for pushing hard to get the space ready for us, despite so many set-backs (if you’re in Fairfield County and need a good contractor, hit me up for his contact info). As of literally four days ago, we finally got the go ahead to get started on installing the kitchen, so we’re going to be sprinting to the finish line given the dominoes of assembling a kitchen space (you have to install your cabinetry to get your countertops templated, wait for them to be fabricated, only after the countertops have been installed can you tile your backsplash, etc. etc.)

In all seriousness, we very nearly had to pivot at the last minute to focus on transforming a different downstairs space for the One Room Challenge because there was real concern that we wouldn’t make it through the construction phase in time. But, we pushed forward because we’ve been without a kitchen for a long while now and want to channel all our energy into a beautiful, functioning kitchen with a working sink, dishwasher (the luxury!), and a fridge that isn’t two sets of stairs away in our garage.

And did I mention this is our first-ever kitchen reno?

We have a garage filled to the brim with cabinetry and appliances, and have lots more pieces arriving in the coming weeks. We also haven’t quite made a decision on more than a few things, so I have a feeling this one is going to come down to the wire. Which it does seem to always be the case!

The Moodboard

Next week, I’ll be sharing the design plan, but I do want to share the moodboard for this space, so you can get a sense of the direction we’re heading in the kitchen. As with the others spaces we’ve transformed in our home, expect a heavy dose of colour, a mix of warm and cool tones, traditional design elements balanced with modern clean lines, and some pattern for good measure.

From top to bottom, left to right: Heidi Caillier, Kate Marker, Brian Paquette, Heidi Caillier, Steven Gambrel, Katie Rosenfeld

And a big thank you for following along with our renovations, we love sharing our projects, getting feedback, hearing your ideas along the way, and having you cheer us along as we take on big projects. Not to mention how grateful I am to be working with a whole bunch of dream brands on this project, that I’m eager to share with you.

What’s next?

Come back next week for the design plans, and (hopefully) lots of progress. To follow along in real time, there will be lots of stories on my Instagram Stories.

Check out progress from my fellow One Room Challenge™ featured designers below!

At Charlotte’s House | Design Addict Mom | Erika Ward Interiors | Erin Kestenbaum | Girl & Grey

Gray Malin | Hommeboys | I Spy DIY | Jewel Marlowe | The Learner Observer | Making it Lovely

 Nicole White Designs | Old Brand New | Oscar Bravo Home | Place of My Taste | The Rath Project

Room for Tuesday | SG Style | Undecorated Home | Veronica Solomon | Media BH&G | TM by ORC

13 thoughts on “One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – Week 1

  1. Wow Erin! I’m so excited to see this take shape! I’ve saved all of the same inspo for our future kitchen and can’t wait to see how you make it your own. I already know it’s going to be stunning!

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