One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – Week 2

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.

Don’t forget to check out Week One here.

It’s week two of the One Room Challenge, and I have a lot to share. Today, I’m revealing the floorplan updates we’re making to the kitchen, construction photos, and the cabinetry plan for the space. While I had every intention of sharing the full design plan, I’m still trying to finalize some of the details, including cabinetry hardware, an art piece, lighting, fabric, and counter stools so I’m sticking to the cabinetry today (which is meaty in and of itself!). This is the biggest project we’ve ever tackled and the first time we’ve worked with a contractor, so we had to shift our mindset in how we approached the project.

The Floorplan

First up, the floorplan. Here’s our original kitchen, where we always found the peninsula to break up the flow of our kitchen. Some positives about our original kitchen:

  1. Lots of storage
  2. A sizable footprint
  3. The sink/fridge/range working triangle is pretty good
  4. Lots of counter space

But, on the not so positive side:

  1. The peninsula closes in the kitchen
  2. The kitchen wasn’t designed to hide clutter (my biggest pet peeve) where we end up with lots of appliances and stuff on the counter
  3. The kitchen feels dark and closed in from the rest of the main floor
  4. You can barely open the trash (and definitely not the recycling) when the dishwasher is open (makes cleaning up after every meal a HUGE pain)
  5. When we entertain, everyone ends up clustering in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room and don’t end up utilizing the rest of the main floor space

So, after debating a lot of different floorplans (see here), here’s where we’ve ended up:

We’re leaving the sink and range in their current locations. The range is going to be larger, but not by a lot (from 30″ to 36″). We’re stealing 19″ of depth from our front entry, on the right wall so we can sink the fridge and appliance garage into that wall. We’re adding a shallow pantry alongside on this wall since we have a chimney stack for our furnace running up behind it. I made peace with the range not being centered in the room and am happy that it looks far enough from center that you won’t perceive it to be a mistake (my opinion: I try to steer clear of near misses – things that look like they maybe were intended to be a specific way but are barely off, as opposed to something that clearly is intentionally designed to be different).

This kitchen by Heidi Caillier totally confirmed our new floorplans to be a great idea.

By moving back our cabinetry and appliances on the fridge wall, we open up enough width in the kitchen for an island. I really wanted a freestanding island to keep everything feeling airy, but unfortunately, we didn’t have anywhere else to place the beverage fridge (necessary since we’re moving to a counter depth fridge) or trash, so we landed on an island that’s built in on one side with cabinetry but opens up into a tabletop on the side facing the dining room, where we can tuck four stools underneath. This idea not only aesthetically makes me happy by lightening up the heavy cabinetry, but also is so functional. I’ve always struggled with long islands with stools that face in the same direction, as it makes sitting down to real meals with more than two people kind of awkward, but as a tabletop, we can have proper meals together while also facing one another, which feels so much more natural to me.

This kitchen by Pierce & Ward solidified our plans for a tabletop island (though ours is going to be more squared off and less decorative).

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Still one of the best 6 years later… 🌟

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Additionally, since we have so much storage space in our new kitchen cabinetry plan, below, we’re removing the pantry from just outside the kitchen (top right above), and replacing it with a mini mudroom bench with a drawer for our shoes (to get them off our floors where they perpetually live :/). Right now, our primary entrances are through the front door and the basement door which connects to the garage (enters you into this new mudroom area), but we have plans next summer to rebuild the disintegrating fence that contains our patio and add a gate about 10 feet from our front door so we can enter through this mudroom area instead of our front hallway where there’s no storage for shoes and coats. I also convinced Cory to add a window here, so this shadowy corner of our main floor can get brighter and bring even more light into the kitchen. Plus, I also think this window will be functional in giving us sight-lines to our frequently used side patio, where it’s currently not visible from inside our house.

Finally, we’re opening up the wall between our kitchen and dining room with a large 9+ foot cased opening. While I don’t love completely open floor plans, I love how a cased opening provides some visual boundaries for the kitchen, but also allows for a lot more light to shine into the room from the sunroom and dining room. It’s my happy medium between open and closed floorplans, where it makes sense.

We’re so very happy with how the plan came together. So, now, let’s talk about the actual cabinetry plan. Our years of consideration on the floorplan has left us with a lot of confidence that this is the right approach for our house. It’s a good reminder that sometimes living in your home for a while can allow you to really design for how you live in the space, instead of jumping right into a renovation out of the gate.


We worked with CliqStudios on our kitchen cabinetry, and chose their cabinetry for several reasons:

  1. They provide a kitchen designer to help you plan your kitchen (for free!), and ours was awesome (shout-out to Amy who made a million tweaks to the plan so it would be exactly perfect).
  2. They sell solid wood cabinetry at a price that’s only slightly higher than IKEA + Semi-Handmade, which was our other consideration, plus the cabinetry comes pre-assembled (which greatly speeds up install time).
  3. They offer inset cabinetry (my favourite style!) which very few other budget-friendly cabinetry companies offer.
  4. If you need custom cabinetry or modifications, they’re able to accommodate, so you can get a perfect kitchen without needing everything to be custom (aka expensive)

Here’s how the process with CliqStudios went down: I ordered some cabinetry samples to identify which colour was going to work with my plans, then I sent our designer, Amy, a floorplan with measurements and a rough sketch of where our appliances were going to be, we jumped on a phone call and I told her exactly what I was imagining for the kitchen, and then she sent me our first rendering of the space and a floorplan with the cabinetry in place. We then went back and forth on modifications, decided on how we could be creative with how we used the standard size cabinetry to achieve our goals, and then after a bunch of revisions, triple-checking measurements, we finalized the plan, ordered the cabinetry, and it arrived 6 weeks later ready to be assembled.

Here’s what we dreamed up:

Yup, we’re going with a blue-green-grey called Harbor. It reads quite a bit lighter in person than in the renderings. It’s fabulous. The cabinetry style is called Austin Concealed Hinge.

Why and how did we choose this colour? First off, if you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know that if I was decorating for myself, I tend to gravitate towards neutrals, however, my husband, Cory, always asks for colour. So, I will push myself out of my comfort zone in order to create a space we both love. We ordered samples of six cabinetry colours and put them on the floor, leaning vertically against the wall to see which one popped out at us over the course of a few weeks. We couldn’t stop staring at Harbor, so that quickly made the decision for us.

I had also recently been to London and while walking around the city, I was snapping photos of all the colours I saw in the wild that made me happy, and in looking at those images when I returned home, I spotted a trend of blue-green and green-blue doors and woodwork throughout the images, which solidified that Harbor was the perfect, livable color.

Let’s dig in, wall by wall.

On this wall, we opted for mostly drawers, since they’re a more effective storage solution for most of the items in our kitchen, and I love the streamlined look. The dishwasher is getting a custom panel, so it will look seamless with the cabinetry. The huge 33″ farmhouse sink is a fave from Signature Hardware that is going to literally expand our sink space by 40%. Over each window will be a sconce, and in the center will be a picture light with a TBD piece of art.

Moving towards the right, this is the only wall that’s getting upper cabinetry. We’re also have a custom unit built to sit on the countertop to minimize clutter further. The hood is going to match the cabinetry, as it’s a small wall and I didn’t want to break it up with a more statement hood. To the right of the range is a pull-out spice drawer that we can’t wait to fill up with spices and cooking oils. Our utensils will go in the drawers on either side of the range. The cabinet in the left corner is a blind cabinet and goes further to the left for less accessible storage.

The island is something we spent a lot of time planning. It quickly became obvious that it was going to be the best spot for our trash and recycling, as well as our spiffy new dual zone French Door beverage fridge from one of our partners, Zephyr. The tabletop on the island will seat two on each side and there will be two pendants over the island.

Beyond the island is the full-height cabinetry wall. Here, our CliqStudios designer suggested flipping the pantry units upside down so that the bottom of the top section was more accessible, because… the cabinet in the middle is a coffee bar / appliance garage! We’re installing a pot filler in this cabinet and having a piece of countertop cut for inside the unit for easy cleaning. This is going to be where I start every morning with my espresso machine and I’m so so so excited for this spot (inspired by my girl and epic designer, Lauren L. Caron). The fridge is integrated and will have matching panels to the cabinetry for a seamless look. The cabinet on the right is a wide and shallow pantry for our everyday staples like grains, sugar, pasta, etc.

And we also received a detailed layout of all the cabinets required that shows how the space will come together, that will be serving as our blueprint as we install the cabinetry.

I can’t even tell you how excited I am for our new kitchen plans to come to life. Next week, I’m going to share the design plan that I’m layering on top of the cabinetry plan to make it feel warm, inviting, and collected.

Construction Photos

And, let me take you through some quick photos on how the space has evolved through the construction process. Where first the kitchen went down to the studs.

Then after all the structural work, electrical, plumbing and new subfloor went in, the drywall went up.

And finally, the hardwoods went down and all the floors on our main floor were refinished. This is the point at which our contractor handed off the space to us to install the actual kitchen.

What’s next?

Come back next week for the complete design plans, and lots of cabinetry install photos. We’re hustling to get our cabinetry installed so that we can have our countertops templated. To follow along in real time, there will be lots of stories on my Instagram Stories documenting the process.

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

12 thoughts on “One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – Week 2

  1. I’m a new follower – loved this detailed post! Super thoughtful. A wall of lower cabinets, windows, and no uppers is my kitchen dream.

    1. Thank you so much!! And thank you for following along! It’s amazing how much more expansive the kitchen feels without all the uppers!

  2. I can’t believe you’re doing the potfiller in the espresso cabinet!! What an awesome idea!!!! Can’t wait to see this kitchen come to life! Love!!! PS thanks for the shoutout!

    1. Essentially we’ve tried to design the kitchen to mitigate all the things that annoy us… like constantly needing to refill the espresso maker haha! It was a great idea we borrowed from Sarah @ Room For Tuesday’s last kitchen reno 🙂 Thank you for being so inspiring!

  3. LOVE everything. Super excited for you! I have a 1920’s Colonial too – how are you venting the range hood? THANKS!

    1. Thank you!! We’re venting it out through the ceiling joists to the outside wall (to the right of the window)

  4. What a glorious space. Can’t wait to see it come together. I’m working on my kitchen (on a much smaller scale for sure) and have bounced back and forth from white to color on the cabinets. It’s a tough decision and I’m loving your color choice… makes me think 🙂

  5. Erin, I am so appreciative of the indepth posts you craft. Thanks for making the time to go into such great detail. I always learn so much,

  6. We are trying to do a similar layout with a 12′ by 12′ kitchen (minus the extra wall of cabinets). What is your aisle space around your island? I see the 40.75″ but I was wondering about the main walkway. Thanks!

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