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.
Somehow, it’s now Week Three of the One Room Challenge and next month’s deadline is sneaking up really fast. As promised, this week, I’m taking you through our design plan, including details on our appliances, fixtures, lighting, tile, countertops, and more. First off, let’s start with our progress in the most recent week.
Where We’re At
If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know that we’ve been racing to getting our cabinetry installed to a point where we can schedule countertop templating.
First, we installed all our perimeter cabinetry from CliqStudios and within a few hours the room became transformed into a kitchen. We did, however, discover at this point that our panel-ready dishwasher that we’ve been storing in our garage for months is too deep to sit flush with our cabinetry. This prompted some very late-night research and ordering of a replacement dishwasher (this one), which is more than shallow enough to fit seamlessly. Fortunately, it was delivered at the start of this week and fits like a glove. (Note to future self the next time I renovate a kitchen, not all appliance dimensions are standard!)
Then, we moved on to installing our island. As you saw in last week’s cabinetry plans, we opted for half an island of cabinetry and a beverage fridge, and the other side is an open tabletop with stools for seating on two sides. We had been a bit worried that the island walkways wouldn’t be large enough (even though I’ve been measuring every kitchen I’ve been in for the past six months to see how our distance would compare, thanks friends for putting up with me!), but once we got the island cabinetry in, it became clear that our walkways were going to feel just right for the space. Sure, we’d love a wider kitchen with expansive walkways, but the reality is that this kitchen’s footprint is finite and it’s the absolute best we could have done for the space.
Once we had the island cabinets installed, we started to install the tabletop. For something that looks so simple from the outside, it did require a lot of complex planning. Our objective was to build a frame for the counters to sit on that was extremely rigid and supportive to prevent any cracking in our stone, but also thin enough that we weren’t going to lose valuable height for our legs when sitting at the island. My husband, an engineer, ran with this challenge and had a 1” steel tube frame welded locally, which we then installed on four 2×4’s mounted to the island, and two PSL columns for the legs on the open side. (One side note, our quotes for this frame varied enormously from $150 to $850, so if you ever make anything similar, I’d definitely quote it out to a bunch of shops). We then laid plywood on top of the frame to disperse the weight of the counters. This is one solid base for the island that we’ve gotten a thumbs up from both our contractor and countertop templater on. It’s possible that I stood on top of the base and we didn’t see any movement.
And then we covered it with plywood (OSB).
Then, we started trimming out the apron of the island to hide the steel frame. Now that we aren’t under the gun to have our countertops templated, we can spend some time wrapping the legs of the island to hide the PSL columns, so it will look nice and streamlined.
We then finished up the other end of the island, by mounting a support piece from CliqStudios that’s designed to sit on the end when next to an appliance to carry the load, and capped it off with a finished panel.
Finally, we moved on to the sink. Our previous sink was a small stainless steel undermount that felt undersized for the kitchen. I also have a real pet peeve of items being placed in the corner and facing diagonally (I just love symmetry and right angles!), where our kitchen faucet was mounted in the top right corner of our sink. So, in designing our dream kitchen, I knew we wanted a big farmhouse sink made of fireclay, a super durable material.
We settled on the Grigham Reversible Sink from one of our sponsors, Signature Hardware, in a bright white, which is very cool in that you can either choose to mount it in one direction with a crisp modern squared off profile or reversed with a rounded, more traditional profile. After much debate, we settled on the rounded side, which felt more historically in line with the design of our house.
In order to install the sink, we needed to build a base for the sink from 2x4s and plywood, and then cut out an opening in the front apron of the cabinet for the sink to sit. We spent a lot of time measuring, cutting (using our new track saw that has been a game-changer for this kitchen renovation), and then precisely routing to match the slight organic shape of our sink. Finally, we perfected it, painted the raw edge with some paint we had colour matched to our cabinetry and brought the base upstairs. Then we installed the sink, set a piece of wood along the backside of it to keep it from shifting and installed our garbage disposal (with a chic brass flange, also from Signature Hardware!).
Then, we were all set to call the countertop templater to schedule a visit to measure!!
After what feels like a year of debate over our countertop material, we finally settled on Carrara marble, with a honed finish to help to mask etching. How we arrived here is worthy of its own blog post, so expect that once I’ve made it past the One Room Challenge reveal date.
We picked out this stunner of a slab and couldn’t be more excited to see it in the space. Carrara Marble comes in various grades, where the higher the grade, the more white the stone. We really wanted it to be whiter, like the countertop in our guest bathroom (the overly grey countertop in our master bathroom is not our favourite), so we picked out a AAA Select slab that has gorgeous grey veining. We’re so excited to see it in the space.
The countertops are being templated today and require 7-10 business days for fabrication, so we’re racing against the clock to get them in. We’re also having a small piece fabricated for our coffee bar / appliance garage that I think will create even more function for us, where we’ll have an easy clean surface.
From the get-go during our early kitchen planning, Cory and I were at a local appliance center and he homed in on a glossy black range and told me that’s what he wanted. So, that range was well outside our budget, but I took upon myself the task of finding us the glossy black range he was imagining in the space. A lot of research later and I had landed on a 36″ Dual Fuel Range from Hallman Industries. The brand was new to me, but after doing a lot of research, including grilling Instagram friends on how they liked theirs, it was pretty clear it was the range we had been searching for.
As the space came together, I started to have second thoughts on the black range: would it feel too dark? too overpowering? I stuck with our plan, even though glossy white felt like a safer choice, and I’m so happy I did. I love how chic the glossy black is in the space and it almost stands out less than white would have, which I really appreciate. We’re experiencing some serious heart eyes over here for this range.
We also managed to lug our new integrated fridge up one story from our garage just the two of us, using these magical $20 Amazon moving straps. These straps have been the MVP of our renovation, allowing us to carry all our cabinetry boxes up a flight of stairs, and even to bring our crazy heavy range in to our house. I honestly don’t know how we would have managed this project just the two of us without them.
Digging in on our fridge: from the very get-go I knew that I wanted a panel ready integrated fridge. Knowing that we were going to have a big wall of full height cabinetry in the plan, I didn’t want to disturb the visual cohesiveness. I quickly landed on this Fisher & Paykel panel-ready counter-depth fridge. In my research, I learned that if you’re going to do panel-ready integrated appliances on a budget, this is THE fridge. It’s many thousand dollars less expensive than the next affordable option on the market in the US and it has fantastic reviews. Once the reality of how expensive a kitchen really is sat in, I started trying to convince myself that it was ok to do a standard fridge instead, and at this point I dragged Cory to our local appliance center to see other options and I realized that most counter depth fridges on the market still don’t sit flush with the surrounding cabinetry, due to the need for the doors to hinge open. Fisher & Paykel was still the only affordable brand that really met our needs, and Cory convinced me that it was worth spending an extra $1K for what I really wanted: a seamless wall of cabinetry. That’s a long roundabout story that I just wanted to share to remind myself and you that if you really love something and it’s still practical, don’t try to convince yourself out of it, or you’ll either regret not doing it or waste time coming back to your original decision.
On our fridge, in an effort to keep the budget in check, we ordered it off eBay, where it’s a scratch and dent model. Since we’re doing an integrated panel-ready fridge, all the very small imperfections (mainly a few little dents) are going to be covered by cabinetry panels anyway. Going this route saved us at least 35% of the retail price, and it arrived within two days. We did, though, have a moment of panic this weekend when we discovered that we were missing all the hardware to mount the panels on to the fridge (and some research indicated we’d be looking at an extra $500+ to get replacement hardware from Fisher & Paykel directly). We figured it was a long shot to contact the eBay seller since the fridge arrived in July and sat in our garage for months. Surprisingly, he was very responsive and we have a new box of hardware arriving tomorrow. Crisis averted!
As always, my objective for the design of this space is to blend traditional shapes and styles with a more modern aesthetic. The inset cabinetry, handmade Fireclay tile, vintage-inspired Hallman Industries range, and Signature Hardware farmhouse sink all bring the traditional style to the space, while the Hudson Valley Mark Sikes pendant lights and accessories lean more modern. I currently have a vintage landscape painting slated for the wall between the two windows under the picture light, but I’m having some thoughts around maybe sourcing something modern and abstract for there instead to keep things feeling more balanced. Please send recommendations!
As you may have realized from the other rooms in my home, I have a deep love for unlacquered brass. There are few finishes that bring me as much joy as it, where with regular use it takes on this gorgeous patina that can’t be replicated. So, we’re doing gorgeous pulls, knobs and cabinet latches from Emtek and Schaub. Mixing from two collections to keep it interesting!
Looking at this design board, it’s easy to feel like there isn’t a lot of colour or variance, but the cabinetry take up so much visual real estate and while you can’t see it on the below shot very well, it definitely brings color to the space.
Some more notes on the plan, the runner just arrived from Garnet Hill and boy is it good. I’m veryyy picky about my rugs and am partial to natural materials. This rug is wool and since it’s handspun it looks like it could be vintage. I’m so excited to get it in the space.
The Waterworks faucet is actually something I sourced accidentally on Craigslist two years ago. I’m not going to get into the details, but let’s just say I thought I was buying a Rohl faucet (also beautiful) and when I unwrapped it discovered it was the Waterworks faucet of my dreams. I’ve been hoarding it, just waiting for the kitchen reno. To match, we sourced the coordinating sprayer and pot filler.
Since our fridge is going to be counter depth and smaller than the one we previously had in our kitchen, we knew finding the perfect beverage fridge would be important. We were looking for a dual zone fridge, so one side could store our future red wine collection, and the other side could accommodate chilled water, juice, beer and white wine. This French door fridge from Zephyr is perfect in meeting those requirements and looking tres chic at the same time.
We’re still sprinting to the finish line, where we’re shifting our focus to installing the pantry wall, which includes a shallow pantry, the appliance garage / coffee bar, our panel-ready fridge and a cabinet above the fridge for tray and baking sheet storage. We’re also going to continue to work on trimming out our cabinetry.
As well, we’re going to be installing a window (bring on all the natural light!) in our mini mudroom area and building a bench with a drawer for shoes.
I also haven’t yet sourced counter stools, or narrowed down our fabric selection for the space. Art is still up in the air. So, it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how everything comes together!
I also want to give a big thank you to the sponsors mentioned in this post who have provided product for this project: Signature Hardware, Zephyr, Fireclay, Hudson Valley Lighting, Emtek, Schaub, LeGrand, and Garnet Hill. All opinions are my own.
Check out progress from my fellow One Room Challenge™ featured designers below!