One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – The Kitchen Reveal

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, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, and Week Five.

Today’s the day! After years of dreaming of transforming our kitchen from a dark, brown-all-over cave to a light-filled warm, timeless kitchen, we’ve finally brought our dreams to life. Five weeks ago, we started with an empty space – our contractor had gutted our kitchen, opened up some walls, redone the electrical and plumbing, and laid and finished the hardwoods – setting the stage for us to install the kitchen on our own. This was our first kitchen renovation and we spent the entire season of the One Room Challenge running at 100% in order to complete this kitchen during our nights and weekends. We’re so very tired, but also so proud of where we ended up!

Before I jump into the photos you’ve been waiting for, I wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who made this massive project happen: Linda, the One Room Challenge founder and organizer who masterfully organized this entire challenge, the generous brand sponsors who helped to bring our vision to life (getting to work with such incredible brands have created an even more beautiful kitchen than we could have done otherwise), my husband, Cory, who has been working around the clock with me to get this space done (this meant giving up every one of his weekends and evenings over the past 5-weeks in order to get this done, making over 30 trips to Home Depot, and staying up until 3A to install our faucets), and all of you, who kept me motivated to keep going, even after weeks of working late into the night.

Before we jump into the photos, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on where we started.

The before

As I’ve mentioned before, our kitchen before was fine but in no way met its potential. These images make it look much brighter than it truly was (I couldn’t help myself when shooting the before photos). The finishes and layout just weren’t working for us, so we donated all the cabinetry, appliances, and countertops and started from scratch.

The biggest changes

In reflecting on this kitchen, there are three major changes that we made that completely transformed this space:

  1. We expanded the opening between the kitchen and the dining room from 3 feet wide to over 9 feet in width. That allowed for a huge increase in both the sunlight reaching the kitchen, and in connecting the kitchen to the rest of our main floor (without being fully open concept).
  2. We pushed one section of one of our walls (where the fridge is above) backwards by 16” into our front entry, which allowed us to sink a full height wall of cabinetry and our fridge into this wall, which allowed for the walkways required to add a big (but narrow) island down the center of the kitchen.
  3. While in the construction phase, we pivoted and decided to add a new window where our former pantry lived just outside the kitchen, and to add a small built-in mudroom bench with shoe storage. The new natural light from this window brings sunlight to a former dark spot in our house, and also allows for us to see out to our frequently used flagstone patio. As a bonus, out of the window, during the evenings we get to see the string lights that hang over our patio. It’s magical.

The After

One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – Week 4

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, Week Two, and Week Three.

I can’t believe how fast time has been going by, nor that we’re already at Week Four. This is the week where we always start to panic, and this season is no exception.

We made a ton of progress this week, but we’re still trying to get a few big items scheduled, delivered, and installed. Our biggest hold-ups right now include waiting for our countertops to be installed, waiting for our tile to be delivered, and waiting on a missing custom cabinet unit to arrive. All these items mean we can’t install our crown moulding, our upper cabinets (including the vent hood), lighting, or plumbing. I have a feeling I’m going to be begging all my friends to help us out next weekend with getting through this outstanding list of items in order to hit the Week Six reveal deadline.

But on to the good news:

This was a big week for progress!

One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – Week 3

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 and Week Two.

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

Cabinetry

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.

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:

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…

Do we regret using marble tile in our shower?

A year and a half ago, when we set off to remodel our bathroom, I shared we were going to use marble tile throughout our shower. On the walls, on the floors, and on the bench. And immediately I started hearing from people that I shouldn’t use marble because it’s too high maintenance. It stains! It etches! It needs to be babied!

Everyone shared their horror stories with me and it didn’t deter me from wanting to install the luxe marble shower of my dreams. I mean, I challenge you to find me a material that’s more beautiful than marble.

My internal argument was that marble has been used for centuries for this purpose throughout Europe and still looks fantastic. Sure, it looks well loved, but it stands the test of time and ages beautifully over time, unlike some other man-made materials that need to be replaced more frequently because they fall out of fashion, look dated quickly, and sometimes wear unevenly. Marble does not.

So, fast forward eighteen months of daily use, how do we feel about our marble shower today?

In short, we love it.

Favourite removable wallpaper options

Wallpaper can sometimes feel like a big commitment, but it’s also so high impact. I remember years ago when I was renting in New York that the removable wallpaper options available on the market were limited to a small handful of dated patterns (black and white damask was big!), that it’s incredible how big this market has become over the past few years!

Here are my top few by brand:

Tempaper

You already know that I love Tempaper from the chinoiserie wallpaper in my office, but they carry so many great papers it’s hard to rule it down.

I loved both of these that I shot in one of Diane Rath’s recent projects.

This one is Wave Pop as part of the Novogratz collection.

And this one is Wheels, also in the Novogratz collection.

Some of my other faves include, from left to right: Check Yourself, Wiggle Room, Mosaic Scallop, Dazzle

Drop it Modern

Another favourite company for wallpaper, both removable and traditional is Drop it Modern. Their patterns are bolder, a bit more modern, and very chic.

I absolutely love how one of my fave designers Christine Dovey used the Chrystalline marbled wallpaper in her master bedroom many years ago, that has stood the test of time.

From left to right: Bang Dem Sticks, Azteca Mural, Azteca, Dot to Dot.

Chasing Paper

I love that Chasing Paper has been dreaming up some very fabulous collaborations with makers across industries, including the below collab with Graduate Hotels.

And a few of my favourites are: Bubble, Parrots, Graduate Plaid, Floral Cut-Outs

And if this isn’t enough, check out this Etsy wallpaper round-up by my friend, Sarah.

Affordable outdoor rug round-up

We’ve spent two summers in our house and it only took me until this week to order an outdoor rug for our patio, despite knowing it would go a long way to making the space feel more complete. So, I finally sat down and hunted for an outdoor rug, my criteria:

  1. It had to be soft to the touch. So many outdoor rugs feel plasticky, and I wanted this rug to feel great on bare feet (more like an indoor rug and less like a beachmat).
  2. It had to be affordable. I just can’t justify spending a lot on a rug that will take a beating from the elements. I set my maximum at $400, but most of the below rugs are $260 or less.
  3. It needed to be large. I could have gotten away with a 5×7, but it would have felt undersized, so I really wanted an 8×10 that would fully encompass our outdoor seating area.

Here are the rugs I tracked down that met all the above criteria and look great! Scroll all the way down to the bottom for the one that I ended up ordering (PS it arrived today and it’s so soft).

Affordable outdoor rug roundup

One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six

I’m loving the pattern in the first one, the stripes in the third rug, and the vivid colour in the sixth rug, but we ended up ordering the second rug and can’t wait to add it to the space this weekend.

And, if you’re looking for even more outdoor rug options, check out Sarah’s outdoor rug round-up for lots more!

How to build a radiator window bench

Our vintage Colonial home features a lot of radiators… and not the beautiful Victorian kind. These radiators require covers to look even halfway decent, so my go-to move has been to turn an awkwardly placed radiator into a window bench at every chance.

The first time we did this, we created a massive window bench in our sunroom that is the perfect napping spot.

And we DIY-ed that French Mattress.

The next time, we opted to add a window bench to our walk in closet, that is the perfect spot for reading, folded laundry, and seating for seasonal closet purges. Today, I’m going to walk you through how we built this bench.

When you don’t have the space for a window bench, here are more chic ideas for radiators.

For all the details on our master closet, head here.

Let’s get started.

How to install a removable wallpaper mural

A few weeks ago, I revealed the transformation of my home office, which featured a Chinoiserie-style wallpaper mural from Tempaper Designs. Since then, I’ve received two questions countless times: (1) wait, that’s removable wallpaper?? and (2) how did you install it without hiring a professional?

Yes, the wallpaper is removable and it also looks incredible. Today I’m going to detail how we hung the temporary Tempaper wallpaper. I was anxious leading up to installing the paper, where I was convinced that we would somehow ruin this gorgeous wallpaper mural, but I had absolutely nothing to worry about. We remarked after the hour and half we spent installing the paper that we wished every DIY project we tackled was this straightforward, simple, and high-impact.