Our Home: Kitchen Remodel

Oct 17, 2022

When Ross and I met as roommates, the kitchen is where we connected most. Until the small hours of the morning we would sit at our kitchen counter with absolutely no idea we were going to fall in love, giving each other relationship advice, having conversations about life, and growing closer.

But the kitchen and dining room have always been my favorite parts of a home starting back in my childhood where, like a magnet, everyone would be drawn to that space. It’s a magical part of a home, so Ross and I knew that whatever our vision for our own would be, it would center around creating a space where we could make memories with our children, our families, and our friends. A dream space that represented what we wanted, where we’ve been, how we met, and where we wanted to go.

All on a budget.

Good thing we have a company that could help out!

After we had demoed the main floor of our home, we had our blank canvas. Before the demo a wall in the kitchen separated it from the dining room, and the dining room bled into the living room with a small door.

Everything in there was beige, with cabinetry from the ‘80s that had been painted over and given this shabby chic look (and not the good kind). The entire place was bland and the layout made no sense. There were 3 layers of old flooring that they had piled on top of one another through the years when trying to update. There was also a 6 inch soffit that dropped down from the ceiling with florescent lighting. With all of that, our kitchen felt like a cave.

A few months prior to owning our home, we had done a custom kitchen for a client using Black Walnut. We did flat-panel doors floor to ceiling that created a modern flow, without being too cold. Black Walnut is an absolute supermodel in a remodel. Not truly black, it has warm hues running through it and since it’s fairly uncommon, it not only warms up a modern build, it creates a centerpiece.

For our kitchen we definitely wanted an open concept that would flow into the dining room and the living room. We wanted the island to be big and full of life, where I could cook like my family did and like I do with my children. Open concept with an island allows the cook to not feel so isolated from guests who might be watching a game or socializing.

Opening up the wall and taking out the column did just that. I could be at the island stovetop cooking and still be a part of whatever was happening beyond the kitchen itself. Magical indeed. We wanted to contrast the Black Walnut cabinets with the material for the island, so we chose a foil wrapped island that was a slight beige tone (by the way, Ross Alan does not do foil wrapped). For the countertops we used Cambria quartz counters called Torquay. Cambria is made in the U.S.A., is the most natural looking quartz, and they have a lifetime guarantee on staining, chipping and cracking that is transferable to anyone else who may buy our house in the future.

We didn’t want our kitchen to look too busy, so we chose to minimize the number of drawers by choosing larger ones and incorporating smaller ones within, as well as foregoing molding to keep our lines long and uninterrupted. We designed simple hand pulls with our metal guy that we then had plated in brass. It’s my opinion that brass and Walnut are just meant to be together. 

Kitchen cabinetry

For our sink, we went with a Kohler cast iron farmhouse sink. To tie in the brass hardware, we used an antiqued brass Moen faucet. To keep with the modern vertical lines from our cabinet faces, we used a Reine picket fence tile in Gentleman’s Gray (by the way, it is not gray, it is more blue and it is GORGEOUS). Adding the vertical backsplash gave us the color we were looking for to make the Walnut pop. Instead of uppers on the sink wall, we chose to lean into our open concept and do our walnut shelving with integrated lighting in it. I believe in designing for the home you’re in, and we have a window over the sink that looks right into our gorgeous garden. Keeping that intact was a priority.

In the kitchen to the left of the sink, there was a nook in front of bay windows with an old fan that served as the lighting fixture. Now, I don’t personally like a fan above a table where a more elegant lighting fixture could be. Rather than choose a standard table-and-chair situation, we wanted to create a unique and fun gathering space by continuing the Walnut cabinetry and create a seamless transition into banquet seating. Benches allow for flexibility and more space instead of limiting your guest invites because of a lack of chairs. This space surprisingly fit a 60” diameter table, which is why we chose The Middle Child. We have fit a group of 10 people around this table multiple times with more than enough room. Kids on the bench, and adults in the chairs surrounding! Super fun.

The Middle Child solid reclaimed wood table

The original wall to the left of the banquet that separates the family room is actually the backside of a fireplace, so it was all brick. Originally it had been painted over time and time again with old layers of latex paint. At first we wanted to strip the old paint, but after several tries with a lot of chemicals we realized it might not be worth it. We pivoted and decided on a smooth cement wall that we were intending to keep gray, before Lori Manthei came in to help us style our home and suggested a yellow wall. I was not convinced at first - yellow walls reminded me of way too much of the ‘80s. But she pointed out our yellow custom Clad Home couch and suggested it might tie it all together.

Maya Jazner with Portola Paints came over one day for a color consultation and they had a beautiful roman clay called “Dylan” that matched our couch almost exactly, while remaining organic and suggesting movement and depth that we just loved. There is an arch on this wall so to pop contrast on this yellow wall, we featured another floating walnut shelf in the arch and a butcher block counter with Rubio intense black on it. Ross made a giant black art piece to hang on the wall that says “Bon Appetit” that just brings this kitchen to life!

We decided to do a wall of cabinets on the back wall floor to ceiling and a counter-depth fridge that keeps those lines clean and flat. We built into this space our coffee bar station and used the same backsplash as the sink wall.

The final phase of our kitchen was the dining room. This is where our dream of hosting holidays meals and friends and family would come alive.

The backside of our house has so much light. The original windows in the house were so bad and didn’t allow all the natural light that wanted to pour itself in and open up this lively space. We decided to go with bi-fold doors on the entire backside of our house just off the dining room. When these doors are open on cool summer nights it is just magical how it brings the outdoors indoors and creates this cohesiveness to blend all these spaces together.

This brings us to the center of the dining room - the table. We knew we didn’t want a standard table here, either. It is such a large space that it could easily fit a 12’ table, so that’s where we got creative.

We came upon a couple of walnut slabs that had such fun character to create our table ourselves. We paired that with a brass wishbone base, which we had originally designed with Emily Henderson for the Mountain House kitchen table. We built this table in our own garage at home and put so much thought into it. There were some cracks and gaping in the wood, so we would need to use epoxy as well as bowties of some sort to hold it together. The fun creative part was what those bowties meant to us. We found some chevron brass bowties, and placed three of them at the end of the table to represent our children. At the top of the table are two that represent us watching over them.

They’re not only functional to the stability of the table, they are a part of our story. That’s really what the kitchen and dining room renovations were - taking function and story and creating a space that served us as a family.

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